December 21, 2010

The Hound

At night, I listen

for the wild.

I room with fear.

I know its sound.

I know the dog.

(I am its child.)

Every night,

I hear a hound.

I try to walk

a little faster,

I never, ever

turn around.

Though I hardly

am its master,

every night

I hear the hound.

I know the place

he hides his bones.

I know his turf.

His plot of ground.

I know the midnight,

when it moans.

I am familiar

with that sound.

And though I’ve walked

a thousand paces,

there is no journey.

I gain no ground.

There are no voices.

Only faces.

And the one,

relentless sound.

There is no moon

where he is howling!

His beating heart

makes my head pound!

There are no words

for what he’s saying!

There’s just the baying,

and the baying,

and the baying,

braying sound.

It’s hunger makes

the belly growl.

It’s a haunted heart

that’s duty-bound.

Every night

I hear a howl.

Every night,

I hear the hound.


December 20, 2010

"Modern Psychiatry," a poem by Mark Langton

My mother isn't an issue.

There's hardly a mention of Freud.

There are times I require a tissue.

There are subjects I'd rather avoid.

As lively as dinner with Mother,

as chatty as dead Uncle Jim,

he leaves it for me to discover

that I'm actually me, not him.


Poetry: "Au Lit," by Mark Langton


"Au lit!" said he,
but, dancing, she
often had little
to say.

"To dark to see!
Lie down with me,"
said he, said she,


Poetry: "My Heart, My Love," by Mark Langton


My heart, my love, is in your hands,

though it still seems I have to shoulder

your breast, too, the many fears that you reveal

to very few, all that your heart demands

of love. Though mine is no less bolder,

or less certain, are not these things we feel

enough? Damn you, it still seems I must

somehow atone to earn your trust.

No matter what I put down on the page,

in ink, or blood, my heart, my breath

must still confront my daily rage,

condemned. Like the lady in Macbeth,

I wring my hands, but can't rub out

that spot of blood. This giddy doubt.


December 14, 2010

"Irish Bones," by Mark Langton (a work-in-progress)

(Please note that this is a very rough draft -- not sure why the fonts are all over the place -- not intentional -- but I working on it.)

Irish Bones

(a poem for the stage)

©by Mark Langton


JAMES JOYCE: A barman. No relation to the other one. Owner and proprietor of J. JOYCE’S, a small, rural pub at the central crossroads of a coal mining village and farming community in the southwest of Ireland in County Kilkenny, by the name of Clough. He is a tall, gruff man in his late 60’s, with thick eyebrows, farmer’s hands and a nearly unintelligible culchie (countryman’s) dialect. He speaks with a vocabulary well beyond his schooling -- indeed, the realm of possibility -- and yet, well … there ya have it, now.

TOMMY O’NEILL: The ghost of a priest. parts shaman and European hippie (circa 1972. He has a full, red beard, long, red hair and deeply-etched features. His clothes look thrown at him: He is wearing a large overcoat; bright-green, American high-top sneakers; a red-and-white-striped scarf; carries a large staff festooned with all manner of flotsam and totems; what appears to be a hangman’s noose hangs loosely around his neck; and beneath it, a tattered priest’s collar. Despite being a priest (and recently deceased), he is given to flights of fancy, fleeting rage, wanton dancing and the

ANNE: A ghost. She is a young woman, violently beautiful, wild, defiant, wistful, demure. She has bright, blue eyes that make most men think they have a secret with her, even when they do not. At the moment, she is somewhat confused by her surroundings, as she finds herself to be a dead girl at the bottom of a well.

THE BOYS (chorus): The denizens of Joyce’s. Gentlemen farmers all; who, by their own account, “don’t raise nuttin’ but our hats














In a corner of a prism.

In the giggle of a loon.

In a momentary schism.

In the shadow of the moon.

In a whirling of a dervish,

in the frenzy of a dance,

in a tussle of a skirmish,

in the twilight of a trance,

in a wiggle of a tickle,

in the bubble of a beer,

in a little tiny prickle,

in the trickle of a tear,

in the vow that I would never,

in the second of a glance,

in the promise of forever,

there was this one,


romance . . .

  • Father Thomas O’Neill




[The lights come up on JOYCE’S pub. JIMMY is standing behind the bar facing the audience, polishing a glass. He puts down the glass, strikes a wooden match and lights a Carrolls cigarette with yellowed fingers and practiced flair -- never breaking his gaze with the audience. He exhales slowly, spits out a piece of invisible tobacco, and begins.]



At the cross o’ Clough,

near Castlecomer,

sure, not too far

from the Dublin Road,

there stands a nooooble little bar,

where, on the odd occasion,

the local boys do hold

a sort of . . . ad hoc

midnight mass,

do ya see, in which a

solemn little lesson

is frequently repeated.

And then it is repeated.

The story and its lesson.

O, repeatedly repeated

and revealed.

(JIM raps the bar twice, drinks

and smiles.)

O,God make it shtop.

There’s no sweet

rollin’ in th’ grass.

Not any more, do ya see.

There’s no one kissin’ in

your sister’s parlor,

no sound of laughter

floatin’ ‘cross the evenin’,

no happy boyos gettin’ drunk

and singin’ in a neighbor’s field.

No. These days?

(JIMMY pauses to smoke, swallows it, and doesn’t exhale for what seems like an alarming length of time. Deep in thought, he finally sighs and stubs out his cigarette. After a couple of beats, JIMMY lights another, and begins.)

Before first frost

takes autumn’s dare,

the smallest altar boy

grows only cold;

Dead roosters crow,

and packs of black crows fly

like … like… foockin’ omens.

Them happy nuns are after lookin’

terrible grim up there

on Moneenroe,

now even the younger ones

just stand and stare,

their eyes as old

as the silent, brooding,

unrepentant, Irish sky.

Now, on certain nights,

when Cantwell’s closes,

just after Kat’leen Cantwell shuts her gate,

and all the boys who duck in my place

start to settle down, and listen to the

river as it tries to drown

the only other sound in town,

the sound a winter wind will make

when it comes rattlin’ the churchyard gate --

then goes howlin’ through the tower,

and then right before it rings the bell, well….

that’s the hour

your man Tommy rises.

Goes his…quiet way

up to this very hearth,

stands and poses,

there before its glowin’ grate.

To sing a song

to bring a shiver

into every

private hell.

My name is Jim,

and I’m a barman.

Some say I’m too

lucky and slow.

But I say, fook them all,

The long, the short and the tall.

cause this is my place, anyway,

And it is called Joyce’s --

aye, that’s right,

it’s called Jim Joyce’s,

that’s what I said,

as so am I –- as so

am I Jim Joyce’s --

and I’ll foockin’ be

Jim Joyce’s, faithfully,

until one or both

of us is dead

(and you know --

sure, I didn’t know there was

anut’er one ‘til

your man told me

a year ago).

Mine is the only local man’s local,

Unless you count her up the road.

Ho, with her plank and two barrels

and muther in back…Still, I shuppose

Kat’leen’s is not a bad place to go.

See, that’s the t’ing about Clough,

wherever ye are,

you’ll never go wantin’

for good conversation,

for there’s always

an abundance o’ that,

and there’s always a scandal

and the best piece o’ that?

It’s always concernin’

somebody ya know!

Aye, I knew Tommy.

(Considers this.)

And like no other,

he knew me.

Ah, sure, we were known

to lift a pint or two.

Well, more than two.

On the rarest of occasions, maybe t’ree.

Oh, God, he was a terrible man

for the girls, like meself --

but not half as

good-lookin’as me.

