Thursday, August 7, 2008

Twelve year old whiskey

The crowds have dispersed
And the bubble has burst
And the bar-room is quiet once more.
The bartender jokes
With some hillbilly folks
While Conchita and Raul sweep the floor.
A man with a scar
Eyes the till on the bar
But decides that it may be too risky.
On an old upturned crate
Reclines twelve year old Kate
With a bottle of twelve year old whiskey.

The jukebox is playing
A song sad and swaying,
The click of the pool cue cracks loud.
The dawn is approaching,
Reality encroaching,
Stale smoke hangs above in a cloud.
A maudlin old hag
Takes a drag of her fag
And recalls how she used to be frisky,
And though it is late,
There sits twelve year old Kate
With a bottle of twelve year old whiskey.

Reality bites,
Someone turns up the lights,
The customers shirk from the glare.
The corner chair scrapes,
The old hag escapes
And the hillbillies slump in the chair.
Raul gives dark looks
As he does up the books,
Typing slowly in case he might miss-key.
And in a drawn, haggard state,
The young twelve year old Kate
Drains the last of her twelve year old whiskey.
Looking at the menu one night, Emmet remarked "Hey Kate, they have whiskey especially for you!"

Monday, August 4, 2008

The subterranean Ostraco blues

Plakias is breezy,
The moon is cheesey,
Nico jumps boats and says it is easy.
Crickets keep humming,
Andreas keeps coming,
Don’t throw the paper and mess up the plumbing.
Watch out Kate!
Carrots on the plate!
Maria is singing,
Aftersun’s stinging,
Point out the star, on which we’ve been swinging,
Get down, Emmet,
Stop that tomfoolery,
Mon’s in the Talisman looking at the jewellery.
Dave’s gone smoking,
Áine’s joking,
Cicadas are croaking
Monica and Brenda are Malibu and Coking,
Drink is flowing,
Emmet says he’s going,
Kate’s gone to watch the video that’s showing.
Come back Kate!
There’s olives on the plate!
Adonis is walking,
Frau Fred’s stalking,
Down on the beach the goose is squawking.
Maria and Anna get
Ice-creams from the freezer,
Mon’s in the Talisman wearing out my Visa.

Nico is messing,
Dave’s excessing,
Brenda counts the days but says it’s too depressing.
Áine’s reminiscing,
Emmet’s gone missing,
Too many Cokes have sent him to the toilet.
Look here Kate!
These carrots look great!
Adonis shoos a cat away,
Nico puts his hat away,
Maria goes this-a-way,
Kate goes that-a-way,
Dave and Áine chat away,
Peter wants his stomach to sit in a flatter way,
Emmet’s taunting ‘roaches,
Andreas approaches,
Mon’s in the Talisman trying on the brooches.

Maria’s drinking juices,
Kate makes excuses,
Áine lists dead cats and many of their uses.
Dave’s telling fables,
Andreas moving tables,
The bottles look small so Emmet checks the labels,
Go on Kate!
More olives on the plate!
Maria is sleepy,
Frau Fred’s creepy,
Brenda’s eyes are weepy,
Dave explains the diff’rence ‘tween a wigwam and a tepee.
Emmet’s nose is runny,
Adonis thinks its funny,
Mon’s in the Talisman spending all my money.

Nico’s throwing nuts about,
The girls shake their butts about,
The goose looks offended and humorously struts about,
The moon is waning,
Emmet is complaining,
Áine spots a cloud and says it might start raining,
Eat up Kate!
More carrots on the plate!
The waves keep rolling,
Adonis goes strolling,
Kate won’t eat despite Brenda’s cajoling,
Sunburn stings now,
Maria sings now,
Mon’s in the Talisman trying on the rings now.

Dave is re-ordering,
Peter’s camcordering,
Mon wants to know if we can afford a ring,
Adonis drinking water,
Dave’s on the porter,
Brenda’s trying to get an olive in her daughter.
Just one Kate!
Choose one from the plate!
Kate refuses,
Brenda excuses,
Nico and Emmet are comparing their bruises,
Áine watches,
Maria dances,
Mon’s in the Talisman lightening finances.

Peter’s hunched stockily,
Nico shouts cockily,
Áine is extolling the virtues of broccoli,
Monica is sweating,
Brenda’s forgetting,
Dave checks his whistle and says it needs wetting,
Where is Kate?
These olives won’t wait!
Maria sings a stanza
Of Mario Lanza,
Emmet wants to know if we can play Bonanza.
Twenty dollars,
The carrot dangles,
Mon’s in the Talisman trying on the bangles.

