We may meet again…

An Irish wake is simple enough to observe

In summary it takes one and a clan, all devoted

Or should I say, one willing to die, the others to wake

Which requires a disproportionate sacrifice indeed

Like a pig and chicken to bacon and eggs

One sacrifices and the other just gives

Such forfeiture is an Irish wake creed


The deceased must die, unexpectedly deserved

Without diagnosis (that would require a surgeon)

And a male subject seems to be an absolute necessity

For men die younger and more often of course

Leaving some to wonder if the women ever pass

Or if the Irish wake is mainly a misandry liturgy

Retribution for hardship with no divorce


Let’s say Seamus failed to awake one day

Not through any fault of his own this time

The drink didn’t keep him asleep but death killed him

And he wasn’t noticed to have taken his leave

Until bean chéile scolds the deceased harshly

Upbraiding him for laziness while she labors on

Then in fault her anger turns to a guilty heave


To the window, new widow, to the window fly

Open it wide for his spirit has been cooped in

All superstition and lore are intense at times such as this

And it’s believed that an escape he must make

You in his state must remain the man’s servant

With the wake just begun you’ve still much to do

He’s out for the day and he won’t be home late


Having begun now wait briefly to shut it again

Lest he repent and wish to return, lock him out

Sadly he leaves but now and forever he must stay away

And her true gift must now can be observed

To telegraph the news to friend and kin alike

Crying he’s passed just as one would expect

But certainly not as he or we all deserved


Next to the clocks if there be more than one

And stop time in respect for it seems poetic

While everyone else hastily prepares the house for visitors

‘Tis no better time to make the appearance clean

Cover the mirrors throughout the house as well

In fear that someone might spy death itself

And the next demise would be foreseen


It is necessary that the body be prepared

And shaved to make the man presentable

Whether he appears more handsome than before is debatable

His one suit never fit him right and now as well

But out of respect he’s dressed and tied together

Older women do this because they’ve all seen

There are no surprises with an Irish swell


After the man’s body is bathed and freshed

Handy women would also band his jaw shut

Lest the lout gape back at them as if still trying to speak

They’ve heard enough and’ll hear no story

He’s sent off well and well silent he be

They’ll be no drawing attention to himself

As he waits patiently in dear purgatory


The table is for today his place of repose

Oddly sacred but in an unusual fashion

And all gather to remain with attendance keeping this vigil

Cross oneself, prayers silent but well versed

Friends kneel, but family must kiss his cheek

All pray for his soul as they’ve always done

And they’re respectfully quiet at least at first


Quiet is not a room nearby kept for keening

This wailing is bitter bitching at the man himself

They wouldn’t complain so to the good Lord or blaspheme

Loudly screeching these banshees in grief

A true Irish symphony of widows and wives

Pausing only to sample meal and tepid tea

With no proper meal only eating in brief


With these formalities having been fulfilled

We turn now to the heart of the gathered throng

Food and drink as in meats and breads and alcohol strong

Conversation comes much easier with such prying

Lies flow as freely as drink in pleasant memories

Raising the glass encourages rounds of affection

Toasted with fondness forever undying


Candles are lit, a dozen with one Judas put out

For even the Lord had a neighbor ill tempered

Tobacco and pipes, lard and hard spirits were the men’s share

Always plenty since there’s no woman to warn

And they’d give them rest and something to do

Rest was allowed but sleeping lacked respect

As the watch carried into night and new morn


Games fill the hours not to pass the time

Playfulness mocks death but not the deceased

This hoolie is underway now and will carry on without guilt

As the door welcomes but no one departs

And none contemplate what done him in

Knowing what doesn’t send death to flight

So they dance to show the ache of hearts


The blessed rosary is recited mid-night

A decade signaling the end of the vigil today

But simply a respite in the country as they await the morn

The Father and Mary are made to attend

Invited by the women but observed by all

And stories are woven by the teller of tale

Binding living to dead to grave transcend


All the debts of life are due the widow now

This dying fails to undo anything done

For all the good such men are for, fightin’, bonin’ and drinkin’

The scars are deep, the children horde

And friends take up the pub where left off

Sell what she can, no sentiment to afford

Save us from his sins, our merciful Lord


Promises are made but needn’t be kept

‘I’m sorry for your trouble’ is consolation enough

Only deeds have value now and of course ordering of the coffin

It matters that you show forgetting his mistakes

It’s remembered more than you can imagine

For this is the Irish way when words are many

Only rivaled by the number of our wakes


The keening fades as the morning dawns

When undertaken away the reason to gather

The saddest and last of all farewells this exit that will not be undone

Forced to send-off this cheerless bier

Roads no longer rise, breeze is stiff afore

The sun now hides and storms drown all joy

We may meet again, but there not here

On being Irish…

alone-ietmages-17-300x199In this verse no one will die

No one is sick or will grieve

It is not that everyone’s blissful

For that would be a silly lie

But we could use a reprieve

From  the funereal hymnal.


This could be about life or joy

Pleasant parks, a May flower

Yet some don’t love the Spring

Allergies and rain may annoy

For some it’s love turned sour

Or that they’re denied a ring


Can-do bravery is pleasing

Psalms of life, into the valley

When others perish bravely

We’re moved to day seizing

Coup de grâce to de foudre

Lifely lived, lively not gravely


But I’m Irish – death’s our theme

The grave the cradle’s twin

Gentle Lady silenced by Joyce

Heanley’s Naturalist midstream

Yeats killed off Paddy Flynn

Wilde at the grave’s lost voice


But I’ve promised no decay

Disease, mortality or demise

Instead we’ll think of the morn

And life as a grand parfait

Beauty we will not despise

Nor emote so as to mourn


So here is the happy end

Ever after, fondly, cheerful

Hoping you feel better with this

And sleep better, life commend

Laughing instead of tearful

And not dying (today) is bliss


Then there is the miracle

When death is itself done in

But how often does that occur

Hope is fine, gullibility satirical

And none escapes original sin

For death one may not defer

Beginning to remember…

rememberThey say that you start to remember when you
start to speak; my question is does it matter if one never
shuts up? I’ve run on and on since I could and plan to
continue until I can’t (and even then I imagine a good
fight to get the last word in).

So, if speaking is memory, volume is excitement,
slurring too much of a good thing, and I’ve been
told I don’t know how to whisper, then my plan is to
talk death to death with determination which is the
Irish in me, don’t you know.

Talking death to death…

On the Gift of Speech

They say that you start
to remember when you
start to speak; my question
is does it matter if one never
shuts up? I’ve run on and on
since I could and plan to
continue until I can’t (and
even then I imagine a good
fight to get the last word in).

So, if speaking is memory,
volume is excitement,
slurring too much of a
good thing, and I’ve been
told I don’t know how to
whisper, then my plan is to
talk death to death with
determination which is the
Irish in me, don’t you know.