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Post Road Magazine #34

The Mottoes + Knockaconny

Aidan Rooney

The Mottoes

You were not necessarily better off
out altogether of the uniform
you were too cool to order from Heatons –

steel, stay-press, very Bryan Ferry trousers,
and an army surplus, cable-knit v-neck
with a velcroed fortis et fidelis patch,

and the black and amber-striped skinny tie,
you eejit, you left hanging on a peg
inside the big old, blooming rhododendron,

her her socks up all the way to her knees,
a maroon pinafore, and a jumper
with its ut sint unum, Dieu le veult crest,

were you to act the oynie after school
along the path around Saint Peter’s Lake,
intent on what the mottoes really meant,

and one of the sisters – Joseph, Trea, Liam –
or a father – McDaid, the Bull McCague,
Red Hand Hanlon himself – to be like-minded,

on a stroll once about the lake, stopping
the odd time here and there as if to do
a station of the cross or a novena,

or some such observance, then carry on.


Cnoc na gCoiníní, a townland
north of Monaghan town
Whether we lived on a hill of rabbits
or of sticks was of some local debate.
I’d have favored coinínover connadh,
the ditches riddled, the fields overrun;
the dozens my ferret terrorized out
made no dent in the glut. At it, I thought,
they must have been, like rabbits, as I wrang
another neck and thrust it in the sack
so I wouldn’t have to watch it quiver.

Once, I confessed to the murders, not long
before I gave the practice up. No harm
in that, assured the sympathizer priest
who had me do the creed for telling lies,
saying I’d forgotten my 2 new P
for the Trócairebox’s black babies
when really I’d bought me an ice-lolly,
six smigs from The Heifer’s bendiest strap
deemed, in the eyes of God, not near enough.

The bad ferret got taken to the vet,
and I took to whittling lengths of ash
to arrows whose butt-end I’d notch
to catch a gut that tautened in the bow
an alder branch became, the very ones
we sailed out over the Blackwater on
and snapped off, the tree’s tension re-released
on rabbits from as close as I could get.
But for all the sticks cut, not one caught.

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