GOING WEST BY TRAIN
February 2019 on an early morning train
from Dublin heading west sweeping along
in coffee and comfort – we’re on time.
Houses are not modest and tucked away
like they used to be. Some stand like
great empty churches in pomp and
circumstance as if expecting a crowd
but they feel hollow and up for sale.
Home’s a commodity. Hedges are scarce,
meadows greener as slurry and silage
have taken charge of landscape. Turf
is no longer cut and dogs don’t freak.
A man with a handbag steps down at
Roscommon station and a woman with
a toolkit on the platform could be Polish,
German, French – Irish even. Fashion is
the leveller that nips and tucks at individuality,
that makes us plainer and almost the same.
But fields were there – before wellness
or slatted-houses – when famine raged
and no god cared. The memory of
suffering is deep in veins and crannies
but the land is slowly returning to
its pagan roots as it sails into the light.
And children, less unsure of a blue moon,
hear other languages and have classmates
with different ways of singing to a god.
THE CHANTING OF HOOFBEATS
Sour grapes are not enough to light up the mind
in the darkening buzz tattle buzz
of the Chapel of Clay bar under a black moon.
Enter a flame of a dame worn to the bone
by a history of wind, weed, fungus and
other bits and bobs knee-deep in tommyrot.
A horsey type in weary tweed fumes into a phone
as his children huddle next to Mummy
like unpicked potatoes in a sloppy wet field.
Two buckos lash into pints on an open tab
and the same again Lady swearing they’d
tackle mules even if the sky turned upside down
and then there’s that bony figure cowering like
an empty thing ranting to shadows in feckless light
hoping to cast off the pulse of endless time.
Not all good. An aging gent in pinstripe and horn-rims
looks shy and shifty sharing a page with a young woman
who has one eye attached to her shoulder.
Granted it’s not early but I’d imagine the best
is yet to come if that couple sidling in sidelong
is anything to go by, but it would seem that
an Ave-Maria-Full-of-Rioja – even sour grapes
would be enough to light up the mind
in this Chapel of Clay Hotel bar. All that’s missing
is the chanting of hoofbeats.