As you do, I'd forgotten this. As you do.
Until the other day. I got a call from my brother and friend, V, from County Meath.
(I'm tempted, sore and sorely tempted, to say "a ring-jingle from my pal Val...")
And since he's wont to rhyme at you and inclined to recite and declaim, say, much more than merely speak small and sensibly (many another friend of his will attest and affirm to this fact, and that's why we're all his friends, so don't dismiss this as a dis, dear Miss... ) well, now, anyway, as you do, I'd forgotten that of an afternoon this last midsummer, in Paris, in le Jardin Communite', unable to do my Proper Work for some damn reason, after days and nights and nights and days and middays and midnights and dawns meeting me rolling and strolling around in Eire for the first time in donkey's ears' years, after gladly receiving the gift of sight and sleep and sense and salmon from Donla, and the full Irish in the morning as well, after, as ever, being received by Onrai in his own sacred home as the very incarnation of the burr under his saddle that starts and stirs the itch that forces him to stay up scratching late into the night (he needs an excuse akin to myself, does Onrai, as we all know) after being ushered into tents in Kilkenny that resembled tents in Tibet, and into other tents in Kilkenny that resembled Boy Scout outings in Glastonbury, and into still other tents where wine glasses and glasses of stout were urged upon me, and other tents, tents from Japan, perhaps, or Thailand, paper flying sky tents, were lit and sent glowing, squadrons of light, into the sky... whilst a session of serious saints piped and fiddled and accordionated, and I changed reeds like a harried hurried Hessian sent to Pennsylvania on extra-curricular musical reconnaissance....and I think it was it that point that The Grey Guy came tumbling down the hillside and down the stairs and through the door and if I'd only been quicker of mind and intent, I could have swung the front door open and let him roll off toward the millpond or the monastery...
Well after this, this long but short weekend wedding au Kilkenny, and days of Dublin, and County Meath, it was my intention and my duty and my concern that I get right straight back to work on That Dumb Book that all and sundry, those that know me well, and those strangers et etrangers who repeatedly encountered me muttering along the green-broomed gutters of Paris uniformly all advised: Shut up for once and take the damn money, and, above all, quit calling it a stupid book. Or, as the Sufis and the saints and the sensible and the sane and the seanos singers and all the visiting Irish lasses and those in shouting distance of sanity, and several other sage counselors said, in short, and repeatedly, like a dang mantra:
Oh, and shut the fuck up, ok?
Ok, so anyway, I was supposed to get back to work on what I was ungrateful for, and of, and about, and because of, and besides, and, well, I wasn't working and I wasn't grateful. I may, you'll be surprised to know, have been grumpy.
Instead, though, to my credit, I went to the garden, le jardin, the community garden in Le Dixhuiteme, and played steel guitar or accordion or something. I smelled that the artichokes were still early yet and unripe, and the rose-colored roses weren't quite ready, even though we'd had a better, warmer, sunnier, artichoke-ier summer this summer, than last summer's nearly- rose-free grey-nosity. I could hear the bees, tending to business better, far better, than, say, moi. They had deadlines to meet.
V, a Meath man set loose among the bulls he was meant to herd, had turned me on to John Boyle Reilly, yet another astonishing man of Meath, a man among men, a man among men in a large and ever-growing world of ever-lesser men, a poet, a journalist, a Fenien, a transport, a trouble-maker, an adventurer, a prisoner, an escapee, an Irishman and an Australian and an American, a man who dared dig deep and then deeper, and reading him, I got given, "out the blue," as we'd say in New Orleans, this one, lo these many years away from having written poetry, and lo these many centuries away from lyric rhyme.
I'd be inclined to call it doggerel and be done, but I know that the ladder I was climbing was far too sturdy and too special to be dismissed so. And thus it wasn't mine that I climbed.
Val, I never ever write poetry any more, and certainly never .
That's for damn sure. Yet the day I got back, with lots of
work to do and deadlines to meet, life kept
interferring with my
I went down the street to the community garden, which lies alongside some
deceased in what might as well be a riverbed.
I had the book on John Boyle O'Reilly there, and lo
and behold, I scratched this one out.
Life is long
And far too short
A game played loose
On a shifting court
A pitch, a swing
A bell, a ring
An echo, a cry
We wake, we die.
Life is short
And far too long
The graveyards fill
With the names of songs
We sing, we cry
We laugh and sigh
We cannot see
The other eye.
Life is quick
Yet life lives long
We lose ourselves
Amidst the throng
We dream, we wake
We wake, we dream
We cannot see
Our own clear scheme.