This poem was published in 2014 in the United Press National Poetry Anthology.
Our family lived at the top of Dulwich hill overlooking London. In stormy weather the wind would howl menacingly outside and my Irish mother would gather us around the fire and tell of:
The Dullahan (Headless Coachman)
We vassals of time have a measured score
And the Banshee wails, when we’re ‘counted for,
To Her Headless Coachman and his team of four
Black stallions with head plumes, in deference to lore.
They ride on the wind from out of the night,
A fiendish dark turnout, as these lines recite.
As they break into gallop the traces draw tight,
The beasts’ nostrils flare and their eyes glisten white.
“The blustering wind, or a carriage in flight
With coach wheels a'rumbling?” ‘Though still out of sight,
It sounds closer each hearing, as thunderclaps might,
To demand the one doomed – a macabre Invite.
One wild night you'll harken her wailing once more;
You'll feel the hooves thunder, you'll hear the hearse draw
And the windows will shake with a rap at your door:
That’s the call of the Dullahan, that none can ignore.