Friday, 28 October 2016

The Call

©Shers Gallagher 2016

The days grow colder and my heart grows bolder
to hear the call of the totem wolf, 
though limbs begin to rattle like the branches of a tree
as leaves turn bright before they fade and quietly fall,
drifting down and crumbling into air 
that smells of crackling pine and roasting logs of cedar.
I missed you then as I miss you now. 
But most of all I miss my youth 
and the dance I used to be.
Not the dance of whirring bees,
because I never was a hostile takeover. 
I miss the playful shadows of light
and soft breezes on silken feathers.
I miss the easiness of then, 
though, in truth I’m more physically comfortable now. 
And yet I’d give it all up for only a few more 
playful shadows of twilight and silken days. 

Aisling Books

Friday, 7 October 2016

After Storm Matthew

Shers Gallagher 2016

...we gather our lives with roots and fronds
that we glean and shuck away.
Damage assesses as power returns
the roofs overhead of family and friends
now safe and dry.

We begin again,
mattering more than all our treasured gleam
collected in hoards of attic-filled piles
while the eye of the storm approaches
as the evening's thief we’ve been ever watching
yet still comes round in one short breath
to so easily steal our lives away.

What matters more than only this?
To be generous of heart and gracious of mind
and exceed beyond the glory of self
as we allow all to live in peace and calm
to weather another day.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Ardy’s Plight at the Privy – Fairy’s song

Excerpted from 'Uncommon Boundaries: Tales and Verse' ©2012 SM Gallagher
[Dedicated to my granddaughter, Maya Annalisa Trask, turning four-years-old today!]

A large Irish family filled up two of the long pinewood bench tables at the Hare and Hunter - the small medieval fairground restaurant that had a larger than average terrace, catering to the sit-down crowds of wandering festival goers. This particular family appeared to be drinking more than eating, which wasn’t uncommon in the sweltering heat of a midsummer’s day in the shire. 

I sat at the table’s far end, furthest from the congested masses, as it was my short pause from working the lanes as a paid entertainer in fantasy costume, blowing stardust on delighted children, getting into mischief with the locals, and tickling tin whistles and whatnot – all the things one could imagine of a proper fairy of a local shire. During my pause, however, I didn’t want to be bothered for fairy wishes and the like. Instead, I ordered a pint, hoping for a frosty mug of very cold beer while watching the family celebrate what looked to be a birthday party with all the ‘for he’s a jolly good’ rounds they were singing. It didn’t take long for one of the men to eye another and smile at me. I was used to the attention, mostly because of my unusually feathered fairy wings made for me be a festival friend named Tailor Taylor the swatch and waistcoat maker. But I just called him Ty for short, as most of the rest of the shire did. And it was a brilliantly crafted set of wings that curved and flowed to allow all the soft, white feathers to flutter in the occasional breeze. Oh, thank God for those breezes. 

I lifted my glass to the man and took a relished gulp that temporarily cooled my very human body. He moved down a slat or two in hearing distance of me and asked; ‘So’s, you hear the one about the old couple married for 35 years?” 

I shook my head that was covered in a wreath of berries and flowers. One of the petals detached and alighted on his face. He blew at it and looked to the eldest members of the group. ‘Like me mum and dad there, they were celebrating their sixtieth birthdays.” 

“Congrats then!” I lifted my half-emptied glass to the couple, both with grey twinkling eyes. And they did the same back at me, draining their own.

And the man continued his story. “Suddenly a fairy joined the party.” 

I laughed. ‘Now where have I heard that one before?”

“Ah, but she said: ‘Because you’ve been such a loving couple over all these years, I’ll grant you each one wish.’ Well, the wife told the fairy that herself wanted to get away from her dish-washing machine and travel round the world. The fairy waved her wand and BOOM! The tickets were in the old woman’s hand.”

I raised a brow that had been pencilled in to look like an alien’s if I weren’t the festival fairy. And I sighed. “I wish I could do that trick.” 

“Ah, don’t we all, m’ darlin’ fairy. At least you’ve got wings…and a nice pair of them at that.”

“Now mind yourself,” I said with a smile, “or I’ll turn you into a toad.”

Eavesdropping on our conversation, the rest of the party joined in with riotous laughter. “He’s a royal toad already!” called out one of the other men.

And the one by me eyed the other with glee, turning back to finish his story. “Now it was the man's turn, who paused for a minute before confessing to the fairy. ‘Well, d'you know,’ he said, ‘I'd like to have a woman 30 years younger than me!’ At that the fairy picked up her wand and BOOM! If he wasn’t a day over 90.”

