Time Passes

A second is an hour

when the dagger that is memories

of loved ones passed

plunges deep into your heart.

A year is a day

when you see the newborn baby

looking back at you

from your adult children’s eyes.

A night full of fever

and parental worry

lasts the lifetime of that child

within the parent’s mind.

A week lasts forever that

begins with Monday Morning Blues

but goes too fast when

lying on a beach in Sunny Spain.

Alarm clocks snoozed

move time faster

if the reason for the noise

is something you don’t like.

A moment can be fleeting

but can stay within your mind

and play with it forever

if that moment is regretted.

Regrets about yesterday

make a long tomorrow’s worry list

if those regrets prevent

today from happening at all.

Time passes if we watch it or we don’t

It doesn’t notice us at all

Our plans for tomorrow

never matter if tomorrow doesn’t come.

Now is forever

if we notice it and breathe it in

knowing that the miracle of life

continues when we’re gone.

Ann Gerety Smyth 23012019

An image in my head

I visited your grave today.

I had some time to spare

and idle with.

I looked at the cross

the details written.

I’m older than you lived

and so lived more.

The names I know

on stone before me

are as close as you

I knew them just as little too.

Is that an oak behind

your grave?

In the field beyond?

How fitting for our clan.

Our clan I hardly know.

I walked along

the tidy paths

and rhymed off

names of strangers.

They may be family too.

I don’t know.

My cousins far away

know more than me

they knew you too.

For me,

you’ve never been,

more than

an image in my head.

Always dead.

Memories jealously held

by those who loved you

while I just wished

to be held

by the smiling man

in the picture.

AGS Sat 8th June 2019

What Democracy?

The hypocrisy, and lack of transparency, of our supposed democracy is in reality a patriarchy of hierarchy jealousy.

Our liberty is a fallacy.

In verity, this factory we pretend is a nationality is serving the aristocracy of Monopoly and Oligopoly.

Everything now is monetary.

Equality, in all honesty will never happen in this fallacy built on conspiracy and treachery.

Our legacy now is anarchy.

Rocks of the Sea

Rocks of the Sea sit on the hill,

quietly reminding me to be still,

to ponder the trickster, lover and judge.

The wanderer again giving a nudge.

You are nearer to Manannán

than someone he slayed.

Are you he, is he you?

Is this all a charade?

When the mounds were destroyed

did they send you away?

o’er the land, ‘cross the void

were you filled with dismay?

Rocks of the Sea sit on the hill,

quietly reminding me to be still,

to ponder the trickster, lover and judge.

The wanderer again giving a nudge.

Did you murder your cranes?

Did you murder your wife?

Did they naturally die?

Did it cut like a knife?

Fair judgement returned

as your magic grew

when you left for the Sea

to the waters you knew.

Rocks of the Sea sit on the hill,

quietly reminding me to be still,

to ponder the trickster, lover and judge.

The wanderer again giving a nudge.

For it all had begun,

under water for you.

So to water you went

to refresh and renew.

Is it time to come back

to reside on your hill?

The path is restored.

Come back, if you will.

Rocks of the Sea sit on the hill,

quietly reminding me to be still,

to ponder the trickster, lover and judge.

The wanderer again giving a nudge.


Early Risers

“If we keep going this way we will never get back,” he mumbled under his breath as his mother kept walking.

“I didn’t ask you to come with me. Go home if you want.” She pounded on.

“Not much point turning back that way either. I’ll still be late.”

“Fine so, come on, just over this hill to the turn.”

He preferred her when she lounged in front of the telly.

He watched her vivid pink-clad arse wobbling ahead at a great pace and indulged himself in a daydream while he could. This was the road his great-grandfather walked on his way to fight the British and free Ireland. Today it was foremost on his mind as earlier he had read over the yellowed poster of the proclamation on their kitchen door. His dad had stuck it there with sellotape the day they moved in, twelve years ago now.

“This is what my granddad fought for,” his father had said as he stuck it up.

