'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
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Thursday, April 24, 2008
The Scrap Yard
Dermot and Thomas spent long summer days
In search of scrap metal and wires,
Copper coal scuttles, brass kettles and cups,
Bits of car engines and tyres.
This haven for junk was a heaven for them.
Dermot's Dad owned the scrap yard.
It seemed like The Ritz for the rats, who were pets.
A one-eyed Jack Russell kept guard.
They made new machines from the old junk they found.
Cars were stripped down and left bare.
Their scrap metal clothes could be used to make wings
On either side of a wheelchair.
They once made a robot on wheelbarrow wheels.
A parrot cage served as its skull.
The cage made brain surgery easy as pie,
But it once trapped a passing seagull.
They put an old filofax into the cage.
They wrote robot thoughts on the cards,
Like 'Put the tin cans in the recycle bin',
Or 'Use the death ray on the guards'.
They often remained at the scrap yard all day,
Building machines until night.
None of these worked, but they didn't mind,
As long as their fancy took flight.
One day they opened the boot of a car.
They found a black briefcase inside.
They opened the lock with a hammer and chisel.
Their mouths and their eyes opened wide.
This black leather briefcase was full of hard cash,
A windfall where dangers may lurk.
But they only thought about spending this money
To make sure their robot would work.
They bought a small engine to power its three wheels.
It moved just as quick in reverse.
They also got hydraulic pumps for its arms.
They got it to race with a hearse.
They used a new radio control to command
The robot to wave as it eased
Past the black hearse with the newly deceased
Who was free to respond as he pleased.
One morning the bright summer sun rose above
The mountain of junk and scrap metal.
Dermot removed a car door lost to rust,
As brittle as any dried petal.
A shadow engulfed him. When he turned around
He saw a tall man with a gun.
Dermot's left leg became frozen in fear.
His right leg just wanted to run.
The man with the gun said, "You know why I'm here.
What have you done with the money?"
Dermot prepared his response in advance.
He dearly hoped this would sound funny.
But just before Dermot began his response,
Fearing the end would be nigh,
The robot appeared and advanced on the man.
The card in its skull said 'Destroy!'.
Thomas controlled it from inside the shed.
It started to make a strange sound.
They saw some black smoke right before it exploded.
Their visitor dived to the ground.
A few seconds later he stood up again.
He ran while the robot still burned.
He never looked back as he ran to the gate,
And since then he's never returned.
They rescued the brain and they re-built their robot.
This time they gave it four feet.
Thomas said, "I'm glad it didn't explode
While racing the hearse on the street."
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Hugh and Jones
Hugh will play an old guitar
In city streets or in a bar.
He sings his songs about James Dean
(The name he gave to his last bean)
And cricket bats who talk in Dutch,
Conversing with a wooden crutch,
And aliens who look like ducks,
Instead of quacks they talk in clucks.
His favourite song relates the tale
Of searching for the holy grail
With his friend, a man called Jones
Who's always talking to his bones,
Warning them against escape,
Eloping underneath a cape
With a female skeleton
He met while in the peloton
Of a bike race all round France
For skeletons who don't need pants.
The winners won't get many hugs
But people know they don't use drugs.
Hugh and Jones set off to claim
The holy grail and save a dame.
They just assumed they'd somehow find
A damsel in a tricky bind.
With wooden swords and plastic spoons
They showed no fear to thugs or goons.
Jones had bought an ancient map
From a most peculiar chap
Who wore his trousers inside out
To tempt and yet instil some doubt
In people prone to picking pockets.
Some will leave receipts or dockets.
His bulging pockets catch their eyes.
To reach the pot of gold they prize
They'd have to put a hand inside
His cardboard belt. No one's tried.
He never fears the thieves in hoods,
But sometimes when he's buying goods
He has to feel around to find
His coins and when he's feeling kind
He'll leave a tip and get a smile.
Shop assistants like his style.
But when he takes the wrong thing out
They stare in shock and scream and shout.
His back pocket held the map.
