'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
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Thursday, April 30, 2009
A Little Hobo
I found a little hobo
In the cupboard by the sink.
I asked him how he got there
But he needed time to think
Before he could provide me
With the answer that I sought.
I performed a tap dance
While the little hobo thought.
I danced until exhaustion
Brought me to my aching knees.
The hobo kept on thinking
While he ate the age-old cheese
He had taken from the mouse traps
That were now stuck to his hand.
This always seemed to happen
When I left the traps unmanned.
Eventually he spoke to me.
He said his tale begins
When he was eating dinner.
He had found the food in bins.
It left him in the mood
For a snooze inside the park.
He made himself a pillow
From some dead leaves, moss and bark.
But soon he was awoken
By a voice that sounded grim.
The hobo felt quite frightened
When a man said this to him:
"You've stolen my sandwich.
For this you must pay.
And don't pay in frogs
If they're light blue or grey.
"The frogs must be purple
Or orange or red.
They must wear deodorant
If they are dead."
The little hobo left
To locate some frogs like these.
The frogs he'd seen before
Were as green as garden peas,
But not quite as delicious.
He loved his peas and mash
With strange, mysterious spices
That were added by the trash.
He searched both high and low
And the spaces in between,
But every frog he found
Was a blinding shade of green,
Until he saw a red one
As it hopped along a path.
It didn't stop its hopping
Till it reached a 'Welcome' mat.
It wiped its feet and went in
Through an open letter box.
The hobo took his boots off
And he nearly lost his socks
When they tried to get away.
In a second they'd be gone
If the hobo hadn't caught them
And then put his boots back on.
But then he saw a problem:
He couldn't get inside.
Though his frame was only little
And the letterbox was wide
He couldn't get his head in
And the cat flap was too small.
His boots would never desecrate
The carpet in the hall.
He went around the back
Of this house and there he found
An open downstairs window.
He went in without a sound.
But he triggered an alarm:
A scream that sounded shrill.
A woman was undressing
And she looked like she could kill.
He made a speedy exit
And he saw the frog again.
It hopped across the garden
And it had an evil grin.
It led him through more gardens,
Sheds and houses, dim-lit rooms
Where he was chased by people
Wielding frying pans and brooms.
It led him to a séance
Where a spirit was explaining
That the thing he misses most from life
Is firm, repeated caning.
The frog then came to my house
Where he found a place to hide.
To search the cupboard properly
The hobo climbed inside.
I said this was his lucky day.
I took him to the shed.
I had a box of dead frogs
And each one of them was red.
I used some strong deodorant.
The frogs smelled just like me.
I told the little hobo
He could have the frogs for free.
He shook my hand and thanked me.
His smile expressed delight.
I saw him eating dead frogs
As he walked away that night.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Black Metal Beetles
That August day had gone has planned
Till evening time when jet-black clouds
Brought metal beetles to our land
And scattered panic-stricken crowds.
These beetles fell as soft as snow.
Their tiny parachutes delayed
Their meeting with the ground below.
A light-less night concealed their raid.
We all looked out at dawn's first light.
A thick black blanket lay upon
Each road and roof and field in sight.
The landscape's features were all gone.
This hard black snow lacked winter chills.
Parents watched as children played.
Sleighs and skis were used on hills
And beetle men were swiftly made.
I couldn't share their lack of fear.
I rowed my boat on beetle backs.
I fought the growing festive cheer
To keep my fear of their attacks.
But these small metal insects lacked
All signs of artificial life.
They never moved. This simple fact
Meant songs like 'Jingle Bells' were rife.
I felt great wonder when I found
That no two beetles were alike.
My small row boat made me feel bound.
I'd just made up my mind to hike
When each black beetle came alive.
They moved as one, a metal tide.
I saw my neighbour try to drive
His new car as he prayed and cried.
Many cars were swept away,
As were skiers and their skis.
Children held onto their sleigh
While others clung to trunks of trees.
I tried to row against the flow
Of beetles but I couldn't beat
Their awesome might. I didn't know
Where we would go on their wire feet.
The passengers of this black tide
Were envious of my row boat.
And though I took enormous pride
In my fore-thought, I didn't gloat.
The beetles knocked down poles and trees
And many houses in their path,
Intruding on mid-morning teas.
A startled man inside his bath
Was swept away into the west.
In this we didn't have much choice.
I hoped it would be for the best
And that the journey would be nice.
I came across a woman who
Was clinging to an old oak tree.
She feared she'd fall out of the blue
Into the black, till she saw me.
I steered my boat beneath her feet.
She dropped down from the branch above.
To feel a row boat underneath
Brought boundless joy and looks of love.
I'd brought along some carrot cake,
And tea inside a thermos flask.
We both agreed to take a break
And let the sea perform its task.
Our picnic helped us to relax.
We ate the cake from paper plates.
She told me some amazing facts
About the way the barn owl mates.
