'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
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Thursday, June 28, 2007
Ben had to go to the shop to get bread.
He met an old friend called Miranda who said
She'd heard that he'd lost with a bet on a race.
He cursed an old horse and its pitiful pace.
She looked at her watch and she said she was late
For basketball practise at quarter to eight.
She told him she'd like it if he came along
To see them and say where their game had gone wrong.
A female sports team was enough to entice
Ben to go there and to offer advice,
Despite his poor knowledge of all sorts of sports
Involving two teams on pitches or courts.
Even at training with only one team
They still got defeated. Their low self-esteem
Inhibited all their attempts to improve.
Too often their feet were reluctant to move.
Some were impeded by window-like glasses
That often fogged up, and when they made passes
They frequently missed. Their team-mates would duck,
And when they looked back, they all said, "Bad luck."
Ben doesn't know any coaching techniques.
He can't motivate or inspire when he speaks.
But still he came up with a very good plan.
A woman called Edith was their only man.
Without her high heels she is still six-foot-two.
She's a search engine who seeks something new.
She loves to explore in the city at night
Till darkness expires when the dawn brings daylight.
She's like a magnet for strange situations
In dim attic rooms or abandoned train stations,
Appointments for parties with some rich stock broker
In smoke-filled apartments where people play poker.
She won in a game with a man who's unknown.
A fake horse's head was concealing his own.
She finds little pubs in dark, hidden places.
Her entrance brings fear and surprise to old faces.
They've lost out to life. They go there to hide.
The most recent female they saw was a bride
Who entered the pub underneath a white veil.
The bouquet she held left a flower petal trail.
She jumped on the bar and she ran back and forth.
She smashed many bottles of whiskey and port.
She lifted her veil and her laugh brought distress.
This bride was a monkey inside a white dress.
These are the places unearthed by Edith.
Her mind needs adventure and she tries to feet it
With late-night encounters with painters in diners
And sad bounty-hunters disguised as coal miners.
Ben somehow had to convince her to play
For a basketball team full of people who stay
At home in their houses when daylight departs.
They feared the unknown and its sinister arts.
They also feared much of the world that they know.
Jane hasn't been right since reading some Poe.
He tried to portray them as mad little hatters
With strongly held views on the smallest of matters.
He told her they like to give names to their shoes,
And they tend to blame little elves when they lose.
He said they're eccentric and seem like a dream.
She was intrigued by this curious team.
And this is why Edith agreed to be part
Of a basketball team who were lacking in heart.
She soon realised they would lose to their shadows.
Their fears would be grounded if they really had foes.
She was determined to turn them around,
To make them feel taller while standing their ground.
She managed to talk her team mates into taking
A team-bonding trip. The thought left them shaking.
Their trip started out in a pub on a street
Where people who've lost eyes and fingers will meet.
And then they moved on to a place where a man
Was holding a hawk, and the team nearly ran.
But Edith convinced them to stay where they were.
Most of the rest of the night was a blur.
She took them to places where people dug holes,
Playing a violent form of lawn bowls.
They saw a magician consuming a mouse.
It wasn't a trick. They entered a house
Where Spanish guitarists played beautiful songs.
It gave them a soundtrack that righted most wrongs.
They became lost in a sea of loud voices.
They started to think that it could be as nice as
A quiet Sunday stroll in the summer sun's lighting,
Despite all the drinking and crying and fighting.
They met with a man who was wearing a sock,
And a woman who said she could pick any lock.
For her pet penguin she'd hired two male waiters.
The basketball team became more than spectators.
They joined in the fun for the rest of the night,
And into the morning with dawn's first grey light.
They woke up and vowed to avoid drinking booze.
Some had acquired impressive tattoos.
But Edith succeeded in easing the grip
Of fear on their minds. After their trip
They seemed more assertive than they were before.
They cast off the frightened expressions they wore.
They chose to use fear on opponents instead,
Instilling a growing foreboding and dread.
Winning provided a much greater thrill
Than seeing opponents composing a will.
Thursday, June 21, 2007
Jerry likes to emphasise
The drama in his days.
Each and every day consists
Of twenty-four short plays.
Some are seen in dreams
Set in China, France or Bray.
They're full of stolen scenes
From the plays of yesterday.
Some plays in dreams have meaning,
Revealing deepest truths.
Some have shown him talking
To giraffes in hats and boots.
In dreams he's made a million
Just by phoning up a friend.
Despite their vivid drama
They're forgotten when they end.
The plays performed in waking hours
Will often lack excitement.
He's struggled to explain
What the plays performed at night meant,
But at least they entertained him,
Unlike the hours of morning
That should be screened by censors
And come with a 'boredom' warning.
The minor office dramas
Have been hammered by the critics
For being dull and boring,
And evenings drinking Smithwicks
Get some very bad reviews
That will use the word 'moronic'.
