Guth An Anam

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      Guth An Anam

      Guth An Anam (Voice of the soul)
      Aine Mac Aodha

      “Our revenge will be the laughter of our children” – Bobby Sands
      “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”
      Oscar Wilde
      “I have spread my dreams under your feet; Tread softly because
      you tread on my dreams” W.B.yeats

      Guth An Anam (Voice of the soul)
      I carried you; or we carried each other
      over ancient sites and thorny bushes
      to recall your forgotten voice
      lost through the layers of time.
      I carried you to Yeats County; with views
      of soothing Benbulben Mountain and you
      sang such beautiful tunes.
      You sang out too when I located the
      weather worn court tomb at Creevykeel.
      An ancient connection was made.
      When birds left the trees for sunnier climbs
      as winter caped above the house you were with me.
      You gave me music to open my soul
      again to the beauty in the landscape.
      Music; you are the voice of my soul.
      Often in the music of the wind
      in some stony place recalled to mind
      neglected tombs that now are seldom traced
      hold celtic knots and swirls upon its face.
      Knockmany passage tomb in all its presence
      instills in me the beauty of the ancients
      whose skill and art have traveled land and sea
      to keep our spirit in its company.
      I stand against this tomb of Carleton’s valley
      surrounded by the mountains, bog and beauty.
      united we sing songs towards the wind
      delighted at my growth of soul within.
      Leaving now this tomb of pagan origin;
      heightened thoughts renewed in earthy vision.
      The mindful song than sings along the breeze
      is forever placed within my memories.
      Note: Aisling – vision (Gaelic)
      Awakened, made it through
      the veils of pitch,
      threaded with wars, flags and
      tribal intolerance; fixed
      on the horizons of my mind.
      In dreams the inland rivers claw
      like hunger towards the Atlantic coast
      gathering with it clotted memories,
      of a torturous past in every blast;
      rousing the shadows of Irelands ghosts.
      Tuatha de Danaan, the pilgrims,
      the famine and her coffin ships,
      the uprisings, internment, the troubles,
      the hunger strikes, sons, daughters……
      Muscailt (“The Awakening” in Irish)
      A Prayer to the Integrity of Words
      Bless the verbs and nouns that
      carry rivers of verse in their hour of need.
      Bless their totality of wisdom
      greeting morality with novels amassed,
      usage, bringing yet; tribal flouncing and
      indecent drifting.
      Without the integrity of words
      our clans may never meet or greet,
      for many ensembles would slither un-heard.
      Night Aria
      Sounds of closing time ring out from the garage floor court
      the dog groans in her sleep at the distant sound of tyres
      spinning wildly in circles on the tar. Someone’s idea of fun.
      Reading late into the night the air gets colder just before dawn.
      In the company of birdsong; they care not for time on a clock
      out do each other in a frenzy of thrills, defending territories.
      They seem to snooze very little as night blends into day yet
      songs of the scolding black bird in the undergrowth
      sends me over the mountain to sleep; eventually.
      All for love
      You said you never cared for walking over boggy hills
      over rusty styles with bulls on the other side
      only to find a crumbling stone etched in lines
      you do it out of love.
      Watching in bewilderment as I spy a lone ogham stone
      in the centre of a field in Mountfield in the middle
      of nowhere and my spirit lifts at the sight of it.
      My mind gets to work on the stories this stone carries in its aura.
      My camera clicks many times.
      You do this out of love you say; like I do
      when the wilderness calls and I succumb to it’s voice
      Magic happens in the cool waters of healing wells
      making the journey under clay; to offer up
      cures within its life force.
      I’ve seen it as winter blends its end of days
      into the arrival of spring. On mountains
      and boundaried fields as morning mist
      Within myself when i forget the world a while
      do nothing except listen to the order of things
      or stare into space.
      Within the lunar cycles when moon phases
      stir the spirit in an ancient way; as it passes
      on its journey.
      Its there too on the faces of new born babies;
      reddened from the delicate path taken
      from womb to world, dark to light.
      Lake Michigan seemed to spread out
      like another Atlantic before me
      the river a hem; traced along the tall buildings.
      At night from Sears Tower; we saw the city lights;
      grids like lay lines as far as the eye could see.
      It was the year the cicadas appeared
      the drumming deafening.
      I preferred the cicadas to the noise
      in the North of Ireland then.
      They come with their love chorus
      every thirteen years.
      When the fireflies got a look in;
      how beautiful they were, their bursts of light
      reminded me of the fires on the hills at Beltane;
      or all hallows eve.
      I thought that paganism was the way to go;
      the on/off ceasefires seemed to run tally
      with the mixed marriage that ended a war within a war.
      In my mind again I’m sitting on the warm wooden step
      outside the new home in Chicago.
      The night sky bleeds constantly from
      the low flying planes of O’Hare as they routinely pass,
      you joked that you saw your mothers purple rinse
      at the crafts window waving the union jack
      and me Da the Tri-colour.
      Ireland and the north lingered still;
      on my clothes, hearts and brogue;
      there was a drive-by-shooting in the area
      we hadn’t a clue as to why; but learned later
      it was to do with bandanas and their colours.
      It comes down to colours and flags in the end I thought.
      Our outer landscapes may have changed
      our place of birth; of memory remained.
      “Cicadas are insects belonging to the family Cicadidae in the order Hemiptera*. Cicadas are
      recognizable by their large size (>1 inch) and clear wings held rooflike over the abdomen. Their
      life cycles are long, usually involving multiple years spent underground as juveniles, followed by a
      brief (roughly 2-6 weeks) adult life above ground.. As adults, males produce a loud song using
      specialized sound tymbals. These sounds are among the loudest produced by any insects roots”
      Island Home
      I’ve traveled very little from this island home.
      My native land grounds me keeps me in contact
      with the rhythms of nature, the sound of the winds,
      the call of the wild birds and the dialects of its people.
      Tyrone’s inland landscape of moss clad hills and flat bogs
      break every now and then like an ocean wave.
      Small towns and villages emerge lively and loud
      against the woven landscape
      One can drive for miles across back roads criss-crossing
      town lands whose names mean; stony path,
      fairly coloured field or hill of midges; before
      a village appears out of the hedgerows.
      Fintona, Seskinore, over the mountain to
      Fivemiletown. across the side road to Sixmilecross,
      Carrickmore, Gortin and to Omagh again, the view
      always lifts the spirit.
      Gortin village is one such place, hidden within
      the protective fauna of the forest and rough mossy
      hills flanking the road into the village.
      Fiddle music sails up from the music store.
      I may not have traveled far; but this island
      Home; were the ancestors have left their marks on the land;
      in the form of art and awkward names,
      This will take me far away in my mind at times.
      Love Diminishes
      She watches their love die quietly.
      No storms or rough waters to master
      no acid looks or misfired cups
      but silently as bud in spring.
      The house they built on with love and hope
      a library of snapshots charting the years
      spent loving, laughing, raring the brood.
      Each picture a story, each flake of paint
      an unsaid feeling; left dormant.
      Wallpaper fades behind the silent gloss.
      She watched their love die quietly among the
      layer of years tending room by room
      in fancy décor, empty now of the children.
      All she can do is watch their love diminish.
      dried fruits
      on the bird table –
      bees hum
      soft raindrops –
      spring sings her lullaby
      heartbeat on paving stones
      I hear her voice
      in the minds eye
      as I re-pot the Geraniums.
