Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Under Glass | A Poem

Dear friends under glass,
You bear witness to stories told
From both sides of the Shannon,
Mainly the East for the
Time being,
As you would have it -
If you would have it;

I am not the same spirit of
Last winter,
Just made from a different air
That allows wind to swell and slip
Through tight corners of
Time and tidal waves
With more ease.

Someone flew to and from Germany,
And if they are back on home soil
I am afraid it wouldn't make 
Any odds to me.
Another village soul brought charm
To an otherwise dreary summer
Yet still managed to hide behind
A veil of suspicion come September -
Like a playwright scrambling words
For an inconclusive Act to the drama
And God help him if he bumps
Into me in Eurospar.

My friends under glass,
These names can fly in and out
As easily as the clock strikes 12 twice daily,
They do not stick,
They do not linger,
But you manage to,
We will not move your place from
The mantlepiece or hallway walls
Or the shelf of smiles by the
Front door.

Spring brings new growth, surely?
Let those withered brambles do away with
I had not been home in four months;
Umpteen hellos and inquiries of life's 
General fashion of passing -
It had been 13 years since I smelt
Lilies as strong as these
A child before -
A woman now.

There in the porch, he lay
Bead-covered hands wrapped
On top of a navy tailored suit
Hands of my grandfather that;
Drove trains in Birmingham,
Cut turf every May,
Sifted through cards in a game of 25,
Curled around the steering wheel of his
Volkswagon Polo to pick me up
From school.

A strong man,
A good man he was,
Our John.

What is life?
Is it an unknown act or art of progression?
Because even if one tries to quietly
Sit in a corner of Vicar Steet,
You may still receive three
Standing ovations,
As president.

But you will have the eternal love
Of your children,
As The King,
Even if you struggled to remember
Their names towards the 
Finishing line,
When the curtains draped over on
A life lived,

As you join my dear friends
Under glass. 

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

A Stream of Consciousness | For My Pals

There are many things in my day-to-day life that bring me sweet, utter and complete joy. Off the top of my head, here are some that are on my list:

Saying hello to people as I pass by them.
Facemasks and a chill playlist.
The first cup of tea in the morning.
Good company.

Today I want to elaborate on the latter.

I am about to progress onto my second year of university. While I am excited about what lies ahead and how everything will pan itself out, I cannot help but feel incredibly reflective of the year gone by. It is something that has dominated my poems of late ('Twenty', 'Coming of Age' and 'To Leave, To Live) but I have not elaborated to any great length or depth in the written word, here.

A young Catherine spent a lot of her time praying for the day to arrive where most things, or at least important things would fall into place. She willed whatever Greater Being there was to show her what it was like to feel understood, that she belonged. In school, she typically kept a lot of thoughts to herself and often did not pass comment in groups for fear of being talked over or her words falling flat in empty air. She clocked in every morning and clocked out in the afternoon, threw herself into homework in the evening and aimed to get enough sleep to get her heels out of bed the next day.

Often, looking at herself in the mirror in the morning to adjust the collar of her blouse, the same question would flash through her mind, “How in the name of God am I still able to do this?”

At her debs, towards the end of the night, a (rather intoxicated) classmate reminisced the “good aul’ craic” that was had over their six years of schooling together, to which she merely nodded. Walking back from the smoking area (which she only passed time and attempted to avoid second-hand smoke), he swung back to her to make a final comment:
“But you, Catherine, were always on the sidelines.”
Knowing there was no reasoning with him, and a high likelihood of him failing to remember what he had said, she kept a level head.

“Maybe that was where you put me and kept me, but that is somewhere I certainly won’t be for much longer,” she said before taking a swig of her drink and walking away with a swoosh of her skirt across the function room into the nightclub.

Fast forward two months later and I began to meet an endless number of people, who would without knowing themselves, go on to help shape how I delved into my personhood from there on in. This has involved everyone from my housemates, journalism crew, friends of friends, other supa fly peeps who came along the way and random drunken chats in the girls’ toilets (if we’re being completely honest here).

There have been small things too of course, more significant things that have hallmarked their way into my memory to stay, some of which I will list, in no particular order:

The high-fives I received from my friends as they walked in and saw I finally got the seating I needed for my lectures.

Nights in with my SWIG gang and our Christmas dinner to which I got “BOOTY-CALL” shouted at me for unfortunately having to leave early for reasons which were most definitely not of that nature.

One of my closest friends offered to meet me in town to bring me home after I rang her, aimlessly walking around a college campus not familiar to me following news I received which was not sunshine and roses. An hour later I finally got a bus home, but she met me at my flat with a bottle of wine and popcorn.

Having had only two hours sleep on said night above mentioned, I was adamant I would not miss out on a lecture. Someone popped down to me from the back of the lecture room with a scone in a brown paper bag, hugged me and said; “I know, and it’s awful. But he is irrelevant. I am staying with you next Thursday and we will do something fun.”

