(c) Copyright: Philip Rogers, Lucan, Dublin
|Sweet and decorous||
|Midsummer night's dream|
|The Lord's Prayer 1936-1986||
|After Enniskillen (+ Nov 1987)||
|Black flags on trawlers||
|Not injured (+ Apr 1989)||
|It's OK lads, carry on|
|The virus (+ Dec 1987)||
|At the end of winter|
|The day before the day after|
* 1. SWEET AND
Death. Cold. Winter.
Think wintry thoughts.
Think warlords slavering, masturbating rabid sperm.
Sperm cells fighting, fittest surviving, fighting, cloning,
cloning warlords, warlords spawning death.
Munich, Belfast, Vietnam, Chile, Salvador, Iran,
crazed tanks in the Forbidden City, Law and order in Pretoria,
Duck-shoots in Goose Bay, Greenpeace ship in harbour.
RucInla IraCia SasPlo - acronyms for warlords
spawning terror, dealing death
in the name of justice and freedom
and wrangler jeans.
Their work is blessed by national Churches
in the name of a confused God.
Welcome death from
lightning strike of lovers sated on a bed of fern.
Welcome death in hopeless illness, sweet release from cruel pain.
Welcome death that steals away the old and jaded life.
But away, away, a thousand times away
with death conspired in twisted minds
or worse, the war-room strategies of faceless, nameless ones,
strategies dispensed to random victims,
scapegoats deemed as politic necessity.
Dulce et decorum est...the platitude of Generals
and wealthy barons servicing the war machine.
But if it must be so, then, Executioner, unmask!
God give me strength to spit in your face,
eye down your eyes, as you do your task!
* 2. THE LORD'S
command the crowd. Hold breath.
Excitement subjective. Rant, rant.
Who art in Heaven...
the mind. Ejaculate malignant pigeonholes:
Traitors, Jews, Commies, Gypsies, Degenerates.
Hallowed be Thy Name...
the will to be one.
Reaction/interaction electric in the crowd.
Fists, mouths, faces convulse. Roars.
Heil! Sieg Heil! SIEG HEIL!
Thy Kingdom come...
for the Fatherland. Tramp, tramp.
For the purity of blood. Tramp tramp.
Austria, Rhineland, Poland. Tramp, tramp.
The Lowlands, France. Tramp, tramp.
Thy Will be done...
butts on doors. Cattle trains.
Hot showers. Cyclon-B. Ovens.
Babies' brains spatter walls.
Raus! Raus! Rifle butts on skulls.
Screams, despair, suicide.
On earth, as it is in Heaven...
die. Children see parents die.
Children cry. Jesus wept. Was this why?
Give us this day our daily bread...
drum, rattle and thrum.
Fife and flute, bowler and sash,
tramp to Finaghy Field.
Ulster says NO! Not an inch.
Over someone else's dead body.
Pigeonholes: Feckless bastards.
Breed like rabbits. Taidghs. Fenians.
And forgive us our trespasses...
skirl at Bodenstown.
Kilts. For Ireland. Brits out.
A Nation once again.
As we forgive our trespassers...
dead but not forgotten;
we got fourteen and Mountbatten.
Up the rabid preacher, from behind.
Fuck the Queen.
Pigeonholes: Bloody Sunday. Pigs. Black Prods.
Murdering bastards. Occupation forces.
And lead us not into temptation...
mouths, faces convulse.
Balaclavas, car-bombs, bricks.
Sandbags and barbed wire.
Dawn swoops. Choppers static in the sky.
Tricolours, Union Jacks unfurl.
Pat, (Sean, Robbie, Sam),
let's go - that's our man.
But deliver us from evil...
the bolt. Sight the scope.
Aim at head, gut, knee. Fire!
The slow haemorrhage of hope.
For Thine is the Kingdom...
|Have a pint, Mick? Crash.|
The Power and the Glory...
for tea, Mavis? Crash.
Shots over graves. More flags,
For ever and ever...
shots, more flags.
Children see parents die. Children cry.
Jesus wept. Jesus died.
Was this why? Was this why?
