Wednesday, July 28, 2010

THE WITNESS

THE WITNESS

 

The bench outside my window, chaperoned by sagacious sycamore earringed in green papery bits, scrutinized by a moon, misted in tears because it is no longer seen, bears witness to fumblings. Fumblings of need, lust, breaking and fixing.

A grey-haired, red-faced human being struggling to control shaking hands, manages a crumpled brown bag from inside his stinking duffle coat. If you listen well enough, you can hear the bench sigh with relief, that at least this man is warm, even if he doesn't have a home. The neck of the bottle soothes crushing appetite like nipple or penis. Cigarette begged for, he moves on talking to the river into a chastening wind.



  
His arm crawls along her shoulder in a moment seized with expectancy. Her face is turned towards the East for the sun to rise. His furtive hand seeks refuge on a shaking thigh, sliding his fingers towards an inner warmth. If you listen well enough, you can hear the bench sigh with sadness at the pinkness. As a tear for lost years hangs from her nose...frozen for a moment, she turns West, unzips, and her head sinking Southwards, she sets off on a familiar journey.



A couple, a troubled man and an anxious woman seek refuge from drizzly rain under a stoic sycamore, and rest their heavy ... weary hearts on an empty, but overloaded bench. If you listen well enough, you can hear the bench sigh in anticipation; at least they are holding each other. Long, cool fingers stroke trembling chin. Her mouth motions that her love is dead, and slides their commitment from her left cool hand, as if playing an adagio for strings. Kissing her emptied mouth for the last time, they walk out of each others' lives.
In the first rush of morning, a hooded youth running, stumbling as he looks backwards breathlessly over his shoulder, collapses into the unrelenting reality of a bench under a sympathetic sycamore dressed in daylight. If you listen well enough, you will hear the bench sigh in desperation that at least this boy has saved his own life. Bitten finger nails clawing, to dig out the cigarette burns from his cheek. He buries an unslept face beneath sheltering armpit as he beats bruised  fist against bruised thigh, reliving the torment inflicted upon him by the serial invasion of space between the hills of his buttocks. Hearing the whine of a distant police car, meant for him, he makes a run for it towards the bridge made of eyes

.

Then when the bench has gone and there's nothing between me, the river and the paint store, whose colour changes lives, if you listen well enough you might still hear the sighing of the bench ... THE WITNESS!


Maureen Walsh 2010 ©


Ciao for now! 

Monday, July 26, 2010

BEATRICE AND THE BEE

                                                         
A very strange thing happened tonight. Over the weekend, I got around to thinking about Dante's Divine Comedy again. I was extremely fortunate to get the opportunity to study this work as part of my Italian Degree at UCC. However, I found it difficult to accept that Dante autore(author) used Virgil to guide Dante personaggio(protagonist) through the Inferno, into Purgatorio, and then replaced him with Statius as guide through Paradiso, because Virgil had been born before Christ, and was, strictly speaking, doomed to remain as a heathen in purgatory, through no real fault of his own. I think Dante should have made an exception. I found myself following Virgil rather than Dante Personnagio. Virgil was the MAN as far as I was concerned. The voice of reason, wisdom, yet humanist.

Beatrice

So then I thought about transforming Virgil into a bee, that could stay in Paradiso for just one night, and thereby see and be seen by Beatrice, (apparently the love of Dante's(autore) life and symbol of divine grace in the Commedia). This was the outcome.


BEATRICE AND THE BEE

Oh veil of cloud, you hide the moon,
That gloats on golden hair.


Oh lilting breeze, you drown the song,
That tickles ruby lips.


Oh scent of rose, you trick the maid,
That knows naught of the bee.


Oh river of glass, where floats the smile,
That caused the bee to stay.

Oh change of heart, by author's pen,
That swapped the staff for wings.

Oh twilight of heav'n, where lurks no sting,
That welcomed just for once.

Oh paradise divine, where wisdom longed to dwell,
That accepted a million eyes instead.

Oh Beatrice, queen of heaven,
That all men want to serve.

Oh cast a glance, to the other side
That you might see his reflection.

Oh fleeting moment, let her capture it,
That she might see the bee.

OH FLEETING MOMENT, LET HER CAPTURE IT,
THAT SHE MIGHT SEE HER BEE!

Maureen Walsh 26/7/2010 ©


Imagine my surprise, then, when I set about searching for an image of a suitable bee, that I discovered that bees played quite a part in Greek and other mythologies. Wow what a coincidence, I thought.

The bee, found in Ancient Near East and Aegean cultures, was believed to be the sacred insect that bridged the natural world to the underworld. Appearing in tomb decorations, Mycenaean tholos tombs were even shaped as beehives.


