Monday, December 15, 2008

17 Colville Terrace


Voices voices in the night,
sirens, the swish of passing cars;
drunks spill out from closing bars,
shouts, broken glass, another fight.

I shrug but show no pity
having heard these stories all before;
my thoughts flow to another shore,
distant serendipity.

There is no silence any more,
you cannot see stars from city streets;
syncopation, no pattern to the beats,
an itch, well-scratched, becomes a sore.

Even stark leafless trees look sad,
set out in rows away from fields;
hints of nature act as city shields
to keep things bearable, not so bad.

It's hard not to live where in fact you live,
reluctance surrounds all major change;
lives run in a swift but narrow range,
we yearn to receive but learn to give.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Hotel


I loved her beyond all reason
and then she went and bloody well died on me.
I stroll over to her grave and give it a kick.
Bitch. Some cops with cameras
believe they're hiding behind the headstones
but that's all right. 'Sall all right, orright?
I'll go over to Spain tomorrow
with my red and yellow bandana
and there I'll do what I canna
do here. No more of this useless bleedin shite,
I'll stay off the beer and act polite.
I'll buy ... a hotel. Yeah, what the hell!
Can I show you to your table, Mon Sewer?
Yeah, I'd like that:
a white dinner jacket, a red cummerbund,
a smile with the new white choppers,
a Heckler and Koch in my sock.
I'll need to keep the Brits out, got no clarse,
I'll dump them gobshites on their arse.
Ah, Britain, she's been good to me all the same
since I left burnt-down blasted Croatia
but the face you see is not the face
that smiled up from my mother's knee
when that dirty old brute she called my father,
before he legged it, told me something crystal true:
under the sun, my son, there is nothing new,
kick 'em in the balls before they kick you.
My father, the philosopher:
a litle tear, my dear, runs down my nose,
must be the cocaine, 95% pure,
unlike the crap I sell to the punters,
the ho's and shunters, the human manure.
Voila, Madame! Ho ho, Monsieur!
Is everyssing to your shatisfaction?
Ahem, ahem, more Chateau d'Yquem?
Buzzbuzz, hahaha, humhum.
She's young and flushed, he's old and fat,
an aristocrat: thus the world operates
and circulates, I know that. Watch me, chum.
I could do this job with my eyes closed.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Tongues

Living in a world of two or four languages
affords, for a child, an unplanned blessing;
I find, getting on, I am slowly confessing
to a heart-sore hankering
for childhood's continuous continual murmurs,
for the ould old-fashioned strangeness
of thinking in three parts
as if I had three hearts.

Intertwining interpretations
(lovely words, my dear, but lamentably insipid)
waylay the warp and the woof of childhood days;
even now, brisk and stern, interlocutions
hint at different means and different ways.

What needs a school
who, y' know, don't listen ya?
says my go-ahead sister
in her short tight skirt
and little else:
Needs Analysis, yay, my sister say,
you be so stupid?

Comes easy, sis. No worries.

She wants, she wants,
she wants,
and that sums up
my sibling sister.

America, Hummerrikah,
grotesque, grandiose, insane,
(I love it)
can do a number on your brain.
Very important people
in clomping large black shoes,
expensive teeth and spectacles,
toss Starbucks coffee containers
into government wastebaskets
and make plans for the future
of Afghanistan, Iraq, and maybe Iran,
and think nothing of it:
it's all so wistful.

You stand in the streets
of Kandahar, dear old Kandahar,
and the bullets they come whizzing by,
but if they really want to kill you
that's another thing.

I sing,
I chant my Sufi verses
and the guys laugh at me;
of a sudden there comes a jeep
in a whirlygig of dust--
jigga, jig, jig,
snakeyed and slick,
out of here quick, quick, quick.

Yes, I do get sick,
everyone does, even the locals,
stay away from the water,
stay away from the awful food,
expect the next attack,
watch your back;
watch your front and sides, too.

And when you feel blue
as you sometimes do
you can listen to God
or even better, I find, an iPod
and transport your damp
and heaving soul,
the very stitches in your britches,
towards a transitory temporary win,
a shot on the shifting goal.

If they treat you like shit
don't pay for the toilet;
just rely on the stuff you've kept in store
astride the ecstatic gaps of language,
around, beside, behind, before:
serenely wait for more.

O the water drips
into the sink:
plink, plink
plink.

Oui oui, compris,
je m'appelle
c'est Jezebel;
denada, denada,
so how's yer fadda?
Moi, je suis Yarnach
Ola! Chocky ar La
howdeedoo, konnichi wa;
Jai Ram, Jai Ram macushla,
yeh to bahot
BAHOT acchaa!

and ... Happy Birthday to Me!!
November the Ninth

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

343. School Trip to Okinawa

Double-click on any photo to get a full-screen picture; click the Back button to return to Blog.

1. The Inner Gateway to Shuri Castle

2. The Central Courtyard

3. Battle of Okinawa Memorial Park

4. Memorial Park

5. Memorial Park: strange to see your own surname -- a long-lost cousin?

6. Memorial Park: the Pacific Ocean meets the East China Sea.

7. Memorial Park: some of my homeroom students.

8. Himeyuri: 1000 paper cranes as a memorial to the high school girls forced to become nurses.

9. Himeyuri: entrance to the underground cave hospital.

10. Himeyuri: a rather bitter, disillusioned poem about getting pushed into the final battles.

11. The Chiraumi ("beautiful sea") aquarium

12. Chiraumi

13. Chiraumi

14. Chiraumi

15. Ryukyu Mura (Okinawan Folk Village)

16. Ryukyu Mura

17. R. Mura

18. R. Mura

19. R. Mura: Okinawan traditional dress.


20. R. Mura: water buff in charge of a "farmer".

21. R. Mura: the pottery centre.

22. R. Mura: the girls dress up as Okinawans.

Wikipedia Link to Okinawa

Thursday, October 02, 2008

342. Sheldon Slithers into Socialism


Sallow shell-shocked Sheldon
having sold all his seashells
from the salty seashore, set out to sell
salt cellars to the sly but shy bank tellers
that in their lunch hours lounge and loaf
on the busy busy Bahnhofstrasse,
smug in their lives and proud of their wives,
who wheel pretty prams among the trams,
trams that go ringalingaling ... ding-ding
all along the Bahnhofstrasse.