The dialogue might be about
A man who is bionic
Who's playing Wonder Woman
In a fun, non-contact sport.
Which one of them would win
On an outdoor tennis court?
And would she have to grunt
Like Maria Sharapova?
And would she be less wondrous
If she drove a Vauxhall Nova?
He'd like to do a play
Alone with Lucy on the stage.
He's got the perfect script
Written on a mental page.
It needs a cast of two,
And at the most he's one.
But stage fright overwhelms him.
When she arrives he's none.
Occasionally a brand new play
Will set the stage alight,
Reminding him of dramas
That he's seen in dreams at night.
One such play began
As he strolled along a street.
A swirling Autumn breeze
Blew dead leaves around his feet.
He met a friend called Eileen
Who was on her way to see
An almost-famous cheese,
An enormous piece of brie.
The cheese was on display
For a day or two at most
In the window of a shop.
It was far too good for toast.
It required the finest wine
And expensive formal clothes
Holding souls that are refined
And an educated nose.
The only form of toast would be
When people raise a glass
To celebrate a cheese
That possesses much more class
Than all its fellow cheeses
And most people who would eat it.
To use the words 'it's cheesy'
Would be layers of hell beneath it.
He said he'd go there with her
To appreciate the cheese.
Their excitement was reflected
On the outside by the breeze.
They reached their destination.
With four eyes set to 'wide',
They stood outside the window
And beheld the cheese inside.
"It isn't all that big," he said,
And she agreed with that.
"It might be big enough," she said,
"To satisfy a cat.
"You could throw it at intruders
With another piece of cheddar,
But they'd be much more bothered
If you fought them with a feather."
They both felt disappointment
But the feeling soon departed.
He told her that he'd heard about
A shoe fair that had started
In an exhibition centre,
So they went there just to see
A very large suede shoe
That could well outshine the brie,
And thus provide a final act
To this hour's two-act play,
An ending that would make the hour
The highlight of the day.
That's exactly what the shoe did.
It put the cheese in shade.
If someone's foot could fit it,
It would make them feel afraid.
Eileen said, "I wonder why
They didn't make a pair.
The left foot would be left out
If there's only one to wear.
"It could be that the owner
Of this brown suede shoe was tall,
A giant with just one leg.
To talk to us he'd crawl."
Both of them felt satisfied
With this latest hour.
An Autumn afternoon
Had produced a spring-like flower.
But later someone told him
Of a horse show taking place
In a field outside the town
In advance of this year's race.
The largest Shetland Pony
In the country was attending.
The sight of this celebrity
Could be a better ending
Than the shoe he'd seen with Eileen.
He went with her again
To see the cheese once more,
To end Act One, and then
They went to see the pony,
An alternative Act Two.
Both of them were happy
With the specimen on view.
Eileen said, "He's big alright,
Considering he's only
A Shetland Pony who must feel
His life is very lonely.
"He'd be like a giant
Whose presence would spread fear
Amongst the other ponies
And he'd worry sheep and deer."
They both enjoyed this play
More than any film or gig,
With the big cheese that was small
And the pony that was big.
They also loved the hour
Where the single suede shoe starred.
He'd put it on a par with plays
Created by The Bard.
Friday, June 15, 2007
John and Diane are enjoying a game
Of Scrabble with slices of cake and two teas.
He uses an L in 'hello' to make 'flame'.
Diane considers her letters and sees
The trouble she fears if she spells the word 'spilling',
The rubble of squares at the end of their Scrabble,
Their worries and cares returning, re-filling,
A chance for her husband to angrily babble.
He'll rise from his chair with a scowl on his face,
An unwelcome fall from the place in his head
Where he feels he exists in perpetual grace.
He'll think he's becoming fate's lab rat instead.
A mention of spilling reminds him of painting
The near-mansion owned by his brother, whose wife
Always makes John feel his presence is tainting
The intricate decor inspired by her life.
He's angry that she had the nerve to complain
Over a speck of white paint on the ground.
It made an expanding black cloud on his brain,
And sometimes it rains with a thunderous sound.
She keeps pointing out where he 'spilled' the white spot.
But he's never spelled out the thoughts she inspires.
She thinks she's a butterfly. He sees a moth,
With all of the charm of an old pair of pliers.
And she thinks she's smarter than him just because
She went to college and he went to Louth.
But she should have gone to the Wizard of Oz
To ask for a brain that's been cleared of its cloud.
She spends a large part of each day spilling paint
On paper or canvasses. She calls it art.
She gives her works titles like 'I'm feeling faint'.
He suggests titles like 'Bad colour chart'.
On seeing a painting called 'Sadness and Strife'
He asked her why all of her art has to cast her
As some sort of permanent victim to life,
As someone who's prone to distress and disaster.
She told him the world was a long vale of tears.
She's lost in the sea far away from the shore.
Fate won't run short of slings, arrows and spears.
