Friday, 1 August 2014


I recently watched a documentary on the investigation that followed the discovery of a bog body in Ireland. Apparently there are now protocols in place for when a body is discovered in a peat bog, and it is not an uncommon event. The programme stated that over 300 humans have been found in bogs across Northern Europe. There is no consensus as to what happened to the people.
The programme outlined  a new theory regarding the phenomena in Ireland. It proposed that such deaths are ritual sacrifices to appease the Gods at times of famine following climate change. The fact that the individual has been hit on the head, straggled and had their throat cut fits with the ancient concept of the threefold death. There are Irish records relating to kings being killed in this manner.

Seamus Heaney wrote about the bog bodies in his collection North [1975] and did a better job than I could ever hope to do. Here, however, is my take.

The Threefold Death of Kings

Place this foot in front of the other.
One step nearer.
Feel the wet marsh,
the cold water,
dirt on your feet.
Taste the air, dry mouthed.
Eyes telescope,
fix on inconsequential detail.
Place your next foot down,
take it all in:
the wet, grey marsh,
the grey, lightening sky,
the bronze sword,
always the bronze sword.
This is the longest walk of your life,
this is the last walk of your life.
I am a dead man.
Memory cascades.

It would be no consolation to tell you
that your death will inspire better poets than me,
or that after sleeping the centuries,
we shall know so much about you,
save your name.

The bronze sword cuts the flesh
of the arm you meant not to raise.
Then on your knees, airway ligatured,
you choke at the bottom of an ocean of atmosphere,
are struck on the head and are cast into the bog.

The changing weather pattern
requires desperate action.

The tribe is starving,

who knows their future.

As usual, I wonder if it is complete and offer it as a work in progress.
Here is something far lighter. I was attempting to capture a fleeting memory from the 70's.

back in the day
when pubs closed at two o'clock
every Sunday
I was buying cigarettes and Rizzlas
a dead give away
don't get too stoned the barmaid advised
I didn't know what to say
it's a different world now
I've swapped smoking for tea making
if you get my drift

For the uninitiated Rizzla's are a make of cigarette papers. In those days I preferred Job papers myself.
I am ending with Hurray For The Riff Raff singing I Know It's Wrong.


  1. The 'Kings' is simply a stunning poem Paul. I've read it several times and the imagery just hooks you straight into the scene. To be honest I think it stands exactly as it is. Nice work :)

    1. Thanks Paul. I've been working on it on and off for about two months. If I am honest I was standing too near, your kind words are very welcome.