One cannot be too rich in Zurich,
gnot among these gnarly gnomes
who repair, sedately, to stately homes
on the wholly hushed, the manicured hills,
that loom over the low-lit lapping lake.
There was a touch of the obscene in '17
in the amounts of money banks could make,
they could rake it in, inured to the din
of the booming guns across the border.
Switzerland thrives on Europe's disorder.

Unshaven Sheldon, shoes letting in rain,
was attracted to a light and lilting voice
overheard in a tavern, simple and plain,
and shook hands with its owner, James A. Joyce.
JJ was not in the market for seashells,
nor salt cellars, but was generous with his wine,
and frequently invited young Sheldon to dine.
They discussed Hermes Trimegistes
and the likely origin of the Scythians,
the Parthians, Persians, Medes and Midians.

Who is Leopold Bloom? Please tell me, Jim.
Aha, cackled Joyce, you'll hear more of him!
But come here to me, come here a chara,
have you heard of a chap called Tristan Tzara?
O yes, Mr. Joyce (an empty glass, so no longer "Jim")
he's some sort of wild and woolly Rumanian.
Dear God, is that a country or a medical condition?
But he's the artistic equivalent of uranium.
Depart now, said Joyce, you have my permission.

Sheldon had no quarters or even sixteenths,
but slept under an upturned boat on the shore,
there he dined on cabbage and mixed beans
as his salt cellars were not selling well.
Oh, he could feel it in his deep heart's core
that his fortunes were sinking from day to day,
and the prospect of millions seemed far away;
I am not, he was thinking, cut out for trade,
even though my mind is sharp as a blade.

This War is a no-brainer, I need to find
a wife, or a new and exciting theory of life.
A woman, any woman, would be out of her mind
to marry me, so what should I do next?
I must devote my future to words and text!
I need to find a place to stick my pen in,
to bring out hidden hurts, to incite alarm,
honeyed over with words of faithless charm:
I will call on Vladimir Lenin.

----------------------------------------------------
Joyce, Lenin and Tristan Tzara (a founder of the Dada movement which gave rise to surrealism) were all seeking refuge from the First World War in Zurich in 1917. The playwright Tom Stoppard pounced on the possibility of their having known one another.

Conservatives in the Zurich city government tried to close down the Odeon Cafe where the Dada movement began (the rent went up) and only last week the citizens voted them down 2 to 1. Apart from the Chagall windows in one of the old city churches -- totally ethereal -- Zurich, artistically speaking, doesn't have much else.

Friday, September 26, 2008

341. On the Lido


My troubled heart, dear boy, is not your concern
as we progress along these silent polished galleries,
and if I pause for a moment before a painting
to take a moment's breath, it is the appreciation of art,
and not the sharp and sudden shadow of beyond.
O, God, you very young and eager people, lapping
up what you think is knowledge, happy and brown
in the bright Italian sun; a sun, I might add, that shone
upon people I loved in my youth, now long gone,
but lending a shimmer, a penumbra of light, a parting glow
among the fading embers where old age must go.
Ladies in those days were thoughtful in their dress,
with linens and cottons, an instinct for appearance,
and the gentlemen had carefully-knotted heraldic neckties
and summer suits which draped most beautifully,
so beautiful that it was a pleasure to look upon them.
It was a gentle age, an age of wonder, and I was among them.
Now I look at beefy children of all and many ages
striding white-legged across the Piazzas and Platzes of Europe
in voluminous many-pocketed shorts, their upper portions
adorned with stretched but simple short-sleeved garments
advertising the more obscure American seats of learning.
One has doubts concerning these extraordinary establishments
since one can hardly say they know or understand anything,
yet they make a quite flagrant use of the Roman alphabet
in such barking phrases as "Duke Sucks" and "Yadda Yadda Boom".
One harbours the suspicion that they do not really read.
I retrieve the slim leatherbound volume of Keats
from the innermost pocket of my rather well-fashioned suit
which fits as well now as when I was an undergraduate
and note the spidery scrawl of DeVere Hutchinson on the flyleaf,
one of the more roguish dons of unpublished consequence,
and my thoughts, rarely maudlin, go back to Magdalene.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

340. The third (corrupt) stage of nationalism

O salacious ungracious paperfalls,
po-faced political policy statements,
raining down, damply drizzling,
plashing among the half and the quarter innocent,
among citizens ill-prepared, all those who go
shuffling off to work in the morning.

Hi-ho, hi-ho ...
Put a D-notice on that man; surround his house.

Yes, well, it's all just background noise,
predictable, so typical: Eine Kleine Nachtmusik,
lullabies to lull us all to lovely sleep.
But there are promises we must keep,
agreements, aspirations, things to be done,
lovers to be lied to, contracts to be won;
and the last thing we bloody well need
is another major war. What for?

I mean, huff-puff, it's all very well
to make this life a living hell
for dusky people in a faraway village;
after all, they are used to rape and pillage
and I doubt that they can really care
about the odd atrocity here and there.
Oops, there goes Granny and Papa and Mama,
there go the cousins and fifteen kids:
one well-placed bomb can do it all.

Well, I can't see anything wrong with it,
because, I mean, you'd expect that, wouldn't you,
if you lived in one of those dreadful places?
It's not as though they lived in Pimlico
where the black-lipped ladies come and go
to the Starbucks on the corner
carrying Penguin editions of Proust
or How to Lose Fifteen Pounds of Ugly Fat
in Fifteen Days. Guaranteed.

What I do not need is your noddy-noddies.
No, I don't want to see photos of the victims' faces:
I gave generously at the office, so why can't you
fuck off, please, just leave me alone?
Chase another dog, dig another bone.
I support the King, the President, the Kaiser,
and that's just the way it is.
OK, it's sad; it's sometimes bad,
but what do you expect?

I love my family, pay my taxes,
damn all braces, bless relaxes;
I go to the seaside and play with my kids,
go fishing on the river, drink with old pals,
slap my wife on her ample bottom,
listen gaily to her shrill and outraged giggles,
then bound upstairs for the blessings of marriage.
So tell me, where did I go wrong?

I'm just so tired. Yes, I know.

But sit back, so, and listen.
Dungeon-dim, it's like dark, still with me?
Dungeon-dim desultory desuetude,
deadly decades of dull decrepitude,
have become a cancer of the soul.
We no longer think, but stagger and roll,
balancing our feet on a heaving deck,
grinning inanely, suggesting control:
but the deep ocean, the ocean coils beneath.
And we, from childhood trained to hate the Other,
at length have learned
to hate each other.

--------------------------------------------------------
* in some countries this is described as "patriotism", which rather neatly relegates nationalism, as such, to foreigners.

