Rod O’Donoghue p.1

Rod O'Donoghue

It Spoke To Me

In Statione

King of the Coalies

It Spoke To Me

in this
noisy world
and yet
it spoke to me

by the
cold sea wind
yet warm
it seemed to me

in this
mystic world
bright colours
spoke to me

thatʼs how
it seemed to me

in this
lonely place
a Friend
He spoke to me

Five flowers
His altar stone
His wounds
it seemed to me

The Cross
of Hope
and Sorrow
it watches
over me

Built against
Othonaʼs Walls
St Peterʼs
spoke to me.

Copyright © 2011 Rod OʼDonoghue
It Spoke To Me read by Rod O’Donoghue
In Statione 1

Murky mists slide silent over the soft green sea; sun, subdued and stifled, fights to gain his rightful sway again this day; as he slowly, slowly breathes once more upon the ice cold ‛SaxonShore.ʼ2

Proud he stands sentry of the Roman Fort sentry on the Saxon Shore sentry at the Praetorian Gate.

Alert he looks and listens but stress plays games so cruel.

Silent shrieks of gulls asleep resound around his ears.

At night no ship would venture near for fear the fort would wake, such noise the gulls would make.

A slow crescendo of pots and pans of fires and blacksmiths steel, the vici3 to north and west awake, and soon will open the Praetorian Gate4 letting the traders through.

And cold, so cold. Swollen cheeks blow, blow hard against his freezing hands.

He stands, chewing on the greater celandine5 to numb the pain from tooth to toe. Shuffling on his weary bones lest from the ramparts he should fall.

The trumpet sounds.

Othona awakes.

And yet this sound no difference makes; heʼll stand on duty two hours more.

The freezing fog might lift from the sea but not from his bones not from this sentry.

His wife, his children on southern shores of the Mare Nostrum6, warm but alone, when will he see them, if ever again.

They call them Fortenses, the troops of Othona,7 rewarded with title ‟The Brave”. The bloody battles ravage his mind And the squalls of combat replay each day never going away. These thoughts unkind filled with anger and tears and rage that threatens his mind.

He stands alone eyes dropped down to the icy stones covering the treacherous rampart floor. He breathes in deeply to restore life to his aching body once more.

An angel named Alertness swoops down to pick him up. Not for him the barbarous beating for sleeping exhausted on duty.8

The ta-raa of the trumpet tells him dutyʼs done and looking up beyond the camp the sunʼs begun his run across the skies bright and bold in his fiery chariot of gold, but all the land and sea below stay white and hoary bitter and cold.

1 In Statione means On Sentry Duty
2 The Saxon shore was the area that the Saxons first invaded, principally the south-east coast.
3 A vicus is the smallest unit of Roman settlement. Settlements grew up around and outside forts to trade and have some measure of protection.
4 The Praetorian Gate was the main gate, where the commander of the fort either lived or had his tent.
5 The greater celandine is poisonous but can be used in small doses as a purgative, and the rhizome can be chewed as an analgesic.
6 Mare Nostrum is the usual name for the Mediterranean Sea, sometimes Mare Internum was also used.
7 In the Notitia Dignitarum Othona is spelt Othonae. Othonae is the genitive, or possessive case of Othona.
8 Any Roman soldier caught dozing or sleeping on duty would be beaten to death in front of the whole Garrison.

Copyright © 2011 Rod O'Donoghue
In Statione read by Rod O’Donoghue
King of the Coalies

Do I
Fear Darkness,
When Iʼm a full grown man?

Canʼt I
Just enter
A dark space anywhere,
Without some form of panic
And doomʼs impending stare?

Will fear
So fill me,
Consume my future days?
Well hear, Iʼll tell! Just listen well.

Black! No! Blacker! No! Blacker than the Halls of Hades
Or Trunchbullʼs dismal chokey.
They stuck me in a blackened room
They called the Black Pit ‟Coalie”,
So I could see no more,
However I implored.
And all my screams and all my cries —
For nought I let them out....
Until at last
At end of day
I could no longer shout.

They called me King of the Coalies.
But where the King of the Coalies sat
Were puddles
Not just from tears.

And I was King of the Coalies
For years and years and years

The heat, the smell
And the itchy eyes
In a coal shed -
No surprise.
I sense them still
It makes me ill
To remember
My groans and sighs.

What child deserves
A fate like this -
Too scared to do a wrong?
Yet now after full fifty years
Iʼve written it down
In song.

Yet Darkness still transfixes me
And Darkened rooms inside.
When Darkness lurks behind a door

I freeze

But must decide
If Iʼll go in,
Or is the light switch close enough?

Oh where? Oh where can I now hide?
Donʼt leave me here alone
For Darkness WILL appear to me.
And I shall turn to stone!

Copyright © 2011 Rod OʼDonoghue

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