Art, Life, Short Story, Writing

The End

 

All in all, and every fact considered down to the last comma and full stop hanging on for dear life; there are no endings. Wherever you are, whenever you are; people may come and go, relationships may build and break, but in the end of the day our stories live on. Even when we close our eyes, sipping the last remnants of daylight with our weary gaze, our mind drifts to an age of euphoria and good will where our deepest darkest desires run free over hills in a forever Friday in the eternal summer. Sometimes it is here with these endings where we find out who we are, then as we think that we’ve finally reached together and drawn ourselves together over the childish insecurities, a longer road begins of where we go from here. Truth be told, in life there are no motorways just miles and miles of country roads forever leading us to that one town where everyone looks alike, but ignoring the urges to run and find that motor way; we seem to take the town as our own, and here we will build.

In some strange way, in the only way you can on a fixed diet of stale bread, yogurt and dodgy chicken, Jimmy; a nineteen year old Cork man born and bred in the terraced houses of Fair Hill, seemed to find himself in the sprawling urban concrete jungle that is the Irish capital of Dublin. After six months, of up at six and hopping on the battered and bruised bus to Guinness each morning, Jimmy seemed to find the ending he was looking for. A fact which is rather amazing considering that he didn’t know what he was doing there at all in the first place, rather like the population of Dublin and surrounding areas; he imagined, a useless piece of information which oddly made him feel more included in the vast armies of Americans, Asians, English, French, Germans and even the occasional Dub.

Now, after the revelations of a half arsed journey to self-discovery laden with whiskey and the lunch time special from the local chipper; Jimmy was finally happy. Everything was finally where it was supposed to be. For what takes most people the bones of ten years in finishing school, getting a degree and the symphony of hums and haws, it took him a mere six month and with less liver damage to show for it. He had a real busy people job with actual legal thing to do that didn’t make him feel like the Guards were going to round the corner at any time, a flat that when you ignore the faulty lighting and the guys bait from gear next door isn’t an actually bad place, and about as much drama as any nineteen year old male would wish for, minus football. Even his mother and father began speaking to him again and stopped sending death threats over the phone. If that’s not a victory then he didn’t know what was.

All in all; Jimmy was happy.

Until it came to Christmas.

Trapped inside a pub, which in itself was forever imprisoned in a laneway which is better left forgotten about in a side of the City which again was left behind as the centuries dragged on and the millennium dawned, Jimmy sipped at his watered down Guinness and wondered where all the early mornings worth it. Somewhere God was crying. This Guinness was shit. No, the whole pub was shit. The lights where dimmed taking away the last bit of hope of sobriety from its customers, the furniture was wooden and rotting with various initials and death threats etched in for good measure, and the air seemed to taken on a life of its own in the form, so much so that it had now run up a bar tab. Even the music reeked of days gone by. Jimmy loved a bit of Christmas tunes as much as the next guy, even the occasional republican stuff as much as any other young Irish male, but this was a new low. It wasn’t even music but a monotonic everlasting drone which seemed to infect every crook and cranny and rot them down to their very last fibres, creating a mood of pure stillness in the bar.

“You’re from Cork are you?” muttered the trench coat from beside Jimmy.

Startled, and lost for words, “Yes, yeah I am”

“Living up here are yeah or just passin’ through?”

“Living yeah” Jimmy sipped his pint, or well stomached some more of it.

“What part?”

“That way” Jimmy pointed in a random direction somewhere north which he guessed he probably lived in if you wondered around long enough and had enough money for a taxi fare.

“Which way?” the coat lurked closer to Jimmy along the bar.

“Do you know Dailymount?” Jimmy swallowed, “The football pitch?”

“Know it? I used to play there”

“Well no where near there” Jimmy stared down into his pint, “I’m up Northside, don’t ask me where. I know the way home from here and how to get to work, that’s me sorted anyway. Sorry, I’m just getting used to the place”

The coat looked up, revealing a man with trenches dug deep across his face from years of chain smoking, pints and probably a war or two. Yet, amongst the hardened eyes of the inner city alcoholic, Jimmy seemed to see a man crying out for some company, to have his story told.

