Sean Bothar (Old Road)

Follow the path of Sean Bothar
A haunted place where once stood homes
Feel the ghosts of An Gorta Mór
Lingering among the tumbled stones
Too poor to answer the immigrant call
Too weak to throw an American wake
Put to work building useless walls
In the mountains above Corrib’s Lake
This old road lined with hazel and gorse
Famine cottages with the family names
Bears the hoof prints of the pale rider’s horse
Bears witness to the oppressor’s shame
Two million souls lost to hunger’s grip,
The famine fever or the coffin ship

**A note: An Gorta Mór is ‘The Great Hunger’ referring to The Irish Potato Famine of the 1840s. The province of Connacht, where I live, was hit particularly hard by the famine and the evidence is all around us. Sean Bothar means Old Road in Irish and there is such a road near me and is featured in the header photo. An American Wake refers to a sendoff for anyone emigrating to the US, Canada or Australia, since the families would likely never see one another again. To those left behind it was as if their loved one had died. Thus the ‘wake’ to say goodbye.

Sleight of Hand

Quick, look over there
Good, you missed my sleight of hand
This act is getting stale
And the audience is on to me
Time to pack up the tricks
In their old worn cases
Take off the threadbare costume
Patched over the years with lies
Wipe off the garish stage makeup
That steady simulation of a smile
It served me well for a time
Covering the gross inadequacies
Keeping everyone at a safe distance
No volunteers required here
To perpetuate the illusions on the stage
And now for the grand finale
Before I skulk off into the night
Flash, boom, crash
Spectacular pyrotechnics
And when the smoke clears
I’m gone

Header Image by LMoonlight


A poem by Meg Sorick

My memory castle is a ruin
Its halls littered with debris
My fingers brush the dusty walls
And I strain in the gloom to see

The once bright panels and paintings
Have mouldered and mildewed with time
The shining pristine sculptures
Are crumbled and coated with grime

Moonlight streams through rotted beams
When I cast a glance above me
For the roof has fallen inward
And its heaven I can see

When I come at last to the final room
I resist the urge to turn and flee
The handle stays my trembling hand
My closet is an ossuary but I have lost the key