Mike Gallagher

Mike Gallagher

Mike Gallagher is an Irish writer, poet and editor.

Paraic and Jack and John
Monday, 02 October 2017 21:58

Paraic and Jack and John

Published in Poetry

Paraic and Jack and John

by Mike Gallagher

Hardly ten years between them,
the next door neighbours
from that huddle of houses
under Mullach an Airde,
close, too, their destinies,
not too many options there,
the bus up Gowlawám,
the train to Westland Row.
Holyhead gave them choices:
Preston? Ormskirk? Cricklewood?

Leaving behind

their Dark Rosaleen,
her surplus-to-requirements,
her spalpeen fanachs,
her jilted lovers, cast-offs.
And yet they sang her praises,
her songs of love and hate,
of repression and rebellion
in the Cocks and Crowns and Clarences
of a thousand English towns.

Drilled by

the teachers, the leather-lashing teachers,
no knowledge, no history
imparted here, only know-how,
know how to swing a pick, to wield an axe,
to dig their way through London clay.
Leadógs, twelve of the best, my boys,
now, on your ways, we have no room
for your likes here.

Blessed by

the priests, upholders of the status quo,
apologists for poverty,
for blind obedience,
sex obsessed, the lure of sex,
more sex, less sex,
fill the pews, fill the plates,
fill the boats, go, spread the word;
your road to heaven
does not leave
from here

Pawns of

politicians, truth's contortionists,
purveyors of false promises,
self-serving hoors,
too busy building dynasties.
No need for you in their grand plans,
more use, you overseas;
so take the boat, the cattle boat,
join the herd.
Prime Beef.

Goodbyes to

the mothers, always the mothers,
the father-mother-farmer mothers,
the savers of hay,
the spreaders of turf;
brought into heat once, maybe twice,
a year, migrant's return, marital duties,
children's allowances, God's word –
stuff like that.

Returning to

the mothers, the dazed, distraught mothers,
in the wake houses, huddled
under Mullach an Airde
after the scaffolds collapsed
and the trenches collapsed
and their lives collapsed
and their whole bloody worlds


And the teachers came
and the priests came
and the politicians came
and these, the weavers of their destinies,
these seekers-out of brawn,
and not of brain
that it was the will of God,
that it was the way of the world,
then spilled a few self-cleansing tears
and left
the sons
to the mothers that bore them –
and buried them
in cold Slievemore.

MG Huddle