“Look, I’ve been living in Dublin all my life. Born and raised in Sandyford, I’ve still yet to escape the place after all these years. Think I know this place? Not chance. Until Dublin finds out what it is, then there’s no hope for us” he said and took a mouthful of stout, “You’ll know your way around yeah, who to avoid and who to stay friends with, but apart from that this place will haunt you for the rest of your life”

Jimmy, and his new found friend sat in silence, neither one plotting an exit or escape, but rather enjoying the company on this miserable December night.

“It’s a city of ghosts. Everywhere you look you’re looking behind at something; the famine, the rising, that fucking spire. No one here looks forward and just looks at what they have and sits back and actually tries to enjoy them self. Instead we’ve gotten so into of what it takes to be Irish as opposed to actually being Irish” he paused, gathering his words, “I’m a little drunk I’m sorry”

Jimmy apologized abruptly, not wanting to ruin his newfound friendship.

“What brings you here anyway?”

“To Dublin?”

“Yeah”

“It’s a long story”

“We’ve awhile to last call, might as well. It’s either that or the Premiership and I really don’t fancy debating that shite, especially tonight, besides can’t bait a good story”

Before Jimmy had time to find the most suitable way to tell his story in a way that didn’t make him out to be a dream chasing county boy or an ungrateful city boy who just got bored one Sunday morning before mass, he shot back with, “Why are you so angry?”

Immediately taken aback, the elderly man sipped at his pint. Jimmy swallowed hard, pondering was it too late to run. He wasn’t even the bar an hour and he had already offended someone, a new record. Usually that kind of carry on would wait until he was tucking into his chips on his way home, as; as always does happen on nights out in Ireland, something will be said to someone, which in return will have arms and legs and a whole new spine attached to it, leaving what was originally, “I’d murder a bag of chips” to, “I’d murder your mam and stab your dog” followed by Jimmy pelting it up through a housing estate desperate not to spill his chips and not to have the shit kicked out of him.

Eventually, in what felt like eternity, the elderly man turned to Jimmy and through eyes damaged from years of early mornings, late nights, bitter whiskeys and stale cigarettes, said, “I’m old. I’m tired. I’ve walked these roads here going to work on the ships since I was fourteen. I never got married. All I wanted to do was join the navy and go off and see the world, have a little adventure, fire a gun, you know. Eventually my back went, the Navy wouldn’t even look at me. The ships after a while grew quiet and folded. My mam got sick and died. My brothers and sister all went up to Scotland and America and I got stuck with the flat. I’m seventy now. You say ‘Happy Christmas’ I say ‘have a good day’. Time means nothing to me anymore. You wake up, go to work, come home go for a drink and go to sleep every single day for sixty odd years and what do you have left at the end of it but another year broken and even more coughing and spurting which each passing season. When I see you all out there, buying your presents and holding hands getting all snuggled up with each other and wishing each other a good new year, all I think about is how meaningless it all is”

Jimmy stuck for words looked up to the meek fan above for inspiration. Words didn’t come easy and he sooner nodded and patted his friend on the back.

“My name is Mike by the way”

“Jimmy”

They drank.

“What do you see here?”

“See where?”

“In Ireland?”

“Well my family are here and I’ve a job. I think that’s a good reason to stay”

Mike started laughing, a coarse laugh laden with the coughing and spurting of a rusting tractor, “The real reason”

“That’s it honest to God. I’ve been to England a few times and between you and me, the place wrecks my head. There’s far too much commotion over that one in Buckingham Palace and I’d be paying a load of taxes for no reason in some shitty flat with scumbags for neighbours and the place is way too big to make friends. At least in Ireland we’ll start a bit of a chat and have a bit of a gossip at the weekends, not look at you funny for sneezing” Jimmy took a sip and resumed ranting, “America is too expensive and knowing my luck if I went to Scotland I’ll end up in the wrong side of Glasgow getting knifed on a daily basis while fucking junkies try and rob- wait. That’s Dublin”

The pair laughed and clinked glasses.

