Crannog 40 Cover by Robert Ballagh: 'Bloom on the Diamond Stone'
Crannog 40
Cover by Robert Ballagh:
‘Bloom on the Diamond Stone’

Another Crannog Magazine full of good things and with the added bonus of a cover designed by our own internationally acclaimed artist Robert Ballagh (‘Bloom on the Diamond Stone’).

My best pick of the poems is entitled ‘Amuse Bouch, the Ortolan’ by Anne Harding Woodworth (p.7) which describes how a type of small song bird  – an ortolan –  is trapped, cooked and then eaten whole and entire in a particularly gruesome way (an ‘amuse bouch’ is a single, bite-sized hors d’oeuvre). I saw this meal enacted on TV some time ago, and the images have stayed seared  on my consciousness ever since.

‘The plucked and footless morsel roasts for eight minutes // in a ramekin*, goes whole into the mouth / but not without the amusing ritual of the napkin held / so that delicious vapours steam into the gourmand’s nostrils …’

(*a ramekin is a small dish)

The event is summed up by the poet in the last line as being equivalent to ‘eating song’ which I found exactly right. Like the poet, I think it an horrific way of eating the unfortunate bird. This is, of course, a kind of squeamishness on my part, but I’m heartened to see that someone else shares my feelings. The language of the poem – coldly and descriptively relentless – is well-suited to its subject. I thought it a top-class poem. I must mention also that there is another classy poem by Ann Howells – ‘Sage of St George’ – on the page opposite (p.6).

Many times when I read a poem by Geraldine Mills I feel like throwing in the thesaurus as a poet myself because she is so good. ‘Poem as Haw Chutney’ (p.26)  is a marvellous creation:

‘Dump all you’ve plucked into the pot of possibility / with tart of vinegar, the wages of salt / raisins dried down to size.’

I’m not saying one could produce a poem using her recipe but the comparison of the skills of preservative-making and poetry making is strangely apposite. The last stanza is particularly applicable to both ‘disciplines’:

‘… and pour into a clean jar of page / before hiding it in the dark larder of promise, / to mellow, settle, become its own name.’

Quite so.

Michael Farry’s ‘Passage Grave and Shopping Centre’ (p.61) I liked very much because it’s like a poem I’d write myself (only not nearly as well as Michael’s poem, of course), so near is it to my own concerns about unfettered commercial development and its effect on ancient sites (and small towns). ‘Fatal Distraction’ by Pete Mullineaux (p.75) is a poem that gets to the heart of the way we are all wrapped in our mundane distractions to the point of being blind to what’s going on around us. I loved the snappy language. I liked ‘Bog Cotton Rhythm’ too, by Vincent Steed (p. 44). With its strong visual impact is one of those poems that brings to mind one of those beloved old master painting such as Jean Francois Millet’s ‘The Gleaners’ because it is so earthy and grounded in the real.

My own poem ‘Gun Control’ (p.16) is a slighter offering than any of the above, but treats of a very serious subject. It’s not really about the ‘gun control’ that is so much in the news these days, i.e., the limiting of gun ownership, particularly in America. But of course it IS about gun control and has something to say about the mishandling of deadly weapons and the unfortunate consequences that can ensue therefrom. I have a problem with those who think that it is the gun that is the cause of the problems.

Gun Control

 –

This showcase of old firearms

recalls the Lee-Enfield 303

I learned to handle years ago

 –

my left hand cupped below the barrel

right hand firm around the neck

both twisting in against each other

 –

cheek aligned along the stock

the butt-plate hard into the shoulder

eye squared to the sight and then

 –

and only then the finger easing

back into the slack and paused

before the gentle (gentle) squeeze

 –

or else she jumps into the recoil

and fires wide and leaves a bruise

and worse: he now knows where I am.

There are lots of other great poems by great poets too numerous to mention. And Crannog is of course a platform for short stories too and one which had great impact

The Crane Bar, Galway
The Crane Bar, Galway

when read by its author at the well-attended launch night in The Crane Bar was ‘The Perception Illusion’. Rebecca Kennedy invested her story with great energy and managed to get the dialogue exactly right for all her characters. It’s a comic narrative with something of a serious undertow and with just the right mix of both. A very amusing, entertaining piece of writing.

