Echo of a Roar


We lived each day as if living were an act of revenge, took delight in the jaw-dropped shock on the faces of the proletariat and warmed ourselves on the cold shoulders of our so-called betters. Then our luck ran out with our money and we learned to live lean and on the fringe, darting back into civilization every now and then…just for a little taste. Never mind those empty heads and the hollow eyes that call them home—they don’t hate us, they’re just not like us. They don’t even know how to hunt.


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This Election Is A National Emergency

Too good not to share, there is something here for everyone, regardless of nationality.

A Wilderness of Peace

You might not know it from some of my posts, but I’m an eternal optimist. Some say there are people out there who would never vote for independence: that they either identify too strongly with their British identity to even consider a vote that they feel could jeopardise it, or because they think Scotland is incapable of making a success of what literally hundreds of other countries around the world do right now, or simply because they believe themselves to be “anti-nationalist.” I refuse to believe that anyone can be immovably anti-Independence, any more than anyone can be immovably pro-Independence. We’ve already seen movement from both sides – people I could’ve sworn would never turn suddenly joining the SNP, and others who seem hell-bent on undoing decades of struggle for a cause we used to share.

Yes, of course it’s more useful – in a cold, tactical sense…

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On the Night Shift




There is a priest in the off-license, buying two bottles of whiskey. His face is pasty and pocked with blotches. His hands tremble as he struggles valiantly to  count out his notes and coins. On his third attempt, he reaches the correct amount. Even though he has not yet had his first drink, the physical and psychological changes that come over him are instantaneous and dramatic. His posture improves from pathetic to near heroic. His hands and voice cease their trembling. He even makes a joke at his own expense to the man behind the counter. I watch as he strides out into the night. A moment ago he was sick and desperate, clinging to life and sanity with the most tenuous of holds. Now, his whiskey in hand, he is saved, buoyant with hope.

The man behind the register, in contrast to the priest, has started his evening out splendidly. Not a thing in his world is amiss, until I point my gun at him.

“Empty it, son. Or I will ruin your night.”

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The Footsoldier



“Only the dead have seen the end of war.” —Plato


Dust was Lapointe’s world now.

Dust was in his boots, inside every crevice of his uniform. It was in his hair, on his tongue.

It was in his eyes.

The sun began it’s descent toward the horizon. He stood and stared, taking a meagre sip from his canteen.

Guadian columns of smoke and sand held up the dome of sky by some trick of desert magic. There was no other movement visible and Lapointe felt himself an awkward and uninvited guest, soon to be discovered, and with awful consequence.

Bonfils lay sprawled out on the sunbaked and broken ground behind him, a stagnant pool of blood below his body. The private had been a man both brave and foolhardy.  Lapointe felt no regret for having killed him. If the two of them had advanced as ordered, they would have surely been killed. If he had returned without Bonfils, he would have either been sent back out with another man, or shot as a coward. Better to stay here and wait for the enemy, he thought. Defeat is inevitable. I will offer information, that my life might be spared. If I am refused, I have lost nothing. But if not…his thoughts trailed off and vanished into the still air.

Lapointe sat in the dust next to his comrade’s corpse. He lit a cigarette, an act which he immediately regretted, as it made his mouth feel even more parched.

“Bonfils, I make to you this final promise: If—when—I return to France, I will seek out your young widow. I will tell her that her husband was a gallant man who died a noble death, for these things are true. In time, she will enshrine your memory as sacred. But all the while, as her heart heals, her love for me will grow. Your comrade-in-arms, the last man to see you alive, spared by God Himself to comfort and protect her.” He laughed briefly and bitterly.

“You can trust me to take care of her, Bonfils. I hope you know that.”

Surely my new friend the enemy will reach me by morning, he thought. He watched as the night flung itself across the desert.


A day and a night passed.

On the third day Lapointe could hear the artillery more clearly, and more smoke was visible in the sky. A brief thrill of terror snaked it’s way through his body—what if I’m shelled before I have the chance to surrender?—and quickly subsided. There was nothing to shell on the rocky little hill, not even a dead tree for scant shade.

“Bonfils,” he called out over his shoulder. “This heat may be a bitch, but lucky for you it’s keeping the flies away. Lucky for us both, I guess. Help is on the way, my friend! I’m sure they’ll be here by the end of the day.”

“Which is excellent, because as I’m sure you’ve noticed, we’ve been out of water for two days.”


