Battlefield

I used to sit and watch you play Battlefield 1

My legs tucked under me as I drew red lines on the essays of fifteen year old girls and nodded, knowingly, at angst and sadness that was theirs and mine

I was distracted by angry German shouting, shrapnel spitting through the air, bodies pierced and punctured by 100 year old bullets from rifles I was starting to recognise: Lee-Enfield, Carcano, Springfield

Willing you, now and then, to look at me

To see me

But you were a sniper picking off enemies from a distance. Such a distance.

And you wouldn’t die for me.

‘Did you see that?’

Yes, I saw that. I saw it all.

Now

Someone else is playing your game.

Someone else is going over the top,

Recklessly pitching grenades at enemy troops

Maybe he is the same vulnerable, dispensable soldier

Traversing no man’s land

Negotiating the unpredictable terrain of the unknown

But he prefers the Madsen

And when he paused yesterday, briefly, to move a piece of hair away from my eye with gentle, precise fingers

I almost cried

Nobody Else is You 

Here’s a silly little poem I jotted down one day waiting for a bus. Hope you guys like it:

                                                                    

                                                                     Nobody knows you like you do
                                                                     Nobody else can ever be you
                                                                    And you can’t be somebody else
                                                                    You can only be you 

                                                                   You can go and try on someone else
                                                                  And wear their thoughts like a scarf 
                                                                 But nobody else will ever fit
                                                                 So be comfortable wearing you 


The Cloak

You came upon me like a blanket suddenly

thrust upon a flame

to smother me

to choke me

to quench me

I ran with you clinging to me

Covering me

Shrouding my path in darkness

burning me out

A caricature of a ghost

I failed to shrug you from my shoulders

I had to learn to see again

From the shadows you cast

The colours, the light, the road ahead

I had to accept you.

Here

I see you suffer
Hiding behind the burnt skin and thinning hair
Smiling a little weakly
A feeble frail finger taps a hollow cheek to where my blood filled lips can touch
I fear a kiss may kill you

I see you moving
Crossing deserts in your kitchen
Glancing through your window at horizons you’ll never reach
The timer on the oven seems to be moving too quickly, too quickly
The dinner won’t be ready
The time will be up too soon

I see you folding children’s jumpers
Holding them close to your chest for seconds before you let them go
You’ll have to show them how to get creases out, so they will know
When the folding is done, and plans are made
You need to sit

I see you now, as you are, and I see you as you were
Vibrant, dancing, living,
Teaching, learning, yearning, dreaming
I see you now, hopeless, lost, frightened, blind…but at least

I see you

-JG

RAINBOW THREADS

I thought it would be a lovely way to celebrate 500 of you wonderful followers by reblogging this collaboration with the wonderful Hasty Words. Enjoy!

HASTYWORDS

Wings by HastyWords Wings by HastyWords

WRITTEN BY JANE GOOD AND HASTYWORDS


Flocks of butterflies landed in front of me
Oranges, blues, and wine colored reds
Their wings were a cacophony of beats
Stitching my wounds with rainbow threads

Transfixed by nimble and delicate flight
I contemplate their careful crimson dance
My motionless body masks my delight
Viewing a rare moment of flighty romance

The carefree display of life on barbs of light
And the way they give nothing to the past
At rest or in motion, always in the moment
Speaks a needed truth into my troubled soul

Oh, if I could ascend from my tainted reality
Unimpeded in my search for meaning
I would join these creatures in heavenly flight
My colors would change from dark to bright

View original post

A Poem for Parents

Julie over at Musings from a workaholic wrote a lovely post about her sons and the various activities they got up to as kids.

It reminded me of an Irish poem that my parents had up on our fridge when I was young. I will post it in it’s original Irish form (and it is much nicer in Irish) but I’ll also post an English translation. I think those of you with kids will love it.

Subh Milis

Bhí subh milis
Ar bhaschrann an dorais
Ach mhúch mé an corraí
Ionam d’éirigh,
Mar smaoinigh mé ar an lá
A bheas an baschrann glan,
Agus an láimh bheag
Ar iarraidh.

Jam

There was jam
On the door handle
But I quenched the anger
That rose in me
Because I thought of the day
That the door handle would be clean
And the little hand
Would be gone

Seamus O’ Neill

Also, a big thank you to Lydia for the Sunshine Award. I know I’ve taken forever to get to it so apologies! To spread a little sunshine to your day, here’s a picture of me on my graduation day:

20140501-192025.jpg
Source
Note: That is not actually me. I’m much less adorable.

A Beautiful Poem: The Skunk by Seamus Heaney

The Skunk

Up, black, striped and damasked like the chasuble
At a funeral mass, the skunk’s tail
Paraded the skunk. Night after night
I expected her like a visitor.

The refrigerator whinnied into silence.
My desk light softened beyond the verandah.
Small oranges loomed in the orange tree.
I began to be tense as a voyeur.

