Posts Tagged ‘ Dreams ’

She Speaks

image…boop,boop.Metronomic time, ceaseless and unforgiving.Under her watch fingers freeze, throats tighten and pulses race. In the moment four fight from going under the sonic waves they have created. Outside there is the alley. The artery. Rain falls in giant globs running from Pearse Street to Lombard finally coming to rest at the side streets end.

Some months before and the half whistled shapeless melody is given form by the guitar player’s hands.Lucid dreams given substance. Consonants and vowels drift from the larynx and the word is made flesh. Bass flitters between the gaps, wild and old. This new ship is anchored by the drum. Happiness fills the space.How easy it can be to make worlds.

Joyce’s Liffey everflows to the sea. The eastlanders follow on to Westland. Time passes.The metronome is tamed. Beginnings give way to ends. Parents to our children (all eight of them and those we lost) we coo at them, play peek-a-boo with them. Afraid to let them go but let them go we must.

I think of them now and then. I wonder where they are and what they are doing? Our children. Out of nowhere She Speaks. I hear the lady clearly and remember our moments, frozen now in my mind. Silently, I thank her and all the minutes we shared. All the seconds. Bip, bip….


We lived in dreams always.

There was something in the night
it seemed alive, you could almost feel it breathe
the animal mind of my age, afraid to rest, to sleep
for in stopping it might miss, moments that may never be.
A deep hurt ran through the dark
silent eyes watching for a movement, waiting
ready to pounce upon the weak.
All is lust, blood, venality and the stink of corruption
it seems that nothing can break out.
Where are the words that lift the soul?
Where are the songs to make a hand a fist?
Where can the restless run?
Why are the ignorant content to wallow in the filth
and the piss of all that is profane?
Oh it seems that hope can flounder in the debris that remains.
And yet….and yet…a spark can make a flame
and love can grow in the light her fire creates
and in that way nothing has ever changed
and in strange ways we lived in dreams…always.

The Middle Block

The Middle Block

Fag-ashes mess would heave with loss and love
the patrons were my kinfolk, my clan
some would say our dreams were small
but we had each other all the same.
The line between love and hate was as thin
as the window pane that kept the night out
when darkness crept over the roofs
we’d huddle inside, four to a bedroom.

Breath would kiss the cold air
leaving a faint trace of the life from which it came
moonlight on linoleum and Morpheus singing
to the midnight children and the visions they weave.
All the while the streetlight kept watch
His cycloptic eye looking for the lost ones
waiting for sorrowful Thanatos to show his face
all played out upon the evergiving Gaia.

She was the great womb of the world
the mother of us all, she heard us laugh,
held us when we wept
and listened to our whispered hopes.
Her plains like great arms cradling her children,
her tribe, her short grass people.
On her serene flatlands the sky looked endless
stretching onward to Heaven itself.

Of dreams and doctorates

Academic snobbery is nothing new. Universities thrive on it, college lecturers live by it and students get caught up in its tailwinds. I loved university when I first attended it which, was during my mid-twenties. After the boredom of the classroom and the ennui of a succession of dead-end jobs I felt that third-level education was radically different then what I had experienced up to that point in time. Now, in hindsight, I realise the error of my ways, but more of that anon. At this juncture I should point out that I was a high achiever in university. I received firsts on a regular basis and was offered a masters degree in English and in History. I chose History for two reasons: History allowed me to become a tutor and the degree was a masters in literature (or an MPhil). The latter was crucially important to me as the Mlitt allowed me to research on my own and to gather primary sources around which to build my thesis. I had hoped to pursue a PhD but it was felt that my particular topic did not lend itself to that particular award.

It plagued me for some time. Feelings of uselessness were aroused. Somewhere deep inside of me I felt I had let people down. I agonised over the rejection. My thesis director assured me that the department did not treat those pursuing a masters or a PhD any differently but if this was truly the case then why mention it? My director was right: the department didn’t treat me any differently but I was looked upon differently. So begin the next part of my journey as I decided that I wouldn’t attempt to make my thesis into a PhD and that I had to move on toward something new.

