Sitting in the bathtub sukin my thumb waiting for the wolf man to come – sitting in the airport bar waiting for the spooks to come. Paranoid. Me. Never. I’m sitting here plugged in to itunes listening to Elbow ‘Throw those curtains wide’. Feel like crying my eyes out, sittin in bar/cafe looking out onto the runway, wired for sound and technology talking to my friend Toni and all I can think of is walking through here in handcuffs four and a half year ago, feeling like a fekin leper, everyone gawping at me.
Now they’re just gawpin at me coz I’s so good lookin! Ha!
My mind nearly collapsed there I’m wrecked already but will have a wee snooze on the plain. The reason for my angst is this life, this mad flaming life I live. Twelve days ago I’m let loose on the world, then nobody wanted to listen to me, talk to me or acknowledge my existence now I’m sitting in an airport bar waiting to go to conference where, it seems, there are people who are very interested in what I have to say. They might not like it but at least they are interested. My mind flits between planes, trains and drugs and hot tubs with a big Cuban cigar, brandy and port and lovely girls. The next morning, my flight to prison. I can smell it taste it feel it hate it. It creeps up on me and mugs me, this memory of regret. Stripped of more than my identity, it’s simple to epoche these events but for me they will never be bracketed, they are interwoven and enmeshed with time and place, fate and destiny circumstance and hap. I know it’s the other way round but that is exactly my point. I’ve just had all my belongings swiped by airport security and bloody right too, fekin drugs smugglers. I stand there watching with no sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach, no bile in the back of the throat and now slide show images of the cuffs the cell, the courthouse floor the retching, the madness of the next six years. Now, today I stand in my sock soles, no belt and smile coz I’ve been through it all before, then I was guilty, then I was wrong, today I’m proud coz I ain’t, I’m clean and have nothing to worry about.
I sit in 3D and lift from the same runway that brought me home in cuffs, now I’m heading up through the clouds and the familiar cotton wool forms below me. The sun warms the Perspex of the window and heats my cheek. I don’t care that heads may have rested there before , I’m at peace, I’m on my way I’m above the clouds, the roof has been lifted, flying without wings and not a chemical in sight. Then it hits me. This is the first time I’ve sat on a plane, on my own, sober. It looks different, it feels weird, is this it God, is this what it’s going to be like, every thought, every feeling like being born again. Don’t normally talk to God but seeing as I’m so close, I say hi.
Went to church last night, talking to kids and listening to a couple of ex ‘Norn Iron’ heavies who found God twenty years ago and stopped murdering people. Enjoyed it and felt their hope but… The ‘hey’ to god must of worked coz when I land I’m trying to find the metro link to the train station when a peeler appears and speaks to me in some strange foreign language.
“You Ok mate?”
I smile and say “I’m looking for the Metro link.”
He says “walk with me. I’m headin that way.”
Again I speak to God “Oh God!”
We chat and he hears the accent and asks me where I’m from and what I’m doing, radio intermittently buzzing the conversation. I tell him I’m from Belfast and heading to a ‘Criminology Conference’. I’ve learnt, over the years, to keep these interactions with authority to a minimum. We part on good terms with joviality and human kindness, but I have to wonder if I’d have mentioned the leper label would I have made it to the metro. Walk off the metro , no customers at the ticket desk and I walk down the stairs and the train arrives one minute later. “Holy God” what a pleasant day. The train is a high speed job and I whiz along in a tunnel forms, like a blur on either side of me, a space aged black hole made of shrubbery, with Slash and Myles Kennedy pounding in my head, hurtling at the speed of light to my destiny, stoned on the emotion of life, of speed, without speed, hurtling, whizzing, like my thoughts and dreams and memories and my experiences, like the blurred trees around me but not quite part of me. It’s light but it’s dark it’s grey but I know it’s blue and I’m heading towards something new and hopefully true. Criminology on trial, I walk outside and there she is. The girl who kept me warm at nights, the girl who’s wee girl sent me an Easter card coz an egg wouldn’t be allowed where I was. There’s a hug and it’s real and that’s worth more than I can express at this moment in time. Maybe that’s what I mean, come fly with me but keep it real eh.I’m now listening to Rodrigo (1974) acoustic classic guitar “Concierto de Aranjuez: II. Adagio.” Just like the story of my life, a fekin classic!
By Michael Irwin 1st prize poetry section Listowel 2012
I am ‘Magic FM,’ ‘Coors’ and ‘Adele’, I am the pin drop of my cell, I am a rock, cape of horn, good hope, I am the southeaster, tempest, a sea’s boiling hell
I am the hubcap left at the roundabout, I am a comb without teeth, The boat without a bottom, I am a single barrel come-about, In the ebb after the wreck
I am driftwood bleached as bone in the desert, I am lost on a beach in Mozambique like Wilbur Smith, I am less than grains of sand or stars, I am a child, the inner glow and sunset becalmed
I am lost, momentarily there, I am calm, lapping on golden shore, without malice, I am ‘Smokey’ singing, London, ships in the night, ‘the Paddys,’ ‘Alice, Alice, who the F_ _ _ is Alice?’
I am flotsam and jetsam, I care not a jot, I am the breeze when you’re not there, I am time that heals all or stares and stares, I am tide turning eternally, and I’d share.