Reflections on Shannon
by Dave Lordan
Winner of the Patrick Kavanagh Award 2005




A minute’s silence

A three-minute silence

Silent silent bloody silence

Silence in the courtyard

Silence in the street

Silence at the warport

Silence at the embasssies

Silence in the parliaments

Silence in the offices

Silence in the factories

Silence from the journalists


What the fuck is silence?


Is it a prayer?

Is it womb?

Is it a ticket?

Is it an art-form?

Is it an emporer?


I ask you again

What the fuck is silence;

And who has ever heard

The dead requesting it?




I am confused

I have been to a meeting

Now I'm feeling murderous, suicidal

suicidally murderous

murderously suicidal


What do I mean 'I feel'?

What do I mean 'I'?


Fuck off with your questions I'm cranky

I'm sick of myself

and I'm sick of humanity

I'd blow the earth up if I could

I'd dig down to the core of the world and explode.


What if the 'I'' could be shattered

What if the me could be burning daggers in an instant

flying in all directions

Where would I plant the me?

Where would I set the me off ?


The thought occurs

that according to the orthodox view

the universe is the  result of an explosion

is that explosion ongoing








flying apart

all created by

all existing in

the explosion at the origin


so ourselves

and all we do

is part of the explosion

since the big bang isn't over

and things are flying apart


and if there is a god

as in a creator

as even Stephen Hawking

seems at times to be suggesting

then she was a bomber

Perhaps he was a suicide bomber?


this neurosis is quickening

one mad thought follows another

what if

I mean the formulas do suggest

everything is possible

everything is happening

that in the infinity of universes

nothing whatsoever is avoidable

and all is redeemed

so there is no death

only every possible action

every possible combination

shapes and sizes

arrangements and re-arrangements

heads where your feet should be

balls at the end of your fingers

necks stretched thin as wires

little fingers fatter

like in a hall of mirrors going on forever


Somewhere else I am my own happy mother

Rosa Luxembourg is still alive

There is no Guernica

No-one has ever heard of the Swastika

Somewhere else all the smashed eggs are being put back together again

all the broken children are being remade

The drunks have stopped drinking and taken up yoga

The boys have stopped crashing their cars

foxes escape unhurt from their traps

and the snow is no longer spotted with blood


so its all good

fun just experiment

so what


going by these rules of engagement

I were to blow myself up


would that make me a God

What kind of universe would my explosion make?





ATGWU Hall Middle Abbey Street

7.30        pm

Friday  Dec 3rd 2004


Can I be happy if others suffer?

Can I be true if the world is a lie?

Can I be good if I allow evil to rule over me?


What is my life worth if life is worth less than nothing?

What is my death to the deaths of thousands?

What is one bull in a stampede?


Is it only by offering my death

that I can prove I am alive

Is it by stopping sensation

I can prove that I feel


 Love is the proof of the objective existence of others




His Daddy says

eight of ten every black people are scumbags

His Dad says

People in them countries they can't look after theirselves

His Daddy says

Hangin's too good for them Iraqi cunts

Can he love his Daddy?

Should he?




Shalom Doctor Faisal

Shalom Shalom 


Slide One


boy  nine years old

Has one arm

One leg

One eye

Black scabs

Blood black as oil

Thick stitches


Smashed genitals

Smashed genitals



Slide two


Girl seven

no arms

no legs

shaved head

scorched eyebrows

smiling at the camera

died a half an hour later


Slide three


Street in ruins

crater pocked

after cluster bomb

heaps of concrete

mangled wire

steaming limbs

unexploded ordnance

bright orange

looks so innocent

shaped like a baby's rattle

or some other kind of toy


Slide four


In background


with collapsed roof

in foreground

four male doctors


Two of them now dead

one sniped at

one exploded


We knew the American snipers

were getting bored

when they started shooting

at stray dogs


Every morning the medical staff went on to the streets to collect limbs and try to piece together the bodies of the victims of the overnight bombing


We had no food or medical supplies  because of the siege. We had to use the same equipment over and over again same needles same bandages. We had to amputate children's limbs  without anaesthetic. In the end the doctors had to eat the hospitals supply of sugar to stay alive. Finally the hospital was bombed