The occasional times of ceasefire are a bore.
He said he could frame the white spot in the hall,
And claim it's a painting for phonies and cheats.
She said he could call it 'The site of my fall',
Or 'Why didn't I cover the floor with old sheets?'.
Diane can see all the trouble she'll cause
If she reminds him of these minor woes.
He won't stop complaining -- it's one of his flaws.
He's building a mammoth collection of foes.
But she can't resist a triple word score
By adding an S and an 'ing' to his 'pill'.
His rant begins and she heads for the door
To make herbal tea that will help him to chill.
Friday, June 08, 2007
Danny and Joe went outside for a stroll,
With no destination, intention or goal.
In warm sun-lit greens, the landscape was dressed.
They met Danny's aunt and she had a request.
She told them her lawn was in dire need of mowing.
The grass shows its love for the summer by growing.
Danny's response was to point at a tree,
And when she turned 'round they were able to flee.
They went away steadily gone-ward until
They slipped out of sight on the side of the hill,
And then they began to relax as they strolled
With sun on their backs and a day from the mold
That's used to make mid-summer days full of life
With lightness and laughter to balance the strife,
And a drink in the pub when the nub of the day
Is dealt with and filed and put out of the way.
Before pints of black could replace skies of blue,
They still had some dealing and filing to do,
And feeling at one with the world all around,
Happy to take in each sight, scent and sound.
They went to the house of a neighbour called Stan.
If there's a thought that amounts to a plan
To make home-made booze, before long he'll think it,
And then he'll enact it and happily drink it.
He'd just made some cider inside an old shed.
He stored it in bottles and some in his head.
He made it from apples that grew in his orchard.
His wife thought the trees would be brutally tortured
If they saw their beautiful fruit used for cider,
But temptation swayed her and one night he spied her
Sampling from bottles along a bare rafter.
Her samples were ample enough to bring laughter.
Danny and Joe started smiling at first.
They felt satisfaction at quenching their thirst.
They moved on to sampling their host's home-made ales.
They happily listened to Stan tell his tales.
He spoke about spirits, those that are liquids,
And ghosts who are played with such glee by the trick kids,
Whose treat is to throw empty bottles at cars,
And throw tyres on fires in the fields under stars.
But Stan said he knew of a ghost who's no fake,
A wandering spirit who'll make grown men quake.
He dresses in black. Birds will take flight
On seeing this ghost on the roads late at night.
Danny related his story about
His three-day-long chase of a masterful trout.
They drank until Joe tried to sing a sweet tune.
They headed for home in the light of the moon.
They felt a contentment in their carefree mode.
They made their way slowly along a quiet road.
But both of them wanted to stop and go back
When they saw a man up ahead dressed in black.
He wore a long coat, a black boot on each foot.
His presence there seemed to have brought them a 'but'
And added it onto the end of the line
'The day had been going exceptionally fine'.
And after the 'but' something else would be written.
It wouldn't involve country walks or a kitten
Playing with kids on a lawn in the sun,
Or seeing a fawn in the woods having fun.
After the 'but' would be dark and unpleasant,
A miserly landlord to some meagre peasant.
Misery seemed to be heading their way.
They both did a U-turn with little delay.
They walked away quickly, their feet fuelled by fear.
They wanted to hold onto all they held dear.
Their swift getaway was soon brought to an end,
As soon as they rounded the road's nearest bend.
The man dressed entirely in black stood before them,
A fervent opponent of peace, quiet and boredom.
He didn't seem real. They thought he'd say 'boo'.
Danny and Joe didn't know what to do.
The man said 'hello' and he raised his black hat.
Danny and Joe weren't eager to chat.
They nodded their heads, unable to talk.
And he said, "The night's the right time for a walk.
"The darkness relieved by the light of the moon
Is better stage-lighting than sunshine at noon.
The night's three-act plays have such drama and danger.
Only at night could you meet an odd stranger
"And fear that by dawn you will no longer be,
And then turn around when he points at a tree."
He pointed and they turned around, like he said,
Despite being gripped by a strong sense of dread.
But when they turned back there was nobody there.
The spot where he'd stood was undoubtedly bare,
And they left the place where they stood, without haste,
Accompanied home by the fear they'd be chased.
When they met again on the following day
They tried to explain their encounter away.
They blamed all the drink that they'd taken on board.
Horses who'd drank less than that had been floored.
But later they heard a strange story involving
Their neighbour's detective-like efforts at solving
The mystery of why his new scarecrow keeps moving,
And what does this man made of straw think he's proving.
Each morning the scarecrow would be found in places
Far from his home. He kept changing bases.
Danny and Joe went to see him that day.
They found themselves struggling for something to say.
The scarecrow was dressed all in black, like a void.
An insidious groom for a hideous bride.
They both thought that this was the man they had met.
They went to the pub and they drank to forget.