I laughed and drank up. My break was not all that long and I needed to find the loo, or ‘privy’ as we shire folk have learnt to call it during festival hours. I waved goodbye to the jolly partiers and left for the southwest corner of the site and one where a makeshift row of hutch-like covered toilets decorated the outlying area for all not wanting to go ‘wee, wee, wee all the way home’. It’s difficult for a fairy-costumed actor to actually take time off from entertaining the crowds without being disturbed. After relieving myself, I’d planned to hide out in one of the quiet nooks and crannies I’d found early on in the season. Other entertainers soon found them too. And they often joined me there for a bit solace, picnicking and jocularity. It was all in good fun, and we’d nicknamed these areas our outdoor ‘greenrooms’. 

Festival planners, if they’re good ones, attempt to modify the facilities needed to manage the large amount of people participating in the fair – be they paying customers, caterers, craftspeople or entertainers – to be in keeping with the medieval décor. Yet the fantasy world isn’t always as easy to maintain as one might belief, and the results are sometimes laughable at best. Shire privies were always set discretely out of the way, and their wood-covered construction was rustic yet functional. Entering the privy area meant going through a gate marked ‘Ye Old Privies’, of course. And the first thing one saw was a big cauldron-like washbasin that ran water out of a hidden spigot, resembling a natural spring. Hanging to the left and the right of the cauldron were huge soap and towel dispensers. Obvious solecisms such as these were allowed for hygienic purposes. 

And there I was, still back at the loo. It always takes a fairy a bit of finagling to readjust her tights and wings, but I was feeling much better when I exited, heading for the fountain. And it was there I saw a little boy recognised from the Irish party at the Hare and Hunter. He couldn’t have been much older than six, but he was in an obviously drunken state as he rolled the dispenser of towels round and round. 

“Well, well,” I said, spying him there. ‘What fairies’ mischief have you got yourself into, young lad?” 

He glimpsed me with a vacant grin but kept on rolling the dispenser of towels. 

I looked round for a parental figure but saw none. “And where are your mother and father?”

His grin held as well as his vacant stare.

“Take my hand then, and I’ll lead you back to your people.”

He suddenly paled and eyed me more harshly. “I never go nowhere with fairies.”

I sighed. “That’s a good idea on its own, but you shouldn’t have been drinking either!”

“I, I….”

“Come with me now, and I’ll take you back to your family.’

But the little boy took off running. 

I could think of nothing better to do than follow after him. And with my wings all a flutter, I looked like one fairy creature ready to take flight. 

Winged fairy or not, running through the shire was no easy feat without bumping into an unsuspecting troll or two. There were also the increasing numbers of summer festival goers to contend with who continued non-stop to pay their fees and flow in through the front gates. Dodging around all these bodies as I wove in and out of the lanes, I soon lost site of the boy who was, after all, quite small and lithe. 

So out of breath was I when reaching the Hare and Hunter again, and thankfully the party of Irish merrymakers was still there. I scanned both tables in hope of catching sight of the little lad back with his parents, but my heart sank as he was nowhere to be found. Without hesitating, I described him and the situation to the family. One of the female members rose to help me retrace my steps. Another left for ‘Ye old information booth’, a stall constructed by the front gate to take care of such emergencies. The rest of the party decided to fan out in search of the missing child. Yet half of them, I noticed, followed the woman and me back to the loo. 

Those accompanying us to ‘Ye old privies’ soon got in front of me and poured through the gates of the small facility as others came tumbling out. What a fiasco! And I would have laughed if the situation hadn’t turned serious, for the numbers were growing too large for the makeshift building. Suddenly, a side-section collapsed from the sheer weight and volume of all the milling bodies. 

I rushed in and pulled a few unsuspecting customers from the rubble. Luckily no one was very hurt – only a few minor cuts and scrapes. And there he was, the little Irish lad whose name I later learnt was Ardy. He was named after Ardan, the legendary son of Usna who helped Deirdre escape to Scotland so that she would not be forced to marry King Conchobhar MacNessa. But that’s another story! Anyway, Ardy of the partying merrymakers was right where I’d left him before he’d ran away from me. And he was once again standing wide-eyed beside the towel dispenser. 

I jumped back and blinked at the one I assumed was his mother, as she hurried over and clutched him to her bosom while clucking in a passion of love and fury. 

He looked to her, this wild-eyed dark-haired lioness still holding him tight. And, in a thick Northern brogue, he said: “Jeez, ma, I was just going to the loo!”

“But why did you run from me?” I asked.

He yelped. “And be a changeling?” 

“Oh, Ardy, son, you li’l ijit!” His mother squeezed him all the more.

“You’re not angry with me then, I mean, for drinking Uncle Connor’s beer?”

“I’m dearly sore. Indeed I am, son. But,” she laughed, “you’re right not to go off with the fairies.”

And that ends my tale of Ardy’s plight at the privy…. 
Aisling Books

Sunday, 24 July 2016

I loved you once when we were young....

©2016 S.M. Gallagher

I loved you once when we were young 
and dancing under watermelon moons
full to bursting with stolen kisses
for all the honking geese that took flight
across winter ready fields 
perfuming the air with their pungency.

You were no angry-eyed monster to me then
and I no parched lip harpy to you.
We were simply best friends
who delighted in each other's company.