My father's house has been raided four times. My father is an old man. There are two teenage girls in the house. My nieces. My brother and his beautiful  wife were killed in the first bombing, last April. The girls are very frightened of the soldiers. They are very disturbed. You can imagine what they have seen and heard. The last time three marines broke in. They were very loud, profane. They forced my father onto the ground and one of them put their boot on his head. They made the two girls come down from their room and watched them humiliate my father. Of course they were frightened and crying but they were also angry and they shouted in Arabic at the soldiers but one of them pointed his rifle right at them and threatened them and said many horrible things that I am not going to repeat here in front of a civilized audience. Maybe he thought they would not understand but they both have fluent English. We are very educated people in my Country. So the marines made the girls watch while they took out there genitals and pissed on my father.




Lately I have taken to standing for the national anthem.

I usen't to

I usen't to because it only shamed me to think

how we drove one set of bastards out the front-door

and let another set of bastards sneak

in the back door

and it was depressing to see on a Friday night

at half past twelve

how the proud young men and women

of the Flying columns

had devolved

to the pot bellied dribbling drunks

who would drive the Brits out of Belfast

with their thumbnails

at closing time

and who seemed to have lost all memory of how to fight

except against each other

all idea of how to stand up for themselves

except in songs and imagination

And of course the tune is shite

and the lyrics are naff

Soldiers of Destiny me arse

But now I stand

because however warped

the song is still a memory

of how we we we

drove the  invaders out

of most of our Island

how a small penniless country

full of (supposedly) ignorant and superstitious savages

defeated the army

of the most powerful nation on earth

and how did we do it?

By all means necessary

we boycotted their personnel and institutions

we sniped them

we bombed them

we ambushed their convoys

we burned them from their barracks

we kidnapped them

and we executed them

and generally we made it impossible

for them to rule

by all means necessary




In Shannon airport

every day

by the hour

military aeroplanes touch down

Their giant snouts

hide bloody teeth

their giant wings

are dripping blood

their giant engines

run on blood

their giant bellies

full of soldiers

soldiers arms and soldiers legs and soldiers eyes

and soldiers genitals

soldiers genitals




The glory covered dead have set up camp below in Shannon

Twenty four hours a day they are watching

and they won't go away

till its over and done


All of the empire breakers

All the signatories and the proclaimers

The wild geese and the pirates and the smugglers

Emmett and Tone and Grainne Mhaol

The commie Countess and the two hard Jimmy’s

Bobby Sand’s and all the Ulster martyrs

The poets and the fighters

Mangan and Davis and Shelley

Dan Breen and Liam Mellows and Tom Barry

screeching through the gore-stacks

screeching through the mangled limbs

the heat popped eyes

the shard spilled guts

the sear blackened stumps

the excoriated testicles


piled as high as wings can fly

on the runways

at Shannon airport

blocking up arrivals

and departures at

shannon airport


The Guards

who mind the fence at Shannon airport

are deaf and dumb

blind and numb

and only doing their job

only doing what they are paid for

and cannot see the carnage

cannot hear the wailing


The FBI the CIA the special branch

that line the approach roads

to Shannon airports

got more cameras then Hollywood

got more microphones than Abbey Road

but still are deaf and blind

numb and dumb


But even though I'm sitting in my living room in Dublin

I can close my eyes and see them

I can close my ears to hear them

Wailing wailing wailing





Fuck the la-dee-da

fuck you and fuck me and fuck I

Fuck the spirit

Fuck the allegory

Fuck elective affinity

Fuck the subject

Fuck the object

Fuck neutrality

Fuck Buddha

Fuck the shamrock

Fuck the leafy love-banks

Fuck the holy trinity

Fuck the oaks and the yew trees

Fuck the visionary sheep

Fuck County Meath

Fuck Homer

Fuck the canon

Fuck Judges

Fuck competitions

Fuck the bursary

Fuck the cheese and wine reception

Fuck poetry

Fuck the higher power

Let me make this situation clear

There is a mass murder ongoing in Iraq

invasion occupation expropriation

The country we live in is

aiding and abetting

aiding and abetting mass murder

By allowing our airport to be used to transport

The cluster bombers

machine gunners

Rocket launchers


Child killers


Shoot on sighters

Hit and runners

Who are committing this mass murder

Do I think I can heckle you into doing something about it?