(To no one in particular.)

Will it ever shtop?

Ah, be t’ holy man,

Tommy was wild.

A man without foe,

a man without fear,

and though I still can’t conceive

of a life or a world

that doesn’t have

sweet Tommy in it,

sure I haven’t seen Tommy ‘Nail …

except maybe once.

I believe it’s been

only a year.

` We mined the ‘Comer

ore together, do ya see,

fought shoulder

to shoulder -- and,

at times, toe-to-toe --

but I’ll tell any man

that I loved that man,

and that he was the

best man that

I’ll ever know.

Sure, I … I mean to say

what I mean to say.

May God have his

way wit’ him

and the rest o’ all that,

it’s just that … (sighs)

oh, I don’t know.

Sometimes he’s just

right there, y’know?

And then other times --

and usually not long after --

he just really is not, y’know?

T’at’s only-only t’ing.

My t’houghts turn to him

now and again, I suppose.

Sometimes I just miss the

ould bastard, y’know?.


I’d call out when I’d find him

waitin’ for me with his tackle and pole.

I am the Naaaaail-O!!

Tha’ts what Tommy’d

always say, he’d say,

“Ah, sure, I knew ye

from before before!

O, GOD I know your

heart and soul…!”

Funny, I still always

see him like that.

Waitin’ for me at the

end of me road.

In fact, for years

I took comfort

in the misguided notion

of a day long after

the squawkin’ of women

and babbies be done,

whether we’d be

widower, pauper,

cuckhold or cripple

(or otherwise betrayed),

sure, I just always t’ought

Tommy’d be here

to finish our run. ;

Let ‘em all go away,

it made no matter,

for I was so sure

that no matter who left,

that it’d be Tommy that stayed.

I don’t know why

I’m tellin’ ya all this,

I don’ usually say what I feel.

But , ya see, it’s every day

that I’ve mourned,

and will mourn, sweet Tommy.

Sweet Thomas Brendan Patrick Joseph

Daniel John ... Fitzgerald Kennedy,

Peter Alloysius O’Neill.

JIMMY (continues)

Friendship is a funny t’ing.

It tests men in the strangest ways.

It can flourish in the dead of winter.

And wither deep in spring.

Golden boys on golden days

will swear to t’ings that crack and splinter,

solemn vows they knew they’d never

hold each other to forever.

Behind their backs, they cross their fingers,

cross their hearts, and hope to die

before too many promises

and golden days get by.

Right. So….Ya better sit down

for I’ve a poem to recite,

I’ve a prayer you can whisper

whenever ye kneel.

I’ve got a tale to tell,

and I’ll tell it tonight,

that even a shannachie

would conceal.

Now, some might tell ya,

at the very least,

It’s a fable

fishwives tell.

About a girl,

a lonely priest,

two broken vows

and a chapel bell.





Some say it’s Annie

what haunts him still,

them that are still

haunted by the t’ing,

and thus compelled to tell the tale;

some speak of them, when they feel brave,

who dare to speak of the two at’all.

The beery boys of Cloneen fill

their glasses with a bitter ale,

and will swear by every mother’s grave

that it was Father Tom they

saw and heard, all right.

We all heard him,

clear as a bell,

the night he come to call.

And Tommy whispers,


(We hear his voice outside.)

Waaaaaaaaake the waaaaaater…….!

Whistles low, the way he would

whenever Annie tried to hide

by climbing down

her mother’s well,

And Tommy whispers,


Raaaaaaaaaise the child!

And if I could

I’d tell you all

about the bride

what binds me to

that curs-ed bell!


(JIMMY slams his hand on the bar with a BANG.)

Well, now … THAT

was a bit disturbin’ !

To say the very least.

Well, I mean t’ say!

When you’re a matured

and finished sinner,

and you’re drinkin’

in a public house,

the only t’ing worse

than hearin’ the voice of a ghost,

is hearin’ the voice

of a ghost of a priest!

BUT most of us were

pretty sure that

this was Tommy, after all,

so none of us were really too

inclined to run away.

As a matter of fact,

didn’t Scanlan call back,

Right then, Tom!

Work away, boy!

Let’s hear what ya

have to SAY!”

And Tommy whispered,



my dear,

I miss

the moonlight.


my love,

it leaves

too soon.

O, dear

I differ


the mornin’,

It’s now

I miss

our merry


O, my love,

you rise



can’t ya see

it’s not



O, my

darlin’ ,

won’t you


Can’t you

take your

leave …


O, impatient




tell the



be gone,

O, hold

the hurried

sun from

risin’ !

(O, sweet


Tell the


And now,

my love,

a rising


it comes

upon us


too soon.

I wonder

if I am

mad, O


will you

leave me




the mornin’

meets the



Suddenly a silhouette

was standin’ at my door.

It started shamblin’

toward the hearth,

draggin’ its carcass

across the floor,

but when it stepped

into the glow,

(JIMMY shrugs)

ah, sure, it was Tommy,

don’t you know.

And no more

was Tommy


no more.

And I swear by all

the holy men,

if you looked deep into

his eyes, sure, it could

give ya quite a scare.

For among the shadows

I t’ought I saw

young Annie

hiding there.

Now, we’re all from

Kilkenny, here,

we’re bold and

rugged men,

but let it be told

that our blood ran cold

when Tommy started

to shpeak again:




Cold, and all

the colors of cold,

mineral, shell

and burning blue,

the SKY

s in

a fire-blue,

AND the wind

keeps ringin’

and ringin’

and ringin’,

O! the wind keeps

ringin’ the

fire bell!

I am



a chill

as high,

as absolute,

as stellar sky!

As a winter hawk

with a starling’s eye

over airless moon and

powdered peak,

where icicles-snap and

glaciers creeeeak ….!

Oh, God I said cold.

Abstraction of cold!





its dazzling art

derides me!

How can warmth

dare to exist?




I hide

behind icicles,


huddle, hoard,

hold out,

hold on.

Hold on,

hold on,

hold on!



(The BOYS are all staring, slack-jawed, drunk. TOMMY lifts his from his hands, and smiles.)



Ah, snap out of it lads!

Bejesasus, don’cha know me?

God, aye, I am the one, dearly departed

Father Thomas Brendan Patrick Joseph

Daniel ….John … Fitzgerald Kennedy…

Peter Alloysius O’Neill, by God.

Tommy O’Neill to most,

Father O’Neill to many,

Tommy ‘Nail to the rest,

and, well, as far as I’m concerned

I am The Nail-O…

[TOMMY does a brief soft shoe finish. Raising

one eyebrow, he adds:]

by the by.

And that

goes for me,

and so am I.

[Another soft shoe. Baddadda boom-ta-boom-ta-boom. Then shifts his voice to another, higher pitch.)

O, I started to shpeak

and I didn’t know

what to speak about

and yet I started to speak

so I’m speakin’ about

startin’ to speak

and I don’t know

if I’ve found

my way

in, or out!

(a little soft shoe)

O, God, make it shtop.

(TOMMY starts to get comfortable, and looks like a man

with a great deal to say.)

I am an

only child,

do ya see.

And so

it follows

that I am

a rather

lonely twin.

For I am

the self-same


what follows

wherever I go.

I am the gnome,

the dwarf

who perches

near my ear,

the one who


willy you will!

nilly you won’t!

some boys do

and some boys don’t!’

I am a cat.

(I’m probably Siamese.)

I am both sides

of every issue,

an open door

that’s double-locked,

I am the lover

who’s found another,

at least two times,

twice cursed,


I am the

second chance

for two hearts

to turn quickly chilly,

or razzle-dazzle,


(I spend my time

with whom I please).