The willingness of anyone who has been happy to link with me en route from pre-drinks to the bus to town, or from town to home in the little hours of the night, you are honestly the truest gems.

Bonfire night, two mates came down for a visit. We tried to locate a “secret beach”, which ended up being the most well-known beach in Achill. I proceeded to suffer from the worst hangover in all eternity, but of course, completely worth it.

Leaving Hangar and my pal sitting in the front seat asking the taxi driver: “Whats your full name Mr Driverman?”

Literally, anytime I go shopping with the intent of purchasing hippy pants and/or bralettes (yes, shock horror), I always think of a certain Foody friend (I hope you’re reading this lol).

Playing Mario-Kart with my housemates and our friends, living life content with our Dominoes order. My lamp that made a number of appearances, was placed in the corner of the room to give a lilt of “ambiance” that humble student accommodation struggles to provide. We all loved that lamp.

These are only a fraction of summarised stories I think of regularly. They are some of the stories, though in their own small and big ways, have helped me to find peace with the world I am a mere spec of. There are stories I could tell that have come about more recently, but I would be here writing a book.

The one thing that they all have in common is; the individuals behind them all hold the kindest of hearts and free spirits. I think as a creative person, connections such as these can form the fundamental bones of tangible art which one can ultimately go on to feeling spiritually strong and content.

As whimsical as that may sound, that has what has unfolded in this chapter in this tidal wave of my life.

Thank you, my wondrous pals, let’s keep swimming.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Twenty | A Poem

At sixteen I confessed;

I need to find a new place to
Rest my head
Away from what I knew before,
Away from Jacks of all Trades and
Masters of none
Away from where my eyes struggle
Under the weight of a thousand suns
Away from a veil which was 
Placed over my mouth and
I forgot how to speak for months
On end.

Tell me,
How fast can you spell 
It comes about in the smiles of 
Others reflected right
Onto me,
It comes in fleeting fashion,
A swing of a pendulum I do
Not even own
But I pray that it will land in such
A way that I can
Feel myself again -

Enough to let all the love
I want to feel
For myself
And those around me,
Pour through the valleys
To flush all the matter that
Caused such hurt here.

And I would wish for these times
To be finite,
Like a mere spec in a Van Gogh
Resting as delicate accidents
That do not impose on the
Brush strokes 
Surrounding it;
Forming miles upon miles of
Constellations that make up

Utterly and

Letting the parts that are lovable
Bloom a brilliant elixir –

At nineteen,
There was a reprieve,
In the deepest depths of a wintry summer, 
Strings came to life in a church,
Bare feet dancing as if moving
On hot sand,
A technicolour display on the alter,
A whole new religion created

That was where I wanted to stay,
Not to worship a God belonging to 
Anyone, but
An art that ties us all together
And binds our souls in a sacrament
Of words and notes
That lilt the heart to peace.

At twenty,
I believe the valleys will remain,
Through the smaragdine mist, 
I'll find a palace I can waltz in,
That I could call home,
At least for a while -
No petticoats or lavish frocks
No hand of an emperor’s son,
But just to feel at peace
In the safety of the steps.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Achieving | It's Not a Race

Last week while on my way home, from somewhere that is not relevant in this context, I was entertaining a monologue in my head about the thought of turning 20 this month. The further the car went down the country road, through the village, I thought, Holy, Mary, Mother of God I will be 25 in five years’ time.

The car chugged up Biddy’s Corner and I panicked at the chance of not fulfilling everything I wish to at least attempt by that age.

It is funny to think, as children, how much we meticulously planned out our lives. I was no exception to entertaining my notions: I was to be married by my mid-twenties with a child en route (lol), at the blossoming stage of my career (whatever that was going to be) and a book either published or in the final stages of writing.

Oh dear, how these notions shift and alter with time and sense.

First of all, the thought of marriage anytime soon is nothing short of terrifying, baffling and hilarious. That would involve some element commitment, and I can assure you that is a hard-sought thing nowadays! Any potential familial arrangements for thought are postponed way, way, way into the (far distant) future.

A career? Let me get my degree first. Although I would love to be involved in radio broadcasting.

Is there a lack of geographical representation of voices on our airwaves? Absolutely.

Are we lacking gender balance in radio at a national level? Of course we are.

Why am I still interested, then? I’ll cross that hurdle when I need to.

Although, I do want to assure seven-year-old Catherine that it is more than alright not to be married with two kids racing around within the next handful of years. Right now I am more concerned about my recent revelation, Jacob’s Mediterranean Style Crackers than becoming anyone’s wife right now.

I am aware that there are young teenagers building start-up companies, becoming media pundits before they have sat foot in a journalism or communications degree, featured on the most “Influential 30 under 30” list and drink their coffee stronger than my literal, entire being. I am also beginning to learn that it is okay for me not to be these things either right now.