And I will treasure those best friend days
as I no longer dwell on our tragedies
but think of two bright souls,
their cleverer ways remembered
like shining pearls of half-baked wisdom.
And we would inevitably do ourselves in.

I would laugh at you, and you me
for thinking ourselves progenies of starflies.
My eyes, now full of dust, saw more clearly then,
as, these days, I hold no more truths then wishes.
Still…I breathe on and wish you well in passing.

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Did you know just how HUGE a city Rotterdam is?


©Shers Gallagher 02 April 2016
Today's trip was supposed to take me to the Central station and then on to another train making local stops. From there a hotel shuttle service was supposed to pick me up, as there's no good connection afterwards besides a good long walk through a well trafficked industrial area.

All was well and good till I called the service before exiting my last train only to be informed their shuttle bus was broken down. So I hopped a city bus that left me off where Google path finder had directed me to, and I thought then that it would be easy enough to find my destination without having to call a cab, taxi services being expensive in the Netherlands.
Well, it turned out that the bus drop off was way the hell past where I was supposed to be. Thank you, Google maps! The little way-finder guy had me turned around in another direction. Fifteen minutes into a walk leading me into an industrial park I realised my mistake and called the hotel, asking for help. But the desk clerk said I should consult my route planner because she didn't really know where I was. Then she hung up! Left to my own devices in what appeared the middle of building and concrete nowhere, I decided it best to backtrack to the main road where the bus had first dropped me off. After reaching this point, I then headed in the other direction, backtracking towards the station, when I spied a bicycle riding out of a long and leafy path that ended with a huge highway underpass following after it. I consulted my map again and saw this as a possibility. 
Walking up the lane and in and out of the underpass I finally found the streets I'd been looking for. By now I was 30 minutes into what Google maps claimed would be an 11 minute walk. Thank God I always go early to new places! So I was actually on time...phew.

But I was also dealing with a developing HATRED of the hotel desk clerk who, when I finally entered the building, asked if she could be of assistance. I walked on by with no words spoken, words in my head I knew if vocalised would be some I'd only later regret.

At last I arrived at my assigned destination, which was a location I don't normally go to but did today as I was taking the place of another out sick. I am, however, having regrets that I'm always so accommodating in the workplace. Yet, ten minutes in, I greeted another colleague walking through the door, sweaty and uncomfortable, having gone through a comparable experience, getting lost with bad directions. At least I knew it just wasn't just me being directionally challenged.
And did I tell you Rotterdam is such a huge effin place?!!! 

N.B. On the way home I found the Metro station, a 15 minute walk the other side (my side) of the expansive highway. This was a doable stretch with metro taking me directly to my train connection. All went well, however, till the last leg of my journey when I read in my on-line train schedule advisory that someone had been hit by an earlier train on the railway crossing in Brabant, the province east of us in Zeeland. 

For those who can read Dutch:

Tussen 15.00 en 18.00 uur was het treinverkeer vanuit en naar Zeeland gestremd. In de Fianestraat te Bergen op Zoom, is een persoon door een trein aangereden en kwam hier bij om het leven.
Between 15:00 and 18:00 train traffic was coming from and streaming into Zeeland. On Fiane street in the city of Bergen op Zoom , a person was hit by a train and lost their life.

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Children of Light

 Shers Gallagher 2016

No lingering in the caves of martyrs
nor hunkering down in alcoves of fear.
The children of light embrace the noonday sun 
while tasting the brine of laughter on salt water tongues
and kicking with glee the waves that are lapping 
like puppy dog kisses at their feet.
They are the righteous shining of the dawn,
and their joy rises from the ashes 
of our present despair.
Light a single candle against the darkness
and you will see their dancing shadows 
cascading everywhere.

Aisling Books 

Friday, 25 March 2016

Among my thoughts on Good Friday through Easter morning....

The Gift

©Shers Gallagher 2016
[excerpted from Uncommon Boundaries ©2012 ] 

The air sighed and breathed life into a virgin womb.
So soft was its pain, cut off and transformed to life again, 
a life in foreign exile.

A leper was born to a colony of misfits and halfwits. 
An outcast, inflicting self to take on the shame of others:
inflicted with their wounds, laying claim to their sores.

Born so human, so debased to family crude in its ways.
Its cry was heard and tears shimmered in the heavens
as a gaze turned away from love’s perfection. 
‘Farewell,’ the ancient starlight whispered.
‘Goodbye,’ echoed the cosmos.
And joy was given to a colony sick in self, embittered fruit.

Grief poured out and sighed into song.
The wind carried the message that what was momentarily lost
would not return void.

This was known and predicted at such a sorrowful turning.
The heart, the soul, the core of being was born
only to break it.

The barter was in blood,
the ransom high, 
the family lost to be found again.

Such cost, such care – such was the child.
He wrapped himself into a gift
to be found and loved that day.

Aisling Books