Crannog is edited by Sandra Bunting, Ger Burke, Jarlath Fahy and Tony O’Dwyer. They are to be congratulated on reaching the 40th issue of this fine magazine, helped along the way by The Arts Council, Galway City Council, Galway Language Centre and The Galway Study Centre. Crannog accepts poems and stories three times a year. See http://www.crannogmagazine.com

 

 

The Stony Thursday Book No.14

It doesn’t seem like a year has passed since the last ‘Stony Thursday Book’ appeared! Nevertheless, it’s that time of year  again and this annual collection of contemporary poetry has arrived in the post. This anthology  has been very kind to me over the years and I am very gratified to be included once again in this 40th anniversary edition, edited by Mary O’Donnell.

There are 138 poems here, and many illustrious names, including Eilean Ni Chuilleanain, Macdara Woods, Kevin Higgins and Fred Johnson, to mention just a few. So it is that, with such a welter of talent on display, I must confine myself in this brief review to those poems which appealed strongly to me personally.

I liked Graham Allen’s ‘Divorce’ (p.5), with its searing sense of despair. I would be surprised to find that this poem was not based on actual experience: ‘Somewhere in a trail of grey dust / lie all the stories you thought you had secured.’

‘The Request’  (p.17) by Geraldine Mitchell is a short poem with great impact. A disadvantaged student asks the poet to allow him (her?) a pass in a final exam. But the request is fraught with difficulty because although it is really ‘A small request’ , the poet is caught in a dilemma. ‘I have a home, / a job, firm ground beneath my feet./Surely not too much to ask?’ A decision has to be made. Crucially (for the poem), we are not told of the decision. It is a tribute to the poem that it is impossible to give an adequate idea of it in prose.

Patrick Deeley’s ‘Cleft in Metal’ (p.56) displays his ever-present gift for a keen observation of nature’s  little-r people, Kingfishers, otters and vixens have populated some recent poems. Here we have the wren, worried about her nest being too near a chainsaw’s blade: ‘The wren’s headache is to get her little brood / out alive. Out of a cleft in the band-saw’s metal jaw, / away beyond the saw-teeth’s seething spin.’ I have written elsewhere about ‘bird-poems’ (see my review of the recent Boyne Berries 18) and how they can often be annoyingly ‘cutesy’ but this one does not fall into that category. It puts me in mind of the many ’empiricist’ nature poems of Eamon Grennan.

Several other poems caught my attention. For instance: ‘Ouija’ by Brian Kirk (p.99), a poem which has much to do with the loss of innocence; and Michael Farry’s  ‘Swordswoman’ (p.152),  a poem that keeps the reader on edge (no pun intended!) and at the same time has a dash of humour – a strange combination that works very well.

Opposite a fine poem by Mary Melvin Geoghegan on p.66 (‘Ten Years to

 The River Griffeen, Lucan
The River Griffeen, Lucan

Pluto’) you will find my ‘River after Rains’, a poem written after my many years of trying to pluck out the heart of the mystery of the River Griffeen which flows through a park near me. Sometimes I’ve come close, but most times…

River after Rains

  “…there is nothing with which it compares.

Tell me, how can I explain?” (Hanshan, trans. Robert Henricks)

 

So many water-words diluted

in the daily flow: how we are

inundated by our work,

how guarantees are water-tight,

 –

election pledges watered-down,

how one exception can throw open

floodgates, how in retrospect

our quarrels become storms in tea cups

 –

and our grand designs, when tested,

often don’t hold water. Like

my early certainty this morning

I could turn your torrents into words.

 

 

Boyne Berries 18
Boyne Berries 18

Another fine issue of Boyne Berries from the Boyne Writers’ Group, which was founded in 2006 and meets twice monthly in the Castle Arch Hotel in Trim, Co. Meath. In this poetry business, where magazines come and go, to be heading for your 10th anniversary is no mean achievement!

Issue 18 was edited by Orla Fay who again has done a fine job of work. Well, I would say that wouldn’t I, since she has included one of my poems?— But there are many other poems which justify this praise. The book’s cover features a blackbird, and the first poem is entitled ‘Too Many Bird Poems’ by Paddy Halligan and he never spoke a truer word or wrote a truer poem. I am so tired of swallow poems and swan poems and other sorts of cutesy bird poems that  I’m afraid to go out into the garden in case I end up writing one.  There is course a long tradition of great ‘bird’ poems – Think of Shelley’s wonderful ‘To a Skylark’  with the great

4 Aug.1792-8 July 1822
4 Aug.1792 – 8 July 1822

lines

“We look before and after

And pine for what is not:

Our sincerest laughter

With some pain is fraught;

Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought.”