I deeply


my recent


I am



with grief.

I am legion.

We are massing.

(I am the whisper

in the leaf).

I am the little sister

the older brother

who steps aside

for somebody’s mother,

so she can whisper,

‘Willy! Nilly!

SHTOP wit’ t’at!

Now, both o’ you

are actin’ silly!’

(TOMMY whispers)

(Some say only

one eye sees.)

I am two pieces

of a mirror,

the thumb that always

flips the coin,

I am the promise,

the one that’s broken,

the one that I will always keep

for nights when

Willy breaks a heart

and Nilly holds

the other part

(up to what

the mirror sees.)

I am the orphan

what nursed his mother;

I am the knife

what cut that cord.

I am the teacher,

the ardent lover,

I am the stone.

I am the sword.

I am the answer

to my own puzzle,

I am the fortune

ya can’t afford.

I am the preacher,

also the muzzle,

I am the deevil! .

I am the LORD…!

I am the judge

who’d love to hang her,

I am the secret

you’ll never tell,

I am a doouble


(I am the rope!

I am the bell! )

I know the road

to your salvation,

for I have gone

the way of sin,

I am a man

without a nation,

I am the giggle!

I am the grin!


I am the

final supper,

the perfect host,

the father,

the son,

the holy ghost;

I am the blood.

I am the body.

I am the seeker,

and the grail.

I have been good,

and I’ve been naughty!

I am the cross.

I am the nail.

I am the cross,

I am the nail,

I am the cross

I am the nail,

(cue fiddle)

I am the’ nail

I am the NAIL…

I AM THE NAaaaaaaaaL-O!






(SCENE: The bottom of a well.)


[ANNE stands in darkness, partially lit with a blue pencil spot. Slowly, she

opens her eyes and begins to speak.]

What I do remember

I don’t care to.

So I don’t care

to remember

the rest.

My name is Anne,

I know that much.

Age of twenty-two,

I t’ink – or is it


And the only

other t’ing

I know for sure

is I’m not exactly

At me best.

They say I only

comes up to here,

but I comes oop,

if you know what I mean,

and swingin’, if that’s what’s

called for, see?

and swingin’ a dead cat,

if that’s what

needs might be.

I can still out-hurl

any Kilkenny Kat,

or any Langton from

Cloneen at that,

so put that in your pipe

and smoke it, boys,

and what do ye

t’ink of me hat?

I never really count

the days,

these days,

as much as watch them,


For lately I’ve been

terrible weary,

and my sight’s not

what it was.

My bed is too far

from my window --

I can hardly

feel the breeze.

I hate my pillow

where it is,

and do my best

to gather leaves.

Though I confuse

my summers, autumns,

though I no longer

smell the sea,

I can tell when

winter’s done --

Spring is never

lost on me.

I never really

know who’s there,

So I play dead,

old dutiful me!

For my poor babies

need to weep,

my darlins’ need

their tears and rest.

O, how I wish

they wouldn’t worry,

O how to tell them

not to mourn,

O, how I wish I knew

which tears were

so forlorn?

Who still suckles

at my breast!?

Come gather ‘round me,

children, maidens,

O, I’ll be along,

he’ll see.

Restless maidens!

Have some fun!

Spring is never

lost on me.

I’m never quite sure of the morning,

O, but I know when it is night.

It’s only when you’re very still

that stars come pay you company

(that’s what me mother said).

I must admit, I am relieved

to see a tad more moonlight

on my pilla’,

for every one of

my old suitors

stands at the foot

of my new bed.

You see? The moon

has not forgotten!

Nor has my girlish memory!

My lovers line up

one by one!

Spring is never

lost on me.

(Anne pauses to frown.)

Was it me feet

or me memory

that slipped?

Me hand

or me heart

that made a fist

and gripped?

I don’t know,

I can’t remember

the least, and most

of what there was --

I’ve even forgotten what a

memory’s for -- (haven’t

I said this already?),

O, but I’ll never forget

what a memory does.

(cue music)

You see, it never serves me very well

when memory serves up a stew

that’s not the story time will tell,

but just the dim and hazy view.

When memory serves up a stew,

it’s not the faces I recall,

but just the dim and hazy view

from heaven’s gate and garden wall.

It’s not the faces I recall

o’ love, the lingering of hearts that fell

from heaven’s gate and garden wall.

When I must think, I cannot tell

o’ love. The lingering of hearts that fell,

fall into dreams, go skipping past.

When I must think, I cannot tell

which heart came first, what love left last.

Fall into dreams! Go skipping! Past

loves curse my heart today.

Which heart came first? What love left last?

I forget who went away.

Love’s curse! My heart today,

my eyes tomorrow, will never really see.

I forget who went away,

and who teases my poor memory.

My eyes tomorrow will never really see

that’s not the story. Time will tell.

And…who teases my poor memory?!

You see? It never serves me very well.

(Anne falls to quiet, lifting her face to a whiter light. After a pause, she speaks.)

[cue MUSIC}

Tom, the time has come

to tell you, dear,

of all the dragons I

once swore that I’d hold

from you, for you, buried in my

heart and locked within

my frightened keep.

Even in this shallow water,

the serpents I once

said I feared,

the ogre that would

turn me old,

the death I thought

so full of monsters? I

find is merely death,

is only dragon sleep.

I know you tiptoed

through the cave,

that you were scorched

as you crept through --

though you were brave,

so shockin’ brave!

no shield could ever

hope to save

us from the flames,

save you

from waking me,

or me from

waking you.

And though I fell

to forever here,

forever down

this well,

for you,

my love,

my heart

falls still.

Sure, it was

for you I fell.

And though

my heart

was once a shrew,

a cold and

jealous liar,

now my heart

is lying still --

lies smoldering

in dragon fire.

And in this cavern

where I burn,

and breathe this

dragon’s breath?

As in life

I died for you,


I’ll live for you

in death.





None of us was too surprised, you know,

when Tommy chose to wear the collar.

He’s his mad granny’s, after all,

didn’t we used-to-used-to say.

And when he come home from London,

with the beard and that haircoot,

wasn’t I always after sayin’, ‘Have ya

seen Tommy ‘Nail? Is he not lookin’

more and more like Our Lord every day?!’

Oh, I suppose Tom could be a pious man --

and usually with pious men

that’s all ya need to know, you know?

Ya na’ have to say no more….

But Tommy ‘Nail was an odd sort of feller.

The man had God in ‘im,

there was never any doubt o’ that,

but still -- and this, by his own account, mind --

Tommy ‘Nail could be the

shon of the deevil himself, begore.

Aye, Father Tom was always more

a holy man than parish priest,

she-man,’ or ‘sheayman, ’

or whatever it was he used to call it --

and, mind, what a man does in private,

on his own time, sure,

da-da-dat’s his own affair….

But when Tommy got his

mo-jo-mimbo-what-ever-ya-call-it, goin’, boy,

the world became a more vivid place

when it was Father Tom describin’ it.

He had a gift for takin’ you on a journey,

and for makin’ you believe

you were there.

All right, so it was a bit of a shock

to see him in the collar, mind,

but never really a surprise --

but then nut’in’ ever is in Clough

(and if you don’t believe me,

just look in our eyes);

see, we may all be crazy,

but there’s none of us that’s fools,

and that’s another t’ing about this place,

we all know what to expect, do you see,

because everyone here

is aware of the rules.

