Bland On Bland – Irish Diaspora

Photo By Jools Thatcher
Photo By Jools Thatcher

The theme for this week’s JVG Radio Method poem is “Irish Diaspora” and in keeping with Jon was no where to be found.

Ed was given the week off. I am sure he will be back next week.

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You can listen to the Drifter album here

Irish Diaspora

Caleb hailed from Donegal, both likeable and brash
Humour dark as sodden peat, wit as dry as ash

Three years, he lived in England, some small time racketeering
Worked in road construction while he studied engineering

The Midlands, and its factories drove Irish immigration
Today, still home to many first and second generation

Despite the Brummy accents, their birthplace and their home
Some think themselves more Irish – a place they’ve never known

Two lads who worked with Caleb, both being of that bent
Proclaimed themselves Republicans, though unsure what that meant

Strange romantic notions, a war they’d never fight
As some are drawn to criminals but too scared to run a light

You’ve a lot of time for thinking when you’re working road patrol
Leaning on a shovel, hours holding up a pole

Their knowledge of “The troubles” gleaned from evening news
Caleb acted cagey when they asked him for his views

He lost his usual bluster and got on with work instead
Where he grew up you’re careful to whom you speak and what is said

The lads had no perception how it was to live that way
They came to the conclusion he was in the IRA

They confronted him one morning out of earshot of their bosses
Caleb merely shook his head and told them they were tossers

But it didn’t matter what he said, they’d reached their own conclusion
So Caleb being Caleb thought he’d add to the confusion

Little cryptic comments designed to fuel suspicions
Denials grew less convincing though he wouldn’t make admissions

He began to find enjoyment in the lad’s misguided hunch
They’d fight to light his cigarettes, took turns to get his lunch

In time his job had served its purpose, though handy while it lasted
Threw a send off at the pub and got well and truly plastered

The youngest lad begged Caleb, while absolutely pissed
To recognise their loyalty and allow them to enlist

Caleb, trying not to laugh, marched the pair outside
In their hardhats and overalls, shovels held with pride

A solemn oath was taken – “To the death” they swore
Told to wait their orders and talk of this no more

They’d be contacted when needed, no further explanations
Then they marched back to the bar to continue their libations

His studies now completed and armed with his degree
Caleb hopped the ferry back across the Irish Sea

The economy now booming, they could use an engineer
Based himself in Dublin, forged a promising career

He specialised in sewerage and work went through the roof
Boom or bust, rich or poor, the bowel’s recession proof

Project, followed project, five years went in a blink
Back in Birmingham on business then his old pub for a drink

Aiden, the youngest of the lads walked in the place
When he caught sight of Caleb the blood drained from his face

He sighed with resignation “I knew this day would come”
“Do you mind, before we go, if I say goodbye to mum?”

Caleb had forgotten his prank that distant night
When the penny dropped it was his face turning white

“Conall, how’s he going?” Caleb asked with trepidation
“Conall, poor old Conall” Aiden sobbed in consternation

“He changed his name and grew a beard, went crackers for a while”
“Last I heard he’s holed up on some far flung Scottish Isle”

“Jesus, Mary and Joseph” murmured Caleb remorsefully
“Five years these lads have suffered and it’s all because of me”

Thinking on his feet he chose his words before he spoke
“I can’t admit those years of hell were no more than a joke”

Standing to attention he looked Aiden in the eye
“I’m on official Republican business. Things we need to clarify”

“The IRA have sent me in respect of your position”
“To inform you we’re dismantling the West Midland’s Division”

“We thank you for your service, your patience and your pain”
“Your names have been deleted you won’t hear from us again”

Then he emptied out his wallet, five hundred quid, or more
Shook hands, saluted and bolted out the door

Aiden stood there stunned, then pulled out his mobile phone
“Conall? Get your arse down here, I can’t drink this alone”

“After all those years your man turned up, just like you said he would”
“We’re eating out tonight my son, this time he’s gone for good”

© Copyright 2010 Ian Bland

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