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THE MOUSE ON THE BARROOM FLOOR

Some Guinness was spilt on the barroom floor,

when the pub was shut for the night.

Out of his hole crept a wee brown mouse

& stood in the pale moonlight.

He lapped up the frothy brew from the floor,

then back on haunches he sat.

All night long you could hear him roar:

Bring on the goddamn cat!

“…I’d rather be sittin’ in a deck chair high up over Kansas City on a genuine, old-fashioned authentic, steam-powered aereoplane.”   – John Hartford

The Travelers and the Selkie

He stood among a crowd at Drumahair;

His heart hung all upon a silken dress,

And he had known at last some tenderness,

Before earth took him to her stony care…

From The Man Who Dreamed of Faeryland

by W. B. Yeats

Since before Cuchulain and the raids of Finn McCool the grey sands of Drumcliff Bay had been pounded to fine-grain powder by wizard’s winds off the Dartry Mountains and the indignant surf of the North Atlantic. Relentless beggars in rags, these two and more, had banged against cottage doors all winter in hopes of a vile handout from peat-fired peasants resigned to another morning’s hunger. They’re here again today. He’s here again tonight. She’s gone now.

Away on that far beach, near Sligo town, a myriad of polished pebbles spews flattery onto haughty, high-born driftwood, all dressed up in the lace of sultry seaweed for the sailor’s ball. Enchanted seals, specks of black from the beach, wait for a moment of sunshine. The dance goes on all day, all night, then circles back around for more while freebooting revelers gasp, coming up for a breath of air.

The heavy waves cry out for company, all a constant haze and gaze of the endless luster, the white-eyed sky…only ever blue with a child’s imagination. Laughter wasted on the hardened hide of the planet, a painful monotony to some, a jousting drama to the rest. Is this the end we have long feared or only the very beginning of act one?

Looking to the horizon there is no separation from the sea. It all comes together like salty crepe paper hung mindlessly in apprehension of the grandest of social occasions…but some were not invited. They are the tinkers, the gypsies that travel in brightly painted wagons, faery spells and dark, curious behaviors follow them from place to place. Music to soothe, poteen to swallow, feet dancing ancient troubles away.

That eerie, earthborn mist seldom blessed by a bashful Irish sun, a reluctant cameo call, as satin spring flows green into summer.  Slick, violent ledges drop to the beach. Rocky spired spirits jutting out into the brine. Puddled pock marks carved into rock, home to eternal sea creatures eaten only in desperation by people deprived of lamb, sausage or pork with their prautees.

She used to sit here on the beach and stare for hours into the surf, your mother, but now, son she’s away. The father sadly put his arm around the shoulder of his only child, attempting to say just the right thing, feel the right feel. How could a boy of five even begin to understand what had transpired here. But where has my mother gone? Is she in heaven? Yes, in heaven and away*.

Three weeks ago Maureen had disappeared. She was perched above the beach in her familiar posture staring at something out in the water. She often came to this spot in search of peace in the shadows of her skeletal existence. They were always hungry despite her efforts to collect the treasures of the sea, in stark boiling pots, survival on the half-shell. One day she just went mad and, wandering down the canting beach in the direction of Carney, was never seen again, a mirage to the fretful tide.

It is common among the tinkers to run off and not face what is real, said the townsfolk. The travelers were not to be trusted. They were thieves and liars…and they had no land of their own. They trusted in leprechauns and selkies. Were they Roma blood gypsies or orphans of Cromwell’s wars? No one knew and after four centuries what did it matter?

I remember your own grandmother talking of Irish orphans sent to the New World, to Barbados and Montserrat and Virginia to work as slaves for the planters. Today blue eyes, African skin and a lilt in the speech…once the indentured slaves to a heartless empire run by men with vest-splitting bellies and rum-soaked cigars, cathedrals to godless greed jutting far up into the sky.

Maybe she’s with them in the Caribbean asked the child, his eyes drawn to the sea.

“What do you see out there, my beautiful lad?”

“A lovely seal, father.”

Why do they hate us, da? Are we bad people as they say?”

No, son, no worse than any. They hate us because we are free, we are different…because they see us in league with the faeries. They fear our music, our connection to what is beyond their tiny imaginations. They are chained to the land, to their misconceptions and we are wanderers.

You were too young to remember, but two years ago gypsy caravan stopped at a fine hotel in Ballysadare inquiring as to the lease of a hall for a large wedding uniting two families from Lough Gill. The proprietor would have none of it and ran us off with the aid of several local bullies. They told us never to come back. Where should we go? This is our land, the land of our ancestors. Shall we cross the Irish Sea to Britain? Shall we embrace the devil? Cursed to travel the roads repairing pots and pans, sharpening knives, acting as midwives, spinning reels on the fiddle. But where is our peaceful lullaby?

What happened then, da? the boy asked, his eyes hostages of the ocean.