[Background: In 1994, the IRA declared a "permanent" ceasefire. Shortly afterward, the Loyalist Paramilitary Command reciprocated. In 1995, John Major and John Bruton jointly published The Frameworks Document, a blueprint for discussions between elected Nationalist and Unionist Parties for a just and lasting settlement in Northern Ireland. That document guaranteed no change in the constitutional position of Northern Ireland without the consent of the majority of people in the North. It also allowed for the setting up of agreed Executive to encourage North-South (cross-border) cooperation in matters of mutual interest (fisheries, agriculture, tourism etc). The following day, top Unionist spokespersons declared the Framework "dead in the water". In the days and weeks that followed, Unionist opinion mellowed as the realisation sank in that compromise was the only possible solution to the Northern conflict. Then the IRA attacked Canary Wharf and the Loylists paramilitaries were under pressure to respond. The Dublin Government promised a referendum to amend nationalist territorial claims to Northern Ireland, as defined in Articles 2 and 3 of the Irish Constitution. On Good Friday 1998, the Belfast Agreement was signed by all parties to the talks, except (you guessed it!) that of the Revd Ian Paisley. In May, the people of Ireland, North and South, voted for peace. The Republic voted out the territorial claim on the North, and the people of the North voted to accept the Agreement. Only time will tell if the guns stay silent].
* 3. BLOODY FRIDAY
The children's hour on Radio Eireann continued merrily:
Hickory, dickory, dock! The mouse ran up the...
In Dublin's fair city, where the girls are so pretty...
Three blind mice! See how they run! They all run...
We interrupt this programme to bring you a news-flash...
Shortly after half-past four today, two car-bombs exploded
in the city centre. The following phone number....
Dublin was body-packed that afternoon.
Students, shoppers, city-hoppers,
tourists, touts, out-and-abouts,
busy beavers gnawing at life chore
convened in a great gathering
as the to and fro of starlings
in preparation for the night flight
to concrete nests in treeless suburbs.
Lean cats beside fat mouse-holes,
one crouched in George's Street,
five yards from Guiney's store.
The other purred in Nassau Street,
a weasel-spit from Trinity.
The mice were truly blind!
No-one gave the stolen cars a second glance.
Their lethal cargo ticked the seconds
to the bombers' programmed time.
My sons, aged six and three,
window-shopped their uncle to distraction,
fingering the fivers, palmed to each
with whispered threats not to tell the other.
Giving their uncle backchat,
they glass-nosed and jostled
along the happy pavement
five minutes too soon for the terror.
At the bus stop in Westland Row,
the queuing crowd passed no heed
on the first dull crump.
The second bomb, a louder thump,
rocked the fully-loaded bus.
"Another Georgian house gone up!"
the bus conductor laughed.
Five miles away, we thought the same
until we saw the evening News.
Death in the living-room on TV screen
is staple fare. But this was horrible:
streets like an obscene abattoir,
carnage, severed limbs, bodies everywhere;
a blind, demented woman sang a lullaby
as she rocked her dying child.
That day of scarlet nightmares
heard the screams of the maimed,
fed twenty-three coffins.
And somewhere safe, those craven bastards,
who butchered innocents
and children on the Dublin streets,
drunk to their success as warriors.
Sweet Christ have mercy, forgive my ice-cold rage!
I would have freed infected vermin, like Barabbas,
but slowly gutted with a septic blade those animals.
I would have savoured hours strip-slicing the skin
until the guttering flame of life had almost quenched,
then coaxing them alive again,
to coldly whisper in their dying ears:
"Go swift and straight to Hell!" and sliced again.
Vomit in my mouth at the insight:
I was their brother and more cruel!
They killed for their reasons.
I would have killed for mine,
cold-blooded and with artistry,
if I had cornered those
who might have killed my sons!
Murder is murder! said my Christian mind.
I'll kill the bastards! screamed my guts.
Decades later, the thought chills.
My boys are strong men now and youth
forgets the pain of yesterday but I can not!
My death is on its way
but meanwhile I will stroll the Dublin streets,
alive to the scents of flower stalls,
sick diesel fumes, the Liffey slops,
drowned in the sound of bells,
whistles, loud-hailers, buskers' songs,
hot engines revving at the lights,
the cheerful shouts of Hegald'n Press!;
soaking with my eyes the images
of saffron robes in Grafton Street;
pavement art; paintings rainproofed in plastic;
purple hair; grey faded stone;
green spears of Trinity's railings;
alive to the touch of a summer breast
at my elbow in the throng
and the peace of lazy seats in Stephen's Green.