However, I understand Paddy’s irritation at some of the ‘bird’ poems that find their way into print. It just seems too easy sometimes. I love his last two lines:

“I may even make an allusion to Peresphone

To keep the others happy, and not a lonndubh in sight.”

A very enjoyable, humorous poem. A poem that says something that needed to be said!

Another poem I really liked was Adrienne Leavy’s ‘Death of a Cowboy’. This is a lament for a family member, lightened somewhat by references to the iconography of the Cinema Western. Probably this was the favourite genre of the lamented one. Anyway, a lament is always the more poignant when it is not overwhelmingly full of grief. The balance is hard to strike but Adrienne  manages it well in this fine poem:

“Now we find ourselves thinking, how did Death come to you—

did it happen quickly, like a hero in a John Ford western,

or were you riding towards oblivion for a long time.”

I have heard Anne Tannam reading her work many’s the time, so I can actually hear her soft voice when I read ‘Thanksgiving’. It’s another of her joyful, optimistic poems that pick you up, dust you down, and make you feel that maybe, just maybe, you can start all over again.

“Speaking of miracles, what about duvets, pillows,

clean warm sheets, the quiet healing of a deep sleep …”

Patrick Chapman’s poem ‘July’ is one that affects me personally because I believe it refers to a mutual friend who passed away last July. It’s about other people too and in this way it is broadened out onto that ‘universal’ plane so necessary in a poem. Sad reading, but good, well-crafted reading. A very moving poem.

So many good poems – too many to mention. For instance, If I were to talk of Clare McCotter’s stunning ‘Ghost Children’ this short review would turn into a very long review.

“Do not waste your time hanging spirit traps

bright clothes hold no charm … “

Of the stories, I really enjoyed ‘My cat, my bad my lot’ from my old friend Donal Moloney (who also had a story in  ‘The Moth’  magazine recently … quite an achievement!). Unlike with poetry, one can’t say much about stories in case one gives the game away but I will say that I do not think I have read a story with a culinary flavour before! Really good. Also I liked Caroline Carey Finn’s ‘Cats’. Mary Gunn’s story ‘Never too Late’ was also enjoyable – I think Jimmy and Laurie would make a good match … if he keeps up his courage! And, as with the poetry, the items I mention here are just a very few of the great material in the magazine.

My own poem is simply a celebration of the birth of a child:

Making Room

 for Gil

Far out on the edge of things

the stars have had to shift this morning

to make room for you, obeying

that which Archimedes noisily

proclaimed, or that which is maintained

about a butterfly’s wing beat

having the power to set off hurricanes.

_

It is the rule that anything that enters

must shove over something else

and so it is this day that molecules,

discommoded by your advent,

must now seriously recalculate,

adjust themselves, create a space

for this new member of the cosmos.

_

Flex a toe or twitch an eyelash

and past Saturn’s coloured rings

and Jupiter’s red spot there will be slight

but quite significant displacements,

tidings of your safe arrival rippling

back across the vast aethereal ocean

towards the Primum Mobile.

 Boyne Berries 18 is available through the Boyne Berries website http//boyneberries.blogspot.ie  at €10 incl. P&P.

Boyne Berries no. 17
Boyne Berries no. 17

Boyne Berries no 17 (Spring 2015) brought lots of good things. A really nice springtime poem from Gearoid O’Duill entitled ‘Snowdrop’:

“Spring flowers make no show yet, except the snowdrop, 

its white head cautiously spread, pendulous,

each inner petal veined with gentle skein of green…”

I always like the considered line and the well-chosen word, which I also find in ‘Ritual’ by Lorcan Black, a poem touching on the fleeting nature of love:

“One blink and the thread dissolves,

the doors slice open…”

‘The doors’ image is part of an extended metaphor of a train journey which continues right through the poem. Other poems which appealed to me were ‘Spring Invasion’ by Kate Ennals, Adrienne Leavy’s ‘Bright Shadow’, and a rather ‘zero’ poem from Ciaran Parkes entitled ‘Bog Body’. Nice poem too from Orla Fay (‘Fawn’) reminding us of the ‘fierce beauty’ of other species that inhabit this planet, which we often presumptuously describe as ‘ours’.

