Galloping Children

Galloping children

The ageing grey tenement released

it’s children on a fine day; bright, clear skies

and gentle breezes, one of those perfect days

in childhood, often recalled in fond

memories.  A white van pulled up and

my father and uncle, finished their

workday early for once, simply scooped

up all who played on the street, bundled

them in the back where they bounced around

happy in the mystery of where they

might land.  When their drive was done, released

once more, they looked around, wide eyed.

A stream rushed and tumbled over great

granite rocks while Scots pines soared so tall

and proud.  Specks of white fluff moved slowly

across the green heights of the hills above.

“They’re sheep,” my father explained before

turning to his brother, adding, “children

need a gallop every now and then.”

 

What about the working man?

 

 

 

“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?”

City Children

City Children

Some, when they see them,

are prone to predict

the gloomiest of futures.

But now they are children

with children’s thoughts and youthful minds.

Like the plastic they mould into shapes of fantasy

they are moulded by life,

by the things they see and feel,

not the things they may want to see.

Is there even one among them

who will hear the cry of the birds,

see the first beauties of spring,

smell the fertile living earth,

not diesel, tar and concrete?

Who is anyone

to say what might be?

This was published as part of Kilkenny Library Poets on Board scheme for January 2012