She spoke of other birds as well.
She loved to watch them from her house.
She gladly told me how to tell
A common pheasant from a grouse.
She told me all about the day
She drove her mother and Aunt Jill
To see a tall ship in a bay.
They had a great view from a hill.
They looked down on the town below.
From there they saw a theft take place.
Its progress was extremely slow.
The thief tried hard to speed his pace.
But it takes many hours to steal
An organ from a church alone.
He stopped for lunch. He made a meal
Of two small kiwis and a scone.
He stole the organ pipe by pipe,
Despite the people there to pray.
He looked just like the thieving type
With his dark mask and black beret.
They looked down on this crime until
The thief had nearly filled his van,
And then they travelled down the hill
To thwart the thief's ambitious plan.
They notified the town's police,
Who caught the thief before he fled.
The church gave him a sense of peace.
He calmly ate communion bread
While he was being led away.
She said the priest was pleased as Punch.
He practically insisted they
Should join him for a four-course lunch.
She spoke for many hours as we
Were carried swiftly over land,
And when the beetles reached the sea
They didn't gather on the sand.
The metal sea kept moving on.
It disappeared into the blue.
When all its metal parts had gone
We could appreciate the view.
I rowed the boat on gentle waves
While all around us people swam.
Some kids explored the nearby caves
And on the beach their aunts spread jam
On homemade scones they'd brought in coats.
The debris from the beetles' charge
Was used to make some basic boats
And one enormous floating barge.
The lack of beetles thrilled our souls,
A joy expressed in volleyball
Or simply digging useless holes.
A brilliant time was had by all.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
One day as I cleaned out my uncle's pig sty
I gleaned this advice from a talkative fly:
Never eat butter you got from a pig.
Hogs may well fool you by wearing a wig.
I then made a brief mental note to be wary
Of people whose ears were unusually hairy,
Especially those bringing butter or cheese,
Whose scent comes before them when there's a strong breeze.
The fly said he'd learnt many lessons on life
From having a mind that's as sharp as a knife
And thousands of eyes that bring visual thrills,
Enhancing well-honed observational skills.
A dangerous, highly-trained spy, he is not.
He looks like a bland, inconspicuous dot
When he plays the role of the fly on the wall.
It's one of the numerous perks of being small.
He told me some stories that raised my eyebrows.
'Moo's of surprise could be heard from the cows.
Tales of affairs and of vengeance were told,
And stories of fools who were digging for gold.
I doubted the truth of a few of his tales.
He told me of people who surf clouds in gales,
And babies who hatched out of turnips at night.
By dawn they'd have learnt how to swim and to fight.
But most of the stories seemed truthful and real.
He said he had news of a poor sap called Neil
Whose girlfriend, Amanda, was cheating on him.
She'd fallen in love with a man at the gym.
Each evening they'd meet wearing brilliant disguises.
They often engaged in averting a crisis
When they faced a meeting with someone they knew.
Bushes or hedges would hide them from view.
He often dressed up as a priest with a beard.
Wild hair made him look like a beast to be feared.
She'd be a maid in a black and white dress.
In front of onlookers she'd watch as he'd bless
The sea and the sky and the birds in a tree,
A curious cat and a troublesome knee.
They'd go to a place hidden from prying eyes,
Where they could emerge from behind their disguise,
Discarding their clothes in a boathouse as night
Approached and provided the right sort of light
For people who'd rather avoid being seen.
Darkness provides an appropriate screen.
One night they were shocked to be caught in the act
By an admirable man with remarkable tact.
He owned this old boathouse, but he didn't stay.
He said 'Sorry Father' and hurried away.
Neil didn't know about any of this.
Ignorance often is needed for bliss.
She told him that she was conducting research
Into the history of her local church.
This was the story the little fly told.
It sounded familiar. It left my heart cold.
I told him that I was the Neil in his tale
And I'd been so blind I would have to learn Braille.
The fly was embarrassed. He said he must leave
To fly into windows with his best friend Steve.
I couldn't believe I'd accepted her lies.
I'd never remarked on her maid-like disguise.
But what could I do? It seemed far too late
For action. I had to accept my sad fate.
You'll drive yourself mad if you keep asking 'why?'.
I just wish I hadn't been told by a fly.
Thursday, April 09, 2009
Martha Takes a Walk
It's one of those days when nothing seems right.
The flowers look slightly afraid of the light.
The bread is too bouncy. The cat is too flat.
There's honey and milk in her favourite hat.
The chairs in the kitchen are inching away.
They'll be out the door by the end of the day.
The doorbell keeps swearing. The shed is on fire.
The grandfather clock is beginning to tire.
The bin looks unwell. It smells of old trout.
Before it gets sick she decides to go out.
She goes for a walk in the woods down the road,
Where nothing has ever been known to explode,
Where trees and wild flowers all thrive in sunlight,
Where peace and repose will arrive after night,
Where creatures are grateful for what the sun's heat gives.
