This is a special event for our community website , as for the first time we publish a piece of original poetry , written specially for presentation here .It was written by Brendan Laird , and it beautifully captures a child’s eye view of an adventure filled world.(For those who don’t know their old Dublin slang , a ‘gotchie’ is a watchman ). Enjoy -
The Gotchie is about a specific-ish time and very specific place; about half way up/down Forth Rd depending on your perspective. The three ‘childer’ in the poem are myself and two others. The other boy knows who he is and has read the poem and the girl who finds herself in an imagined scenario shall remain un- named as she probably never saw the inside of a hut, but found herself there because she was real on/off presence on Forth Road all those years ago.
The Gotchie got his name from the way Dubliners substitute the first letter sound with a G on some words, e.g. Gaylah for Railway, Gooter for scooter and not as some commentators would have it , that when he apprehended you he would say ‘Got ye’ ! That’s my perspective anyway. The style of the poem is very course, puns and turns of phrase are used to capture a time. Pop Moran and Leo Hallissey are to blame, two teachers who employed spoonerisms and all sorts of wordplay to get us and themselves through the day- I call it East Wall Gas Meter. The Gotchie knew everything it seemed and we as kids bestowed on him a status that was not in his job description. We loved it when the roads were being upgraded or when the street lamps were modernised.Cable television did away with bird laden TV aeriels as they prepared for long hall flights. It was a very different time when seasons were marked not by changes in weather but by passed on games that had bicycle hoops,scunchers , caps in bolts and ice pop sticks that became rafts in a deluge. I hope my poem re captures those times.
Three of us-
We see smell feel, draped hession
festooned from barrell to barrell, plank to ground
like sacked sentinels or burlapp’d warders
of those in need of concrete engraving.
Hearts initialed, partially committed, not quite set, not yet stone.
Yellow sodium looking down on man-operated
oil burning lowly in crimson tin and glass.
Time cools on this evening before the clock steals a sacred hour from itself
He watches from a greeny tarp, warmed by pipe, book, baby power and brazier.
He senses players out seeking shelter.
Voices without, a voice within.
I hope yis are not lousy! Bellows He.
Three tentative inquisitors are paged .
Names in lieu of feed admission are pondered by the ad hoc census taker.
Plank for a seat.
Old Holburn vieing with toasty batch and
like us, he’s had his fill.
Saw him comin’ in from work on his bike.
Gave me the sports final.
We had a great chat.
Isn’t your Nanna great to be mindin’ you all the same?
I know the names of course,
Was Faithfull Place further back.
From good people yis are,
never forget that now, says he.
Delighted, glowing , inflated with recognition.
the latest hits of our generation, the pick of our pops
and every bar of our mothers.
Semi strange to each other in the flame warp, we seem.
He glorifies our names unlike sir, miss, sister, father .
Swelled heads are we with spokes and sayin’s
big enough to be served in the top lounge.
Trinity tongued we are so school’s
out for the likes of us!
You couldn’t hold a factory of candles to her, him or me.
Is the transistor not better than a book?
Are ye not ragin’ yer missin’ the Monkees?
Did you ever see the banshee?
Is it true the yanks are not the goodies anymore?
If you walk on the cracks will you marry the devil?
Tells of shells, cinders, bits of old fashioned jars beneath us.
Underground ghosts creep up through our soapy soles.
He affirms the who and the what of us.
Seeds bred, raised and read
like shards of cursive script needin’ joinin’ up.
Blue glass bottles. Load o’ molluscs!
All kinds o’ things o’ the past, troved and kept.
Nelson’s Pillar, bits of him, too rough for jacks.
Lustre lost now, taken for granite- a cut below.
We are fortified chisellers of tar and cement.
Seasoned players of spokeless hoops.
Sea breezy sulphur smells in summer
promise outdoor baths.
We know not yet the depth of our knowledge. Rapid we are in our thoughts.
Chaste kissers, loser gets a goozer.
Collocka one two three!
You’re on it!
No I’m not! Didn’t touch me!
Fire mocks with hisses at the piney kindling.
a late oil truck growling by our camp.
The Mex gate cranky in a corrugated accent ,like a night porter thinking of an early house.
Sounds already making memories of themselves for us.
He opens a place kept page.
A black and white dog eared snap .
A younger him, no cap, a woman, two girls an’ a boy.
We are the story here!
Page turners us. No need for pictures and
hard words to spell.
Can’t be put down, coming through a letter box near you, pressed and heralded, everything rhymes.
Can this be our club?.
Will you be here tomorrow night?
Stoney Road. Says he.
The downtrodden childer are fallin’ through the cracks and the divil is
riflin’ the gas meter for the grushie.
Not as brainy as this side o’ the tracks, not nearly as smart as youse. He says.
Sap happy are we and
triumphal thoughts arch our backs. Those new foundlings won’t be in our street league.
No way Danno!
He’s our Gotchie. Do you hear?
Listen here youse-
No cemented love hearts or
boot boys rule, okay!
He keeps ello him.
Keeps sketch for etchers, he does.
Coloured red lit our road, he did.
Gas funny by fire light, he was.
Unsolicited pearls shelled out for nothin’, we got.
Outside the tent, we are now.
Freezin’ speech puffs of see yis with
a quick barrel drum tattoo to remember an’ feel the sound.
Deep intake of lamp oil so I’ll never forget.
Cool one handed vault of the front gate with a
big boy spit in a privet.
Crépe feet on the ground.
No tippiers needed now- level with ten in number and years.
Key turned, weather board an’ waggin’ tail of Captain tellin’ on me.
Gotchie lit road.
Gotchie hut, paged shut.
Gotchie lit lamp smell forever.