“Indeed he did and wasn’t he the brave one. ” Mam had smiled at her husband.

He hadn’t a clue what they were talking about at the time but he held the moment, the smell of wet paint and new wood of their new home. The child knew it was important. He remembered the excitement and he remembered the love. He traced his fingers over the writing on the invitation in his hand and left it on the counter running out to catch up with his mother.

He lagged behind as he skirted in and out of the ditch looking around him as if he were being followed, imagining the excitement and apprehension his great-grandfather had felt on his road to changing the world. The words of the proclamation were floating in and out of his mind as he dodged the imaginary spies that were following him.

Religious and Civil Liberty,’

‘Equal Rights and Equal opportunities,’

‘Cherishing all of the children of the nation equally.’

It might have taken a while but he reckoned they were nearly there. He was so proud that he had one of the heroes in his family, especially now as it made him more equal than most in his school. It was a distraction if nothing else.

She looked behind at him and shouted “You’ll be late alright if you don’t stop your nonsense and catch up. I don’t know why you always insist on coming with me.”

“Sure I had to come with you. It’s still dark,” he shouted back as she raced on faster than before.

“I’m not a baby you know. I can mind myself.”

He sometimes thought otherwise. He sniggered.

She stopped and turned her angry red face on him. “What’s funny?”

“Just wondering who’s the adult,” he laughed. “Why are you killing yourself, Mam?”

“I’m not. I’m saving myself so you’ll not be alone.”

“Ah Mam, sure there’s years in you yet.”

“That’s what we thought about him and he’s gone.” She turned back to the road and went faster.

“Exercise wouldn’t cure what killed him,” he whispered.

She was gone too far ahead to hear. Just as well. Better for her to think he was unhealthy than stressed. Ironic how all that stress left when he went. That’s why they all went. ‘Almost 500 additional suicides linked to recession,’ he had read only yesterday. Dad hadn’t done that, it wasn’t proven. But the stress left then. The banks were no longer ringing aggressively. They now left them alone in their home. Their home, that no longer was.

He shook himself and tried to return to his previous thoughts but it wasn’t to be so he took in his surroundings instead. He listened to the birds starting their morning chorus, greeting the new dawn as if it was the beginning of time. He watched the red and yellow sun rising in the sky before him with his mother running towards it. Her image didn’t ruin its majestic appeal, instead it made it painfully beautiful.

“Lord , thou are hard on mothers,” he whispered gently.

It was going to be a beautiful day. He noticed the movements in the houses, lights behind curtains, dogs barking, babies crying. Tanned, clean shaven, laughing men in yellow jackets were outside the gate of his neighbour’s house sneaking the water meter in. Dad had fervently campaigned against that. He could hear him growling about the money being spent.

“Might as well throw it straight down the loo as it won’t improve the services. Granddad would turn in his grave if he saw what they’ve done to our country.”

He kicked a stone in their direction and ran after his mother not blinking an eye. He smirked when he heard a man shout, what he shouted who knew, but he bet it was colourful.

“Mam, did you see the letter I left on the counter?”

“Which one? The house occupier, RIP one?”

The insensitivity of these automatic computer-generated letters compounded her sorrow. She stopped and twisted herself to glare at her son. He noted the absence of his father’s name in her description.

“No, Mam, not that one. For the record there’s one of their men with a sore head back there. That should lighten your mood.”

“Oh, Jimmy, you didn’t!”

“’Twas an accident. It flew up in the air as I ran after you.”

She smiled and he smiled.

“That’s my boy,” she said, ruffling his blond hair. Then she walked on faster again. Moment lost.

“Better hurry or you’ll miss the bus and that would be a tragedy. Yes I saw the letter. I’m not going.”

“But Mam, we must go. They need to be remembered.”

“For what? For this?”

Her arms were dramatically waving at nothing in particular. She quickened her pace, not looking at her son.

“They fought for our freedom,” he whispered. “Great-grandfather did. They were very brave men.”

