(Solitude – ALBERT LORIEUX)
Well, here we are at the end of the week. I am helping my friend Paul on a kitchen over in North Portland. We put up the drywall ceiling yesterday… The lady who owns the house has two nice dogs, who wanted to be right there, in the middle of things all the time. When I got home Sofie went a bit nuts with jealousy from the smells….
Still working on the fund raising for the radio, it is moving slower than I imagined it would. If you want to help out, this would be a great time to do it!
On the Menu
Arthur Lee… passes on
Fairies Or No Fairies
Connla and the Fairy Maiden
Poets Against War – Poems of the Week
Have a good Friday!
GoodBye Arthur… We’ll miss ya!
Fairies Or No Fairies
JOHN MULLIGAN was as fine an old fellow as ever threw a Carlow spur into the sides of a horse. He was, besides, as jolly a boon companion over a jug of punch as you would meet from Carnsore Point to Bloody Farland. And a good horse he used to ride; and a stiffer jug of punch than his was not in nineteen baronies. May be he stuck more to it than he ought to have done-but that is nothing whatever to the story I am going to tell.
John believed devoutly in fairies; and an angry man was he if you doubted them. He had more fairy stories than would make, if properly printed in a rivulet of print running down a meadow of margin, two thick quartos for Mr. Murray, of Albemarle street; all of which he used to tell on all occasions that he could find listeners. Many believed his stories – many more did not believe them – but nobody, in process of time, used to contradict the old gentleman, for it was a pity to vex him. But he had a couple of young neighbours who were just come down from their first vacation in Trinity College to spend the summer months with an uncle of theirs, Mr. Whaley, an old Cromwellian, who lived at Ballybegmullinahone, and they were too full of logic to let the old man have his own way undisputed.
Every story he told they laughed at, and said that it was impossible – that it was merely old woman’s gabble, and other such things. When he would insist that all his stories were derived from the most credible sources – nay, that some of them had been told him by his own grandmother, a very respectable old lady, but slightly affected in her faculties, as things that came under her own knowledge – they cut the matter short by declaring that she was in her dotage, and at the best of times had a strong propensity to pulling a long bow.
“But,” said they, “Jack Mulligan, did you ever see a fairy yourself?”
“Never,” was the reply. – Never, as I am a man of honour and credit.”
“Well, then,” they answered, ” until you do, do not be bothering us with any more tales of my grandmother.”
Jack was particularly nettled at this, and took up the: cudgels for his grandmother; but the younkers were too sharp for him, and finally he got into a passion, as people generally do who have the worst of an argument. This evening – it was at their uncle’s, an old crony of his with whom he had dined – he bad taken a large portion of his usual beverage, and was quite riotous. He at last got up in a passion, ordered his horse, and, in spite of his host’s entreaties, galloped off, although he had intended to have slept there, declaring that he would not have any thing more to do with a pair of jackanapes puppies, who, because they had learned how to read good-for-nothing hooks in cramp writing, and were taught by a parcel of wiggy, red-snouted, prating prigs, (“not,” added he, “however, that I say a man may not be a good man and have a red nose,”) they imagined they knew more than a man who had held buckle and tongue together facing the wind of the world for five dozen years.
He rode off in a fret, and galloped as hard as his horse Shaunbuie could powder away over the limestone. ” Damn it!” hiccupped he, ” Lord pardon me for swearing! the brats had me in one thing – I never did see a fairy; and I would give up five as good acres as ever grew apple-potatoes to get a glimpse of one – and, by the powers! what is that?”