Monday, August 18, 2008

339. Georgia Gambles ... and Loses!


What follows is the most concise and (comparatively) objective account I have been able to discover after several days of trawling the Net. It comes from ABC (Australia) and the original article can be found here:

The war in the Caucasus: looking underneath the propaganda blanket

By Alexey D Muraviev

Posted Thu Aug 14, 2008 11:06am AEST
Updated Thu Aug 14, 2008 11:39am AEST


On 12 August, President Dmitry Medvedev declared the end to Russian military operations in Georgia on the basis that they have accomplished set tasks: Georgian forces were pushed back from Southern Ossetia and their fighting capability was seriously curtailed. However, the end of the Russian counter-offensive will not halt the information war that carries on.

In his highly emotional article on the ongoing conflict in Southern Ossetia, Mr Grigol Ubiria was quick to identify Russia as the root cause of the problems in the south-eastern Caucasus and the world in general. The conflict over Southern Ossetia is a complex multi-layered phenomenon that requires a balanced analytical approach. To be able to get a comprehensive picture, apart from the viewpoints of the United States and Georgia, Russia's motives and strategic intentions have to be examined also.

Russia's claims about its traditional role in the area are based on the history of its engagement in regional affairs. The nation's influence over the Caucasus was established in the 18th century as a result of the nation's prolonged struggle with the Ottoman Empire. After yet another war with the Ottomans (1768-74), Russia secured the Crimean Peninsula, the Sea of Azov and further south along the Black Sea coast. In 1783, the Russian Empress Catherine II (the Great) and the ruler of two Georgian provinces (Kartly and Kakhetiya) Irakliy II signed the so-called Georgian Treaty, according to which Russia offered Eastern Georgia a status of a protectorate and guaranteed the safety of the local Orthodox Christian population against the neighbouring Ottoman Empire. After the Russo-Turkish War of 1787-91, the Russian protectorate was extended to the rest of Georgia.

However, Russia's current hard-line actions in Southern Ossetia are driven not just by the understanding of its historical role in regional politics but primarily by the following considerations.

Immediate response


Russian officials claim that the use of force against Georgia is legitimate and refer to Article 51 (the right of self-defence) of the United Nations charter. These arguments are based on accusations that Georgian military forces attacked Russian peacekeepers (stationed in the area since 1992) as well as Russian citizens living in Southern Ossetia.

Antagonistic relations with the government of Mikhail Saakashvili


Throughout the 1990s the relations between Russia and Georgia remained problematic. Georgian officials (Gamsarkhurdiya and Shevarnadze) continuously accused Russia of intervening in its domestic affairs, while the Russians blamed official Tbilisi in playing the 'Russian neo-imperial' card in an attempt to secure financial and political backing of Western nations. Georgia was accused of harbouring Chechen separatists and Al Qaeda terrorists, particularly in Pankissi Gorge (the deployment of US military forces into Georgia in 2002 was formally motivated by counter-terrorism agenda).

However, after Mikhail Saakashvili came to power in November 2003, bilateral relations seriously deteriorated. By prioritising above all relations with the United States (before the 2005 visit of US President George W Bush to Tbilisi one of the main streets was named after him, an example that says it all) Mr Saakashvili continuously undertook steps that intimidated Moscow, including:

* Active role in forming the pro-US regional security structure GUAM (Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Moldova), formed in 1997 and aimed at cutting off Russia from south-western Europe, the Caucasus, and Caspian Sea region.
* Persistence in joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and an offer to the United States to deploy elements of Anti-Ballistic Missile Defence (ABM) on its territory, both moves viewed by the Russians as threatening their national security.
* Massive defence modernisation program with the fastest growing military budget in Europe (risen by 30 times over the past seven years reaching a figure of $US1 billion in 2007). US active involvement in forces training and upgrades (the total contribution of the United States towards Georgia's rearmament reached $US40 million).
* Non-diplomatic and often offensive anti-Russian rhetoric as part of the regular lexicon of Georgian politicians (on one occasion Mr Saakashvili said that he wanted to learn judo to beat up then Russian president Vladimir Putin).

Growing geopolitical rivalry with the United States


When Mr Bush visited Georgia in May 2005 he described the country as a regional 'beacon of democracy'. However, the US's overwhelming support for Georgia is driven not so much by the global approach of 'exporting democracies' and by particular concerns about the nation's form of governance but by rather clear geopolitical and military-strategic considerations. Continuing to view Russia as one of its principal rivals, the United States uses Georgia to reduce Russia's influence in the Caucasus and to drive it away from the Black Sea region (effectively dismantling the 18th century gains). A friendly Georgia could also be used to put extra political-military pressure on Russia in times of international crisis. The Russians view this in the context of the transforming strategic environment (expanding NATO, deployment of ABM in Europe and the Pacific, US penetration of the former Soviet space).

Another major consideration is the geopolitics of pipelines. Georgia plays a key role as a transit state in the US-led transnational Ceyhan energy project aimed at offering a transport route for Caspian and Central Asia oil that would bypass Russia. Adding to that, Georgian ports are also used for the transit of energy resources. This represents an economic challenge to the Russians who strive to become the energy superpower, by becoming the principal deliverer of energy resources.

In this context, the conflict over Southern Ossetia is not a war between Russia and Georgia (de jure, it cannot be classified as a war as neither side declared war on its opponent). De facto, it is a proxy conflict between Russia and the United States over the strategically important area.

Where from here

The declared ceasefire does not mean the end of hostilities. Russia has shown an intent to keep its military presence in the area and indicated support for backing South Ossetian and Abkhazian claims for independence (on par with other reasons such as pragmatic desire to have friendly buffer zones and weaken hostile Georgia, the Russians will use the Kosovo precedent to justify such an action).

Another difficulty arises from Russia's refusal to deal with Mr Saakashvili. Effectively, Russian officials are incriminating Georgian authorities in state-sanctioned terrorism. Georgia was accused of ethnic cleansing against Ossetians. Adding to that, on August 11, the head of Russia's Federal Security Service (counter-intelligence) Aleksandr Bortnikov accused Georgian secret services of planning terrorist attacks in Russia. It is likely that the Russians will continue to insist on Mr Saakashvili's resignation.

While large-scale military operations may be coming to an end, the political war over Georgia is likely to escalate, particularly in the context of the upcoming US presidential elections.