After eleven years I was composing
Love-letters again, broaching the word ‘wife’
Like a stored cask, as if its slender vowel
Had mutated into the night earth and air

Of California. The beautiful, useless
Tang of eucalyptus spelt your absense.
The aftermath of a mouthful of wine
Was like inhaling you off a cold pillow.

And there she was, the intent and glamorous,
Ordinary, mysterious skunk,
Mythologized, demythologized,
Snuffing the boards five feet beyond me.

It all came back to me last night, stirred
By the sootfall of your things at bedtime,
Your head-down, tail-up hunt in a bottom drawer
For the black plunge-line nightdress.

Today, I read the poem ‘The Skunk’ with my pupils. It is one of my favourite romantic poems and my students loved it. It elicited a great discussion of what constitutes romance and I left class knowing that my students had personally connected with this beautiful poem.

In terms of being “romantic”, it is unconventional to say the least. The poet compares his wife to a skunk, which on the surface, is not the most flattering of comparisons. However, a deeper look at the poem reveals the affection and tenderness that is evident between the poet and his wife. I love it because it is not cliched; it is affectionately teasing and the comparison makes sense to them. His deep love and desire for his wife is obvious.

Heaney died last year at the age of 74. His last words, to his beloved wife, were in beautiful simple Latin: Noli timere, meaning “don’t be afraid”.

A beautiful Irish ballad

Usually, I try to make you guys laugh…. and I fail, but the important thing is, I try. Today, I’m posting something that may make you cry.

This song was first played to me by a friend and I remember trying to hold back tears as the final verse played. I’ve since played it for my own students and they have also found it moving and poignant. It is a moving song about emigration and its effects not only on the people who have had to leave but also on the people left behind.

The song was written by two American men, Steven and Peter Jones. Their great-great-grandfather, Brian Hunt, had written letters from Kilkelly, Mayo, Ireland, to his son and their great-grandfather, John, who had emigrated to America in the nineteenth century.
The letters were found by the men in an attic in the United States and they were so overcome with emotion that they decided to write a song based on the content of the letters.

The writings revolve around local and family news being given to John by his father Brian. John had emigrated during the Irish Potato Famine of 1845-1852 and the letters cover a period of time from 1860-1892. As Brian was illiterate, the local schoolmaster, Patrick MacNamara, wrote the letters down. His sense of isolation and loneliness at the loss of his family to emigration is obvious, but he remains jovial and kind in his letters.

Here is a beautiful performance of the song by Robbie O’ Connell and I’ve also included the lyrics. I hope you guys enjoy it as much as I did.

Kilkelly, Ireland, 18 and 60, my dear and loving son John
Your good friend the schoolmaster Pat McNamara’s so good
As to write these words down.
Your brothers have all gone to find work in England,
The house is so empty and sad
The crop of potatoes is sorely infected,
A third to a half of them bad.
And your sister Brigid and Patrick O’Donnell
Are going to be married in June.
Your mother says not to work on the railroad
And be sure to come on home soon.

Kilkelly, Ireland, 18 and 70, dear and loving son John
Hello to your Mrs and to your 4 children,
May they grow healthy and strong.
Michael has got in a wee bit of trouble,
I suppose that he never will learn.
Because of the dampness there’s no turf to speak of
And now we have nothing to burn.
And Brigid is happy, you named a child for her
And now she’s got six of her own.
You say you found work, but you don’t say
What kind or when you will be coming home.

Kilkelly, Ireland, 18 and 80, dear Michael and John, my sons
I’m sorry to give you the very sad news
That your dear old mother has gone.
We buried her down at the church in Kilkelly,
Your brothers and Brigid were there.
You don’t have to worry, she died very quickly,
Remember her in your prayers.
And it’s so good to hear that Michael’s returning,
With money he’s sure to buy land
For the crop has been poor and the people
Are selling at any price that they can.

Kilkelly, Ireland, 18 and 90, my dear and loving son John
I guess that I must be close on to eighty,
It’s thirty years since you’re gone.
Because of all of the money you send me,
I’m still living out on my own.
Michael has built himself a fine house
And Brigid’s daughters have grown.
Thank you for sending your family picture,
They’re lovely young women and men.
You say that you might even come for a visit,
What joy to see you again.

Kilkelly, Ireland, 18 and 92, my dear brother John
I’m sorry that I didn’t write sooner to tell you that father passed on.
He was living with Brigid, she says he was cheerful
And healthy right down to the end.
Ah, you should have seen him play with
The grandchildren of Pat McNamara, your friend.
And we buried him alongside of mother,
Down at the Kilkelly churchyard.
He was a strong and a feisty old man,
Considering his life was so hard.
And it’s funny the way he kept talking about you,
He called for you in the end.
Oh, why don’t you think about coming to visit,
We’d all love to see you again.

Picture Source