When poor Dim Mary was raped in a barn

and later found herself with child,

wasn’t it your man Tom who slapped that girl

the length of the cross o’ Clough, bejaysus,

damning her there before us all --

and for what? Just for bein’

simple and wild.

It was not that he’d turned cruel,

or was somehow unaffected --

(sure, afterwards, Himself was harder on

himself than he ever was on her) –

it’s just that, well…

he was the priest,

don’t you know.

Those were the rules.

It was what the rest

of us expected.


[After a pause.]

(JIMMY providing both voices)



How’s de missus

goin’ on?” says he,

Well, she won’t

kick the boocket

on the fly,” says me,

And what a marvelous

relief all o’ that must be --

for you,” says he,

Sez you,” says me,

Aye, say I, why,

what say you?”


I suppose

if it’s all

left up to me,

I suppose that

I say, aye (said me).”


So I gather you’ve had a rough patch

of fine weather,” he offered.

Aye, says I. (Pause) Digger Dan says

no one’ll die in THIS weat’er.

(JIMMY shakes his head sadly)

Poor bastard,” says I.

Aye, it is sad,” says Tom.

I mean to say…who

woulda t’hought

grave diggin’d be

a seasonal occupation.”

(Both men shake their heads in dismay).

Poor bastard, “ says I. “Well, we must

pray for a fierce winter,

so that Dan may be warm.”

Ah, Jimmy, yer a generous man,” says Tom.

with a heart like a Beef Wellington.”

Oh, shut up…” says I.

Oh, God, I won’t,” says he.



So…Jimmy… will ya be needin’ any help… with … the t’ing?”


No, no, t’anks, Tom. First I have to find where I put the t’ing for …uh…y’ know…the other t’ing.


Aye, well, THAT’S a relief… For I had no intention of helpin’ ya at’all … “


And you’ll excuse me if I don’t faint dead away from the surprise.”

[Both men laugh warmly, then fall to quiet.]

So. Tom. How ye goin’ on, at’all,” says I, finally;

it was an innocent enough question –

and one that I lived long enough to regret.

Now theeeeeeere’s an interesting

turn of a phrase,”

said Tom, brightening up, with his

sideways grin and

an eyebrow raised …


“…How am I ‘goin’ on,’ is it?

Well, since you asked me

straight away like that,

I would have to reply.

if a man needed to know…

I suppose he could say…

that at the end of the day…

[TOMMY shrugs]

I remain.”

And are you no longer

a drinkin’ man?” says I,

for, after all,

a man has to make a livin’ --

and, besides, I

was not too comfortable with

any possible discussion

pertaining to human remaaains.

(Jimmy whispers, cupping his mouth)

Especially since, all the while,

I had been discreetly

wipin’ from the bar

wee bits of Tom’s own stray decay…

(Nods solemnly)

A tender gesture, I t’ought,

Almost… loving, in its own way.

No longer a drinkin’ man?”

Tom repeated, startled.

You know, much here has changed, Jim

-- but, sure, let’s not get hysterical.

Surely, you must be overwrought.

Besides, as you know,

I only drink but

twice a day:

(Both TOMMY and JIMMY chime in together)

When I am t’irsty

and when I am not!“

At this, I slammed

me hand upon the bar

with fierce resolve,

you know, the way I do,

sometimes, to wake it oop,

or whenever a new

man comes in --

or whenever the hell

I feel like it, you know.

Because it’s my bar.

Do ya see.

As I always like to say,

It’s your fault, but it’s my bar.

So, you’ll have a Harp

lager, then,” says I --

--I’ll have two Harps, please,” says he,

polite as you like.

“I’ll have two harps

and a violin.”


There was a pause.

Some of the lads

were lookin’


except for Tommy

and me, do y’ see,

who knew

precisely what

was comin’


So?” says he,

I shook my head.

No,” says I,

and not for a long, long time. “

Ah, well -- more’s the pity,

and twice the relief,” says he.

After all, she’d probably be

a little long in the tooth, by now,

if you know what I mean…”

Tom laughed -- it stuck in his t’roat.

“…why, she’d be as long

in the tooth as me!”

Well, now. This might sound

a little odd to you,

but the more Tommy kept laughin’ away,

the more I took exception to this.

After all, I had overlooked

the wee bits of affluvium on me bar.

For, by all appearances, set against the bleak

moral landscape of County Kilkenny --

well-meanin’ though we may be --

I could not help but notice

a measure of disrespect for

Anne in what Tom said.

Cause all t’ings bein’ equal --

which they’re not --

I couldn’t help but feel that --

well….That not even the dead

should speak ill of the dead.

Especially when they’re dead!

You know, Tom,” says I,

That’s Anne you’re talkin’ about.

Now, you’re in my bar --

and that’s your fault --

and you may be a priest,

and you may be a dead man,

but you’re still a

fookin’ odd man to me.”

As we looked ‘round the bar

at all the noddin’ heads,

I could see this was

a sentiment

upon which

all of us,

(Himself included),

could happily agree.

(Tom clears his throat and lifts his glass)


Bear with me,



Tom said,


for I’ve not come

to keep me head.

Indulge me, give me

time to t’ink,

for this is not

just any drink.

I am hoisting

Joyce’s gorgeous beer

to speak a name

for all to hear.

Jim, wake up that

Snoring, drunken lout,

if he won’t drink,

then t’row him out!

Drink afterwards

to whom ye choose,

but, lads, tonight

I bring some news.

It’s time perhaps,

to shed a tear

(Professor, please --

another beer).

Here’s the third

of many, boys,

refrain that song!

delay that noise!

Sure, I mean to be

a horse’s ass.

and I demand that

each man

raise his glass.

(TOM clears his throat and taps on his glass)

The time

has come

to pause, to sigh,

to raise a glass

to t’ings gone by.

I drink to death,

I drink to life,

to me sacred vow,

and me secret wife.

Aye, here’s to me

and Annie’s vow.

To perfect t’ings.

Reminders how.

To Annie, who

once said to me,

you have to hold

love carefully.

Here’s to ya, Annie.

You were right.

And here’s to the both

of us, then, m’ dear,

both dead

a year






All of a sudden, Tommy

jumped from his chair,

Trumlin! T’row me

your fiddle! he cried,

and didn’t he start playin'

like mad on that yoke . . .

But, sure, he must have

t’rown him an invisible fiddle,

because …well… I mean to say!

Sure, you could hear

the music fine as you like,

but the fiddle itself…

I swear by the sweet

blessed mother o’ Jaysus …

[JIM looks in both directions,

and lowers his voice]

. . . it just wasn’t fookin’ there!

And Tommy cried,



The fiddle’s gone

stark- ravin’ MAD!

So quickly, boyo,

grab a girl

who knows the secret

and the dance

and doesn’t mind

a naught whirl!

Come dance a secret melody

that only Trumlin’s fiddle knows,

the words are riddles,

ladies, bring your fiddles!

Fling a ROSE...!


Tommy took his merry bow

and beat his fiddle

like a child.

The singers cheered

when Tommy hit

a note that drove

the fookin’ dancers wild;

there's was somethin'

in the melody

that made you want

to dance along,

that made you sing,

and shout out loud,

that there's just somethin'

about the song!

As good as you could ever feel,

felt better when Tom played that Reel.

O’course, only Tommy knew

the way to really dance

this tune, this wicked waltz,

this invitation to romance ;

Pick up your feet! he cried,

Lift up your heart!

Forget the words!

Make up your own!

Let no one be afraid to shout!

just sing it out! let it be known

that girls confess, and skirts reveal

their hidden selves to Tommy’s Reel!