“And women, don’t forget the women! And the spouses and the children, what of them? Brave men indeed! Well, maybe they were, and we could do with them now as there isn’t a single one with a spine in the Dáil they fought so hard to free. And what did we get only laundries and homes, abuse after abuse it continued, and maybe was worse than before. Pious men and women who killed each other for freedom and took ours away. Let’s celebrate that, why don’t we? No, I’m not going! What have I to celebrate? I lost my brave man to the banks.”

She stifled her sob but he heard it.

“Well I am. For great-grandfather. For all that he did. I’m going for Dad whether you do or not.”

He spotted his bus coming over the hill and was glad. He ran past his mother to pick up his bag at the wall and get on. He watched her pound on by their house from the grubby bus window, relieved to be going to school. He preferred her when she had lounged in front of the telly, with Dad.


An adaptation of an earlier flash fiction one for an event commemorating the 1916 Rising. I’m not sure which I prefer, they both have their place. https://anngeretysmyth.com/2020/05/25/morning-walk/

Queen Beatrice and me

(Photo by Annette Corkery, check out her work stocked at : https://www.creativeardaghcraftshop.com/ )

Down at the bottom of the garden there is a magical place of life and wonder. Apple trees bloom, brambles stretch out, buttercups stand tall in the long grass, swaying to the musical hum of busy insects and singing birds. 

In amongst the trees there is a beauty to behold hanging from a high branch, a papery structure by some of the most amazing engineers of the insect family, a palace fit for a queen and made by a queen. 

Queen Beatrice is that queen and a fine queen is she. She was named by her mother to confuse the grumpy giants who live in her realm into thinking that her strikingly handsome daughter is a bee when in fact she is a wasp, the waspiest wasp you ever did see.

The giants decided that while bees are good and must be tolerated, mainly because they like their honey, wasps are bad and must be destroyed. They hit them, spray them, poison their babies and sometimes even burn them alive in their homes just for fun. It’s not a bit of wonder the wasps get revenge by stinging them as often as they can, which isn’t that often because they are generally very, very busy. As busy as a bee in fact, as busy as Queen Beatrice of Bottom of the Garden.

Queen Beatrice decided one day that she was fed up with the eternal on and off war between the wasps and the giants. She thought she would call a truce and negotiate peace with the giants but how was she to do that as they couldn’t hear her speak? All they heard was what they thought was an irritating angry buzzing noise and so they swiped at her each time she approached. She would have to try a different way and that was when she asked me to help and I did just that. I am a helpful kind of sprite most of the time.

I had to slow her down she talked so fast, no wonder the giants thought she was angry. I understood she had work to do, a new home to build from the wood pulp she collected and constructed into beautiful shapes with the most comfortable cosy hexagon cots for her babies but she did seem quite bad tempered to me. I gave her some nectar tea and it calmed her considerably.

We both knew the giants had spotted her home and had been thinking of destroying it so she wasn’t sure if there was any point building another. Maybe she should just leave and go elsewhere where there were less giants. The problem was they were everywhere and she liked Bottom of the Garden. We talked and talked and then I suggested a most unusual approach.

“Why don’t we talk to the child?” I said.

“The child! The child! How absurd! I must talk to their Queen” she snorted, strutting around majestically holding her teacup steady as she moved, her wings fluttering behind her. 

“There is no point talking to their Queen, she is dead set against you ever since your mother stung her on the bottom. The best one to approach is the child. Convince her, she’ll convince her mother.” I watched her as she stopped to think.

“Of course my mother stung her on the bottom, she was about to put her large derriere on top of her! How do we talk to the child? How do we talk to any of them, none of them hear us speak.” She was beginning to get annoyed, that calming tea drink didn’t work for long.

“I will whisper in the child’s ear tonight and get her to come here tomorrow. Then I will blow some dandelion clock in her face while I say the words that make her hear you.” I said.

“I don’t know. Your spells never quite work the way you plan.” she pointed out and I couldn’t disagree, she was right about that.