The goose is getting playful,
Andreas has a tray full,
Dave can’t figure out why his pint won’t stay full,
From somewhere there’s an odour
Of Campari and Soda,
Kate throws the nuts the way that Nico showed ‘er.
Stop that Kate!
Leave some on the plate!
Mon wants a sweater,
Peter won’t let ‘er,
Emmet wants to know can he have some more Feta,
Brenda and her bra
Are locked in a crisis,
Mon’s in the Talisman checking out the prices.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Foreign departure lounge

Another stream of English? Greek? Swahili?
Everybody straining hard to hear.
We look across at Ray from Cabinteely.
He just shrugs and takes a sup of beer.

The plane was due to leave at 7:20,
My watch says it is now 8:22.
Of Gaelic football tops, there still are plenty,
So if it’s gone, it’s left with just the crew.

The monitor is grimy and quite dirty,
Our flight of course is nowhere to be seen.
The plane that left for Rome at 7:30
Still shows “Delayed till 7:17”

There’s no sign of our plane outside the window,
We’re six but squashed in seats designed for three.
Someone throws away last Wednesday’s Indo,
Someone else is going for a pee.

All around the travellers are sweating,
No-one really wanting to fly home.
My wife and I are earnestly regretting
We didn’t catch that bleedin’ flight to Rome.

Half an hour, another stream of babble,
Ray gets up and nods toward the gate.
We all follow like a brainless rabble,
Thankful that we’re only two hours late.

The ascent of the Kakomouri headland

(an account of the daring and intrepid ascent of this previously unclimbed – except by other people – mountain overlooking Plakias bay)

For a week I’d reclined
With not much on my mind
In the Ostraco beachside taverna.
And my plans to go hiking,
Once much to my liking,
Had been very much on the back burner.
But my conscience was roused
By the choice thus espoused
With a strength that conspired to floor me,
So I sucked on my lime
And avowed I would climb
The bloody great headland before me.

So next morn, I awoke
With a post-Raki croak
And set out in my shorts and my sandals.
And though it was still night,
The moon’s bounteous light
Meant I’d no need for torches or candles.
Round the beach road I strolled
With my sweat running cold,
Hoping any stray dogs would ignore me,
Till I reached that great rock
When it came as a shock
The extent of the journey before me.

It was huge, it was massive,
Aloof and impassive
And I felt an illegal usurper.
As I started to sweat
I began to regret
That I’d not thought to hire a Sherpa.
Along the cliff’s base
I redoubled my pace
As a sense of adventure swam o’er me.
With my guide-book in hand, I would conquer this land,
Despite all the dangers before me.

To the cliff’s end I went
And began the ascent,
Still in the deep shade of the mountain.
A faint path up the scree
Led diagonally –
Fifty yards, eighty and countin’.
On the path a large goat
In a black woolly coat
Scampered off round a rock when he saw me,
And I envied his speed
As I viewed rock and weed
That adorned the slight pathway before me.

At the top of this climb,
I sat down for a time
And gulped some large mouthfuls of water,
Which lightened the load
And conclusively showed
I was right not to hire a porter.
Then I turned to the left
And hopped gully and cleft
As ambition continued to draw me
Ever higher and higher,
As my heart filled with fire
And the sunlight grew stronger before me.

At the end of this track,
I again doubled back
With another diagonal sortie.
And, as the sun baked,
How my knee muscles ached
And I wished I was not over forty.
Another sheer cliff,
And I wasn’t sure if
I was right ‘bout this pathway that bore me.
It was faint, indistinct
And I dubiously blinked
At the words on the page held before me.

But I went with the book
Round each cranny and nook,
To the final ascent I was seeking.
As I skirted large boulders,
The bag hurt my shoulders
And my knees kept their incessant creaking.
Then a dip hove to view
Up above and I knew
That the gods could no longer ignore me.
No way would I plummet
So near to the summit
With such world-famous glory before me.

Further upwards I rambled,
Occasionally scrambled
With the brown vegetation quite prickly.
My legs were all scraped,
Not a square inch escaped,
And the sweat down my neck became trickly.
When I got to the top
I decided to stop,
Cursing loud at the plants that did score me.
And I sat on a rock
At just seven o’clock
Gazing down at the view spread before me.

Just one final slope!
Up I climbed, full of hope.
The “pathway” was now indiscernible.
I clambered o’er rocks,
Taking plenty of knocks,
Wondering hard if this route was returnable.
I scaled one last lip
And my heart gave a skip,
As grave doubts had continued to gnaw me.
I was there! I’d o’ercome it!
I’d got to the summit!
Oh great joy unconfined!
(Though disgusted to find
That a German had got there before me.)

