Mordechai in Slogger, October, 1974

 

 

Mordechai in Slogger, 1974

 

rooting through books in a box outside

‘Barney’s Remainders’ in Bermondsey,

Rambling Boy was marked at one and sixpence.

 

‘one and six? Barney won’t miss it.’

 

stuffing the book in my jacket pocket,

I nicked it.

 

I read it avidly, 

losing myself in Mordechai Sweeney’s

tragi-comic world of whimsy

where everyone sang,

everyone danced, everyone drank,

and celebrated living – at weddings and wakes.

 

I made it my mission to meet him,

make him my friend,

and get, if I could,

an introduction to his agent.

 

I sleuthed him to Slogger, (not in the atlas)

but Slaugar, in Mayo, seemed near enough,

so I flew out to Dublin – Aer Lingus.

 

no one in Mike Molloy’s bar, (Westport)

had seen Sweeney since summer,

but offered directions

and wished me luck,

 

‘he’s partial to a drop of Paddy.’ 

 

I bought a bottle.

 

the cottage door was ajar.

I knocked – no answer.

 

walking in and tripping over

unopened letters, garden tools,

and a rusted bicycle,

I followed my nose

to the faintly warm kitchen.

 

Sweeney smelled faintly of urine,

dozing on a tattered leather armchair

under a full-sized tiger skin –   

(filched from a flea market stall in Fermanagh )

grey hair pony-tailed,

one eye black patched –

he looked bizarre,

a washed-up buccaneer.  

 

a turntable played – on repeat – Kathleen Ferrier singing Mahler.

 

with Rambling Boy in one hand, the Paddy in the other,

I woke him, asking, ‘how you doing?’

 

Sweeney stirred, then spotting the bottle, grunted,

‘rinse a cup – there’s one in the sink.’

 

I filled his glass, my cup, and asked,

‘where do you source your inspiration?’

 

bored,

he sighed,

gazed into nowhere

and lapsed into muttering.

 

‘I loved a wife… love wasn’t enough… she left me…

I have a family… they ignore me…

I had a muse I adored… but she despised me…

I wake with a hard-on… it’s a mockery…

I split to Ireland… nosey bastards still find me…

everyone… everything… slips away…’

 

I opened my notebook, licked my pencil,

‘so you draw from the well of a broken heart?’

 

the black patch yielded a trace of tear,

‘I might if I had a heart to break…’

 

I poured him another.

 

a long silence,

a bittersweet smile,

a slow folding into sleep.

 

I caught his glass as it fell to the floor

and gently closed the cottage door.

 

 

 

 

© coolhermit 2020
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Ionicus
6 months ago

A pleasant and amusing performance poem very descriptive with enjoyable lines – some with alliterations – such as ‘(filched from a flea market stall in Fermanagh)’.
liked it a lot.
Best, Luigi

Nemo
6 months ago

An enjoyable read. Congratulations on the nib.
Cheers and Happy New Year,
Gerald.

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