“Dublin is a shit hole” he laughed, “It’s a fumbling drunken mixture of politicians running ragged with their briefcases caught up in their knickers while junkies get the good stuff down the side streets as the Asians back in the glow of Ireland and what it takes to be Irish. The Dubs and people lie you then are fucked in the corner and told to serve their bidding to make a living to stay in this God awful City. We spent eighth hundred years trying to get the British out and then in about sixty years we’re back down leasing our land to our own, expect this time it isn’t some all-conquering and all powerful army but rather an economic noose which chokes us into renting and serving them while they get to do our work and be Irish for a week. It’d make one good mind fucking story one of these days”

Jimmy turned, handed the barman a tenner and slid a whiskey across to Mike.

“Happy Christmas”

“What’s this?”

“A little cheer up present”

They drank.

“Better now?”

“Ah I’m an angry old man. I’m sorry about this” he finally broke.

“No, no you’re fine”

“Do you want to know a secret?”

“Okay?”
“I’m going to be dead in six months” Mike looked down, “Happy Christmas to you too”

Jimmy stared upwards hoping for inspiration. As per usual, the magnificently ever twisting and turning and forever moulding and mashing teenage thought process proved futile and he was once again left speechless and nodding in amusement. Did this call for a polite nod and a cheeky smile followed by another round? Or was this one of the special situations his mother talked about where you needed set clothes and couldn’t talk unless you were spoken to? Jimmy decided on the latter and grimly nodded. Somewhere back in Cork his mother smiling.

“You’re one jolly man”

“Thanks”

“No seriously, and this is probably the drink talking, but how long have I known you now? About twenty minutes? But, like, it’s Christmas and here you are telling me how no one is really Irish and that you’ll be dead in six months. What does it make?” Jimmy rattled on, “Like, I could be knocked down walking home or stabbed, I could be dead in five minutes. Christ, when you live in Dublin six months is a lifetime!”

Mike started laughing, again channelling his inner John Deere, “No… no… not like that at all! My chest is bad, been coughing a lot…”

“And the car could finish the job!”

“Are you threatening me?”

“I don’t know how to drive yet?”

“Then how do you get around?”

Jimmy stopped, “Hey, don’t change the topic here, this isn’t about me and my shitty bus rides up and down the country every few weeks, this is about you properly hating the world like”

“I don’t hate the world” Mike croaked.

“Certainly have a difficult way of showing it”

The pair erupted in laughter. Mike doubled over and grabbed at the bar table, much to some of the other more drunken regular’s amusement. Jimmy simply buried his head in the rotting wood. For the first time since his arrival in Dublin, Jimmy was making a friend.

“I love it here, it’s just the people that piss me off”

“Ah we’re not that bad. Without us you wouldn’t have Guinness and stuff to do” Jimmy carried on, “Imagine a world with no people? We’d be bored out of our nut”

“No women”

“Thought you were single?”

Mike winked at Jimmy.

“What about yourself? You’re a young man, you’re making money and the looks. How come there’s no women hanging off you?”

Jimmy’s words spilled, “Eh, well. It’s a long story?”

Mike started laughing, this time the coarse dominated almost machine like laugh seemed to collapse into a feverless show of delight and emotion. Through the battered and bruised rags atop the city centre bar, the once young and bashful young man began to shine through the years of cold winter mornings and weak whiskey.

“It was my first girlfriend and heartbreak”

“Ah” went Mike and laughed, “The vinegar of youth. What happened between ye?”
Jimmy paused gathering his words, “We just met in the wrong order that’s all. She was a bit older with a lot of shit going on, and I was beginning to get my act together. If we met in any other time frame or place things would have actually worked out, well at least better than what happened; all the fighting, arguing, the endless mixed signals and flirting topped off with the constant texting and talking to each other”

“She must have been special to say you moved all the way up to this shithole”

Jimmy laughed, “Yeah… she was. A whirlwind in a blizzard while thunder and lightning reigned supreme. I’ve never been swept away by someone like that, to meet, to click and to get along like that! Before I’d always be this awkward and bumbling kind of fool who’d pretend that he didn’t know nothing about anything to try and be some way attractive. The only girls who ever batted an eyelid only wanted a cheap shift or rebound. This seemed different though, as if two people seemed to just swim into each other’s company. But, things just didn’t work out”

“Is that why you came to Dublin so?”

