Berni Dwan – Old Hand

Berni dwan head shotBerni Dwan teaches journalism, history, English literature and creative writing in Dublin. Her web site is a response to news developments and the capricious vagaries of life. This is done through satirical essays, articles and poetry. Her work has featured on RTE 1’s Sunday Miscellany, Lyric FM’s Quiet Corner, and the The only object in life that she desperately wants to own is a working time machine. Interested in the past; curious about the future; she doesn’t want to live forever; will keep putting new words in the little black book until she runs out of words. She is disenchanted with lazy and sloppy mistakes regularly heard on our primary radio stations and she can’t get her head around the fact that ghost-written sports biographies are now classed as literature. She’s a curmudgeonly old fuss pot. There’s no real harm in that, is there? Read more at her website

Old Hand

I saw you on a bus
at the end of a faded giant’s arm
of shovel-like proportions
Resting on a shaky plateau
like a Komodo Dragon
Archipelago of liver spots
Fingers like Cuban cigars
Tipped with tarmacadam
Veins networked like Spaghetti Junction –
Possibly you helped to build it?
The shards of your youth and middle age
lie buried near Birmingham’s M6
Your services no longer required
You are a returned navvy; an endangered species.

I am ashamed to look into your rheumy eyes
relentlessly crying rivulets down weathered trenches
I cannot ignore the rumbling volcanoes
that are your lungs;
Perhaps you have an appointment
with some nice young doctor at St. Vincent’s Hospital;
The smokes and booze that dulled the pain for forty years
have ravaged your body.

Might your fourteen-year-old hands have
resembled those of Oscar Wilde
Before his stint in Pentonville and Wandsworth?
Your stint was longer, though you lasted the course
And here you are on a Dublin bus
A miraculous wreck; still breathing
Your hand betrays your past.

Maybe you’ll stop at the bookies
Place a treble on the 16.10 at Fairy House
I hope to God you win
Have a few pints with the lads
And marvel at your good fortune.

Copyright © Berni Dwan 2015

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