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Worthington Aberdeen’s Blog » 2010 » March

Archive for March, 2010

THE HAPPY HOUR

Bright, eager lives pouring out around the room
Into glasses on tables with wet smiles that satiate
From hot bar stools and dark booths
Passing conversations across pivoted faces
And lost rotations of the tall and the small
That move and crash along chair rails
Like pool balls relentlessly
Hitting the walls in careful missteps
Pummeling themselves with chalk tips
Sticking and smelling like the restroom floor
Turning their eyes backward and inward
Like the red, hot signs and the old song
That makes you cry and stash your fears away
On a napkin for the end of night
When the walkways become tricky
And leaving becomes iffy
And there is little left to believe in
Except that beer changes everything.

THE BURNING

I love you …
Melting
Christmas 1998
A champagne glass in my hand
Curling
Your head upon my shoulder
Hissing
You and I
Slipping
Into fire in Mexico
A smile
On the hood of the car
Whistling
I miss you
Searing
Into Kodak colors
Bright eyes
Filled with compromise
Fusing
Our years together
A Prussian blue
Scattering
I need you
The lesson of ashes
Forgiving
The heat and the hands
And the traceless search
For passage.

CHANGES

When I was a child
Not everyone wanted to be free.
A greenhouse had no “effect”
Abstinence was voluntary
Recession was a gum disease
There was no “all” in natural
A drive-by was not a shooting
Religion was not a state of mind
Nothing was “untreatable”
Time was personal
Everybody ate meat
Volcanoes were always dormant
Only dinosaurs were extinct
Teasing was not sexual
Slang wasn’t in the dictionary
Music was not seen
Schools did not have massacres
Patriotism was chic
Winters were never warm
Children were never missing
Hostages were never taken
It rained constantly
The Middle East was a mystery
The Russians were our enemy
Your mother didn’t have to be thin
There was no “X” in Christmas
Air travel was easy
The imagination had no limits
There were no remedies for growing older
There were no movies we had not seen
Love had no penalty
And, the only war we knew of was over.

The Dismantlement of Joan

She lived for 20 years across the street
With her husband James
A tough, WWII vet from the Bronx
That she buried last Christmas
“Husband Number Two”
She would say, as she looked down and away
In disappointment and disbelief
At a life that kept leaving her
Completely alone.

She played her piano
And pulled her trash cans
In and out each Tuesday
Until she could no longer
Compromise the curb
And knew it was time to “downsize”
The modern way, to give things away
To rough men from the Salvation Army
That took her rugs and her shoes
Her electric heater and kitchen table
To a waiting truck already packed with
Her green refrigerator.

They slammed the door closed
On the very last load
Of all that is Joan
Now a bulk shipment
To a downtown thrift shop
To be picked through and sold.

She left for the last time
With a single box and a portrait
Of James in an easy chair
By that red, raspberry lamp
That lit up her living room
For most of her life
Now left for a scavenger
By the blue “Rent Me” bin
To never warm-up a shade
Or light up a window
Again.

The Famous CHANGELING Scene!

They continue to walk toward the Abbey which now sits in total darkness except for the moonlit windows and a faint glow from the chapel. Both girls turn their heads away and rush past the wall and the cemetery with great haste. The chill in the night air becomes more biting as they continue up Main Street passing an array of warmly lit cottages. They suddenly stop at the sound of light, rustling feet and espy a small, grotesque faery standing outside a cottage window. It is dressed in a blue baby’s bonnet and a baptism gown. The faery’s face is aged and wizened. Its arms and legs are shriveled like old leather and it has tufts of coarse, white hair extending out from under the bonnet as well as its chin. Its eyes are red-rimmed and bright yellow at the center.

“Sadie, dear God. Would you look over there. It’s a changeling!” Jennies cries.

As Sadie looks over toward the cottage, she sees the changeling surveying the house perimeter and then calling to a troupe of three green pixies who gather beneath the window and stand on top of one another to reach the latch and quickly open it. They hoist the changeling up and into the window.

“He’s going to steal a baby! We have to rouse the house!” Sadie yells.

Sadie dashes across the road followed by Jennie and raps on the cottage door. The green pixies immediately disperse and dissipate into the night.

“Wake up! Wake up! There’s a changeling coming in the window.”Sadie cries. “Jennie go stand beneath the window and make sure it doesn’t escape with the child,” she cries.

