The Bog

Frogs and mice jump away,
The fear of being crushed looms.
Turf fills the trailer.
© Aiden P. Shortall 2019

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A Broken Heart

He works so hard everyday, but it never seems to be enough.
Out in the rain, hail, sunshine and snow, the skin on his hands is hard and tough.

He arrives home hoping to get even the tiniest of hugs, but he doesn’t even get offered a cup of tea. He doesn’t ask, he knows the answer will be just a shrug, or a comment, please get away from me.

Is that all you have this week? Is what he’s often asked. He has three jobs now, she doesn’t care, she doesn’t understand the task.

While she’s at home, he’s working hard, this was definitely not the plan, but he has no-one to tell, not even a friend, so he’s often very sad.

She knows he’ll never hit her, he’ll never even try. So she keeps pushing and pushing and pushing, she knows he won’t, cause she’s a girl and he’s a boy.

He tries to tell himself everyday, that the last time was the end, but he’s never ever very sure,  he can’t tell anyone, he’s not even allowed to keep a friend.

He’d wish she’d just stop shouting, when he walks through the door. He’d wish she’d just realise how much he loves her, he’s told her so many times before.

He can take the punches. She’s hit him so many times in the past. He’s just worried that if it happens again in front of the kids, his patients they won’t last.

He wishes he had the strength to leave her, but he knows that he won’t , he’ll just have to stay and take the torment. He prays that it’ll stop one day, but he’s fearful that it won’t.

All he ever did was love her, and one day she loved him, but that’s all gone, he knows that now. He just wishes that she’d stop abusing him.

© Aiden P. Shortall 2019

Mans Best Friend

Walking through the autumn leaves, with the cars driving on the road.
You pull and tug on the leads, as if you’re carrying a heavy load.

Through rain and hail and wind and sun,
Trying hard to break free.
You always look as if you’re having fun,
And being dragged behind, is me.

On and on you pull and tug,
Trying to get to the end.
Walking along with your paws scraping.
Beside, your very best friend.

Faster and faster you try to run,
Trying hard to break free and roam.
Then down the road the way we came,
Until we finally get back home.

© 2018 Aiden P. Shortall

The Cottage

You were built with blood, sweat, hardship and pride.
For years you kept people warm and dry.
You’ve always been there for a family to raise,
But now you’ve been left in utter disgrace.

Your tiles are left crooked and your chimney is cracked.
It’s sure that no body is ever coming back.
The drain pipes are gone and so it your door, there are weeds springing up from inside your floor.

You stand there all tattered and torn in place.
It’s a shame you were left in such utter disgrace.

© 2018 Aiden P. Shortall

The Snug

It was a Saturday night and Peter had just run a 10km race outside of Waterford. He was walking home after being dropped off at the end of Ballybeg by a friend and as he was walking past the snug, he decided to go in. As he walked in, he noticed how quiet it was, but it was very lively in the main bar. He approached the small counter and asked for his usual pint of Hoffman’s lager. A local beer that was a good seller, as it was cheap.
‘Pint of Hoffman’s with a dash of lime please John’ he asked the barman.
‘No bother Pete’ John replied.
Peter was relaxing and feeling good about himself and what he had achieved earlier that day, during the race. He had no more than half of his pint gone when he felt the gust of cold air from somebody opening the door to the outside. Loud voices followed the breeze and without even turning around. Peter new by the accent that it was travellers. Three young men, eager to prove themselves. All travellers were allowed in to the pub, like everyone else, as long as they behaved themselves.
A halting site was set up across the fields and sometimes in the fields. In the waste ground across from the pub, some set up their caravans. These travellers weren’t always friendly with the locals or with the other travellers who had set up a rapport with the people from Ballybeg over the years. Unfortunately, these three weren’t the latter. They walked into the snug and very loudly asked.
‘So, who’s the best man in here?’
Peter stood at the counter, his eyes fixed onto the end of the bar. He wasn’t at all scared, but was ready. He recognised the beat of his heart and the feeling of excitement. He had been in countless bar brawls over the years, all over the world and he knew the feeling. He was in his early forties and fit. His bag was beside him on the ground. The first and loudest young man approached him.
‘Are you the best man here?’
Peter didn’t even blink.
‘I aksed you a question. Are ya?’
He kicked Peter’s kitbag, which was on the ground at his feet. Peter sprung into action and said to himself,
‘Well, if I’m going to hospital, one of them is coming with me!’
He grabbed the loudest by the throat and held his head down. The young man grabbed Peter by the leg and tried to trip him up, but Peter kept his balance after falling back wards onto the door to the main bar. The other two lunged at Peter and started to punch him in the head and back, but Peter stood fast and held onto bigmouths throat, closing his grip even tighter. Big mouth at this stage was not breathing and was thrashing about, fighting for air rather than Peter. The lads from the main bar heard the commotion and ran at the door into the snug, but Peter unfortunately was being attacked by the other two and holding the first one up against the door, so no body could get in. The lads grabbed the snooker queues and ran out the front door and raced to the snug door. They got in just in time and dragged the three men outside and let them know why wasn’t a good idea to start on someone from Ballybeg, one of their own. Peter stood up slightly bruised and very angry. Michael was his neighbour from across the road and he was the first to drag the young men out the door. He walked back in and asked Peter was he ok. Peter was a little dazed, but was ready for round two. Michael and the other lads had to calm Peter down and convince him that it wasn’t a good idea to go chasing after them. Peter eventually calmed down enough to go back to his pint.
‘Thanks lads’ he said. ‘I really mean that. I was in serious trouble if ye didn’t come in’ he continued.
‘Peter, you would have done it for us boy. We look after our own’ Michael replied and the other lads agreed.
Peter bought the lads a drink and they all bought him one back. He hadn’t intentionally meant to stay as long as he did, but was glad of the company in the end. He left before the pub closed and before his neighbours and walked up the road alone….
The Chill in the Autumn Breeze
by Aiden P. Shortall