Bangor Postcards

by Peter Humphreys


bonny blue boats
in Bangor Bay


she played
her favourite
for me


dawn crept by
to steal the darkness away
across the Lough
and round the Bay
the lights
of Whitehead and Copeland
through the early morning mist
after the violent storm
which at the height
of its incandescent rage
wave after wave
against the old look out post
spume and spray
flying back to God
from the mains
of riderless horses
raised at sea
to conquer the shore
once more


calm now
if only for a while
you can see across to Islandmagee
where many died
in the persecution of truth
but now the cliffs
are caressed
by the wash of ferries
does anyone stop
to pray for those lost souls
in passing remembrance
their cries of revenge
and vengeance
by gannet gull and kittiwake
but storms of hatred
almost forgotten
are not gone
just resting
calm now


it was the same sound
that as a child
had made my blood run cold
and hair bristle on the back of my neck
a sound that simply made me want to hide
with a name like mine
the Billy Boys are on the march

yet now
older wiser less fearful
I ran to catch a last sight
of the scarlet band
turning from Main Street
in a deluge of rain
now I understand
and want to belong too
as an evangelist
beneath McKee Clock
raises hell fire fears
that fail to ignite
last night's chip papers
but they do touch me


there is another storm
rising tonight
the safety boats are out
shepherding in
the youngsters in their dinghies
the beach at Ballyholme is almost empty
except for a few drenched souls
defying the wind
and their body comforts
down Lyle Road
the old cottages
have steamy windows
flickering images
in darkening rooms
geraniums pleased to be inside
its a July night
running up to the Glorious Twelth
up on Kilcooley
I hope the bonfires
are strapped down


the morning was misty
mellow misty clearing slow
as the misty sun
over Ballymacormick
shone moonlike
and as it slowly cast shadows
on the curving comely beach
one by one
dogs ran wild crazed
by freedom
alive alive
and on the shelly banks
little girls
an age do take
exploring shell by shell
puddle by puddle
the glories of life

O the glory of life


when I was a kid
in Liverpool
we used to call them funfairs
because they were
fair fun

this week
for the July holiday
down on the Quay
it called itself
"Europe's largest travelling theme park"
and I wondered how
they knew that somewhere
in the Bukovina
there wasn't a bigger one?

but who cares
the dodgems dodged
the walzer made the girls scream
and the boys an excuse to cuddle them
with limited success
there were enough candy floss stalls
and burger stalls to feed the town
dads' showed off their skills
mum's showed off their curls
and the teenagers just showed off

but best of all
was the kids' faces
eyes getting brighter
as the night got darker
no ghost train here
just memories for future years
when fun is scarcer
and life less fair
and you remember
getting your toffee apple
in Jimmy's hair


last night
above the brooding hills
behind Carrickfergus
the sky smouldered
as an ancient cauldron
the light from the tiring sun
set the windows aglow
on the Esplanade
making the wide expanse of Belfast Lough
a single prism of light

sitting on the rocks at Kingsland
watching the terns
stab the sea for fish
and the guillemots
fuss their way to the Long Hole
red feet touching wave tops
I wondered if salvation
lay solely with the grace of God
or if He would save this Earth
from the most foolish
of his creations
you and me


Author's Note: Last week, I spent a week's convalescence in Bangor (County Down) where we lived with our children during the Troubles for a year or so. It is a great wee town and I hope these short postcards catch its beauty and its reality.

Posted on 07/16/2008
Copyright © 2020 Peter Humphreys

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by Gabriel Ricard on 07/16/08 at 03:33 PM

I wish I could do something myself with this kind of style, this kind of attention to form and language. Really outstanding stuff.

Posted by Dave Fitzgerald on 07/16/08 at 04:10 PM

Great writes Peter. I hope you are doing well.

Posted by George Hoerner on 07/16/08 at 07:34 PM

Wonderful write Peter. You do your country side great credit and your words strike at the heart as your feelings work their magic. Well done sir!

Posted by Kristina Woodhill on 07/16/08 at 07:35 PM

Masterful - a feast, a festival, a carnival, passion and "flickering images." I, too, hope you are well.

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