Jennie runs over to the window and waits beneath it as the changeling’s wrinkled leg pokes through the cottage curtain.

“Here ‘tis Sadie. It’s coming out! What shall I do?” Jennie asks.

“Is it carrying a baby?” Sadie asks from the cottage door.

“I can’t tell!” Jennie replies. “It has something, I think,” she adds.

A baby can he heard crying as Sadie pounds on the cottage door more forcefully.

“Push it back in the window Jennie! Don’t let it out of the house with that baby or the child will be lost forever!” she shouts.

Jennie jumps up and down nervously and gingerly pushes the old, crumpled leg back into the window as the man of the house opens the front door. He is standing in his knickers.

“What do you mean rapping on my door at this hour,” he says with anger.

“Don’t you have a changeling in your baby’s room! It’s half out the window with your child!” Sadie tells him breathlessly

“Jasus!” the man exclaims as he runs from the door.

The changeling’s shadowy face now emerges at the window and stares down at Jennie. Its arms are empty. The girl is frozen in fear as its yellow eyes fixate on her. It turns its head to the side and briefly examines her and then slowly grimaces with a mouthful of brown, rotted teeth.

“What do you think you’re doing,” it whispers in a low, deep voice. Jennie steps back from the window and recoils in fear as she tries to speak, “I was … I was … saving the baby.”

Sadie joins her at the window, “Go on! Get out! Go back to the wood! You won’t be stealing any mortal child this night! Away with you! Away I say!” Sadie cries as the Changeling bounds out of the window, over their heads to the ground and then trudges, empty-handed down the road with its long, craggy arms dangling from a newborn’s christening gown and its hoary, hairy feet plodding back toward the woodland.

A Short Conversation with Dying

A Short Conversation with Dying

When your mother is diagnosed with cancer
You take long walks through the pink corridors
Of aging.
You skip through short summers
And long school years
And tumble in the hot cycles of life
Like that old Sears dryer in your parents’ basement.
You stand at that wall with the notches
Where you measured yourself
Every year that you grew.

You wonder if she knew
That her life would end this way.
That she would move
From “mother” to “patient”
And we would learn an uncomfortable new language
Of carcinomas and tumors
MRI’s and Scans
Spreading and cutting
Laying your childhood bare
And the wisdom of your mother
Is pushed through chest tubes
And the arms that once held you
Are pinned down with chemo lines
And her taped hand is now smaller
Then you remember
And you think back
To the red-headed woman
In the green polka-dot apron
Watching you
Just inside the doorway
With a face you can barely place
And hair that has fallen away
And a smile that has terribly changed
And a body that is clearly tiring
From the empty chats with doctors
For whom cancer is merely
A short conversation
With dying.

The Abbey Yard is a finalist in the Beverly Hills Film Fest

Worthington’s screenplay The Abbey Yard is a finalist in the Beverly Hills Film Fest. More more info go here: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2010/03/prweb3729714.htm

The Abbey Yard being turned into a novel

Here is the press release about The Abbey Yard being turned into a novel: http://www.beverlyhillsfilmfestival.com/gallery_2010_screen.php

CROSSING THE LAWN
(for my mother)
In Memory of Margaret “Peggy” Mahon 1934-2009

I remember you Mom at the back door
Of that familiar house
At the base of the hill
That seemed so high to me
So long ago
With its long, white hallways
And child-worn walkways
And a yard full of heavy trees.

You were always waiting for me
When the neighborhood went dark
And the wet leaves and warm grass
Succumbed to the sounds
Of the slow winding down
Of our suburban town.

You would call for me
But I would pretend not to hear
Because I loved to be lost
In the bare wintered breezes
That held my young life
Upon their strong branches.

You knew this about me
That I would wander and dream
But always come home
Crossing the lawn to that place
Where I was empowered and free
To create the music of my life
That would come to define me.

And as I move away
From this painful day
I will search for that music
I will listen for you again
And continue to cross the lawn
And look for you at that door
Knowing that one day I will find you
Mom …
Waiting for me just as before.