That something new was teaching at secondary level. Essentially my academic career was now viewed as over. Of course, I had to obtain a diploma to teach but I know (and I felt it) that this was looked upon, by the academic world, as a minor achievement, that I was, for all intents and purposes, taking the easy way out and would be stuck in the backwater of pedagogy. One thing that the diploma gave me, that neither of my degrees ever could, was the tools to look at my educational experiences up to that point. It forced me to interrogate the model of chalk and talk and to challenge middle-class assumptions about the merits of education from the primary to the secondary and on to the tertiary.

Within Ireland the discussion around education narrowly focuses on the first two but rarely on the third. The chalk and talk model is now seen as old hat in the primary and secondary level yet it persists in the third level. A lecturer stands up and talks at the class, the methodology of teaching is absent and the human connection is lost. Jargon triumphs over knowledge and a narrow focus is often pursued. Where do students with special needs fit in? Disclosure time once again: my second diploma is in the area of special needs. The ‘yak and don’t talk back’ model of third level in Ireland doesn’t really leave a space for those with special needs or as our old head of English said in 2003 to the mass of students on their first day: ‘If you have dyslexia then this course isn’t really for you.’

Knowing what I know now, I should have stood up and walked out but then I was chasing the dream (of just getting a degree).  My mother would have said of our old head that he was ‘a know all that knew fuck all’. To my shame I said nothing. How could I? Wasn’t the model just: ‘Yak and don’t talk back?’ In the end the PhD wasn’t to be but you know what I took the right path in the end,


On the gable end of the block
there ‘stood’ painted goalposts,
two dimensional, just like our lives were meant to be.
Inconsequential and insubstantial to those that did not understand
but they were the gateway to our culture
speaking more than any political proclamation.
That block was our island, our very own nation.
It was neatly bookended with the words Leeds Utd
a daily reminder of all those that had gone to other shores
to etch out a future free of predestined narratives.
Outside authority was alien to us and when we rubbed up against it
it screeched like some horrible language.
Bitterness was the true mother tongue
and dead hearted men would drown their self-loathing in pints
and then they would keen underneath the moon for their lost youth
and the love that had alluded them.
The women would weep or else join them
and in those dark cramped halls lives were broken.
On our road pain was buried deep
waves of desperate longing left unspoken.
From underneath a grey generation of patriots we struggled,
strangled by sentiments as foreign to us as any oppressor’s tongue.
History whored about as cheap commodity, a catch all opiate to placate
the common hoards.
We were Free-state bastards, told that we were living beyond our means.
We were sinners told that we were living with venal disease.
We were an economy gone wrong, a doleful death rattling scream.
We were us…faded but beautiful as vivid as a living dream.




Age is more than a number. The body eventually changes. With that comes the realisation that some of the dreams you once had must be consigned to history. Dreams are the hope of better things to come and the failure to live up to them is the cold reality of the passage of time. We make narratives of our life, we socialize members of society into the belief that life will pan out a certain way. Boy will meet girl, fall in love, have a family and all will be well in the world. God is in his heaven. However, there comes a point in one’s life were expectation must be tempered by sobering thoughts.I am now in my late thirties, I am single and the dream of happy families recedes as the days pass. It is now likely that I will never be a husband, it is now likely that I will never be a father and by extension a grandfather. In many ways there is a profound sadness in writing that as it is an acknowledgement that, in many ways, love has passed me by but there are millions like me. Have we failed? It is possible that we have. We (and by we I really mean I) won’t get to pass on my experience, my wisdom and my love. Depressing isn’t it? Yes, but that is what being an adult is all about, dealing with the dreams that pass us by and in the end I am reminded of the words of Joseph Conrad “No, it is impossible; it is impossible to convey the life-sensation of any given epoch of one’s existence–that which makes its truth, its meaning–its subtle and penetrating essence. It is impossible. We live, as we dream–alone.”