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Uilleam Ó Ceallaigh

Updated: Mon, 22 Aug 2022 01:27 pm

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About my profile picture-why a photo of a manhole cover? It was taken by me in 2011, on my arrival in the centre of Santiago de Compostela. I had walked the length of the river Loire, from Guérande in Brittany to its source at Gerbier de Jonc (625 miles): from there, walking to Le Puy en Velay, the start of the French Way of Saint James, the GR65 path, leading to Santiago, (very roughly 740 miles); a total of about1365 miles. According to estimates, in 2017 300,000 pilgrims (tourists?) arrived at Santiago; I would have been just one of those people who would have trodden on it or round it. A seemingly mundane object, but to me, almost a work of art of cultural and religious significance. It features an image which I recognise as a chalice, traditionally containing communion wine, a host, a wafer of communion bread, and the image of a star, the light of which is said in legend to have guided a shepherd to the site of Santiago’s (Saint James’) burial site. But why on earth would those images be on a manhole cover? My hobbies, interests and successes? After we bought a new cooker, I baked a boozy Christmas cake in October 2021, the fruit being soaked in 1/2 a pint of brandy over the course of a month; whoooooah! This August 2022, I successfully baked flaky pastry sausage roll (pigs in blankets style) for a 3rd birthday party, and baked a cake-so no booze. I've also rediscovered how to edit audio on my pc having forgotten it all over the course of a two-year-ish break/covid meltdown/ couldn't be arsed episode; I'm also learning how to animate a Christmas card of Santa on his sleigh, drawn by my son when he was about 5. And...I can still put my pants on in the morning without sitting on the bed! What I believe in?: 1. freedom of speech, 2. academic freedom, 3. freedom to lawfully assemble and protest. Since Prime Minister Boris Johnson came to power, those freedoms and our Human Rights are now under grave threat in the UK. On Friday 31st January 2020 some of us celebrated gaining our so-called "freedom", whilst at the same time, Johnson and his allies (including some members of her Majesty's non-opposition) have clearly demonstrated their contempt for the above freedoms. In the Queen’s speech, Johnson proposed a law banning UNIVERSITIES and local councils from organising boycotts, sanctions and disinvestment (BDS) against Israel and other countries. The BDS movement is modelled on the boycott of the South African Apartheid system i.e. a RACIST system! The Board of Deputies of British Jews, strangely enough, appear to have no problem whatsoever with the fact that the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has • described Jews as "Jewish oligarchs" who run the media, and who fiddle the figures to fix elections in their favour, • has portrayed a Jewish character, Sammy Katz, as having a "proud nose and curly hair", and who has painted him as a malevolent, stingy, snake-like Jewish businessman who exploits immigrant workers for profit, • as editor of the Spectator, published articles by the notorious racist Taki Theodoracopulos who has boasted of being "an antisemite", and who has argued that black people "have lower IQs than whites", and who has praised Enoch Powell as a "great man". The Nelly Sachs prize, named after the German-Jewish Nobel laureate, is awarded by the German city of Dortmund to writers promoting “tolerance and reconciliation”, and who have worked to improve cultural relations. Milan Kundera and Margaret Atwood are previous recipients of the prize. Kamila Shamsie, the British - Pakistani author, who has the support of 60 Jewish and Israeli academics, was awarded €15,000 (£13,000) Nelly Sachs prize, but a German jury has reversed its decision to award it over her support for the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. I agree with Shamsie who has said that the withdrawal of the prize was part of a trend “labelling supporters of Palestinian human rights as antisemitic”. I also agree with the novelist Ahdaf Soueif, who has said that the withdrawal of Shamsie's award was “a manifestation of a new McCarthyism – on an international scale”. The following is an extract from an open letter published 23 September 2019, in the London Review of Books. "The Right to Boycott" "As a statement by more than forty progressive Jewish organisations says, ‘dangerously [conflating] anti-Jewish racism with opposition to Israel’s policies and system of occupation and apartheid ... undermines both the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality and the global struggle against antisemitism. It also serves to shield Israel from being held accountable to universal standards of human rights and international law.’"