Big wave

He went into the sea up to his oxters.
“Big wave!” his mother shouted from the shore.
He waved with all his might,
Then got carried out of sight
By the biggest wave that Plakias ever saw.

Thoughts of flying home

The thoughts of flying home again are killing me,
Another endless stretch of work and rain.
Every fibre of my soul is willing me
To take the brash decision to remain.
Deep down though, I know well it can’t be done,
Although the harsh realities are filling me
With despair that I can’t stay here in the sun,
However hard imagination’s grilling me.

The thoughts of flying home again are killing me.
Blank depression’s all that has survived.
The prospect has been resolutely chilling me
Ever since the day that we arrived.
I feel the urge to pack a case and run.
Responsibilities, alas! are stilling me
And so I’ll merely stretch out in the sun.
The thoughts of flying home again are killing me

Rethymnon lighthouse waltz

At the end of the pier,
Where few tourists go
In the mad Cretan heat,
O’er the waters so clear
That languidly flow
To bathe his tired feet,

He stands tall and straight
With a big toothless grin
On his world-weary face,
Watching tourists and freight
Purring out, purring in,
Past his thick sturdy base.

His old grey tin cap –
Does it nod to the bucks
In their bright fancy gear
That now hold the map
And the maritime books
On the opposite pier?

Does his mind flicker back
To empirical times
When he stood proud and strong,
Shining forth in the black,
With his nautical chimes
Chanting loud the old song?

In his mind, does he hear
The victorious crow
Of the large Turkish fleet?
At the end of the pier,
Where few tourists go
In the mad Cretan heat...


A ravine or a gorge or a gully?
The Cretans don’t seem to know which.
The difference admittedly’s woolly.
How do you describe a large ditch?

Poolside brilliance

With a leap and a bound,
He sprang off the ground
And dived in with joy unrestrained.
Universal acclaim!
It was only a shame
He’d not realised the pool had been drained.

Kate and the dragonfly

The serried mountain massif
Stood inscrutably impassive.
The sun was hot though afternoon was late.
Upon the lake, relaxing,
We did nothing that was taxing
Till a dragonfly went buzzing after Kate.

The size of a small sparrow,
It flew at her like an arrow,
And caused Miss Lawless to become irate.
All around her, it went buzzin’,
Likely calling for its cousin,
This huge dragonfly that buzzed around poor Kate.

Was she being battered?
Well the evening calm was shattered
With yells and shrieks too awful to relate.
She was screaming out blue murder,
Even distant farmers heard ‘er
When a dragonfly went buzzing after Kate.

Well the pedalo was rocking
It was tilting something shocking
As all her jigging distributed weight.
And Emmet had no wishes
To be swimming with the fishes
When a dragonfly went buzzing after Kate.

The fish beneath the waters
Called out to their sons and daughters
“Dinner will be soon served on a plate!”
All the baby fish came tumbling,
Their little bellies rumbling,
When a dragonfly went buzzing after Kate.

‘Twas like assault and battery
Committed in a cattery
Or a banshee shrieking loudly to its mate.
Far away in West Darjeeling
People wondered “What’s that squealing?”
When a dragonfly went buzzing after Kate.

On the mountain, rocks came falling,
The destruction was appalling,
With towns submerged by limestone, shale and slate.
All the traffic was diverted
And the Red Cross was alerted
When a dragonfly went buzzing after Kate.

In the White House, they suspected
That the decibels projected
Could only come from en’mies of the state.
The fighter planes were scrambled
As the Secret Service gambled
‘Twas no dragonfly just buzzing after Kate.

And then suddenly, it vanished,
As by Royal Ordnance banished
And the anguished howls ceased to reverberate.
Once again great peace descended
On the lake so calm and splendid
On the day a dragonfly buzzed after Kate.

The short stubby finger syndrome

It’s the short, stubby finger syndrome
When your fingers grow chunky and fat.
In hot sunny climes,
It happens sometimes
That you can’t hold a pen
When you think of good rhymes,
And that, says the saying, is that.

The jewellery shops of Rethymnon

In Rethymnon in Northern Crete,
There’s jewellery shops on every street.
In fact I’d say each second shop
Would make the jewel-eyed shopper stop
And point at watches, brooches, rings
And other bright and shiny things.
Such is the amount, I’ve often thought
How the market can support
So many stores all selling bling.
But yet the singing tills all ring!
‘Tis clear to anyone who cares
To wander down her thoroughfares,
The town’s prosperity is fuelled
By all these shops so brightly jewelled.
Thus, borrowing a phrase of old,
The streets are truly paved with gold.