“What harm will it do? Let’s give it a try. You don’t want another summer of battles with poison spray and rolled up newspapers do you?”

“No” and so we agreed. She went off about her busy business and I went to visit the child.

I had to make sure I got this right. Queen Beatrice might be a wonderful queen, a hard working queen and a wonderful mother to her larvae, but she is not a lady to be messing with. She is a mighty hunter as are her worker wasps who hunt all summer to feed the larvae. They hunt all the creatures that eat the crops the giants like to grow so perhaps I’ll tell the child that. That would please the queen giant.

I started to wonder if I should do this job at all. Queen Beatrice isn’t particularly good to the workers either. They are kept busy all summer hunting to feed the larvae food they cannot eat themselves. Luckily the babies are able to give them a sweet drink in return. The problem is that once the larvae grow up into wasps themselves they too are no longer able to eat the food that is hunted and neither are they able to make the sweet drink. So they need more babies which Queen Beatrice provides but in no time at all there are more wasps than babies and no food for the wasps.

It is not all bad, Queen Beatrice did think to build her nest in an orchard so if the giants leave some fruit to rot on the ground the hungry wasps could drink that. That was one of the reasons she didn’t want to leave Bottom of the Garden. It suited her family so well.

I wasn’t sure if I should tell the child that bit of their story but it might help to explain why wasps are angrier in the autumn. I definitely wasn’t going to tell her how sometimes they drink too much of the rotting fruit and get very, very tipsy and then they get a hangover which makes them sleepy, clumsy and even grumpier. Always best to leave them alone at that time.

All of these thoughts went through my head as I climbed in the bedroom window and tiptoed over to her bed. She is a pretty giant, but she snores very loudly! It nearly deafened me. I whispered all that I’ve told you so far in her ear and asked her to remember to visit Bottom of the Garden in the morning when Queen Beatrice is in her better mood. She likes the mornings. Job done, I went home to make my spell and waited until morning.

The next morning she woke and she remembered, or if she didn’t something inside her made her come to Bottom of the Garden to sit on the rocks and look around her. I sat beside her, she didn’t notice, she can’t see me if I don’t want her to. She picked up a dandelion clock and started to blow, that was handy, half my job done for me. As she blew, I whispered

“Though you’re big and they are small,

understand them when they call.

They will help your garden grow

Listen, and you soon will know. “

“What did you say?” She looked directly at me or through me, I wasn’t sure which.

“I asked you, what did you say? Who are they that are small? You talk in riddles, speak plainly.” She was definitely staring at me, not through me.

Queen Beatrice arrived just as she spoke and looked at me with her two big eyes and three small ones. It was a wicked stare. “I knew something like this would happen!”

“You speak too!” said the child.

“Yes, but how do you see her? You’re meant to hear me but not anyone else and it is very bad luck for you to see a sprite!” said the wasp.

” Stuff and nonsense, is that what she is? I thought she would be prettier and with wings.”

“No, I’m the pretty one with wings” said Queen Beatrice laughing loudly at her own joke.

“Well, now that you can speak to each other go ahead and I’ll be off about my business” said I as I began to tiptoe away.

“Not so fast” said the Queen, “when does this wear off? How long have I got to explain our plight?”

“Ah, well, I’m not so sure it ever will now that she has seen me and I might be better off wandering away before the high council find out she has.” I was very eager to leave but the child grabbed my arm to keep me there.

“Are you saying I will be able to talk to wasps forever and see all the invisibles?” she laughed in delight as she kissed me on the cheek and held me tight. It made me warm and pink which made her laugh even more.

“Maybe. I don’t really know but you better have the chat with Queen Beatrice anyway just in case.” I said and sat down.

Queen Beatrice looked at me and smiled. “Perhaps it is a good thing, having a giant hear us all might be the best thing that ever happened us.”

“A giant! You think I’m a giant?” said the child. “I’m just a little girl, I’m only eight. My name is Maisie by the way, what’s yours?”