I remember the dead, and I remember
the lucky ones, my eldest sons
and the other Dubliners who lived.
* 4. AFTER
(Publ. Sligo Champion, Nov 13 1987)
Knead me the white
clay, Sean, and make the rubber ropes
that you weave into baskets before I shoot you down.
I'll knead you the white clay, man, and make the rubber ropes
not for fine baskets but to hang your clan.
Take down th'ould fiddle, Sam, play a tune of the glens,
an ancient tune of joy before I shoot you down.
I'll take down th'ould fiddle, man, play a tune of the glens,
not a tune of joy but a requiem for your clan.
Saddle up your blood horses, Pat, we'll fly the Curragh plains
and see the leggy foals before I bomb you out.
I'll saddle up the blood horses, man, and we'll ride to see the foals
but their strong hooves will drum the death of your clan.
Show me the leix weir, Rob, your fingerlings, your traps
and show me your greenheart rod before I bomb you out.
I'll show you the leix weir, man, my fingerlings, my traps, my rod
but in the salmon pool below the weir your clan will drown.
* 5. BLACK FLAGS ON
people of the sea
know well the wracking pain of sudden death,
of mutilation by sea-rock and shell,
of bodies drowned, washed up, or never found
but make themselves forget,
as do other friendly people
scattered through this land,
the pain and grief inflicted on
countless other families
in Ireland's prostituted name.
Smiling, quiet-spoken people of the sea,
in their warm kitchens, not so long ago,
played a deadly game of twenty-five,
told rosaries from the heart.
But now, they spellbound watch TV
and see the carnage of the Troubles,
Derry's awful day, Darkley,
Belfast, Enniskillen, Crossmaglen.
And on this side of the wall,
the spotlights fall on cordons gapped,
on Irish soldiers searching for dugouts,
on brave men in blue, unarmed,
shot down by common thugs.
And in safe houses, friendly hands
that bear no stains of victims' blood,
pour cups of tea for silent visitors
with hunters' eyes and savage hearts.
From peaceful trawler masts dark omens flap
like wounded ravens in a sombre sky:
tattered strips of H-Block black
flag the Irish lie.
* 6. NOT INJURED
(Publ. Scandinavian J. Acupuncture & Electrotherapy Apr 1989)
Masked ones blew
as the man drove by alone,
reported to their chief
that the target's wife
was not injured.
Others pulled a girl
out of an ambushed car,
shot away her lover's face and chest
at point blank range but she
was not injured.
Others kicked in the kitchen door
and, as wife and children watched,
bread and jam halfway
to open mouths,
caved in his skull
with paving stones
but the family
was not injured.
Similar priests of death
fucked the body of Christ
behind a wall in Enniskillen town,
doing this in memory
of 1690, 1916, 1969,
a black consecration
in my name and yours.
And the mourners of the dead,
the lovers of the shattered,
the parents of the maimed,
In this bloody land,
thousands were not injured
by the troubles,
but for the minor matter
of minds that have flown the coop,
or minds plated, pinned and splinted
with thorazine, diazepam.
* 7. THE VIRUS
(Publ. Irish Veterinary News, Dec 1987)
The virus attacks
causes cancer of the conscience cells
and petrifies the heart,
aborting the foetus of compassion,
so that Irish men and women
accept the law of drumhead courts,
set car-bombs where neighbours meet to pray.
Now fingers are negotiable.
What next behind the altar?
A soft sheath of vagina
from a banker's daughter?
One of Marty Feldman's eyes?
A vocal cord from Pavarotti?
James Galway's bottom lip?
A bloody foreskin
should fetch a million,
old one-eye's purple bulb
should fetch much more.
And, in October,
when the conker season starts,
two nuts, dried on their strings,
should make a fortune.
In this land of cruel funerals,
pub-songs of hate and death
are sung to cheers and laughter.
and the Poblacht still sells.
In our divided brains, the virus multiplies
to maim, to mutilate, to murder
any hope of self respect.
The spirit of a friendly people cries.
Cursing the hundred thousand welcomes,
we turn to the wall and die,
or turn, as convicted thieves,
to the moaning Christ within
for mercy and healing
from the past that plagues our lives.
