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FACE (poem) - Brendan Cleary - Ireland - Poetry International
 
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FACE
Father Dillon
at your grave
hands me
a plastic shovel
full of dust
in the bitter wind
& then nods
as I fling it in
then take out
your Man United cap
& throw it down
on top of you
somewhere
inside that coffin
 
*
 
3 days
before you fell
over dead
on the concrete
near the green bit
with Rusty
& the teabag
in the Bunny mug
near the kettle
you reckoned
you were the only eejit
in the whole UK
who’d backed Boston United
in your £5 4-timer
& they were losing
3-nil at half-time
so I said ‘Face
I did them too’
& we gently laughed
& then you went away
 
 *
 
on your sofa blocked
& you’ve explained
how you’re goin’ to
cancel your Sky subscription
for the 3rd time
in 20 minutes
& you’ve hit the brew
with all the stress
of havin’ to print
the Giros as well
as issuing them
telling me straight
‘honest Brian
it’ll drive me
to a heart attack’
& all about that bitch
Tattoo Tit
& the other boss
you told me often
was a total wanker
 
*
 
Keith’s crying
at the bar
telling me
he’s sent
a ‘few wee texts’
to your dead
phone since
like the time
O’Shea scored
in the last minute
against the Scousers
 
*
 
I remind
Peter Kirby
at your wake
about the fire
in your chimney
& as he knelt
in his uniform
on your hearth
you wound him up
saying it was great
to see a West Ham man
on his knees
underneath your poster
of King Eric Cantona
 
*
 
that lad tells me
of his vodka past
& how you followed him
into the jakes once
to see if there was anything
you could do
when his wife
was goin’ through
a wee cancer scare’
 
 *

during the World Cup
with the curtains drawn
& cider & specials at 6am
a whole gang of you
& Andy spilled his
so Rusty licked it up
& you were outraged
about him sending your dog
back to re-hab
 
*
 
yesterday in the gloom
I found the photo
of you & Alex Best
the night George came
to The Dobbins
for the Carrick club
& got blocked
on white wine
so I place you & her
on the little table
near the kitchen door
where you’d keep match tickets
a few old badges and programmes
& a few old passport photos
of you in the 70s
when you had hair
loads of it and a moustache
& looked like a Brazilian footballer
 

 
old Tommy Killen
reckons one day
during Deal or No Deal
he turned around
& asked you
well Martin?’
& you were there
on that stool he swears
‘I fuckin’ saw him
Brendan I swear!’
but later he came back
from the jakes
clutching the barstools
& the rail on the bar
but you weren’t helping him back
the way you used to
 
*
 
no dog sanctuary would do
& it was no good
sending her down
to D Root’s outhouse either
as he told me himself
when you were over
in the Amblehurst
at the Birmingham game
she just cried and yelped
& wouldn’t settle
for the whole weekend
until you came back
lifted her onto your knee
& tickled her tummy
 
*
 
let’s go back there together
parties on Christmas Eve
up in your bedroom
in 55 Cable Road
with the Kate Bush poster
loads of us blocked
& the day Mama asked
Davy Root to come down
to collect the sandwiches
on the Pope’s commemorative plate
& Big Tag drinkin’ the peach schnepps
down in one from a pint glass
 
*
 
just inside the gates
of the cemetery
their heads bowed
4 guys in suits from the Carrick club
from The Windrose
where you watched United games
with Norwegian commentary
& I remember thinking
as they stepped forward
how you’d like it
they’d turned up
& were about to take
a lift of your coffin