      “Keep them by the window
      they’ll get more light
      and water sparingly in winter”
      It’s funny how a flower or
      the faint smell of something
      familiar ignites a memory.
      Like a song even, that escapes
      at the right time from a car radio
      just as you pass,
      can stop you in your tracks, combing
      back a time of instant love, perhaps
      a first love that had vanished.
      Messages are found all around us
      if only we’d take the time to listen
      Our lives so busy.
      Learning to be still is a skill, quiet the mind
      once in a while, the messages will come;
      from the most unlikely places.
      Closing of Day
      Reminders of winter brush their wings against me.
      The sky lavender as day passes on this world of mine
      The last of the light dissolving into careless shadows
      that play foolish games on the eye.
      Moon is missing and stars fret her return to fullness.
      Closing times ring out in the faint frost
      carrying voice tones up into the air.
      Pockets of youths gather at the garage shop
      each singing their own song; each dressed for battle.
      Mr Clark totters past the gate breathing heavy;
      the hound in tow-showing him the way;
      the usual way; no free run of things.
      He catches my presence and waves; hand above head,
      filled with thought he continues.
      A car hurling like thunder on the road below
      does its best to do the ton, screaming almost
      like a banshee.
      I watch as a spider parachutes her web, it’s her time to work
      and the moths time to be on the lookout.
      I close the door to the wintry night.
      Seekers of truth
      Truths like crystals lie buried under earth
      under ancient oaks and long forgotten pathways
      leading to the ocean.
      In the songs of yesterday adrift on the spring mist
      as I gaze out over the hills.
      In layers of prayers petitioned to sky that soar
      to the universal spirit.
      In cosmic shifts, of the soul’s migration; from before birth
      to beyond the end of life.
      We seek it in books; in passing thoughts that nudge us
      towards a face in the crowd.
      In the faces of the old.
      With others on the journey, embraced, entwined
      truth emerges out of the dark returning as the light
      Starlings –
      under the roof space
      claws on wood
      spring cleaning.
      rose petals floating –
      small puddles reflect summer
      in sun drenched pools.
      flowerless Hawthorn
      bending against the winds path
      farewell to litha.
      Mind Maps
      The county swirls evermore into winter.
      Evenings; old blanket grey smears the sky.
      Lightening threaten its Amethysts strike
      across the small market town.
      Driving along the back roads to Fintona
      Omagh dissolves in the mist blown off the fields.
      A tin shed orange with rust appears out of
      the darkness. Fog; like ghosts; suddenly appear.
      Trees along the curling roads make tunnels
      before my eyes. Empty of cars i turn the lights off
      for a second. The scuttle of a hare startles me it
      stops for a look before scampering to the hedge.
      On the ten mile drive i meet no other drivers.
      These roads are the sneaky back roads over
      hills and through forested glades.
      Never found on road maps; but mapped on the mind.
      Returning to stony ground.
      I drove to the Stone circles at Beagmore
      an instinctual journey and need.
      The alignment slightly mossed over
      blown off the hills and boggy land.
      Passing the five sisters kettle holes
      reminded me of the many who died when
      their car drove off road into the bog at night,
      no lamp-posts on those roads then.
      These stone meant something to someone
      a calling to the tribes.
      Empty now of people apart from the odd person
      who climbed briers and stiles, without much help from signposts,
      just to enrich their soul, it’s that kind of place were the
      hustle and bustle of daily urban life vanishes for a while.
      A place that talks to you; not you to it.
      Takes you back to an ancient time.
      Disappearing world
      I can drive out of town
      and within minutes get lost
      amid the Tyrone landscape.
      Often in search of some stony
      place I once new
      and find it gone.
      Replaced by a house with
      Sperrin Mountain views
      right on the doorstep.
      The news of Gold mining at the
      beauty spot, Pigeon Top saddens
      the heart and eyes.
      Huge scoops of earth carried away in
      ignorant lorries leaving dirt trails
      as far a s the eye can see.
      In daydreams I weep for the land.
      Now that peace has come
      prospectors want a piece.
      A haven in the mind
      This land has molded me
      has scolded me like my father
      in shades of grief unspoken;
      spiritually tethered to it’s acres.
      Divided from one another by boundaries
      walls, flags, street names and the
      isolation of tribal words.
      My thoughts often turn inwards.
      The landscape of the soul changes
      when i wander the Tyrone hills
      filling my soul with moss coloured
      songs; of how nature always finds a way.
      Seasons blend into one another without
      much argument; they have a spirit of
      their very own and follow it no matter what.
      a headgehog
      looking my way
      lost in grief
      out of nowhere
      a bee
      hungry for summer
      When the ould pair died
      the music, for a while
      went also.
      A worn fiddle hangs
      by the chunky accordion.
      Airs recalled,
      in snapshots of scenes
      fiddlers night on
      local radio.
      Clearings on the lino
      waltzing to the beat
      one, two, three…
      Under the watchful eye
      of Blessed Oliver Plunkett
      they glided.
      I feel again the music
      swell in me where
      winter visits often.
      Like rivers that flow
      to the cold Atlantic
      the journey long.
      I listen to the waves
      I hear them, the
      music of the ould pair.
      (the ould pair, A way of saying the parents)
      at twilight arrive ears dive sky ward
      alert to any and every noise as they steal
      into the summer garden.
      Larger than my childhood memory of them
      inching through the grass in some
      ancestral way.
      Their grace and beauty blend with the landscape.
      Every so often standing upright
      like a warrior of old.
      On Main Street
      In the stillness of early morning, maples on Main Street whisper.
      Signs of life move into the air. Milk vans shuttle door to door
      of side streets. Steam from the Carlton bakery; begin its snail’s ascent
      over the roof, warming the alleyway as it rises.
      The Strule River ripples over flat stones catching the lamp lights
      perched antiquely on Bells Bridge.
      Sheela Na Gigs or look a likes stare from the corners of the chapel
      walls made worse by the blinking glare of the festive decorations.
      On the footpath by Greasy Joe’s café; the remains of a curry chip
      decorates the way, the culprit long gone.
      There’s something special about this time of the morning when the
      town and its occupants begin to rouse.
      There’s order, there calm, before flushes of life begin again with the
      torrent of youth thundering forward like shoals of fish all heading for
      the school gates. The courthouse hill a mass of uniformed brown and
      Our stories
      We carry them on our faces like some visible vail or invisible back
      pack that travels with us from pillar to post. Staving ahead; making
      room for a few more on the journey. We hold them in our souls.
      We lay them on the hearth of a friend or maybe someone we meet by
      chance and our energies swap them for us, without the need of words.
      They are carried on footsteps drifting along on the night breeze taking
      them further a field again.
      Like a mothers knee they warm us on nights of pouring rain that’s
      beating hard against the window pane.
      St Teresa’s primary school ‘69’
      Almost sheltered from the world
      by an umbrella of prayer.
      Smallish veiled nuns with lines
      mapped out on olive skin;
      wore over sized Crucifixes;
      pierced at heart level.
      Whispered prayers echoed
      through the boarded floors
      resonating in the old heaters.
      They taught of the starving babies
      in Africa; the droughts in India.
      Each girl handed a Trócaire box
      to take home. Every swear word
      uttered; a penny went into it;
      boxes were filled often
      without much argument from sinners.
