This is a poem about one of the less pleasant features of our society. In recent years the hood has become a symbol for a particular group of young people who seem intent on both being unhappy and making others feel that way too. It is based on a real encounter I saw while out walking my own dog at night.
Old man shuffles Stooped, shrouded, muffled Against cold and damp Uniform of age Coat grey Woolen scarf Hi-shine shoes Capped head bowed Furrowed brow Sunken cheeks Age-dimmed eyes Lines of life Life lived Duty done Passes by Nods hello
And the dogs watch And tails wag
Young man struts Perma-scowl Too-young Too-deep, furrowed brow Thin stretched lips Suck On the last of ten Smile proof Sunken eyes Beneath The Hood
The Hood Hides, covers The accused’ blanket The judges wig Executioner’s mask Hiding feeling Hiding all
The skunk cloud Beer puddled brain Swaggering With sham-strength Confused values Misplaced, replaced Aggression, size Anger, power Resentment brimming Arrogance wrapped
This poem harks back to a time before the modern car ferries or planes made travel “home” to Ireland so quick and easy. In the days of the old “Mail boat” things were rougher, slower and uncomfortable. But it was going home and that’s something the Irish will always do!
So! I’m stood on the quayside On a wild windy night As the storm brews over the sea And I wait in the rain With a hundred others like me For a boat that tosses this way and that And just as I think There’s no way we can make it We will surely all drown We’re rushed into the harbour Of Dublin’s fair city And a train that’s ready to leave And it blows a loud shrill whistle And we set off quite quickly picking up speed Doing sixty as she crosses the Liffey But slowing to a crawl up the hills The heaters don’t work ‘cept in Summer There’s no way on God’s Earth to keep warm And our teeth and bones rattle and shake Through the Midlands, Longford, Roscommon To Mayo at last To be met at the station at Claremorris By Pat the baker and his son In their rickety cart As we jolt and bump to Kilkelly Where every man has the gift of the gab And you can take the man out of Ireland But you can’t take Ireland out of the man So of course I join in their chatter To tell of my journey last night So! I’m stood on the quayside On a wild windy night As a storm brews over the sea And I wait in the rain With a hundred others like me