1. Limerick A lass called Gloria from Lundy, Capsized the ferry-boat last Sunday, Whilst at breakfast in Torridge, She overloaded with porridge, Sic transit Miss Gloria Mundi. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 2. The Rape of Britain (Jeremy Hunt as Health Secretary tried to cover up money being wrongly paid out to a private bus company by having an internal inquiry) Your poor sick wife, Has paid her dues, All her life, They lie, you lose, She lies in piss, In her pit, in shit, Listening to the hiss, Of NHS arteries slit, Britain bled dry, Blunt scalpels dissecting, Our national pride, Needles injecting Billion-pound profits. They’ll watch your wife snuff it, And leave you to grieve. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 3. In Memoriam of Jo Cox MP Erect more walls, demolish all the bridges, Put away your hearts and freeze them in your fridges, Send round the bully-boys to frighten little children, We will forget them, soldiers by the million. Turn back the clocks, and cast us off, alone, Blow the attack - dog - whistle, throw them a juicy bone, Telling them: “Your women will be raped, go get your guns!”. Now motherless they mourn, a daughter and a son. The aircraft’s vulturing flight above our heads, Mocks at her memorial: She Is Dead. We wear Yorkshire roses, symbols of our love, As storm clouds gathering weep for her, above. We, the folk of North and South and East and West, In mourning black, or working rig, or Sunday best, Shared our sun and moon, our talk, our songs, “Two World Wars’ lessons learned”, I thought; how wrong. Snuff out the stars, spit on the bloodied sawdust floor, Let rule the thoughtless thug and Neanderthal boor, Let Britons drown in fascist hateful flood, Was it for this, the millions spilled their blood? --------------------------------------------------- 4. I wrote the following in response to the consequences of Tony B.Liar's war, and a photo I saw prior to it of women and men in modern western dress on the steps of Baghdad University. ERRATA They learned to pray, and prayed that they might learn at university, They once were seekers of enlightenment those women of Baghdad, Their joyous love of truth, at one with studious sobriety, Three decades past were liberated, sacred faith in knowledge clad. On Bishopsgate at happy hour all Christendom came out to play, And bought the lie; that Freedom Fries and all that we held civilised, Would by the darkest force of evil be untimely snatched away, The rabble, roused, bemoaned its fate, and bade the dogs of war arise. Women with their rictus grins now keep their peace in shock and awe, Our sisters, strangled shot and burned, their lesson well and truly learned, So still, they lie on white-tiled slabs within Suleimaniyah morgue, While back in Blighty, Sense and Sensibility with tut tut stern, All a-quiver at some inky lines of giggling schoolboy smut, The wrong kind of obscenities, gratuitous, beyond the pale, Unsanctified by academe; no match for oil that’s bought with blood, The blood of two whose names I know, who died for our holy grail, Du’a Khalil Aswad, aged seventeen, her sins; to love, to dream, her wrong religion, time and place conspired that she be stoned to death, Abeer Qasim Haza was raped by Liberty at fourteen, Her body burned to hide their crime; the guilty now still drawing breath, The four-wheeled fascist juggernaut’s thirst for cubic capacity, Enslaves us all, its phallic fantasy mocks sense and conscience, Cares not for love, enlightenment, knows only death, rapacity. What refuge now, for women, in the Mother of all Parliaments? --------------------------------------------------------------- 5. I wrote this piece in solidarity with the majority of Muslims who choose not to murder innocent people. VOUS ÊTES, DONC JE SUIS Vous êtes, donc je suis. J’ai mon part de ton angoisse, Encore une fois, Ils crucifient leur prophète, Ton cœur, C’est le mien, Encore une fois, Ils crachent au visage de leur prophète, Ta peur, C’est la mienne, Encore une fois, Ils se moquent de leur prophète, Ta douleur, C’est la mienne, Tes cris sont les miens, Tes larmes sont les miennes, Que tu viens du nord, Je chante avec toi, Que tu viens du sud, Je pleurs avec toi, Que tu viens de l’est, Je meurs avec toi, Que tu viens de l’ouest, Je vis avec toi. Je suis parce que vous êtes. