Sights and Sounds (St. Finbarr’s Cemetery, Cork, Ireland)

Sights and Sounds
(St. Finbarr’s Cemetery, Cork, Ireland)

A little boy……..

Black plumed horses, a slow bell tolls,
Spark flint hoofs on cobblestones.
Straight backed coachmen, with tall trimmed hats;
Flower draped coffin, on a glass cased rack.

Grieving women, one so small;
I hardly recognise them all.
They pat me on the head and ‘tut’
Then say, I look like him so much.

Crowds of men with shuffling feet,
Cigarettes smoked so discrete.
Window blinds drawn, all around;
I seem to hear a silent sound.

A slow procession, a priest – a cross,
Did he just say I’d be turned to dust?
I feel my hands and touch my face;
So happy, that I’m still in place.

A tree lined path; disturbed rooks,
Stone carved angels reading open books.
Some women wail, my uncle cries;
It’s not much fun I think, to die.

The ropes are looped, men take the strain,
A sprinkling I thought first was rain.
The sound of earth on wood and cross,
Then I realise, what I had lost.

……Cries.

© John Anthony Fingleton (Löst Viking)
Family photo of my Grandfather James Higgins

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The Letter

The Letter

When will you be coming home again?
To your old spot by the fire?
Are your days of wanderings nearly done?
Did you fulfil all your desires?
There are a few here that still remember you,
And speak of you sometimes,
But each year they’re getting fewer,
As the older ones are dying.
The wander lust was in your blood,
Your mother was the same,
Yet, all the years that she´s been gone,
I still feel I´m part to blame;
I’ve kept each letter that you wrote,
And reread each and every one,
I replied when you gave a return address-

And even sometimes when there was none.

©John Anthony Fingleton Löst Viking)

Painting WRITING MAN by PEKKA HALONEN

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Waiting for Sean Og

Waiting for Sean Og

It looked a little overcast,
About right for the time of year,
A western squall was building out at sea;
The currach-men, were heading out
To check their lobster pots,
While the Galway hooker, was unloading on the quay.

We secured our sacks of flour and salt,
And waited for Sean Og,
Three other men were already in the prow,
But Sean, been a great talker –
Not to mention liked a drink,
Would always wait for the last minute anyhow.

We were going home to the small island,
And the beauty of Inis Oírr,
To us it was the treasure of the three;
But sure the men from Inis Meadhóin and Mór,
I’m sure would say the same,
And that’s the way it’s always going to be.

Sean Og’s father and his father’s tribe,
Lived on these isles for years,
Long before time was even named;
They fished on these seismic waves,
That still wash up on our shores,
And battled through the mighty storms and gales.

© John Anthony Fingleton (Löst Viking)

Painting, ‘Two Boats on the Quay’ by Martin Driscoll

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I Remember

I Remember

I remember well that August day,
The excitement in the streets,
An atmosphere I never will forget;
It was like we were celebrating,
The birth of some new king, and in a way we were –
But this one’s name was Death.

I remember hearing marching feet,
And the sounds of pipes and drums,
As the young men hurried off to war;
They said it would be over,
Before the year was out –
In fact, it dragged on for bloody four years more.

I remember when the trains returned,
With the wounded and the dead,
And those that were now totally insane;
There was no bands or fanfare, just a solemn undertone,
Increased by a group of women –
Crying in their anguish and their pain.

I remember when they called me up,
And shipped me to the Front,
I saw first-hand the ravages of war;
A narrow piece of no-mans-land, for which a thousand men had died,
On which you couldn’t grow one sheaf of wheat –
Or a single blooming flower.

I remember well the day I died,
And they covered me in soil,
Three volleys fired, and a bugle sounded clear;
Then marked the spot with a wooden cross, which they later changed to stone,
With this anonymous epitaph –
‘Here Lies An Unknown Soldier Of Some Forgotten War.’

© John Anthony Fingleton (Löst Viking)

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The Moor (slightly revised)

The Moor (slightly revised)

A soft wind blew across the moor,
And the heather danced its tune,
Some grouse flew up to test the air,
Then snuck back, into its sweet perfume.
A sparrow hawk circled lower,
In anticipation of its prey,
Then attracted by some other thing;
It quickly flew away.