He looked, and saw a gallant spectacle. His road lay by a noble demesne, gracefully sprinkled with trees, not thickly planted as in a dark forest, but disposed, now in clumps of five or six, now standing singly, towering over the plain of verdure around them, as a beautiful promontory arising out of the sea. He had come right opposite the glory of the wood. It was an oak, which in the oldest title-deeds of the county, and they were at least five hundred years old, was called the old oak of Ballinghassig. Age had hollowed its centre, but its massy boughs still waved with their dark serrated foliage. The moon was shining on it bright. If I were a poet, like Mr. Wordsworth, I should tell you how the beautiful light was broken into a thousand different fragments – and how it. filled the entire tree with a glorious flood, bathing every particular leaf, and showing forth every particular bough; but, as I am not a poet, I shall go on with my story. By this light Jack saw a, brilliant company of lovely little forms dancing under the oak with an unsteady and rolling motion. The company was large. Some spread out far beyond the furthest boundary of the shadow of the oak’s branches – some were seen glancing through the flashes of light shining through its leaves – some were barely visible, nestling under the trunk – some no doubt were entirely concealed from his eyes. Never did man see any thing more beautiful. They were not three inches in height, but they were white as the driven snow, and beyond number numberless. Jack threw the bridle over his horse’s neck, and drew up to the low wall which bounded the demesne, and leaning over it, surveyed, with infinite delight, their diversified gambols. By looking long at them, he soon saw objects which had not struck him at first; in particular that in the middle was a chief of superior stature, round whom the group appeared to move. He gazed so long that he was quite overcome with joy, and could not help shouting out, ” Bravo! little fellow,” said he, well kicked and strong.” But the instant he uttered the words the night was darkened, and the fairies vanished with the speed of lightning.
” I wish,” said Jack, “I had held my tongue; but no matter now. I shall just turn bridle about and go back to Ballybegmullinahone Castle, and beat the young Master Whaleys, fine reasoners as they think themselves, out of the field clean.”
No sooner said than done; and Jack was back again as if upon the wings of the wind. He rapped fiercely at the door, and called aloud for the two collegians.
” Hallo!” said he, “young Flatcaps, come down now, if you dare. Come down, if you dare, and I shall give you oc-oc-ocular demonstration of the truth of what I was saying.”
Old Whaley put his head out of the window, and said, “Jack Mulligan, what brings you back so soon?”
“The fairies,” shouted Jack; “the fairies!”
I am afraid,” muttered the Lord of Ballybegmullinahone, ” the last glass you took was too little watered: but, no matter – come in and cool yourself over a tumbler of punch.”
He came in and sat down again at table. In great spirits he told his story ; – how he had seen thousands and tens of thousands of fairies dancing about the old oak of Balllinghassig; he described their beautiful dresses of shining silver; their flat-crowned hats, glittering in the moonbeams; the princely stature and demeanour of the central figure. He added, that he heard them singing, and playing the most enchanting music; but this was merely imagination. The young men laughed, but Jack held his ground. “Suppose, said one of the lads, ” we join company with you on the road, and ride along to the place, where you saw that fine company of fairies?”
“Done!” cried Jack; “but I will not promise that you will find them there, for I saw them scudding up in the sky like a flight of bees, and heard their wings whizzing through the air.” This, you know, was a bounce, for Jack had heard no such thing.
Off rode the three, and came to the demesne of Oakwood. They arrived at the wall flanking the field where stood the great oak; and the moon, by this time, having again emerged from the clouds, shone bright as when Jack had passed. “Look there,” he cried, exultingly; for the same spectacle again caught his eyes, and he pointed to it with his horsewhip; ” look, and deny if you can. “
“Why,” said one of the lads, pausing, ” true it is that we do see a company of white creatures; but were they fairies ten time~ over, I shall go among them;” and he dismounted to climb over the wall.
“Ah, Tom Tom;” cried Jack, ” stop, man, stop! what are you doing? The fairies – the good people, I mean – hate to be meddled with. You will be pinched or bIinded; or your horse will cast its shoe; or – look! a wilful man will have his way. Oh! oh! he is almost at the oak – God help him! for he is past the help of man.”
By this time Tom was under the tree and burst out laughing. “Jack,” said he, “keep your prayers to yourself. Your fairies are not bad at all. I believe they will make tolerably good catsup.”
