Friday, June 13, 2008

Slan Abhaile

I've spent three hours at the local pub writing in my journal. Soul searching I suppose. Among the brick-a-brack that adorns the walls of a typical Irish/American pub I noticed a black and white photograph of Brendan Behan, the famous Irish author of Borstal Boy. The photo was taken in 1953 at a Dublin bar. A pint of Guinness perched atop his portable typewriter, his hands blurred as his fingers flew above the keys. A man in a light colored coat was captured in the frame, in motion towards the bar getting a pint of his own.

When I saw that photo, I imagined a young man walking half way across Dublin lugging a portable typewriter under his arm so he could sit down in a busy pub to enjoy a pint as he wrote one of the most famous books in Irish literature. I heard the clack of the keys amidst the clink of pint glasses, the roar of laughter after a joke well told and the rustle of a paper being turned to the next news story.

Most people can't understand writing like that, in the middle of a busy pub with people bumping into you every time they pass by your seat, but I could. In fact, I can hardly write outside of a pub. When I saw that picture I felt like I knew Brendan in a way most people couldn't and I wished he was there at the end of the bar with his typewriter so I could hear the click of the keys and I would buy him as many rounds as he could drink and if he couldn't walk straight as he left the pub I would carry his typewriter home for him, if he asked me to, because I understood him. I am a pub writer just like he was.

And it was the way my father wrote too though he stopped after I was born. Neither of us had any idea genes could carry such information. I never saw him writing in a pub.

I lost my journal last weekend so I'm here beginning a new one. The journal was begun when I moved to Boston and it had over six months of memories written in it's pages but I do not believe it is any great loss at all. It was a simple story anyway. Me running away from the ghosts of a failed relationship and into the arms of a city that promised to help me forget. If ghosts had feet I might have gotten away from those bastards but we all know ghosts are not killed by drinking, fucking or driving far way from them. Still, doesn't stop you from trying.

I know what I'm saying is more than the sum of these words and these excuses or these ghosts lying around me like handkerchiefs. What I'm trying to say is something about Brendan and his typewriter and how I wrote poems on bar napkins over a pint just as my father did and it's about a lost journal of no great loss about a promised land called Boston where ghosts are not allowed to cross the borders but they do and how being alone in New Haven is really the same as being alone in Boston but you just have less people around you to share it with.

It's about me helping Brendan through the streets of Dublin with his typewriter tucked safely underneath my arm.

-- Caoimghgin
-- 08FEB06

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