Wednesday, November 1, 2017




The irony was not lost,
I'm at a red light
Where once the ladies worked,
Retailing their bodies
To the passing trade of sailors,
Anchoring for a while at Dubarry's
And local men cruising the kerbs.

Long gone from observation,
Replaced by slaves from other spheres
As Belfast's Dockland moved downstream
And gentrification set in with plazas
And street art. James Larkin
On the Custom House Steps
In declamatory pose forever now
Urging a revolution of United workers,
All still wobbly.

Still stopped a new irony beckons,
We've stopped our strife,
Maybe till the green light shows
But for now it's halted.
Handshakes are still problematic,
Something the French do with grace
Upon meeting. While here some meet
And refuse to greet, no open hand outstretched.
Believing the Other is klute
And holding a knife out of sight.

So the thirty seconds pass and red
Gives way to orange, waiting to change
To green. No movement after all.
This is still the slow hour.


When we were children,
Way back in the fifties, when
Holidays were the non school days
And not domestic nor foreign stays,
Sunny Sundays, after mass, in Summer
My family and some friends would dander
Into Belfast, loaded with the poor picnic
And board the Trolleybus and escape
From the slum streets for a while.

At Whitehouse we'd walk under the railway
And make our way to Hazelwood Beach.
There among the detritus of broken
Concrete bunkers, relics of the past war,
We'd decamp, towels on the flat pieces,
Towels on the sand, and a fire pit,
One had to have tea at a picnic.

When changed we dashed to the waves,
Mostly wavelets to be honest,
Everyone splashed, everyone wet.
In retrospect, we never noticed how cold the sea was;
Nor the pollution in the Lough.
The water was a turgid mix, sewage untreated,
Effluent from the various dockside industries
All swept to sea for nature to cope with.
And, we never looked back to see
The yellow pallor of the Belfast air,
Hiding the hatred soon to erupt.


The hissing silence of deafness,
Descends, a cone of aloneness,
Like listening to the remnants
Of the Big Bang, waiting for ET.
At least I still had my fingers
And my eyes could still read,
So that when the mobile vibrated
I had contact, an outlet.

Alas, no mobile, c'est Mort,
Drowned in the drunk's direct line.
The yawning maw of the Great White Telephone
Gathered a clumsy fumble;
Lesson, never carry one's phone into the toilet.
It's too difficult to multitask,
Tugging flies and holding phones,
The lack of an extra hand
Sent my contacts to sleep with the fishes.

The hissing silence of deaf
Sits about my head, I'm like a pet
Just newly returned from the vet,
Neutered and unable to bite the stitches.


PATRICK DORRIAN is a retired schoolteacher, now in his middle sixties. He is married to Frances and is the father of three adult children. Patrick has lived in Belfast for his whole life, with the exception of a two year sojourn in London. Writing poetry is a hobby first started as a means of stress relief. He has had some poems published in E magazines in the last five years.

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