Frost beneath my feet
Wild geese chanting overhead
Earth, Man, and Heaven
Frost beneath my feet
Wild geese chanting overhead
Earth, Man, and Heaven
“Alls I’m sayin’ is, it don’t make no sense for them to be priests,” Joe said as he made a left turn. “I’m not a male chauvinist pig or whatever. It’s just not they way things are done, ya know? And why would they wanna, anyway? Who the fuck wants to be a priest?”
“Beats me,” Anthony said, cracking his window before lighting a cigarette. “But then again, why would anybody wanna be Catholic?” He grinned, anticipating the older man’s reaction.
“Ah Jesus, Tony, don’t start with this heretic shit now—”
“Fine, fine. You started it. You wanna talk religion, you know how I feel. Maybe don’t start. Take a right here.”
Joe looked nervously at the neighborhood outside his window. “Irishtown,” he snorted derisively. “Jesus, the way these people live. Got no respect for their own kind. Look at ’em, lettin’ their kids run loose like a bunch of heathens.”
“Works out for us.”
“Yeah, I don’t feel too good about that, either, Tony. Gettin’ involved with kids? I mean, are you sure about this? This seems kinda—how ya call it—outside our wheelhouse? Is that right?”
Anthony laughed. “Somethin’ like that. Yeah, I’m sure. It’s what the boss wants. Besides, wait ’till you see this girl in action. She’s an animal. Speak of the devil, there she is. Pull over.”
Joe pulled the car to the curb ten feet away from a young girl wearing an old dress that used to be white. Her red hair was tangled. She stared at the men, a look somehow both hostile and indifferent in her pale blue eyes.
“Jesus Christ,” Joe hissed. “Anthony, how old is that girl?”
Anthony laughed again. “I don’t know, fourteen? Fifteen? Who cares?”
“Anthony, I am so not okay with this—”
“Fine. You wanna tell Frank yourself, or you want me to tell him?”
Joe raised his hands in surrender. “Fine, fine! It’s just—fourteen?!”
“How old were you your first time, Joe?”
“Well, fourteen, but–”
” But nothin’. There you go with that double standard shit again. Good thing you got sons instead of daughters.”
“You can say that again.”
“You just clam up and do the drivin’, leave the talkin’ to me. No names, alright?”
Anthony rolled down his window and leaned out. “Hey sweetheart, how are ya? You remember me?”
“Yes,” the girl answered in a blank voice.
“Okay, well, uh–you still wanna make some money, right?”
Anthony looked at Joe with a toothy grin–Ain’t she somethin’?—and then back at the girl who was still standing motionless. “Alright honey, get in. We’ve got some work for ya.”
The girl slid into the back seat and buckled her seat belt.
“Hey,” said Joe, looking into the rear view mirror. “It’s good that you wear your seat belt. Safety first, right?” His hands were sweaty, his throat dry. He forced a weak smile.
“Joe, just drive.” Anthony whispered. He turned and smiled at the girl. “Don’t mind my friend. Some Italian people got bad manners, but they don’t mean nothin’ by it.”
The girl said nothing and stared out the window. The other kids who had been milling around outside had stared when she had first gotten into the car but were now pretending that they hadn’t seen anything. Joe drove in silence, taking them out of the soot and red brick landscape of the projects and into the city center. She stared at her own reflection in the car window, superimposed onto skyscrapers, bank buildings, old cathedrals. The city slowly gave way to the suburbs.
“Almost there, sweetheart,” Anthony said. They drove by a strip mall. Outside a restaurant, several men were sitting under a patio umbrella, drinking and playing checkers. Joe drove by, circled around behind the buildings opposite to them, and pulled into an alley and parked. They could see the men across the street from the alleyway.
“Alright sweetheart, here we are,” Anthony said. “Nervous?”
The girl said nothing and stared.
“Alright, alright, I get it, not your first time. You know what you’re doin’, right? Got it. Okay, so you know which guy is yours, you recognize him?”
“Okay. Here, I got this for you–” he leaned over the seat and handed her a red leather purse. “Everything a young lady needs is in there, and half the money. We’ll wait here for you, you get the other half after. Understand?”
