Young Poet – Paul McCarrick

COFFEE AT THE SPANISH ARCH

We’re getting less and less post and more and more emails
and all the while, I’m getting the feeling the electricity will run out
sooner rather than later and you could guaran-damn-tee that
they’ll go marching up and down the main drag and burn
the entire place to ashes looking for those letters again.
That’s before they keep on walking with no destination in mind
only to end up convulsing like a punched gut,
a mid-air surrender of a thrown-in towel.
After this, the streets will be lined with mounds of vomit
and buildings’ embers left after every Race Week Monday night
and after every Race Week Tuesday night and after
all the previous Race Weeks you would think
they’d have brushes big enough to clean this.
Soon we’ll get those standardised blue wellingtons to wade through it all
so that no one will be left without their morning routine.
The price of coffee has kept on going up though,
but the coffee stays the same colour
as if water were to ever die.
I would like the mortgage special, please, with the boiled milk
of a mother cow intertwined with my deceased water,
and a dash of a nut syrup.
The wallet gets as empty as a parent’s mouth of promises,
but I am still full of those intentions for this Saturday,
for us to meet again and have that coffee we’ve had the decade to plan.
Even if one of the two Koreas explode,
it’s still sweet to have been loved by you.

***

2 FOR 1 BURGER DEAL RECEIPT

I will leave too early to say goodbye,
but exit with all my sincerest farewells
that can be offered to you, dead to the world,
dreaming of nature’s place, the future, a session,
and not of heading into the barely beaten heartbeat of this,
an early city not rising, but appearing from night mist,
darkness still not yet giving way to this morning, determined.
The odd car passes. Lights on. Following their trails for miles,
kilometres, their waves lasting past the turn up to the station,
and even by the time the coffee’s bought, the train departs,
arrives, and I clock in, you are still in bed – one could guess –
sleeping off your own fog of hangover, regret, exhaustion,
through to the early afternoon around the time I’m dialling numbers,
fixing problems, and wanting to run, drink, smoke,
anything to link and piece me together nearer to you
because why not? I’m sure you’re at the same shit too.

Come the gonging of the Angelus, the definitive time,
I am trainbound, once again, black in cup, dog-eared voucher
in arse pocket, crumpled, finally woken up, ready for breakfast,
or dinner, or whatever this 2 for 1 burger deal receipt will get us,
even if it is just crumpling stomachs, potential heart issues,
even more of a waft from an already wafty shirt,
a time to sit together and eat, consume, breathe,
not blank walls inviting our gaze, or violins strung
to the tune of shattered glass. Or decide that this
is the final time. Or the first fight.

***

SITTING BESIDE YOU WILL DO

To bide time and say hello instead of jumping on you is like,
no exaggeration, going to watch the lions or penguins locked up in the zoo,
or counting nine-and-fifty swans at Coole and everything is going fine
until you look through the hand-smudged glass and see no lions due
to their social anxiety or penguins because they have cold feet or that
you can’t find that damn phantom sixtieth swan and have the job complete.

I don’t know which is me or which is you,
the lion, the penguin or the swan not at Coole,
but I’m waiting, here in this room with you,
not pouncing, as the discussion goes through
tv to what’s on the mp3 these days and my head
may jump to hand to hip and slip that bit
further but HEYOOH don’t worry, that’s my head,
I run a tight ship, you won’t pick up on it, but it is all good,
the rain has stopped, the sky is blue and, for now,
sitting beside you will do.

That’s not to say that that night of nothing
together meant nothing, it did, lying and silence and loving
ebbed and flowed, a scent of oranges from segments or tea,
and the time to smile was never so light;
falling asleep after you and before they threw rocks at the window,
I knew they would do that, you did too,
and it was nice we both slept through it.

We’d go for a walk to that light by the Corrib,
just like that walk yesterday, like every day, and look at
the nature everywhere again that I don’t get yet,
but you are so dead set on it.
We’d look at that wide reflection of rippled silver,
and there at the middle arch that looks out to Clare,
grey streaming rain and clouds hung over it like a hangover
there’s still one swan left from the day before
– a bastard not from Coole? –
banging their head against the wall,
banging away, near for attention, embarrassed
it’s still here when we’re here and you couldn’t write that
but you said do and we’ll see who’ll believe you.

***

PLAYING PIANO ON YOUR WRIST

You can get stuck, a little, in the truth, stuck into thinking that
this is a nice couch to lie down on late at night or early in the morning
or when you’re packing for your breakaway for one to Devon
of a Bank Holiday Monday & think I don’t need the extra pants,
I’m just going to get the wear out of these. People tell you no man,
quit thinking that way, do you know how bad it is there at this time of year
& you stop thinking like they say, & your own truth finds its own way for a while.

I’m thinking that you’re the best thing that’s happened to me, truthfully,
since the last thing that happened to me which was the best & worst thing
a box full of orphaned malt whiskey, actually – & it’s then I realise
that no, you are just the best thing, by-passing any Tina Turner derivative
& you’re the best, just simply by being. They’re saying it is too early & new
for us to be wooed by one another’s woos, & they may be right,
but thinking on that today or tonight is not quite what we had in store.

Every new tilt & fresh angle of your face makes me
take notes of how to place you in a pack of people
in case I miss you & my heart races but not as much as
when I think I see that face bopping closer but mistake you in a crowd
for someone else, or that if you’re twenty plus minutes late
I know what I’m waiting for in the throng, but stop! & breathe!
I’ve got it in one – your new face in front of the boy singing songs of eyes
& hair & we leave him to compete against the man shouting JESUS
in the street, but this stepping out together is already second
nature & third date’s the charm for both of us so when family secrets

are open knowledge, & political allegiances
are wriggled out of, & the air is clear of surname shaming
& we know each other’s fears of water & cars – it is clear
we cannot go anywhere else, not even to Devon by plane nor boat,
not that you had planned to, or I had an extra ticket –
so we might as well stay here, for the life that’s left in it.

Now I get that justified ends with all the means are great
when waiting is calming because then you finally arrive
& talking is soulful because then you get to laugh
& dancing is bearable because then you get to sit down
& asking a question is wonderful because then you get an answer

& spend the late & early hours in lamplight lying,
clasped together on this faux leather sofa fit for one,
under cotton blankets, playing piano on your wrist,
a world’s attention on these delicate runs, repeating
in grace so that only you can hear & it is good.

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