Jimmy paused, gathered himself up, “That and my job hit the fan. I was planning on taking a year out to work and to build up for my college fees next year, but I was only a few months in the job and it was like I was in deep already. While most of the guys where in their own little offices or stacking the shelves, here was I out in the bins on a lashing Friday evening, a fading thought in my friends heads, and the rain lashing me back down to the tarmac to try and find the locks”

“One day I snapped. I’d lost my friends, a girlfriend, my job, and I just wanted to get away from it. No, I didn’t just decide to quit and walk away, I was way more sensible than that! I planned everything out, learned to cook and clean. Started spending way too much time with a few lads in a flat in town and began to know how the world works; how to pay rent, get a job, you know the usual. Then, over the summer when I should have been heading off to college I got the bus to Dublin and the rest is history”

Mike nodded, “I like it”

“Thank you?”

“No really. You didn’t just stand there and take it, you actually went out there and did something about it”

“Thanks?”

“No really, I’m genuine here and not looking to ball hop with you. Back when I was in your age I was mad to join the navy or army to be off with the guys in Vietnam or Northern Ireland fighting away thinking I was out to save the world. That’s all it was though, a daydream on the docks.  I used to be mad making up these stories in my head of being away in some foreign land, up to my knees in much and trying to fight some army who I knew next to nothing about but they wanted me dead.  I could have done it, but which every night of my head tumbling down through the forests of Saigon, my stomach would twinge and knot. All I was, was a dreamer boy. You actually did something” Mike explained, “They’ll be other girls don’t worry about that. Even myself, a stingley old misery had his share back in the day”

“Do you regret it?”

“Regret it?”

“Not settling down and seeing the world?”

Mike paused, smirked, sampled each of his words carefully and finished his pint.

“Yes”

That was it, an answer set in stone.

Jimmy opened his mouth, yet whatever words and wishes he could conjure up where quickly dissolved in the most awkward of uncomfortable silences. What can you say? What could you say? Everything will be alright? Sure, your day will come? Another drink?

Jimmy paused, “I’m just a coward Mike. All I did was run. I’m no brave man with all the solutions”

Mike crackled and threw his arm around Jimmy, “Maybe we both are so!” as if some sick joke.

As Jimmy clamoured for words, Mike gracefully stood up, steadied himself against the bar, thanked the remaining few and gathered his belongings. Down on the cracked leather stool, Mike clamoured together hoping to God he could say the right thing.

“Mike, before you go…”

“Merry Christmas?”

“That too! But, well…” Jimmy stopped, “I don’t know”

Suddenly Mike erupted into laughter, “Tonight was fun kid. I’m off home to write a few of those stories, maybe someone will like them when the time comes. Keep safe well yeah”

With that, Jimmy himself gathered up his torn and seeping jacket and finished his drink. As the mid-December Dublin air hit him and the alcohol gently warmed him against the wind and rain, Jimmy staggered along. Something tonight was fitting and Christmassy, like that song with the girl and the man in the pub on about junk and your one being a good singer or something like that, expect it’s not Christmas Eve and there’s no girls or anything around at all. In fact, he was alone.

In a city of a million people, where the police and ambulances waged a nightly war of noise upon the inner city traffic and drunken calls and the bubbling whispering of languages and accents mixed and mashed together in between the morning deliveries and night-time sing along, Jimmy was alone.   No one to order and drag him from pillar to post, not a sole to bark and order him around and nothing was there which could bury him any further in his own self-pity.

From here, the world was his to play with. All the loose alleyways and laneways to hide and seek with his own friends, the polls to dance and twirl into his own drunkenness, the windows to entertain and act out his own pantomime of one hundred and one cranky faces, steps to race and challenge himself, and roads to walk and walk until his feet bled and the sun would arise. Dublin looked at Jimmy in the eyes; expect not as a strange entity and long forgotten romance full of mystery and desire, but as an old friend, something which called out. Now wasn’t a time to look back or to creep around the corner at the days which were left bare and awaiting our seal of approval. It was December 23rd.

