1981 – 1985

introduction to reality

at the threshold of a room

at the threshold of my life

I became aware of mortality

in a once-familiar apartment

mysteriously transformed overnight

into a funeral parlour

an old man found a last resting place

in the home of a caring grandaughter

___

a toddler in forgotten arms

I was hoisted up to

view the coffined corpse

too young for tears

too innocent for remorse

but awestruck by every sombre detail

in the ritual of the laying-out ceremony

___

while unnatural daylight

filtered through shrouded windows

an uncanny hush descended

on the procession of mourners

as they stifled their tears and fears

I gazed upon the death mask

of my great-grandfather

absorbed the permeating

atmosphere of death

and sensed that there was no escape

___

so I resolved not to try

and this early encounter

with the reaper has

stood me in good stead

having made living

less important, less neurotic

and a good deal more tolerable

than it might otherwise have been

Siobhon

so this little one

won’t ever walk or talk

win school prizes or

be the belle of the ball

indeed this little one

won’t ever amount

to very much at all

___

what a shock

that must have been

what a waste

what a pity

what a shame?

yet pointless really

this talk of blame

when it’s a chance you know

we all must take

if we are vain enough

to procreate

___

yet this little one

with the pretty name

is unique

see her laugh and smile

as she plays her game

hold her close

feel the heart that beats

within her fragile frame

know her moods meet her needs

and though there will be pain

love her, love her dearly

for she is quite beautiful

1984

’84 began ominously enough

though the early

record-breaking blizzards

were as nothing

compared to later storms

in mid summer

while the sun shone

and crops flourished

the forces of law and order

aided and abetted by

a shameless media and

government disinformation

battered the miners into

soul destroying submission

while the nation looked on

with passive disregard for the future

in the autumn, Stuart died

and at the year’s end

scarcely a night went by

when I did not cry myself to sleep

Stuart

I ached for you and

was afraid for you

so many times

when in guilt or grief

or in disbelief

you took to the cup

such a waste it seemed

that you should go the way

of drunken sentimentality

it was hard,  I know

I suffered too

and empathised

but when you stood up

and dried your eyes

my heart sang

such a happy man

you would be then

a merry companion

honest comrade and

loyal friend

for whom

 the joy of living

 knew no bounds

I’m glad you died

before your world

came crashing down

let me ask you something

is your hell

the same as mine

a padded cell where

pain and sorrow combine

to create

overwhelming hopelessness

of such magnitude

your stomach churns

your throat constricts

your head feels like

it’s going to burst

and all action

being, aspiring

loving, living

makes no sense?

in isolation

I talk to myself

try my very best

to summon up

the courage to continue

***

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