To begin, the amazing Paula Meehan sent us one of her poems. She a6slo sent us a picture of her grandmother for whom the poem is written. Here they are:
Coldest day yet of November
her voice close in my ear —
tell them priests nothing.
Was I twelve? Thirteen?
Keep your sins to yourself.
Don’t be giving them a thrill.
Dirty oul feckers.
As close as she came to the birds and the bees
on her knees in front of the Madonna,
Our Lady of the Facts of Life
beside the confessional —
oak door closing like a coffin lid
waxed and buffed.
In the well made box of this poem
her voice dies.
She closes her eyes
and lowers her brow to her joined hands.
woman to woman.
You can listen to Paula reading some of her poems and talking with the SAOL Sisters by clicking on the word YouTube
Mary E. Lohan is a writer witht he 'Irish American Writers and Artists Association Inc., from New York city. She sent us a poem capturing real cold:
This New York snow
and all you do is pace
say whatever comes to tongue
each gutteral flung
from your mouth
like blackened snow
I lean against a parked car
afraid to blow a sigh
into this ice-picked wind
that might sling back
and yet, my silence
brings a death
worse than dying,
have learned to fall from heights
Mary E. Lohan
John Kearns is a New York based poet and playwrite working with the Irish American Writers and Artists Association Inc., New York. He sent us the following two pieces, the first a poem called 'Cheap Reproduction', the second, Monologue VII from Sisyphus Monologues from the play In the Wilderness.
By John Kearns
If I were to refuse and allow
Vanity or flippancy
To hang her image
Among the blurred collection
Of Friday night pictures that could be dreams
“Would you write a poem for me?
No one ever wrote a poem for me.”
Would chase me into hell’s loneliest pit
And echo rightfully within its walls,
Would bind me to the earth
When joy would have me soar,
Would mark my soul with a sin
Of which hers is clear.
For I would be denying the pain
That I know has conceived this request,
Contradicting man’s myths:
The Father who hurled His Son from Heaven,
Mary at the Convict’s cross,
And the Titan who bore concealed fire
For the love of humanity.
For I would be refusing a mother’s wish
For life for this unworthy child.
Sympathy is too cheap.
A flick of the wrist at noon, six, and eleven
Can guarantee its growth within our guts.
This with callous logic
And social distance
Could sterilize even a poet’s heart
Whose knowledge of birth can never be genuine
Whose voice cannot reach the same heights.
I must attempt, however,
To make real the cheapened feeling
And so, as far as I’m allowed,
I imitate her
Bearing her wish ‘til the hour of its fruition
When I tear it from my spirit
And hand it over.
Monologue VII - between scenes 7 & 8
Carmen: (Latina student)
Though the sweat in his eyes had made him blind
The peak was known to his body and mind
His driving feet felt the path grow thin
And told him the breathless place he was in.
But once again the task became too great
As the boulder cruel increased its weight
His arms hurt too much. His hands were too small
Or that’s what it seemed, though it might not be all.
Was there some part inside him that he did not know
That secretly wanted to let the rock go?
That didn’t want it to come to an end
But to keep on and keep on again and again?
Perhaps the runner took part in the chase
Not for the finish line but for the race.
He thought he could win but lost the game late
Like any one man who fights against Fate.
Brendan Fay is an activist from Louth but based in New York. He already features on our website welcoming us at the 'St. Pats for All' Parade, March 2017 (http://www.saolproject.ie/stpatsforall.php). Working with 'St Pat's for All' and the Lavender and Green Alliance, he sent us his poem, 'I rise by the Boyne' (4-26-2017):
I rise by the Boyne (4-26-2017)
A St Patricks hello
At dawn I walk to the cemetary
Theres a silent joy in your graveyard that whispers welcome
“Our day has come”
Hardly in the St Peter’s grave
You weave the streets as I wave and cheer.
Back to crowds of faces all in search of home
We said your names- Petesy & Mary
And remember your embrace.
