What about the working man?

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“What about the working man?”

 

His roaring filled the street.

We were children scurrying

past, herd safety in numbers,

safety in distance, across the street.

 

What about the working man?”

That was his challenge for every passerby,

arms flailing, old coat flapping, eyes blind

to everyone, to everything else but…

 

In the trenches, he was, never right since.

They say when drinking he sees

the faces of men he killed up close,

with a bayonet.

 

I heard that years later,

after he died, old age finally

granting him peace.  Back then,

he spread his fear and horror

while we were children scurrying

past, herd safety in numbers,

safety in distance, across the street,

not seeing in his eyes

the dead men he saw,

dying closer to him

than we could ever dare to be.

 

Note – this is about a real person who lived in the same Parish as myself in Kilkenny City.  It is also the last poem I shared with Denis Collins of Wexford before his untimely death in the last week.  He was preparing an exhibition on the theme of Work for  May Day.  Alas it was not be, this was to be one of my contributions.  On the Facebook page Kilkenny Down Memory Lane there were some posts recalling notable characters from days gone by, this poor soul was one of the people remembered. His battle cry remains as relevant as ever, “what about the working man?”

Evening stroll, Old Town, Chania, Crete

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Evening stroll, Old Town, Chania, Crete

 

He was a gentleman, holding us but

a moment, smiling in simple delight

at chatting again with some visitors

to the old quarters of the Cretan town,

his, obviously, wrapped around him like

the warm clothes he wore as a shield

against the mild Spring night.

 

He said, “this was little Jerusalem

before the war.  Lovely people, kind

to the children, like me, playing

on these streets, often gave us sweets,”

pausing, “there’s not many left now.”

 

He asked us where we were from, was it cold

when we left, did we have much snow?  He heard

it was a land that was wonderfully green, except

when it snowed.  Was it true it often rained?

 

We parted then, went our separate ways.

Strolling those same lanes again, a bright,

gloriously sunny day, we could see signs

above a handful of doorways, realising

then it was Passover.

5th Avenue Haiku

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Haiku inspired by two old ladies strolling along Fifth Avenue ,New York City, incorporating a commentary on our times and a measured response to the politics of President Trump

 

“Wouldn’t you think they

would take his Twitter away?”

“I know!  It’s simple.”

 

 

For those who love books, part one

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At the Library, New Ross

From my window desk, perched

high above the grey slated gables

I pause for thought, seeing spires

rising above the town, my view

tumbles towards two great rivers,

joined now as one, gliding gently

through.

 

I came to write peacefully,

to avoid distractions,

the well-known, oft cursed,

enemy of poets and writers.

 

Yet how can I ignore young birches

as Autumn colours grace their leaves

while they cradle in their golden grove

an amphitheater crying out for a voice

to proclaim aloud sheer joy that I live

near such a scribbler’s sanctuary?

 

The trees tremble as a soft breeze

flutters leaves, then wafts me back to

work where the very blood of words,

fresh ink, flows.

 

 

 Ó   Kevin Connelly 2018

5 shorter poems

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At least one thing

At least one thing I’ll remember,

he smiled happily under the bedclothes.

Bare arms lay suggestive on her pillow,

brown eyes flashing in the dim light.

At least that I’ll think of,

when I remember how I left,

remember how I was told to leave.

Sonnet

Sleeping on a park bench promises things

Will change for the better at dawn

Because the sun clears dew and the lark sings

Above the town’s red chimney studded lawn

While the fawn brown worm and silent snail

Creeping slowly from grass, leave a sign

Where the spotted thrush, with beak like nail,

Pierced shell and turned worm to wine.

Perhaps all this shows that God still lives,

Still cares for all. Rising early I see

A flower reflecting with droplet sieves,

Changing into mosaic sun through a tree

And I am stunned by amazing art

In small things playing such a tiny part.

Ships in the night

All right, I was happy then,

just being with you.

Even if every time

I

opened my mouth

you

thought I was after

something

you weren’t prepared

to give,

whatever that was.

Notice that…

We’re inclined to wonder,

seeing others care lined faces,

just exactly what it is they’ve seen.

In a lecture theatre I met

one who had surely seen and conversed

with the ghost of Hamlet’s father,

long since deceased.

published by “Boyne Berries” Spring 2013

Thirst

quenched his

thirst for knowledge

drink

seeking it

drowned him

finally

when he died

alone

he smiled

and part of me

died with that

smile.

Dolphins Danced That Day

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This poem is in memory of Martin Colfer. Skipper of the Rebecca C, who often took me out to search for the whales off the Hook Head in County Wexford.  The video was shot at a reading of this in The Troubadour London, during an evening organised by Coffee House Poetry.

 


 

Dolphins danced in the harbour that day

 

in memoriam Martin Colfer, Skipper of the Rebecca C

 

They were good, those days together, easy

sailing, easy talking, easy in each

others company.  He taught me how to

watch at sea for birds circling, then diving.

He showed me the seals spying on us,

the dolphins playing games around the boat,

then, wonder of wonders, we would reach where

we had seen the great whales blow.  At times we

would come so close we could hear their very

breathing.  Together we saw mighty Fin

Whales, majestic Humpbacks, playful passing

Minke.  Once, sailing from our own harbour

at Duncannon we set a Northward course

to Ballyhack he gave me the tiller

to hold her steady while he cleared space

for photographers, waiting for their chance

to see the sights that we had often seen.

It happened then we went through pods of

Dolphins swimming in families of three.

At one hundred we stopped our counting.

Small wonder so that the day they buried

him in the graveyard overlooking the bay

the dolphins danced in the water, plain

enough then, that all who mourned could see.