Everything felt real to Jimmy. He wasn’t back in Cork dreaming of the girl across the road or of some college course which was more focused on the best and brightest as opposed to the little guy down the back who keeps misspelling words and mixing up his sums. Yet, amongst the stumbling and shivering he wasn’t happy. Jimmy wanted more. He had a job, an apartment and an actual life you could say which was reasonable, but he wasn’t happy. This couldn’t be his ending, he pondered, and this couldn’t be his end song. The thoughts and feelings of counting down the days until the calendar faded and it was time to retire into bed with all the crim dramas and chat shows to fill his hearts content, suddenly turned his stomach.

Even the following morning, while pushing cage after cage into a lorry he kept onto the though like a love letter. Over lunch he broke from the typical sandwich and juice diet to walk the streets and discover what was actually here for him. That night while more people where tucking their children away into bed to dreams of Santa’s red sleigh, Jimmy wondered and wondered the streets.

With his eyes ragged, Jimmy tore his ending from the ring bound books which God scripted him too all those years ago and booked his first ticket home in six months. This time, there were no forbidding women or missed opportunities but a whole world back home waiting to be explored and opened. College didn’t matter, first he wanted to see his mother and father, then he was going to take a walk into town and after all the mishaps and adventures of a Cork Christmas, he is going to take whatever money he has and see the world. As if the wave of first love on an unassuming fourteen year old, the world caught alight for him. But, ignoring all his travel plans, the most important business of all needed attending to first.

A Christmas present for his poor mother and father.

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Poetry, Writing

October by the Lee

Season of mists and amber’s rust,

leaving behind the summer in the autumn’s dust,

one by one the fruits tumble down,

From cherry rose red to the deepest brown.

To get lost in this canvas is certainly no lie,

For a day is coming when everything will have to die,

But now, on the bare trees the daylight will splinter,

The door opens, say hello to winter.

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Life, Writing

Random Thoughts…

I genuinely have no idea how to open this blog post. Usually (or at least I try to!) I try and have some shape or form of an introduction which somehow makes it seem that I actually know what I’m taking about and not throwing random words out onto a page and hoping for the best (people tell me it’s good, so I’m not complaining!). For the past couple of weeks though, things have started to speed up. Where once I could have stopped and sampled the little anecdotes of everyday life and the inner goings on across Cork City in various alleyways and suburbs, now everything is almost constantly on the go, days are going by like tablets in water.

Amongst it all though; the changing of the calendars and all the nitty gritty crossing of my t’s and dotting of my I’s, I have to say it is fun. Every day there’s new people and ideas to explore. Everyone has a story to tell or their own different opinions and tastes on the world. Even in my own head; I’m finally starting to creep open the door and get stuck into things (I’M AN ACTUAL WRITER! AND HAVE GOTTEN A CARTOON PUBLSHED! My Nan is very impressed!). Regardless though, one thing is on my mind; in the pace of everything, can you lose who you are?

Okay, stop laughing.

Alright… it’s a little funny.

I’m a nineteen year old college student with a job and in a few weeks I’m going to be watching my boyhood club play in the national stadium; I have no reason to have any questions or queries about anything. Yet, somehow, this one though prevails over it all. Have I lose myself? Am I now trying to be myself too much just because I have to? Don’t worry I’m not going mad or anything. It’s like, these days with everything going on; LECTURERS, TUTORIALS, ASSIGNMENTS, WORK, everything that was once myself has been put to the side. Every morning it’s almost like, “I’ll read the comics later!” knowing full well the stack has been there since June and I somehow have yet to commit myself. Even with sports. At the 2014 FAI Cup semi-final, when I travelled up to Bray with my best friends, I found myself only at 90%, my eyes on the match yet my head 20,000 miles away thinking of what else has to be done, for when and will I be good enough to do it. Even past hobbies are starting to face the blunt of it. Once, I’d have lived and died on a stage, these days I couldn’t recite two lines of Shakespeare even if you asked me, nevermind get up onstage. I’m trying to stay involved in St. Johns, but due to work my hours are suffering.