Jones kept it beneath his cap
After paying twenty quid.
Twenty-five was his first bid.
On the map a red line showed
The only route, the sacred road
To follow if you seek the grail.
It starts at 'Go' and goes through 'Jail'.
They walked past many red hotels.
The walls concealed eternal hells.
The names in flashing neon light
Promised heaven every night.
Should customers decide to stay
And reach inside their pants to pay,
If it looks like they enjoy it
They may well be compelled to buy it.
For this they'd face an extra fee.
Nothing ever comes for free.
As night time came around once more
Hugh and Jones felt tired and sore.
They found a place to rest their heads.
It lacked a light bulb, chair and beds.
It had a hole, an eerie sound
And mattresses upon the ground.
Through the sheets they saw the springs
And odd shapes classified as 'things'.
Ignore them when they start to creep.
Just hope they die or fall asleep.
Hugh woke up at half past three
When Jones's bones were trying to flee.
The skeleton was nearly at
The door when he put on a hat.
Hugh picked up a sword and said,
"I think you should return to bed."
The skeleton halted in mid-stride.
He paused a while. It seemed he sighed.
He put the hat back on the ground,
And with a sombre rattling sound
He trudged towards the mattress where
Jones was sleeping unaware
He'd lost his inner scaffolding.
His skeleton's sad laugh will ring
In dreams of doing magic tricks
Like pulling rabbits out of bricks.
Their breakfast seemed to brim with life.
The hotel staff brought further strife.
The waiter stared when Jonsie said
That he preferred his breakfast dead.
Hugh and Jones were chased away.
Later on this summer day
The map led them down country lanes
Where sights and sounds massaged their brains.
If they were cats they'd smell the cream.
They found a field beside a stream.
They thought the grail was underneath
The grassy ground beneath their feet.
They dug for hours but sadly failed
To be enriched, enhanced, engrailed.
All they found were coins and bones.
They looked for signs in rocks and stones.
They listened to their feathered friends.
They even lifted up the ends
Of all the rainbows that they found,
But all they saw was gold and ground.
They met a woman dressed in white
Who told them all about her plight.
Her dog had chased a cat away.
She hadn't seen him since midday.
Hugh and Jones said they would help.
Jones could hear a bark or yelp
From a dog three miles away,
And translate what they're trying to say.
He listened very carefully
He heard a poodle bark a plea
To be allowed to roll around
In a pig sty's muddy ground.
Amongst the sounds of bees and birds
He heard a dog bark out these words:
"I thought we'd meet and have a chat.
I will not kill you, Mister Cat."
By then the dog was nearly hoarse.
They walked towards the barking's source.
A mile away they found the dog
Beneath a tree beside a bog.
Each high-pitched bark would need a bleep.
That vexing cat was now asleep.
But when he saw his owner he
Wagged his tail and barked in glee.
And she was clearly overjoyed.
When her tears of joy had dried
She asked them if they'd like some food
And wine to light the evening mood.
She took them to her house and made
A meal for which they would have paid
A pot of gold to get in places
Patronised by famous faces.
They felt at last they'd found their prize.
An inner glow lit up their eyes.
The grail had followed them by stealth
And caught them in the peace they felt.
They'd helped a damsel fight distress,
Clearing up her doggie's mess.
Hugh insists that all this happened,
Though he accepts that it's a crap End.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
He bet on a horse called Burlington Bunny.
He cheered the horse home and then when he won he
Went with his winnings to see his friend Jack
And told him the tale of his luck at the track.
They wondered and planned how to play this good hand,
To spend something short of a third of a grand.
If someone would lend them a few hundred more
They'd use all this money to hire the town whore
And she could start work on re-wiring Bill's house.
A water pipe electrocuted a mouse.
For ten years before she began her new job
She was a good electrician called Bob.
Or they could invest the cash in stocks and shares.
A company called 'Goldilocks and Three Bears'
Make a great porridge that Jack loves to eat.
It's only too hot when it spills on his feet.
They went to the pub and they put some more thought
Into the money and what should be bought.
