Friday, March 1, 2019



Poems from the Norse-lands
He could only speak in whispers,
His journey had been long and hard;
His horse was taken down by wolves,
In the forest of Thorlaard.
The snow cut deep into his clothes,
And the frost had chewed his skin;
How he made it here, was a wonder,
The true mark of the courage of his kin.
He told us of the treachery,
How Hákon had rebelled;
And now proclaimed that he was Konungr,*
Over all the Northern lands.
He demanded subjugation -
From the Jarls, and all their wards,
And those that would defy him,
He had put to the sword.
His timing had been perfect,
The sea ice still blocked the fjords,
And the longships had been pulled ashore;
Unprepared for winter war.
But Thórolf, our Jarl,** decided
That we would stand and fight;
All crops and food were gathered in,
All sentries doubled in the night.
The western mound – our weakest place,
Was reinforced by new felled logs,
Their large branches cut and pointed,
To deter their horse and dogs;
The forge continued day and night,
Hammering out more spears and swords,
While our women streched hard leather,
For body armour, and shield boards.

Their emissary was first to arrive,
And offered life for our parole.
With a swift blow, Orm took his head,
And mounted it high upon a pole.
Then they sent out their slaves,
A ploy to count our bowmen’s place;
But as we killed the bravest runners,
The rest scattered back in haste.
Their first attack was fast and mighty,
They came like demons out of Hel,
Even the women had to stand beside us;
In our effort to repel.
Once they breached our eastern side,
But Halfur, filled the space,
Those that died in that deadly tide;
Went to the Gods with no disgrace.
The days rolled into weeks,
The weeks themselves into an abyss,
I lost many friends that winter time,
But Hákon lost more of his.
Our food piles had diminished,
But we still could eat once a day;
Three mares were sacrificed to Thor,
Then we cut their flesh away.
As the snows began to falter,
Hákon, himself appeared,
Carrying the branch of peace;
I thought, looking older than his years.
He relinquished all his previous claims,
Even gave our Jarl more lands to roam;
And when the treaty feast was over -
He turned and took his army home.
Of course there was a reason,
The sea ice was melting fast;
And he had plans to sail, for slaves and gold,
To be found in the Christian west.
But fate marked, he would not return,
Killed in the savage Celtic lands,
And the winter war, was long forgotten,
Until written by my hand.
©John Anthony Fingleton  (Löst Viking)
* Konungr / King
** Jarl / Earl

(For Catherine, my Mother)

I never got to tell you,
No, I never had the chance;
Never got to say the words,
And we never got to dance.
Fortune had blown us far apart
I’m the one, who wronged,
So all the things you did for me,
I’ve written in this poem.
You gave your love, before I did;
And never asked the same,
I was young and selfish;
Felt no wrong or shame.
You picked me up when I was down;
Dried my tears of pain;
Held me in your arms at night,
So I would never be afraid.
How many fools are now like me?
Regret unspoken words,
Forgive me as you always did,
My shield against the world.
The many times I broke your heart,
I so wish, I could change back time,
You had your own hard cross to bear;
But you also carried mine.
Unyielding love you always gave;
My shelter from all storms,
I wish you could hear these words -
Please forgive me all the wrongs.
I remember still, the day I left;
You were standing at the door,
Waved, as I walked down the street,
I would see you, just once more.
Years then passed I took the world;
Stepped way out of your life;
Walked in many darkened places,
Far away for your love’s light.
Then that June, the cable came,
Five words – just one short line,
They will stay with me forever:
‘Come home your Mam’s dying’
But the cancer won, before the plane;
So I knelt there by your bed,
At two o’ five that morning,
Too late for words unsaid.
©John AnthonyFingleton  (Löst Viking)


He was old, and spoke in whispers,
Remembering his own days,
His words were not meant for me,
But for someone far away.
Sometimes he’d laugh,
Sometimes he’d cry,
Other times, he’d just sit and stare,
As if he could see someone,
Sitting in that empty chair.
At times I’d hear him call her name –
‘Anna O’ my love!'
I knew then my Grandmamma had come,
On a visit from above.
There would be a trace of her old perfume,
Wild flowers with speckled rose,
At these times I would slip outside –and let them be,
And say a soft prayer for her soul.
For I felt she was also lost,
Because, her man wasn’t there;
And I also knew my turn would come one day,
To stare at that empty chair.
©John Anthony Fingleton  (Löst Viking)


It snowed last night a heavy fall,
Making one colour of it all;
My footprints crunched a virgin path,
Like an alien from the Moon had called.

The woodpile seemed an odd shaped stack
Always covered in a sheet of black,
Now stood there like a marble tomb,
With no name on its front or back.

From inside the forest a sudden boom,
As clouds of snow tumbled down.
While branches sprung back into shape,
And flakes like white butterflies flew ‘round.

I looked all around this new landscape,
Not one position had escaped,
So moved on with a sudden haste,
To test the new ice on the lake.
©John Anthony Fingleton  (LöstViking)


This old bog road, is deserted now,
With the hedgerows overgrown;
The fields each side are still carefully spaced,
By ancient drywall stones.
The Fairy Mound, is not disturbed –
Old suspicions linger here,
But the cattle and the crops have gone,
And the old folks have disappeared.

Between the gaps of invading grass,
Old cart tracks, I can see;
From when farmers drove on market day,
Down to the town of Skibbereen.
And where I on rainy mornings,
Splashed reluctantly to school;
The first road I ever travelled –
Of the many later I would choose.

Two ravens, swoop down from the trees,
Unused to being disturbed;
Their dark eyes watch my progress –
Recording every move.
Then they rise and fly off easterly,
To report what they have seen,
Perhaps to ghosts, that once walked here?
Or a far more higherthing?

I turn – retrace my footsteps –
Reluctant to go on;
There is a special grief in all returning’s,
When the loved ones have all gone.
©John Anthony Fingleton  (Löst Viking)


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