“Yes.” The girl get out of the car and walked out of the alley. She paused to look both ways and crossed the street.
“Jesus Christ Tony, this is not right—“
“Shut up, Joe. Watch. “
They watched as the girl approached the group of men at the table. Even from across the street, they could hear the catcalls and the whistles. The girl said something they couldn’t hear. One of the men stood up and pointed to himself with both hands–Who, me?–and there was an outburst of laughter from the others.
Which ceased abruptly when the girl reached into the purse and pulled out an automatic pistol, firing point blank twice into the man’s chest and once into his face. He fell backward in a crimson mist. The other men were too stunned to flee. Only one stood and reached for his own weapon, but died before he got off a shot. The others were shot where they sat.
The girl dropped the pistol as she had been instructed and strode back across the street.
“Mother of God,” Joe whispered.
“She forgot to look both ways this time,” Anthony mused. “Hey, what’d I tell ya? A fuckin’ animal, huh?”
The girl slid into the backseat and buckled her seat belt as Joe reversed out of the alleyway and headed back toward the city.
“You okay, miss?” he asked nervously, looking at the girl in the rearview mirror.
“She’s better than okay, Joe. Here’s the other half of the money, colleen, as promised. You like that nickname? Colleen?”
The girl said nothing. Anthony laughed, feeling a little giddy after having just watched the hit. “Okay, well. Maybe not. Good work, just like last time, but remember—the job is for one guy, okay? You don’t have to do ’em all. But hey…spilt milk and all that. Hey, you know somethin’? On the way to pick you up, Joe here was talkin’ about how he doesn’t think that women should be priests—”
Anthony laughed. “Nah, nah, Joe, it’s okay, you’re entitled to your own opinion, we’re all adults here. Anyway, he doesn’t think women should be priests. Whereas I feel that anybody who is man enough to do what you did back there is good enough to hear Joe’s confession any old time. Whadd’ya think, sweetie?”
Joe and Tony, the girl thought, filing the men’s names away in case she needed them at some future date. The Russians were hiring, too.
For Bliain na Gaeilge 2018, this is a list of twenty tips for people who are thinking of learning Irish. Don’t forget that the best tip of all is START NOW AND DO A LITTLE EVERY DAY!
Learn a song from YouTube, and hunt down the lyrics on Wikipedia or other sources. (Suggestions: Coinleach Ghlas an Fhómhair, Don Oíche Úd i mBeithil, Éamonn an Chnoic.)
Write shopping lists in Irish. By the time you’ve written oinniúin or trátaí or bainne twenty times, you’ll never forget it!
Extend this to to-do lists, caithfidh mé na héadaí a iarnáil, caithfidh mé arán a cheannach, caithfidh mé dul chuig an gharáiste, ba mhaith liom an chistin a ghlanadh, ba mhaith liom siopadóireacht a dhéanamh.
Listen to Irish music by Clannad or Altán.
Use online resources like Duolingo and Transparent Irish.
Use Focloir.ie to find interesting phrases and check pronunciations.
Write a list…
View original post 264 more words
Fortunes lie on the ocean floor
the glow of gold grows dim
under the weight of ancient waves
currency becomes spurious.
Mark my words, young lady—
forests will cover these cities one day.
You will live to see it
with your own two eyes.
Mile upon mile of broken pavement
plagued by wildflower, thistle and thorn
a parade of ruin, strewn out reckless—
Verdancy triumphant in every direction.
Then one day, after you’ve gone
the oceans will slowly recede
Inland dwellers will take leave to new islands
and find something hidden
in the brightness of day.
*Title taken from a line in the 36th canto of the William Scott Wilson translation of The Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
IN-SHADOW: A Modern Odyssey is an impressive short film, which paints a dark and satirical portrait of our modern society. During 13 minutes, this short film directed by Lubomir Arsov connects symbols and metaphors, attacking with rare power the excesses of capitalism, from the fashion industry to social networks through the world of finance and finance. policy. Embark on a visionary journey through the fragmented subconscious of the West and bravely face the Shadow. From the shadow to the light. Simply magnificent.