It is clear that Russia has won a military campaign and Mr Saakashvili has suffered a humiliating military and political defeat. After all, if you continuously tease and hurt the bear, he will retreat first, roar loud but eventually counter attack. However, so far it is not winning the information war. Over the past four years the Russians did amazingly well in restoring their national might and international reputation and prestige. Now, they have to engage in aggressive damage control over what seems clear to them was a just war.

Dr Alexey D Muraviev is a strategic affairs analyst and an award-winning lecturer in International Relations and National Security at Curtin University of Technology. He is one of Australia's leading experts on Russia's strategic and defence policy.

Here is an article with some interesting background info from the New York Times.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

338. Soon, Not Now

There will be strangers, child,
uneasy-eyed, stubble-jawed men,
unwashed and feral wild,
but that don't mean nothing.
When your Daddy's gone
they will become your silent Daddys
and care for you
protect you
but they will never love you
like I do:
they don't know how.

Friday, July 25, 2008

337. Mr. Drew Wears Armani



At night, barefoot, on the stony tracks
the roots and the rocks would cut your feet
and you'd come home bleeding, angry,
and prepare for the next time. It went
on and on forever, there in the hills,
down by Cuil Aodha and Gougane Barra.
Tell me the names of a thousand stars
and which of the leaves in the forest
can heal which illness, whether boiled or powdered,
placed in a poultice, eaten, or stuck up your arse.
Twenty years they said it would take, each year
the chance of getting thrown out, rejected,
and the weary shame of returning home.

Knowledge they knew was dangerous
and it was doled out in careful stages; nothing
was allowed to be written; pens and parchment
were things we never saw. Memorise all we tell you
or tomorrow we send you home. In the beginning
it was nigh impossible, but then it became easier,
and our eyes began to see brighter colours,
our ears could hear the mice in faraway barns
and the trout singing softly in the lake,
and we were not asleep even when sleeping;
our teachers slowly, gradually, became less stern
and we knew then we would not be sent home
for us there could be no other home, not then.

Two thousand years later, give or take,
I step off the airplane at LA International
and wave my fingers at the Immigration flunkey
who immediately stamps my passport, blinking.
Out in the hot hazy sunlight I glide into a taxi
and I listen to the mangled Spanish of the driver
for a few minutes, then wave him into silence.
In Beverly Hills I ascend to the Penthouse Suite
obtained with a flutter of the fingers, I telephone
the production company shooting my next movie,
then descend, nattily casual, to the cavernous lobby.
I wave my fingers for an exquisite, well-cooked meal
and eye the elegant blonde sitting four tables over.

A charming little smile, another finger movement,
and she rises from her chair and instantly joins me;
having enjoyed the amenities in my palatial quarters,
I present her with three homemade 100 dollar bills,
far far better than the originals, and she kisses my toes
and bows herself backwards from the room. Ho hum.
Time to call the President, tell him what he's doing wrong,
and accept the usual excuses and apologies. Such a bore,
but one's gotta do what one's gotta do. I find that so true,
and one really needs to plan for the next thousand years.
Had I known in my youth things would end up like this
I might have had second thoughts, felt slightly remiss,
but one grows so used to this business with the fingers.

There is a lot to be said for an old-fashioned education.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

336. Geoghan's Ghost



I.

Aequam memento rebus in arduis
seruare mentem, non secus in bonis
ab insolenti temperatam
laetitia, moriture Delli,

--- Horace, Odes, Book II, iii.

Geoghan tempers his moods of disquiet
with appeals to ancient personal gods,
pre-Christian, yes, that goes without saying,
but also pre-Celtic: he seems to gallop across
the millennia instead of a few mere centuries,
swearing or perhaps just furiously praying,
as he races to catch the 16A to Beaumont
with shoelaces undone and his long dark coat
wantonly flapping in the wind that whishes
and whooshes, aweela, wet from the slimegreen sea.
Geoghan invokes secret unheard of names and powers
that were hoary with age in the time of Baal
and Amon Ra; where has he learned these fearful
Stone Age imprecations? Surely not at home
with the mammy and daddy and his three sisters,
one of whom plays the harp and the other two
dainty violins, there in the plateglass bungalow
picked out from the All-Ireland Book of Designs
for Virtuously Vulgar Modern Living, garnished
with garden gnomes imported fresh from England,
Happy and Smiley, Doc and Dopey, Harold Wilson.
Geoghan’s oul fella was a turf accountant, as we say,
with our penchant these days for the gombeen genteel,
our building maintenance operators, our facilitators,
our elderly female recluses, kept well away from society
and formerly known as nuns; the priests, heaven help us,
are still in evidence, and you’ll find a fair few number
when fire alarms ring in the jollier parts of the city:
Come out there, Father, amn’t I holdin yer trousers?
Young Geoghan was never much good at manly sports,
at thumping others for the possession of a pig’s bladder
and then kicking it up and away like all our national teams
so that your heart could weep out of sheer frustration:
ah, would you pass or dribble, and not from yer bloody mouth?
But … but he had a steady sort of way about him,
not at all what you’d expect at the Christian Brothers
where they’d be beating away all that shite and nonsense
the minute you’d look up to stare in their dark flushed faces;
the fact is, they could feel something; and they were afraid of him,
not that at first I felt the same myself; no, that was later
when he’d look at me with those strange sea-washed eyes,
grey-green, pebbly, distant, unspeakably cold and old,
and it was then you’d feel the odd involuntary shiver
and would offer a joke or a beer, anything to break the tension.
Well, he died, of course, our poor unknowable friend,
and it is the matter of his end I wish to speak of.

II.

Inde fit ut raro, qui se vixisse beatum
dicat et exacto contentus tempore vita
cedat uti conviva satur, reperire queamus.
-- Horace, Satires, Book I, i.

It’s only now I’ve decided to break my long silence;
I was afraid, quite frankly, of powers I could not control,
and I didn’t have the protection or belief of poor queer Geoghan.
I was brought up with the mumbo-jumbo of an executed god,
a new departure in religious thinking, when you stop to think,
for here’s a god who becomes the sacrifice, not the demanding recipient,
a god who says turn the other cheek and then does fuckall for you
Geoghan saw through all that. Let me tell you what happened.
He got it in his head, seriously, he could stop the war in Iraq
and so prayed for forty days and nights, each day with two bottles of wine
(red and white) just around the corner from Trinity at the Lincoln Inn,
then, his vigil over, he proceeded, ceremoniously, to forlorn Ballsbridge
and the rounded concrete fortress of the unlovely American Embassy.
There for a while he disappeared, and his nervous band of acolytes
(I was not among them) stubbed endless cigarettes on the grey pavements
and waited and waited and waited for a sign. None, of course, came.
After three days helicopters arose like dragonflies in the clapped-out
dishwatery mauve and filthy pink of a ho-hum Dublin dawn
and shots were fired, we heard them, and the Air Force was called out,
all three of our serviceable planes, they went sqwark … sqwark … sqwark
to each other on the radio, like demented parrots, and we could all hear them
on Radio One; overall, it wasn't a great day for Ireland’s Intrepid Airmen,
with the other two muppets cheering them on from the ground,
their oul’ airplanes wouldn’t kick over when they’d stuck in the keys.

