A Gentrified Christmas in Smithfield

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Smithfield Square, Christmas. . Gentrified spectacle . Infernos of light but the modern concrete slabs disrupting the cobbles chill bones . A space sketched by planners for paper-plan people who have no need to sit and think for free . Paper-plan people in paper-plan apartments who worship cafes & festivals & smile happily as they pay out their future in rent to paper-plan landlords . At witching hour in the old market square listen for echoes of horse fairs, farm yards, a crush of accents, a riot of life . Now this space is hollow, unsure of its people, its purpose. Lonely for company, grass, trees, birdsong, benches, picnics, drinking, disorder, all the mess of life. #smithfield #dublin #gentrification #urbancleansing #prosepoem #regeneration #anticapitalist

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Short Fiction | Fault Lines

BusStop_moving crib

Fault Lines

A summer’s morning, a walk to work. A butterfly, a Red Admiral with its broken orange target, flutters to a stop on a greasy shutter. A chippers, shutters down but the main door is open to let out the smell of exploited workers.

A Spar on Dorset Street, a black bin flanked by a pair of pink trainers waiting expectantly for an owner to reassemble herself and reclaim them. The trainers ready to walk on, one foot ever so slightly in front of the other.

Boxing club and flats, neglected by class war, built by the corporation in the far off time when states cared about us. A brown leather headboard awaits collection, one of the few free remaining council services – they collect ‘large household rubbish’ but only fleetingly, guiltily, as if ashamed of their public duties.

The pavements are sticky with black grease that is never washed off except by rain. A stretch of cleaner pavement outside the Student Homes from which tourists spill onto the streets in search of the ‘real’ Dublin and its people. We are fading away, gone into hiding, sleeping in doorways, sleeping on other continents, walking to zero hour contract work from unregulated rental housing we are terrified of losing. Never mind. Go mingle with the other tourists. It’s not your fault.

A boy asleep in the doorway of a bookshop in Temple Bar. A woman inside distressed, on the phone. What to do with your dispossessed fellow human being when there’s a shop to run? At lunchtime, I see him asleep in the next available doorway. Problems shuffled around. It’s not her fault. It’s not his fault.

Outside my office window, an alleyway. Bright blood on a white tissue. New apartments on the other side – curtains, blinds, frosted glass. A drug service cleans up the needles several times a day. More tourists file out of the AirBnB rented apartments. And once every hour, on certain days, a coffee-coloured beauty, throws her keys down to ordinary men. It’s not her fault. Is it his? Whose fault is it?

After work, I get the bus home. I, we smell of sweat and cigarette smoke and mints. A terrifyingly mundane conversation at the back of the bus. A woman and two men looking for rocks and bags and deals over the phone. Pooling money. She has five kids somewhere. She can do sums better than I can, articulate and desperate. It’s not her fault. It’s not my fault.

It’s sweltering but the heaters on the bus blow hot air around our feet. I can’t breathe. Stop the bus, we all need to get off.

All the Secrets…

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A pause for breath, tidal stink and ozone. Sea-wall a bulwark against the swells and storms, at ease in summer low-tide. A century of memories clings to the stone. Promenades above sea-level full of kisses, lovers' quarrells, squalling prams, brawling fists, the laughter of children. Below the waterline, all the secrets. Drownings accidental and planned. Cables, ship ribs, buried treasure, the debris of wars, invisible flowing tides of radiation. The gods of the sea defeated by split atoms and gaudy plastics can only rage impotently and spit carrier bags, bottles, plastic-choked creatures back in our faces. #poems #Clontarf #dublin #seapollution #videopoem #sea #promenade #seapromenade #seawalls #marinelife #marinepollution #dublinharbour #irishsea #seashore

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Clontarf Promenade | Herbert Simms