If you stop thinking

If you stop thinking,
Everything is primal shapes,
Circle, triangle, a blur,
Even colours evaporate.

You’ll have beginners’ luck
In every game you play,
Type at light speed, outrun
Sonic boom and radio waves,

Fly to Tasmania and back
On a bird that’s a factory,
An altar bell, a blackboard,
All in the flash of a blind eye.

Grieving for a bee I tried to rescue

Grieving for a bee I tried to rescue.
I wish I’d never felt love for any human being
But it’s animals I love more, more than people.
Forever regret the mouse that pleaded from a trap.
Oh bee I made a bed for with leaves, forgive me
But they can’t and I am in Hell now.

*

The bee is still
In his dry leaf bower.
The drops of water I left him
He never drank.
He no longer tries to fly.
He has gone to the flowers.

*

I’m sorry if I hurt you by trying to set you free.
Rest, your work is done now, still bee.

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

– 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

– Surplices and Cassocks
– Incense, Oil 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
– Statues, Silverware and Stained Glass
– Illuminated Manuscripts and Leaflets
– Missionaries and Black Babies
– Monks, Brothers, Priests and Nuns
– Bamboo Canes and Leathers

– Catechisms and Rosary Beads
– Chasubles and Stoles
– Soutanes and Habits
– Dog Collars and Hairshirts
– 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? Not Yet.
– Who’s Coming and When?
– Revelations, Ergot & Mushrooms
– Handwritten Diary of Jesus & Yeah You Wish
– 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 Tax Collectors
– Herod, 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
– Holly Threesome and the Divine Mysteries
– Mother Mary Aikenhead and the White Fathers
– Jesus Wept and the Litany of Loreto
– Saecula Saeculorum and Amen

Original version tweeted by Stephen Moran (@stephen_j_moran) on June 2, 2021.

If that piqued your interest, you might like to read “Oh One-by-Three”, “Oh Flaking Gilt Money Box” and “Saint Paul said it all” in Day of the Flying Leaves. (Stephen)

High-flying Birds Know

High-flying birds know it’s about to rain.
Seagulls circle in the lowering plane,
A few one way, then round the other.
When one catches up, it nips its brother
And they squawk. Where can we land?
Pigeons and strangers hurry by and
The dark and darkening cloud overhead
Threatens tree and house and flowerbed.
The sun is foiled, indifferent, no thunder.
But like Swift’s London, the streets are under
Water now. I wish I were in Berwick Street,
Spoiled fruit and cabbage leaves at my feet.
Read the Dean, not me, for all that glory,
My world is suburban and that’s my story.
Here’s rain, miles from home but an anorak
Serves well, and I’ll be soon enough back.

From one of the Dublin Fusiliers

To My Daughter Betty, The Gift of God

In wiser days, my darling rosebud, blown
To beauty proud as was your mother’s prime,
In that desired, delayed, incredible time,
You’ll ask why I abandoned you, my own,
And the dear heart that was your baby throne,
To dice with death. And oh! they’ll give you rhyme
And reason: some will call the thing sublime,
And some decry it in a knowing tone.
So here, while the mad guns curse overhead,
And tired men sigh with mud for couch and floor,
Know that we fools, now with the foolish dead,
Died not for flag, nor King, nor Emperor,—
But for a dream, born in a herdsman’s shed,
And for the secret Scripture of the poor.

— Thomas Kettle

(Born 1880. Died 1916, battle of the Somme. Ref:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Kettle)

I used to have a book of poetry by Thomas Kettle, which I was given as a gift, and it had its pages uncut. I wish I knew where I left it. I must have given it as a present to somebody. I think I know who. It can’t be found now for love nor money, just the exact one. It’s possible it was never properly published. Of course I did cut the pages, and it had this poem and one of the others I remember I used to like was called “Ennui” – it wasn’t mainly war poems.

Thomas Kettle was an interesting character, a leading nationalist who followed John Redmond’s decision for his Irish Volunteers, a nationalist movement, to enlist in British regiments to fight “for the rights of small nations” after Belgium had been invaded. It was on the promise of Home Rule for Ireland, which had been passed by Westminster in 1914, at Gladstone’s third attempt, but then suspended because of the outbreak of war.

Whether it would have followed had not Pearse et al struck in 1916, who knows? Even in the treaty negotiations later an offer of dominion status similar to Canada’s, was spurned. Wouldn’t that have been far better though, even from a nationalist point of view, because afterwards they might have voted away the link anyway, like Australia keeps threatening to do? [The treaty did give the 26 counties dominion status, which continued till the declaration of the republic in 1937. It was perhaps never going to be for the 32, I don’t know.] Oh well. Let’s invite the Queen to Dublin, it’s past time. Let the dead bury the dead. I’m not very sure what it means, but it’s something a little short of letting bygones be bygones, perhaps.

The following, if it’s still there (they come and go on YouTube) is a lament for a son going off to war, “Oh Danny boy, the pipes – the pipes are calling…”

(Diana Krall with the Chieftains)

The Wholly Officious (2004)*

After J. Joyce

Myself unto myself will give
This name, Lord Justice Purgative.
I, who was hired to overlook
The quisling and elected crook,
Bringing to website and to telly
The mind of witty Machiavelli,
Lest Beeb in the attempt should err
Must here be my interpreter:
Wherefore receive now from my court
This most miraculous new report.
To enter Whitehall, sup with Blair,
Get sinecure or peerage there,
One positively needs by rights
To dress in wig and matching tights.
For every true-born British jurist
Advised by three wise monkeys is,
Who’ll savage any Junior Counsel
Who dares disturb his Privy Council,
Like him who costive makes a scene
Expending on the world his spleen.
Ruling the land by nod and wink
Of course deserves a decent drink.
But I must not accounted be
One of that woolly company–
With him who drinks just to forget
The penny that we’ll never get.
While they console him when he whinges
With yellow ties and Cornish fringes–
Or him who rises from his coffin
To vampirise our Bambi often —
Or she who thought that giving birth
In manacles was prisoners’ worth —
Or him who tramps his Texas ranch
And thinks he’s smarter than the French
But privately his pants would crap
If asked for Paris on the map —
Or him who rode on Roland Rat
And in the face of Justice spat
Though loved by all his employees
Refusing to kow tow on his knees–
Or him who thought that mushy peas
Were guacamole, and ‘Oh please,
Oh please,” cried, ‘lend me money
To buy a pad for me and Ronnie.’
Or him whose name is so immaculate
T’would make a saint himself ejaculate
That any sinner dared besmirch
A name as blessed as the church,
Although it’s known to dullest junkie
He’s only ever been a flunkie.
But all these gents and dames decreed
That I absolve their every deed,
So while they scheme their seamy schemes
I carry off their filthy streams.


* This is a bit of fun about the Hutton inquiry, and that was not funny at all. It was published in the Dublin ezine Electric Acorn, which no longer exists. They also published a short story, or what probably would be called flash fiction now, of mine called The Visitor. I’d almost forgotten.