“I’m Queen Beatrice, queen of Bottom of the Garden and I want to talk to you about how hard it is for us wasps when you giants are busy trying to kill us all the time.” said the Queen “and you can’t know her name as a sprite never tells.”

“I’m all ears” said Maisie, which was a funny thing to say when she only had two, We looked at her a while and wondered what she meant until she finally said “I’m listening.”

That morning was the day everything changed for Queen Beatrice and me. Maisie became our friend and she was very happy to be able to hear us all. We picked the perfect ambassador to tell all the giants about Bottom of the Garden and all our other kingdoms. She even promised never to tell anyone else about seeing me and she never did. When she grew up she continued to tell everyone how to live in harmony with us and taught the world to listen closely to the music of our voices.

Inspired by https://www.facebook.com/BBCSpringwatch/videos/725168308286695/ and http://marymary.ie/

Lucky Strike

Jane read the headline and felt a cold and clammy sensation even though she didn’t know the girl in the article or even the places mentioned. Somehow she felt the article was related to her, that maybe she was connected in some strange way to the events depicted within. She dismissed her thoughts for craziness and wild imagination and continued to sip her coffee. The canteen was busy and she watched all the students queuing up for cheap food. She detected at least four languages, she loved doing that, listening and trying to figure out what everyone was saying. Most of it could be guessed at by their body language and gestures, last night’s parties, who is shagging who, that dreadful exam, failure, success.

Alfonso sat down beside her, too close for comfort as usual.

“¡Hola Bonita! ¿Que tal?”

“Hola Alfonso, Muy bien ¿ y tú?”

She politely replied but returned her focus to the paper before he answered, hoping he would get the message and leave her but of course he didn’t, persistent, to say the least.

Her friend Amy breezed in and slammed herself down on the bench in front of Jane, nodded at Alfonso and rudely began to converse in English, knowing he wouldn’t understand, hoping he would move. She offered her a cigarette, Lucky Strike, she had a packet of them on her all the time since they arrived. Jane declined, her hangover wouldn’t let her stomach one.

“Thought you were heading off on a road trip with the three amigos”

“No, I thought better if it, sure really, I hardly know them.”

“Oh?, thought they were your best buddies, great craic, party animals.”

Jane could detect the jealousy in her friend’s voice. She understood where it was coming from, she had abandoned her for the past month to party with the lads. They were wild and exciting. Free. Like everyone else here they only knew each other since this first semester started. Sean had arrived along with the girls on Erasmus from Ireland, not from their university but they were all lumped together so they hung around giving the impression they were friends. Pierre arrived from France. Enrico was different. He was a bit older, ran a bar in town, knew all the haunts and where to get everything. She had enjoyed the last month, the fun. She had even toyed with the idea of maybe hitching up with Pierre though he showed no interest. Enrico was the one pursuing her attention. It’s always the wrong friend. She sighed.

“What’s the sigh for? Think you’re missing out on something great? I think you finally did something right by not going. You’ve been on a right binge since you met them. They’re not good for you. I don’t trust that Enrico anyway. What’s he doing hanging around, befriending students, being all best buddies with them. Bet he does the same every year. Those lads idolise him, hang on every word, do every crazy thing he asks them to. They haven’t made it to one lecture, and the way he looks at you is creepy, like he would like to devour you. How can you stick it?”

Jane felt uneasy.

“Sure they all do that around here, you have your own stalkers” she replied.

Forgotten by them Alfonso let out a snort. He may not have understood the conversation but he knew Enrico.

“¡Joder, chicas! ¡Enrico es un hijo de puta!”

He stormed off.

“Whoa, someone doesn’t like Enrico!” Amy laughed.

“He probably thinks you do. That’s the end of one of your stalkers now anyway though at least he is a nice one, more of a gentleman than creepy Enrico. So, Where were they heading? What big adventure did you miss?”

“Valencia, they were going to Valencia. They probably just wanted my grant money to share the petrol costs. It’s a long trip.”

