Passing Relations

We found each other for a while, for a moment

That should’ve lasted longer, while we searched

For a new life amid ashes of ones already lived

With frailties and fractures and losses in each.

We stopped for each other- a bond too briefly bred-

And in delighted ignorance planned out a future

As inseparable as sky from sea or water from land

Yet time, in all its wicked wisdom and wily wit,

Proved us more porous than primarily perceived.

We began as shadows; you the night and I day,

Serving distant Eire abroad in separate solo shifts

On Chevelaret’s street, coaxing coins from 13th

With pints of the black stuff and stirring them with

Fine fiddles and fanciful folklore long before Bercy

And Bibliotheque created culture and credibility.

But I felt drawn to you, caught by your secrets

And intrigued- as if you were a rendering of me-

Born earlier though arriving later- same baggage,

Same story; that free-falling flight from home-

From the fields and folk, the gossip and groans

That somehow led you here to this paltry place

That must have rang out, upon first impression,

Like the end of the Earth or, at least, last stop

For long shots and last chances.  Eventually

The first rays of summer found us at home

In this quirky quarter- all cozy and crouched

In Chinatown’s shadow, settled into life, the bar

And each other- blind to what lay in wait for us

Beyond the horizon. How did it happen, then,

In that single summer, in that glorious summer

Where we’d promised to make it the best of times,

That we ended up losing each other? I sat there

On foreign steps, covering them in foolish tears

As passersby watched on with worry and waited

For explanations that I didn’t know myself,

For I knew not, that day, how we’d failed each other.

We’d been no more than oil and water all the time,

We’d foolishly deluded ourselves into thinking us

A more compatible blend. But I admired you then,

In that time, in that interim as spring fell to summer,

I admired you then for all that you were and for all

That you tried to be, for the wounds you revealed to me-

Wounds you could not cure and so I lifted you

And carried you and feared for you and wondered

How to get in and worried, later, how to get away.

But, of course, you heard me too and cared for me,

You carried me and cured me too, for a while,

Within that fickle and finite time we had and shared.

Was the mix we made too explosive from the start,

Were we faithed before we’d begun, did we share

Too much on opposite sides of a sacrifice, in a bond

We made, loved and let break- brother and sister-

For a spell and, once in a while, Mother and son?

I was the adopted boy, adapted to be your brother,

I was given up where you’d given up, the follow-on

You needed to see and you the listener I looked on

As a mother never seen and you cried for all you’d lost

And all that could never have been.  We tried to heal

Together broken hearts- ones we thought we’d left

Back home- but memories came flooding back,

Shadows we hoped the past would file to forgetfulness

But time was not willing so we looked to each other.

It was, for but a precious moment, a way of letting go,

Of moving on. How little, in the middle of it all,

Did we know how soon we’d let go of each other.

For we would never be enough and nothing could cure

The washed over lines the hours neglected to bury.

I was not, to you, the lost child found and you,

Not for me, the shadowed mother returned. Was that

Our downfall; we’d hoped from each other too much

And found not even a whole summer on that street

With its towering temples, viewless windows and lovers

Who came to divert us from what lay uncovered?

Brother and sister; sipping coffees, learning French,

We taught each other a lot but failed to learn to hold on.

Where are you now and do you ever, for a moment,

Wander in your mind down that street to the bar

Were we talked and laughed and cried till dawn

Before heading home together, to lie together,

In our tiny home, gossiping and giggling in separate beds?

I see you sometimes in my mind’s eye- smoke in hand,

As always, and eyes lit up with excitement as we danced

Through that bar- our bar on Saturday nights as we simply

Entertained the audience perhaps just as simply as we

Entertained each other. In my mind we will always be

Dancing like that before closing the bar and finding comfort

In a drink and each other; Brother and sister for almost a summer,

Dancing in the ignorance of what autumn had in store for us.

13

Compatible Blends

We found each other,

For a while

As we searched separately

For a new life

Amid the ashes of a life already lived

With bruised edges,

Fractured hearts

And losses to great to forget.

We stopped for each other,

All but briefly

And, in delighted ignorance,

Planned out a future

As inseparable

As water from land

And sky from sea

But proved to be less

Penetrable

Than we knew.

We shadowed each other,

At the start,

Sailing in separate shifts

On Chevelaret’s Street

In district 13

With Celtic music,

And pints of the black stuff

While a riotous racket of Turkish overtones

And Irish stupidity,

Parading as management,

Carved comedy into

Every inch of our jobs.

