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Poetry Magnum Opus

The Conversion to Islam of Conor MacArt (part 6)


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An Comhshó a Ioslam de Conchubhair Mac Airt



Hezekiah's Tunnel, Old City, Jerusalem


Mar thoradh ar ár deoraíocht

mór dúinn a bheith iallach a leathnú

ár seirbhís ar eachtrannaigh *


God and Saint Patrick, the rising stink

would put you in mind of the Widow Fitzgerald

beyond in Bundoran, and there’d be Uncle Jack

having a right good go at her, no nose at all,

shot to hell away in Flanders , sure, no better man

for a gallop with Fitzy, that cheery oul’ trollop,

farting away in her yellowy petticoats …


Gawd’s syke, sir, you must pye attention!

What? Get away ye wee pillock … what, what’s that?

There is himminent dynjjer of han hexplosion.

Well I know that, do you think I’m a total idiot?

Don’t arsk me such questions, sir, not naow.

We were in a tunnel under the Old City of Jerusalem

with thousands of fire-breathing Moors above us.


Wha'? C'mere to me, ye wee feckin gobshite …

Shhh, sir, for Gawd’s sake, … keep it ruddy well dahn!

Thy’ll come pourin dahn on us like dunno bloody wot

wiv one fawss move, sir, an' we’ll be dead as mah’an!

Dead as what? Sheep, sir! Speak for yourself, I hissed,

pulling out my pistol and a dagger for good measure.

And will you keep your voice down, you little swine!


Shane O’Neill, I thought, would be splitting his sides

If he could see me now, damn his liver and his lights!

A rush of the purest anger and hatred ran through me

thinking of Whatsername, my wife, and the wee kiddies

back in green and drizzly Ireland, and the state of me here,

crawling along a tunnel under the command of Sullivan,

Suleyman the Magnificent, as they do be calling him.


Between the two of them I’ve no life to be calling my own,

a shuttlecock I am, with them two evil-eyed murderous …

Sir ! WHAT!! I mean, what? And will you be quiet, Jayzus!

Some clarss of wroytin ahead, look, at the bend of the wawrl

What does it say? Quick, quick, man, what does it say??

Carn’t understand raghead lingo, sir, fought you might …

Arra, move aside, man, hand me over that thing in your hand:




Don’t you know

that I love you


Whass that, then sir? Important, is it?

No, no , just Jewish kids.

Hang on, there’s another bit down below:


Jesus Christ is a Wanker.

Feckin kids.


A sudden BANG put the fear of God in us,

and with a squeal and whimper I trod on the torch.

Utter total backness. Whassat, then? Eh?

The fuck should I know?!! We whispered angrily,

one to another in the darkness, and I aimed the pistol

at where I thought his head might be, slowly curled

my finger on the trigger … and counted 1 - 2 - 3


Christopher Christ!! The ceiling came down in a sudden crash,

and blinding sunlight bedazzled our eyes. Cascades of dust

clouded the cavern and I desperately dived for the darkness.

Shots rang out and I heard a high-pitched animal scream.

Bit of London in that sound, I was seriously fervently hoping,

am I rid at last of that evil murdering blackmailing bastard?

Voices: Hallo, sirr, hello my dear! Please look this way!


I peered out cautiously. Above there were dozens of them,

dozens of bearded, beatifically smiling, quite friendly faces,

aiming dozens of not so friendly muskets in my direction.

Not to be moving, please, dear sir, while we bring ladder!

That didn’t take long, and I was gently helped to the surface.

You will become our guest, sir. Ahh! And what about my man?

Oh, not to worry please, sir. He is very fine, quite safe safe.


(to be continued ....)



* As a result of our exile

we have been compelled to extend

our service to foreign nations

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

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It's just a whimsy, Ben, which I come back to from time to time "when the mood is on me". The whole thing must run to over 1000 lines by now! It's not deathless poetry by any means but it's a ripping yarn -- more Flashman than Blackadder.

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

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