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Poetry Magnum Opus

The Conversion to Islam of Conor MacArt (Part 3)


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An Comhshó a Ioslam de Conchubhair Mac Airt




Saol agus an chiall atá deacair.

Níl an Bás.


I took all the necessary vows

with my tongue held firmly in cheek

and thus became a bashibazouk.

I could see no other way.


From slavery and from iron chains removed

I became again a proud young warrior

with a devilish assortment of weapons

and, I fear, outlandish clothing.


I must confess I looked rather fine.

I would stop then and again by a mirror

and stroke my fierce moustachios

while striking a fearsome martial pose.


Restored to my natural position

it did not take me long to visit the docks

and search out that Cockney turncoat

who fell to his knees before me.


I was an officer, he was nothing, I had

a crowd of murderous troops around me

and he fell to whining: Omagawdsofackinsorrysir!

A laugh came unbidden: turns of fate are sweet.


Tell me your name, you frightful English cur!

Muggins, sir, Albert Muggins, sir, Bert for short.

Very well, Muggins, gather your kit,

you are now my valet and personal slave.


I must say he took it rather well. In the weeks

and many months to come he showed rather willing,

with a conscientious tradesman’s air about him,

until the time of his ultimate fatal decision.


One cannot really trust the English, of whatever class,

they bear the canker of the Germans from whom they descend:

in triumph they will murder your wife and children,

in defeat they will sob and groan and hug your knees.


They are dull doughty defenders but not real warriors.

We have seen this time and time again. They win and lose

their many wars, not from audacity, but from simply hanging on,

and this has proved to be wonderfully successful.


The world despises and dislikes them, as if it matters,

for they will never rise above their narrow island confines

nor mount any form of empire, the thought is entirely

ludicrous, beginning with a forthcoming defeat in Ireland.


Shane, if I know him, will bash their bloody brains out,

just as I fear, presently, he would treat my brains as well.

In the meantime I look upon this creature Albert Muggins,

and give him a kick up the arse, enforcing our change in fortune.


He is a weaselly, grovelling, dungbeetle of a creature,

often found in the environs of a London district called Ealing

where ailing grandmothers with coins under their mattresses

need iron bars on the windows to keep their grandsons out.


The Houlihan family of the area are well known for marauding

on the poor and the helpless and the orphans and widows,

a greedy ferocious clan of depradations and occasional poetry,

handed down, it would seem, from generation to generation.


Albert Muggins – Bert – took a shine to his duties, crookedly-toothing

his smiles, saying, Tankgawdyewcymealongsirbloodywytingsooiwoz!

Then along before long came the delicate problem of Yasmin Nur:

almond-eyed young second concubine to the Captain of the Guard …



The decipherment process is going on steadily but slowly under the direction of Professor Uchiyama and his team, scraping and dissolving away the cowshit of centuries, but there is a real and catastrophic possibility of a reduction in funds and possible termination of the project owing to the March 11 massive earthquake in Japan. We can only hope the project will continue.

Edited by dedalus

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

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Frank E Gibbard

Why oh why Bren did you have to? No further comment, was enjoying most of the fiction so far until it got too particular for me to stomach. Mild teasing only I suppose you think, but it is my family name and yet again an example of English folk as eternal bad guys Part 101. FrankEG.

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Fair enough so, Frank. Too particular. Too much sting in what passes for local humour. We do this all the time and it is not, believe me, directed outside or at the Brits in general. We do this to ourselves all the time (because we are friends, actually). Sorry. Now, who do you dislike? Do you have, like, rowdy neighbours, people who are giving you all kinds of trouble? I'd be delighted to slip their names in instead of you. Considering it's the 16th century (1562-67) I don't think names like Abdullah or Ranjit Singh will float but if you have a horrible crowd of neighbours called Brown or Smith or Willoughby fferguson deVere, I can see no problem.


Sorry again. I was having a go, fair enough, but the very idea of offering offense was the furthest thing from my mind. I was dragging you into the poem as a joke which other people on the list might chuckle at. That's it. We do this all the time in Ireland because the needle is sharp and we take no prisoners. I forget at times that we come from neighbouring countries but essentially different mindsets. Geography be damned, it's a fact.


No offense intended, OK?


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

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Cleansed and all taken care of: the Houlihans (deservedly) take the blame. Rough crowd, even by Irish standards. That's where the word 'hooligan' comes from ... but I'm not so sure of the historical accuracy, the timeframe. One tries so very hard to get these things nearly exactly right. Never mind. It'll do. :huh:

Edited by dedalus

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

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Frank E Gibbard

Peace reigned in the PMO realm. Your point of the Irish joshing culture is well understood, was already, as I said in my PM to you. Anyway done and dusted even though my wonderful hometown is still traduced (please substitute Dublin or similar) the last was a joke. "Queen of the suburbs" mate! Not that I have much time for queens of the royal variety, things you say can be taken so many ways in our delightful mutual English tongue (? Bren quote: "clanking" if my memory serves). I shall leave off now as this is incestuous by now should any general reader see it which I hope Tony does as I embroiled him in the heat of initial reaction. See you round the fora Bren. Frank Gibbard.

(PS - some of my best friends being Houlihans I resemble that remark)

Edited by Frank E Gibbard
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Your lyrical poems offer both an insight and an amusement to a culture foreign to me. This form of narrative where one moves away to the present to some reflection and come back with a renewed insight I believe is typical of unrhymed ballads.

"Words are not things, and yet they are not non-things either." - Ann Lauterbach

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This is most entertaining and very well put together. The humour is excellent and reminds me of “The Legendary Monologues of Marriot Edgar” that a friend of mine used to recite. Ben.

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