Sunday, 26 January 2014

Stale Sweat and Beer

I was blogging at a far superior rate when I first began this blog but the last 6-9 month have seen a distinct regression in my blogging activities, which I intend to rectify. Although I have said that before. One of the most enjoyable aspects of writing my blog, apart from having some communication over my work and projects, was the encouragement that I received at various points regarding my writing. I posted a very rough draft of a chapter from my virginal book and was surprised at the interest and critical commentary that followed which kick started my own interest and vigour in finishing it. Which I duly have. I'll post another chapter later this week, and then figure out where I go from here with the finished book. I may not have made the decision to persevere with the book if I had not posted it initially.

I'd like to make a side note about 'Cold', the film which many of you reading this blog have contributed to or encouraged in some fashion, and have no fear you are not forgotten! The film is in a period of hiatus whilst I re-edit some sequences and figure out the best approach to releasing it, which is the only reason that it has gone quiet since Galway.....but I will arrive with more news soon..I'll send a private scene from the film to all the contributors in the next weeks to keep the appetite whetted.

Anyway, it's been a while since I last posted a poem, so I'm going to kick start my renewed attempts at blogging with one that I wrote over Christmas whilst waiting for a friend to join for a drink in a small bar in Dublin.

"Stale sweat and beer"

The smell of stale
Wet beer
Salt, lemon and dirt
Covers his fingers
And he runs them through his
Greasy hair quickly.

His skin is shiny
With a thin sheen of sweat
That sticks to
The inside of his shirt
And darkens the colour
To a hard blue.

Noises rush around his
Shaken head;
Taps fizzing, tills clicking
Voices rising and falling
Like the tide in a storm,
Changing unannounced.

His legs ache from the
Working day,
His toes cold where wet
Beer spilled down off
The counter
And soaked through his shoes.

It's hard to like people
On these heavy days
When etiquette
Leaves their faces
For the lowly barman
Who is simply there to serve.

He pauses for a moment
To take a sip
From his warm whiskey,
Savouring the heat
And crunching down on
The bitter lemon between his teeth.

Turning back
To the audible rush
Roaring about his face;
A spittle mixed cacophony
Of noise lewdly
Jostles for supremacy,

And he immediately wishes
That he was still
Sucking the lemon.
Confused tired faces
Gesticulate wildly for
Their chosen beverage.

He ignores them all
And walks to the
Far end of the bar,
Blocking out the
Wave of sound
That steeps his vision.

An old man sits there,
Lonely and welcoming.
He nurses a Guinness
Fondly, resting
His fingers lightly
On the cold glass.

Looking up from
Beneath a furrowed brow
his eyes dance.
The liveliness exciting
His old bones.
Giving him life.

He smiles at the barman,
Acknowledges the
Chaos around,
Then sips from his
Pint slowly,
still smiling.

The barman watches
Him for a moment
Then accepts his fate,
But brings part
Of the Old Man back
To the chaos with him


  1. Your poem is quite nice. I'm sure my lit Professors would encourage me to say something pretentious here, but I just can't. Stand out lines for me were 'And darkens the colour / To a hard blue' and 'Fondly, resting / His fingers lightly' - they invoke such a vivid image in my head. And I understand that 'Fondly' in logic marries to the line prior in regards to nursing a Guinness, but it works (for me at least) with the other section of that stanza.

  2. I'm very excited for the release of Cold and am glad to hear the update on the film. I hope everything goes smoothly.
    As for poems. Well... I generally find poems beautiful but most are so ambiguous that they leave me trying to grasp at what those string of words which left a melancholy but deep impression on my mind truly mean and end up feeling like a child who hasn't had enough experiences of life to really understand and so I just end up frustrated and making a promise to myself to read the poem again when I'm older just to see if I get it then. But I am rambling and I should stop.
    Honestly, I have no idea really if your poem is well written or not. But I enjoyed reading it, and that's the truth. Don't think anything else really matters. I loved the atmosphere/mood you captured and I just think the story in the poem is one many can relate to. I fancy to think that I can almost smell the stale sweat and beer.
    If you're curious, my favourite stanzas were the fifth and the last.
    Hope to see more on your blog here and definitely more of your work if you're up to sharing!