      They taught a bit of everything;
      Needlework, cookery and historical facts
      about Henry the 8th and his many wives;
      but nothing of the 300.000 Irish sold
      to slavery in the new colonies of the West Indies
      and America’s, Nor of the fate
      of Ann Glover; sold to the planters;
      the first witch killed
      in the Massachusetts witch trials of 1688.
      Her native language
      confused as the devils tongue.
      I imagine she thought Cotton Mathers
      mad for thinking such a thing. Her a
      a mere washerwoman.
      The 60’s by-passed St. Teresa’s I think.
      Through the nuns we learnt the bibles history,
      the litanies, love for others; Respect.
      “You’d rarely see a nun dressed in habit these days”
      The Sperrin Mountains
      Take a dander over peat clad slopes
      Find the ancient past alive
      On the fringes of the Sperrins.
      Pigeon top, a silent view.
      Absorb, sponge like, the secrets
      of the mass rock were hooded priests
      pray in whispers.
      Beagmore stone circles retell
      hardships of bronze age man
      strong, creative
      protective of family clan.
      The Ogham stone of Greencastle
      notches ingrained, communicators
      of the barren landscape.
      Take a dander over the Sperrins
      sense the myths hidden in bedrock
      hear the echoes of the past re-claimed.
      Touched by madness
      In the first signs of spring
      the thawing frost
      the thawing wintered heart.
      When the words of a poem
      wrestles about in dreams
      lost in daylight hours.
      I’m touched by madness
      my madness, your madness.
      My friend madness
      that comes and goes
      as it pleases, wraps me
      in a shawl of bog cotton.
      The news at ten
      There was in our house a silence
      it banged in my eardrums
      followed me to bed under the watchful eye
      of Oliver Plunkett.
      Ears pressed tight on the hard feather pillow
      the eiderdown wrestled with coarse blankets.
      Silent drums paraded, fractured only by the ‘news at ten,’
      ‘13 shot dead in Derry’
      Never much liked the news after that.
      If willow patterned plates could talk
      the stories they would hold
      given from mother to mother
      words ingrained on the soul.
      It would carry tears of an uprising
      from the home at Vinegar Hill
      ‘Basket women’ some called them
      mopping their men’s blood spill.
      They too became fighting women
      took all sorts to the men in the fields
      hidden in wicker baskets
      on the bars of their bicycle wheels.
      It sits with friends in the hallway
      the pattern now faded to grey
      almost a century; come Easter
      with a life time of tales to convey.
      under the moons light
      a hedgehog walks alone
      journeys end.
      Casting off.
      Getting beyond your land mass of hills, bog
      and the binding of a strict catholic upbringing
      takes some working.
      When mother poor of purse filled diligently
      the chapel envelopes for mass
      I rebelled.
      Shamefully I begrudged giving
      when wicker baskets were passed
      from row to row.
      The clink of coins set off a clink in me
      a change that has developed since
      and continues still.
      Mine is not a raging god who casts out revenge
      sending me to the fires of hell.
      I know that, feel it in my soul.
      Loitering out there somewhere in the heavy frosty air
      spring awaits. Among these familiar Tyrone hills
      fauna once coiled attempts to unfold in the morning
      Underfoot in the dark rooms of the earth; a miracle
      is at work. Bulbs burst forth; ready to catch that light
      and spark of springs arrival. Life rumbles on unnoticed
      at first.
      Trees along the riverbank sing woeful songs about the noise
      of coughing cement mixers and lorries that cut trails into
      the valley; readied for tall shops and over priced flats.
      They sing at night in a low manner for the lost order of things;
      cows and sheep leaving for pastures new; hedge crawlers have
      all but disappeared from their view.
      A thousand years has passed its trunk, catching tales on the wind
      Secrets and shames of love and loss in childhood games.
      The mighty oak sing to the beat of re-generation.
      winters coat
      birds unable to furrow
      come close.
      against the window
      melting snow
      melting the moon
      May Eve.
      Beltaine on the lands
      hawthorn blossoms catch the wind
      air dressed in Mays’ coat
      swanning past the window pane.
      With simple fragrances blown,
      with it comes the butterfly.
      November Storm
      The wind tonight is merciless,
      tearing up the yard and throwing its
      damaged ego against the doors.
      Branches whip against the window pane,
      bin lids flap with dangerous jaws
      grabbing all that lands its way.
      Afraid to venture out for a sniff about
      the dog curls her back to it like a cat.
      We hear the leaves circulate at the door.
      Coal in the fire argues with the wind; hissing
      and spiting stubbornly; casting shadows on the wall
      like warriors or better still, angels.
      The wind tonight is merciless.
      Loretto convent primary
      Dress code was strict
      like the cataclysms repeated.
      Gabardine in navy blue;
      kimono, crisp white shirt, tie.
      White or black plimsoles
      a customary slipper bag.
      The nuns guarded the grounds
      like penguins on parade
      on the lookout for impudence.
      Our lady’s’ grotto, daisy chains
      Come mayday.
      Respect was a good thing.
      Mother Mona bent with age
      bore no warmth
      although welcomed us always.
      Married to god
      her happiness traced as
      lines on olive skin.
      Never liked a chatterbox
      more than once I had to hold
      my tongue at the blackboard;
      or stand for ages with arms out
      shoulder length, crucified, like Jesus.
      I think of Sister Joanne
      fresh faced, funny, light of
      I couldn’t understand her calling then.
      The Magpie
      Two tone thieves gather like senators
      or tenors, slightly tipping as if heavy bellied.
      Green and purple smudged feathers glint
      as the sunlight catches them.
      They chatter on the trapeze of a fairy thorn.
      Ever vigilant, a salmons glance towards glinting
      treasures, presumed below in suburbs.
      They come, silent now, a pilots precision
      gliding towards the milk tops
      shining like fools gold on the door step,
      cute enough, they scan the house for noise,
      I stand; still as an Oak tree.
      Carefully they pluck the silver lid
      lap up the cream stash the lids in their beak
      and make off for the hill top again.
      Longing for the coming solstice
      in celebration of the light
      the suns warming rays aid
      herb gathering in honor of mother earth
      and her fruitfulness.
      Life now is consumed by words;
      snapshots of conversations
      lingerings of a dream recalled
      from many moons ago
      wandering in and out of mind;
      returning with flashes of insight.
      The note book I carry tells
      the tale of a woman possessed
      with knitting words into something.
      They carry me through the days
      the way others unearth weeds
      and rake the soil for new beds.
      I take these snippets on trips
      to the five sisters lakes or to
      Beagmore stone circles; hoping
      bronze age man might throw pearls my way.
      A walk through the town.
      The bells on the sacred heart chapel
      ring out the angelus in the faint frost.
      Brightly lit; the chapel dives skyward.
      Friday confessions, they somberly walk in.
      The world on their shoulders and within the
      hour emerge smiling again.
      Ready for the weekend; a clean slate, the sin-eater
      swallowed the badness and served it on a plate
      to old nick.
      The pavements glitter like reflected stars
      only it’s not stars, it’s John Street on a Saturday
      night and already the clubs filling up.
      Noises rise into the moonless night, Rock, club sounds
      traditional, Ambulances siren and loud shouting.
      A hen party arrives under the courthouse clock.
      Someone has already thrown up in Georges Street
      between the taxi office and the Chinese.
