SORROW – from “The Red Petticoat”

So now I know and

Must accept my fate

The sear of ice is

Burning in my breast

I have tried to quench it

With the gasping taste

Of whiskey

With new distractions

I have tried to warm

My blood

Suicide wouldn’t suit me

I fear the gaping hole

Of hell

But ah, to be old and

Mindless

My wretched mouth

All gums and grins

The ice dissolved at last

In drools and dribbles.

Cold Turkey

I wear your absence

Like a heavy coat

How pale the day

I never thought

That it would be so hard

To root you out

But I will not regret

The desolation

Of these desert days

The shock of separation

From where my spirit

Lay so easy

Life’s a bugger

But I will grab

it by the ears

And shake it till it screams

Ecstatic.

Ulster poets: OVER THE BRIDGE by James Ellis

I crossed a bridge and thought to shake the dust

From off my feet, but it was not to be;

For though I fled across the Irish sea,

Nursing resentment and profound disgust

That individuals had betrayed their trust

And held the public stage in ignominy,

Events o’ertook the ancient enemy,

And time has mellowed memory, as it must.

Homeward I crawl, a wretched prodigal,

To bide awhile, and then again depart –

To leave once more, once more to feel bereft –

Your picture album in my mental holdall,

The hills of Antrim etched upon my heart,

For truth to tell, I never really left.

Jeremiah

Grey church humped in dusk

We huddle, linked

Wispy rain-curled fringes

Cold fingers

Avoid the avid glances

Of the neighbours

Here is the hearse

The priest in white, hand aloft

Accustomed to the rites

Calls him Gerard – but

His name was Jeremiah

Strange cousins

Twice and thrice removed

Clamour to shake hands

And kiss

Anticipating whiskey

He’d have hated this.