Brendan Hayes – Reflections on Street Line Critics

Brendan Hayes  – Reflections on Street Line Critics


Rain pelleting the front window; the lonesome wail of the midday Angelus bell

Monday; I don’t know what to say–I think of wet slippery streets that cannot be scrawled with chalk.

I want to get down and dirty by the river of no return; with the tear-less heartbreak and the crooked-necked swans, who splatter green shit like scared sick infants.
And be there… to stop the next lost ‘children of Lir’ become exiled to the dark riddle that is the Shannon. Forever.

Last night I was told a senior colleague had died- it was swift for he had been unwell, but previously had survived a bout of cancer. And then it insidiously returned.

Thinking of my departed friend and how  he once described me-but that’s another story.  I remember the subject of my Final Year Project back then and how puzzled he was by my topic: a 6000 word literature review on the subject: “Self-Induced Water Intoxication–a nursing perspective”, as it was eventually titled. He may have chuckled.

I could not have made that up: why were men in mental hospitals drowning from the inside out; their swollen brains leached of ions and  electrolytes, like batteries strewn and submerged on the river-bed.
How was that research going to save lives? I wanted to tell their stories: of the man I last saw, manic, toxic and drowning, collapsing at my feet
Finally overcome by  water overload..

I like what I do with the little tube of white chalk; watching Lotte neatly scrawl the temporary words. Of enduring feelings.
The light of a million moons…is captured in  chalk, too; now released by little scribbles on the blue-grey pavements.

“I shall atone…by writing on a stone”; I cannot find my Soul inside a bone- or any bone. Hollow like eye-sockets on graveyard skulls, the same fabric of calcium where the millions of squid are crushed into chalk by the weight of the world, and. And the suffering… to then have this once happening chance to release a little light from my crushed heart; to let my knuckle bleed… nursing the powdered detritus of millennia to life. Life, however brief.”

.. Humbling, but not ‘showing-off’, either.. In a parable Jesus said; ‘let he who is without Sin throw the first stone’. My take on that is: ‘Let he(me) who has sinned, write on the stone–not that I’ve “sinned”–but that I’ve not Loved enough; squandered talent and time in wilful fantasising ; avoided enriching my life–and the lives of others. And that the day of Reckoning has come… by the Humbling River!
“I may never have a blue plaque on a wall; yet the pleasure of chalk-dust by your feet may Forgive all,”

And I still had to do the research; Saturday afternoons; a can of cider propped on the window-sill. It was then I realised-and relished the calm, collecting power of cheap booze.  The randomness and boredom of internet-searching; cutting and splicing. Cut and paste. What a waste! All that plagiarism…citing references as primary sources.  And a life saved. Saving lives was the outcome; the managers accepted that- after I presented them with the international evidence.

– Brendan Hayes

2 thoughts on “Brendan Hayes – Reflections on Street Line Critics

  1. The last paragraph is a just trite, flat and self-serving…it belittles the notion of ‘atonement’- or ‘astonishment’. ‘The Shannon begins high on a desolate mountain in county Cavan; a dribble of water forced upward…to trickle down; grooving its own ravine to mean sea leave; to rinse in the maw of the estuary. Princes, priests, poets and paupers have watched it glide by; crossed it in shame of exile and loss…or gulped its chilled relief. sparkling on parched tongues..’

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