      Teens in spangley heels and boob tubes shiver,
      I want to wrap them in Mohair jumpers to keep warm.
      The Hillman Imp
      (a.k.a. The scottish hill-climber)
      ‘A devil of a wee car’ Da would brag.
      The embarrassment I’d think
      cube framed and as small as.
      It took us on weekend voyages
      crossing the border into Donegal
      coughing and percolating into Pettico,
      over rocky clumps, it wrestled the bendy roads .
      Killybegs meant fish forever
      poached, fried, boiled.
      Da, re-juvenated on the journey
      Ma delighted at glimpses of her flag.
      We took the long route home
      the air fused of trawlers, old holborn,
      whiskey chasers and sea weed.
      We stopped at intimate villages
      devoid of pound signs and iron fists.
      Native speakers greeted warmly in soft tones.
      ‘Where the sea met slate rock, we breathed salt air
      into fume filled lungs, returning inland more refreshed.’
      On the windy hill
      his shell lies in the modern graveyard
      devoid of flowers and over the top
      headstones. Another parochial rule
      even in death the papal orders are
      engraved in the soil.
      Although entombed there on that windy hill
      with views of Gortin Glens and the Sperrins
      in every direction; his spirit is not there
      It’s here among us, with family ties.
      Striding along side me in my daily deaths
      Watching my unfoldment.
      Before I was born
      Not much of a honeymoon serenaded by
      the invaders in war stance; on the hunch of
      rebellion you were herded like cattle and
      interned on a pre-war prison ship!
      So; the bloodlines inherit the tremors.
      Barbed wire horizons greeted the sunrise
      your morning ‘taibreamh’ , a few songs away.
      Wedding bells now a stunned memory.
      So; the bloodlines inherit the tremors.
      Letters from home faintly scented with images
      and languages know in heart and vein;
      brought some comfort as the storms gathered.
      So; the bloodlines inherit the tremors.
      The lough; draconian to the boat full of women;
      jeered at from the shore as they approached the fragile
      wreck of the Al-rawdah. Assaulting your nostrils
      the cruelty of the oppressors.
      And so; the bloodlines inherit the tremors.
      ‘taibreamh Dream
      Ma’s Piano
      Apart from the regular news bulletin c/o my father
      music surrounded the home like a comfort blanket
      each of us had our own beat.
      In the living room pride of place a grand looking piano
      that mother had bought in an auction, thrilled her
      the very sight of it; never mind the sound.
      It was a big deal to have piano in the home then.
      Contentment to fathers’ erratic fiddle playing I thought.
      Together they weaved our childhood songs.
      She’d often on one hand play a song she’d learnt years ago
      before coming up North when life went by
      at a slower tempo.
      Sometimes at the end of the night her key on piano
      stirred a song in father; Sean Nos singing ensued
      and emotions took over.
      “Sean-nós singing is a highly-ornamented style of solo singing defined by one source as:
      …a rather complex way of singing in Gaelic, confined mainly to some areas in the west and
      south of the country. It is unaccompanied and has a highly ornamented melodic line….Not all
      areas have the same type of ornamentation–one finds a very florid line in Connacht, contrasting
      with a somewhat less decorated one in the south, and, by comparison, a stark simplicity in the
      northern songs”
      This song remembers…
      A song drifted from the neighbours’ yard
      volume high…
      I was back again at the disco.
      My sister sneaked me into the hall
      “Just copy me”
      The flashing light from the DJ box
      caught my eye.
      A lonely mirror ball floated above
      a lit up crossword styled floor, every now
      and then flashing on the beige walls.
      An out-of-town DJ clad in denim
      wearing cowboy boots and moustache;
      flipped his LP’s; then in a radio voice,
      “The first number of the night kicks off
      for all you lovers out there,
      “Love Is Like Oxygen “– Sweet
      Are we ready for them?
      They come to us through life
      some stay only a while
      whilst others stay a life time.
      Some in a passing word
      or expression others
      we have come to know gradually
      whose expansion of soul
      reaches ours.
      I often wonder
      if we appreciate those teachers
      who impart the knowledge
      we lack? I hope so.
      I have sensed it in their energy
      wrestled with the connection, tuned into
      their radio frequency; a message
      will come if we are alert enough.
      Bath a while in this beautiful transmission;
      adrift on the creation of ones soul
      for these teachers may only stay a short while.
      Night falls soon
      The powder pink evening
      combs the sky of summer
      like a comet trailing.
      My eyes dance the last waltz
      of daylight hours.
      A fiery Thrush bob’s its tail
      singing out its last chorus
      gathering up the young
      dallying below in town.
      Trees in eyeshot
      fan the horizon in gestures
      of a soft wave, calling the
      night creatures, return to
      the hedges and stone walls,
      For the sun has retreated
      and the mistress of the moon
      has beckoned her night creatures
      on missions over field and stream.
      The wail of the sleek tom cat
      serenades the urban air, drifting
      out to rural pathways on the prowl.
      The Sniper
      Watching the morning rise above the house
      I open my eyes to the beauty of life’s offer
      The amethyst sky seriating the landscape
      the winding grey of the country roads wavering
      like smoke through the hills.
      The Victorian houses on Gallows Hill
      appear out of the fine mist, scary almost
      as the ghosts of the hanged, who perhaps; loiter
      through it’s red brick buildings, old yards
      and unevenly paved alleyways.
      Cattle balance their hooves upon a sphere
      of grass. A farmer in dungarees drives his
      quad bike against the wandering cattle
      unafraid of its scrambling in the mud.
      Winter loiters behind the hedges and hill sides
      a sniper awaiting Autumns’ end who cares not
      for the order of seasons or ancient god Lúnasa;
      But for his frosty breath to kill the germs that
      have gathered all summer.
      Aine MacAodha is a writer and amateur photographer from Omagh,
      situated in County Tyrone; North of Ireland. This is her second
      collection; her first collection ‘Where the three rivers meet’ was
      published in 2008.
      Poems first appeared.
      World Haiku Review, Vol. 6, Issue 3, Enniscorthy Echo, Peony
      Moon, The Glasgow Review, Celtic Myth Podshow, The Toronto
      Quarterly, Issue 1&2 of soylesi poetry magazine, Debris
      Magazine, Pirene’s Fountain, Essays and poetry at Luciole Press,
      Shamrock Haiku Journal.
      Also a keen photographer and member of, Saatchi online, Redbubble, Fotolibra, My Art space


        Where the Three Rivers Meet
        The Sperrin Mountains
        Dander over the peat clad slopes
        find the ancient past alive
        in the bones of the Sperrins.
        Pigeon top; a silent view.
        Absorb the secrets of the mass rock
        were faceless priests prayed in whispers.
        Beagmore stone circles retell the
        hardships of bronze age man
        strong, creative, protective of family clan.
        The Ogam stone of Greencastle uniquely
        signed by the early communicators
        of this green landscape.
        Take a dander over the Sperrins.
        Sense the myths hidden in bedrock
        hear the echoes of the past re-claimed.
        Barnes Gap, Sperrins Region
        Carved centuries ago
        by the powerful elements
        of wind and ice slicing
        through the countryside.
        Glazed now by a carpet of moss
        and haunted by the hills of
        Mullaghbane and Mullaghbolig
        seem untouched by modern man;
        apart from the odd sheep
        that wandered under the fence
        leaving clots of wool waving
        Tense atmosphere only solidifies
        the cheek of my intrusion.