When the rest of us were

out of breath,

that’s when Tommy

really started,

Tommy fiddled,

shadows danced

a tune to distract

the brokenhearted;

A terrifying frenzy

did away with all our fears,

standing there,

and quite alone,

Tommy played

a fine duet.

Ah, the harmony,

the sweetness of it,

brought rugged men

to tears.

Not one among us

could conceal

our hidden hearts

from Tommy’s Reel.

(T0MMY stops, and shrugs .)


You know… sometimes I amaaaaaaaze meself,

which always leaves me

somewhat daaaaaaaazed.

For I’m not really meself

When I amaaaaaaze meself,

so I wonder:

Who is amaaaaaaaazed?



Tom suddenly cried,

as he lept to his feet,

and ran outside,

lifted his arms

and opened them wide!


TOMMY (dancing):

O, I’M a typical vic’

of a Kilkenny man,

I haven’t a clue,

but I have a PLAN!

Nice ta meetcha! Gotta go!

For I’m the ‘NAILO don’t you know!



IN every cell,

and bone

and follicle,

I am Tommy,

the diabolical



O, I dance, I weave,

I frolic, I wiggle,

just about anyt’ing

makes me giggle,

your misfortune

makes me cry,

let’s face it,

I’m a hecka of a GUUUYYYY….!!

because I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I


And that goes for me!!

And so am I!!!”

(Tommy bows twice.)







Tommy ‘Naaaaaaaaaaaaaaaail!!

(No answer. Anne sighs, collects herself,

and begins, slowly.)

All my love lies waiting here

among the ruins, in my sleep.

My lonely mornings call you near,

the nighttime brings my heart to deep.

Among the ruins, in my sleep,

I swim the caves, I swim them blind,

the nighttime brings my heart to deep

and darkened dawns these mornings find.

I swim the caves, I swim them blind

through the restless evenings, empty halls

and darkened dawns. These mornings find

me quiet – just until the evening falls.

Through restless evenings, empty halls

No words can ever hope to keep

me quiet, until the evening falls.

And I start talking in my sleep.

No words can ever hope to keep

a melody without the song,

and I start talking in my sleep

when love has made me wait too long.

A melody without the song

my aching heart tries to explain.

When love has made me wait too long,

my nightmares mumble. Dreams complain.

My aching heart tries to explain.

My lonely mornings call you near.

My nightmares mumble. Dreams complain.

All my love lies waiting here.

(ANNE begins slowly to dance)

Those times I feel that life’s a dance,

a frenzied, short and bright display,

a sort of fear woos that romance.

So sudden bright, so soon away.

A frenzied, short and bright display,

with sadness, in its grand disguise,

so sudden bright! So soon away!

All there before my frightened eyes.

With sadness, in its grand disguise,

misguided by a twisted path,

all there before my frightened eyes,

I danced into the aftermath --

misguided by a twisted path,

those times I thought my life a crime.

I danced into the aftermath,

still fearing the effects of time.

Those times I thought my life a crime,

I then hoped for a sudden light.

Still fearing the effects of time

I now find comfort in the night.

I then hoped for a sudden light,

and now it’s getting … dark inside my mind.

I now find comfort in the night.

I now find comfort with the blind.

And now it’s getting dark. Inside my mind,

a kind of fear woos that romance.

I now find comfort with the blind

those times I feel that life’s a dance.

(ANNE stops dancing)

Forgive me, Tom. I know that I

should never, ever speak of this –

but , lately, my mind wanders!

And though I know we both agreed

to let the issue die

its death , and all of my mis-

givings laid to rest and done,

there still are times

I just don’t know.

I’m left with none.

I fear we made a grave mistake.

I find I mourn what was not wanted,

and though I’d never question you,

along our road, this missing link

is like … a pebble in my shoe.

Forgive me, dear, but I am haunted,

sometimes I think that we were blind,

I’m sorry, I can’t help but think.

He’s there so clearly in my mind.

O, Tom!

I know, as I know I love you,

his hair was red.

(begins to weep)

And the eyes

were shockin’ blue.





Now, I know that I’ve not told you

all the details, not just yet.

Later you will better see

That it is sometimes better, often best,

to start with fragments of a song

when you’re workin’ with

this kind of complicated melody.


If you require barren facts,

the bare bones, if you will,

then I will do my very best

to tell you in the very way

that Father Tom

confided it to me.


If ya must know….

It was after mass,

on a Sunday

in December,

that Anne first

knelt before me

and let spill her raven hair --

confessed to me

that she’d surrender,

and not just to the

will of God, ya know,

but to me every secret,

lonely prayer.

Didn’t she giggle

as she took me in,

and swear to me

she’d never tell?

Didn’t she laugh?

And say,

O, Father!

if this were sin,

sure, I’d

hang meself

from your

fookin’ bell….!’

And, then, when I put

on me other suit?

Bejaysus, if she didn’t

become … less enthusiastic.

Ah, but when I put on

that collar, boy,

that’s when she’d confess

to all she knew!

We had no secrets, after all,

when all was bedded

down and done --

except, perhaps,

the kind of secrets

kissin’ cousins’

kisses keep

(all flesh and blood

and naughty fruit!)

(Tommy shrugs.)

Jimmy, her eyes were

so shockin’ blue and deep

O God I t’ought I’d never

stop my fall.

Or ever, ever

fall to sleep.

(Cue music)

Her gait was such the angels dreamed

of someday dancing to her tune.

Her voice, so sweet, the t’rushes beamed.

Behold her eyes! Never mind the moon.

Of someday dancing to her tune

sweet children jumped and sang in praise,

behold her eyes! never mind the moon!

the girls went green, boys counted days.

Sweet children jumped and sang in praise

of skin as soft as lilac-down,

the girls went green, boys counted days,

trees turned new leaves, old women frowned.

Of skin as soft as lilac-down

young minstrels sing, the voices build,

trees turn new leaves, old women frown

at all the hearts my true love filled.

Young minstrels sing, the voices build,

in halting tones, they’d sing in awe

at all the hearts my true love filled,

She must be false. Defies some law.

In halting tones, they’d sing in awe,

the babies cooed and fairies preened,

she must be false! defies some law!

Her cheeks flushed red, their eyes burned green.

Of someday dancing to her tune

the babies cooed and fairies preened.

Behold her eyes! Never mind the moon!

Her gait was such the angels dreamed.

We’d walk along the

bo’reens of Cloneen,

and fill our heads

with giddy wishes.

I’d close my eyes

and hold my breath

and whisper,

please say no;

She’d pick out

two perfect daffodils

and t’row them to

the yellow fishes;

she’d say that she was

scared to death,

and whisper,

never go.

Water did

what water does

when lovers stop

to rest or drink.

The calm it gave

we tucked away

to save for mornings

we might think

our love was not

as once it was.

Deadly t’ings

were in that day --

I t’ink some things that die,

die because they should,

especially when

you know

to let ‘em live

would only mean

they’d never

come to any good.

This love I borrowed,

was stolen from me,

and now it will not lend!

Not even a hand

a fookin’ hand --

except, perhaps, to tease

the pale and skinny moon

that we already teased to death

on nights like this,

when nights begin,

begin, but never end.

O, curse this love!

It does not please.

Ignore this heart!

Here, catch my breath.

Forget these words!

What’s done is done.

An absent hand

cannot be won.

The rings of Saturn,

when laid bare,

would never fit

just any finger --

so goes the moon

no longer there.

It’s only dust,

like us.

Dust and light

that tries

to linger.

So what’s left here

that I can pawn?!

