Grandad

We never met,
But there were stories
He was a bastard
In more ways than one.
He put at least
A dozen buns in Granny’s oven
And drank himself into
A fairly early grave
With money
She tried in vain
To save.
He was deeper
Than he appeared,
At least, my dad said so,
But he could lash out,
And he passed on
That trait, I’ll tell you.
He may have been
A philanderer.
Still,
If he’d never
Fathered my father,
I’d not be here
To slander him.

Kathleen Mortensen @2016

Like this piece? Here’s a sweeter take on my Irish heritage. HUM

And thisSPUDS

 

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A bit of advice: Monday Poem 4b (see below for 4a)

For Ladies: How to Dress For Your Father’s Funeral

Somewhere in your mind,

you will find the strength to do it—

dig deep and seek the way

to present yourself

on this, of all days.

 

Black is best.

Leave the rest of the spectrum

for another time

and place.

 

Greys and navy blue

are okay,

but not together—

monochromes are expected.

 

If it’s winter,

Don’t neglect to wear

a great coat—fake fur

will do, but a nice dark wool

is fine too.

 

A skirt—mid-calf—

not too short or slutty;

your upper half

should be quiet and calm,

not fussy.

 

Cosmetics should be

nearly there;

take care no primary

colours are used.

 

Your hair should be swept back,

yet not severe;

never fear the stray strand

that gives you some humanity.

 

Best shun the perfume—

steer clear of “Poison” and “Obsession”.

A dab of L’Air du Temps

is acceptable if you must.

 

Shoes: stilletto heels are not

permitted (see “slutty” above).

Besides, if you have a pulpit to get to,

you want stability.

 

Likely, when all is through,

and you’re alone in your room,

you’ll shed your death-clothes

and the gloom

—want to bury them

at the back of a closet,

or burn them, or pass them on

to someone else.

 

Keep something,

for you will need it

another day.

Kat Mortensen©2010 
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This time, last year…

At this time last year, we were participating in a vigil and waiting for my father to leave our midst. This is a poem I wrote some short weeks before that. It captures somewhat the thoughts that were in my head at the time.

Hole

Hole

Round and black,
Low in your back,
Pack and re-pack;
You ride the track—
To your last stop.

Hole

In the ground,
Where you are bound,
We’ll make the mound,
Scarce with a sound—
After you drop.

Hole

In my head,
When you are dead,
Soft shall we tread,
Our feet of lead—
Your spouse and scop.

Hole

In my heart,
When you depart,
Tears can not thwart
The sorrow, smart—
Let sound my “YAWP”.

Kathleen Mortensen©2008

Triduum Triolet

crown

Photo courtesy of Flickr 

 

When the season’s over I’ll be glad;

Though He died, for me, it’s you who’s dead.

These three days I know I should be sad–

When the season’s over I’ll be glad.

If I hear that hymn I’ll feel so bad;

Your voice, the one that sings, “O ‘Sacred Head”

When the season’s over I’ll be glad;

Though He died, for me, it’s you who’s dead.

 

Kathleen Mortensen©2009


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Visit Two Ghosts to learn more about the Triolet

Sleepless

disbed

Awake

Sometimes, at mid-night

I awake to recall that you’re gone

For good. No down the road

Or through the wires. There’s

No card in my mailbox with

Your chicken-scratched love.

It is then my body tingles

With the memory of how you

Held me from Day One until

The Last. Your soft kisses on my

Forehead, your soothing hand

To wipe away my tears.

I tried to tell you, Finally

The words I thought you had

To hear: “We’re saying our prayers,

We’ll take good care

Of her.” I hope you heard.

I hope you’re listening now.

Kathleen Mortensen©2009 Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

I Ever Sang For My Father

katstp  tobeirish

                                                                                                      A vintage 1950s card from my father to my mom.

My father loved to sing.  He had a mellow tenor voice that was always being used to sing his favourite tunes – popular music, classics, and particularly good Irish songs.  He taught me to love singing, to share my voice unreservedly and to enjoy a good Irish ditty.  He also taught me to venerate my God with my voice – singing out in church, both in a choir and from my spot in the pew.  If I wasn’t singing out, he’d nudge me with his elbow and give me the all-too familiar questioning look.  I immediately bucked up and let loose with the vocal chords.