        Sun plays hide n’ seek
        behind rocks and crevices
        cooling schists once again.
        Aghascrebah Ogham Stone, Ireland
        I feel its supernatural pull
        working its way up from the earth
        and out to the universe.
        Laid by pre-historic man and
        un-earthed by modern farmer
        searching for rich soil.
        Silver almost as the November sky.
        Aiming towards the heavens
        like a beacon over the boundaries.
        Waiting perhaps in this empty field
        surrounded by hedges and bracken;
        for a gathering of a kind to recall
        the deep rooted origins of its
        sweat bearing creators. Their
        words forever notched in stone.
        Into this November air
        a supernatural force
        draws me to it like a magnet.
        Curtain Up
        The morning climbs above the house.
        I admire the beauty of the lifting mist.
        The bleached horizons above the rooftops;
        steam floating of the dewy tiles
        like smoke signals.
        Winding roads too small for map
        marking; cut paths through the county.
        The crows and blackbirds
        line up on the fence
        making the most of the drying puddles
        and refilled nut bags; meant for
        wrens and robins!
        The air blanched of spring with
        the odd housefly busying about.
        Much too early I think.
        ‘As long as the morning light
        combs across your face,
        as long as the curtains open anew;
        there draws the breath of theatre’.
        Waiting at the Station
        The October frost drapes
        the buildings in a cape
        of Christmas lights.
        Sparse maples asleep.
        Yesterday’s newspapers
        gather in circles at the corner,
        catching every now and then
        on the steel bench
        glazed in the breeze.
        A road sweeper
        wrapped in thought
        nods to himself.
        Morning noises appear.
        Milk floats, post vans,
        buses stopping and starting.
        The odd greeting from
        one driver to the other
        tired of the drill.
        I think of your transformation
        from country girl to
        college girl.
        How letting go was worth it,
        seeing how beautiful you’ve grown.
        Fire of the Gaels
        She is every woman
        who struggles for survival
        in a world of prisons
        of one form or another.
        Her stories, etched on the
        landscapes of the universe.
        She is the mouth
        of the Blackwater,
        the secrets of the Alder,
        the writing on the caves
        and the shedder of light.
        She is the blueprints
        of the past,
        the wishes of the unborn,
        the spirit of the crops
        and the heat of the sun
        bursting on buds.
        She’s the midges on the lough,
        the guardian of the wells,
        the bones of the earth
        and the ties that bind
        by spirit and blood.
        She’s the songs sung so often
        renewed on the lips of the young.
        Her tongue fiery can cut like an axe
        or sooth like a lullaby.
        She is goddess of the people,
        the fire on the hills.
        She’s the shadow on the stones
        glinting on river beds.
        The breath of a new morning,
        and a beacon in the night.
        She is every woman.
        She is Aine,
        fire of the gaels.
        Beurla *
        In the confines of my mind
        I converse in my native tongue;
        recall early school lessons,
        is mise, slan agat go foil, gradh.
        They fade like my childhood,
        warmed on knees by open fires.
        Songs of Wexford and Vinegar Hill
        fused with Tyrone’s bardic thrill.
        Secondary school brought the troubles,
        beurla, the fading of the Irish tongue
        lost in the distance of war and
        forbidden to utter out of the home.
        My words travel through me
        like the oak saturated in bogs
        awaiting the re-newel of better times.
        Acknowledged, embraced and refined.
        * Beurla is Irish for the English language.
        Bundoran, County Donegal
        Embracing the salt curtain of the green Atlantic
        sway to and fro towards me;
        waves rest on the algae rocks rounded to a
        smooth knob. Belts of seaweed find resting places
        in pools of water clear as amber.
        I hear the children’s screams from the ghost train
        shuttling in the distance, but the Atlantic calls
        me back towards it again. Stained by history,
        there’s something about this ocean that calls
        to me, healing my winter worn trunk.
        Perhaps it’s there, deep in the blue where I’ll find
        solace. Where old wrecks filled with tales
        from when time began, uniting stories of inland
        folk finding gods in the wilderness of boglands
        and meeting goddesses of the deep.
        Tara, Ireland’s spiritual home,
        cries out to ancient hearts,
        save her from the greed of fools
        who’ll rip her soul apart.
        In myths we recall our living past,
        woven as carpet on the landscape.
        In stones, trees and bog;
        in birds, horse and dog.
        The stitches of the wisdom keepers
        relay story, song and poem,
        secure in the bright knowledge
        that their words will have a home.
        Oh sacred bile, Oh graveyard Yew,
        the Hawthorn and the Oak;
        the Hazel, Alder and the Rowan,
        the Willow and the faery folk.
        Pay homage to the spirits of Tara,
        the ones who went before
        the Warriors, Bards and Kings,
        the Queens and many more.
        Losing My Religion
        It wasn’t easy growing up
        around the fortress
        of a garrison town.
        When the troubles
        were our second coats,
        fear our constant companion.
        The instinctual things
        a teenager had to know
        by heart, by soul.
        What side of the street
        was yours to tread?
        Cover up the school
        uniform in the town,
        or it sealed your fate
        like a patriotic tattoo,
        or a flag always flying;
        when certain colours
        out of safety zones meant
        a potential beating.
        Knowing to keep your
        head down when the
        landrovers followed you home.
        Divided by a war we didn’t
        fully understand.
        When escape meant the border
        singing Irish songs of freedom,
        horslips and Celtic rock
        without the watchful eye of
        Now the shroud of war is lifted,
        I can envelope myself in the beauty
        of my own country without fear or
        Either Side of the Headlines
        You waltzed on orange lino
        between hearth and couch,
        lilting like a spring sparrow;
        securing a strong arm on Ma’s back,
        not once out of step.
        News headlines guaranteed silence.
        Your face etched in thick lines
        enhanced by concentration.
        Ma presents corn beef and tomatoes,
        which you eat noisily without teeth.
        Coal spits from the unguarded fire, sending
        smoke signals from the half-circle rug.
        My daydreams, fractured by cutlery,
        moving on the empty plates.
        Omagh from above —
        a butterfly in full bloom,
        spreading her wings.
        Scars on the hillsides —
        gorse no longer wave
        careless youth.
        Spiders’ patterns
        on conifers
        wearing a fine shawl.
        Cracks in the pavement,
        ants pulling
        a fly.
        Daughter Dear
        Must you count every calorie?
        Every ounce of fat in the shopping bag?
        She’s disgusted at the amount of them
        in one lousy biscuit.
        We argue the toss about the taste
        of full milk and creamy butter,
        and ‘How in the hell do ye eat fried bacon?’.
        I know she has a point; yet
        I play it down just in case this
        takes over her life and she eats
        nothing at all, she at that age
        when everyone in the magazines are whisper thin,
        and without blemish.
        Our ancient bloodlines
        are calling to us;
        interrogating us
        with wisps of insight.
        They are turning
        in their boggy graves,
        surfaced over time.
        They rise out from
        small lakes hidden
        on the land.
        Through dreams at
        night, and ponderings
        of the daylight.
        Among glen and forests,
        and from branches of the
        thorn and elder.
        From the angler’s rod
        cast on rivers. On salmon
        longing for the open seas.
        In tales, myths and poetry
        their marks will not fade
        like snapshots in the sun.
