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

 

Sepia Saturday #8 – Portrait from a Wedding in Dublin

GrannyP

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Granny, Mary Ann Poland

on her wedding day, Dublin (1916)

(My source of information, a.k.a. my mom, now tells me this photo is actually my dad’s Mother and not my dad’s Grandmother as I had previously indicated.  We’ll get this straight yet!)

 

Kindred Spirit

 

Who was this woman?

We’ve never met,

yet her blood

floods through my veins.

She passed down to me,

my character—

in part.

 

Was it the easy ire,

or perhaps, the way I can laugh,

heartily, like a man?

Could it be the furrow

in my brow,

or the cowlick

in my hair?

 

Maybe it’s the keen eye

for the scene

around me,

or even my love

of a favourite

dress, or a fancy hat.

 

She was fond of flowers,

that’s clear,

and it looks like lilacs

were dear to her

(me as well).

 

Did she also

love the smell of  coffee?

Could she quaff

a pint with the

best of them?

 

Her hands— they’re not

like mine; mine are

slender and soft.

Hers must have been rough

and worn from tough

housework,

and her face is far

too full,

 

but I have that forehead,

that nose, those lips!

I’ll look you straight

in the eye,

the way she does.

 

How did she end her day?

I wonder.

 

Did she climb into

a cold bed,

wearing socks

and gown and cap—

pull the covers up

and shiver, “Brrrr!”?

 

Did she kneel down and

to her saviour pray?

Kiss her man goodnight?

We’re not so different

if she did.

 

I wish I knew

for sure.

 

Kat Mortensen©2010 
Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

*Please note: My mother is the source from which I am verifying information on the ancestors revealed in these photographs.  She frequently calls or e-mails  to correct some information she has imparted.  I am at the mercy of her memory and any scraps of paper with notations she may find.

Sepia Saturday is ordinarily coordinated by my very good friend, Alan Burnett of the News From Nowhere blog.  As he is on a well-deserved cruise-vacation with his lady-wife, I am pleased to assist him by posting all participants of this feature for the next few weeks.  Please advise me in a comment if you wish to be included in the links’ list below.  Thank you.

 ACADIANEIRE’S HERITAGE (my own newly-created blog devoted to my ancestry)

THE WEATHER IN THE STREETS (Leah)

MY FIVE MEN (Betsy)

LARRY’S PHOTO A DAY (Larry Burgus)

WILLOW MANOR (Willow)

AN EXPLORER’S VIEW OF LIFE (Barry)

STEPHANIE SAYS (Stephanie)

THE KEEPING ROOM (Firelight)

MUSE-SWINGS (Cynthia)

LETTUCE-EATING (Lettuce)

SQUARE SUNSHINE (Martin)

MOUSE MEDICINE (Kimy)

SIXTYFIVEWHATNOW (Lakeviewer)

A CANADIAN FAMILY (Evelyn Yvonne)

MERI’S MUSINGS (Meri)

JUNK THIEF (Ladron de Basura)

Women: Can’t live with ‘em…

squirrelly1 005

I came across this poem in an anthology that I have – I keep it in the bathroom so I can flip through it at random when I have a quiet moment (although I am often distracted by the swish of Red’s ginger tail – waiting on a pull).

The book was a Christmas gift from my mother-in-law (a couple of years ago) and at first glance I took it to be one of these dime-a-dozen floral-covered collections that are podged together and sold as the perfect gift for anyone who “likes poems”. I was inclined to tuck it away on the shelf and not even open it.

A couple of weeks ago, I was tidying up said shelf and as it is narrow and tall, I found myself at the end of my work with a few books that didn’t fit. I often cull my collections of cds, books and other things and so a couple of the books went into the bag bound for the local Goodwill store. The little hard-cover anthology, however, I decided to keep and stick in the loo along with the Geist and Dwell magazines, The Pears Ultimate Quiz Companion and Kevin’s Italian Football history book, Calcio.

So, it happened that I picked up the little poetry book the other morning and flicked the gilt-edged pages (always a tactic to lure unsuspecting buyers, in my opinion) and stumbled upon the following startling piece. As I read it, I could not but wonder if Johnny Cash was familiar with this when he wrote the song, Delia’s Gone.