I ask ya, where’s

love’s gain?

You see? The merry

moon is gone.


So many

nights remain….


At this, the lads of

Clough fell still

and watched the fire

change his face.

Tommy’s spectre

started to fill

their hearts with Annie’s

ghostly grace.

So they just sat

and watched

the embers die,

and listened

to his song,

until, softly,

like a lullabye,

the lads began

to sing along:

[The following is chanted, in near-whispers, by all (except for TOMM, who speaks in full voice) in round after round of call-and-response. Here, each of the BOYS pulls out a snapshot of his own sweetheart, and, for the most part, are lost in their own reveries, looking from their photos to a fixed point in the sky.]


She walked

across crisp

chill of mornin’,

skies gave way

to passing whims,

Sighs gave way,

without a warnin’

with kisses floatin’

on the wind,

softly on the wind.


[dancing a grotesque jig]

My heart is like

an ugly duckling,

swaddled in

a bloody sheet,

a baby rat,

a drowning pup,

what gurgles in

its tiny rage!

My heart is like

an evil suckling,

teethin’ on a

withered teat,

rattlin’ its

dribble cup

across its hollow,

heavin’ cage . . .



took my hand

and kissed me, yawning,

bid me lightly

to arise,

walked me out

into the dawning

looking to my eyes,

my eyes,

for somethin’ in my eyes.


My heart

is like

a restless sailor

who longs to go back

to the sea,

my heart

is like

a foolish jailor

who’s locked himself

with his own key,

don’t ask me

if I loved her;

would ya charge me

my own fee?!

And don’t ask

for whom the

fookin’ bell tolls,

cause this one

tolls for ME, boys…!


She stole away

the stolen kisses,

caught a wind

that smelled of rain,

whirled away

a world of wishes,

‘til only the winter

wind remained,

only the wind remained,

whirled away

a world of wishes,

‘til only the

wind remained.


A hundred

of her faces

dance and flicker

in me eyes.

She still puts me

t’rough the paces,


my disguise.

I listen for

her heartbeat,

but all I hear

are broken chimes,

and even when

our world was sweet,

my love died

a t’ousand times…


She said that it

was merely

justice, derring-

do or die..,


I said I saw

that clearly --

in the corner

of her eye,


Didn’t Anne look

sweet and pretty

as she confessed

to all your crimes?



but when ya

sent her to the city,

my love died

a t’ousand times.


It was like

a clumsy minuet,

or waltzing on



It was like I took

a soocker’s bet

when we would



She’d do a

lazy pirouette

whenever a moon

began to climb,


and now I’m dancin’,

to forget, O,

my love dies

a t’ousand times!


IN the ticking

of the tower,

in the echo

of the well


…Sure, I wake up

on the hour,

at the tolling

of the bell!


Stolen kisses


open secrets,

empty rhymes,

when love

is too demanding,

love dies

a thousand times,

love dies

a thousand times,

love dies

a thousand times….






Now, I’d been watching

him sitting there,

tracin’ the whirl

of his world in the air,

his fingers moving

slowly about his head.

as if to sum it up --

but, clearly, it was

deep confusion

holdin’ sway.

He counted off

his faith, his flock,

his folly and his Rot,

the child that grew

where it should not

(and then, o’ course,

there was that

small matter of

his bein’ fookin’ dead…!)

He weaved his hands,

to give it order.

And then,

just as easily,

he cast it all away.

Y’see, he’d tutored the girl,

behind closed doors,

spinning her marvels

with pencils and books;

he taught her all

the secrets of

how kingdoms rise

and angels soar;

sure, they’d jump and duck

and lunge and fly

like a ballerina

and a matador.

He took all their

prayers and promises

and poured them all

into a bottle;

all she was had been decanted,

flung to sea and washed ashore.

He sent her off

in such a way

he could be truly sure

he would never, ever

see her again.

Or torment her

any more.

(TOMMY enters and takes up the tale)


You know… everyt’ing thing I say these days

comes out soundin’ like a sermon.

Though, if ya think that this is a sermon,

well then ya better get out of the way.

I suppose the t’ings we stand for now

are harder to determine,

but what’s very clear to me, is this --

this, that I have to say:

The heart, the blood, the meat

of this uncertain call-to-arms

has often brought me to attention,

so that I may bring attention

to the almost always fatal charms

of likewise God-forsaken singers

who sing out the very same alarms

as when I sang for my supper

bell -- cursing, even

as I pulled the rope,

my useless, feeble

(empty) arms,

that night I sang out all my

tangled rhymes of reason,

until both me t’roat

and heart were raw,

in defense of a love that

never could abide

by any season --

not to mention

rhyme or reason.

(You know the

Kind of love I mean.

The love that knows no law.)

Beware the man

who tries to justify

the ragin’ of his storm

by shouting vainly

in its wind,

about a dream

he swears he once

fought valiantly to keep alive,

but, truth to tell,

barely kept it warm.

The words we use

to speak of t’ings like this

seem paltry to me, now --

paltry, and abrupt.

Sometimes words

are every bit as hollow

as intentions, you know?


Unless you use

the time to shape them,

strip them

of false glamour;

and then use them to soothe

(or, better still, disrupt!)

Too often I’d indulge meself

in all that bright and vulgar clamor,

in all those gaudy terms

that priests and poets use,

which only serve to interrupt

the stillness … of the private wild,

where words are whispers,

coo’s and kisses –

private t’ings,

that bring us closer

to private worlds

(that words corrupt).

I can’t stay still!!

I can’t ignore the fear
I fear when evenin’ crows

and I know Anne is out there

playin’ with that

part of twilight

every damned and

dead man knows

will only reap

more troubled sleep,

as we seek out

our reason’s rose,

and hold very tight

to sleepless nights

and to a moon

that only beckons those

who listen to

the songs of men

who tried to dream

before they dozed.

(TOMMY leaps up onto the bar and

addresses the BOYS directly.)

I’ve come back, do ya see,

to collect in full

all of the tithings I am due!

The worm has turned,

or hadn’t you noticed?

It’s time for me

to confess to you!

Didn't I stand fast when

all of ye come back to me, with all the

sordid ruttings of your conscience?

When all you really wanted was

a place to go to bat your eyes

and moan, and keen, and whine?

Well, it’s my turn now.

and I’ve got the fiddle,

so what are ye going to do?

Aye, it’s my turn now,

so answer me a riddle:

Where the foock were you?!

Where the foock were all o’ you

when Anne went to the well

to make her final foockin’ wish?!

And where were all the rest of ya,

when I come to you with mine?

And answer me another:

How could you turn

your backs on her?

Given her your scorn,

when she didn’t even ask for pity?

And then, after you sent her well away,

and she come back to you, defeated,

broken and defeated

by the filth of Dublin City,

how could you turn your backs again?

Sure…was she not one of your own?

And who was it said that they did it for me?

For MY name’s sake?! For foockin’ foock’s sake…!!

RIGHT, now, listen to me

very closely, you -- all o’ya:

My name is Father Thomas Brendan

Daniel Joseph John Fitzgerald

Alloysius O’Neill,

my granny was a shanachie,

so don’t you ever, ever, EVER

try to fookin’ bullshit ME, boy …!

I’ll rip out your organs

and build ya a monster,

I’ll build him a fookin wife;

And I will see that she enjoys

the worst day of your fookin’ liiiiiiife….!

I once was blind, but now I see

the dark and deep in treachery!

I know exactly who to see

about what does not comfort me.