        Our lands are piled
        high and low, deep and wide
        with blue prints of a time when
        spoken signals were the headlines.
        Our ancestors are turning
        in their graves.
        Losing shadows that follow
        from these troubled acres
        is hard going at times.
        When it’s those same shadows
        you seek to understand
        what it all came down to.
        Three in the morning brings relief;
        nature is more calmer and cools
        to a creaking lullaby.
        Some birds sleep sound.
        The urban ones
        blether through the night.
        The moon solemnly gives orders
        to orchestrate the night crawlers
        on missions. She casts shadows
        in dimly lit corners of the globe.
        She’ll never be the sun,
        blitzing the crops, warming
        the shadows.
        But she’ll always be the catalyst,
        calling you back to the past.
        Loneliness has a bite,
        not a nibble,
        but a razor sharp bite.
        Morning flounces openly
        showing off its tie-dyed light.
        The hills beyond my window,
        glazed by the mist
        blown in off the Atlantic,
        fusing Donegal, Sligo and Tyrone
        in a painters paradise of shade.
        The starlings argue for space
        on the corrugated garage roof.
        Unnerved by the chatter on the floor-court,
        they’ve made a tiny field on the roof,
        green as the hills.
        Loneliness has a bite, razor sharp,
        and I need it like the views I see.
        It calls me back to nature,
        makes me more aware of the innocence
        and beauty of the forgotten.
        Mise Eire
        Talk to me of bogs,
        of blankets on the land.
        Talk to me of myths
        you have at your command.
        Tell me of Cu Chulainn,
        the hero hound of Ulster,
        the battles of the Tain Bo
        and the warriors of Munster,
        the progress of the firbolgs.
        The De danaans on the hill
        remind me of our legends
        of folklore through the quill.
        Talk to me of forests,
        of flora and fauna there.
        Talk to me of mountains
        in Tyrone and in Kildare.
        Tell me now of the future
        of equality in the land.
        Speak to me of serenity,
        so the tribes can understand.
        Oak Lake, County Tyrone
        It’s easy to imagine
        these scooped out hollows
        were once filled with ice;
        melting as the did stamping
        kettle holes on the landscape.
        The lake waltzes to and fro
        like a child mesmerized
        by magical stories voiced
        by an old teller of tales.
        Its edges flanked with an audience of
        purple moss, pink cranberry flower
        and the burnt orange of summer gorse,
        all paying homage by showiness.
        A clump of rushes moves slightly.
        I think of childhood tales of
        the watershee luring one off
        to the silver world of faeries.
        The light of the day now slipping
        ever so peacefully behind the
        peaks of the Sperrins. I shall go now
        and take its essence with me,
        to sooth my night quests ahead.
        Morning Has Broken
        The early morning frost leaks
        through the old frames.
        Frozen webs leave intricate patterns
        that should be framed for prosperity.
        Shadows flank the hills as mist
        gathers like midges on Lough Muck.
        Cows huddle for heat at the hedge,
        leaving billowing clouds of breath.
        Below, the newly built Texaco garage
        begins the alien noises of the day.
        Car doors slam, hydraulic breaks scream,
        and school kids fill up with energy.
        Then like an open wound, the horizon
        splits the grey morning, bringing with it
        a baked setting full of challenges and hope
        for coming hours.
        Mirror Image
        I see him stroll along Bridge St.
        in his chef’s outfit,
        with his I-Pod firmly
        placed in his ears;
        hair growing out of one style,
        curls at the collar.
        He’s got his grandpa’s dimple
        pressed urgently on his chin;
        touched by the angels I’m told.
        The spitting image of the grandpa;
        the way he nods hello,
        head slightly lowered,
        eyes raised in a half-shy way;
        a moon crest grin.
        His arms swallow me
        in an umbilical comfort.
        Strong now, his surly grip
        releases worries that I carry.
        Morning Stroll
        Petrol spills from engines
        glisten like magic rainbows
        in the wind cursed mid-day.
        Red robins leave watery drips
        on jeans and T-shirts
        flapping on clothes lines,
        dotted at the gardens of Okane.
        I’m annoyed still at the
        new great Northern road,
        carved seven miles into
        the Tyrone countryside.
        Still, there’s snickets and
        fences to master before
        I’m on the old road again.
        Traffic now slows for the
        odd tractor and a pair of
        fast walkers with earphones.
        A crafty sheep dog darts
        along the hedges, ushering
        rebel sheep. A whistle in
        the wind brings them into
        line again.
        My shawl catches on the overgrown
        Brambles. I laugh as if somehow
        they do it for badness.
        Crows squabble high in roosts.
        Leaves shower the road and me.
        The heat has brought out midges.
        They hover at the burn that creeps
        along the bank, making
        its way to the lough.
        Night Falls Soon
        The powder pink evening
        combs the sky of summer,
        like a comet trailing.
        My eyes dance the last waltz
        of daylight hours.
        A fiery thrush bobs its tail,
        singing out its last chorus
        whilst gathering up the young,
        dallying below in town.
        Trees in eyeshot
        fan the horizon in gestures
        of a soft wave, calling the
        night creatures, return to
        the hedges and stone walls.
        For the sun has retreated,
        and the mistress of the moon
        has beckoned her night creatures
        on missions over field and stream.
        The wail of the sleek tomcat
        serenades the urban air, drifting
        out to rural pathways — on the prowl.
        Old Societies
        Rain takes on a silver sheen
        thundering past the window,
        encouraging the worm to rise.
        Already the blackbird furrows
        with his yellow beak, knowing
        what lies beneath.
        I think of pre-historic societies
        leaving their stamp on the land in
        stone circles, megalithic tombs,
        standing stones and raths.
        I imagine they were signposts
        pointing the safest way ahead
        to the nearest village; gathering
        points, perhaps. Their own
        creations dotted about
        the landscape.
        I feel a
        certain kinship with them — those
        who came before.
        The worm: I wonder what its
        aura holds? What has it come upon
        whilst pushing clay,
        slipping into worlds unseen?
        I wish the rain to cease,
        the blackbird to scarper
        and the worm to live another day.
        Oldcroghan Man *
        This island is a living carpet,
        worn by clans of cousins who
        weaved into the land
        a pattern not for the
        the untrained eye.
        Oldcroghan man,
        baked in this oven of peat,
        symbolizes our spent lineage
        of boundaries and fields.
        Beheaded and tortured,
        he stood tall as a pine tree.
        Who was this nameless lad?
        A high king, killed in ritual,
        or killed in a jealous rage?
        Was it a warning to other youths
        who may yearn for the new,
        denouncing the old?
        I wear a leather twang like his,
        woven with love on May Day.
        The hands of Croghan man
        hold no labourers welts,
        but groomed nails; ideally cleaned.
        He joins others that came before:
        Meeybradden Woman and Gallagh man.
        They come to remind us to read the bog
        chapter by chapter; learn from ghosts of the past.
        * Oldcroghan man is the latest body to be unearthed after 2000 years in the bog. Found in Co. Offley Ireland.
        The teens have called time on life
        before it’s even begun.
        Slavery of a sort hangs in the air.
        They starve themselves
        in a time of fruition;
        convince themselves that
        they’re too ugly to go out.
        Trapped by their own demons,
        visual demons that scrape
        at their youthful bodies,
        drilling, thin, thin, thin,
        from the magazines on news stands;
        from the plasma screen
        in their bedrooms.