Patricia M. Mahon
August 27, 2009

Excerpts from THE ABBEY YARD

THE ABBEY YARD – THE NOVEL

INTRODUCTION

Graignamanagh translated from the Irish is The Village of the Monks. It is a quaint town with ancient roots that sits in a secluded valley in County Kilkenny, Ireland. It is a lush and picturesque place at the juncture of two spectacular rivers, the River Nore and the River Barrow. This area was selected centuries ago by French Cistercian monks looking for an ideal location to build a magnificent, new Abbey. The monks wanted a sacred but practical place where they could teach, pray, and of course, farm and fish. They were enthralled by this lush basin of meadows tucked away in one of the country’s most beautiful dales and surrounded by a velvet curtain of rolling green mountains. Here they found solid rock for a firm foundation, natural building materials, an abundance of water, and plenty of local craftsmen.

The monks would call their new abbey Duiske or ‘Black Water’ after the mountain waters that rush down from Brandon Hill. The Duiske Abbey was founded in 1204. It took 40 years to build out of hand cut, local granite. The workmen got the sand from Tinnahinch and the slate from Killeen West. The monks made the engraved tiles on the church floor themselves.

Once completed, The Duiske Abbey represented the largest Cistercian Monastery in all of Ireland. From the founding party of just one abbot and twelve monks, it would come to house over 50 ordained men and 60 lay brothers. These holy men fed the poor, recovered the sick, and prayed to the Good Lord each day as a thriving community of masons, carpenters, bakers, and millers ultimately formed into a small town around them.

But also around them, were those that were here long before the first quarry was cut and the first pieces of sod pulled up. These are the native residents of Graignamanagh that pre-date the Abbey and are older than the time hewn sod and quite uniquely Irish. They are indigenous and timeless, varied and diverse, and there seems to be no consistency among them as they range from beautiful to unsightly and from alluring to grotesque. They at once invoke pleasure as well as horror. Some say they are figments of the Celtic imagination. Others say they are fallen angels or the unsettled dead. Still others say they are purgatorial beings trapped in between the regions of this life and the next.

Whether real or imagined, they are a part of the Irish consciousness. These elves, pixies, faeries, leprechauns, changelings, goblins and banshee do not live by human rules but exist in a place of enchantment and mystery of their own making. They lay claim to that special “other realm” where neither religion nor prayer … common sense or intellect can explain them.  They can choose to reveal themselves or not. They can subject humans to great vexing or mere mischief. One thing is for certain, they have been immortalized in this town by their variety, their complexity, and their various implications. They have been ardently discussed over warm beers and hot stew. They have been recounted on a Sunday afternoon at the market. They have been described just beyond the church steps after mass. In Graignamanagh, a good faery tale is handed down like fine clothes … to the next generation. Likewise, a bad faery encounter is held close to the breast and recalled sparingly and with great passion as a child’s fair warning.

The presence of these magical folk is tightly woven into the vibrant fabric of Celtic life. Their magic and mystical impact here is equally as rich as that of the monastic tradition. But, unlike the goodly monks, the faeries did not leave behind grand monasteries. Instead, they left behind mystical mounds, magical forests, enchanted fields, and very special places full of revelry and captivating dance where mortals dare not tread. The mythical world is here, in the cold shrill of the night breeze, in the faint touch on an old road, in the haunting allure of the moonlight and the inexplicable feeling one gets when walking alone by the Abbey cemetery at night.

Ultimately, the Village of the Monks is a time, a place, and a people literally on the edge … on the edge of the faery world, on the edge of theological change, on the edge of modernity, and at the very feet of modern Irish history.

CHAPTER I – A Luchorpan’s Charter

Good day dear citizens of the mortal world. My name is Bartholomew, and I am a small man with a big story to tell. It is an enthralling tale about an ancient abbey, a terrible massacre, a brutal murder, a jilted lover, an old mystic, a political zealot, and two little girls that are quite simply growing up.

I am one of the “wee folk,” and I reside here in Graignamanagh … a glorious town that has stepped out of the “rare old times” without a hair out of place. I spend most of my days and nights sitting outside the back door of a public house in an alley off of High Street. It is called “The Dew Drop Inn” and drop in, they do! My little spot outside the back delivery door is a likely retreat for one such as me. I have a fine, wooden stool and plenty of stout. It’s a comfortable haven for a Luchorpan and as luck would have it, I enjoy daily deliveries of fresh bread and soft butter. Oh, and I have several pots of gold here beside me. Yes, you heard that right. No need to track me down or listen for my cobbler’s hammer … I long to give my gold away. But I cannot find a single patron or passerby willing to take it! I have been trying to hand it off for the better part of the century. Alas, the poor souls that believe in me don’t want it, and those that want it don’t believe in me.

