1916 Rising a reimagination

SYNOPSIS

A man of character must stand for love of country, or bend for the love of his wife.

(SUBMITTED TO RND 1 OF #NYCMIDNIGHT #RHYMINGSTORYCHALLENGE2022 – OCTOBER 2022)


In Dublin fair at Easter time, the year nineteen sixteen

A patriot stood among his friends, composed almost serene.

He stood and pondered empty streets

And friends broken, or dead.

Breathed in the reek of blood and gore

Quite overcome with dread.

 

Michael was that patriot, brother to these men

Who littered now the floor around, with lifeblood, all his friends.

Who lay there broken, crippled, weak

Crying for their mothers.

The ghost in the machine was he

A traitor to his brothers.

 

Reflecting on his subterfuge, the cause he had betrayed

His wife, dear heart, the pawn with which he’d paid.

Michael’s honour withered, shattered

He’d crumbled when it really mattered.

Protect the brothers with whom you fight

Protect your wife, love of your life.

 

We shattered peace for Eire, he thought

and waved the tricolor.

To loosen boots upon our neck

With heart and soul we fought.

But I did take the coward’s route

And handed friends one final boot.

 

We all had chosen with our hearts to take this desperate stand

Despite explicit orders of the leader of our band.

For centuries we had dreamed of Ireland, free of outside rule

It weren’t enough to live in peace, while treated still as fools.

Home Rule at last bestowed

though Free State still on hold.

 

I’ll be grand, he’d told his wife, smile wide upon his face

Behind the cheer however was a deadly lack of grace.

For freedom sought, for safety bought

These brave or stupid few.

Built barricades, were unafraid

Until the Brits broke through.

 

Watford boys first at the fight, strategically unprepared

For sniper ambush from above

Death came then undeclared.

They clambered over bodies, crawled into rebel ranks

No way they could recover

From certain death they shrank.

 

Send grenades to flush them out, called officers of rank

There’ll be no reinforcements lads

Short shrift, then on to France.

With bloodied hands and hearts and mind

They measured out revenge

And stood their ground; entrenched.


Anger grew, pride delayed

For rebels behind barricades

Too close to fragile innocents

Too late to get away.

British power must be invoked

Till rebel dreams go up in smoke

 

For Ireland.

 

For King and Crown.

 

You’re Michael Ryan? The King’s man said

He dropped his head with shame.

Take them out, one bullet each, direct into the head.

Oh please God, no, Michael cried, the fight had been in vain.

You made your bed, the soldier said

You brought this heinous game.

 

The longed for glorious rising stalled

Too little thanks for those we called.

But triggered at last a desperate howl

For independence and self-rule.

That ended in partition and

One hundred years of deep division.

 

Michael was released from Kilmainham Gaol

Two weeks after that night.

As his reward for dealing fraud

For giving up the fight.

One last time he looked behind

At dark and brooding walls.

 

And raised a prayer to sons of Eire

Was proud to stand beside ye.


Challenge parameters were: Max 600 words. Genre: Historical Fiction. Theme: Counterfeit. Emotion: Proud.

Personal note: This was quite the challenge for me – I unintentionally write ‘poetry’ in flash fiction pieces. But to write a story in rhyme was a whole different ballgame. It feels a little clumsy to me, but I hope it provides context and emotion of an important historic moment in the history of Ireland.

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