* 8. THE DAY BEFORE
THE DAY AFTER
Lazy summer afternoon.
The bomb explodes. Disbelief.
Man-made power halts. Nothing moves,
except the pickings of the roaring wind
and the panic stricken. No boltholes.
All submit to the dusty, shining prick
and its dry, bursting, roaring orgasm.
Children scream in fear. Dogs whine.
All creatures in sight are raped,
buggered and destroyed
in one horrendous orgy.
are rendered down
to meat and bone,
to gore, black dust,
fleshstench and vapour.
Fossil-shadows in stone,
indict the madness of man.
* 9. MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S
grey silhouetted puffs
in the blue dusk midnight sky;
children gasping, clapping;
parents chatting quietly;
cigarette smoke curling;
chaos of cars.
The final rocket, the most spectacular,
conjured brilliant peacock feathers
out of the summer air.
Seconds later came the boom -
such power in a paper cylinder.
Standstill. Time frozen
in the energy of light.
Fireworks in my head, I dreamed
of doom dormant in deep silos,
white heat, fireballs,
lethal radiation everywhere,
whimpers of pain, despair,
millions more to die slow deaths,
great meat-eating mushrooms devouring,
Auschwitz, Dachau, Jonestown, Dante's Inferno
like a summer picnic.
Is there a God at all?
O Holy God! Are You out there?
Too late! Too late to stop the rushing orgasm -
the blinding artificial suns,
the spewing mushroom clouds,
the universal roar, the last hurrah
weak from the gibbering lips of dying lunatics.
Then eerie silence for a thousand years.
But the Phoenix,
scratching for signs of life,
discovered Adam and Eve asleep
under a mound of nuclear ash.
They crawled Neanderthal,
drank from a clean Black Pool,
ate snakemeat for added vigour
and got to work.
The dream disintegrated into morning -
blackbird in the garden,
thrush on the wall, crows at the bins - coming awake...
Where is my cup of tea?
Who can I screw today at work and play?
* 10. LUCANNE
Out of the mushroom-cloud
a new sun shone.
Enveloped in white ash and darkness, time stopped.
In a cellar, deep beneath the silent streets,
a single candle glowed.
Stocks of food and water
lined the walls.
Husband and wife stared at each other,
wordless in disbelief.
Two children played between them
One fell and cried for Mum. Reality now.
Nuclear winter now.
No hope now.
Weeping, she gathered her children to her
and whispered "It is time".
"Yes" his nod.
The Last Supper was happy for the children.
Mum sang. Dad told stories
of animals and woods and streams.
Full of bread and wine, the children dozed.
The healer, knowing he could heal no more,
gave his little ones, his mate, himself
a shot of deep unending sleep -
Euthathal, 10 cc, i/v.
* 11. ANIMAL ANTICS
pressure churning in his bowels,
farted in silent agony(1).
The lethal, surreptitious blast
wafted formless on the ninja wind,
undetectable by nose or eye, to rain
on neighbours' lands in acid radiance.
He denied the fart until
the Eagle's cold red eye
saw telltale signs around his base.
The Eagle scratched his scaly neck,
cackling at the Bear's embarrassment.
guilty of a lesser foul,
tightened his own sphincter
and growled that he was in control
of his waste(2). But woe the day
an angry boot should strike that rump.
say the plans against disaster
are in capable hands
but the people shrug
shun the streets, the rain,
the friendly puddles.
Parents order them indoors
to feed them iodine
(1) The Chernobyl leak
was detected by western surveillance before the Russians admitted
(2) Sellafield continues to process nuclear waste and is linked to unexplained congenital abnormalities on both sides of the Irish sea.
* 12. STRATEGIC GAMES
"I repeat, the
Strategic Defence Initiative
(space weapons system) is for defence purposes only..."
Boffins and generals dote on it.
Reykjavik foundered on it,
the volcano slumbered through it -
the nightmare, SDI.
Unwinking, silent laser eyes
focus to earth.
As children stroke their willies,
infantile but with dormant power
to annihilate the mind,
top brass fantasise the SDI
as a shield against attacking nukes.
The thought appals:
silent satellites in their hundreds,
encircling the globe,
spinning a lethal spider's web in space,
each node of web
mega-megawatts of laser power.
