Story by Neville Cole
I’ll admit it. I tied one on with Hung One On down the Pub last night. As I recall, it all started amicably enough. All the locals were there celebrating the 5th Anniversary. Viv’s spread was a real treat. Gregor took to the mic early on and told some raunchy jokes. Big M was singing Karaoke. I had a grand old time catching up with Algy, Shoe, Voice, Asty, Lehan, Gerard, Helvi, Warrigal and, of course Emmjay. But, much, much later, as closing time drew nigh, things got a little…well, strange. Hung grew increasingly introspective, almost wistful, as the night went on and we began to talk – as we often do when we get this way – about life, about love, and about…poetry.
“Some day, Mate,” he says to me, “I’m gonna go walkabout. I gonna drop this…” he paused for a moment to choose just the right word, than added: “façade…and start living.”
“I know exactly what you mean,” I replied, appropriately emphasizing exactly in exactly the right way as I downed my last Trotters.
“I think you do. I think you do. I know you do!” Hung said with a sudden smile. “You and I aren’t the types to be penned in by… by rules…and, and rules. We are the truth tellers. We are the rebel alliance. We are poets, man…and we should be out there poeting our guts out.”
“We are poets,” I agreed with him. “When I look at you that’s exactly what I see.” I was at this time somewhat fixed on the word exactly as you might have already guessed. But I continued nevertheless: “You, for sure, are a fucking poet, Hung. Walt Whitman’s got nothing on you, brother.”
“Walt Whitman!” Hung leapt to his feet like a sleeping dog woken by a noisy cat. “That’s it!” Hung cried climbing his stool to reach the bar.
“Hey, hey,” Merv sang out. “Closing time, Hung. You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.”
“Hear him out, Merv,” I said quietly. “He’s on a roll.”
“Warrigal kept to himself. Quietly sketching away in the corner; but I saw a wry smile break across his face as Hung began to recite a poem in a loud, clear voice.
“Song of MY self,” Hung announced to the almost empty bar. “By Hung One On Whitman.
And what followed, I recorded exactly as it poured from his soul…’cause no one would believe it if I didn’t write it down.
Song of my self
Come breathe the musk of morning
sit silent at the desert dawn;
Listen for my breath
Here me cry the empty sky
Bathe in the light
I am not lost
nor hidden in rock
I am not dead
you are not dreaming
we are Life eternal.
Throw off your shoes
Did toes in solid earth
Draw kindred souls into your veins
There is not end in sight
no apocalypse is nigh
there is not one of us will die
we all are Life eternal
we are the one supernal
I take you in as you do I
Give yourself to the forests and the seas
We are all what feeds the other
There is no turning back
This is a never ending track that leads back to an open door
no ceiling to block the light
you are in my sight
no need to fear the night
Feel my warmth on you skin
Let me in
Turn your face to me
Give me a smile for today
You are Life eternal.
Look to the sky
Not a cloud to block the blue
This is my gift to you
This blue sky
that greenish-yellow leaf
the purple pinkness of the flowers
the richness and ceaseless variety
you are wrapped in a multitude of color
all for you this glorious display
I paint the world this way
To make each day your canvas
Take it in
Hold it with you to look upon
During the hours of grey and black
Remember my gift
Seek it out
The new day is just beyond the horizon
It will not be slowed or stopped
It will not hold back from you
Even if you doubt or despair
Even if you curse and cry
Even if you lose your way
Even if you forget
A new day is coming
a hundred million every second
all across the Earth
a billion others like you and I
feeling with us
We are Life eternal.
Hung stopped for a moment, then a moment more, then paused, then graceful as a dancer, he bowed deeply and humbly. Emmjay and I cheered. Even Warrigal rose to his feet in applause.
I don’t remember much that happened after that. It’s a bit of a blur. I remember watching the sun come up a few hours later and replaying Hung’s poem in my head; but that’s about it. Still, it was a top notch 5th Birthday bash and I can’t wait till next year’s party.