This Sort of Thing...


Poking James MacGuigan’s Cow



On a farm up a mountain there once was a barn

With a rusty tin roof, built of stone

Where something most evil was lurking inside

Making the kids in the village all whimper and moan


What on earth do you think is behind yon big door?

Wee Brendan inquired with dread

Our stomachs all churned as we tried to describe

Gruesome beasts running wild in our head


Not one word of a warning was written up there

But in our minds it was so deadly clear

The terrible movements we head from within

Spelt F E A R (that says fear)


Not a soul in the glen could tell what it was

That rattled and roared in that shed

If it got out it would bite and scare us to hell

Break our bones and leave us quite dead


Long feared by the folk down in old Cushendall

Was the Bodach, the Pooka and Banshee

But would ever they choose to come and scare us

With faeries, wee men and mythology?



I’m praying to Jaysis it’s not that Godzilla

A werewolf or dead zombie man

Poor Margaret’s young voice shook as she said

Or Aunt Concepta from Ballyhornan


The way that it grunts and bangs all around

It sounds angry, possessed and quite crazy

Bernie’s face turned to white as she quivered and gasped

What if it’s yer man Ian Paisley?


On a ship Uncle Dan sailed nine times round the world

He’d met Greeks, Japanese and Armenians

And one evening in Duffy’s Lounge Bar there in Larne

He’d drunk stout and poitín with Presbyterians


He saw a goat in Bushmills born with two heads

Four noses and teeth for eye sockets

But it couldn’t have come on the bus to Glendun

It wouldn’t see to find the fare in its pockets?


All night he’d tell tales of the queerest of things

The extent of his yarns had no limit

So with a bit of a notion of how our monster looked

He could tell what it was and then kill it



He’d seen whales and great sharks and porpoises too

Giraffes, giant snakes and wild sheep

With a need to describe our fiend at the door

One of us had to take a wee peep


To proceed with the plan a volunteer was picked out

Someone big and quite bold and not sickly

Liam’s daddy had bought a new Ford motor car

So he could get Liam to the hospital quickly


Intrepid young Liam was pushed rather close

To peer in the abyss through a crack

I’ve a terrible feeling I’ve just weed my pants

He cried out very loud running back


A fearsome ogre he saw, all ugly and fat

With face filthy, coarse, rough and hairy

And from the gut-churning stink you'd just about think

It was the teacher from school, Master Clary


We wanted to show it who was the boss

That huge awful thing needed poking

We'd get a big stick and prod it real hard

I thought the girl who said that must be joking



For a few anxious minutes we searched all around

‘Til Sinéad found a long length of wood

She chose the right hole and carefully took aim

We stood there, bodies trembling, fearing blood


She pushed the sharp pole right into the dark

Then came a loud crash, howl and roar

Followed by banging, some groans, a succession of grunts

As the brute tried to smash down the door


I've weed my pants once again, and also my socks

Liam’s voice was damp, wretched and flat

Then our mood changed from fear to utter distress

Seeing a man with a gun and big hat


He shouted some words that we’d never heard

We sensed he might do us great harm

Down the barracks he’d go to tell Sergeant Keane

If we didn’t fuck off from his farm


He said from his boot we’d get a kick up the arse

He’d tell our mammies and also the priest

We’d no business round here, trespassing his land

We should leave his poor old cow in peace



We ran almost as fast as Liam’s da’s car

Twice as fast as the farmer could run

The man with the gun was old James MacGuigan

Out shooting rabbits and weans just for fun


But at least then we knew, the word had got out

It was nothing like what we had guessed

Neither devil nor demon, just a decrepit sad cow

We’d survived and accomplished our quest


If ever in life you’ve a mystery to solve  

Mark these words that I say here and now

No matter how brave you think you behave

Never poke a curmudgeon or cow


My brave friends and I whilst only quite young

Learned to leave things alone, not explore

To stay well away from all things that growl

And scare you stiff from behind a locked door


Except for the bits that are things I’ve made up

Every word of this poem’s quite true

And to keep James MacGuigan from breaking my door

I’ve changed some names and forgotten a few


Poking James MacGuigan’s Cow

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