It may come as a surprise to some of my readers to learn that as of this writing, a full 95% of the all the world’s Poles now live in Ireland, with the remaining five percent living, of course, far to the east in places with hard to pronounce, multiple consonant bearing names like “Manchester” and “Birmingham”.  It wasn’t always this way, of course. Prior to the Great Migration, most Poles actually lived in Poland, and in the early 90’s a family moved from there into the neighborhood that I lived in at the time. They had no family there, and no friends save for co-workers of the parents and a few contacts in the church. The parents themselves didn’t speak a great deal of English. They had two children, both boys. The older one, Tomasz, was about three years my junior at fifteen. I called him “Dood”, because he started (or ended) every sentence with “dude”. One of the first things he said to me was “Dood, I am worried about school. I am worried about the Polish jokes, dood.”
“You needn’t be,” I told him. “The Polish jokes will take care of themselves.”
He didn’t get it.
The younger boy, Stosh, was five and spoke English fairly well. He was an almost criminally adorable and completely guileless child who was always asking questions like “Why is the sky blue?” and expecting a real answer. He quickly became a sort of mascot for our street.
One day I was sitting outside watching some of the younger boys play football. Stosh wandered by and decided he wanted to get in on the action, even though he was far too small. The other boys tried to shoo him away, but he just kept smiling and trying to get into the thick of it. At one point the play became very intense. Another boy tripped over Stosh and they both went crashing to the ground. The older boy swore at Stosh, jerked him to his feet by his shirt, and slammed him to the ground. I stood up and gave a verbal warning that included a threat of ultraviolence. I was ready for Stosh to burst into tears, but he just stood up and walked over, and we sat down together.
“Jesus Christ,” I said. “Are you okay?”
“Jesus Christ yes I am,” he replied. “That boy had bad temper. He should get time out.”
I laughed. “Do they have ‘time out’ in Poland?”
“All the time my mom put me in time out. For no reason.”
“Well, that’s what mums do now, I guess.” I went back to pretending to watch the match, but I was really waiting for Stosh to ask me one of his profound questions, which he did.
“Where were you when you were a little guy?” he said.
“Another town. I only moved here a few months before you.”
He ignored my statement. “I see you in there,” he said, pointing to our front door. “When you come out, you are already a big guy. But where were you when you were little? I am thinking you were a little guy in there and you just stayed inside until you were a big guy and say, ‘Okay, I am big. I can come out now.'”
There is something very touching about the way children try to make sense of the world, especially as it concerns the origins of people other than themselves. As far as they are concerned, they are the centre of the universe. Nothing could have possible existed before they did, therefore all things came into existence along with them, and some just evolve at different rates, or even in secret. It’s not a bad philosophy, as far as those things go. However, not being one to lie to children, as they already have people to do that for them, I tried to explain to Stosh that I had been first a baby, then a little boy like himself and was now, technically, an adult. He was ready with his counter-argument by the time I finished speaking.
“You are way too tall,” he explained patiently, “and your mom is not tall. You couldn’t have come from her.”
“But I was a baby,” I insisted. “A long time ago.”
“But I didn’t get to see you then!” He was getting flustered, and so was I as I was failing to explain a relatively simple concept to a kindergartener.
“This was before you were born, Stosh. Before you were here.”
That was when it happened. I could see it in the depths of his eyes, which were brimming with tears. The realisation. The horror. Because of there was such a thing as “before you were here,” that must mean that there is also…
After you’re gone.
The reason that this incident comes to mind, many years later, is that not too long I ago I heard from a friend that Stosh, having long ago become a citizen of his adopted country, is now also a dentist and a husband and a father. (And of course, an adult, although the last time I saw him he was just a little guy. How did it happen?) This happy news got me thinking about the possible advantages he may have had. It’s not easy to be an immigrant anywhere. It’s not easy to be a child, either, although you have the distinct advantage of not knowing that, at least for a while. But being an immigrant and being a child may have an upside. I’ve been both myself, but I don’t think I took full advantage the first go round, so I wrote this to remind myself.