“We went back into the forest and held the wedding under the blackthorn trees. It was quite the celebration. It was then that I danced with your mother for the first time. We were safe from harm in the woods. The gommach would never follow us there. We were under the protection of the pookas and the townspeople were afraid. That night the slooa shee (host faeries) burned the hotel to the ground. Despite the fact that there was not a tinker within sight of Ballysadare we were unjustly blamed. Now even a fool knows there’s a time for dancing and a time for hotel burning.”

There is no peace, no right in the life of a Traveler…just months spent going in circles in search of another meal, a place to sleep for the night…and no escape from the sadness at seeing another poor child come into the cold, wet world of their grand and glorious Gaeltacht!

“Ever since I was a boy we have been methodically cut off from the rest of Irish society. Farmers with pig shit on their boots, pub owners smelling of stale beer, ladies in second-hand finery look down their noses at the Travelers. The righteous ones run and the unforgiven seek to taste our fruits and drink our poteen, then they go back to their fields, their sod huts, their priests, their churches…”

The boy was spellbound, mesmerized by the seal that had now come closer. But why can’t the faeries save us?

They are only powerful below the ground and cannot affect change in those who do not recognize them. They prefer to play with us, to sing with us…to dance the jigs of the deeneeshee. They see our fate as temporary and harshly amusing. The magic is only for those who will reach out and grab it, then hold it like there is no tomorrow, no yesterday.

Then the father hung his head.

“I could not give your mother peace and now she is away.”

The boy looked so much like his lost wife and had the same penchant for salty meditation. He looked to the sea as his father spoke.

“Look, da, the seal!”

The boy continued to search to waves resting his eyes on a solitary seal that had landed on a massive rock cropping on the north side of the bay. It looked back at the father and son, lingered for a moment then dove into the surf. The boy continued to stare. Soon the seal emerged again and came even closer, through thickets of kelp and mounds of ancient stone. Then there came a whisper:

It is your wife and mother. I hold peace and now you must join me in my paradise. Do not hesitate. You have only an instant to decide. Come to me. I cannot linger and I cannot bring myself to come back to your sad world. The sea is the matriarch where the deeds of evil men are washed away. No tinkers, no kings. Take on the pelt. As I could walk upon the shore as human you must come into the sea. Come into the water.

Taking his father’s hand the boy stood up and walked toward the water. Come da, the tide is rising and my mother awaits us. We are now the children of Fata-Morgana***.  Accustomed to the ways of the selkie** and true believers in the faeries, both father and son held on to each other and then waded into the water until they blended with the gray horizon.

* According to Celtic legend sudden or unexplained death was seen as only a temporary departure, often brought on by madness. In some cases the soul would take on another form until it had decided it was prepared to enter the afterlife.
**Selkies are seals that can shed their pelts and walk ashore as humans. They are known seduce desired lovers into the sea.
***godess of the sea

– Kevin Haley

A great man in his pride, confronting murderous men

Casts derision upon supersession of breath;

He knows death to the bone—Man has created death.

– Yeats

Blue Collar Force March Sends Shock Waves

(Bland Junction) In 1880 the Tabeguache and the Northern Ute bands were removed to their reservation in Utah. It was affordable housing in the most primitive sense. Troublesome Utes, who had been silly enough to think they could maintain the nomadic lifestyle that they had enjoyed for centuries, were finally out of the hair of mining and development.

Today, due to a severe disparity of wealth, a shortage of land here in paradise and an overpopulation of the seasonal privileged, the local workforce is being evicted. Many have already been escorted across the Grand River for settlement on worker’s utopias in the Beehive State.

These destination retorts are not called reservations in 2019, nor are they referred to as relocation camps. The actual name for the centers has been thrown into the laps of several local realtors who promise to have concocted a workable term for the dry arcadias soon.

“We didn’t know the gov’ment could write a treaty on us,” said one of the uprooted workers. “We’re not even Indians.”

The wage slaves, who have been gradually pushed out of Western Colorado along with old ranching families (victims of corporate agriculture) and persons who do not fit the mold of the New West (cash only) will join others who have failed to cut the mustard.

“If you don’t show up with pockets stuffed with cash there’s no place for you here,” said Major McCook, the officer in charge of executing the controversial relocation orders. “Inheritance is popular, especially if you’ve got your eye on one of those cozy $500,000 cottages that dot the pristine landscape around these parts. We’re seeing more and more of the jeunesse doree‘, fashionable, wealthy young people who have come to play in the Rockies. This whole enterprise is nothing personal and hardly political. It’s just business.”

Some of the more liberal rich, a foggy minority group that gives to charities and drinks white wine before the fire, have expressed concern over the plight of their fellow citizens.

“We do so hope they have an enjoyable excursion and that they learn to love Utah,” said Muffy Hollandaise of Aspen. “We can’t imagine being poor or having to work all week long just to pay rent on a trailer. I remember reading about this kind of thing back in college…Charles Dickens, I think. But it all worked out in the end. Tiny Tim became a literary sharecropper.”

Other fringe groups say the working class deserves to be removed since most never made the right investments and succumbing to traditionally low wages so as to live in Western Colorado.

