The Tower of Il-Gardjola, poems by Ruairí de Barra
The author Ruairí de Barra hails from the wilds of Tawneyshane, Co. Mayo and now resides in Cobh, Co. Cork. A sailor with over two decades of service with an tSeirbhís Chabhlaigh & Óglaigh na hÉireann including service on international humanitarian operations in the Mediterranean. He writes professionally as an accredited Irish Defence Forces military journalist and is a regular contributor to ‘An Cosantóir’, the Irish Defence Forces magazine. His May 2017 article “Rebuilding Somalia’ was nominated for the European Military Press Association ‘Best Article Awards 2017’. His work has also been published in ‘Emergency Services Ireland’ and ‘Contact’ the Australian Defence Forces magazine. His creative work has featured with ‘Tinteán’, ‘A New Ulster’, ‘Live Encounters’ and ‘The Bangor Literary Journal’. He is shortlisted for the Sixth Bangor Literary Poetry Competition 2018. He is the inaugural recipient of the An Cosantóir ‘Gen. MJ Costello’ Award 2018 and a nominee for European Military Press Journalist of the Year 2018. He writes creatively under the nom de plume Karol Barry on his WordPress (www.karolbarry.com).
Ruins of Houses
In the shattered ruins of abandoned houses,
Lie secret notes on scraps of papers,
Tucked beneath the mossy stones,
Silent questions to be buried under falling needles,
Hopes and fears unanswered in the rough pine forest,
The cairn of broken plates and white clay pipes,
The thick round pots rims, orange and smooth,
Marking the commitment to the woodlice,
Of the lonely pain.
Red, golden, green, the scales of Peters fish,
stretched and nailed to the curve of the dome,
held up by pious prayers, feverish pleas and hope of the wounded,
the hospital arches of yellowed stone, barred with wrought iron,
twisted and anchored deep into faith,
by head and feet, anointed shells of men, bent battered forms.
Monuments of glory, extracted from pauper’s pockets,
alms for the destitute and knives for the enemy,
brick and stone seated into the hillside,
suffer in your humanity, weep and be washed clean,
soldier return to maintain a homeland, soaked in blood.
Cassocked crucible redeemer, kneel and unto this ring press thy lips,
kiss, worship, bow, prostrate lie before fine marble,
whisper all into the grill,
bind thy limb, and mouth, choke off forbidden words,
in the darkness fear the retribution,
for untold sins at seven.
Cry out for the forgotten children,
wrapped in rags living in the doorway,
on the entrance to exalted palaces,
gleaming goods within, shining out from lust and greed,
stretching out across the broken pavement,
to illuminate the steps,
were the holy warriors bled and the drunk sleeps.
The Tower of Il-Gardjola
We hear it all,
the endless message,
carved high into the battlements,
conform and heed our call.
We see it all,
the lidless eye is never sleeping,
stays dry mid widows weeping,
for the husbands who lay bleeding.
We speak the truth,
if one can hear it,
stand on faith or simply fear it,
wearily silent, remain to bear it.
We are the day,
the endless power,
the bright sunlit gleaming tower,
careless now the hour,
brings no sunset.
We are the night,
pinned in stone,
the all enduring,
the world upon its mooring,
rotates on and on.
We are the Alpha and Omega,
the cross and holy sceptre,
the welcoming open harbour,
fruit laden timeless garden,
above trembling prison wall.
The rusty frames have faded into the background,
beyond the comprehension of the busy lives bustling underneath,
the silent gaze of the towering giants,
steadfast vigil beside the dark river,
strangers eyes see the flaking struts,
derelict complaints can’t reach the pigeons nesting over Velrome,
These old familiar shapes once had motion,
the long lifeless chains once toiled,
hoisting plate steel upon the boom & jib,
dirt & sweat lowering bread upon the tables,
of those that climbed the ladders,
worn hands with black dirt engrained.
Tired forms slaked thirst inside the Smugglers,
read papers smudged by caulkers,
red eyed welders sat like monks,
in contemplation of the seam,
wreath in poison smoke,
attendant to the birthing bed,
of Irish Oak and Ash, of Aisling and of Emer.
Sickbed of a thousand weary hulls,
footings in the dock of industry,
outstretched arms into the air,
dismembered for the breakers yard,
to fade from memory of the passers-by,
rent a sunder in the final days.
Lest the crumbling lattice remove a life,
crashing into the cool shadow below,
or casting a hoist or sheave into the channel,
hooking the weary rumbling merchants,
like the swift runs of summer mackerel,
frozen now in the rarest of snows,
as the towering giants get pulled down
© Ruairí de Barra