Catsup,” said Jack, who when he found that the two lads (for the second had followed his brother) were both laughing in the middle of the fairies, had dismounted and advanced slowly -What do you mean by catsup?”
“Nothing,” replied Tom, ” but that they are mushrooms (as indeed they were); and your Oberon is merely this overgrown puff-ball.”
Poor Mulligan gave a long whistle of amazement, staggered back to his horse without saying a word, and rode home in a hard gallop, never looking behind him. Many a long day was it before he ventured to face the laughers at Ballybegmullinahone; and to the day of his death the people of the parish, aye, and five parishes round, called him nothing but Musharoon Jack, such being their pronunciation of mushroom.
I should be sorry if all my fairy stories ended with so little dignity; but –
“These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits, and
Are melted into air – into thin air.”
Connla and the Fairy Maiden
CONNLA of the Fiery Hair was son of Conn of the Hundred Fights. One day as he stood by the side of his father on the height of Usna, he saw a maiden clad in strange attire coming towards him.
“Whence comest thou, maiden?” said Connla.
“I come from the Plains of the Ever Living,” she said, “there where there is neither death nor sin. There we keep holiday alway, nor need we help from any in our joy. And in all our pleasure we have no strife. And because we have our homes in the round green hills, men call us the Hill Folk.”
The king and ail with him wondered much to hear a voice when they saw no one. For save Connla alone, none saw the Fairy Maiden.
“To whom art thou talking, my son? ” said Conn the king.
Then the maiden answered, “Connla speaks to a young, fair maid, whom neither death nor old age awaits. I love Connla, and now I call him away to the Plain of Pleasure,
Moy Mell, where Boadag is king for aye, nor has there been complaint or sorrow in that land since he has held the kingship. Oh, come with me, Connla of the Fiery Hair, ruddy as the dawn with thy tawny skin. A fairy crown awaits thee to grace thy comely face and royal form. Come, and never shall thy comeliness fade, nor thy youth, till the last awful day of judgment.”
The king in fear at what the maiden said, which he heard though he could not see her, called aloud to his Druid, Coran by name.
“Oh, Coran of the many spells,” he said, ” and of the cunning magic, I call upon thy aid. A task is upon me too great for all my skill and wit, greater than any laid upon me since I seized the kingship. A maiden unseen has met us, and by her power would take from me my dear, my comely son. If thou help not, he will be taken from thy king by woman’s wiles and witchery.”
Then Coran the Druid stood forth and chanted his spells towards the spot where the maiden’s voice had been heard. And none heard her voice again, nor could Connla see her longer. Only as she vanished before the Druid’s mighty spell, she threw an apple to Connla.
For a whole month from that day Connla would take nothing, either to eat or to drink, save only from that apple. But as he ate it grew again and always kept whole. And all the while there grew within him a mighty yearning and longing after the maiden he had seen.
But when the last day of the month of waiting came, Connla stood by the side of the king his father on the Plain of Arcomin, and again he saw the maiden come towards him, and again she spoke to him.
“‘Tis a glorious place, forsooth, that Connla holds among shortlived mortals awaiting the day of death. But now the folk of life, the ever-living ones, beg and bid thee come to Moy Mell, the Plain of Pleasure, for they have learnt to know thee, seeing thee in thy home among thy dear ones.
When Conn the king heard the maiden’s voice he called to his men aloud and said:
“Summon swift my Druid Coran, for I see she has again this day the power of speech.”
Then the maiden said ” Oh, mighty Conn, fighter of a hundred fights, the Druid’s power is little loved; it has little honour in the mighty land, peopled with so many of the upright. When the Law will come, it will do away with the Druid’s magic spells that come from the lips of the false black demon.”
Then Conn the king observed that since the maiden came Connla his son spoke to none that spake to him. So Conn of the hundred fights said to him, “Is it to thy mind what the woman says, my son?”