They'll never release a long stream of expletives.
Martha begins to relax as she walks.
Her mood can be heard in her voice as she talks
To blackbirds and squirrels and small timid shrews.
She's gone from the world run on money and booze.
She walks down a wide sunlit path till she sees
An old bearded man in the shade of the trees.
The ground surrounding his feet is alive
With animals, birds and some insects who strive
To climb up his trousers. Some get all the way
Up to his shoulders where they stop to play.
As two tiny birds eat some seeds from his palm,
Martha says, "How do you reach such pure calm?"
He says, "You should hide in a soft mental hood,
Especially when things aren't going so good,
And things have a habit of doing just that.
The rain only comes when you don't have your hat.
"When life's looking pear-shaped there's no need to shout.
The play of the day will soon play itself out.
The stage will display scenes of trouble and woe.
The trick is to smile and say, 'On with the show.'
"And not be concerned with the words of the actors.
Invisible bards drive invisible tractors
To track down the people who've strayed from their herds.
The bards will entangle them in webs of words,
"In plots full of pratfalls and pitfalls in places
Where roads have deep potholes, and knots in your laces
Are always undone so you'll trip on the road.
The long swaying blades of wild grass will explode.
"The bards see themselves as the farmers of people.
A thoughtful, considerate farmer of sheep will
Make sure that his herd are kept mentally fit.
They need to be worried and hurried a bit.
"And so farmer bards will bring drama our way
To hasten the passage of time through the day.
But they go too far. They cause mental pain.
Ignoring their script is the way to stay sane.
"You've got to just let all the action go on.
You'll be there in person. You're mind will be gone.
Inside you'll be looking at cats on a wall,
Wondering which one will doze off and fall."
Martha is grateful for this good advice.
She says her goodbyes to the man and his mice.
She makes her way home where the table and chairs
Have got out but they fail to add to her cares.
She gives them a wave and she opens the door.
The bin has created a mess on the floor.
But Martha's not bothered. The smell's not so bad.
It's not like the noxious fumes made by her Dad
When he undertook his alchemical work.
He learnt from a well-dressed, mysterious Turk.
He spent countless weekends perfecting his craft.
Neighbours, work colleagues and friends would have laughed
If any of them had discovered the truth.
He said he was making an edible flute.
He failed in his efforts to make gold from lead.
He made many rose-scented snowflakes instead.
She looks out and sees the flames dance in a breeze.
The fire in her shed triggers warm memories.
She thinks of those days with her Dad long ago.
Nostalgia instils a warm internal glow.
Her house catches fire but this fails to erase
The smile on her face. She puts out the blaze
Using a hose, and she whistles a tune.
This seems like the best way to spend days in June.
She goes back inside when the flames cease their dance.
The mess from the bin is being cleared up by ants
While she makes the tea. She breaks into song,
Safe in the knowledge that nothing is wrong.
Thursday, April 02, 2009
Fred found fortune and great fame.
Countless strangers screamed his name
At concerts where he played guitar.
Fred's job title was 'Rock Star'.
But this was many years ago.
His fame has reached an all-time low.
He's noticed there's a glaring lack
Of paparazzi to attack.
If he could choose he'd say 'oh yes'
To gross intrusion from the press,
With TV camera crews as well
To make his life a living hell.
He waits while his Madeira cake browns.
He misses having nervous breakdowns,
And flying without ever knowing
The country where the band were going.
Nowadays he bakes and cooks.
He makes the cakes described in books
By TV chefs who live like stars.
They've got Jacuzzis in their cars.
They go to bars where groupies wait
With bated breath and tempting bait.
They swear and shout as much abuse
As ego-swollen bands let loose.
Fred remembers good old days,
Despite an alcoholic haze,
Days when they'd drive cars in pools
And open doors with power tools,
Even though they had their keys.
They'd always do just as they please.
But nowadays most bands are tame.
They'd rather not abuse their fame.
They don't throw knives or TV sets
Or take short trips in private jets
To have their pets' dry cleaning done.
They never talk to their best gun.
They dread bad press. It's sad to see
That every fad is said to be
The brand new rock and roll. It seems
That even dancers harbour dreams
Of being stars in sequined clothes
And stealing scenes on TV shows,
While modern rock stars love being seen
Saving fuel and being green.
Fred decides the time has come
To pound out beats on rock's war drum,
To call all former stars to arms.
They'll leave the safety of health farms.
They'll all re-form their bands and fight.
They'll wield guitars to make things right.
The younger bands won't stand the pace.
Their egos will be seen from space.
Fred will call his old band mates
And they'll display their former traits.
Drunken fights will be the norm,
Then healing in a nurses' dorm.
They'll go on tour and never tire
Of watching maids put out a fire.
They'll catch the world's lapels and shake,
As soon as Fred has iced his cake.