One blip on a radar screen in Thule
and deep in concrete, far away in Omaha,
itchy fingers flick flick the straining crimson switches.
In the twitch of a waspish ovipositor,
a 747, slightly off course,
disintegrates in a single flash of light.
In Santiago, Tripoli, Beirut,
people shake their fists in Big Brother's eye
but the same red buttons could release
ten thousand stuttering pinpoints to start
a fireball fiercer than Hiroshima
and ten thousand fireballs could ash
every city in the world,
an irreverent world that screens the Eagle
in Spitting Image guise.
More absurd, the consequence:
winter years without the winter sun
and no nuclear excuse.
And children still believe that Santa Claus
lives with his reindeers at the Pole!
Boffins and generals dote on it,
Reykjavik foundered on it.
The volcano slumbered through it -
the nightmare, SDI.
Unwinking, silent laser eyes
focus to earth.
* 13. MAN-EATER
The old Lion, mange-coated,
remembering past potency,
guards his dwindling empire.
Though lame, Leo is too dangerous
to roam abroad unchecked -
his snarl, his cough,
still command some fear.
His freedom is not ours.
At the water-hole, his yellow eye
fell on a Silverine Monkey's antic art
on a spit of mud-flat. Leo roared,
shot a sharpened claw to the groin.
Falsetto, Monkey sang
that Leo was lord and bastard of all mud-flats.
Angry blowflies laid grenades
in Leo's mane and crutch.
But when the searing crater-pain struck
the maggots had fallen off
and Leo had to make himself content
to squash ten harmless fleas.
A Stalker tried to net him,
to inflict minimal damage
and save Leo for the zoo.
But Stalker's head was swiped right off
by an off-paw cuff. Looking the other way,
Leo ignored the mess, as he has done
abscessed to the roots,
day to day he lives in pain.
He has become a man-eater,
feeds on easy prey,
the wounded, the displaced,
those unable to defend themselves.
His near forepaw is gangrenous.
Soon he may have to gnaw it off,
taste his own blood,
blue and red and white,
as it congeals
with foreign blood-groups,
hybrids of orange and green.
* 14. IT'S OK LADS,
prime your bomb -
your aims are as sound
as those of your opponents.
exterminate your suspects - they are vermin
because your office says so.
What need have you of justice, law -
they are for idiots,
mere games of lawyers' words.
Judge! let us settle this case in advance
in the interests of the State.
(Yes Minister, I agree, for state security
we'll send the suspects down -
pity though that capital punishment is gone -
and when you discover the real culprits
for Christ's sake, keep them under wraps).
Pope! make sure the Sunday collections
are well invested in arms.
Factory-worker! Instal the rods
in nuclear missile cones.
Submariner! be patient in Polaris -
your day will come.
Soldier! oil your gun.
Sailor! dust your radar-screen.
Junkie! whet your knife.
Fifth - Thou shalt not kill
was such an impractical ideal -
if we were to build it in
to our democratic thought-bin
how could we sweep away
the surplus fruit of daily raids
in Venus' orchard?
Where would we find foster parents
for unwanted foetal millions
that we zap with suction-cups
or plastic-bag in bins?
No, let those of us in power,
whether government, arm of state,
the educated rich, the criminal,
honour great ideals in the breech.
The prophesy of Armageddon was a lie -
global Death opens his evil eye
each morning. That's all I have to say.
It's OK lads. Carry on. Have a good day!
* 15. AT THE END OF
(NATIONAL GALLERY, DUBLIN, January 30 1993)
* a. THE DARGAN WING
Vanity reigns here,
stiff upper lips, sneers,
insolent looks of judges, people in silks, fine rags,
portrayed as noble. Did their tenants find them base?
Am I a squire in disguise?
Hibernia, raped then in an English prank,
(raped now by the Bundesbank) apes Diana,
hound at her feet, arm around Cloncurry's bust.
Was he, like me, a frustrated hunter?
Four naked innocents, (children of our Four Green Fields?)
perch unsteadily on a sea-dragon's back,
trying to stay afloat in a raging sea
of lust and avarice as two bronze faces,
archetypes of parents, stare ahead unseeing
unable to intervene. Spoiled dogs strut here,
blueblooded, pedigreed, shampooed, petted, pampered,
groomed for a life of shelter behind high walls, iron gates
as hungry hounds, lean dogs of poverty and war,
lust for work, battlefields and blood.