Of the stories, I was very struck by Mari Maxwell’s ‘McTagish Law’ with its ambiguous ending, and by Rozz Lewis’s ‘The Statues of St Jude and Buddha’ with its exact depiction of a very familiar family situation where the ‘faith of our fathers (and mothers!)’ has not lasted into the next generation.

My poem ‘Neanderthals’ is a bit on the gloomy side, being concerned somewhat with human arrogance. How is it that this long extinct species of mankind has come to represent all that is backward and vicious? Recent studies seem to show that Neanderthal Man (and Woman) had a high level of intelligence and a developed social sense. Perhaps it’s inbuilt in our white caucasian  natures to regard all other types and species of the human as inferior, be they the ‘savage injuns’  of the recent past or the black/coloured peoples of the present? I remember when I was a young boy that a group of Irish UN soldiers was ambushed in the Congo and many of them killed by Baluba tribesmen. For years afterwards in Ireland the word ‘Baluba’ was used to describe any unruly and uncouth group who interfered with the comfort of their neighbours. And were these tribesmen uncouth and unruly? Perhaps, but we should remember that the UN soldiers were operating in territory the Baluba tribesmen regarded as their own and were acting under the not unreasonable assumption that these armed men were invaders and meant them harm. Had the Inca reacted in the same way, the history of South America would be very different. We were all very sorry for our Irish soldiers at the time (and quite rightly so), but I can’t remember that any good word was said about the Balubas.

A BBC programme broadcast at the time this poem was written (September 2012) made an

Stiil from the BBC programme 'Andrew Marr's History of the World' (Broadcast 2012)
Still from the BBC programme ‘Andrew Marr’s History of the World’ (Broadcast 2012)

honest effort to overcome prejudice in order to show that these nomadic ancestors of ours were something more than wild beasts, but this was only partly successful. Certainly some of the publicity material for the programme didn’t help break down barriers. One photo (pictured right) presented Neanderthals as a cross between noble savages and black rappers. I think we don’t know enough about them to be definitive about their overall lifestyle but I can guess that they were not operating the laws of the jungle, as maintained by our right honorable friend on the bench. They seem to have had at least a modicum of social cohesion.

Another unfortunate aspect of this judge’s comments was that he was criticising  the actions of a group of Irish Travellers. This court scene was, therefore, a rather sorry vignette of our prejudices towards groups other than ‘our own’.

Footnote: The judge in question, in a previous case, had sentenced a man to climb Croagh Patrick for verbally abusing a garda.

Neanderthals

 … The Judge said that the defendants

were like Neanderthal men abiding

by the laws of the jungle… (news report)

 

Whereas there is this widespread idea

that Neanderthals had haggard haircuts,

went half-naked, had a wild-eyed stare,

and killed and chopped each other up for food; 

and whereas it is said their skulls were small

and, like the Heidelbergensis before them,

that they probably worshipped stones and trees

and yes were homo but not sapiens – 

I have no doubts at all but they were kind

among themselves and did not soil the ground

where they lay down to sleep, and loved their kids,

and hoped for happiness. And then we came along.

I am very happy to have had my poem The Taking of Christ  published in the SHOp Coverlatest SHOp magazine. At the same time, I am very sad because this is the final edition. John and Hilary Wakeman have decided the time has come to retire after many years with ‘SHOp’ and (in John’s case) previously with the Rialto Poetry Magazine. I am very indebted to SHOp for publishing my work over the years. The standard was always very high and publication alongside some of poetry’s finest practitioners always brought a feeling of validation. Publication of a poem is a big event in a poet’s writing life and publication in SHOp was always even more special than usual.  I wish both John and Hilary every good wish in their retirement.

I am also indebted to The National Gallery of Ireland for their permission to reproduce in this blog Caravaggio’s extraordinary painting, the inspiration for my poem.

The Taking of Christ

from the painting by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (National Gallery of Ireland)

All have fled save one and he in terror

struggles to escape into the darkness,

arms outspread, his cloak caught by a soldier

while the one they’ve come for is surrounded,

turns his cheek to take the lethal kiss.