That night, Lapointe fell into a dream haunted by fever. Somewhere beneath the desert, water was calling to him, singing to him in a beautiful voice, in a language he did not speak but could somehow understand. All he had to do was dig in the dust and sand until he found water. The only problem was, in the dream he had no arms and so could dig using only his mouth. His mouth filled with sand again and again. Each time he spat the sand to one side, but the hole kept filling back up. He was drowning in the desert.


The next morning the shelling stopped abruptly.

Lapointe had grown so accustomed to the sound—comforted by it, even—that the silence filled him with dread. He scanned the horizon with his field glasses.

No vehicles.

No men.


Lapointe’s heart stopped in his chest.

They’ve gone round my position! Missed me completely!

It was the end. He was a day from camp, if camp still stood. He was many more so from the next garrison, if it still stood. And it did not matter anyway, for he was too weak to walk.

Lapointe stood up. Defeat was nothing new to him, but resignation was. He found it to be the grandest of drugs, filling him with an opiate-like golden glow and the knowledge that, whatever else, in a moment he would suffer no more in this world.

“Bonfils, my friend. I have done you a terrible wrong, it is true. But know that I have given you a nobler death than the one I give myself.”

Lapointe reached into his pocket for his last bullet and found only a handful of dust.



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Stars Arcane and Sacred


Below are the first four lines of a poem that I’m working on. First I’ve written them in English:


Stars arcane and sacred

perish in the night

brilliant supernovae blooms

announce their dying light


And here, I’ve made an admittedly amateur attempt to translate them into Irish, with an eye just slightly toward using words that while virtually the same in meaning, will alter the overall tone of the poem to some degree.


Réaltaí diamhair agus naofa

fuair siad bás san oíche

óllnóvaí bláthanna lonrach

fógraíonn siad a solas ag fuarú


Which when translated back into English, reads as follows:


Stars secluded and sacred

they find death in the night

brilliant supernovae blooms

they announce their light growing cold


So far, I”ve only run this translation past one Gaeilgeoir (native Irish speaker), who pronounced it “not horrible”.  However, this man has been known to play practical jokes at my expense. So if you’re an Irish speaker, ( or even if you’re not) feel free to lend me your constructive criticism.









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Book Review: The Lighthouse by Paco Roca



The Lighthouse is a graphic novel set during the Spanish Civil War. It tells the story of Francisco, a seventeen year old fighting for the Republican side, who is wounded and attempts to flee to an uncertain future in France. However, his wound slows him down and he is given shelter by Telmo, the keeper of an old lighthouse.  While Francisco struggles with both physical and mental wounds, Telmo attempts to raise the young soldier’s spirits by telling him stories about distant lands beyond the sea, forging a friendship that entwines the fates of both men and sets them into motion.

The Lighthouse was first published in 2004. The 2017 English translation edition also contains The Eternal Rewrite, a 2009 afterword by author and illustrator Paco Roca, in which he reflects on the inspirations for his story as well as it’s creation.

The artwork throughout is  both beautiful and distinct, and the style lends itself well to the pace of the story. The story itself I found excellent. It transcends it’s simplicity with a sort of ease that is uncommon in a story of this length—-at only 54 pages (not including the afterword, which is well worth reading), you may well find yourself slowing your reading to savor every last moment.  The Lighthouse is a great quick read for adults, and I would also recommend it to sensible older children (say, pre-teen) provided that they have sensible parents.


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648. Gráinne ♫


Leagan eile de

Múinfimid Gaeilge do Ghráinne

Fonn: Loch Lomond ♫


Cé hí siúd a tchím ag tarraingt chugainn aniar?

Who is she [that] I see drawing towards me?

Nó fós, cad is brí lena cuairt chugainn?

Or yet, what does her visit to me mean?

Is í Gráinne mhilis Mhaol í a chaill a teanga féin

She is Sweet Granuaile, she who lost her own language

Is atá chugainn go tréan ar a tuairisc.

And is approaching us determined to find it.


Ó labhair léi go séimh deas i dteanga bhinn na hÉireann,

Oh speak to her mildly in Ireland’s sweet tongue.

Is bhéarfadsa an chailc is an clár liom.

And I’ll bring the chalk and the board with me.

Ná bíodh eagla ar an bhé, beidh sí eadrainn araon,

Let the muse not be scared, she’ll be amongst us too,

Agus múinfimid Gaeilge do Ghráinne.

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