Pretending to be Taoiseach


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Pretending to be Taoiseach

Nearly all politicians are

dummies and mimics,

as are most junkies and drunks.

Also in nature predators

learn off their roles

by long-settled rote

and so do their victims.

Dissent is a kind of seeing deformity

that shows a way out.

This much I’m used to and sure of.

Last night I strolled

the Liffeyside boardwalk

being reminded, as usual,

by every new scene of cackling debauch,

of the clear-sighted canvas upheld

to the hellish medieval grotesque,

(That triptych of self-mutiliation,

passed-on oppression, interior rot.)

by artists like Brueghel and Bosch.

I wasn’t all that affected

by the scores of drunk addicts,

some of them children,

reciprocally miming sewer-pipe mouths,

canine grimaces, anteater snouts.

Nor was I more than expectedly saddened

that each had the same

or similiar names and nicknames,

like Chloe,

Ryan, Bonzer and Jayzee

and that each had these same or similar

names and nicknames

of dead infants

and partners and friends

scribbled in prisoner’s ink

among epidemical scabs and scars

torn out of their Hep-yellow flesh

by needles and blades

on their bellies and forearms.

I didn’t find it occasion

for chuck-up or freak-out to watch,

wriggling from all of their noses,

those short, pale, corpulent worms

that lead a suspended, blissful existence

at the bottom of bottles

of tequila and absinthe.

The thought that last night surprised me

was this:

round here the brown river

muddies the sky

and carries it off

and the sun only rises

out of corporate towers

so it’s joining the dots

and stating the obvious

to say that these terminal addicts

who rot on the boardwalk

like the trays of unsellable fruit

in the tips around Smithfield

are the bottom familiars

of the contagious filth

at the top.

Last night on the boardwalk

I watched one drunkjunky pimp

pretending to be Taoiseach.

He was your absolute image

sketching you out completely

on the very edge of the Liffey,

ten yards from O Connell Bridge

on Batchelor’s Quay.

This drug-addled lunatic

mimed so precisely

the unsteady condition

that everyone’s heard

you ever so occasionally

might get yourself into

at, to take only one out of many,

a sinister off-record networking soiree,

ending-up like Amy Winehouse’s birthday

at four in the morning

in your showbander bedroom

trying to satisfy the unsatisfiable

with the remains

of a very rare steak

carried away from the banquet

beneath your wine-spattered shirt.

Well,  after only two minutes

in charge of the totterer’s nation,

faith swooped in like a wrecking ball

to crush this parroting citizen

(just as the gigantic wrecking ball of time

will be slamming down sooner or later

upon the culture of apartment blocks

and shopping centres)

and the poor demented animal crumbled

into the tarflow of the nightriver

and then straightaway another one-

there is always straightaway another one,

the aping of sovereigns unstoppable here-

struggled heroically paralytically out

from under a soiled duvet

and had a go at doing you when,

four or five hours later,

you’re stranded like your own amnesiac ghost

in the plasmic aftermath

of a blackout

naked and quaking

like the smartphone’s on vibrate

and you’ve downed it like a toad,

trying to whip into line

the chaotic neuronal gloop

a-whirl in your brain

and rev-up that unreliable throat

(praying then that the rest of you will follow)

by  shouting half-recollected

ancient gaelic oaths

into a cloud of steam

in the bathroom mirror

inbetween repeating

another day’s scrip

for the war on the people.

Watch out though, look!

I bet you the Easter Rising

and raise you two-thirds of the future

that it’s your hobo doppelganger

forming up in the optical mist

in that mirror.

You simply do not know

in your twisted, tormented condition

if or how, going forward

-rather than your natural

sideways or backwards-

you’re going to get it together

to last

til the one or two little sips

your handlers allow

to settle you through

the mid-afternoon

or how you’ll keep a straight face

through another ten-thousand

delirious, farcical minutes

of counted-down lies

that you are going to spend,

whether you like it or not,

in the grip of an irrational

and eventually overwhelming

goo to get totally out-of-it

like the rest of the chronics

on the Liffeyside boardwalk

whom you poisonously envy

while signing orders to persecute.

Whenever you hear

the disposable gods

of interchangeable talk-shows

blunderbussing on the airwaves

for a round-up of the scumbags

your blood cells,

like a choir of slaves  in a galley-boat,

cry out in instinctual sympathy

for a fix or a shot

and while your fellow shades

upon the boardwalk

are dropping

like the flies

that are


on them

and, in your imitation,

suppering on the national scapegoats

sure you’ll struggle on

towards your cosseted downfall

but all along you’ll be nowt

but a mime and a dummy

strung out and doomed

and vainly attempting

to clear the unclearable gravels and tars

that are clogging and sliming

in the sewer of your throat

in the wasted highways of your mind

in the empty estates of your soul

in the incinerated rubbish of your heart

and pretending, always pretending

always always pretending

because there never ever was

and there never ever could be

anymore than pretending

in this pastiche of a lush we call taoiseach.

Dave Lordan’s  debut collection of poetry The Boy in the Ring (Salmon 2007) won The Patrick Kavanagh Award in manuscript form in 2005. In 2008 it won the Rupert and Eithne Strong Award for best first collection and was shortlisted for the Irish Times Poetry Now Award. It was named as a book of the year by RTE Radio 1’s Arena show in 2009. His latest collection of poetry is Invitation to a Sacrifice (Salmon Poetry, Cliffs of Moher, 2010).

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Dave Lordan is activist, poet and teacher. He blogs at

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2 Responses

  1. William Wall

    September 29, 2010 3:44 pm

    The spectacle of an unedifying spectacle making a spectacle of himself neatly captured in this poem. It raises the awful spectre that Brian Cowan is, like God, a creation of our own need to worship a gouger.

  2. Pope Epopt

    September 30, 2010 11:16 am

    “at four in the morning
    in your showbander bedroom
    trying to satisfy the unsatisfiable”
    “pastiche of a lush”.

    You got him down pat there, boy.