        They don’t believe in flaws,
        the odd spot, scar, ruddy skin,
        eye slightly bigger than the other.
        They have bought into perfection;
        captive also to drugs that alter their minds.
        For some, there’s no way back.
        They’ve called time on life,
        before it’s even begun.
        Lough Derg St. Patrick’s Purgatory, 1979
        Tricha and I were punks
        in the war years.
        To rid us of defiance
        our Mas’ sent us
        off to Lough Derg.
        The basilica rose out of
        the morning mist like a vision
        out of a Hammer horror movie.
        The boat ride fearsome,
        as the oldies prayed with the bishop.
        This was it three days fasting,
        no sleep and no shoes allowed.
        We followed the elders,
        kneeling, praying and walking.
        The all-night vigil blasted us like
        a raging argument.
        Rain fell hard off the Pettico Hills,
        wind from the Atlantic.
        Stopping at cells with names
        of early missioners: St Brigit, Brendan,
        Columba, Patrick, Davog
        and Molaise.
        For three days food was black tea and dry toast.
        We touched the resources of spirit within.
        We thought of home, of
        ‘My perfect cousin’and ‘anarchy’.
        We were heroes then,
        amid the barricades.
        Black 47
        Often in times of deep meditation,
        walking through the Tyrone hills,
        I’ll stand at a fence and ease my eyes
        out over the Sperrin mountain range.
        The fields so lush and full of fertility,
        the hum of agricultural goings-on.
        The views take me by surprise.
        I think of the “starvation” that swallowed
        my ancestors — an image that stings the air still.
        Spirits roam these hills covered in mass graves,
        or deep in lanes were they fell, starved of food;
        food that was packed in ships bound for England,
        to feed the chosen few,
        whilst the poor, here, ordered to eat only potatoes,
        died of structured starvation.
        I can’t imagine what it’s like to go hungry,
        to be tortured by the power of it,
        to watch your child fade and die,
        to see a race almost wiped out; a race who
        tilled that same fertile land.
        Who is culpable? What of the mass exodus?
        Was there trickery involved? Greedy landowners
        offering ships bound for new lands
        where land, food and pay was promised.
        Thousands died on the rough seas.
        Others settled, always loving their spiritual home.
        Who will acknowledge this crime
        against the Irish nation, a nation whose scars
        are plain to see even to the present day?
        Healing will begin only when we look
        into the past, were shadows linger and questions
        hang in the air. Dark Rosaleen still awaits an apology.
        When old ladies in
        sheepskin jackets and
        headscarves walk by,
        I think of you.
        The secrets of motherhood
        drift into the air,
        in wisps of violets and
        wild roses.
        On the bells, too,
        of the sacred heart chapel,
        ringing out the angelus,
        in the click of rosaries
        in lofty chapels, in
        the call of the corncrake
        from distant hills,
        and from the headlines
        in newspapers
        that drift along dusty streets
        of sleepy inland villages.
        Your headscarf knotted tight
        under the chin brings a
        narrowness to your face,
        framing the Viking nose and
        Vinegar Hill pride.
        The wisdom of motherhood
        dwells deep inside of me
        like a well I can dip into,
        when sorely needed.
        St Colmcille
        I think of this monk
        born on our barren lands.
        A time when blanket bogs
        covered most of its surfaces,
        and the sea the only way out.
        How his mother was visited by an angel
        saying he would spread faith
        and an understanding of Christianity
        throughout Ireland and beyond.
        Colmcille understood both tribes.
        Pagans he knew well, Christianity
        he was learning.
        A foot in both worlds.
        I think of Jesus wandering in the desert,
        battling demons in the baking sun.
        Colmcille’s desert: a horizon met with
        deserted bog lands and mountainous hills
        from Derry to Tyrone.
        I seek you in the lakes of Tyrone,
        the lesser known ones whose beauty
        remains unblemished by progress.
        In the curling streams at war
        with the elements, and whose
        very existence is threatened by
        housing developments.
        I look for you as summer coughs up
        its last songs of the season.
        I seek your words in her breath,
        in the secrets of motherhood
        asleep in the elderly, yearning
        recall once again.
        I seek it, too, in the faces of youth,
        in the songs they sing from
        the concrete forests they live in.
        I also seek it in me,
        when dark clouds
        gather up a storm.
        That Age
        I think I’ve reached it:
        this middle ground in life.
        Crows feet emerge without
        negotiation; bunches of
        greying hair hover like
        mist on the October hedge.
        My offspring have fled the
        roost, making their own now.
        Wasn’t easy being Ma and Da.
        I think of the failed mixed
        marriage, the 80’s being a
        time of change —
        fusing bodhran and lambeg
        was no easy task.
        I’m beginning to resemble
        my mother. Her frown and
        pondering nature, her hand on
        hip, stares out to the horizon …
        my father’s need for the headlines …
        I stand still in a changing field,
        like the Ogam stones of Tyrone,
        grey and pointing skyward.
        There are many tracks before me,
        all leading down some road.
        Morning pains subside in
        the summer heat, like the
        creaking wood of the stairs.
        I think I’ve reached it:
        endured the dark nights of the soul.
        What now?
        Thoughts on the Wing
        It’s 4.30 in the morning.
        Wild birds sleep none
        nowadays. Their talk
        in the moonless night
        takes my thoughts,
        as dawns sheet appears
        among the diamond sky.
        They float over brook
        and riverbed,
        under ancient bridges
        amid fools gold that’s
        smoothed by salmon and
        rainbow trout.
        The May bush lifts them again,
        further afield to Lock Erne,
        Devenish Island, Killybegs
        where the fishermen gather
        to read the ocean;
        to the sifting sands
        of Rossnowlagh Strand
        were winter dwells, awaiting
        spring’s coat;
        returning home refreshed,
        just as dawn bursts her seams.
        Between love and hormonal shoals of friends.
        Estranged from birth flock
        without the pack seem lost.
        A fawn dislodged from mother,
        struggling to locate semi-safe ground.
        Her heart warmed by another’s fiery arrow.
        Confused, yet amused by gestures and similarities
        of thoughts.
        The angst inside I assure will subside,
        when no longer can she play tug-of-war
        in the playing fields of youth.
        A warm smile displays, like a cabinet,
        newfound pearls of wisdom:
        that one day she’ll walk without the safety net.
        Sure of balance
        Sure of love.
        The Fiddler
        He cosies it under the chin,
        or thereabout,
        like a favourite scarf
        from college days.
        The music already forming in
        his mind’s eye.
        He’s played this air a thousand times,
        yet each time it surges from
        a different notion.
        The horsehair bow
        gallops a few times in practice
        for the main event.
        The listeners, young and old,
        heed the waltz with arms
        He rests on the waltz.
        ‘Give me your hand’
        The dancers glide in perfect
        sway to the fiddler’s tune.
        Like a shaman he leads them
        to another time when music
        filled the night air under stars.
        His ears are on alert, watching
        for one wrong beat.
        The dancers care not,
        they are lost in the music of the fiddler.
        Annaghmakerrig 2002 *
        The big house greets with an air of mystery,
        petitioning to the gods a poem or song
        to touch all our yesterdays.
        The lake pretends to scowl at night and
        wraps the waiting horizon in thought.
        The ruthless breeze is laden with insight.
        Songs find their way through the air.
        The hearth inherits the fallen spruce,
        whilst artists gather their cares.