  3. I've missed your poems, Eoin..... they're a compelling snapshot of a moment in time, moments that hardly even register with most of us, but ones that you see so vividly and describe so exquisitely, that the everyday and mundane become meaningful, emotional, & full of colour, light and shade. Reading this poem I became totally immersed in the scene, as if it played out before my eyes, with all 5 senses jostling for position in my mind.
    You paint with words, like all truly inspired poets, and you're a "watcher", you see what so many of us brush aside or choose, subconsciously or otherwise, to ignore .... you see people....... which is a talent that not many can master, and is virtually impossible for the plethora of the self-absorbed in society.
    The nuances in your writing are making your work recognisable, and the style isn't heavy or laboured, it's simply what you see, but written in words of such descriptive intimacy that they dance off the page & into the readers soul, where they settle momentarily and create or re-live their own personal memories and messages. That's a hard task to accomplish, but your art is developing apace with every poem & piece of prose that you paint on your canvas.
    The players in your poem passed little more than glances in each others direction, yet you've shared a whole gamut of unspoken conversation & emotions that passed between them in just those intimate glances.
    Having worked my way through uni in a grungy London bar, I find this poem all the more compelling from personal association, and I think it's my favourite thus far ...... maybe .... ;)
    I reeeeeally like this one, Eoin ..... you have a serious talent.
    I'm also very excited to know that you continued with your rights of passage novel, as the chapters which you shared with us contained such fabulous possibilities and interesting characterisations. I wrote about 20 pages of feedback on that chapter, but never sent it through to you... I can hear your relief from here!!! ;))
    Your life must be a blur at the moment, but whatever the future may hold for you, I really hope you'll continue with the writing when you can. That's as much a selfish request as it is for your own literary release !!! :)
    Karen x (@SinfieldK)

  4. Thank you Eoin - I really enjoyed this one and the vivid visual image of the old man tucked in a corner at the end of the bar. It takes real skill to write simply, clearly and interestingly. Don't worry, I can wait for Cold, especially having seen it once. I shall be interested in the changes you make. I am so glad you invited us in to your film world via the crowd funding. It has opened up a new hobby (!) - You seemed very stressed when you were held up at Cold Con when you really did not need to worry because it led on to good things for Alex. We had a chance to chat to him and having met him, found him friendly and approachable, so many of us then supported his two projects! So it triggered a chain reaction of goodwill. Take a bow Mr Machen!

  5. I've missed you, you seem to be having a ball all the time but you're so far away on the other side of the world and I miss your random observations of the mundanities of life on this side of the Atlantic. I loved the poem, it's really vivid and I think Karen's right in her observation that you paint with words. Nicely done sir :) Glad to hear the book is done too, how exciting.

    Janine x

  6. I like the way you describe what you see, and those things that you notice and choose to describe:)

  7. Another highly descriptive, acutely- observed, stream-of-consciousness , flowing poem from yerself.....and a thick slice of Dublin life to boot ! Well done and many thanx for sharing these "little gems" with us all X..
    I hope that it's just gonna be a small amount of time before you will conquer the USA artistically and careerwise.I am sure that "The Night Shift" will prove to be a big hit....and it will just go on from there( after the fantastic success of "Merlin" worldwide ).You have such eclectic talents in the Media, an all rounder it seems.It bodes well for your future career plans.I hope swapping Shoreditch for Venice Beach will bring you many rewards in your career plans. Anne XXX

  8. So what are the chances of you sending me a signed copy of your book, hmm? ;)
    Anyway, on a more serious note. I love your poetry. Even while keeping it simple you convey so much emotion. And I can visualize this poem so easily in my head. There are no words to sum up your writing - it's refreshing and it's beautiful.
    I wish I could put how I feel about this into words. (For a writer/author, I'm doing a terrible job at explaining myself.) But to sum it up, you're beyond talented.

    Never give up writing. It's an outlet when things aren't going well in life, it's fun, it transfers emotions from our soul to a mere piece of paper... and you're just really damn good at it.

    I love this. :)

  9. This is lovely, I really enjoy your poetry. I especially liked:
    'Noises rush around his
    Shaken head;
    Taps fizzing, tills clicking'
    It gives a lovely lyrical feel, and I love the vivid imagery of 'fizzing' and 'clicking'.

  10. Brilliant piece of work Eoin. when I read this at first time I did't feel the same as I had not been in a bar before. after couple of visits to pubs/ bars in Dublin, I understand now how nicely you have articulated a very natural scene in a bar. well done!!!!!