Tough mudder / That Dublin summer of 2016

I had one too;

I know some of what it’s like.

But what’s more, your

mudder at one time destroyed my life;

that time, those thirteen

years ago she delighted

in playing with my vulner-

abilities: my all-too-clear perceptions of the shite

she pretended to ignore,

or – what’s more – even tended to and cultivated

and actively nurtured; and then

rated highly for purposes all too personal.


And I know that two creatures of her age – like she and me –

who might promise you so much

and, in the ultimate, deliver quite the opposite

would, in so doing, destroy any vestiges of hope in an

ordinary humanity:

in the common sense of reaching out

to other soulmate of loud and shout.


But I have been there, and I have almost died.

And I have cried, and almost died, more times

than I care

to recognise.

And maybe you too have once or twice tried.

And perhaps that’s why on that Dublin summer’s day,

in 2016,

in the beautiful corner they kept for us true,

in those Woollen Mills of time me and you,

we found it so easy to connect and to talk:

for you had survived the onslaughts of that tough mudder

of yours,

in much the same way as myself when her lover.

Both of us – I mean, both you and me –

still confident there just had to be

better ways

of being together in a love and a respect, in an

appreciation so real;

in a real embracing

and tasting

and touching

of the brain and the sane and the body of



For it’s true enough: if anything might distinguish

the two of us from the rest,

it’s the pain we have survived and lived through;

even as testing life’s waters with pressure under grace

has never left our sides – never with any haste.


I know what I feel:

I will always feel hopeful.

Even in my darkest hours, even when the minutes tower,

I will still hold my face up to the lights

of those rough diamonds

of a thrived and beloved life:

turning and twisting in the lights of your memory now;

the memory of a young Belfast woman

who despite all her hurt

will never be curt nor just cope.


And still I don’t know you all that well, at all –

and yet more than anyone I ever have met,

I remember quite easily the few hours we spent together, strange,

better than any hours I’ve ever spent.

Before or since;

with other soul;

whatever the roll, whatever the road.

And if you can’t feel the things I do most certainly feel,

then decline these truths of mine

for more, and evermore.

But if, happenstance, you may feel,

however slightly,

even where not mightily,

the things I feel well,

the things I feel strong,

I mean about the ways of living this life, despite the strife

it surely – this 

still! – will wanton want to

throw at you –

and we,

and thee,

and me –

then whether we end up together forever

or whether our fates

will separate our lot,

the very slightest time we spent in that hug

of very first encounter, way back then, and yet – even now –

ever-present in my wayward when …

… and so please do remember that Dublin summer

in 2016 …  please do remember

its wandering,

wondrous truths!


At least for me, dear young Belfast woman.

At least for me,

if not for thine:

for mine,

and maybe – too – for my sometimes trying



couched sincerely – always sincerely – in the softest of stolen kiss.


And so never do forget what it meant – as a consequence –

for this one humanity I am:

for this person who over and over has weirdly tried to be the gentle-

man he never saw,

in private upbrought and childhood wrought.


For the reminder and remainder and memory true

of the first of the four briefest hugs

you ever did see –

perhaps never more to be seen, neither seen nor

ever been, again –

was such a good thing for me,

such a fine thing …

… such a thing of treasurable

sort … such a grand lesson of learn and

freely taught.


And so do remember this, if you can stand to;

and do remember


whilst hard tough mudder of unyielding class

did hurt us both in curious, similar way,

neither you nor I have lost our love

for the essence and the hub and the gorgeous nub

of experiences –


To learn and explore and always find out more

about the surroundings that wonderfully around our beings,

and make a soldiering on and never giving in –

in those times of pain and

awful silent din – the only option we must never refrain …

… the only option, indeed, we must never



And our option and perhaps our motto too, whether together or apart:

for the heart of you and me

lies not in the being together we now may rare achieve.

The heart of you and me

lies in the both of us choosing to be just ourselves:

a state of mind real and near,

not a bind to attach

around a sentimental burden of dreadful, blackmailed, emotional trap.


And so at the end of the road of the soldier true

lies the yellow of the road of pleasure.

And the grandest pleasure, ever, which this world and rock has

offered me up

has been to extend that hug

and drink that cup with you,

in the corner so gently reserved

at the Woollen Mills

of you and me, once …

… once in that Dublin summer of 2016.


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