I think this is what growing up is like, where I start turning into the person that people talk about at dinner parties and when driving home from their child’s match. Still though, against everything and with my Batman comic in my bag on Wednesday and City jersey on, I might as well grin and bear it. Growing up isn’t fun, seeing our own innocence chipped and ebbed away by the sheer pace of life isn’t nice, but there isn’t anything we can do. But deep down beneath the masks we throw upon ourselves every day; the busy bees who dart from one destination to the next, we’ll always be the five year old watching cartoons on a Saturday afternoon. No matter who we are; whenever Doctors, Nurses, Politicians, Accountants, we’ll always laugh every so often and take time to watch some out of this world random cartoon show which anchors us to our innocence. We’ll never shake off who we are, just build upon it; sometimes for the better.

Even myself; at the moment I seem to be getting political, cynical and my jokes even worse. Underneath it all though, I’m itching and dying for a Simpsons reference or the new Batman movie!!

Thanks for reading as always,

Dylan!tumblr_lqqgtlws731qlq731o1_500

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Life, Writing

Growing Up… Growing Down and Everything in Between…

Well four weeks have come and past, freshers week has come and went, and through it all I’ve emerged my bag intact, a stationary supply as weak as water and about as much knowledge of politics and economics as I do on how to speak Hebrew. All things considered; college is fun. I’m waking up each morning and meeting new people, studying subjects I actually enjoy instead of force feeding myself one more geography essay, and I actually (don’t) know where I’m going this year (in trying to find buildings in UCC I successfully located Galifriey, the Chamber of Secrets, a rather peculiar wardrobe and Wonderland).

Meanwhile, when I’m not inside the Booles frantic for that one last slide on something long and psychological (which I won’t begin to spell as my dyslexia will have a field day) or staring into space in the students centre in the morning pontificating the inner most meanings of my tea cup  (COULD be talking to girls. But it turns out that, “Any milk?” isn’t a chat up line much to my best efforts), I’m stacking shelves in Tesco in my first proper part time job.

On paper: I’ve a job and I’m in college doing a REAL degree with REAL career prospects and a REAL job that’s not me at my keyboard thinking I’m Stephen King. I’ve been in college a month and already I feel old, which raises a question which I’ve thought about since I was 10… HAVE I GROWN UP?

Back when I was 12, there was something about growing up which seemed to freak me out and confine me to my bedroom up until about six months ago. For years instead of going out and actually living and going out there and exploring the world I spent my days trapped inside the cosy panels of the new issues of Spider Man and Batman. While most of my friends were out talking to girls and testing the boundaries; there was me at home with 100 or so issues of Avengers trying to figure out the best continuity for them and a way that would make most sense for reading. I also wore black, listened to bands named Slipknot and seemed to have some problem with society and life which eludes me to this day. Looking back I can’t help by cringe at my vain attempts at protecting my innocence and handcuffing myself to a ghost.

Even when I repeated last year and spent a year in the College of Commerce; the trudge to nineteen began. By trudge; I mean it was a one legged man limping through a quagmire blindfolded. Throughout the year I began basic traits of nineteen; what not to say to girls (turns out making constant Liverpool jokes and expressing your disdain towards Dundalk FC isn’t the best way to open up), what guys to for fun (pints, pool and random road trips to Fermoy!) and also how to do a good leaving cert*.

In college now; it’s not that scary. With every new goal I get (job, college, writing stints) new challenges and responsibilities prevail over and sense of complacency and each day I’ve to fight that little bit harder and harder to keep up with the pace.

If life is a race, then I’m getting fit and joining in. No point in strolling in behind, you’ll only miss out. Give me a few more weeks and I could be doing a few marathons even.

Now… if you don’t mind, I’ve a small bit of training to do there. Thanks again as always,

Dylan.

PS: Always hold onto who you are. Don’t cover up what you are with masks and false promise. In between everything sure; you’ll still see me in my Spider Man tee shirts, watching Doctor Who and listening to metal. I’m not trying to change who I am, but adapt to the pace.