You were night and I the day

As we passed each other without

Sensing a connection

And yet I was already aware-

Intrigued by the mysterious air

You’d arrived on.

I had sat in the corner of the bar

And watched you being interviewed.

You polished off a glass of Guinness

On that unaccustomedly sun-lit day

In spring

Like it was the first drink ever

On a Friday evening

With not an ounce of fear or uncertainty

As Niall questioned you

With roaming eyes

That longed for more salacious information

Than you were willing to provide.

Your age was not to be a factor

Nor your flight from home

That had somehow lead you here,

To this place,

That must have rung out-

With first impression-

Like it was the end of the earth

Or the final stop for last chances.

You had shadowed the steps

I had made months earlier.

Were you as shocked as I

When you climbed down the metro’s stairs

And saw that lifeless street stretching out before you

With the Guinness sign in the distance

Like a beacon to call you home?

A dishevelled man-

Washed over in alcohol

And lost out in life

And two dead rats along the side walk

Had been my greeting

To this quarter

Lurking anonymously

Behind the chaos of Chinatown

And it sank into me-

As the train raced away,

That this was the one place were they would say

Yes

And my empty wallet would be

The one thing about me that

Could not say

No.

But somehow we made it home

And as the sun grew stronger

We looked at each other more closely

And made connections-

Blind to what lay beyond the glare

Of those rays that hypnotised us.

So how did it happen

In that summer-

That glorious summer where we had

Promised each other to make it be the one

That shone the brightest in our memories-

That we ended up

Losing each other?

I sat on someone’s porch steps

Covering them in bitter tears

While two blonde boys watched on

And waited for explanations that I could not know,

For I was still unable then to see

How much we had failed each other.

Had we been no more

And no less

Than oil and water

All that time-

Fooled somehow into thinking us a more

Compatible blend?

But I had seen you and fell for you-

For all that you were

And tried to be

And all that you covered up-

Wounds naked only to me

And wounds that you could not cure

And so I lifted you

And carried you

And feared for you,

And wondered how to get in

And worried how to get away-

I knew the danger signs that lit up

In your eyes

And when to speak

And when to say nothing

But- at the same time-

You carried me

And cared for me

And cured me too.

I was the adopted boy who became

Your adopted brother.

Once, I had been given up

Where you had given up.

I was the follow on that you needed to see

And you- the listener

I needed to confide in,

To say I forgive,

I’m ok,

I have survived.

To your face

I said thank you to a mother never seen

And in my eyes

You cried for all that you had lost

And could never have the chance to be.

Maybe the mix was too explosive

And we shared too much from opposite sides

Of an unused coin

In that bond

We made

And loved

And let break-

Brother and Sister

And sometimes

Mother and Son.

We began to heal together-

Broken hearts that we thought we’d left

Back home,

Memories that came flooding back

Like children we’d forgotten

And left behind-

A part of ourselves that we’d ignored-

Hoping the past would let it slide to

Forgetfulness

But we found that not to be true

And in each other we found-

For all but a precious moment-

A way of letting go

And moving on.

How little,

In that middle of it all,

Did we know how soon we’d let go of each other.

For, in truth,

It was never enough

And nothing could cure the washed over lines

That lay buried in the memory.

I could not become the lost child

And you were not the shadowed mother for me.

Maybe that was our downfall-

We hoped for too much from each other

And found not even a whole summer

On that street with its temples,

Viewless windows,

Benoits who cried in our laps,

Cards games you thought me

And Lovers who came our way

To divert us more from what lay

Too deep to remove.

Brother and Sister-

Sipping coffees and cokes

And teaching each other French-

We taught each other a lot

But never managed

To teach each other

To hold on.

Where are you now and do you ever

Wander in your mind

Back down that street

And into that bar

Were we talked

And laughed

And cried the night away

Until the morning found us

And we set off home

Together

And lay together

In one room,

In separate single beds

And spoke till one of us fell asleep.

I see you sometimes,

In my minds eye

With fag in hand, as always,

And eyes lit up as we danced through that bar

Which became our bar

On a Saturday night

As we simply entertained the audience

Perhaps just as simply

As we entertained each other.

In my mind we will always be dancing

Like that

Before closing the bar

And finding comfort in a cigarette,

A drink

And each other-

Brother and sister

For almost a summer,

Dancing in the ignorance

Of what autumn

Would have in store for us.

photo-43

Years Go By

Years go by

And I’m still here-

Remembering.

Years flying by-

Feeling like minutes in my mind;

A decade lost in the passing,

Like I’ve fallen forward through a gap in time.

