Monthly Archives: July 2014

BEHIND THE FAIRY MOUNDS ~ g kinyon

Padrig inquired when yet a young man
Of the slabs standing tall looking out o’er the land
He asked after mounds placed where mounds shouldna be
After carvings in stones of spirals of three
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He questioned just what it was to be proved
By moving tall boulders too large to be moved
Padrig wouldst marvel in places far flung
At the impossible accomplished without written tongue
To the Gael ‘twas manly to capture a Roman
And brand him a slave and strut like a showman
But the Gael was aware in a style more subdued
That without his own text he was thought of as crude
“To we who speak Gaelic, you are but a slave
But a Briton, a Roman, with knowledge engraved
Deep in your consciousness, then transferred to wax
Each thought inscribed like a hare leaving tracks.
A sign for each sound of the throat you’ve devised
And taught to your children who with ease memorized
Implanted, ensconced in the vault of the mind
Promising progress of an unforeseen kind.
And the Fair Folk, also, have wrought deep inscription
From the stones that they set, but employed encryption
Did they wish us to know, did they want us to guess?
Our ignorance reigned and we’ve failed the test.
The unknown is the aspect the human grows fearing
He quails in the presence of divine engineering
His worth as a man is then rent wide asunder
His value, his usefulness dissolves in the plunder. ”
“Should all slaves”, said Padrig, “be called from their houses
They couldn’t move one stone, let alone thousands
And who fed the quarrymen, the haulers, the builders?
From whence then the architects? This sorcery bewilders.”

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The next answer given this lost, stolen child
Came from the Gael who pondered and smiled
“Whenever a myst’ry befalls human eye
We compete with our tales, mind you, diff’rent from lies
The best at this art, he be much like your friar
A place guaranteed every night at the fire
A master of the craft of the tale sets us free
We toil through the day with a reason to be
It is crucial our thoughts be carried away
For us it is much like when you, Padrig, pray
That our ancestors came and conquered and died
Somehow fills us as a people with pride
The children of Danu the Goddess were here
And threatened our fathers as their ships would draw near
Though the sons of the goddess owned unearthly powers
The island fell hard to the Gaels, became ours
The terms of surrender left the Fair Folk their hills
’tis fear now the cry of the banshee instills
An old hag at times rides a mare in the night
And straddles a human who wakes to the sight
Unable to move, to cry out or breathe
But must lie submissive until she takes leave
Many such stories you’ll hear as you grow
They please us by answering what we canst know
You my young friend are destined to be
A seer, a fili, a grand seanachie.”
Padrig knew not of the sharing of tales
Just the visions before him and how the mind fails
To account for the wonders that can’t possibly be
How could these ancients have mastered the sea?
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What mind designs mountains, what hands make it so
What backs move the boulders, what line stops the toe
“Round every bend of this island you’ll see
What the Gael does attribute to the Folk, the Aos si
For what other magic, what human power
Moves a stone of such mass, makes it stand like a tower
Or molds them like clay, and like puzzles fit each
In a fashion the strongest of storms cannot breach”
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The aging bronze Gael then bent at the knees
Plucked a shamrock and expounded on the concept of threes
“Therein lies the formula that fuels the fire
Of the teller, the fili, to what you’ll aspire
A prominent belt of three stars in the sky
The dominant druid will have a third eye
And under the sky and the belt of three stars
In Egypt they say three pyramids are
We mark the sun, the extremes of its rise
Just three points are needed to govern our lives
The sun marks those points, the north, south, and center
The north begins summer, the south starts the winter
From center it rises with scarce a distortion
Day and night then are of equal proportion
The dolmen that stand so high from the moss
Two slabs hold upright, a third lies across
We can know nothing of how they were made
How such stones were moved, how the top ones were laid
How they could happen, these magical tasks
Are questions the teller grows too wise to ask
When questioned, hesitation may subtly expose
This may be the island of Who-The-Hell-Knows
The greatest of mounds on this island be
Alongside the river in a fine group of three
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But ne’er should a storyman deign to disclose
That this be the island of Who-The-Hell-Knows
For each of the myst’ries, whether grand, whether petty
Be certain an answer stands quick at the ready
The mounds, we will claim, are simply the covers
For doors leading into the world of the Others

I’ll aid your escape then you seek out your truth
And return here someday to lift the uncouth
Bring us new tales, fresh wisdom, good news
Tell us that we’re a lost tribe of the Jews
If you have a story then you’ll have a meal
The best explanations will have the best feel
New stories are welcome but suffice it to say
That after all else the old lore must stay
Emotions serve man and each is producible
The heart be a caldron, the mind then a crucible
Never forget to incorporate three
How the stones came to stand, how the mounds came to be
The creators of these, the magical hills
Refer to as Fair Folk, and wish them no ill
We need our fairies, our changelings, our wraiths
Our charms and our devils, our tales and our faiths

Pay heed now, young Padrig, for all of our sakes
It be how we want it, so bring us no snakes
In a teller’s own blood a deep knowledge flows
That Eire is the land of Who-The-Hell-Knows

GHOSTS OF INHUMANITY

It wasn’t all that long ago really when Dad, Mom, and the kids joined the vendors around the scaffold of a fine day, in, say, Dodge City or Denver. A row of men (usually, anyway) kicking and bouncing around at rope’s end, trying to touch the ground or breathe, their hands behind their backs, provided entertainment with a morality lesson. If a subject wasn’t an especially repulsive individual, or the executioner got a few pence, the latter might calculate the rope-length/body-weight ratio and the neck would snap with the drop. We Westerners have outgrown treating executions as a spectacle to be looked forward to, though. We’re familiar with the stonings in the Middle East, the amputations for thievery and such, and are properly repulsed.