The town along the Boyne rises in Irish pride
This St Patrick’s day a rising tide
and tears of heartfelt pride
Well up overflowing streets.
From fields and housing estates
On this St Patrick’s day
Gilbert’s Rainbow flies among the Green white and orange .
Rainbow banner by the Lawrence Gate – held up with Pride
Irish and Gay.
With hugs and holding hands
And cheers of welcome home
With a song of simple liberty
For Muintir Aerach na hEireann
Lavender among the Green
Here and there a stillness
Returns and remembers
A time of silence, jeers and fears
Bashed down and heart broken
Shunned into silence and exile
Holy talk of intrinsic disorder
“Beloved”- from hearts of a few
A song of March 17 79. The Hirchfield open doors
To rebellion and uprising.
Welcome to the table of the streets
And the unfolding of a YES and welcome
In sandwiches, soup
In hugs and mugs of tea
In the look of the eye
The heart speaks- all are welcome here
The heart beats- welcome
Robed red councilors
lime green stewards
Great and Grand children
Cheers of hope
For Ireland and inclusion
I rise to say hello
I rise to your hello
I rise with your hello
A town of migrants coming and going
From Poland, Albania, Croatia
Lithuania, Nigeria, Annagassen, Athy, Scarlet Street
All from somewhere
Stories and lives
Every face and house
Wheelchair and bicycle
Tractor and trailer
coming down the Drogheda streets
We weave the streets in liberty
Waves and cheers
Undoing silence by top of Peter street
A gay kiss in a snug
Dared the ways
A Mayor’s cheer from New York
Celebrates salutes the Drogheda day
Bands and the tenors voice sing
Way of welcome
A day for liberty
The heart the beginning turn tide by Boyneside
A Siena nun
Ma & das
Boys and girls
queers in search of home
From Church and mosque
Pub and kitchen
Queer and sober
Kiss on St Patricks
On tractors and trailers
saints and sinners
I see the children
May you never know the
of praying the gay away
of shunning to silence and exile
may you only know the welcome
to be yourself and belong .
This March 17
holding hands.. rainbow pins …
hello world in need for hope
for failte and for-giving
mugs of tea
We sing and dance in the day away
Although gone and left… for foreign lands to roam
We weave the Drogheda kitchen floor
The wonder of the welcome
a St Patrick’s day welcome home
I rise to the holy hello
You rise sober today
I rise and make the migrant way home
I rise depressed
I rise in grief – she says
I rise to say hello -
I rise to greet the day
I rise from the closet
I rise from yesterday- he said
Your strength to hold me
I rise.. your welcome to
carry me and you
to the dawn
of a St Patrick’s like no other
The children rise together
The elders know
This is the dawn of hope and hospitality
By the river Boyne
A town says hello – welcome home
and sings hope
For the love that dares
For the unwelcome
For the stranger
For Queer ones everywhere
We rise together
In your St Patrick’s day hello
We weave the streets
Drogheda – no bother.
Janice is a one of our participants and shared a poem inspired by her grandmother:
Back on my grandomther, Sarah Gibbons', hay day
For a woman to have rights, back in the day
Oh, they would be so scared,
Because their husbands stood tall and broad in their pub,
with their pints raised so high
together they led women like a herd.
Back street abortions unsafely away hid,
no contaception, no pill and no durex on oul Fred!
Sure if one woman stood up to be counted
You'd be sure she'd already made their beds
O'h, women's rights, they had no say for no vote,
no choice or no first dibs on pay day.
I'm glad I wasn't born when women were thrown into the snug, back in the day!
A further flavour of the day through pictures:
Cathleen O'Neill leads a group of over 30 amateur poets through an exercise to get our brains working
And so the writing begins (or continues!)
Phil shares from his writing as 'the young boy making his communion"
Fiona sings her own song "Transcendental Loving"
Celine reads the poem 'Poverty' - click on the picture to go to the page with the text of the poem (scroll down when you get there!
More pictures and poetry to follow, as well as lots of audio files with the poems be read at ya!