Unquiet Flows the Tolka

Bridge of Tolka, Drumcondra Park, spelter baluster, pewter spate. Spectre of Swan’s liturgy, philtre of Stac’s refrain, and peroxide Ida, acid exchange student, your college green a prairie to our Botanics. You sexed me with a buttercup, highly, and yogi-sat akimbo. Oh Ida, we shoulda. I’da!

Where are you now, Obama bounden, marked for McCain, bankrupt in Ohio, divorced in Union City? Do men put their words into your mouth in Idaho? Are you a mother of succour or did you die purple-hearted by the tracks in Maine?

I’ll seek you high and low in Isle au Haut, I’ll trade Manhattan for rosary beads and pray for an apparition, I’ll drop into every dive from Atlantic City to shining Zee, and go over Niagara in a glass-bottomed boat, looking for my Tolka naiad.

But should all peroxide Idas look the same, I’ll find out what Martinis are and drink them dry, I’ll down firewater without reservation in the Indian nations, I’ll find a night door and wait for you there as longing, unquiet as the Tolka flows.

(2008)


Photo: The Tolka river viewed from the bridge at Drumcondra

Maid of Light

Maid of Light by S.J. Moran

I washed my face in the mud of faith
that turned into a holy spring
ever effervescing from pebbles
made of light made of light

and I saw the Maid of Light
who was made of light,
heard a voice tell
secrets from the secret well

and her secrets fell into me,
into the secret well within,
into the water made of light
and one of her secrets this:

there are no secrets in me
and the well is all there is,
the silvery water made of light
made of light.


Photo: Sunburst over St. Bernadette’s grotto, Lourdes. Foreground: the river Gave du Pau with a footbridge in the distance. Background: the Basilica. Visitors and crowds can just about be discerned, silhouetted.

Rearranging Curios in the Museum of Religion: The Rooms (RC Wing)

Rearranging Curios in the Museum of Religion read by S.J. Moran

– Magical Bread
– Mortification of the Flesh
– Custody of the Eyes
– Sackcloth and Ashes
– Apparitions and Miracles
– Was Lazarus a Zombie?
– On Your Knees
– Banned Books
– Conclaves & White Smoke
– Statues, Icons and Candles

– Catechisms and Rosary Beads
– Incense, Chrism and Holy Water
– Fasting and Altar Wine
– Organs, Hymns and Bells
– Papal Bulls and Celibacy
– Carpenters and Virgins
– Mother and Baby Stables
– Wise Men and Donkeys
– Gold, Frankenstein and Mirth

– Hermits, Stylites and Prophets
– Processions, Relics and Exposition
– Retreats, Novenas and Sodalities
– Silverware and Stained Glass
– Illuminated Manuscripts and Leaflets
– Missionaries and Black Babies
– Monks, Brothers, Priests and Nuns
– Bamboo Canes and Leathers

– Surplices, Soutanes and Cassocks
– Chasubles, Cinctures and Stoles
– Dog Collars, Hair Shirts and Habits
– Censers and Sanctuary Lights
– Missals and Mass Cards
– Parish Registers and Weekly Dues
– Poor Boxes and Collection Plates
– Presbytery, Sacristy and Choir
– Headstones

– Dominus Vobiscum et Cum Spiritu Tuo
– Scrolls, Gospels & Apocrypha
– Recordings Detectible in Rocks
– Who’s Coming and When?
– Revelations, Ergot & Mushrooms
– Handwritten Diary of Jesus
– Faith, Hope & Love
– Salvation and Damnation
– Ghost or Spirit?

– Married Priests and Mini-Skirted Nuns
– Jesuits, Liberation Theology and Blind Faith
– Bishops, Arch and Suffragan
– Beatification, Canonisation and Devils’ Advocates
– Cathars and the Consolamentum
– Kill Them All and God Will Know His Own
– Misogyny and “Witches” Burned Alive

– Original Sin, Baptism and Limbo
– Joseph and the Immaculate Conception
– Fit Kilkenny and the Remoulds
– Gethsemene, Golgotha and the Garden Tomb
– Veronica and the Turin Shroud
– Lourdes, Fatima, Medjugorje and Knock
– Daniel O’Donnell, Margo and Big Tom
– The Singing Nun and the Singing Priest

– Domenica-nica-nica and Kumbaya
– Faithful Brethren and Dearly Departed
– Spare Not the Rod and Despoil the Child
– Dormitories, Refectories and Confessionals
– Pulpits, Pews and Stations of the Cross
– Fonts, Aisles, Chapels and Tabernacles
– Altar Boys, Handbells and Patens
– Mortal Sins

– Holy Days of Obligation & Acts of Contrition
– Blood Washing Snow White & the Seven Deadly Sins
– Who Killed Liberty Bodice, Scapulars & Miraculous Medals?
– Kyrie Eleison and Why Did Latin Get the Works?
– Sojourn in Hell, Transfiguration and Ascension
– Aramaic, Abba & Here We Go Again

– Fish Supper and Chip Butties for Five Thousand
– Save the Best Wine for Last and Friends on the Coast
– Hairy Magdalene and the Tax Collectors
– Pilate, Caiphas and Peter the Fink
– Romani Ite Domum and the Life of Brian
– Lilies of the Field, Sheep and the Fatted Calf
– Gadarene Swine

– Get Behind Me Satan and St Patrick Before Me
– Holy Threesome and the Divine Mysteries
– Mother Mary Aikenhead and the White Fathers
– Jesus Wept and the Litany of Loreto
– Domine Non Sum Dignus and Also With You
– Saecula Saeculorum and Amen


Image: Miraculous Lactation of St Bernard by Alonso Cano c1650. (Prado, Madrid)

Tune the cat’s whiskers to 40 mb

If anybody has broadband and wants to hear the whole event:

Recording of complete event (with Daljit’s readings edited down to two out of six, alas) (40 mb mp3, could take a while to download – only practical on broadband). Apart from the poems listed here, Daljit also read “The Speaking of Bagwinder Singh Sagoo”, “To the Wealth of India” and “Parade’s End”.

The complete program:

  • Welcome and intros (yours duly)
  • Jeff Achampong reading from a novel-in-progress, working title “Haemoglobin S”.
  • Lynsey Rose reads two poems and an excerpt from newly completed novel.
  • Claudette Gordon reads four new poems.
  • Elle Ludkin reads love poems and a journal about a loved one’s battle with cancer.
  • Stephen Moran reads five poems: “To the People of New Earth”, “Willesden Sunset, January”, “Lines Between Day and Night”, “The Dolls’ Hospital” and “Inisheer”.
  • Dale Arndell reads a short story.
  • (At last!) Daljit Nagra, reading from “Look We Have Coming to Dover!”
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