 

High in the right-hand corner there’s a lantern

held above the swirl of cloth and armour

by a man who pushes past a soldier –

wants a closer look at how it is

that loyalty is so readily thrust aside.

 

This scene has occupied his brush so long

he has become a part of it. He,

reprobate and murderer in his time,

could not but paint himself one of the throng

irrupts into Gethsemane tonight.

 

Caravaggio (Michelangelo Merisi), ‘The Taking of Christ’, 1602.

Michelangelo Merisi Caravaggio, 1571-1610, The Taking of Christ, 1602.

Oil on canvas 133.5 x 169.5cm

By Kind permission and courtesy of the National Gallery of Ireland and the Jesuit Community of Leeson Street, Dublin, who acknowledge the generosity of the late Dr Marie Lea-Wilson.

Photo © National Gallery of Ireland.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


crannog 37Very gratified to have made it into Crannog again, Galway’s long-enduring, top-notch poetry and short stories magazine, edited by Tony O’Dwyer, Ger Burke, Jarlath Fahy and Sandra Bunting. Delighted too to read on the launch night (Oct 31st) in The Crane Bar with the rest of the gala company. The magazine is, as always, well turned out and immaculately proofed, with an arresting cover by Sandra.

This edition (no. 37, autumn 2014) lines up plenty of good stuff. My own favourtite poems (apart from my own one, of course!) are Frank Farrelly’s ‘Everest’, an unrhymed hexameter sonnet which springs a surprise in the sestet; also I liked very much Patrick Chapman’s ‘The Infinite Questionnaire’ with its humanistic take on philosophical questions. Great last line: “A god is not required. In fact it rather spoils the view.” Edward O’Dwyer’s list poem ‘Wall’ is good too: “That day the God of Other Plans/tore up the list of things you were meant to be…”

My own poem is a two-voice, ‘counterpoint’ piece entitled ‘Warrior’:

 

Warrior

 

Who did he leave behind

that morning he set out?

 

“… and as to age, the carbon dating

indicates a lengthy time span

of some nineteen hundred years …”

 

Who prayed for him each night?

Who watched for him by day?

 

“… Our X-rays of the skull, indeed

the actual skull itself, reveal

the arrow struck him from behind …”

 

Who stopped each passing stranger

to ask for word of him?

 

“… The angle of trajectory tells us

much about the victim’s stance

the moment just before he fell …”

 

Who listened every night

to hear his step outside?

 

“… We have here that unfortunate

and not infrequent military

occurrence: death from friendly fire …”

 

Who hoped when hope was dead?

Who mourned for him a lifetime?

 

“… Well, I think we have resolved

the most important questions. Any

from the floor? No? Thank you all.”

 

How many generations

before his name was lost?

 

 

 

 

It’s Time

Last April my poem ‘It’s Time’ was published in the Arts and Books section of the Saturday Irish Times. This was very gratifying because the Times has a big circulation and not since  I was published all those years ago in The Irish Press  by David Marcus, and some years ago in The Sunday Tribune by Ciaran Carty have I had such publicity. Both of these newspapers have since disappeared, and I strongly contest any suggestion that my poetry was in any way responsible.

A big thank you to the Irish Times Literary Editor Gerard Smyth and all the poets who sent congratulations. Who ever said that poets were not nice people?

The poem is a seasonal one and tries to pin down that moment when you go outdoors one morning early and think: Yes! It’s here at last. Spring!

You’ll say: What nonsense. Spring comes gradually. Well, it does. And it doesn’t.

It’s Time

The jasmine bush absorbs a crystal sky

not seen for months. The sodden mess of leaves

that clogged the path all winter now is dry

and ready to be swept. There’s something sharp

about the sunlight blinds the eye this morning –

stems have straightened up, the wheelie bin

has taken on a strange new lustre.

 

This the first day he has shone in earnest,

edging over boundary walls and hedges

to inspect our winter graveyards. Days

of early dark and icy outside taps

are numbered. When I creak the shed door open,

shears and spade blink in the corner: come,

the world must be newmade. It’s time.