*Little bits in moderation, do what you can, don’t over stress and take public holidays seriously and not say you’re going to study and end up stumbling in the door at midnight after supposable two pints.

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Art, Life, Writing

Pressure

Pressure is a funny thing. No matter where you are, no matter what you do it’s hard not to see it. Whenever you are a corner forward scoring the winning point in Pairc Ui Rinn or stepping up onto the stage in Cyprus Avenue in front of a sold out crowd; it’s hard not to feel it. Some of us thrive under it, to propel ourselves to new distances and find bouts of energy that we never thought possible while some of us cower under it, to shrivel up and wince at the thought of moving.

I know I don’t play sports (I did win a South Munster Cross Country medal!) or tune a guitar, or even know how to sing, but still in fact forever, pressure is something which I starting to become far too friendly with. It could be Thursday night and the lads are texting me in the group chat to head out for a few quite ones or a Saturday night down out with St. Johns trying to get something ready in the back of the ambulance, or even our own successes and passions weighing us down.

As most people know, I love to write. While most of my friends play hurling or football or drama and dance; I spend my afternoons and days staring at a blank document watching the cursor blink and flicker at me, as if taunting and teasing you to do something. Other days could be different, I’d spend the whole day planning and constructing some great masterpiece; only to go home that night and stare at the plans and wreck my brain for the missing piece; the little ingredient which’ll make the whole thing gel and blend together.

Even out of the most little victories comes an enormous pressure. For as long as I can remember I’ve had a love of writing. As most of you know, I grew up with my Dad telling people stories of far off lands (The Lebanon) and the daily misadventures of Fearanree, and since I first began to form some understanding of the hidden meanings, truths and jokes, all I wanted to be was a storyteller. The feeling that a person read what you wrote, took it to heart and could have actually made a different always intrigued me. To have five or six people eating out of your hand; suckling on every detail is something I’ve wanted before I could even spell my name. In January this year I started this blog, in March I started writing for Cork City FC, in June I had two poems published and throughout July and August I had the odd piece in the Echo and the Pundit Arena while I anxiously awaited my results. In that space of time; I’ve gotten over my confidence issues with writing, had hundreds of views and reads, having my phone hopping with relatives telling me news and compliments and my friends shaking my hand and wishing me a job well done. Deep down; I became the person I wanted to be since I was three years old.

Did I wake up each morning saying to myself, “Life is good?” No. Do I sit for hours and hours at my laptop writing away now thinking that I’m the next Neil Gaiman? No. Do I sit back and tell people that I’m a writer and look and claim that I’m some artist great and powerful? No…  God no… Personal expectation and people’s anticipation is a fun combination (love it though; I have to try and keep a high standard… or some shape and form of one!!). I wake up each morning wondering where my next idea will be and will be and if it will be any good; have I had my moment and that’s it: time to burnout.

Am I going to sit back and complain though? Hopefully not, I’m a football fan and after Celtic’s performance midweek, I’ve more than enough to complain about. I’m not going to bombard you with piece after piece claiming, “This is amazing! Check it out!”. I’m going to embrace it hopefully, use it and drive on towards being like my heroes Neil Gaiman, Stephen King and Terry Pratchett.

Thank you very much for all the reads, compliments and criticism over the summer. You made a three year old and a nineteen year old Dylan very happy. The fact that people are interested in what I have to say on a week in week out basis is cool; and that I might have helped people is even better.

I don’t have some big realisation to give away or a great word of wisdom… so… Stay tuned, same bat time, same bat channel…

I’ll leave you with a Batman reference.

Thanks again,

Dylan.

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Art, Poetry

Tiny Wooden Pieces

Tiny Wooden Pieces

 

You never seem to notice me,

Not so much as a wave,

Perched right here, next to this tree,

Did you ever stop and think of all the people I had to save?

I’m more than just a piece of wood you know

Not just some little toy,

Just because I’ll never grow,

Doesn’t mean that I’m something for a little boy.

Once upon a time,

I was big and tall and brave!

Back when I was in my prime,

I was more than just some useless knave.

I have seen great buildings boiled and burned,

And never uttered so much as a word,

With only a few pennies earned

I was thrust back, amongst the herd.

