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 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.