'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
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Thursday, January 28, 2010
Waiting for Daylight
Perhaps I'm approaching the time to start praying.
Shadows make creatures encroaching on me.
The place where I'm staying is old and decaying,
A tumbledown, crumbling hotel by the sea.
Black-and-white photos in frames are concealing
The stains on the wallpapered walls of my room.
I've fostered the feeling of something appealing
In faces from photos to banish the gloom.
Pictures of actresses lacking their dresses
Attract my attention till terror invades,
An army that presses and strains to bring stresses.
Its gains are alarming on green mental glades.
I turn to the shelf with the statue of Mary
And promise to pray if she offers protection.
I swear I'll be wary of unnecessary
Inspections of photos and further reflection.
The statue sits next to a sketch of red roses
With text from the gospel of Mathew in black.
Stuffed cats with noses in arrogant poses
Encompass the globe showing Prussia is back.
The doors of the wardrobe have lost their brass handles.
I think it's just there to hide cracks in the gable.
Trinkets, old sandals, spare blankets and candles
Are packed into drawers of the oak dressing table.
In hindsight I should have requested a preview,
A look at this room cultivating disaster.
I'd have my nice sea view if some walls were see-through.
They are if you peep through the cracks in the plaster.
Ingrid, the owner, seemed lively and friendly.
The place looked inviting in mid-afternoon.
Guidebooks would send me to somewhere too trendy.
Its charms are effaced in the light of the moon.
There's one other guest and he speaks as he slumbers,
A man who says little but laughs quite a lot.
Amongst the staff numbers are shamblers and mumblers
And one shouting waitress who only says 'What?'.
At dinner my undersized ham was in hiding
Beneath the abundance of peas on my plate.
I'd great trouble guiding the peas that kept sliding,
Evading their dreaded, unsavoury fate.
Ingrid arrived at my table with more peas
And fabulous tales of her days on the stage.
She told many stories of glamorous glories,
Glimmering memories dimming with age.
She spoke of the brilliant directors and playwrights,
The parties with actors amazed at their powers,
The patrons who'd stay nights and help dim the daylights
In men who would buy her gold watches and flowers.
She told me she hoped I would sleep until morning
And not be disturbed by the ghosts who play tennis.
These spirits were scorning her resolute warning
To stop imitating John MacEnroe's menace.
And so after midnight when I heard some noises
They stirred inner voices who'd started to snore.
The wise one despises unpleasant surprises.
I snubbed its advice when I opened the door.
Ingrid was there wearing make-up and ear rings
And delicate articles posing as clothes.
At night when I hear things a frightful bright fear brings
Imaginings of evil pageants and shows,
Spectres and spirits rehearsing in hearses
For grim bedroom farces where young lovers freeze,
Pronouncing their curses in ghost-written verses.
But seeing my hostess was much worse than these.
I closed the door quickly and tried to forget her,
To empty my head of the vision's stage show.
A voice says to let her because it's much better
To play with the mischievous devil you know.
But all other voices reject this conjecture.
I'll stare at a picture and make sure I pray.
I'll write a short lecture on wallpaper texture
And think of my next beer when thoughts start to stray.
But there's no denying my soul suffered bruising.
The vision is dancing in its ghastly light,
Haunting my musing with taunts of my choosing.
Daylight's delayed by a long, daunting night.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
The last time I agreed to paint someone's dining room
I thought the tin of paint looked old.
Karen's one request had been
To lose the blue that felt too cold
And paint the room a shade of green.
Would out-of-date green paint soon fade?
I pondered this and stroked my chin.
Are expiration dates displayed?
Perhaps it's underneath the tin.
I realised the lid of it
Was loose when it was upside-down.
I'm not the village idiot.
I'm just the town's distinguished clown.
The carpet's stylish pool of paint
Would leave a stain I couldn't hide.
Expensive things that bear a taint
Should really bring a sense of pride.
