PHOTO FICTION. Entry Number One: Charles Kelly

My name is Charles Kelly. I am seventy-three years old and reside in Fingal at the doorstep of Dublin City in Ireland. Every Thursday I charter a taxi to Trinity College, purchase the day's newspaper from the street vendor, and take my post at the foot of the statue of poet, singer, songwriter, and balladeer Thomas Moore. The monument graces the busy sidewalk near the entrance of the college. I read the newspaper from front to back, only avoiding the obituary pages.

When I finish my reading I like to sing out loud the songs and poems of Thomas Moore. I am often mistaken for a drunk, a loon, or a man without a home but in reality I am just an old timer confident in his loneliness. It saddens me when young people hear my proclamation of Thomas Moore's most notable works, squint their eyes at me, then turn to each other with curled lips and wrinkled noses and say in disgust, "What is he going on about?!" It also bothers me that most people nowadays only recognize Moore's song Believe Me If All Those Endearing Young Charms because it is often used as a popular gag in a number of cartoons, usually involving a piano rigged to explode when a certain note is played. The hero, typically Bugs Bunny, tries to play the melody line of the song, but always misses the rigged note (C above middle C). The villain or rival, finally exasperated, pushes the hero aside and plays the song himself, striking the correct note and blowing himself up. People know the tune, but not its composer. My appreciation goes much deeper.

Despite Thomas Moore living a handful of generations before me I have a special relationship with him not only through his poetry and music but through a strange similarity in our family lives. Moore had five children, two boys and three girls - as did I. Moore lost all of his children in his lifetime to untimely death - as did I. Moore received word of the death of his last surviving child on a Thursday - as did I. He wrote in his diary, "The last of our five children are gone and I am left desolate and alone." I couldn't have phrased it any better. Perfect and simple.

That's why Thursdays are for Thomas and Me, Charles Kelly.


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