“Some of them even went so far as to spend every penny they made just surviving,” said Rex Montaleone, an unemployed millionaire living in Telluride. “How awful. I just hope it doesn’t affect our domestic labor pool. Maybe we should have waited until after summer season to send them packing.”

As of press time some 10,000 workers have been marched into Utah with many more scheduled for departure this month. Interested participants and students of history are encouraged to observe the massive exodus from points above the river where dinner and cocktails will be served.

Dinner, featuring a tongue-in-cheek presentation of lower middle class cuisine, will be held at the local Immigration and Naturalization Office here to determine how and when to begin construction of a mass transit system from the utopias to the workplace on this side of the river.

“We will not tolerate tardiness when it comes to employees,” said one proponent of the divine right theory.

– Kashmir Horseshoe

     

Ghost of Elvis Sets Hot Springs Tour

(Ouray) An upsurge in reported sightings of the Ghost of Elvis is a clear indication that he about to embark on the annual Hot Springs Tour according to parapsychologists here. Some 30 appearances of the hip-swaying apparition have been chronicled since the first of the year.

“Elvis is the eternal showman,” said Dr. E. B. Tinkleholland, chair at the Table Mountain Institute in Boulder. “He knows better than to try to compete with the holiday hype when all kinds of other celebrity energy is in the air. In death, as in life The King seeks center stage,”

Residents here say Elvis has visited both Box Canyon and the Wiesbaden with short touchdowns at Orvis and the Hot Springs Pool after dark. Guests and staff at these facilities say that the phantom has yet to submerge itself into the water preferring to hover above dressed in a plaid tartan kilt, bow tie, black knee socks and white dress shirt. Although harmless to date the spirit has created quite a stir when popping up among unsuspecting soakers.

“We were sitting in the pool at about dusk when the wind picked up and some light snow began to fall,” said one guest at Orvis Hot Springs near Ridgway. “Suddenly a shadowy figure appeared across the water, maybe ten feet away. He was singing the familiar “Are you lonesome tonight?” to all of the ladies present. As one might imagine the visit created quite a stir and the pool emptied quickly.”

The Elvis Rubber Duckie is back!

Employees there say that upon closer examination they found nothing stranger  than usual going on and concluded that whomever was singing had vacated the premises.

“We’re up to our necks in celebrities, “said one woman at the front desk. “It’s a normal occurrence and most of them attempt to disguise themselves so as to avoid unwanted publicity or attention. Besides in the San Juans these days everyone is a celebrity of some sort.”

She went on to admit that arriving in such a cadaverous state was a nice touch and that the special effects were quite impressive.

“We just wish he would have paid like everyone else,” she frowned.

If the ghost follows the agenda of past years he will spend about a week hanging around Ouray County before traveling to Dunton Hot Springs in Dolores County and Juanita Hot Springs, east of Gunnison. By February fans may have an excellent chance to see Elvis near Valley View at Saguache and Mt. Princeton Hot Springs in the Collegiate Range.

“We can’t guarantee anything,” said Tinkleholland. “Elvis has always had a mind of his own.”

Experts say this year’s ghost seems quite different than the spirit that visited last winter.

“In 2018 the Ghost of Elvis was angry, even vengeful, presumably over the settlement of his estate and the continued pirating of recordings in Third World countries,” said Tinkleholland. “At present he seems to have put these annoyances behind him and is a more lighthearted apparition.”

Despite mounds of data collected over the years and surveys conducted all over the globe researchers remain baffled as to the attire of this year’s Elvis.

“Where’s the glitter? asked the doctor. “We’ve never seen him in kilts before but the name Presley is certainly of Scots-Irish stock.  “It’s either that or he’s developed a fetish for parochial school uniforms. And what’s with the knee socks?”   

-Paula Parvenu

Last chance for winter?

Longer days meld with winter serenity as we all wait for the coming of spring. Lots of now in the high country with much more forecasted up high through May. Will we have water?

—CONTEST—

Help the feds rename the War on Drugs and win!

Most everyone in this country and realizes that the much maligned War on Drugs is a dismal failure. It was never designed to be successful but rather as a cash cow scheme to smuggle more drugs into the US. Your elected officials know it too and have finally decided to do something about it.

Attempts to resurrect the wondrous cash cow have arrived in the form of a contest set to pay out big money to the winners. It’s simple: The existing effort carries with it the magic term fundable and therefore the gov’ment does not want to scrap it. They just want to change metaphors in the middle of the stream. Get it?

Remember: It’s not for you to determine right or wrong here. You are only a taxpayer and can be effectively persecuted by the IRS or other government agencies for your reluctance to buy the money pit program laid down by the feds. Just write down your choice for a new name for this fiasco and send it to Harold Hempleman, Director, Department of Clandestine Maneuvering and Finance, 239 Jefferson Davis Parkway, Washington, DC 20013.

(Note: The terms Manifest Destiny, Silent Majority and Strategic Hamlet will not be accepted since they remind the gov’ment of a string of past failures and conflicting stopgap thought.

Over 3 million dollars might be given away this Saturday!

—CONTEST—