O Kathleen Mavourneen, the grey dawn is breaking,
The horn of the hunter is heard on the hill;
The lark from her light wing the bright dew is shaking …


and so we hared over to Howth Head and Killiney, to the high ground,
to the two encircling, ensnaring arms of this fiercely possessive city,
and from there we could see it all, but what we saw can never be agreed.
The Americans … Irish military gunships? …tried to shut down the whole business
with their broken old record, their fee-fi-fo-fum of GWOT and Guantanamo,
but you might as well try to stop the tide as stop the Irish from talking,
although nobody (this happens a lot in Ireland) could quite agree. Only I could see
a strange awkward figure hovering, balancing there in the whooshing air,
his coattails flapping like the dark raven’s wings on Cuchulainn’s shoulder,
his mouth open in an O with a force of words that only I could hear
and yet barely make out, with the rush of the wind and the clatter of the blades,
and yet it sounded like … Hilatoth …Hilagath … Hilga .. Hilgamoth?
the sacred and doubtless secret name of a long-forgotten but unburied god,
and then Geoghan transposed into a flash of light and his form was gone forever.
No body was ever recovered. And the war in Iraq went on and on.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

335. Ottoman



















The red silken cord, for three long weeks,
lay coiled and hidden in the messenger's pouch.
Having struggled along rain-drenched muddy tracks,
crossed white swollen rivers, climbed over mountains,
he debouched, at last, on the plains of Hungary.
What news from the Light of the World?
croaked the stooping figure of Multan Pasha,
eyes aglitter in a face like mildewed parchment.
Wordlessly the messenger handed him the pouch,
and in silence Multan retired to his chamber
from which he never again would emerge.
-----------------------------------------

European officers facing disgrace and scandal favoured a bottle of whiskey and a loaded pistol; the Sultan simply sent a silken cord to the officials who displeased him.

Monday, June 16, 2008

334. Blog Anniversary - Four Years!

Today is Bloomsday and also the fourth anniversary of this blog, begun on June 16 2004. There’s been a lot of water under the bridge since then, not to mention wars, hurricanes, tsunami, earthquakes, death of loved ones, emotional joinings and sunderings. During these four years I’ve posted something like 350 articles, poems, opinion pieces and general silly maunderings (the numbering scheme is close but inaccurate since I never really bothered to actually count from the beginning). There’s been something in the neighbourhood of 35,000 visitors, which works out to about 24 people a day. I’d just like to take the opportunity now to thank each and every one of those 24 people and gently urge them to take a break …

Anyway, it’s been fun and it’s created a public record of sorts (what was on the brain, for example, in January 2006?). And it’s not over, by any means. All that happens, really, is that we move on to the fifth year. Check in from time to time, if ou’re reading this. Failte Romhat, in the Irish – you’re always welcome!

Friday, June 13, 2008

333. stamping grounds


Down Knightsbridge way the other day
in my psychedelic condition
I moseyed slowly along the way
to a philatelic exhibition;
I had my tweezers in my hand
when I had to stop for the band
of the Royal Scots Guards
magnificent six-foot retards
prancing about for the English Queen
a lady I’ve talked to but never seen
when she rang me out of the blue
last Tuesday, I was home with the flu,
and asked was I the chap selling the Corgi
and I said no, that would be Georgie
and she said kaindly put him on the lain
and I said at the moment he’s not so fain
and I’m afraid in fact he’s beastly dead
since the 21 bus ran over his head
on his way home last night from the pub,
such a delightful charming musical Dub
and he in the street singing clear and strong …
Well, the draiver mustn’t have cared for the song
says the Queen, and then, Airish, I take it?
in that clippy little voice, you could not fake it,
and she hangs up on me, the snippy oul bitch,
my first (and last) contact with the rich.
The thing about stamps is
they’re such tidy little creatures,
just tiny little oblongs of gummy paper
that combine all the best features
of the crummy little countries they represent.
I floated along, I made no fuss,
and did not jump on a passing bus
out of respect for dear old Georgie
and the poor wee flattened Corgi.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

332. Disneyworld with Joe

(Joseph O'Connor, brother of the singer Sinead, is a well-known journalist and novelist in Ireland. He wrote a running account in the 'Sunday Tribune' newspaper of his misadventures in the USA while accompanying Irish fans to the 1994 World Cup which had the whole country laughing itself silly and became an instant classic. The following is an excerpt from the diary covering the day when Joe and some of the lads took a day off to visit Disneyworld in Orlando, Florida. Being able to guess what 'a ride' means in Irish slang sort of helps things along ....)

Our tour guide Wanda is waiting for us. Wanda is a very nice young woman from Kissimee. "There are some rully good rides here at The Magic Kingdom," she says, to a chorus of snuffles and titters. "We have big rides, small rides, scary rides, happy rides, whatever kind of ride you like you can find here at The Magic Kingdom." One fan is falling about the place now and another -- Crocko by name -- is laughing his bloody dentures out. Wanda must be wondering what it is she is saying that has all these grown men nearly widdling with laughter. But, true professional that she is, she continues.

"Er ... some of the rides have been here for a long time, but other rides are new, and here at Disney we're constantly looking at ways to make rides more exciting." The fans are slapping their thighs and guffawing at this stage. One usually quiet man from Laois is actually honking with laughter, throwing his ponderous head back and honking like a great big white-legged hysterical mallard duck. Honko, I'm going to call him from now on.

"What's so funny?" Wanda says.

"Nothing, Wanda," Honko replies.

"No, c'mon," she says, "Am I like, saying something funny?"

"Not at all, Wanda. You're grand, sweetheart. And c'mere, tellus, do you like the odd ride yourself, Wanda?"

"Oh yes, of course."

"And how many rides would you have a day?"

"Oh, I dunno, three or four I guess. Depends how much spare time I get."

