Treasure Island

Barney Rooney

(belfast)

Tarzan Crilly Didn't Like Social Workers


The boy was home for a break or a wake
Tarzan is at the house for the Granny's sake
had checked her out and was on his way
paused to ask - do you think you'll stay

in England, how's it going, how's the work,
what is it that you're doing now?
and the boy told him.

Dr. Tarzan Crilly wore a big tweed coat
leather bag and stethoscope
led him through his childhood ills
with adrenalin, Brovon and ephedrine pills

Barrel chested with a rheumy eye
never said more than 'the child won't die'
Tarzan was kind but Tarzan was curt
and something in the answer hurt
or maybe tickled - that the fruit
of his years of care had not only been exported
but at the confession
of wasted life in a useless profession
in the tradition of all those places
whose children are sent the world to roam
Tarzan launched into parody with
the migrant's letter home

'tell Mammy I play piano in a whore-house
I'm a corner bookie's runner
a backstreet abortionist on the side
and if she says she is scundered
tell her I'm a defrocked priest
pick pockets and hoke in bins
stand on corners begging pennies
for red biddy and other things
whose names she will never have heard
in the innocent life that she led
but for god's sake without a mother's love
I might as well be dead
so tell her I spurned my chances
sold out my principles too
lost all taste for the love and the grace
I'd been gifted until I was due...'
….he paused for breath...

'...to leave the home and the hearth
and make my way in the world
but if she shows the least upset
tell her I've joined the British Army
waved the Union flag unfurled
thought Gerry Fitt was right
to be blighted a knight
and I've married an English girl
tell her I've adjusted my accent
dropped the double OO in my name
if she'd fear I'd lapse and lose my way
try lighting candles or have a wee pray
for what is England for but
pleasures and freedom and work
and I may be a dissolute libertine
but none of these will I shirk
reassure her that is the way over here
think of me as a council clerk
but for god's sake don't let on to her
I'm doing social work'.

Nursed through childhood with ephedrine pills
now mocked for squandering his medical skills
and though stung at the time by the sharp in his bite
I'd say that Tarzan was right.

Submitted: Monday, November 25, 2013
Edited: Monday, November 25, 2013

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