Do I think just by telling you what you already know

it will shame you into doing something about it?

Does all this shouting and flag waving make me feel any better?

What am I going to do about it?




This is the state

of the suicide

the suicidal state

Of  life forgot

the state

Of  life not lived

the state

Of  life denied


Keep your mouth shut

Your hands clean

Your hands to yourself

Your eyes dry


Jesus was a suicide

Jesus chose his own death

Jesus killed himself

died so that you might live

the churches where the Christians go

to be cannibals and vampires

eating flesh and drinking blood

monuments to suicide

and the priests and nuns

are agents  a universal suicide


The Irish revolution

that drove the British out

The one that silly anthem is about

began with the Easter Rising

an act of  conscious martyrdom

a blood sacrifice

an act of suicide

Connolly and Pearse

McDonagh and Macbride

Ceannt and Plunkett MacDiarmuida

All suicides


The deformed states

Northern Ireland

and the Free State

founded on an act of suicide

a signature that was was suicide

for what did General Michael Collins say

after he had signed the Anglo Irish Treaty


I have signed my own death warrant




Why should I wait around for people who don't give a shit

People who can lounge around

in front of the soaps

while all this murder is going on in front of them


You tell me I’ve got to be patient

that the world won't change overnight

that we've got to spread out

into the schools and the colleges

the offices and the factories

deepen the roots of the movement

which will take time

which won't be easy


but people are dying this instant

because mass murder is easy

because mass murder takes no time atall

so hanging about waiting  for the 'revolution'

just means being passive if you ask me

passive in the face of evil


I mean c'mon

why don't you cop on

to yourself

the idea that all the lager boys

in their Celtic jerseys and their pot bellies

and all the dolly girls

with their tattoos and their dyed hair

and all the play-station monkeys

and all the reality TV zombies

and all the all the all the

mass produced gobshites

with nothing on their mind

but who they're going to  vote for in Eurostar

and the latest  in mobile accessories


are going to rise up and liberate humanity

is laughable

its a  sick joke

and it gives you

and your lot

an excuse to do nothing direct to intervene

in the war machine

I mean why knock the snout off  an F-16

with an ax

when Mr and Mrs Chav

are going to save the world



I mean fine you can organise your marches

so all the straights and the straight ups

all the left leaning lawyers and the liberal teachers and the do-gooders

in the NGO's

can fool themselves into

thinking they're doing something

about the war


You can all walk up and down the street

shaking your boring placards

shouting your repetitive slogans

handing  out your worthy leaflets

selling your rev-rev-rev-ol-ut-ion-ary 'news-papers'

but it's not going to get you anywhere

it's not going to stop the war


People who are ready to take direct action

People who are prepared

to be beaten up by the cops

to be arrested

to go to jail

to be hung drawn and slandered in the Phoenix and the Indo

to make all kinds of sacrifices

we don't have to make excuses for our actions

to people who aren't prepared to make any sacrifices atall

we don't have to answer to your imaginary masses

we'll do just what we feel like doing ok

we'll tear down the fence

we'll break police lines

we'll block up the runway

and you are not going to stop us

no matter

what you say


I am looking for a way to dismiss

this line of argument

and the rat part of me wants to

throw acid in her eyes


tell her she's ultra-left

she's infantilely disordered

she's only a sixteen year old

anarkid on pills at a gig

who's so hyped up on MDA

or whatever the bastards put

into pills these days

she can't even stop to draw breath

between spouting all this bravura crap

she's a middle class dreamer

with an en suite bedroom

inclusive of bidet

in her Donnybrook home

and what would she know about struggle

and who is she to judge

the lives of working  people



and the Trotskyist pedagogue in me

the Marxist catechist

that scheming little know all in specs and goatee

wants to lecture her

on how the consciousness of the masses

remains low

because of their lack

of self-organisation

and of the insignificant ammount of class struggle in recent times


see the workers just don't know who they are

can't remember what they were

have no idea what they are capable of


and yes they are passive

but not because they're agin us

but because they are too busy


and tryin to forget about work

to be reading Chomsky

or out gathering firewood

for the 24 hour peace camp


like when a man comes homes after ten hours

driving a Taxi

around the puke stained streets

of Dublin or Cork City

or eight hours operating a Kango drill

on a building  site

or eight hours standing around Roches or Penneys

all day like a total knob doing 'security'

