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Poetry Magnum Opus

The Conversion to Islam of Conor MacArt (Part 1)


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An Comhshó a Ioslam de Conchubhair Mac Airt




Páris, tar éis an tsaoil,

is fiú go mór Aifreann.


July, 1563


Satisfied, then, you bloody barstid?

said the man, a slip of drool running down his stubbled chin.

The weather is rather cool for May, I carefully replied,

in my newly acquired store of words in the clattering tongue

of the English, distressing sounds designed I believe

to make one's mouth feel unclean. I was aware it was July

and blistering hot, but I did not have the words at the time

to convey my sympathetic meaning. Bloody barstid, satis - THUNK

and his severed head bounced once or twice on the deck,

wild staring blue eyes, the bits of drool quite perfectly in place.

It was extremely well done, no hesitation or nonsense about it.


said the beheading Turk, turban slightly askew, his eyes

half-yellow, half-green gooseberries popping out at me.

The weather is rather cool for May, I informed him.


I realised the creature was speaking English.


he growled at me, slinging me down into the hold below,

where I lingered, shit-stained, hungry and miserable,

for three or seven days, when we came to a place called Cyprus.


One of the things I grew to like about the Turks

was that they either kissed you or killed you,

and although not kissable, not then, they held off

on the killing and drenched me down with buckets of water,

there on the dock, in front of a gaggle of tittering hooded women

accompanied by great big blubbery characters

whom I later learned were known as Yoonix

having had their - their parts removed. I was beginning to think

the Turks could be cruel when they put their minds to the task,

and so I said to myself, I said, don't go playing the eejit.

I managed a courtly smile and an elegant bend of the knee,

rather well done under the prevailing circumstances,

but was brought to sudden order by a slap on the back of the head.

I was to learn you can willy the women to your heart's content,

but you cannot, MAY not talk to them, a rigid rule I was to break

on more than one occasion: Yasmin Nur, my soul, Yasmin ...


Yes, well, I'm getting ahead of myself as we say in Connemara,

where the sheep would be looking at you for forms of religious guidance.

I suppose you might be asking yourselves, and murmuring with your wives,

why a fine young buchaill like myself, a scion of the sons of Ulaidh,

sometime friend and companion to our late chieftain Shane O Neill,

a gentleman of arts and parts, with pigs and cattle to his name,

(until they were robbed away from me, God blacken the thieves and blast their souls),

should be shivering and covered in shit in Cyprus? Questions shrewd and perspicacious.

You will remember from a previous account my cousin Rodrigo ....


(Here the manuscript abruptly ends. We are searching for the additional papers found only recently by Professor Takeshi Uchiyama and his team of researchers from Kyoto University, led on by hints in obscure Chinese imperial records. The successful search led to a cow byre in southern County Armagh, formerly a Norman keep of the 13th century, wired and mined until recently by unsympathetic members of HM military forces bravely suppressing the local population. Wind and rain over the years have caused some damage to these papers in addition to the casual evacuations of the bovine population).

Edited by dedalus

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

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