Well, at this stage several of the fans have to go and sit down in the shade, or pour water over themselves, so frantic are their cackles. Some are actually sobbing with laughter. Donald Duck wanders over to one of them and begins gently to peck him on the head with his enormous yellow beak. "Go away ye big feathery fairy," the fan says. A hearty chant soon begins, the scheme of which is based on the considerable rhyming potential of the words Donald Duck. What a talent for poetry the Irish have! Seamus Heaney would have been proud.

Things are about to get even worse, however. An enormous structure depicting Mickey Mouse is pointed out on the horizon. Wanda tells us, her voice fairly brimming over with pride, "and guys, you know what, that's the largest self-supporting Mickey in the whole of the United States."

Well, I don't think I have to describe the communal reaction, really. It is as though the entire party has been blasted with laughing gas. Several of the supporters will need medical attention soon.

"Oh, there are other Mickeys," Wanda sniffs, dismissively, "there's a rully big Mickey in California, of course, and there are some rully large Mickeys in some of the other states, and a big old Mickey over there in Eurodisney. But I gotta tell you, we're real proud of our superb superbig Mickey that we got down here in Florida."

The sun is blazing hot now, and the white stone floor seems to be sucking the heat into itself. Tears of laughter are spilling down the faces of my companions. The seven dwarfs saunter past us, pursued by the mad hatter, the wicked witch of the west, the queen of hearts and various assorted fluffy tigers holding hands. The fans are chanting again now. "You'll never beat the Irish. You'll never beat the Irish." If Wanda smiles any harder, her eyebrows will disappear into her hairline. I close my eyes. I try to imagine just how much money you would have to spend on drugs to achieve this weird a feeling.

Monday, June 09, 2008

331. hometown (line edits)

original version:

I'm looking for a way
on this long and rocky road
between life and love
while the heart she
still stays pure, somewhere
between Inchicore and Terenure;
and I know you well, too well,
you shabby old city on the peatbrown Liffey,
so stony grey and sharp and blind,
and I pretend I do not mind
the apologetic smiling betrayals
that we all grow up with
under the shadow of your mountains
and never overcome.

edited version:

The heart is sound, the thoughts impure,
as I dance along the rocky road
from Inchicore to Terenure;
and I know you well, too well,
you shabby old city on the peatbrown Liffey,
so stony grey and sharp and blind,
and I pretend I do not mind
your apologetic smiling betrayals,
the memories we all grew up with
in the shadow of your mountains
and never overcame.

Monday, May 26, 2008

330. all else being equal

All else being equal,
I fear there is no sequel,
we have twenty-five thousand days
on this lovely damaged earth,
to shake and bake or make and break,
to live, enjoy or endure,
to seek perhaps the elusive cure
in moments of grace amid the strife
for the wonder we call life.

A concatenation of corpuscles,
skin and teeth, bones and muscles,
is this thing that you call Me,
and I call We,
never having perceived or believed
in any central unity.

So in a thousand different ways,
take your twenty-five thousand days
on this lovely damaged earth,
before you return
to the unknown bourne,
to the place you either were or weren't
before the gift of birth.

Take pleasure in waters flowing,
flowers growing
grass greening
mountains mountaining
steeples steepling
people peopling.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Friday, April 25, 2008

327. fionnuala

all along the riverrun bawdy,
she sometimes leaves her lights on
then opens her window a wee little crack,
so as to let the ghosts get in
and let the ghosts get back;

sometimes she leaves her lights on,
all bright in a surrounding sea of black
along the river rank and tawdry,
and the ghosts float in and take their ease,
pale disembodied memories.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

326. Ireland in October


A cold fierce rain
lashes the windows;
pulling across the curtains
as the evening draws in,
we lay more sods of turf
upon the faintly flickering,
sputtering fire, then nurse
our drams of single malt.
We listen to, for we cannot ignore,
the half-human shrieks
of the wild Atlantic winds.

I don't know, says Uncle Liam,
how much of this you can understand.

Upstairs
in this whitewashed cottage
planted, perversely,
on the edge of nearly nowhere
sits a four-poster bed
with sagging springs
in a room no longer used
nor visited, occupied now
by dust and sepia photographs,
wherein the procreative urge
unleashed seven generations
of this failing family.

The pounding rain, the heartless wind,
now as in times past
and in the coming days to be,
deride our aspirations;
mock our faltering, our timid
sense of connection,
our humanity.

On that bedroom wall
housed in an ancient frame
is a faded stitching sampler:
"God Bless Our Happy Home",
piously, if a little uncertainly
accomplished, by her own hand,
by Emily May MacCarthy
on October 20, 1843.
She was the fifth of eleven children
and one of the seven
who starved to death
along with her despairing parents.

In the photographs, dapper
gentlemen with large moustaches
stare into the unforgiving lens
with set expressions
of puzzled defiance; they pose,
stiffly, among tasteful studio
backdrops: a small side table,
a pillar or two, potted palms.
James Boyle Roche. Photographer.
15 Bridge Street. Ennis

is stamped within an oval
in the corner: the building
still exists, the ground floor
is now a fast-food restaurant.

Wedding couples,
equally unrelaxed, stare
sightlessly from the past;
they stare at me across a canyon
of mutual incomprehension:
I could not even begin
to understand these people.
He sits, she stands,
but she places a tentative
pleading hand
upon his rigid manly shoulder.

There is another
strangely out-of-place picture
of my great-great-uncle Marteen,
shot dead in the civil war.
A cocky 24-year-old
with a cheeky grin,
he is brandishing
an enormous revolver
and smokes a jaunty cigarette.
I can tell from the look of him
we could have had a drink,
he would have cut through
the damp lace-curtain piety,
the respectability,the fear.

But the rain will have none of it:
it comes down in buckets,
it comes down in cascades.
You will never never
never be free, it says:
in this country you will
never be released.

Liam is uncharacteristically
subdued, even embarrassed:
he shifts from foot to foot, in front
of the now warm and blazing fire.

Upstairs
there are so many old photographs
here and there on the dresser,
even more on the sideboards:
cloche hats on smiling elegant women,
baggy suits on the gents, all caps and hats;
they grin and squint in the harsh sunlight
of those long forgotten days, sporting
fashionable shortened neckties:
my unknown, all but unknowable
dead ancestors.

A flicker of sympathy
if not of recognition
slips through
this threnody of regret.

Listen, I think I'm going to bed,
it's been a really long day, I say.
Liam frowns. An awkward
silence ensues: Emmmm ...
Listen to me. There's something
I really need to tell you.
It's about the family ....

Don't.