For just as I am under no illusions

as to what drove me to MY bell,

likewise, I know all about

the narrow minds and waggin’ tongues

that brought my Anne the evenin’ news,

that made my Annie decide to choose

to take the quickest route to hell!

Sure, I didn’t even realize,

until after my last breath,

twas not for guilt we

lost our innocence --

twas never guilt,

but shame. Shame!

Your own useless, useless,

virulant shame,

t’was your own shame

and not our guilt

that sentenced both

of us to death.


O, there are times I want to whisper

not to mention fookin’ scream,

there are times I’d like to go

right for the t’roat of all the times

that all I ever thought ye did for me

was foockin’ waste my time!

Judas wept at tricky kisses,

Brutus must have weighed the knife,

or sunk his teeth into his hand.

How dare ya seek redemption

when you lie in your confession,

with your often all-consuming

foockin’ litany of heartaches

that can only serve to conjure up

a Bible-full of blame?

How dare ya draw on anecdotes

of fathers’sistersmotherslov--,

Christ, the way

ya slaughtered

all her midnights,

how dare you even

speak her name!?

Anne once tried to tell me

that we’re all just walkin’ fences,

that what you really have to do

is either burn the wings or fly,

she grabbed me and she whispered,

While you’re waitin’ for an angel,

don’t forget you’re not the only one

who’s trying not to cry,’

I lost her when she grabbed me

much too tight for me to listen,

and choked me ‘til I looked into

the corner of her eye,

Don’t forget to wake the children!’

was what she spat into my bottle,

Don’t forget to startle all the little

bastards where they lie!

Tom, ye know that there’s no angel,

Christ, you know there’s no redemption,

shite, you have to know by now that

there are only fishwives here --

gossips who will only come

to mock us in the morning,

who will mock us in

the cold and burning

midnight of the evening of

the dawning of the day

that they will sit

and watch us die…!’





Tom put down his glass,

and rose for the door,

his tears all shed,

his hands all wrung;

stepped away from the bar,

and fell to his knees,

and sighed,

and moaned,

and keened,

and sung,


Hand me

no bedding!

This is blood

I am shedding!

I still have

my youth!

I still have a


And we shall

still dance

on the day

of her wedding!

Straight from

the innocence,

into the



Then the light around us

turned dark red --

like we’d gone

to night from day.

Then, slowly, Tommy

raised his head.

For Tom had

This to say:


There’ll not be

another merry moon!

he said.

I’ve no more

interest in

the sullen dawn!

A great love

may come

your way soon!

And then

it will

be gone!










aches ,







JIMMY: (faster)

Tommy kicked aside his chair

and then he tore away his collar.

He looked slowly, deeply, into me,

Then glanced up at my clock.

And then he ran outside again

and, O, he then commenced to holler,

howling in the very wind

that come to sweep away his frock.








ROT THAN AGE?!! Do you ya think there’s

even one dead man

who does not long to take

his fookin’ gray and mottled heart

and place it in an old tin cup

so he may drag IT ALL across

the ribs of his hollow,

HEAVIN’ cage?!

DID ye think that just

because we’re dead


can merely

turn the PAGE?????






Tommy whirled himself into a circle,

started spinning full around,

drove his staff into the earth

and there it shook and cracked the ground…

but at the very same instant,

he was frozen there in space!

Like a…like a…still photo in a motion blur…

but still dancin’ there in place!

And then all of a sudden

the rest of us noticed,

it wasn’t the fire

that was changin’

his face . . .

no, sure the

fire itself…

had taken its place!

We all held still,

looked into

the blaze,

as frightened men will

when they think

that they’re seein’

the last of all of the

rest of their days.

Then all of a sudden,

he fell to calm again,

sure, just as sudden

as the storm began.

His tiny frame

so small and weary,

his eyes so loving, sad,

and water blue,

he looked just for a moment,

sure, the very same

as when we both were young

when both of us were very young:

Just a normal, breathin,’

livin’ heathen,

and sinnin’

son of man.





(TOMMY enters, and turns to the audience)

You knowwww… I’ve often wondered,

was it God or Man who took

these everyday temptations

and then turned ‘em into mortal sins?

Sure, it must have

been the work of God --

for he’s always so,

you know… original.

Though I suspect that

even He came close

with this one,

you know,

t’ doin’ Himself in.

Was I the humble parish priest

or did I play the royal fool

when all my dizzy, derring-do

would turn me from the very t’ings

that turn my heart from turning cruel?

When demons in me begin to rise,

my fickle tyrants tickle true!

So when a love begins to sing?

I only listen in disguise.

Now, I know that there’s part of me

that’s certain of some perfect scheme

that lives within love’s own design

and deep within its mystery.

But I am also certain of

a horror living in the dream,

and it was there I chose

to draw a line.

And it was there I spent

my days in folly

and nights in melancholy,

until all that was left

was only my desire –

my desire to only

murder love.

Just how long does

folly keep a man

from turning from

the errant schemes

that make an honest man

deny the truth in

every perfect plan?

How long can folly

hold a man a hostage

to his folly, and to

all the t’ings he

might have tried

that took the fall,

after the pride,

and all the t’ings

he locks inside

that folly made

him hide?

How long must he bear witness

to the burden of this folly?

How much longer

must it be a burden

he must bear alone?

How much longer

must we wander

in the fields

of waste and squander?

In the shadows

and the corridors

of penitence

and squalor?

Just how long

does folly feast?

Upon an

errant priest?!

Christ, how long

is any man

expected to atone????

(TOMMY turns to the BOYS)

Ah, Drink up, lads!

And drink to forget --

for princesses and

pirate ships

and mermaids

are no more!

All your childhood

dreams are shattered,

from guardian angels,

to God Almighty,

to Peter fookin’ Pan.

Sure, even Captain Hook

could not escape

the tickin’ of the clock.

Perhaps you will recall

that inconvenient

second hand.

Aye, when your man Pan

was showin’ off up there,

perched upon his

fancy English window sills,

to urge his little, noisy flock

of limey fops to fly,

didn’t Wendy, John

and Michael leap

as if they’d never,

never land?

(cue music)

The churchyard’s

filled with Peter Pans,

and double-stacked

with lonely priests,

long-lost boys

who lost their swagger,

and never will grow old,

their shadows are

in need of mendin’,

the never say

their prayers at night,

they’ve dropped their shields

and sheathed their daggers,

and do what they are told.

The fields are dark

with broken hearts,

in hide-aways and

wishin’ wells,

that disappear

through secret doorways

to somewhere dark and cold.

The skies are filled

with Wendy-birds,

with bedtime tales and

snakes and snails,

and lots of lullabyes to sing.

Ah, but, mark my words,

These broken birds

will fall to earth

on single wing.

For, with little use

for reason,

and even less

for rhyme,

long-lost boys

will always

take their aim

at shootin’ stars.

If only just

to pass the time.

I’ll tell ye all a

little secret lads:

Real ghosts? Only

haunt each other.

And mostly they just

haunt themselves.

Shhhh! Can't ya hear her

in the echoes?

Listen ! Can't you tell?

She’s gigglin’

like that, ya see,

because she got hers

back at me --

damned me, now, forever,

to walk this oddly mortal hell.

For, you see,

the day I flung her

from my pulpit?

And she confessed to all?

All our secrets?

All the secrets of

how she and father fell?


they say

that day

I did not

take it

very well.

For on

THAT day…


they say

they found me


They say

they found me


They found me ringin’ and

ringin’ and ringin’ and ringin,

they say they

found me


from my own

chapel bell.

(cue music)

Still, if I could

find that girl tonight,

and hold her

in my arms again?