Bee motifs are also seen in Mayan cultures, an example being the Ah-Muzen-Cab, the Bee God, found in Mayan ruins, likely designating honey-producing cities (who prized honey as food of the gods).The bee was an emblem of Potnia, the Minoan-Mycenaean "Mistress", also referred to as "The Pure Mother Bee". Her priestesses received the name of "Melissa" ("bee"). In addition, priestesses worshipping Artemis and Demeter were called "Bees". The Delphic priestess is often referred to as a bee, and Pindar notes that she remained "the Delphic bee" long after Apollo had usurped the ancient oracle and shrine. "The Delphic priestess in historical times chewed a laurel leaf," Harrison noted, "but when she was a Bee surely she must have sought her inspiration in the honeycomb." Ernst Neustadt, in his monograph on Zeus Kretigenes, "Cretan-born Zeus," devoted a chapter to the honey-goddess Melissa.

The Homeric Hymn to Apollo acknowledges that Apollo's gift of prophecy first came to him from three bee maidens, usually identified with the Thriae. The Thriae was a trinity of pre-Hellenic Aegean bee goddesses. The embossed gold plaque (illustration above right) is one of a series of identical plaques recovered at Camiros in Rhodes[5] dating from the archaic period of Greek art in the seventh century, but the winged bee goddesses they depict must be far older.



The Kalahari Desert's San people tell of a bee that carried a mantis across a river. The exhausted bee left the mantis on a floating flower but planted a seed in the mantis's body before it died. The seed grew to become the first human.


In Egyptian mythology, bees grew from the tears of the sun god Ra when they landed on the desert sand. The bowstring on Hindu love god Kamadeva's bow is made of honeybees.

I don't know how or why the 'bee' idea landed in my sub-consious over the weekend, but it strikes me as quite a remarkable coincidence, given my new-found awareness and knowledge of the mythological bee.

Perhaps its something to do with the fact that I just love bumble bees and given the fact that their numbers have been depleted by approximately 50%, perhaps we should all be trying to grow plants that attract them into our gardens.


Let's Hear it for The Bees!



Ciao for now!



Tuesday, July 20, 2010

FAT CATS, FELONS AND PHILISTINES


Picasso's Cat and A Wounded Bird

Just back home from UK after spending some time with my father in Crewe, a railway town, 4 miles from Nantwich, an old Roman salt mining town, in the heart of Cheshire. (Spent a weekend in London during that time with my daughter Emma. We had great fun! ... Next blog) I kissed my dad goodbye and asked him not to stand at the gate and wave me down the street, as I trundled away with my suitcase, but he ignored my wishes, becoming frailer and frailer, as I turned to blow yet another kiss. I was glad to turn the corner. 'Goodbyes' aren't half as much fun as 'hellos!' I'd a half hour walk to the railway station. I could have organized a taxi, but I wanted one last look at the sameness, the uniformity of well-ordered gardens with the same bedding plants and shrubs, the gleaming cars outside freshly-painted garages, so alien to the more random nature of Ireland. The sky was ominously grey, and with no coat, I hoped the heavens wouldn't open until I was on the train to Liverpool.

As I turned into Wistaston Avenue, where I had once delivered morning newspapers many years previously, I was dragged into the present by a searing, screeching cry. A grey cat ran out across the road in front of me with a blackbird, fixed firmly in an unrelenting mouth. The bird was still alive and fighting for its life! The cat kept going, so too did the painful cries of the bird. There was nothing I could do, and within a few seconds,  the blackbird's cries had evaporated. He was probably dead now and streets away . I aimed myself once more for the station, disheartened and muttering to myself, about how a cat that was so obviously well fed, still felt the need to attack and kill an indefensible songbird. 'Cruel, greedy bastard,' I thought. Now, its not as if my own cat, Scout doesn't bring home birds and mice as tokens of her affection for those that feed and love her, and I do get cross with her, but there is something terribly upsetting about witnessing suffering at close quarters, and being powerless to help.

   

It wasn't long before my mind moved onto the greed of mankind, and why so many of us are never, ever satisfied. The global financial downturn has been severely aggravated by indemic governmental mis-management and a scornful 'take-all' attitude adopted towards expenses and party contributions by governments all across Europe, not withstanding the government and senate here in Ireland, which has to be top of the political greed league. Meanwhile there are three British MPs undergoing legal investigations into their financial transactions and Sarkosy, president of France isn't looking so 'cosy' following the L'Oreal debacle. Fat cats maybe, but I would go so far to call them felons.
       Sean Fitzpatrick - Fat Cat - Felon Extraordinaire

My ears pricked up recently, when I heard that Sean Fitzpatrick, shamed ex Anglo boss, wanted to cut a deal with his debtors, by giving them a stake in his Nigerian investments which would net them more than he  owes presently, if they just hang in there with him. Having been out of the country, I don't know whether he succeeded or not, but that's not my beef. Try selling that one to those who are losing their homes and livelihoods every day in this country. Try selling it to small businesses that are going under, because the banks that have been rescued by the tax-payer won't extend or increase overdrafts. Try selling that one to those dying of Aids because they can't afford life-saving medication. Try selling that to those who can't afford revolutionary, 'cutting edge' treatment for cancer. Try selling that to nurses, doctors and management in hospitals, who have to make daily decisions (mindful of budgetary constraints) whether to give an old person the necessary medication he/she requires to prolong their lives. Try selling that one to parents of mentally and physically disabled children, who cannot access special education needs.