“‘Tis hard upon me,” then said Connla; “I love my own folk above all things; but yet, but yet a longing seizes me for the maiden.”
When the maiden heard this, she answered and said “The ocean is not so strong as the waves of thy longing. Come with me in my curragh, the gleaming, straight-gliding crystal canoe. Soon we can reach Boadag’s realm. I see the bright sun sink, yet far as it is, we can reach it before dark. There is, too, another land worthy of thy journey, a land joyous to all that seek it. Only wives and maidens dwell there. If thou wilt, we can seek it and live there alone together in joy.”
When the maiden ceased to speak, Connla of the Fiery Hair rushed away from them and sprang into the curragh, the gleaming, straight-gliding crystal canoe. And then they all, king and court, saw it glide away over the bright sea towards the setting sun. Away and away, till eye could see it no longer, and Connla and the Fairy Maiden went their way on the sea, and were no more seen, nor did any know where they came.
Jacobs, Joseph, ed. Celtic Fairy Tales.
(Der Auserwählte – Ferdinand Hodler)
God Bless Our Troops – Microfridge in Room
The marquee outside the motel
was unintentionally ironic
Im sureprobably the work
of some well-meaning but clueless
young man. I imagine him trying
to balance on an aluminum ladder,
while he carefully places each magnetic letter,
wondering if he should leave extra space
after God Bless Our Troops
and not quite sure whether microfridge
should be hyphenated or not.
As my car speeds past the sign,
my mind conjures up another young man
huddled wearily in the bombed-out remains
of a building, cradling his assault rifle
and sucking hard on a cigarette.
As he tries to ignore the sweltering heat
and the dirt and the fear that never goes away,
he wonders if hell ever sleep in a real bed
again, with a warm, sweet body
pressed close to his in a room
with a microfridge full of fresh food
and cold beer, just waiting
for him to taste it.
Shadab Zeest Hashmi
Shada Zeest Hashmi is originally from Pakistan. Her poems have been published in New Millenium Writings, Hubbub, The Bitter Oleander, Poetry Conspiracy and will appear in the forthcoming anthology Risen from the East. She is the editor of the annual Magee Park Poets Anthology.
U.S. Air Strikes
In the four minutes
it took me to mince the cloves,
dump the tea leaves
in the rose bush,
and soap the carafe,
a whole city was lost.
There were feet still in school shoes,
limp flesh singing into satchels,
clinging to a post, a shattered clock.
The children, if not orphaned,
were purpled beyond recognition.
Orders had been carried down,
one signal igniting another.
And a man had let a deafening rhapsody
guide his young hand to drop
a five hundred pound bomb
on a mosque.
Just when I finished rinsing the carafe,
a whole city was under cement dust and smoke,
and I thought I heard screaming behind walls of fire
in the kettles sharp whistle,
just when I added the cloves,
the last green lime.
Jane Haladay, PhD, is a writer and scholar of Native/American Indian Studies whose home place is California. Her work focuses on the literatures of indigenous Americans, supporting native sovereignty, and the project of cross-cultural decolonization within institutionalized education.
On this day,
these things happened:
Coffee with a good friend first.
Oranges, toothpaste, eggs.
Email, three bills.
Mundane, the activities
of twenty-one centuries.
Of longer millennia
amidst great change,
of sacred fires burning,
of oil burning
to its ultimate depletion
and to ours.
thinking about this earth.
How it is to be of
and within her.
I saw dark geraniums
the color of fresh blood.
Mowed weed fields
with magpies trolling.
At the edges of the lake,
yellow iris bloom
with only beauty
as intention while
black waters hold
the rippling undersides
I have not forgotten war.
Brutality, grief, despair
in the same
early April where
here and now
new life thrusts deeply
up from roots.
dark birds fly beyond
white petals from
the plum trees that
drift slowly down
( Der Traum – Pierre-Cécile Puvis de Chavannes)