Hue and Cry

On the news they warn: the city’s now a combat zone

Turned off the TV and went outside to be alone

Some I know are marching, mostly peaceful, others not

Strangers now are asking me if I’m a patriot

Sitting in my garden, how I love the peace and quiet

I’ll fight for a cause but I’m not brave enough to riot

Everyone has history, the grievance lists are long

Who gets to decide whose version’s right and whose is wrong?

Our multi-coloured tapestry is starting to unweave

Can we not live together? Were we just being naive?

I come into my garden for the colours and the light

A joy I’d miss if flowers only came in black and white.

Much Ado

Hmmmmm... If my calculations are correct....Nah, I've got nothing. - Set  Phasers to LOL - sci fi fantasy

If you’re flat broke it’s said you’ve got

A fair amount of diddly-squat

And maybe more because this means

You also own a hill of beans

Which may forestall the need to beg

When added to your great goose egg

Combined with zero, zip and zilch

With all of this why would one filch?

Because if you give it more thought…

When you’ve got nought, there’s lots you’ve got

Best Before Date

January’s no one’s friend

A month that lingers without end

No end to winter’s deepest chill

Which steals the breath and makes us ill

No end to counting every dime

From letting go at Christmastime

To resolutions boldly made

Then just as quietly betrayed

No reason to buy a bouquet

No fireworks

No Mother’s Day

At New Year’s we all raise a glass

Bemused by how the months soon pass

Then wake the next day full of dread

In fear of that which lay ahead

Stone Pillow

Song written by sister of Normal People star Paul Mescal playing in Brown  Thomas Christmas window - Independent.ie

On her rounds every night

She’s a curious sight

With her trolley and crushed velvet hat

As she shuffles in shoes

Lined with yesterday’s news

Through the town like a wayfaring cat

Where are you from, Crazy Annie?

What have you done, Crazy Annie?

Now and then she will stop

To peer into a shop

At a world where it never grows cold

Where the ladies dress up

And take tea in a cup

Framed in windows of crimson and gold

What don’t they know, Crazy Annie?

How is it so, Crazy Annie?

They shared kids, a nice home

Worked themselves to the bone

‘Til he left without saying a word

As she started to sink

So she started to drink

After that everything becomes blurred

Have you no friends, Crazy Annie?

Where does it end, Crazy Annie?

At the end of her walk

Near a derelict block

Out of sight, she beds down on the floor

And should anyone ask

It’s hot soup in the flask

Which she’d share if she only had more

Try not to cry, Crazy Annie

It’ll pass by, Dearest Annie

Emotional Baggage

Several years ago while travelling around Ukraine I entered the only shop in a remote village to buy a couple of cold drinks. Placing my purchases on the counter, the elderly shopkeeper tallied my bill on an abacus then pushed it toward me. Not entirely up to speed on ancient counting tools which predate our own numeral system, I played it safe and handed him the equivalent of $5 in Ukrainian money. This, apparently, posed a problem and he asked if I had anything smaller. I replied, regrettably, that I did not. Thinking on it, he disappeared into the back before returning with a duckling which he duly handed over as my change.

The problem with holiday brochures is that they rarely cover an abacus/duck scenario. The pictures in them are enticing but the language is, at best, euphemistic and at worst, a flat out lie. And while it’s true that every situation can’t be covered, a bit of a heads-up regarding waterfowl as legal tender would go a long way for novices like moi.

Image result for cute funny duck

Here then, is a list of terms from holiday brochures with their true meanings:

in-flight meal: UN ration with complimentary poppadom

in-flight entertainment: the sequel to the remake of the original, only this one’s set in the future where everyone can fly and stuff

short transfer to hotel: bring earplugs

car rental: how are you at changing a tire?

bus service: you may be seated next to a goat in labour

local delicacies: if we can catch it, we’ll cook it

chef’s special: cake with a fly on top

all-inclusive resort: venture off the property and odds are you’ll be kidnapped

in-house entertainment: an old man who takes out his artificial eye for the kids

cultural sensitivities: lose the Trump hat

conservative: lose the rainbow flag beach towel

stunning wildlife: pack an anti-venom kit

365 days of sunshine: no redheads

steeped in history: if they ask, tell them you’re Canadian

friendly locals: the waiter has just asked if he can marry your daughter

vibrant nightlife: gunfire

local amenities: you’re sharing a well with two other villages

stunning scenery: ignore the oil refinery

exotic spices: stick to ketchup

unspoiled wilderness: don’t go in unarmed

tranquil setting: abandoned due to an ebola outbreak

health clinic: the vet will see you now

museum exhibits: those artefacts our country forgot to cart off when we left sharpish 150 years ago

Helluva Twist

To the Finder

Should you happen upon these pages, Dear Reader, you will acquaint yourself with the final remembrances of a life – my life – which is no longer of any consequence to those who mattered most to me. For the record, I was christened Anne, branding me with the same scarlet stain borne by my mother, who died in childbirth. My father’s name I know not, nor was it ever a matter of record, which resulted in my being spirited away under a veil of shame to an orphanage on the very day I first drew breath. I am told I have a sister three years my elder, but Providence has never guided her along the path I have travelled, which, I suppose, has spared her the shame of having to acknowledge our kinship. Yet, I should have liked to look upon her face just the once, if only to discern even the slightest resemblance to the beloved sibling who appears every night in my dreams. But dreams are not to be trusted, for they ease the torment of not knowing with trickery, filling in gaps where there ought to be knowledge, lending convenient falsehoods which soothe the conscience, unperturbed, until morning.


I am Anne, not yet twelve years of age; this is all I can confirm to you.


My life as an orphan could not have been more wretched, even if I had been sent to the colonies where men feed upon the flesh of other men and fail to know their Maker. It is not the lark which wakes us each morning, but the birch across our faces in cold darkness, accompanied by the dull ache of hunger. Our tormentors squeal with delight at our sufferings as they watch us wince and stumble with fatigue, a weariness which pushes downward with such force that some are unable to straighten and walk upright until mid-day.


Today – my final outing on this Earth – I was not permitted even to see the sun, let alone feel its radiance. When I climbed up to the only window within reach, I discovered that it had been smeared with grease, so as to blur the comings and goings of those on the other side. I cried, but without tears, for they too have abandoned me, reducing my anguish to a whisper and little else, as even my breath fails to serve.
For you see, I am these days, breathless, due to incessant coughing which knocks at my chest with the force of a blacksmith’s hammer. I know what it is that has come for me – I know. From the look of panic among those who cannot hide their horror, to the countenance of quiet resignation which stares back at me from the darkened window. Without mercy, a malady burrows deeper and deeper into the soft, delicious flesh of my lungs; its hunger insatiable, its progress relentless.


So now, Dear Reader, as my spent candle’s tiny light beckons me to follow it into darkness, I must to bed for the final sleep. I lay me down with a heavy heart for it is without friends, without family and without having told my sister how much I love her. I can see her now… Esther (for I have named her) is trying to find me as I write this, but the race is now over without the prize being claimed.


To my sister, I offer my heart.
To this life, I offer myself.
To My Maker, I offer my soul.
Remember me – I am Anne.


And now to dream.