I had occasion to visit Maynooth College for an interview on the North Campus recently, which, by any architectural standards, is drab and depressing. Crossing the bridge into the original campus and seminary of Maynooth, the architecture and gardens are more pleasing to the eye, but without any preconceptions, I found it difficult to appreciate those surroundings in the same way I did, University College Cork, because of an inability to disassociate its beauty from recent revelations of how clerical institutions abused their power in society, by preying upon poor indefensible children. It all seemed so fake. I felt extremely uneasy there, and there was something particularly disturbingly ironic about the above statue erected in 1993 in dedication to Cardinal Daly. 

This is not a 'bash everyone and everything blog' by any stretch of the imagination, and I am an optimistic person by nature. Sometimes I just feel sad that history just keeps on repeating itself. Is it being cynical to believe that the sole intention of American and British intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq, is not to restore democracy, civil order and gender equality, but has more to do with mineral and oil reserves and the transportation routes of same. Not unlike Caesar, who was only waiting to expand his empire westwards into Gaul, who did so in the guise of a response to a cry for help from the ruling tribes of under-seige Marseilles, the 9/11 disaster provided a similar opportunity many centuries later. Reading a book, 'The Wars Against Saddam: Taking the Hard Road to Baghdad' by journalist and news reporter, John Simpson at the moment, and the crushing cruelty of this dictator is undeniable. I find myself asking the question, why it took so long to take him out? Why didn't George Bush I continue on into Baghdad  to finish off Saddam and his reign of terror, following his invasion of Kuwait? Why, why, why? Was it a matter of keeping Saddam there as a buffer against Syria etc.? Who knows?



           Saddam victorious! - Saddam defeated!

Back to the Fat Cats of society, who are prepared to walk on anyone or anything by fair or felonious means, gift-wrapped in the pin-striped suits of respectability and decency (not the archetypal hoodies that we're all warned against, and in some shops, patrons are being asked to remove their headgear). I would describe these 'suits' ( a phrase coined by the late Gerry Ryan, RTE radio and TV presenter in relation to his RTE bosses) as 'philistines'. Therefore it will take the courage of every 'David' amongst us, every single 'small' essence of mankind to fight against and rehabilitate the 'Goliaths' of this world.



                        David and Goliath

Finally, there was a huge outpouring of financial support in response to the Tsunami disaster, and I believe that may have been because we were witnessing the destruction, devastation and struggle for survival as it was happening, on our TV screens, and felt powerless to help (back to the cat and the bird). This disaster was a natural disaster however, there are so many disasters that could be avoided.

Sometimes, I suspect, perhaps naively, that the Fat-Cats of our society forget that in the jostling of numbers, economic, domestic and foreign policies etc. they are gambling with the lives of real innocent people.

This is a rather rambling blog, which is not unusual for me, and all I can say is the next one will, at least, be of a  happier nature ... honestly!!

 
                              A little 'David'

Smiles and hugs.



Ciao for now!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

BLUE BALLOON

To live in greens and blues ... straight ... mixed .... perhaps, even tinged with gold. Turquoise! To bathe in Delphinium blue, scented by sweet peas and lavender, polished by the sun. To see your name in the purply-blue ink of my hand.


BLUE BALLOON


You sat on it,
Squeezing, you pushed it,
To its screeching limits.


Then spiking like stiletto heel,
Cobalt blue soaked wintry sheets,
Warming, you saved it.


Colours ... don't you just love them!

Maureen Walsh ©


Ciao for now!

Monday, July 5, 2010

PARTY IS OVER





PARTY IS OVER


Everyone's left,
Slipped off into dreams.
Unreachable now,
In their waters of sleep.

Bottles, half-necked
And lipsticked butts,
Echoes of laughter,
Floating in smoke.

Lights switching off,
The dawn oozing in.
And wind reminds breeze,
There's a tide to turn.

Put back on your hat,
Straighten your tie,
Get ready your oars,
As the boatsman sings hoarse:

'Hoist high sails of memory,
Patchworked by heart,
New journey, new party,
First, a toast to the last.'

'New journey....
New party ....
First a toast ....
To the last ....!'





Maureen Walsh 5th July 2010 ©

Ciao for Now!