When I tried out for the school musical, “The Music Man”, I followed his example, and took a shot of whiskey to oil my pipes.  I have done the same today, in his honour, but also to get the great green frog out of my throat. I think it worked, but not as well as I should have liked.

Here are a few of my father’s favourite Irish songs, for HIS and your listening enjoyment.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day one and all!

Kathleen (for today)

(This podcast has given me some grief, so as well as the Irish songs I intended, my old podcasts with a load of my poems, being read by me, are also included. If you feel like listening to those, have a look!)
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(Click on “Posts” to select song or poem.)

Saints Preserve Us!

spcard1 

Around our house, when I was growing up, St. Patrick’s Day was a big deal. It meant a number of things besides leprechauns and pots of gold at the end of the rainbow. Admittedly, it was the day we all donned something in green. I wore my dad’s green silk tie with the shamrocks, my green plaid skirt reserved for the day, a gold cotton, tailored shirt and green v-neck sweater. There was always something in the colour of the patchwork land of Eire that we would sport on the day. All the Irish did it – my friend Erin, in my grade 7 class once wore the Irish flag to school!

“Top o’ the mornin’s” and “Erin go braghs” were bandied about and the old vinyl records of the Clancy Brothers and Feis Eirann were played again and again. Quite a few cornball Irish jokes were read and guffawed over. Coffee was brewed, a splash of whisky added, clouds of cream crowned it and a cherry was plopped on top. Anyone lucky enough to enter the door was treated to our Irish coffee. We feasted on corned beef and cabbage and colcannon and then came the trifle loaded with custard, fruit, strawberry jelly roll and dollops of whipped cream.

More than this however, we could expect two things for certain; my Belfast-born, Irish Catholic father  ( number 7 of 12, no less), would perform the hornpipe he remembered from his schooldays and he would sing the hymn, Hail, Glorious St. Patrick. If the feast day landed on a day when a Mass was being celebrated, we would go to church and he would get up after communion and sing the hymn for the small group gathered in the church to thanks and accolades from not just the Irish contingent. If there was no mass on the day, he would sing it for us at home–every year without fail.

Sadly, times changed. My father was stricken with Parkinson’s disease and had not the mobility to balance for a hornpipe, though he smiled at the mention of it. He could no longer remember the words to the old hymn, Hail, Glorious St. Patrick as he suffered from dementia as the result of a head injury from a hit and run accident twenty odd years ago. If he heard the hymn, he would manage the odd lyric and hum a bit – the shreds of his memory clinging to the old familiar tune.

We celebrated with him until the last St. Paddy’s Day he was alive-making the Irish meal, playing the music, reading the jokes and enjoying the convivial atmosphere, but only our remembrances of what once was, remained.

This year, for the first time, we’ll do it all in his absence, but never will it be the same again.

HAIL, GLORIOUS ST. PATRICK
(words: Sr. Agnes / tune: ancient Irish melody, 1920)

Hail, glorious St. Patrick, dear saint of our isle,
On us thy poor children bestow a sweet smile;
And now thou art high in the mansions above,
On Erin’s green valleys look down in thy love.

(optional repeat)
On Erin’s green valleys, on Erin’s green valleys,
On Erin’s green valleys look down in thy love.

Hail, glorious St. Patrick, thy words were once strong
Against Satan’s wiles and a heretic throng;
Not less is thy might where in Heaven thou art;
Oh, come to our aid, in our battle take part!

In a war against sin, in the fight for the faith,
Dear Saint, may thy children resist to the death;
May their strength be in meekness, in penance, and prayer,
Their banner the Cross, which they glory to bear.

Thy people, now exiles on many a shore,
Shall love and revere thee till time be no more;
And the fire thou hast kindled shall ever burn bright,
Its warmth undiminished, undying its light.

Ever bless and defend the sweet land of our birth,
Where the shamrock still blooms as when thou wert on earth,
And our hearts shall yet burn, wherever we roam,
For God and St. Patrick, and our native home.