Tuesday, July 29, 2014

BANAL FROM THIS DISTANCE



The calls to prayer and the omni-drone combine to hum the Anti-Om. The last vibration. The frequency of wrong. The remote sound of death and razed rubble homes. Distant embers. Ribbons rise to oblivion. A dark cloak suffocates unseen desperation. Subdued pops denote the ease of destruction and the absence of any significant resistance. It's the antithesis of coexistence. Evil looks so banal from this distance.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

ON THE M.V. MUNSTER - Dublin to Liverpool (1956)


by Finbarr Shanley

The night is tonight or any other night that the green ship slips her moorings and sadly moves from the river's mouth and heads for the east. Hands dig deeper into pockets and the Custom House clock is seen through the mist of squinted eyes and shoes stamp on hardwood and shoulders are hunched though not from cold.

These are the have-nots and over there on that rising ground the lights of the haves reflect the self-righteousness and the light house lamp now beamed towards the Wicklow shore shines the last goodbye.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

NEARLY FRIENDS


by Frank Shanley

He was going out for the night. Out to Dun Laoghaire. The place he thought was strange and far away when he was young. The place where the boats came in. He had lived there for a year and knew it quite well now. He was going to get drunk to bring some excitement to his life. 


It was a dark winter evening. The sharpness of the night and the sense of tension it should have created didn’t make an impact on him. He went down to get the bus, down a dimly lit laneway. The fence on one side and the bushes on the other were more or less ignored. The laneway led onto the road, the road that the bus came down. It came by him just then. He started to run for it, a long run down the road and then around the corner near the church. He caught it up as he was coming near the stop. He got on it with another person. Breathless, he was looking around at the things that really scared him, people. He stared at them a bit. He wasn’t aware why. His mother said it was fear. He believed everything his mother told him. When he got off the bus and changed to another one, he was still feeling deadened. The people on the bus and outside the window meant nothing to him. He was finally in Dun Laoghaire and now he went to the hostel where he lived until recently. 


Cathleen met him at the door. He remembered thinking of her as the Countess Cathleen. She brought him up the stairs and into the kitchen. There were a few people there – friends, nearly friends, anyway. Martin said hello. ‘Martin do you want to go out with me tonight’, he felt like saying but he didn’t have the courage. He waited a while and then started to talk to Martin. A few inappropriate comments and a few weak jokes later, he asked Martin to go out. It was cool Martin said so they went out.

They went first to a shop to buy cider. The two litre bottles, big brown bottles full of intoxicating liquid which tasted like poison, a few years earlier would have been very precious but now they didn’t mean that much. They went down a laneway to drink them. They really didn’t taste like poison. Drinking it wasn’t nice but the talk and repartee were and all he was thinking about was good. He wasn’t drunk but felt invigorated.
 
He and Martin were both schizophrenic. A dirty horrible thing both for the sufferers and non-sufferers. They were both suppressed, depressed, downtrodden human beings. Both in a chain gang of psychiatrists.

Monday, July 21, 2014

MY SCIENCE FICTION STORY


A desert world strewn with petrified corpses. Starry missiles plummet fiercely and fragment what remains of these remains. Limbs detach and leap and twist and land and tumble and settle back down on the perished surface. And this happens again. And again. And again and again. Until the body bits are powder and the powder is dust and the dust is a memory and the memory is forgotten.

Jaded by supremacy but fearing obsolescence, soldiers across a galaxy attend an interplanetary launcher. Nonchalantly loading ammunition. Yawning. Closing a hatch. Pulling a crank. Another projectile soars and, once again, a victory is won for a planet called Ridiculous that floats mad and alone in the absurdest reaches of outer space.

And that is the end of my science fiction story.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

AN EXPERT


I've become an expert. When people need an expert they call me and I show up and display my expertise. This usually involves clipboards. I'll show up with a clipboard and look around and make little ticks on a form type of thing that is fastened to the clipboard. Sometimes, depending on the nature of the consultation, I will wear a beekeeper's outfit. If anyone asks why I'm dressed like a beekeeper I tell them to be quiet because I'm trying to concentrate. I might spray a few things with a can of something, like deodorant or something, and then go over the sprayed area with a small brush and then peer at it through binoculars. Then I might hold up a radio that isn't tuned to any channel and is just emitting a static buzz. I'll wander around with the radio, gradually turning the volume up and down. Then, when all that is done, I sit in the centre of a circle of lit candles and animal skulls and, in a low voice, chant the following: 'The Vengabus is coming and everybody's jumping. New York to San Fransisco, an intercity disco'.

After all that is done, I pull off the beekeeper hood and look thoughtful and say that I'll be back in a week. Then I come back in a week and give a powerpoint presentation that contains lots of graphs. I point to the graphs with a pointer, which is useful for pointing, and say things about 'sectors' and 'quarters' and 'synergies' and 'utilisations' and 'deliverables'. Then I pack up my presentation equipment and charge an astronomical fee for my time.

My clients are usually pleased with what I do as the results provided are open to interpretation and can justify whatever the clients need justifying or validate whatever notion they had before I arrived. It is with the help of my expertise that services have been privatised and ghosts exorcised. I have given restaurants certificates of hygiene and recommended that vicinities be doused in phosgene. Or so it seems. I did no such thing but I didn't do otherwise either. I just provided abstract data that can be construed any old way.

Actual experts have objected to my consultative enterprise. They say that one man could not possibly be an expert in all things and that it takes years to become an expert in just one field. However, to allay any worries these expert opinions might cause my clients, I did a study on the opinions of these other experts. This study resulted in a graph that (depending on what you choose to see in it) proved the expert opinions on my expertise to be far from expert. That seemed to do the trick as my clients did not want the actions they took upon my advice to be found dubious. I didn't bother wearing the beekeeper outfit for that one but I do sometimes wear it at home. I find that I am more relaxed with it on. When I remove it I am sometimes gripped by an overwhelming sense of doubt and the unshakeable feeling that the whole world is completely and utterly insane.
The above graph clearly proves something. 
Unless it's upside down, in which case it clearly proves something else.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

SANTA'S SLAY


The sun calls and the grass beckons and the children run into the fields to play as they do and as they must and the children get blown to bits by land mines planted by adults.

And great gifts fall from the sky as if from Santa's sleigh and they whistle as they plummet toward the earth where they kill children as they do and as they must because adults always know what's for the best.

'Thank you Daddy' say the charred remains, the scattered limbs, the ashes and the blood stains. And a monument is built so no one will forget but life goes on and the children ask 'is it Christmas yet?'

The children can't wait to see what they're going to get. A toy gun, a toy tank, a model army jet with which to play at killing as they do and as they must,
just like the adults in whom they place their trust.