“Maybe, or maybe something more, one girl and three lads she hardly knows. I’m glad you didn’t go. I was worried all weekend, like, did you hear about the missing student from Madrid? Not a word, disappeared, not a trace. “

” I know, I was just reading about her. God her parents must be frantic. She’s not even Spanish, here on Erasmus like us, from France. Hey I think she was from the same uni as Pierre, must ask him about her.”

They both went silent, knowing they had taken quite a number of chances themselves this year. Being away makes you feel you can do what you want and they did.

“Let’s go, maybe we could make it to a lecture today for a change.” said Amy.

They left the canteen and life carried on with parties and adventures.

Much later that year Jane was sitting in a bar with Sean, on his own without his buddies. She wondered why he had asked her there, they hadn’t talked in a while.

“You’re alone more I notice. Have the three amigos split up?”

“Funny, Oh I just had to cop on, work to do y’know.”

“You never told me how the Valencia trip went. I’m sorry I didn’t go.”

“I’m glad you didn’t . I’m glad you stayed here.”


Jane didn’t know whether she should be insulted or not but Sean didn’t seem to want to talk anymore about it so she let it go.

“Did you fall out?” she asked after a few minutes of silence, longer than she could ever bare.

“Like, I haven’t seen Pierre in ages and you never go to Enrico’s anymore. You used to prop up the bar there.”

“Oh, Pierre is gone back. He was only here for the one semestre.”

The silence returned.

“None of this is real Jane. Nobody cares about anyone here. It’s all a game. Do you know why I asked you here tonight? Of course you don’t, you trust everyone. I’m meant to get you drunk and bring you to him. He doesn’t take no well you know, look. “

Sean opened his hand and showed her the pill he hadn’t dropped in her drink.

“I don’t care. He can do what he wants. It’s over. My life is over.”

With that, he stood up and left. Jane sat there stunned. She threw back her drink and ordered a double. Enrico, no doubt. She had rejected his advances a little too often for the arrogant bastard. The news came on the TV screen over the bar as she waited for her order. Her spanish had improved a lot since she had arrived here so she quickly translated it in her head.

“New leads on the missing student. The police are looking for witnesses to identify three men in a blue ford fiesta, one Spanish and two foreign, maybe French and British.”

Jane dropped her glass to the floor.

“Irish, not British” She whispered.


Long long ago, when Derrymore was just that, a large oak forest and not a bog, the rivers ran rapidly down the hill of Brí Leith in many directions with crystal clear water full of life. The trout jumped high in the air and into the hands of those waiting because of the abundance of them.

Many came to the area because food was plenty and the soil was rich for planting. The hill itself shone in the moonlight with quartz guiding the journey of the faithful who worshipped their gods on it’s top. The top which surveyed the high fields and many prosperous forts on it and around it.

The rivers were used to navigate to the larger Camlin and Inny which too made their way to the Shannon and many boats came up and down while more and more people settled under the watchful eye of their gods.

Soon, some of the invaders who had made their large towns, now cities, along the coast came up the rivers and settled in homesteads along the river Camlin and at the foot of Brí Leith. They brought their new crafts and skills to the area.

A larger settlement was made in the hollow where many of the smaller rivers met the Camlin and it became known as a port for long ships for many a year until it was forgotten.

All the while, the forests were stripped to make more and more homesteads and ships and even roads where none were before and no wise man would put one. Some would say the best of the oak had already been stripped before by a god who made a road in the bog of Corlea.

The forests disappeared into memory and the land slid into the rivers and the rivers rose and took more as they struggled to flow. What were once vibrant, lively passageways for man and beast, full of life and food, became smaller and darker with mud.

It was forgotten that they were as such as the people moved to where more forests grew and more rivers ran so the earth changed her shape to the bogland we now know so well and yet still we call that land Derrymore, An Doire Mór, the big oak forest, in memory of what our forefathers saw long long ago.

(A story imagining what the meaning behind an ancient place name could mean.) Monday 4th November 2019.