Augustus Young       light verse, poetry and prose
a webzine of new and unpublished work

Bob Mathias, Decathlon Champion Visits Cork, 1952


Because you smiled when you spoke
I thought you wanted everyone to laugh,
but it was an American smile,
all welcoming and teeth.

And when you said, ‘Little boy,
that wasn’t meant to be funny’,
and two thousand people laughed,
I thought, ‘He’s talking to me’.
Those days everything was black and white.
The newsreel footage showed you running with hares
in a desert of oil wells
and tufts of vegetation and a tin can.
You were a cross between
Bob Hope and the young Brando.
I reckoned you could do anything
and faster than anyone. And you could.
I knew you called your mother ‘Mom’,
and were both a Cowboy and an Indian,
rounded up wild horses for your father,
and your supply of apple-pie never ran out.
I knew your childhood sweetheart
was June Allyson, and the recurrent rings
of the Olympic Games were smoke signals
from your own personal Colchester 49.
I knew what chance I had of growing up
was in your hands - you who picked me out
of the crowd to gently mock - for as you left the hall,
leaping up the steps two at a time, you winked at me.
Running home that evening
I was faster than the wind,
and jumped the garden gate
without breaking a leg. Wasn’t I proud?


On Failing to Pick up a Hitchhiker who looked like Jack Kerouac

I was still living with my mother
in the suburbs of a seaboard town
on the wrong side of the Atlantic.
I hardly belonged to the hip generation
who shook loose the chains of convention
and walked out free with flicking fingers.
Jack, no matter how lost you became
you knew someone was waiting for you back home,
the healing haunt with mother comforts.
You could sling your ruck and hit the road
leaving your best buddies under trucks
fixing the wreckage of tame women.
Still feet up when everyone’s in bed
before the dying fire of home life
I could stay put with your footloose world
lost out there somewhere in your book.
Turning the pages, restless to move on.
My prodigal brother where are you tonight.

Eye Witness

Ring in the Atlantic Park (1955)
‘Up the Rockies, down the Glen’
all the south terraces sing
for Mick Cashman and his men.
who have rattled Christy Ring.
His stick is loose in the slice,
and the mountain-shoulders sag.
Such short legs, Christy’s no Christ.
The lads have him in the bag.
Minutes to go; two points ahead,
church bells in Blackrock ringing.
But their chime must toll the dead:
a lightning strike from Christy Ring,
and the sliotar’s in the net.
Goalie Cashman stands aghast,
as the Glen win at the death.
He doesn’t know how it got past…
No one saw the sliotar spin,
let alone the low hip-swing,
save a boy who had his eye
on the player, not the ball.
He saw the sods of turf fly
and Christy Ring growing tall
for a flash, and fall to heel, then
becoming as other men.
‘Down the Rockies, Up the Glen’
the Blackpool terraces sing. 
And everyone is asking
where’s the hero Christy Ring? 
Soon as the teams left the field
he disappeared into the crowd,
wearing a soft hat that concealed
himself. No autographs allowed.



Here’s to the bard Brian Lynch,
who’s declaiming his poems
in the muddy fields of Laois
to young ravers who fidget
with twitters on mobile phones.
Sing along, sing along.
The sound system could be worse.
Also, the attention span.
Like reading to rival poets
in a pub. Immortal verse
is drowned out by the old goats.
Sing along, sing along.
Homer would give you the nod.
Unlike me. I, who am
muttering in the desert
mirages of analogies,
to myself. A hermit cod.
Sing along, sing along.
The oral tradition’s a cup
that drinks to everybody.
My ghost grove of palm trees
won’t quench the vagrant thirst.
Down the hatch. Time’s up.
Sing along, sing along.
So here’s to bard Brian Lynch
who’s declaiming his poems
in the muddy fields of Laois,
and to ravers who cherish
the open air and great unknowns.
Sing along, sing along.


Famous Mothers*

I am Roman Jakobson, hein.
Not Gary Romain or Max Jacob.
This is my poem. It’s all mine.
Roman Jakobson’s. Gary, Max, bof !
I’m Roman Jakobson’s mother.
Not Gary Romain’s or Max Jacob’s.
He should share it with his brother
poets. Roman, Max, Gary = love.
Shut up, Mother Jakobson, I’m
not a poet. Though Max Jacob
some say is, Romain Gary’s line
is plagiarism. I’ve enough.
Don’t talk to your mother like that.
Mamma Gary, Mamma Jacob
and me will make you eat your hat.  
What’ll I raise to ladies? sob, sob.
Just get on with Baudelaire’s cat,
she said, with your Levi-Strauss.
And, Roman, you’re getting fat.
Too much time spent in the house.
*During the Occupation Levi-Strauss and Jacobson
lived with their mothers while collaborating on
Cats in Baudelaire’s poems. Gary and Jacobs were neighbours.
Billy Wilder should have made the film.



Between Covers

For Edward Wilson, literary spy-master


I am undercover when I write.
And people don’t know how to read me.
The giveaway is a beady eye.
behind shades. I’m a double-agent, spy
who’s at both sides of the moon by night.
Normal moles are so anonymous
they stand out in the motley crowd.
The suspicion that I arouse
is that I’m not up to much. Allowed
I have two names, and like to snoop
where angels fear to tread, but the dupe
is so off-hand, it’s more like a browse.
Don’t be fooled. My kin were rapparees.
I wear their crest, fulminis instar.
on my headband, which translates ‘like grease
lightening’ (not twinkle, twinkle little star).



Men are weakened by vanity.
And women who don’t realize it
will end up on a bended knee
looking after a decrepit.
Pride doesn’t come before a fall.
It’s the fall itself and worms crawl
out of the apple that tempts Eve.
Paradise on earth is make-believe.