Airlie Hgts

 

 

 

I was very pleased to have a poem included in the anthology ‘In Protest: 150 poems for Human Rights’. This is aIn Protest cover collection of new poetry exploring human rights and social justice themes and is a collaboration between the Human Rights Consortium at the School of Advanced Study, University of London, and the Keats House Poets, bringing together 150 poems from over 16 countries. The poems are concerned with  experiences of oppression, discrimination, and dispossession. At the same time hope and solidarity are much in evidence in the contributions. The book is edited by Helle Abelvik-Lawson, Anthony Hett and Laila Sumpton, with a forward by Ruth Padel. The launch was last October (2013) in London which I attended. The book is to be featured at the Stanza International Poetry Festival in St.Andrews in Fife in March where a number of the poets, self included, will read and discuss their work.

The inspiration for my poem ‘Civilian Executions. Minsk 1941’ is a photograph in the book which accompanied the TV programme ‘The Nazis: A Warning to History’ which shows a civilian being hanged. Particularly pathetic in the photograph is the way the victim must forever remain unnamed and unknown, as were (and are) many of those who bear the greatest brunt of war, i.e., civilians.

I am aware that my poem is derivative, being based on a second-hand experience but there are many poems in the book which arise from direct, first-hand encounters with violence and brutality, and these are the real  meat of the anthology.

Civilian Executions, Minsk 1941

 

Because your back is turned

your face will never be remembered,

woman with your wrists tied up,

the elbows of your cardigan

unravelling.

 

Because your face is shown

you will forever be remembered,

officer who reaches up,

adjusts the noose so that the drop

will take her weight.

 

Barely in the frame

a soldier hurries past the truck

intent on military duties,

doesn’t bother to look up

before the shutter falls.

 

 

Very pleased to see my poem ‘Rachael’ in Boyne Berries magazine (no. 14) August 2013 which wasBBerries sideways left launched at the Castle Arch Hotel, Trim, last Thursday 26 Sept. I found this a difficult poem to write (aren’t they all?) because the experience of losing someone from your school classroom so suddenly is a chastening event and one that puts things in perspective. So do all deaths but the loss of someone young with such a lot to expect from life is particularly sad.

Well done to all at BB for the good work they put into the issue and particularly to Michael Farry who oversaw things, and to Kate Dempsey for a very professional editing. And congrats to all the other contributors. Follow the activities of this writers’ group at http://www.boynewriters.com

Rachael

For days it seemed you might walk in

at any moment, late for class

 

but happy to be back again

from one more hospital appointment.

 

Rolls and registers are caught out

by mortality. Each time

 

I skip your name I feel I’m part

of a conspiracy to forget.

 

You should be here with us in class

this morning. English, Period 1:

 

examples of the Unseen Poem

and how to reach behind the words

 

to understand what happened, why

it couldn’t be allowed to pass

 

unnoticed. Handing out the books,

I find the notes you made last week.

Eamonn SmallVery happy that my poem ‘Gale Force Winds on Main Street’ was selected for Crannog Magazine no. 33.  It deals with a topical issue: can rural town survive the arrival of Big Shopping Centres? As an an topic it’s been around for some time but lately seems all the more presssing since the return of emigration and the economic recession. I was driving through a small midland town recently and was shocked at the number of empty shop windows, closed-up houses and the general air of depression. That particular day there was also a gale-force wind funnelling down the main street and an old gent struggling against it with his plastic bag of shopping.  And then I thought ofCrannog 1 (2) the way some older people must be left quite alone in these towns, every able-bodied person having left if they can at all.

The launch was last Friday 28 June at the Crane Bar in Galway (as always) and I was delighted to be invited to read. Incidentally, I see the Crane Bar itself is ‘FOR SALE’. Nothing is safe anymore!

CraneBarFor Sale

Gale Force Winds on Main Street

 

This no wind for an old man to weather

down the main street of his midland town,

a wind that sends dead leaves and litter swirling,

screams around blind corners, sets the flags

to crack like gunshots over the empty pubs.

 

Like a soldier going over the top

he takes a breath and bends against a tempest

strong as any raged in Genesis

that time when God was stocking up the world

with brand new goods and opening up for business.

 

He pulls his cap down tightly. All the forecasts,

economic and meteorological,

are uniformly bleak. Above the gale

he hears the distant dual carriageway

that lured the local trade to shopping centres

 

sing of SPECIAL OFFERS! CUT-PRICE DEALS!

He stumbles past the FOR SALE signs, TO LETs

and UP FOR AUCTIONSs, until finally

he shelters in the mercy of his doorway,

rests a moment, fumbles for his latch key.

Eamonn Lynskey