Chaos reigns here: men play at soldiering,
wounding, raping, killing those who sing another song,
salute another flag, worship the same God
under other names. Marble busts of the dead
and visions of white bones, abound.
One senses graveyards here, swollen with corpses, overgrown.
Tormented women, with hopeless eyes and clutching hands,
scream for dead children, husbands, lovers.
I hear the patient groan, the loving sigh of the Son of God
from His throne on high as his children plod through misery,
lie, thieve, fornicate, fantasise at loving and being loved
in the brief candletime before they die.
* b. THE TURNER EXHIBITION
Colour hits the eye,
blues, ochres, greens, greys, scarlets,
vivid blots, dots, swirls, clots of self
mixed with genius, magic dawns,
summer picnics, languid sunsets.
The human mind amazes even itself.
Castles, shell-pocked, roofless, empty now
but for raucous ravens, timid wrens,
mock the warlords' dreams.
Here rustles a forest of tall tilted beech trees,
white-barked, majestic now but predestined
to topple in the teeth of a coming storm,
or to the ravening teeth of chain-saws.
Storm-tossed ships, rib-bared wrecks, heave on mighty waves.
Glowering cloud is rent by thunderbolt.
Do you not hear the creak of timber,
the tear of canvas, the snap of ropes,
the crash of masts, the last weak cries
of terror drowning: Mamma. Mary. O Jesus have mercy.
On another panel loom high-rocky cliffs to roam or jump off.
Below curve salmon-slashed beats, preserved for the rich.
The humidity meter ticks away,
tells our passing time as I ponder waterfalls,
my life outspilling, thundering over huge cliffs,
falling helplessly through granite gorges,
winding to an unseen sea.
* c. THE TOP O' THE HOUSE
Here, I am
surrounded by Christs:
live Christs, dead Christs, smiling and sad Christs.
I am surrounded by Christ dispensing bread and grace,
Christ at the Supper table aware of Judas' half crazed look,
Christ crucified, Christ taken down in Mary's arms,
Pieta, Oh pity.
And the resurrected Christ ascends gladly to a better world.
But bare-arsed baby Christs, mostly without their Pampers
outnumber the adult Christ by more than 10 to 1.
We need baby Christs, like Santa Claus,
to give us pause, hope and joy
through the eyes of faithful girls and boys.
The weenie of baby Christ peeps at me shyly from several walls
but the man-Christ's manhood is not on show.
Hidden in the shadow of Abel's looming doom,
like the club raised for the fatal blow, Cain's is only upright penis in the room.
I am surrounded by Marys, Madonnas in blues and purples,
pinks and reds and angels' heads.
In naked marble, at 18 degrees centigrade,
with penises at ease, two wrestlers strain
and an unheeding boy pulls a thorn
from his wounded foot. The marbles sing
to pure anatomy, the body beautiful.
All around me curve more bare breasts than in a Soho nightclub.
Their nipples strain for caress by finger, nose or tongue
but the maidenly triangles, lust-grail of lonely men,
are cloaked in flowing hair, or cloth, or gossamer.
A Magdalene sighs, her buxom breasts bared
but no Cain or Christ is there to worship or play at her altar,
so she strokes a lonely nipple with one calm hand,
as she cradles a skull with the other
and contemplates a wooden cross
and a well read but neglected Book.
In another corner, she languishes in a glade,
naked to the waist, fingering her knotted whip,
eyeing the accusing Book. Poor Magdalene. Poor me.
More chaos, more armies of soulless soldiers,
smug courtesans, hopefuls and hangers-on
surround me. Upturned eyes avoid my gaze,
another arrow gores Sebastian's side.
Icons from another era, haloes, hands joined in prayer
choirs and bands of angels with baby weenies or none,
angels singing in a drawing room, invade the senses.
Heads of angels dance like fireflies in the sky.
I feel Munck's soundless scream creeping up on me.
Chained like a slave to a miller's slow wheel,
I move around the sun in helpless rhythm.
How long, how long? I must get out of here.
Let me be free, free to walk away
from other people and other peoples' dreams for me,
into the busy street of my own dreams.
But No! Let me be tied to Thee and thee,
for you two I know and feel and see
In spirit, paint and love and masochistic mystery.