Alan Jelly holds forth (a story in free verse)

by Brendan Strong

Here is the ice cream, sliced Irish style,
Accompanying jelly on the plate.

A man and a boy at table
Having finished their mains
Over which they have laboured.

“Tell me Fhuinneog, if you know
For whom you were named?”
“The greatest celtic warrior has lent me his name!”
“That’s right!  For I was like Cú Chullain when
My sliotar broke a window. I spent all summer working
To pay damages to the owner!”

“But it’s a long way from that place I am now”
He sits back with a wobble of Power, shakes like jelly –
“Tell me” asks Fhuinneog (for he had little to say)
“Before the sweet melts” (for he was in his way a sage)
“Then take not a bite, until I have told my tale!”

“Fhuinneog!” He cried, “I have ministered water,
And brought from the gods of construction
Housing that is modular!”  “But” the boy protests
“The houses remain unbuilt, the water spilt!
What is to become of us?”

“Fhuinneog, you fool! You remind me
Of a cretinous electorate
Who nearly lost the luck
To have themselves represented by me:
He who holds the Social Power within!”

The boy raises a spoon,
The ice cream has turned smooth.

“I’ve got the Power, but you’ve got the love
That can see me through. Oh! Think twice:”
“Tell me please, what do you mean?”
“Fhuinneog, you fool!
The sun always shines on TV!”

Fhuinneog still holds his spoon
As a puddle grows on his plate:

“The source of your power is attention?”
“And pop music hits, famed twenty years hence.”
He nods, already several centimetres taller.
“I can’t stand it. I know they planned it –
I’ll set you straight about this Watergate -”

Fhuinnog’s spoon droops in his hand
His jelly and ice cream is not as planned –

“Was the idea from your own mind?” asks the boy
“What does it matter down which pipe it arrived?”
“Some are better than others; I’ve heard tell of leaks”
“Who gave you the job of chief of meters?”

They fall to silence, the one contemplates
The nature of democracy and its cruel fates:
The other, perhaps more affected,
Worries for the jelly and ice cream near melted.

Fhuinneog drops his spoon in the lake
Of creamy, jelly, mixed up liquid on his plate.

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