3 short poems (2)

by Neil McCarthy

When the night is early


When the night is early enough

for the stars to count and the sea

just a silhouette against the neon,

and this rock beneath us the only

throne we will ever own, I sit close 

to you, trying not to disturb the heron

paused on stilts in the tidal silt,

waiting for the water.



Clear as my conscience may be, you still haunt me

as the brown settles to black


sit there and recommence as if nothing had ever happened,

your hands conducting the orchestra of your purity.


We are now at the age, it seems, where clich├ęs suffice to

regale the years and talk of how kind they have been,

naivety a scapegoat for the slips.


The child in me wants to take you down, come up with

some playground retort to send you packing;

the man in me wants to feel nothing,


sit and run my finger down the side of my pint glass,

and look straight through where the dark stuff used to be.




for Alex


How many times, singing, have I

untied your laces, pulled

off your shoes and held

one to my nose, pretending

to sniff some foul odour

if only to make you laugh?


As you grow older you will

forget such gestures; the

world as you come to know

it, an open envelope of

good news and bad. From

dependent to child to boy to

adult; an alphabet sung backwards.