He marches to his own drum,
he’s mad. A pigtailed man
who used to auction property
before the good days.
He writes poetry and offers it
in The Kingdom Bar in Listowel
before June gets going.
He came to be,
to present himself and get attention.
That’s all he eats these days.
Ever since he realised he’s mad,
he’s been at it.
So when he passed the Writer’s Table in Farmgate,
he deserved all the praise he got
for pointing out his body was better looked-after
than his mind.
I have dispatched a foot-soldier to the public library:
"Go bring me The Táin"
I have an illuminated manuscript here without content
- form without the guts.
There is blood in that book,
a riverload, and armies watching,
while hero and antihero
battle to the deaths of both.
Bring me the head of Garcia Lorca,
or whoever it was that first captured
the brothers at war,
the ghost of Achilles entreats you,
I need to drink from those bulls,
the Queen of Aileach commands.
Across the corporate casket,
the creeping consumers crept,
the crane’s in Cricklewood crashed
closely on the Common.
Cosset your crooked crisis,
courage your culture’s cost,
cease the crowd from calling
your conversation crashed.
when the royal bed had been prepared
for yer man and Medh,
in Roundstone Fort in Connacht,
they engaged in fisticuffs:
"Is it true what they say, Squeeze?"
said yer man.
Well-cut woman, property developer’s wife:
"Get on with it", said the woman,
"What made you say that?"
"Look here" says yer man
"you’re better off now than the day I took you."
"I was well-off before you", says Medh.
"If you were, no one told me" said yer man
"apart from your thighs and breasts
that those feckin planners kept plundering and raiding."
"Not so" said Medh "for my father was Patrick Neary,
High King of Irish Banking, son of Lenihan, son of Ahern,
son of Charlie McCreevy, son of Albert Reynolds.
He had six daughters: Kathleen, Patricia, Miriam,
Noleen - the forgotten one -
Medh - I was the boldest
and most venerated of them all,
the most generous in proferring gifts and favours,
the best at gossip, strife and conflict,
I had forty-eight thousand labourers,
the sons of Poland,
and as many more the sons of naieve Paddys,
and, for every house of them, I had ten,
and for every ten I had nine more,
and eight, and seven, and six, and five,
and four, and three, and two, and one
- and that was just my building industry.
Then my father gave me a development plot from Roundstone,
that’s why I’m called Medh of Roundstone."
And so she put him in his place,
yer man was reduced to admitting
"I have never heard of a development plot
with planning permission that depended on a woman’s assets
except this one…
which is why I came to lie with you,
you reminded me of Mary O’Rourke."
"All the same" said Medh
"my stealth is greater than yours."
"You shock me" said yer man
"no one has more stealth than myself,
I’ve been told this by the Chairman of Anglo Irish Bank
and the Chief Executive of Allied Irish."
So they rose from the bed
and went to war to find
who was the stealthiest of them all.
They brought their nobbled racehorses,
their puffed-up boars,
their swineful phrases of the past.
It wasn’t until they had exhaused
all their subterfuges,
and their confusing rhetoric,
all their lying budgets and predictions
that they found the bull
the bull with the white lies
that sparkled to deceive…
For a while it looked as if she was undone,
as if she’d be bested by yer man.
She dispatched her minions
to scour the provinces of all Ireland
to find a bull to beat yer man.
"Go rake over embers,
find ancient woes,
ancestral scores unsettled,
go find me a grievance
that has yet to be settled.
Go back seven hundred years if you will,
go back to the Wild Swans, the geese,
the Fir Bolg, even the Partholonians,
you must find me a way to show this cretin
that I am more than a match for his bull.
If I have to produce my Papal Bull,
so be it…"
She had a man, servant to her every want,
Brian of the Handkerchief:
"I know where to find such a bull and better,
in the province of Ulster,
in the district of Strabane,
in the house of McGuinness.
His name is Shamrock Adams,
the brown bull of Sinn Fein."
And so the war began,
and so the foot-soldier fell,
until the Bann was crossed
with the sign of Patrick’s Cross.
On one bank Cuchulain,
on the other Ferdia,
a battle to the death
to see who was the greatest bullshitter of them all.
(end of Canto 30)