It will keep for another hundred years

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

325. Up to Tokyo for Kao's Wedding



The Band made the trip up to the Big Smoke last Sunday to play at Kao's reception. I came up by bus the previous day and spent a long liquid evening renewing acquaintance with Alan, the manager of Dubliner's in Ikebukuro, and met a number of other Irish lads who showed up, including Mike, who is pissed off big time with all the chaps in suits and significant neckties that pass for the Irish elite in Tokyo. He suggested a new organization called RIJ (Real Irish in Japan) and we all immediately agreed to join just to shut him up and get on with the pints and the talk. Good craic, and not a spot of bother with the head the next morning which is a sure guarantee the beer was good. The reception next day was held in a French restaurant, Chez Pierre, and I got talking to Pierre himself who hails from Brittany ("anozzer Kelt!!")and says he's been in Japan for 40 years.



The music went down well and we had to do several encores. Afterwards, Kenji & Koji and myself headed off for Paddy Foley's in Roppongi where we had a fair few jars and met Paul, the barman, who had just arrived in Japan six weeks ago. I gave Paul one of our homemade CDs to stick on -- and the manager came over and asked us to play a gig!! Ah, well, too bad we don't live in Tokyo. Not really, I can't stand the place ....!!


Tuesday, April 08, 2008

324. The Dark Ungentle Art of Murder



Love and death, possessing and killing,
Are the dark foundations of the human soul.
-- Emile Zola


O happy snappy little prole
Sign yourself upon the dole.
Go out on Friday, Saturday night,
And get yourself into a fight.
Smash the bloke who spills your drink,
Go with feelings, never think.
A pint glass is the warrior’s cup,
So chase the girls and knock ‘em up.
Social Services, police?
Wind ‘em up and never cease.
Football’s the modern field of battle,
So go in with your mates and rattle
Their cages. Towering rages
Make you a man among men!
And then, in a short while, when
Sadly you end up on a slab,
Sliced and diced by Dr. McNab
At the age of twenty, twenty-one,
You’ll have fought and you’ll have won
You little tit, your little bit
In restoring dear old Britain
To things that once were written
By poets and sages
About the Dark Ages.

John MacDonald found a corpse, put it under the sofa,
Waited till it came to life and hit it with a poker,
Sold its eyes for souvenirs, sold its blood for whisky,
Kept its bones for dumb-bells to use when he was fifty
*.

George Tremayne was a man of fame
Well known in local parts;
He smiled and broke the young girls’ hearts,
But then broke one too many:
He seduced my sister Jenny.
Now George lies deep in the earth beneath,
I was grave and polite; I sent a wreath.

Unfriendly friendly universe,
I pack your stars into my purse


A weak cheer for our weary warriors
As they tread their hard way home;
Dispensers of Death, and yet,
It was through no wish of their own.
They are eager for love once more,
For simple acceptance; no foreign shore
Of unburied corpses, nor stink of war;
Eager to return to placid streams,
To ignore their dark unsettled dreams
And live as once they lived before.
But every man who was there can say
It never quite works out that way.
They need sweet sleep so badly,
And have no further wish to fight;
They would return their medals gladly,
For just one dreamless, peaceful night.

Every desire is a fear, every fear is a desire.


Doctor Mortimer duly arrived from Devon
On that clear September morning.
Holmes and I had had warning
But nothing under the canopy of Heaven
Could have prepared us for the Tale he told.
That Hound from Hell upon the Moors!

Heave aboot, ye Knaves and Hoors,
And roll them spittin’ cannons out!
Take aim, amidships, wait for the shout,
And dream on gold and jewels.


She would not think him half so cruel
Were she smiling prettily before him now
Instead of mouldering in the tomb;
Alive, at first, but with no room,
So very little room to move,
But time to think, before she died,
Of the earth and stones above her.
He had long since ceased to love her,
And arranged it all; if only to prove
The art of murder should best be applied
To enhance the fear of approaching doom.
Her fingernails torn to shreds, he imagines.
The darkness, the solitude, the weight:
Calculations of his cold dark hate.

He’s alive, he’s fuckin faking!
Chak ….. Chakka - Chak
Well, he’s f---in dead now.

-- US Marines, Fallujah 2004

Here’s a cracking new idea:
You ready?
- She’s a blonde/ brunette/ a redhead
- She’s young and sexy
- She’s got a filthy rich husband
- He’s old and fat
- She likes you
- She makes passionate love to you
- She says she adores you
- She wants you, needs you, etc.
- She begs you to kill her husband
- She’ll inherit the money
- You’ll wait until things cool down
- You’ll “meet”, you’ll get married
- You’ll live happily ever after

Me, I was in the Boy Scouts
So I know a thing or two,
( a couple of years in the Army as well,
but, truth to tell, Scouts is all you need
to learn depravity, get up to speed)
So this is what I’ll say to you:
She’ll be sitting on a sunny beach,
Out of call and out of reach,
Cuddling with her personal banker
While you, you trusting silly wanker,
Will be sprawled out at your leisure,
Doing 20 years at Her Majesty’s pleasure.

Dreamsister, dream once more of me
And I will sleepily dream of thee;
It is only in dreams my life has meaning,
When I hear you calling, softly keening.


Inchigeelagh.

My love and my mate
That I never thought dead
Till your horse came to me
With bridle trailing,
All blood from forehead
To polished saddle
Where you should be,
Either sitting or standing;
I gave one leap to the threshold,
A second to the gate,
A third upon its back.
I clapped my hands,
And off at a gallop;
I never lingered
Till I found you lying
By a little furze-bush
Without pope or bishop
Or priest or cleric
One prayer to whisper
But an old, old woman,
And her cloak about you,
And your blood in torrents –
Art O’Leary –
I did not wipe it off,
I drank it from my palms.
**

Yuri Andeeivich Kostolenko
Is an ordinary Russian (Ukrainian) thug,
Wears a leather jacket, shades, a gold rolex,
And if you ask him he might shrug and flex
His muscular beefy arms, perhaps display
His shrapnel scars, the weird tattoos
He got when he and his mate Sergei
Were high as kites and on the booze
With Spetznatz in Afghanistan; Yuri smiles
And gazes three, four thousand miles.
He leaves this world behind. He is not unkind
To animals and little children, not on purpose,
But he will chop off your fingers with a cleaver,
Extract your teeth with pliers, connect live wires
To sensitive parts, or blandly stick a telephone receiver
Up your arse or down your throat. No use talking.
Yuri never listens: Dollars or Euros do the walking.
War was a game; this, the same: Bizzinez is Bizzinez.

