Raine Geoghegan, M.A. is a poet and prose writer of Romany, Welsh and Irish descent. Nominated for the Forward Prize, Best of the Net & The Pushcart Prize, her work has been published online and in print with Poetry Ireland Review; Travellers’ Times; Ofi Press; Under the Radar; Fly on the Wall and many more. Her pamphlet, ‘Apple Water: Povel Panni’, was launched in December 2018 with Hedgehog Poetry Press and was listed in the Poetry Book Society Spring 2019 Selection. Her new pamphlet, ‘they lit fires: lenti hatch o yog’ also published by Hedgehog in December 2019 is out now. Her work was featured in the film, ‘Stories from the Hop Yards,’ made by Catcher Media. She gives readings in UK and Ireland and teaches ‘Poetry and Prose Performance Skills’ as well as one-to-one mentoring sessions. Website: rainegeoghegan.co.uk – follow Raine at twitter.com/RaineGeoghegan5
THE GYPSY WAYS
I’ve been in this ken for some six weeks. I miss the travelling, me old vardo and specially me ‘orses, Sally and Reuben, both chestnut and beauootiful. I did love trottin’ down the lanes, good as gold, they were. I was lucky to find them a good ‘ome . So many travellers are movin’ into kens. What’s goin’ to ‘appen to all the ‘orses?
We ‘ad the freedom to go wherever we wan’ed, to meet up with pals, share some ‘obben, talk about life, ‘ere I walk round the block at night, ‘ave me smoke, I see folk in their ‘omes, pullin’ the curtains, shuttin’ out the world. ‘afore I used to sit on a log wiv the boys, look at the sky smoke, talk, ‘ave a whiskey. This way of life is goin’ to take a bit of gettin’ used to.
I used to love going into the woods, cuttin’ ‘azel rods to make faida, wiv me little churi, the one me dad gave me when I was fifteen. ‘Ee made it out of an old kitchen knife and the ‘andle out of left over wood. I was pleased as punch. ‘Ee said, ‘now you look after that churi my boy, it’ll come in ‘andy. Well it ‘as, it’s stood me in good stead and I’ll never part wiv it.
The faida always sold well. Amy used to say, ‘Alf you was borned to make things’.
Now she’s got it right, she’s out in the fresh air, sellin’ ‘er flowers and then she’s at ‘ome, enjoying a little luxury. The children are all in school, although it’s bedlam tryin’ to get the youngest one ready in the mornin’. Shedon’t like it, not one little bit, she’s a wild one, like her mother.
I’ve a mind to get meself some chickens. They’re aint nothin’ like fresh eggs in the mornin’.
We always used to ‘ave ‘em when we was ‘oppin’. Farmer Pudge’s wife would let us ‘elp ourselves. First thing in the mornin’, pickin’ up those warm eggs, ‘oldin’ em in the palm of me ‘and, breathin’ in that woody cider smell of the coop, kushti.
I’ll clear that junk at the bottom of the garden an’ I’ll make a chicken coop then I’ll build a greenhouse, grow some drakha. I might even start on those little wagons fer the children. Yep, that’s what I’ll do, first thing tomorrer.
Romani words: Ken – house; Vardo – wagon; Hobben – food; Faida – pegs; Churi – peg knife; Kushti – very good; Drakha – grapes.
I’m a Travelling Gypsy
A windy day on Hastings beach. A young lad with thick dark hair and strong cheek bones kicks his chockas off, rolls up his trousers and walks along the sand. He comes to a place where the carriages stop. ‘I’ll catch plenty of guerros and racklie’s ‘ere, yearn meself a few bob.’ He places his cap on the sand, clears his throat. Me name’s John Ripley, I’m a travelling gypsy. Dik at me dance, shoon me a gillie. I’ll cheer you up, when the cold wind blows. It’s cold on ‘astings beach, don’t I know.’ He takes out his mouth organ, wipes it with his sleeve, cups it in his vasts then plays an old tune, ‘It’s a kushti life.’ As he plays, he jogs on one foot then the other, lifting his knees high, a few spectators, smile, chuckle at him. By midday his cap is almost full of pennies. He lay’s down on his back, looking up at the far sky. He’d come back tomorrow, slip out of the vardo, once his dad had gone to feed the grai. He’d get mullered if the old man found out. ‘I’ll ‘ave to be a bit crafty, ‘ide me poshes somewhere safe.’ He drops the coins into his pocket, puts his cap on, carries his chockas and whistles as he makes his way home.
Romani words: Chokkas – shoes; Guerros – men; Raklie’s – women; Dik – look; Shoon – listen; Vasts – hands; Kushti – very good; Vardo – wagon; Grai – horses; Mullered – killed; Poshes – money.