Blood-stained chairs might well enhance
The ambience of where I dine,
Where floods left silt supporting plants
That never wilt. I'm glad they're mine.
But Karen would be furious.
I'd mention trends for styling shacks,
But then she'd just be curious
About potential mental cracks.
Uncle Dermot offers hope
When screws are loose and light has died.
When I'm supplied with too much rope
He'll stop a noose from being tied.
He knows a squared hypotenuse
Can save the lives of tree-bound cats.
He's satisfied with rotten views
As long as he can muse on maths.
In seeking scientific truths
He treats his soul to great delights,
Tracing knowledge to its roots
Where hidden depths affect the heights.
He's certain science will reveal
The underlying truths of life.
He'll raise the veil to view the real
And blaze a trail where fog is rife.
The facts of life above the ground
Are blooming in eternal spring.
Inspiring scenes and soaring sound
Invite his nightless soul to sing.
He built a lab inside his shed.
His bed is there beneath his notes.
Schemes and thoughts invade his head
In dreams of steam on stately boats.
He gets assistance from Eileen,
A widow with a probing mind.
She'll help draw back life's drapes to glean
The gleaming truths he hopes to find.
The bright lights of their mental skills
Can make the dark recesses glow.
They'll camp at night on lonely hills
To see a stunning stellar show.
He'll undertake experiments
To understand the laws of chance,
And be the lord of dance in tents
As star-filled summer nights advance.
I hoped that Dermot could provide
A way to clean the stain I'd made,
Some good advice before it dried
Or some device to make it fade.
He'd no such thing to move the stain.
Instead he told me what to say,
The calming words to form a chain
And charm the looming storm away.
Amazingly, this method worked.
Karen's anger soon declined.
I found out where her laughter lurked.
It's striking sound confirmed my find.
When unconfined by anger's walls
Her laugh rang out in songs of glee,
As unrestrained as waterfalls
On mountainsides I long to see.
We got on like a house on fire.
My uncle's lines were dynamite.
I complimented her attire
And her two eyes were shining bright.
Her gaze revealed the root of my
Unfurnished soul with tarnished ground.
My house that fire would beautify
Was graced by her sweet laughter's sound.
She brought some potted plants as well.
She often called to say hello.
We'd go for walks to flee the smell.
Sparks of love began to glow.
But then one day her husband called.
I saw him with his gun outside.
He rang the bell and there he stalled.
I crept upstairs where I could hide.
The house on fire from our bright sparks
Had surely caused her spouse's ire.
Heartfelt talks and walks in parks
Ensured my future days seemed dire.
I turned to Dermot once again.
I thought I'd use his charming lines,
The words to make her husband grin,
And thus defuse alarming mines.
Instead he had a new machine,
A weapon made to frighten mice.
Karen's husband fled the scene
When I displayed this fine device.
It left a hole in my front door
And scorched the carpet in the hall,
A clear improvement on before,
A floor to match the blackened wall.
Karen rarely visits me.
Her husband never ventures near
The sombre place that proved to be
The source of his oppressive fear.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
The Cold Snap
They call it a spell or a stretch or a snap.
The average road is a treacherous trap.
Drivers leave ditches enveloped in ice,
Parking there based on their sat nav's advice.
Sermons from snowmen are going unheeded.
A post-Christmas diet is urgently needed,
But certainly not a compulsory fast.
Stocks of essentials are being amassed:
Big stacks of toothpicks for teeth after eating
The ten bags of Chip Stix for heart-warming heating,
And good anti-freezes like brandy and malt.
The neighbours are borrowing sugar and salt.
The sorrowful robins are borrowing bread.
Blackbirds need brioche before they're well-fed.
Magpies eat mince pies and big plates of peas.
Orderly crows will form queues for blue cheese.
Northerly breezes shoot razor-sharp arrows.
Creatures in burrows will envy the sparrows.
People who hibernate in the Bahamas
Will not need to purloin new fur-lined pyjamas.