So I remain here, year after year and season after season … in the cold, in the rain, in the dead of night. Some recall seeing me, others do not. Still others are convinced that I seek to lure them to that “other place” but that is surely not my intention. I am simply trying to fulfill my Leprechaun charter. It is my job to bring good men to their treasure and treasure to a few, good men. I am here when the lads come and when they go … when they are young and unstoppable; when they are old and afraid; when they are lost for words and short on wages; when they cry at the end of the night for their mothers.

I watch them walk off down the road to the pitiless toil of the docks, the barges, the fields, and the grind of these difficult times. You see, an Irish public house is a clement, comfortable place. It is one man’s purgatory and another’s salvation. It is the raw candor of intoxication as well as a prideful masquerade. It is where one goes to forget as well as to remember. It is where one can create his own story and tell it without recrimination.

At the pub, everything is fair game; and I have sat at this door waiting to play.  ‘Chase me! Find me! Catch Me,’ I cry! Alas, they rub their eyes and stumble by. Such drunken apathy! Such close of day indifference! Is this not a dreadfully poor country? Could instant wealth not change a man’s life? Is a pot of gold not the hope of every rainbow? Does it not glitter? Is it not the root of power? Has it not been the desire of every king and queen and despotic reign since the beginning of history?

Unfortunately, a rough skepticism has overtaken this rainy place. Long before this was “The Village of the Monks,” it was our realm … a land of wild enchantment and marauding dreams, alluring riddles and intricate rhymes, eternal celebration and pleasing music.

We were here centuries before the monastery came to be. The abbot and lay brothers knew of us. They were well-meaning fellows but clearly threatened by our charm. By their very nature, monks are not charming. So, they drove us to the edge of town and to the brink of the wood where we remain today …. save on certain nights when the wind is just right, and we decide to embark on an “unchristian” adventure.

Speaking of which, Christianity came to “Graig” in the form of saints and deities, in the readings of holy men and rehearsed prayer. It came in chants and daily meditation and the concept of original sin for which mortals spend their lives seeking forgiveness. The monks brought books and teachings to combat Irish ignorance but also to encourage chastity and devotion tempered with the threat of eternal judgment. From the very day this looming monastery raised its hoary head from out of this once green field back in the 13th century, the people of this town didn’t really have a chance. Their suffering is a rite of tragic passage. Their songs and laments leave them no better than before … none the richer and all the poorer.

Dare I say that we have sustained them! We have inspired and mystified; we have roused and bewildered. You see faeries never stay where they are not welcome. Alas, our special realm thrives here because the townspeople want it to. You won’t find many a man in Graig who has not seen or felt our presence. Our world of enchantment is a fanciful reprieve from self-flagellation and prayer. Our secret outings and visitations are an ideal way to explain things that are otherwise inexplicable. Where God falls short, the faery realm elucidates and enlightens. Where prayer fails a generation, a faery song can celebrate and immortalize the ages. We are not the ones to be feared. There is far less to dread in our world than in the violent and tragic mortal past.

We wear our imperfections on our sleeve or on our misshapen faces and monstrous bodies. We are the wee people, and we are the giants. We are the rough beasts and the beautiful queens, the wizened trolls and those with butterfly wings, the green water hags and the comely mermaids, the young changelings and the old women of the road. We are everywhere one looks in the natural world … always seen but not always believed.

I tell this story now because it needs to be told. I can live the world forward or walk it back in reverse, but it makes the most sense to start in 1914 on a lush hillside right at the foot of Brandon Hill. If you poke your head out and look beyond the abbey, you will see this magnificent rising mound …a green altar to the faery gods, shrouded in mist and bursting with plump, ripe “huka-berries.” This is where the remarkable story of a young girl named Sadie Connelly begins. She is a beautiful, bright and precocious child. She is impetuous and unafraid. She is curious and fresh. She is flush with youth and yet at the precipice of womanhood. She embraces the soft fields of optimism and yet walks beside the jagged cliffs of cynicism. Sadie has questions and understands that the world has answers. She attempts to find those answers no matter where she has to look or what she has to encounter. The hope of this town resides with her … her innocence, her fearlessness, and her indomitable unsullied youth.