or when a woman

finishes sweeping out the holiday homes

cleaning the pub toilets

stacking the supermarket shelves

keying the tills

is it any surprise

he and she are too tired and distracted

for politics


like have you ever wondered why

most activists are young

why so many are students

do you think its because young people

are smarter better more moral

or just because they have more time

less worries



cop on

to yourself


so many people are dealing with the everyday traumas

the ordinary catastrophes

of working class lives

the addictions

the accidents

The abuses buried deep


perhaps many years ago

and festering ever since

and blooming

into mental illnesses



panic attacks


I tell you every house

has something up

every street could fill

a health farm with its woes


and then there's the simple fatigue

that follows from spending your life

being exploited and used

and the sinister voices

telling you

you are worthless

you're good for nothing

but cleaning toilets

laying bricks

pulling pints

and what would

a thick eejit like you

know about anything


which is why we hold the peaceful marches

the candlelit vigils

the soft and woolly stuff

so people can take that first easy step

and first steps are important

all journeys start out with first steps


you can't just leap over reality

you have to work with people as they are

not as you might wish them to be


no matter how dedicated you and your buddies are

no matter what sacrifice ye are prepared to make

no matter how spectaculo ye're actions


a small minority of activists

cannot force the world

to bend to their will


and historically

the wild plots hatched by super-activists

saintly types

with a cold fire in their bellies

and a stone in their hearts

and pure in their dedication

detaching themselves

from the wider movement

have backfired rather badly

have blown up in their face



ask the Baader Meinhof

ask the Brigada Rosa

ask the INLA


and if she's serious

these are the kind of organisations

she should be studying

because if you want to worry the Irish state into

withdrawing landing permission from the American Military

You're not going to do it

by tearing down a few metres of fence

or by saying the rosary

or by setting off colouredy smoke-bombs

or subvertising

or guerrilla graffiti


It would have to be full scale

military actions

properly planned and co-ordinated



military assaults

mortar attacks

maybe a shower of rockets

landed right into the middle of a crowd of marines

while they're stretching their legs

sucking on the butts of their Camels

in Shannon airport


would she

and her


hoody wearing


 friends in the

Blocca Nerobe up for all that ?

Would anybody in this sick green land

be up for all that?

Is there even a dozen

punks hangin around

hardcore enough for all that?


just as I feel

i have adequately explained

why my people

are allowing their country be used

-the country their ancestors won

by force of arms from an empire-

as a staging post in a genocide

and why she should allow them to allow it

I feel again the sting of shame








so I take her number

her e-mail

her website address

being curious


and wanting to know


how serious

she is




I am sick of marching

marching up and down O Connell street     Nassau Street      Kildare Street

marching to the Dail

marching to the embassies

marching from Shannon town

three miles out

to Shannon warport

then marching back


The left foot

the right

the left foot

the right

the left foot

the right

the left foot knows where the right foot is going

the left foot knows what the right foot is doing

the left foot

the right  mouth has learned

teeth have learned

foot has learned

toes and hands and tongue have learned

how to march

how to shout











sick of speeches and slogans

sick of shaking my left fist at fences

sick of the passionate screeching at helicopters

sick of the onlookers,

                                    the bystanders,

                                                            the gawkers

straining on the footpaths

of staring at row upon row of indolent overfed coppers


tired of our understanding

tired of our patience

tired of our patiently explaining

in the back-rooms and the basements and the union halls

tired of the meaningless signatures

and of the statements that are lost to wind tormented corners

tired of train station lobbies and of indifferent passengers

tired of the threadbare edges of homemade banners

tired of the waste of paper at park gates and pier-endings

and of the footprints sealing leaflets to footpaths

outside gigs and cinemas and all kinds of public gatherings


These days

These sick and void days

These null and tired days

of poisoned life and murder's reign

when I close my eyes

I am always a sniper sniping

from the window of a burnt out building

I am the last stand in the last burning building

and when at night,

in solitude and silence,

when at night my heart speaks,

my autonomous heart,

It speaks of a solo run

it speaks of a spectacular ending

it speaks of being the nucleus

                                                        the spark

                                                              the trigger


that sets off the hell

which is all that I owe

all that I own

and all that is mine

for unloosing 



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