        Spoken signals gather like crochet,
        fermenting works that ooze out in dreams,
        and filter into daylight masterpieces.
        * Annaghmakerrig is a house in Co. Monahan, left in the will of theatre director Tyrone Guthrie for artists of all
        disciplines to “create” away from the interferences of the world.
        My Sort of Day
        This is the sort of day
        that memories weave a carpet
        in shades of fallen leaves
        or in tones of winter’s coat.
        The sort of day
        when love greets
        with a pregnant smile
        below the baked horizon.
        The sort of day
        the Tyrone hills emerge
        through the mist like gods
        awaiting the day’s offerings.
        The sort of day
        cobwebs freeze lunar patterns
        on hawthorn bushes
        like maps to the silver world.
        This is the sort of day
        wars should end,
        haters make amends
        and disease should be no more.
        The Sin Eater
        Together we sat on the confessional bench,
        listening to the click of heels on mosaic tiles
        awaiting the queue to die.
        A lady who lived in God’s house
        watched us girls with her salmon eye
        and every move we made.
        Whispered penances showered the chapel.
        Orderly shuffling from oldies denoted
        our turn now; our sins would be eaten.
        The gridded partition creaked like old knuckles.
        I almost forgot: ‘Bless me father’, as my
        knees located a softer spot on the floor.
        Beads sang in a distracting manner.
        Father Brown’s pressing vowels asked after my sins.
        My soul now white, I returned to the bench.
        Starlings at Dawn
        They flounce into my morning,
        just as dawn crawls over the roof, and
        squawk to locate their newly found songs;
        eager to appease mother who shimmies
        to and fro with mother’s pride.
        The corner of my roof carries noises.
        Claws scrape pleadingly on wood,
        discontented squabbles from one who lost the worm.
        Mother squeezes her narrow body through a corner crevice;
        her silhouetted wings accurately glide into place.
        It quietens for a spell, until its time for a coaxed flight.
        Then it’s my turn to rouse the household sound asleep in the far room,
        away from the bird songs.
        Dear Sir
        Dear Sir,
        please excuse my son’s absence.
        He slept in.
        We slept in.
        The night before he studied into the small hours
        the mechanics of skateboarding,
        counting new bruises and fading others.
        How he can “ollie” sets of steps without broken marrow.
        It releases his anger,
        how the words of Curt Cobain relate to his 180-degree kick-flip,
        and the thrill of a half pipe,
        that being 16 messes with his head and
        no one understands.
        And how is it fair his girlfriend lives ten miles away,
        and he’s no car?
        Why work at the weekend tires him,
        and grunge pulls him through.
        So Sir, may I call you sir?
        I hope you understand my son’s absence this time.
        Wet July ‘07
        The late evening sky
        clamps its joyless cloud
        upon the market town.
        Cattle in the field beyond
        trudge towards the gate
        looking depressed.
        Without the TV forecast
        I read the patterned clouds.
        Plain and purl columns
        knit their way towards me.
        Smoke signals, from the Victorian
        houses on Gallows Hill.
        That’s all it takes
        to ignite the fires here.
        I await the storm, prepared.
        I can’t pass a stream,
        river or seashore today
        without seeking them.
        The smoothed shapes,
        worn by the waves
        or carried by the escape
        of mountain springs, flowing
        toward brooks and burns,
        drawing upon them a golden glow.
        They take pride of place
        on my window sills,
        on doilies made of lace.
        Others might collect pottery
        or bone china,
        I have an indoor rockery.
        Omagh: Seat of Chiefs
        Housing secrets down the ages
        in its under-belly, and
        in the layers of rock
        and street names:
        Castle Street, Gallows Hill,
        Goal Square, Canon Hill.
        Well below, the street’s scant
        passages lead to the heavy courthouse whose
        presence dominates the town.
        Voices of the past muted through its
        thick granite outpouring.
        The essence of its history also embedded
        in the gravely basins where the three rivers meet:
        the Drumragh, Camowen and the Strule.
        Rivers that unite in finding their way to the
        Atlantic — to cast their sins upon the waves.
        Tree House at Sloughen Glen
        On our way to Sloughen Glen, deep in the hills of Drumquin,
        we hardly notice the climb; yet feel it in our fume-filled lungs.
        Out of the side of a hill, amid brambles and giant ferns,
        a shell of a house appears with postcard views out over
        the Tyrone countryside.
        The gift of life still grows from its un-thatched roof: a gift
        in the form of a blackthorn tree. It grows with pride
        up through the rooms holding, I’m sure, stories in its trunk.
        Memories of a time when its hearth was lit and life flourished.
        I think of the family who may have lived there:
        children playing in the yard, a few livestock, life.
        I listen to the quiet sounds of spring, and remember that
        the regeneration of small towns has crept nearer and nearer
        to the beauty spots. One day this may well be gone.
        Perhaps great grandchildren will return one day,
        seeking their ancestral home. They may;
        and find life grows there still.
        Where Man Fails
        I see the beauty in the clear winter moon,
        spraying its steel haze over the old town.
        Where man fails,
        nature does its best; instilling life among
        the rubble and ruins of houses and parks.
        Where man fails,
        the elements rage at the world with warnings
        and threats of disasters.
        Where man fails,
        again, I see these familiar blanket bogs;
        and find hope in the solitude of them.
        A Prayer to the Integrity of Words
        Bless the verbs and nouns that
        carry rivers of verse in their hour of need.
        Bless their totality of wisdom,
        greeting morality with novels amassed.
        Usage, bringing tribal flouncing and
        indecent drifting.
        Without the integrity of words
        our clans may never meet or greet,
        for many ensembles would slither unheard.
        A Cheated Spouse
        I study your eyes;
        they waltz slowly,
        exposing the pain
        and sorrow of a
        cheated spouse.
        With the stubbornness of youth
        you refuse a tear,
        like a star dulled with the
        desertedness of distance;
        memories of love, then,
        when hearts leaped in unison.
        The tribal greeting of dewy lips,
        the sting of the lovers’ tiff.
        It’s the eyes that dance death,
        lost in socket and bone;
        the cheated spouse now alone.
        I look into your eyes;
        with no surprise you refuse
        animation of memory with rage —
        as I think I would.
        Native Speakers
        I envy your tongue,
        how the silvery words evoke
        the layered past of home.
        Snippets recalled from early
        youth slip out in dreams
        during the day-light hours;
        in particles of conversations
        on radio Telefis Eireann,
        wheezing from Da’s old wireless
        that needed time to heat
        for clearer contact.
        I can’t translate without
        a book to help me,
        yet I don’t want to.
        The words
        of your poems
        speak for themselves.
        About the Author
        Aine MacAodha was born Ann Keys, in the North of Ireland in 1963. Her sense of place
        growing up amid the war in the north, and the beauty surrounding it, inspires her writing.
        This is her first collection of poems spanning ten years. The title of Where the Three Rivers
        Meet refers to the three rivers in Omagh that meet in the town’s centre: The Strule, Drumragh
        and the Camowen. She also draws much of her inspiration from The Sperrin Mountains, in
        her native Tyrone.
        Her work has appeared in various magazines and anthologies throughout Ireland (most
        recently in A New Ulster ), the USA and the UK. She is a founder member of the Omagh Writers
        Group, The Busheaneys and The Derry Playhouse Writers, and is also a member of Haiku

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