But like I said, it hasn’t been long since executions were cause for a public outing in our sophisticated world.
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That interest in gruesome fates hasn’t fully faded yet. Picture a group of witnesses, some somber, some thinking right on! Picture them seated on a little set of bleachers so close they can touch the glass of the chamber. A man (again, usually) is strapped into a chair and the cyanide is released. The guests watch him hold his breath, and they watch as the inevitable happens. If they want, they can see every horror-driven distortion of the condemned’s wrinkled face while his lungs sizzle.
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The gas chamber being held in awe in the above photo is at the recently-decommissioned Missouri State Pen, a place with an utterly gruesome past and an oddly active present.
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Cell 76 on the second floor in building 4, or A-Hall, is one with a busy repute, where two inmates slipped in to gouge out the eyes of one of its tenants and let him stew on that while they sliced him further until he crawled out onto the catwalk and bled to death. Shivs have always been a way of life in prison, and that was as true here at “The Walls” of Mo State as anywhere.
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Gougings and related murders were a daily occurrence for long periods of time in this penitentiary, one of which inspired, after the warden offed his own self, Time Magazine to dub Mo State as “The bloodiest 47 acres in America.”
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The prison opened in 1836 and before it closed in 2004, was the oldest operating prison west of the Mississippi. Plumbing came in the 40s, and off-the-floor sleeping probably before that.
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Still, the violence only got worse. So then, do spirits of humans who spent their last seconds here still hang around? Imagine 5 or 6 or 8 guys squeezed into a tiny, frigid or baking cell with straw mats on the floor for bedding, one bucket of filthy water for drinking, and one bucket to shit in, while the din from whipping posts in concert with insane, echoing howls competes with the smells for the attention of the senses. It doesn’t take some childish eagerness-to-believe in unscientific phenomena to imagine that events where human emotion is stretched beyond all conceivability might just be capable of leaving a stamp, or a historical impress, that can be picked up on now and again. As for real-time interaction with the world of the dead, that’s not for me to adjudicate for you.

Below ground in A-Hall, a large number (documentation verifies 13 on one occasion) of inmates are forced into a limestone cubby hole where light equals what one finds in the depths of a cave when the last lantern battery dies.
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Blindness. A thick wooden door covers the steel door to ensure nothing resembling light will find a crack. The prisoner-quarried stone entombs the cell’s denizens at a thickness that promises no cracks of which any accident of sound might take advantage, either. There are two buckets. Which one has the water? The shit bucket will not be emptied by a guard for days. The dead bodies will be removed then too. No sooner.
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James Earl Ray, cell 45, escapes in a 4×4 box in the back of a bread truck. Less than a year later, he kills MLK. (Or was at least arrested for it, but I’d like to stay on target.)

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Sonny Liston’s talents were discovered by a couple of guards here.
Stagger Lee. I know I know that name. Blanche Barrow was put in the women’s facility when she was caught. She hated the movie.

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Cell 40 has made a name for itself, I see, on You Tube. I spent a few minutes in there alone, very quiet I did stay.
But other than the temperature dropping about 40 degrees, not much action. Kidding. It doesn’t matter. The history is enough.

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On the east coast of Ireland is a prison that has existed in one form or another for three centuries. Wicklow Gaol. A prison for all the people—men, women, and children—and for all the Catholic people in particular. The rebels of 1798, the croppies. The Popish.
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Women were thrown in with the men and if they had children, the British government would be damned if they were going to be babysitters.
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They did however provide an area for schooling. One of those children has never left, many people swear.
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You slept on the straw or the dirt. You worked.
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Sometimes men broke rocks and women took them to pave the road. During the years of rebellion, however, work was much more about punishment.
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Back-breaking work to produce nothing—a good way to fuck with their heads. Pick up a cannonball chest high, walk two steps, set it down, repeat for four more hours in the heat of the day.

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Or get on the treadmill for five hours and force it to turn and produce nothing. Mouth off and get shackled, or get your spine and ribs bared with the lash.

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Like the decommissioned penitentiary in Missouri, Wicklow Gaol suffers from no shortage of adamant witnesses to the paranormal. The true (verified or silenced) horror stories that accumulated in Wicklow throughout all those decades doubtless left marks that can still be felt.
Humans may grow intellectually, societies may become more sophisticated, but the fascination with horror is a part of us. The chief rule of the sane is to maintain a handle on fascinations.
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Finding the truth about what lies beyond may be a hobby for those who don’t deride it as silliness, but it is also, in another sense, a way to get a handle on the dangers that intrigue us.
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