You can ask questions about things that seem obvious to everyone else, instead of pretending to already know the answer. You’ll learn new things everyday if you pay attention. Sometimes you can even go back and look at the same thing twice and learn something new. The same thing goes with people, as they’re constantly changing. Growing up and all. Someone you knew twenty or thirty years ago, who you’ve immortalized in your mind as “this sort of person” or “that sort of person” may have evolved in secret, without your knowledge, into a different sort of person altogether.
 According to the old lady down at the Spar.
Harry is late for tea, as usual, but this time he has a valid excuse.
On the trolley, he decided to practice astral projection from outside the safety of his own home for the first time. He relaxed, entering a theta-wave meditative state, directed his consciousness into his astral body, and flowed above his corporeal form, attached to it only by his astral umbilical cord. Harry reasoned that this would be safe, because no one was likely to bother him on the trolley; anyone who paid any attention to him at all would likely surmise that he had “spaced out” or fallen asleep. When the trolley stopped close to his destination, he would simply re-enter his physical body, disembark, and make his way to the tearoom.
The problem arose when the trolley passed under a power line, which bisected Harry’s astral umbilical cord. The energy flowing through the line had interfered with the cord, effectively severing the damn thing. Harry never expected this to happen as it was not mentioned in any of the arcane Tibetan manuscripts he had so painstakingly collected over the years. The New Age paperbacks he bough at Eason’s also failed to warn of this phenomenon. His reaction was one of blind panic as he watched his earthly body slump forward in its seat below. An old woman on the trolley screamed; a male passenger rushed to give aid and began rolling Harry’s head this way and that, even giving him a wholly unecessary slap across the face. To make matters worse, Harry had never “free-flown” in his astral form before, and could not keep up with the trolley.
He flew through the sky like a kite cut from it’s string. One minute he saw the clouds, the next, the street traffic below. The trolley was fast getting away. I’ll take a shortcut, he thought. He passed through the walls of a bank, where in the vault he witnessed a young clerk looking craftily over her shoulder as she hid a roll of coins in her vagina.
“That is the most outlandish behaviour I have ever observed in my life!” astral Harry shouted as he phased like a ghost out the opposite side of the building. The girl took no notice.
Back outside, he caught sight of the trolley, but just then something distracted him. He was shocked to see a group of people sitting and talking on the roof of a nearby cathedral. Only they weren’t exactly just people, but rather the astral bodies of people. The seemed genuinely surprised to see him as well and began pointing at him and talking excitedly to one another. One of them, a woman, stood and began waving him over. Harry hesitated. He didn’t want to lose sight of the trolley and his body, but on the other hand…
It will only take me a moment, he thought. And I have a view of the whole city from up here. He concentrated and flew up to the rooftop, and landed rather daintily. Not bad for a beginner.
The other astral people, twelve in all, stood to welcome him.
“Er, hello,” said Harry.
“Hello!” said the woman who had waved to him. “Welcome! My name is Sheila.”
“Oh! Sorry, I’m Harry,” he replied, offering his hand.
Damn fool, he thought.
“Oh, it’s alright,” Sheila said, smiling. “New at this, are you?”
“Er, yes. First time outside the house, I’m afraid. I’ve actually learned from books, so I don’t quite know what I’m doing.”
“Oh, don’t worry. You actually can solidify you spirit body enough to make contact with that of another, but only by mutual consent. Otherwise, you’d have all sorts of immoral behaviour going on, I suspect. Harry…where is your physical body, by the way?”
Harry became flustered. “Well, I was on the trolley, you see, on the way to meet a friend, when I got separated from myself by an overhead power line, and—look, my friend is really a bit of a bore, but he’s the only friend I have and he’s horribly impatient. I really must be going!”
“Wait!” Sheila cried. “This is our once in a decade gathering, where we relate all that we’ve learned to one another in the hopes of forming a society within a society, in order to better the lives of all mankind. We’ve all been students of one master or another and have gathered here from all over the world, as the site this cathedral was built upon is an ancient seat of sacred power. The fact that you’ve apparently taught yourself astral projection is auspicious. The fact that we’ve found one another, even more so! Stay awhile, that we may learn from one another. Afterwards we will safely reunite you with your body and we can go forth to teach others as well!”
Bloody hedge monkeys, he thought as he floated away without a word, because Harry is late for tea, as usual.