Then, doing a bit of research on this new-to-me poem, I discovered it was turned into a well-known song. Tommy Makem has sung it for years, apparently. The poem is obviously a thinly-veiled political vehicle and really, what isn’t when it comes to the Irish? Interestingly, the last line appears to change from time to time, depending on the performer. In my book it was “Dublin-made razor” the version below is “German” and Makem’s performance uses the somewhat innocuous (well, relative to Ireland anyway) “Japanese”. So, it seems that originally the poem took a strong religious/political stance, but nowadays we don’t want to offend anyone so the Irish sides are left out of it.

The Cash song depicts an outright nasty despatch of a woman by a wicked man, but I still think Cash could have had Bloat in mind. What say you?

William Bloat

(Raymond Calvert)

In a mean abode on the Shankill Road
Lived a man named William Bloat
And he had a wife, the bane of his life
Who always got his goat
And one day at dawn, with her nightdress on
He slit her bloody throat

Now, he was glad he had done what he had
As she lay there stiff and still
‘Til suddenly awe of the angry law
Filled his soul with an awful chill
And to finish the fun so well begun
He decided himself to kill

Then he took the sheet from his wife’s cold feet
And he twisted it into a rope
And he hanged himself from the pantry shelf
‘Twas an easy end, let’s hope
With his dying breath and he facing death
He solemnly cursed the Pope

But the strangest turn of the whole concern
Is only just beginnin
He went to hell, but his wife got well
And she’s still alive and sinnin
For the razor blade was German-made
But the rope was Belfast linen

Delia’s Gone

Delia, oh, Delia, Delia all my life
If I hadn’t have shot poor Delia, I’d have had her for my wife
Delia’s gone, one more round Delia’s gone

I went up to Memphis and I met Delia there
Found her in her parlor and I tied to her chair
Delia’s gone, one more round Delia’s gone

She was low down and trifling and she was cold and mean
Kind of evil make me want to grab my sub machine
Delia’s gone, one more round Delia’s gone

First time I shot her I shot her in the side
Hard to watch her suffer, but with the second shot she died
Delia’s gone, one more round Delia’s gone

But jailer, oh, jailer , jailer,I can’t sleep
‘Cause all around my bedside I hear the patter of Delia’s feet
Delia’s gone, one more round Delia’s gone

So if your woman’s devilish you can let her run
Or you can bring her down and do her like Delia got done
Delia’s gone, one more round Delia’s gone

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.

Lip-service – Kissing the Blarney Stone

kissblarney

Photo courtesy of Flickr

Rocked

Up ‘til now for the gift–of-gab, rare,

We’ve been kissing a slab in old Eire

Of that big Blarney rock,

Now some smart Sherlock’s

Gone and proved that it may not be there!

If you’re one of the fortunate lot,

Who’s been hung by your heels at the spot

For to get the gab’s gift,

Then you’ll need a mind-shift,

Since contention is currently hot.

Some grandiose names pressed a lip,

Even Churchill and Bly made the trip

That’s now been up-shaken,

Seems we’ve all been mistaken;

The historians’ book claims a gyp!

What they’re sayin’ is causin’ a fuss,

With the tourists, who’ve long come to buss

The famous old rock

May now be a crock,

Causing previous bussers to cuss!

The result will be anyone’s guess,

Sure, it’s caused castle-owner distress

Blarney brings thousands in

Every year it’s win-win;

Will they come still, if it’s all B-S?

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

Going Places at Scribbit



Photo borrowed from Flickr

Scribbit is holding a writing contest entitled, “Going Places”. I have entered my earlier poem about my misadventures in Ireland back in 1989. You may recall the story about the shillelagh and the old man behind the wheel of the car and the ensuing collision. Yes. I think that’s a fitting entry for the competition. Don’t you?
See here for original post:

Shenanigans

Check out Scribbit’s blog; it’s a fascinating site managed by an Alaskan mom with a flair for writing and a plethora of interesting topics, videos, photos and anecdotes. I’m adding her to my blogroll immediately!

(Fingers crossed for me in the contest, please! I could win a gift certificate for some lovely bath products and if you could see the state of me today you’d realize how much I need them!)

Kat