Written after a trip to a friend's house at Tipperary in 2013


Beneath the bedded ash the ember curls and dies
Its memories drift towards the sky, reaching grey fingers
Up the blackened grate towards the early morning stars

Within the silent room the ghost of whisky lingers
Its breath testament to those who drank there earlier
Sharp warmth waiting to greet the breakfast comers
Searching out fresh fat to chew,
Crackling beneath the griddle.

What memories fold and steel towards those stars?
Whispered over tumblers in the late hour of the night.
Our minds' stained glass distorting light behind our eyes,
Colouring opinion, casting motes of floating
Dust adrift upon the ebb and flow of our remembered history.

Between those whispered words, hushed tones,
Cracks of lightning laughter quick to smite,
Comes the ticking of the clock
Measuring out both time and truth,
Illusive in the midnight hush:

No longer rights or wrongs but
Wicked witches casting spells
Against which we pitch ourselves
the heroine.

No longer simple kindnesses bestowed
But kingdoms and vast fortunes gifted
Whilst ungrateful greedy hands would
Snatch from us our mercy, offering only
Empty embers' ashes in return

Our youth no longer ordinary but
Fraught with Hogarth's excesses
Of hedonistic, narcissistic, nihilistic
Indulgent pleasures

First kisses love stories, first cuts a battlefield
Bled out over a lifetime, mingled with gin and
Absinthe, as absent hearts refused to return
And those that did grew fat and unforgiving

Ah! Such heady thoughts of heady days.

Conversation, like the fire, soaked up fuel
Grew higher.
Spat a little, blushed red hot
Smoked, smoldered and raged
Before dying.

Topics exhausted and sapped to ash
Colourful opinions drained to grey
As the bottle emptied
And the clinker built
As the dawn broke
And nought more
There was to stoke
From the gaping
Jaws of two tired friends.

To bed, then.

Let the last breath of whisky haunt the hearth.

Let the stars claim their stories from the grate.

Let a hundred more stories await us

For the telling.