I always did what I was told

To never mind and to always be kind

But next time you see me out in the cold,

Please ask, what is on my mind.

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Nineteen

I’m nineteen years old. Just finished my Leaving Cert (again) and hoping that I’ll be accepted into college next month. Every morning I get up to a few pages of my novel American Gods, followed by a glass of juice and a few episodes of Community. Every afternoon I either spend out with my friends, scaling the heights of an abandoned mental institution, playing football or making a blissful attempt at being a writer. Every day I wake up safe, my only worries the misfortunes of youth and my only fear is dogs (no way I can say that poetically, they scare me… don’t judge…)

Overall though; being 19 is fun. I’m too young for the weights of adulthood and free of the restraints of childhood. I’m luckily threading a fine line which unfortunately I’ll have to cross soon into the unknown waters of girls, college exams and work.

Recently however, I heard a statistic. Don’t worry, I’m not going to bother you with facts and statistics of historical events which will bore us all to tears and leave us with a sour taste in each other’s mouths.

One evening, while driving home with my Dad from a game the song 19 by Paul Hardcastle came on the radio, a song which, I’ll admit shrugged off, until I heard one line in the song.

“The average age of the soldier fighting in the Vietnam War was Nineteen Years Old”

I’m nineteen.

Most of my friends are nineteen.

Down to the great lottery which God plays we all happened to be born into 21st Century Cork City.  I know we complain and all that; how there is nothing to do and how we’ve no money, but imagine if the dice rolled wrong into March 1965? We’d have been thrust head first into the Vietnam War, our lives never to be the same again.

Between the period of 1965 and 1973, the American Army was embroiled in a bitter struggle against the Vietcong over the battlefields of Saigon and South Vietnam. During this period it is estimated that over 600,000 men fought deep in the jungles, with the average of nineteen. Meanwhile, young men who were deemed as intelligent by the American system and in college, were left out of the draft and saved from warfare.

Over in the battlefields of Vietnam, the young men trudged through the jungle, not fighting the trench warfare of days gone by or the tank battles of yesterday, but to take on gruella warriors coming from all angles. In searing heats, they marched through the thick bog land not knowing who their enemies where. Men and women would have been hiding anywhere, to spring upon them at any time, with no one to be trusted. Truces, such as on the festival of Tet in January 1968 where short lived, ushering in a battle of constant tension and danger.

Personally speaking, I can’t imagine crawling upon thorn and thistle, while bullets whizzed through the air and any step could bring death.  But imagine having to kill a person? To decide a person’s faith and being told to carry on that you did the right thing? When we see it in movies it’s grand, we all have sat through the new Batman or James Bond watching the Joker kill another innocent while Batman races to stop him, but we all shrug it off. Imagine seeing a person’s head taken off next to you in a heartbeat? Or even to sleep and shit in the same room with a person for six months then to have them gone in a second?   Following the Vietnam War, it is estimated that half of the Vietnam War soldiers returning, of an average age of nineteen suffered from the medical condition, “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder” to which the experiences of battle have been burned into their memories. One soldier, named “Roy” described it as, ““You can’t take a 19-year-old brain and subject it to the constant threat of death or injury by rocket fire and expect it not to be affected.”

These soldiers, whenever after six months of heavy combat or the medic in the sidelines, each came home battle scared and worn, with an estimated 100,000 “still fighting the war ten years on“. The problems of Vietnam where tumbled into the seventies and eighties, with many of the veterans suffering from drug addiction, depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts which lingered around leaving an almost thirst, with 100,000 having succumbed to these urges by 2015, with other homeless on the streets, and others constantly reliving the war in their only private theatre; forever nineteen.

Imagine having your whole world changed at nineteen? To be forever altered into such a way that you can’t hold down a relationship or even function from day to day? It’s something which scares me, fascinates me and intrigues me all at the same time. Like every other young person out there, I want to travel and experience the world, but not under the conditions of a foreign countries war and problems. I don’t want to kill a person. I want to grow up, get married and get a job.

Unfortunately though, some people are forever destined to be nineteen.

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