New poems by Raine Geoghegan

We’re proud to publish new work by the Romany poet Raine Geoghegan. Raine has also recorded these  for The Clearing: follow the links below each poem.

 

 

The Guveney – a haibun

 

Harry leans against the brick wall in the alleyway, smoking a roll-up. His black stadi pulled down, almost covering his right eye. He wears a navy and white pinstripe suit. Anyone would think he was off to the city, but no, he’s taking five to prepare himself for the meeting with his parole officer. He’s planning on getting there early and making a good impression.

 

Just as he’s finishing his smoke a brown cow walks into the garden, eyes like coal, calm as you like. Harry looks up, wonders if he’s dreaming.

 

With nostrils flared

breath rising into cold air,

the brown cow bellows.

 

‘Well, I’ll be blowed, it’s a bloomin’ guveney.’ He says.

 

A guerro runs down the road, stops at Harry’s gate, shouts to another guerro who’s marching briskly behind.

 

‘It’s alright Jim, he’s here.’

 

Harry drops his cigarette butt, stamps on it with his right foot. He walks up to the cow.

 

‘Aint you a kushti guveney? Where did you come from then?’

 

The guerro tells him that the cow wandered off from the field near the reservoir.

 

‘We’ll be getting him back now mate, sorry for any inconvenience.’

Harry shrugs his shoulders, strokes the creature’s head.

 

The cow stands erect

appears rooted to the spot,

oblivious to men.

 

Harry watches the men lead the animal away. He thinks this will be a good topic of conversation to share with his probation officer, keep the mood light.

 

 

Romani words:    Guveney – cow; Stadi – trilby hat; Guerro – man; Kushti – good.

Listen to the poem HERE.

 

 

Romanichals in the 1950s

 

(i)

covels packed

chavies scrubbed clean

me rackley’s bal washed with panni

the grai grizhomed holled

 

 

(ii)

opre and gel on

dikk the next atchin tan

a fellow chal pookers

kushti bokt

 

 

Romani words Verse 1: Romanichals – English Romanies; Covels – belongings; Chavies – children; rackley’s – girls; Grai – horses; Grizhomed – groomed; Holled – fed.

Verse 2: Opre – arise/forward; Dikk – look for; Atchin tan – stopping place; Chal – Travelling man; Pookers – calls out; Kushti bok – good luck

Listen to the poem HERE (verse 1) and HERE (verse 2).

 

 

Apple Picking Days in the Vale of Evesham

 

You’re in the orchard,

sitting on the grass

with the woody scent of apples and earth,

a basket full of Worcester Pearmans at your feet.

You take the smallest one,

wipe it on your purple apron,

lean your head back to catch the sun.

 

ere you are my gel, a kushti slice of apple.’

 

Four years old again and daddy is cutting the fruit,

slicing it with his special little churi,

the one his father gave him.

He grins as the juice dribbles down your chin.

 

One hand on your belly

you feel the baby kick,

you take another bite,

watch your husband in the tree,

his strong hands pulling the fruit

from the branches

taking one from the right

another from the left

dropping them into the straw basket

which hangs low around his neck

 

not long to go now.’

 

he climbs down the ladder

drops his load onto the soft earth

stretches his arms wide

 

yer done now, Alf?’

                      ‘yes, my love.’

 

 

Fifty years later

as you wave goodbye to your granddaughter,

you remember,

the baby kicking,

Alf in the tree,

autumn sunshine

and the strong smell of the Worcester’s.

 

Romani words: Kushti – very nice;  Churi – a small knife.

Listen to the poem HERE

 

 

Raine Geoghegan, MA is of Romany heritage. Her work has been widely published and her debut pamphlet, Apple Water – Povel Panni was launched in December 2018. Her poems and songs were featured in the documentary film, Stories from the Hop Yards. Her work has been nominated for Best of the Net; the Pushcart Prize and the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem. Her work was chosen as a Spring 2019 selection by the Poetry Book Society. Her new collection of monologues, haibuns and songs will be published later this year by Hedgehog Poetry Press.

Photographs from the poet’s own collection, used by kind permission of John Webb and family.

 

 

 

                                  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 Comments

Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

Julie Morganreply
May 15, 2019 at 12:02 pm

Raine Geoghegan poems are absolutely brilliant, takes you back in time and keeping the true Romanys alive. Keep up the good work.

Raine Geogheganreply
May 15, 2019 at 1:07 pm

Thank you Julie. Poetry for the people, which I am proud to record and write.

Nicola Chesterreply
May 15, 2019 at 10:59 pm

Wonderfully atmospheric poems. I love the lyrical flow of the language – words new to me and some half-remembered – and the capturing of tender scenes like a palimpsest of photographs, stories, lives. Lovely. Poignant.

Raine Geogheganreply
May 18, 2019 at 2:27 pm
– In reply to: Nicola Chester

Thank you so much Nicola for leaving this comment. I really appreciate it. I am the same with the language, (jib) learning new words and remembering many from childhood. Kushti Bokt.

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