The weather forecast couldn't be more exciting
If they dressed in leather and danced in strobe lighting
While bleakly reciting the negative figures
With maps showing snow clouds and fingers on triggers.
On tree trunks the cold frost can sink its sharp teeth.
I've seventeen blankets defending my feet,
And long johns long gone past their pristine condition.
Foolhardy nocturnal poachers gone fishin'
Receive the reproach of a vigilant cop
And thieves who take their frozen fish from a shop.
A sensible person takes hot drinks and slumbers
While temperatures tumble to curious numbers.
Ice queens and snowmen fight demons in dreams.
They roam on the plains in their powerful teams.
Screams come from snow-covered homes in the gloom.
Ominous ice cream van music brings doom.
At nightfall the spirits are starting to fret.
This frightful bad weather is colder than death.
Chattering teeth muffle bitter refrains.
Shivering spirits hold quivering chains.
I hear them when I stay inside by the fire.
I keep burning coal till I start to perspire.
My hair is a haven for ashes and soot.
I can't hide my pride at the smell from my foot.
The water's been frozen for over a week.
I'll never complain about how things are bleak,
Or grumble about the high cost of a plumber.
I'll save my supply of complaints for the summer.
Thursday, January 07, 2010
The Three Musketeers
When I was a boy and the sky in the summer
Was always a beautiful blue,
I formed humble dreams of becoming a drummer
With more number ones than U2.
I practised my craft by repeatedly pounding
Some buckets and old biscuit tins,
Creating a clamour that some found astounding.
I frightened the trash out of bins.
When not beating songs out of innocent things,
I played with the gang on our street.
We made tennis rackets with musical strings,
And used them with springs on our feet.
We'd cycle in circles for whole afternoons,
Kept busy with dizzy sensations.
At sunset we'd sit and start counting the moons.
We always had high expectations.
With forty-three hours in each day in July,
Time still flew by at great pace.
Walls that have now become small were too high.
Everything shrinks except space.
The universe used to have visible edges,
That astronauts mapped with precision,
With angels rehearsing at heaven's green hedges,
Revising their lines for a vision.
I nurtured my dreams of becoming a star.
I started a band who could stare.
'The Three Musketeers' had a new bass guitar,
An instrument made out of air.
With three younger brothers my drumming could bloom.
We didn't need four to perform.
Our bass player claimed to join in from his room,
From where he conducted a storm.
Apart from my drums and invisible bass,
Bill played his wall-paper flute.
Roy's tennis racket was strummed on his face,
Or skilfully kicked with his boot.
Our much-loved aunt Martha took hold of the reins.
She managed the band from the start.
She taught us to stop using most of our brains,
And freed us to play from the heart.
I never knew we could use less of our minds,
And that we'd appreciate more.
She found that each day brought astonishing finds,
The treasures we've learnt to ignore,
Like green plastic clothes pegs on white garden chairs,
Or rain drops enriching a rose.
She never looked hurried or harried by cares.
She'd sail around worries and woes,
Happily wearing appalling apparel.
Her colours engaged in a quarrel,
Clashing like squirrels and cats in a barrel,
Or Hardy in trouble with Laurel.
She got us a gig at an old people's home,
Despite a light sense of misgiving.
We'd only performed to a motionless gnome.
Our songs made him strain to start living.
Our stage was a neatly-mown, little-known lawn,
Surrounded by sycamore trees.
Our absent bass-player seemed very withdrawn.
The crowd was the source of unease.
The prospering size of the crowd was surprising,
But only the cats were awake.
We started a song about launching a rising
With weaponry made out of cake.
And then came a song about being well-fed,
And food with a terrible smell,
And breakfast in bed with inedible bread.
Our gig went incredibly well.
The thrill of our triumph inspired us to leap,
To honour an excellent day.
We woke all the old folk who'd fallen asleep,
And made all the cats run away.