A beauty haunts this desolate place,
With its contours shaped by ice,
Where beasts can still roam wild and free –
A touch of paradise.
Bracken on the moor-edge sloops,
Mixed flora in the glens,
All produce their radiant colours,
Without the help or seed of men.

The walkers-path is overgrown,
Not many came this year,
The changes in the weather,
Have brought many summer storms to bare.
There were some patches now of topsoil,
I hadn’t noticed at first glance,
Just a small sign – like so many others –
That we are on our final chance.

© John Anthony Fingleton (Löst Viking)

Photo credit to Chris Lyle

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An Irish Country Road

An Irish Country Road

The road just sort of ambles on,
While not in touch with time,
With no heed to the travellers needs
Or for the urgent nature they entwine.

It mimics a slow winding stream,
That has been cut by nature’s hand,
It takes account of solitude –
And complements the land.

It sways around old churchyards,
Past abandoned famine homes,
Touches one deserted village
Snakes through fields of barley corn.

It has an ease about it,
As if carved by God Himself,
When He rested on the seventh day,
And took a soft stroll to catch His breath.

©John Anthony Fingleton (Löst Viking)

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Lines on the Setting Sun

Lines on the Setting Sun

The last rays of the setting Sun,
Change the contours of the land,
The trees that once were swaying green,
Have become flaming torches red.
The mountain top becomes a temple,
Where the Old Gods have been called to prayer,
And the river, looking from the West,
Is about to disappear.
The shadows stretch like fingers;
Attempting to cling a little to the land,
Then slowly slip, and lose their grip,
As the darkness takes command.
Birds return to the treetops,
And hurry deep inside their nests,
Smaller animals scuttle for their holes,
Before the night creatures are awakened from their rest.
The wild horses on the open plains,
Settle into the softer grass,
And watch the changing colours,
As the day is laid to rest.

©John Anthony Fingleton. (Löst Viking)

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The Minstrel Boy

The Minstrel Boy

It started with a whisper,
That day at Lammas Fair,
Hushed lips with tear crossed syllables;
Followed by a prayer.
How could they just snuff out the flame?
Perceive to kill their own?
Béal na mBlàth* black ravens gather;
The Minstrel Boy is home.

Dropped crosses on the cobblestones;
Rosary beads like blood pearls fall,
Crying women in the market place,
Harps shred in Tara’s Hall.
No stepping from the darkness now,
Without the mark of Cain,
A terrible silence on this land,
The Minstrel Boy is slain.

Hang out your brightest colours,
Benbulben’s** ghost proclaimed;
The flash from that dammed bullet
Immortalised your name..
You lay out on that West Cork road
A gaping wound in your young head
The phoenix rose from ashen blood,
The Minstrel Boy is dead.

(Michael Collins 1890 – 1922)

© John Anyhony Fingleton. (Löst Viking)

* “mouth of the flowers/blossoms”
** large flat-topped rock formation in County Sligo, Ireland .near the grave of W B Yeats
Adapted from my anthology’ ’Poems from the Shadowlands’(2017)

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Mantra for another Christ

Mantra for another Christ

I’ve come to this place where they once nailed you;
I want to see your body … or your bones
Halleluiah cried the crowd! … He died a hero!
While a mother cries….. That she just wants her son back home.

I know you never wanted this to happen
I read somewhere you once cried tears of blood
And then there was that friend who would betray you
Do you think your death changed evil … Into good?

And what about that girl you were to marry?
Just left now with a photograph to kiss
That fades with every year and grey hair passing
No, Mary’s dreams were never…made of this.

Sill I look but cannot find your memory,
No cross, no grave, no name carved into stone
While war goes on as if your death was fruitless
And a million mothers wish their sons….back home.

Somewhere beneath the poppy fields of Flanders
Unmarked, unknown except by Gods of war
You wait to hear another bugle sounding
Golgotha road! Golgotha road! Once more!!

©John Anthony Fingleton (Löst Viking)

No photo description available.

A Sacrificial Place

A Sacrificial Place

This place has long been sacrificed
And not allowed to dream.
The roads weep around abandoned fields
And sighs by haunted streams.
Here mountains shed aborted tears
From deep inside their sterile wombs;
All plants that make attempts to grow
Are consumed by poisonous fumes.
Gaping, gouged out pox faced scars
Lay like a shroud on this terrain;
Undressing its former beauty
For the omnipotent greed of man.

©John Anthony Fingleton (Löst Viking)

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