Bill told the bar man about his wise bet.
The horse looked as if he was powered by a jet,
But it might just have been that the food he consumes,
The high-fibre meals brought in buckets by grooms,
Causes the current of wind through his tail.
On calm wind-less days he could fill a yacht's sail.
A man at the bar overheard Bill's account
From placing the bet to the jockey's dismount.
The man said, "It's obvious you're not a beginner.
You've got a real talent for spotting a winner.
"I'll show you a greyhound who outruns the wind,
And unlike the breeze he can round any bend.
I'll sell you this greyhound for three-hundred euros.
He's won all his races. His name is The Blue Rose."
Bill was intrigued by this generous offer.
He'd happily empty his newly-filled coffer
To buy such a greyhound and take him to races,
And wear handmade top hats and buy champagne cases.
The man said he'd show Bill and Jack this great dog
Who'd outrun his rivals when out for a jog.
They went to a farm just a few miles away.
As night time approached to extinguish the day
They saw The Blue Rose in the last of the sun.
Bill was surprised by how fast he could run.
He said, "This fine dog has one hell of a dash,
So why would you sell him for such little cash?"
The man said, "My wife bought a poodle last week.
Since the weekend she's refusing to speak.
My wife, not the dog. She won't talk to me,
But looks from her eyes can still sting like a bee.
"The Blue Rose attacked her new poodle called Willow.
He might have thought it was a sentient pillow.
He likes tearing cushions and pillows apart.
In this one he would have located a heart.
"In selling the greyhound I had little choice.
She made her demand in the guise of advice."
Bill said he'd buy The Blue Rose without thinking.
They settled the deal and got back to their drinking.
About a week later, with some help from Jack,
Bill took the greyhound to run at the track.
But somehow he seemed to be lacking in pace.
He stayed in the traps till the end of the race.
A bookie told Bill all about The Blue Rose,
Explaining the reason his new greyhound froze.
This dog was so quick that he once caught the hare.
Unlike owls and cats they don't make a nice pair.
The dog tried to kill this mechanical quarry,
An action for which he was soon to be sorry.
An electric shock made him run from the track,
And now he's afraid of the hare who fought back.
Bill still had hopes for his greyhound's career.
He'd run fast if he could get over his fear.
Bill made a hare with some string and a stick,
And an old teddy bear on which he'd once been sick.
The Blue Rose would tremble whenever he saw it,
Refusing to sniff it or bite it or paw it.
But gradually he became used to this creature
Who'd show no desire to shock you or eat your
Breakfast or dinner or many dog biscuits.
As time passed the greyhound was willing to risk its
Personal safety by sniffing the hare.
He liked the strong scent from the old teddy bear.
A glittering career for The Blue Rose still beckoned
But all this good work was undone in a second.
The dog couldn't know of the dangers that lurk
Because of the wires in Bill's house that need work.
The dog got a shock from a shelf and he fled.
From the fake hare the dog cowered in dread.
Bill kept his greyhound, who makes a good pet.
To mice and to pillows he brings a quick death.
Thursday, April 03, 2008
The Long Weekend
Andrew and Mabel were glad to leave home
And see the vast ocean beneath a blue dome.
They stayed in a guesthouse with views of the bay
And beautiful sunsets to finish the day.
They spent the weekend taking in the sea air,
Listening to seagulls and whistling 'La Mer',
Exploring the coastline on well-trodden paths,
And well-hidden arbours that hid sleeping cats.
In small seafront restaurants that served fresh seafood
They both felt at ease in the calm, relaxed mood.
They visited pubs for the view of the sea,
And a quick drink or two while they're there, maybe three.
In one of those pubs on a quiet afternoon
They looked at a single red birthday balloon
That seemed out of place in the maritime theme,
And would raise some questions if this were a dream.
A steam ship's barometer hung on the wall.
A glass case protected an old canon ball.
Fishing nets, rope, oars and flags from afar
Hung from a beam at the back of the bar.
The brass bell above the front door rang again.
A man stepped inside and he ordered a gin.
