Misplaced Places

Road to Tara


I met a nineteen year old boy on the road to Tara
walking from Drogheda with a friend
on a tar-boiling August day
for no other reason but to walk
and talk
and be somewhere they had never been
what could I say to this young man
what mistakes could I tell him not to make
what hearts would I advise him not to break
opportunities he would regret passing unquestioned
by the immortality and stupidity of youth
should I let him know the depths of darkness
he will have to traverse
or the beauty of the minds with whom
he will converse
will I spell out the sentence of years
before he finds his way
or philosophise about losing god
growing old before his time
and walking through Rome at midday
I met a nineteen year old boy on the road to Tara
he didn’t know me
although my face was familiar
I waved to him but did not speak
there was nothing to say
as I let him walk and talk on his way





Breathless the Journeyman pauses
January cold rising damp from deep in the soil
through his booted feet and up
tired legs into shaking stomach and rasping lungs
The world opens as a magic trick beneath him
squares of bad land ringed with rock walls
painted by an ethereal artist’s hand
on his raw windshield eye
A motionless city is struck dumb by the wind
filling up the valley with the fungi of buildings
while above the birds auger what they will
without interpretation
The brown mountain slumps
thrust into the sea like a discarded midden
raised by ancient giants with it bulbous crown
atop a snow haired head and furrowed brow
Hand over hand each stone of Kinghood
weathering the storms of four millennia
and the soles of countless souls
beating on the drum of the earth in long rhythms
Not dead but asleep beneath the pile
they have no ears for the rhyme
yet shell-like they hear each and every whisper
as shattering soliloquies of sound
Closed mouth and chilled bone
the Journeyman rings the crown
a vigil paid with all Gods, One and None
he lightly climbs down to the world again



Fortuna and the Dead





your wheel good Lady

The empire of stone and bone was to last a thousand years
now the pauper prince and proprietor sleep together
on the crumbing hill behind the Victorian gothic gates
forgotten pathways
forlorn flowers favour some
but for most

Spin Spin Spin
your wheel good Lady

The wreath wraith in the liquid soil
tossed up by the burrowers
turned over by erosions
the prince’s headrest lies face down in the grass
‘Loved and was Loved’ never to be seen again


The Esquire’s blessing etched in black slate
smashed by vandals
so only half his soul can be saved

Spin Spin

The weather has taken most of the poor
names washed away in a storm
withered rocks atop withered folk
a rectangle of disturbed earth
once knelt on
cried beside
loved and now lost in a sea of weeds

Spin Spin Spin

A single name can be made out
spoken as if it were to be reborn
utter and recall from Hades’ cold grip
just for a moment
just a movement of curious lips
just a chance encounter where the hammer did not fall
or the rain did not run
John Fairford 1777


Good or bad
the lady does not care
she will not judge you John
nor see you
rise or fall
higher than any other

Spin Spin Spin
your wheel good lady

for all of us are the dead
waiting to happen





From Poetry from Misplaced Places



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