There is a part of me that enjoys the notion of the hustle, and by the very fact of what I am studying, I am encouraged to indulge in it also. That notion that is championed by our societal hierarchy: work yourself into the ground, and surely to God something good will come from it. Learn how to do have a firm handshake, attend those coffee networking mornings (even if you hate coffee), sell your soul to a sharp-shooting entrepreneur while you’re an undergrad student and still somehow manage to keep a social life/dating life/fall in/fall out/fall in again of love as you climb up your respective corporate ladder.

Oh, and sure look, if you can be happy at the end of it aren’t you a lucky divil?

We always feel we need to move onto the next thing before we have even finished the last. With this way of thinking, it does not allow us to take a moment to spare a thought for what we have achieved. Furthermore, I think that those who are more creatively-inclined feel the pinch more. We are a group that do not rely necessarily on investment (although that is nice, too) and talking the big game in crisp shirts with Apple watches on our wrists to get our projects in motion.

What does someone like me rely on then?

Quite simply; ideas.

Where can I get these ideas?

Situations, people or even a pretty walk home somewhere (preferably not in the dark though, that’s when things take a nose-dive. Next thing you know you’re falling into a ditch or a pothole. Overall, not a fun time for anyone involved.)

Of course, opening my mouth and letting air circulate to vibrate my vocal chords in order to produce sounds to converse with other kindred spirits is a big help.

I do get blank spots, quiet spots in the cogs of my mind that should be thinking of


Aren’t they a great thing when you have the right ones?

And it is during these quieter times, the thought of achieving is almost laughable and what has been got and sought for previously is irrelevant. Young Johnny might be sponsored to head off on a first-class flight, with champagne provided beside him that he is not legally allowed to drink, to give a Ted talk to beady-eyed corporate gurus. Meanwhile, I am here, and all I would want or wish for is to see Dermot Kennedy live to fuel my literary heart.

Although another part of me screams to just be authentic, true and do what I can in the hope that things that are meant to be will happen in their own time. I might not be a city-slicker-hot-shot but I do know that I always treat the people around me the way in which I would want to be treated too, I would literally make tea for any soul, I tap into my interests without making too much of a fuss, hell my feet can take me to beaches and gigs when my parents were told once I would never walk.

These are things I would not bring up in a networking meeting, but they are still my own achievements which are valid to me and I am accepting that sometimes that can be enough.

It is okay if you do not know what you are doing what your life right now. If things were so easy to come by in the palm of our hands, the rewards which we would then redeem would not feel as sweet. The way our world is turning, it is becoming increasingly more difficult to remain any way at peace within our own minds.

Whatever I do achieve, whether in the byline of a newspaper or the credits at the end of a production of some kind, it might make all the boys I knew that could not keep to their word by me think:

“Damn, I really should not have left her ‘on seen' all that time ago.”

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Coming of Age | A Poem

I write to try and find
the will to throw letters together
of words I should
have spoken
long ago -
But I was swallowed,
every fragment of my being,
not by walls, but rather
what was between them;

Whoever filled up the space
of a
Shopping aisle
Packed church.

An entire community,
Where I did not feel
To Dream.

If you want to
bring me somewhere
I have felt
If all else fails -
Take me to Dublin

Where I am no longer
known for being the success
story of a girl’s
nature defying science -
I only got here because
I craved

The lights do not owe
Me anything,
Hold my hand
as they set me alight
in the felicity
that is now
my youth.

I am a woman who will dance
In maroon brogue shoes
To any beat as I please,
I’ll waltz into Flannery’s in a ball gown
And dance with strangers
After I’ve simmered down a
Bottle of white wine
I bought for under a fiver
where I cradled it,
quite proudly,
down the Ballymun road.

I have rote-learned
recipes of cups of tea
for the masses,
My dining table is
a hub for your tales -
My couch is a cot
to rest your tired bones
As we kick back and dissect
the events of the
Night before.

I have entertained the sweetest
talk my ears ever did bear witness -
From a country mother’s son -
A tonic of some kind,
A sense of vivacity that I had
only imagined 
happened at the pens
of other writers.
Never have I felt more
encased in such a
Thunderous bloom
than listening

To recitals that came
out of his mouth like
rose petals,
Delicate in the weight
they carried,
Divine in the pictures
they grew
of life both
Lived and unseen,
At a pace
Where only
Gold dust
could keep up.

But yet, I step to my own
tune again,
A modest glow still

I will go home
to the island of whispers,
where the waves of the
Atlantic curl around
the cogs of my mind.

A heart once heavy
Now lifted,
Strengthened -

I will sit on the patio
and see him surge through
the clouds above my head -
Germany-bound at summer’s end
I will make a promise to us both;
Age is coming.