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Poetry Magnum Opus

terrorists on a coffee break


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We were told

to stay off the booze

and to run five miles

across the feckin fields

when we had,

as it were, the time.

Everyone snorted

and fell over laughing,

and then Dinny ups and says,

Are we to be running

in our Welly boots, sorr?

to the hard-eyed runt

come down from Belfast.

He looked pinched and peeved,

having to deal with us rustics,

but he'd brought us guns.

Nice guns, too,

Armalites, greased-up, new.

We were better tooled-up

than the sad sallow boys

in the fearful British Army

(you can take that both ways).

 

They were just walking targets,

doing useless patrols.

We'd do a little ping

once a week, shoot one,

then let them drag the body home

to think and brood about it.

They took their anger out on the locals

which was exactly

what we expected them to do:

the classic, fatal mistake

of ALL occupation armies.

Safe houses, money, food,

they all came pouring in,

and morale was right up there.

That's when we thought

we were winning the war.

We were doing grand

in East Tyrone, but the cities

were a different story.

 

They started picking us off

one by one: dawn raids,

roadblocks, security checks;

all the technology

efficiently brought to bear.

We were driven into the hills and woods

like the clansmen

four hundred years before.

We lost the M-60 that way.

Some young lads, recent

recruits, seething with frustration,

raced through the town

with the gun set up on a flatbed truck

and battered the hell

out of the local police station.

The SAS were waiting

and shot the lot of them dead,

even shot them

after they were dead

(to make sure, like)

there in the parking lot

in front of the church.

 

Cartridges like peanut shells

everywhere you walked.

 

That's when I went

to America, after the cops

beat up my little brother,

hassled my mother in the street,

and swore I would never

be captured alive.

We had lost, as they say,

the initiative.

When it came, the "Peace Process"

was grudgingly welcomed.

We were losing, it was that simple.

Nobody will admit it to this day:

"The Undefeated Army" ---

(that was supposed to be us)

was barely functional, nearly licked,

and mostly on the run.

I was scared of my life

in New York -- Jayzus,

you think Norn Iron is dangerous?

Try Brooklyn. There I was,

bartending, what else

do Irish illegals do (construction)?

 

Then the word came through

it was safe to come home.

It is never safe to come home,

not if your home is my home:

it's been on the frontline

for the past four hundred years,

and I don't want my own kids

(if and when I have them)

to go through the same thing.

Still, we all must do our little bit,

measured or unmeasured, for Mother Ireland.

Do chum Gloire De

agus Onora na hEireann*

but the time slides around

when you have to think

about doing a little something

for the nerve-wracked jangling creature

that dear old Mother Ireland

has made of you.

 

-----------------------------------------

* For the Glory of God and the honour of Ireland

 

NB - this poem is NOT entirely autobiographical. I can occasionally get into trouble for mixing journalism and poetry ....

Edited by dedalus

Drown your sorrows in drink, by all means, but the real sorrows can swim

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