Years in between

And yet that first morning-

Still so fresh,

Waking up into a home I’d gate crashed-

The Irish abroad;

Jeannie, with the flaming red hair

And welcoming hug,

A son in the shadows of another country

And a daughter to fall in love with were I straight.

Unable to forget

Those heated floors boards,

The note of good morning

In the kitchen,

The crispy toast from a packet,

The tiled green bathroom,

Separate toilet

And back to the bathroom to wash hands.

The plant filled balcony,

Those frosted glass doors

Which echoed through the apartment as you opened them-

So mundane and ordinary

And yet so much more

A part of me now

Than those trivial things

Ever where then-

Long before they became

A memory to cling to,

To cherish.

I hold on to so much more now

Than I ever thought possible

Or considered important-

The feel, the taste, the smell,

Like those disgruntled old madames

Who threw water from their balconies every morning-

Clocked in sombre shades of black

And scowling at passers-by like me

For the demise of their youth and their looks.

I can recall-

As if it were yesterday-

Those precious summer mornings

That soon followed me-

The air filling

With the fragrance of freshly baked croissants

As boulangeries opened their bell-ringing doors

To delighted strains of bonjour and ca’va.

Years, reaped upon years

But I still smell it as fresh now

As the day was new.

I can hear those familiar sounds

Of kids-

Singing out in ignorant celebrations

Of their youth

But always hidden from view

Behind high walls of stone.

Paris- the city for artists,

Intellects,

And the amourouse,

Where children are heard

But rarely seen.

No tantrums in stores,

No snotty noses in bistros-

No changings of nappies in sight.

Our Lady of magic was

Fully grown,

Fully developed-

No question of who She was

Or where She was going.

This City was born

Dressed in Chanel attire

With precious pearls to match-

Born a proud,

Free speaking,

Free thinking,

Pompous,

Confident adult,

Without question.

Her raison d’etre-

Herself entirely.

And there I stood

In the middle of it all

Trying to find my own trend

And set a route

Amid multitude of pathways

I longed to explore,

Get lost in,

Fall in love in

And find adventure in.

Time slips away

But it somehow leaves a part of me

Still there- somewhere,

Wandering through covered passageways

Packed with marionette theaters

And tiny trinket stores

Watched over by age old glass ceilings,

Discovering underground chambers

Of sewers and tombs-

Lost generations of the past,

Slipping unnoticed through graveyards

Of forgotten faces

Ad heralded names

Decorated with weeping women,

Stones eyes Madonnas

And cast iron wings-

Never to fly,

Remembering those I’d never known

And wondering who’d remember me.

Sitting by Seurat to make connections in his colors

And wondering what Mr. Wilde would make of us now.

Years gone by

And I still go back there-

Left side,

Art style,

Boho chic-

Where Oscar last laughed

And Sartre sighed

And I remember who I was,

Laugh at who I’ve become

And wonder why I’ve fled so far

From the city that never changes

Whilst I never stop.

Saturday afternoons,

After lazy lie-in’s

Rising through the cobbled hills

Of once moulin covered Montmartre

With Abi’s and Vincent’s

And Yasmine’s and Shaun’s,

Where artists ghosts-

intoxicated

By the green fairies potent mix

And the ruffling of high kicking

Can-can skirts-

Would swept though air

That you had only to touch

To feel a part of,

While tourists flocked

To pick up as many copies

And replicas as they could carry

Without so much as breathing in

All that surrounded them

For free.

I was a free man in Paris too,

My dear Joni,

And have wandered down

That Champs Elysees

In search of those I once knew

And cared for

And loved

And lost.

Years outrun years

But I can still close my eyes

And feel the sun on my skin

As we filled Victor’s fine square

With resounding laughter

That soared around the fountains

And columns

And palaces

Fit for queens.

14th of July ’98-

Champ du mars,

Three tenors,

Fireworks,

Mary and me

And a thousand others-

We were the luckiest in the world.

I can see myself at 23-

Cast bright in the lamp lights

That I sailed past

On the back of a motorbike-

Tearing through world of Hemingway

On the slumbering market street

Of Rue Mouffetard

Before the bank side approached

And Notre Dame lay reflected

In the sleeping waters.

My arms wrapped tight

Around my leather clad driver

With Spanish blood and gallic looks-

Willing to show me it all.

The years may continue

To build on years,

Time will continue

To tick-tock away,

But there are lifetimes

In moments

Which years can do nothing

To suppress

Or erase

If the heart wills

Not to forget.

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