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 6. This was my first and only attempt (so far) at a Sestina I think it reflects 1. the trepidation I felt at the thought of one of my long walking trips and 2. the effort of trying to write this bloody thing! PILGRIM POET Now I must stir and onward urge this aching rattle-bag of bones, These words made flesh are my companions on a long and winding road, They’re stepping-stones across the torrents wild of love and fear and joy, Sometimes with great meandering steps they mark a path, some truth foretell, The task that I am set must be to forge a path to heaven’s gate, I tempt the fates but I am blessed, for others’ courage lights my way. Now I must plan both warp and weft, that I may safely see the way, With resolution I must fight to clothe and feed these poor bare bones, One first step followed by a thousand is the way to reach that gate, Both measured line and foreign accents mark this ancient, rugged road, What words or deeds may spring from wandering spirits wild, who can foretell? How can this restless struggle and toil lead pilgrims such as I to joy? No sooner under way am I than doubting voices mock my joy. ‘This fool pretends to be a poet; he’s no right to come this way, Can he plait fog or wear the emperor’s new clothes, can he foretell To all the great and good their fates? Now mark our words, they’ll find his bones, Gaunt, bleached by sun and wind and rain, for all to see beside the road, His page in history a blank, he’ll be a beggar at our gate’. My eyes are fixed on far horizons, for my goal is not their gate, In God’s own time I will arrive, I’ll travel hopefully with joy, With each new dawn, each breath that’s drawn, I’ll progress further on my road, Through inspiration born of others’ deeds I’ll find or make a way, My solitude gives food for thought and inner strength to move my bones, But rat-race demons of distraction howl and curse, my doom foretell. ‘He’ll not succeed, he’s in a handcart off to hell’, the ghouls foretell, ‘He’ll run right out of words, a gibbering wreck he’ll be, at Peter’s gate’. But I will heed them not: tonight, at journey’s end, a game of bones, With pints of foaming ale, and hours of idle chat will be my joy, In Lancashire with gradely folk, I’ll know I’ve found my real way, Their honest labour’s made a nation; they are princes down our road. My tale is told; and through a field of shining stars, I’ve made my road. If you should care to walk that way, give heed to what your dreams foretell, Stand firm and true, fly in the face of fear and doubt, do not give way, Hold high your head come rain or shine, through brook and stile and kissing gate, You will prevail if you can smile and fill another’s heart with joy, Do that, and you will surely earn the right to rest your weary bones. Sestina lente; that’s the way to take each step along your road, I feel the future in my bones, you will do well, that, I foretell. Pause, lean your bones upon a gate beside the road that leads to joy. -------------------------------------------------------------------------- 7. My Second Sonnet: (Apologies to Salford University for it’s being too white and western a form) Where is Beauty? When you behold the shimmering stars at night, You ask if all that beauty’s in your eyes, You close them, pensive: here within my sight, Your form so exquisite provokes my sighs; That hawthorn flowered path on which we walk, Has scent that’s just as sweet before we meet, Those songs without words in each precious thought, Become enchanting music when you speak, All truth is on these lips I can’t resist, And in these eyes I see a heavenly fire, ‘But where is beauty? Show me’, you insist, Entwined within your arms I am inspired; I know that beauty’s in the stars above, Where soars my heart; it’s here, and here, my love. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

All poems are copyright of the originating author. Permission must be obtained before using or performing others' poems.

Audio entries by Uilleam Ó Ceallaigh

BIGOTS (09/09/2022)

AUDIO of my SAMPLES 1-7 Repeats rectified (21/08/2022)

ROOTS (20/08/2022)


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Frederick Kesner

Sat 20th Aug 2022 23:49

Thanks for your much appreciated read and response to 'the budding senescent.'

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