Sobibor survivors testified at the trial that Stangl used to ride into the camp and attend ‘selections’ dressed in a white riding habit. ‘How could you go to the camp in that get-up?’ ‘The roads were very bad,’ he replied. ‘Riding was really the best mode of transport.’ I tried once more. ‘Yes, but to attend the unloading of these people who were about to die in a white riding habit …?’ ‘It was hot,’ he said.
-- Gitta Sereny interview with Franz Stangl, ex-SS commandant of Sobibor.

The clouds come drifting from west to east,
Other days they drift from east to west;
Armies come with them from both directions,
Not once, not twice, but many times:
Russia, Germany; and also, Sweden and Austria,
For sometimes the wind blows north and south.
You wouldn’t want to be a simple peasant
Exposed on this martial gathering ground;
And you really wouldn’t want to be a Jew,
Not if you knew what was good for you.

The autumn of ’39 came in like a thunderclap.

It was more, this time, than foreign uniforms,
Some new king squeezing the land for tax,
Much more, so very much more than that:
A half-cocked racial theory had landed.
Auschwitz – Oswiecim – sums it up for us now,
But many survived Auschwitz, hardly any survived
Maidenek … Sobibor … Chelmno … Treblinka.
The utter disgrace of Europe, of historical mankind,
Begins with the philosophes of Enlightened Paris
And ends, logically, in the killing sheds of Poland.

My job
Was to do what I was told.


And this is just totally unacceptable.
This is not only bad, it is wrong.
One of the real reasons we hate the Nazis …
Dislike the Germans, in fact, since Caesar’s time,
A people arrogant in victory, abject in defeat;
Either at your throat, or kissing your feet …
Is their planned, industrial approach to murder,
Their cold inhuman efficiency.

They make the rest of us look stupid

Or rather, make us look good by default:
We prefer to kill in the heat of the moment,
Or when we feel tired, upset, disgruntled,
Or because we received a shitty letter from home,
Or a lot of the time, too much of the time,
Because we are drunk.
Then we just want to forget all about it –
Come home to those placid streams,

Block out bad dreams.

But we rarely feel bad when our victims are unseen,
When there’s no personal memory of where we’ve been
Or of what we’ve done; we can drop a kiloton
Of bombs with mad persistence; from a distance
The blood and ruins, the scattered body parts,
Leave no scars upon our hearts.

We trained very hard for this mission and we knew what we had to do. When we pulled away from the target we were lifted up by a shock wave, and I knew in that moment that the mission was successful … When I looked down, what I saw was an area of roiling tar where before there was a city. Do I have any feelings of guilt? Well, I knew there were human beings down there and I felt sorry for them, but we were sent out to do a job and we did it. That’s the deal. Anyway, if it hadn’t been me somebody else would have done it.
-- Colonel Tibbets, commander of the ‘Enola Gay’.

Somebody else would have done it.
I suppose Genghis Khan, Tamerlane, could have said the same.
So could ‘Bomber Harris’, Dark Angel of Dresden.
So could so many others.

I think it’s a miracle to have made it this far,
All things considered. And also you, my friend,
Tu le connais, lecteur, ce monstre délicat,
—Hypocrite lecteur, —mon semblable, —mon frère!

Thank God (!) for the common sense of the Soviets,
Which is not quite as silly as is it sounds,
When one thinks of the people on ‘Our Side’.

O, God, sweet Mary Jane,
I saw you coming down the lane –
Smoke without fire.
We shall lie within a silken room
In Sidon or in royal Tyre,
Or if you will
In Notting Hill,
Wherever you desire.


Love, reign on me!
Reign over us all.

The man wanted for killing a British woman in a Tokyo flat had charmed her by sketching her portrait, police in Japan have said. Lindsay Hawker was beaten, stripped then strangled before being buried in a bathtub of sand, they added. It also emerged that chief suspect Tatsuyo Ishihashi had been warned in the past over claims he had stalked a young woman. Miss Hawker’s naked body was found in Ishihashi’s apartment on Monday.***

Japan is a doddle, so safe and so wonderful, so polite,
You just walk around in a daze of incomprehension
For the first few months; then the reaction kicks in
And you start to hate the place, since you think the locals
Are having a laugh at you, which, to be honest, they are,
And then it doesn’t matter because you hit your second wind,
And then you start to understand bits of the language,
And then you start to actually speak it a bit, which means
You meet all kinds of interesting new people, and, by then
My friend, you are hooked. You go home on holidays, sure,
But you always want to come back. It’s not exotic, like Thailand;
It’s totally straight down the line but like some other planet.
Imagine they wear a watch showing twenty-five hours in a day
And you are stuck with the good old traditional twenty-four;
So you are in line for some of the time, sometimes minutes away,
But never completely in synch. Yes, well, that’s my take on Japan.
They know exactly what’s going down and you don’t have a clue.
Some people freak and run home; the oddballs kind of like it.

Poor young Lindsay. What happened you?
Where was the back-up, the gaijin friends?
Can’t tell you the number of times when this rash poet,
Soi-disant, befuddled, s-s-s-slightly discombobulated,
Discerned menacing shadows perhaps closing in,
When a voice from the darkness called out,
‘Everything OK, mate? Put you in a taxi, orright?’
The moment of danger … if it was danger … is over.
So, Lindsay, what went down?
Where were your friends when you needed them?
Didn’t you know this geek meant trouble?
I will never know, and I can’t double-guess;
I never even knew you, and there are hundreds
Of girls like you, but none quite like you, and we didn’t
Even live in the same city, and so on and so on …
But I can tell you this, or tell your family,
That every gaijin guy in this country,
Surrounded by 125 million Japanese,
Hoards a nugget of shame, his share of the blame,
That we couldn’t do better,
That we couldn’t protect you.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Brief Notes and Links

* Extract from Bagpipe Music by Louis MacNeice.
** Extract from Caoineadh Airt Ui Laoghaire (The Lament for Art O’Leary)
*** The Lindsay Hawker case


There are some other short, usually italicized, quotes from Edwin Muir, James Fenton, Charles Baudelaire and The Who. For better or worse, everything else is my own.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

323. Guinness Borracho!! - March 22

A great night in Shizuoka City brought Saint Patrick's Week to a close. Along with ourselves - the Gang from Hamamatsu - there were two other bands and the place was hopping. Tight music and a really good evening!!!!















Click HERE for Web Album with loads more photos.