And once, just once,

kiss her in the way I used to?

The way I used to kiss

that girl goodnight?

Sure, I’d be swingin’

from your rafters all right.

I’d be swingin’ from

the chandeliers…!

And ya know what else?

Lads, I’d build us a bed

out of trees and stars

and out o’ all the

scattered broken parts

of all the shattered

broken hearts

that roam these fields

at night, alone,

in search of

each other’s bones.

Nothin’ forbidden.

Nothin’ a test.

Just a place

for us to

lie down,

y’ know?

The two of us.

And finally,








Melissa was the quiet one.

She barely winced when she was told.

Young Willie was too young, and never

really understood his brother’s demons,

let alone his demon dance.

Sara was the eldest, after Tom,

and more distant than the rest,

but somehow Tommy always seemed to find a way

into a private part of Sara’s heart.

His mother loved her beaming boy

the way that t’rushes love the morning;

his father’s heart was hard, but fair --

though never seemed to favor

Tommy’s chances, Tommy’s schemes.

But then he, too, had been a

first born son – and first born sons

of first born sons are cursed with many dreams.


(Mother mentioned

mornings make

melissa much more


sara sleeps

so sadly,

so silent


sorrow seems;

willie, when

we wake,

will wander,

wistfully, where

women weep;

demon dance dies

dark and dreadful,

deeply drowning

daddy’s dreams)


Melissa always seemed to love

the ones who gave her worry,

Willie couldn’t help

but better love his brother too.

Sarah turned to mirrors,

staring, turning, painting

layers on her face, saying, “Father?

Do I look all right? Do I look all right?”

mother chose to shut herself

away in his old room,

His father’s heart stayed dark, distracted,

could not accept the weight of it,

so sure was he the family tree

would come after when he called.


(Father’s phantom

follows faster,

fear forgotten,

fanning flames

by bringing

beery boys

bare bones,

by bleeding


barren bed.

Sometimes siblings

somehow smile,

sometimes sisters

sadly spin,

demon dance

dies dark, declaring,

Look! Daddy’s dancing!

(Shhhhh! Tommy’s dead….!)

(JIMMY pauses to light a cigarette, and

leans in closer to the audience)



I will try to

draw you a map:

You see where I

Point my finger?




Now, draw a perfect line

To any point you choose.


Begin below my eyes,

along the hollow

of my cheek,

across the bone,

around my t’roat,

no, deeper, through the

forest, past the shadows,

aye, beyond the shadows

(deeper still),

past the leaning shadows

of the aviary trees.

There, you'll find a stump

(ignore it),

you'll pass a cave

(do not go in),

you'll reach a fork,

and when you find it,

spin three times

and tell a lie.

You'll see a well,

don't stop for wishes!

for there you'll come

upon a clearing,

you’ll come upon

a shinin’ field,

a large, white stone

beside a fountain,

where I have

carved its name.

You,I know this place.

I know it still.

Beneath this tree, this sun will cast

a sparkle rather than a shade,

too clearly I can see the hill

where, when I’d come here

as a child, I never passed

the green and gold in

every perfect blade,

the ease familiar

fields provide,

when boys are told

to play outside.

And there is a well,

beside a lake,

which stands alone

near Tourtane Hill,

where Anne would

often bring her wishes,

whenever she wished

to sort them out,

or trace a fraying thread.

She always was

the first to wake,

for when the lake

was very still,

mists would rise

and call to her

(bejaysus you’d t’ink

the place was haunted!).

Summoned Anne

to raise her dead.

Some say strangers should beware

of some poor bastard’s crazy daughter

who claims she dropped a ring of pearl

she paid for, dearly, with her tears;

others say there’s nothing there,

except for shadows in the water;

sure, no one’s really seen the girl,

or gone near the well, for years.

At Annie’s Well there are no girls

to pay attention to the warning.

There’s no one left to even bother,

fewer daughters left to drown;

but sometimes, in the misty swirls

and murky dark of early morning,

you can almost hear the father

beckoning the daughter down.

I know that many voices here

will say that shadows disappear,

that memories are discarded wishes

like pennies down a well.

Well, I’ve come to place a wager with

the shadows that would bring me here,

and stake a grave against the lie

that fools and tinkers tell.

Aye, the last time I saw Tom alive,

I, too, was startled by a rage

he would let slip, then lock away,

then pardon – just to cage again.

That year, as we turned that page,

there was something written in his face

that even I could never read –

but then I’m easily distracted.

I must have lost my place.

Something wounded Tom that year,

that he kept double-locked inside,

a tiny murmur in his heart,

that would murmur t’ings

to Tom, then hide,

an ill wind of whispers

that was always at his side,

and I think the whispers

killed him.

Long before he died

I think the saddest sound I’ve ever heard

and saddest sight I’ve seen

was the sound of the men

beside me on deck

as our boat pulled away

from the docks of Dun Laohaire

as we sang our farewells

to our mothers and the green,

and the sight of poor Tommy

as he ran alongside,

out to the end of the longest pier,

leapin’ and wavin’

his odd little heart out,

as I watched him get smaller

and smaller and smaller,

until I saw him disappear.

(JIMMY continues)

Well, Joyce’s is called

somethin’ else these days;

that, too, is gone,

along wit’ th’ rest,

who’ve gone to meet

their various ends.

They say I died doin’

what I did best ---

seems I keeled over

raisin’ a glass.

In a toast to

absent friends.

[cue music]

Friendship is a funny t’ing.

It tests men in the strangest ways.

It can flourish in the dead of winter,

and wither deep in spring.

Golden boys on golden days

will swear to t’ings that crack and splinter

solemn vows they knew they’d never

hold each other to forever;

behind their backs,

they cross their fingers,

cross their hearts and hope to die

before too many promises

or golden boys get by.

Some men grieve

by seekin’ vengeance.

Others are content

to merely mourn.

I’m the kind of man who,

when my fears

are fears confirmed,

my grief grows wild --

it takes me roughly by the hand,

it will not rest until it’s shown

precisely where they found

the curtain closed, and torn,

and thus I am unsatisfied.

And grieve alone,

as Tommy died -- alone.

And I’ve yet to make my peace with that.

JIMMY (continues)

If you should visit sweet Cloneen,

then still yourself along her road.

Come listen to her nearby stream

fill up your heart. Set down your load.

If you could see what I have seen,

you’d know the reasons that I sing,

you’d learn the words of every song,

if you should visit sweet Cloneen.

You’d know the t’ousand shades of green,

you’d see the way her waters gleam,

you’d watch her river move along

then still yourself along her road

a quiet path, a soft bo’reen

will guide you to this gentle road,

some silly song will fill your head,

fill up your heart, set down your load.

If you could see what I have seen,

you’d know the t’ousand shades of green,

with heather pillows for your dream,

A quiet path. A soft bo’reen.

Gossips speak

in guarded tones

about a well o’ bones

they finally found,

Two stones stand by

like chaperones

where Tom once danced

above the ground,

And now they’re

hangin’ ornaments

around the

chapel square,

Before they take their


there still are girls who

brush their hair,

Lovers are still

accused of treason,

a charge that

none of them deny,

The fields are black

and without season.

Scarecrows often

wander by.

When it’s a wind

that rings the bell,

a deadly quiet

choir sings,

The parish bows

its head to hell.

The women sigh.

The tower rings.

Even when young

brides and grooms

are at the altar,

standin’ guard,

shadows fall.

A wind resumes.

You can hear it whistle

t’rough the chapel yard.


January 1, 2010


1949 2004