He walked with a limp as he went to a table.
This man started talking to Andrew and Mabel.
He said he had travelled across the great oceans
And felt the tumultuous wave of emotions
That seem to be stirred by a wild storm at sea.
The lightning highlighted a reason to be.
Thoughts of their grave gave a reason to live,
The one welcome gift The Grim Reaper can give.
He dreamt of becoming a Captain to gain
The heart of a lady, and part of her brain.
Her parents would never allow her to marry
A run-of-the-mill lowly seaman called Larry.
But he was determined to win their respect.
They looked up to leaders like Captains -- he checked.
He sighed and he said, "We're just play-things for gods.
They look down and see us as good lightning rods.
Just when your heart is a stove for love's fire it's
Right at this time you'll get captured by pirates.
"I spent the next year and a half in slave labour.
I missed having walls between me and my neighbour.
The bedroom held twenty. We didn't have beds,
Just Cantonese phonebooks to rest weary heads.
"I made my escape when I fought off a guard.
I left him bewildered and feathered and tarred.
My long journey home took a year to complete.
My shoes had worn down to the soles of my feet.
"With the frying pan gone, the fire of despair
Was waiting for me in the long golden hair
Of the woman I loved as she remained wrapped in
The muscular arms of a statuesque Captain.
"They'd just been married. I hurried away.
I set sail again on the very next day.
I didn't set foot in this place for five years.
I fought thieves and pirates and demons and fears.
"But when I returned a faint glimmer of hope
Lit mental scenes of the day I'd elope
With my true love. Her husband was dead,
Killed in a fight in a bar as he fled.
"I couldn't convince her to leave town with me.
She needed the blessing of her family.
They'd turned against sailors. Their son-in-law's death
Had given him manners that he'd never get
"From spending nights drinking with dangerous men
And women who'd bite off the head of a hen
As part of a well-known seduction technique.
They'd swallow the eyes but they'd spit out the beak.
"He became known as a great womaniser,
Which angered his wife. He came to despise her.
She hated him. She struggled to hide
The joy that she felt when she heard that he'd died.
"This is why I settled down on dry land.
I set up a factory where seafood was canned.
I built up my business and as the years passed
I earned the respect of her parents at last.
"I couldn't help thinking the future looked bright,
But sadly my factory burnt down one June night.
It wasn't insured, a fact that was noted
During her family's meeting. They voted
"To show their support for a man known as Dean
Who'd obviously failed to inherit the gene
That stops people falling in holes or down stairs
Or using a stick to disturb sleeping bears.
"But he would inherit his family's wealth.
Their fortune remained in good hands and good health.
Her family twisted her arm for so long
They made her head do what her heart knew was wrong.
"She married this man. I left here once more.
My home was the sea and a strange foreign shore.
Be wary of creatures who bite but don't bark.
I lost my left leg to the jaws of a shark.
"And so I came home. My true love I met.
Her husband was dead so there's hope for us yet.
He died when he fell from a roof where he'd been
To see if the raindrops would wash his suit clean.
"We're both middle-aged and I'm penniless, but
I'm trying to get back on my feet, or my foot.
I'll start my own business, and learn from the past,
And then I will marry my true love at last."
Mabel said this was a beautiful tale.
Andrew did not know sign language or Braille,
But he could read hints. He thought he could tell
That she meant 'Let's help him get out of his hell'.
He gave Larry two-hundred euros in cash
And straightaway thought that he'd done something rash.
Larry was shocked, and then filled with joy.
He seemed to be doing his best not to cry.
He said, "This investment will put me on track.
When you return you'll get twice as much back."
He shook Andrew's hand and he finished his drink.
He left with a smile and a nod and a wink.
Mabel said, "What you just did was so kind,
But I think you've been conned by a criminal mind.
The story he told was exactly the same
As the plot of a film. I've forgotten its name."
They looked out the window and saw Larry run.
He clearly was pleased with the job he had done.
Sometimes he skipped. The limping had gone.
He couldn't believe the success of his con.