aftermath – September 2001

I am waiting

quietly observing

silently hoping

to be surprised


to hear good tidings

I am waiting

to learn that reason

will suffice


ever aware

yet scarcely prepared

for what may come

with the new day’s rise


in trepidation

I am waiting


it is raining

hard rain falling from a dreich sky

dour clouds hanging dismally low

the trees outside the window

drip, drip, dripping

adding to a deluge of sound

no wind blows

a vertical cascade surrounds the house

a shroud of late September gloom

and the whisky is diminishing


I roll the golden warmth around my tongue

savour the bittersweet taste

of an indifferent blend

swallow and follow its course

my gullet filled with a fiery glow


a swarm of flies plagues the room

crawling across the counterpane

buzzing my head

seven are counted hovering above the bed

I wage war

twist a magazine into a deadly roll

thwack! got you… thwack! missed

thwack! thwack! thwack!

two down, five more to go

carcasses flicked carelessly to the floor

thwack!… missed again


hard rain falling

daylight fading

the wound-licking whisky


save the last

must this be the last

turn across the floor

a final waltz with death

music over, beat ended?


or dare I, waiting by your hospital bed

hold out hope that you might yet

gather me in your arms again

guide me through the twisting steps

the gay, giddy pirouettes

tripping the light fantastic

as I absorb your body’s warmth

your laughing eyes and joyous smile?


Charles, my love

won’t you please hold on a while

shake this disease and

find the strength to share

at least one more

life-affirming dance with me?


looked down upon by

well-heeled professionals and manual labourers alike

disdained by

social workers and healthcare practitioners

fucked over by

corrupt judges,  politicians and lawyers

marginalised by

an immoral media and sham educators

demonised by

pious clergy who point the finger

abhorred by

holier-than-thou women who hide behind her

she is someone’s mother, everyone’s sister

your daughter, our neighbour

abused child, raped teenager

battered spouse, exploited worker





the lowest

of the low

she is the scapegoat

the one we pretend not to know

would never dream of living with

but are not prepared to live without

our children

without their consent

they come to us

and barring accident

or congenital weakness

they come

perfectly formed


unsullied by experience

receptive to nurture

open to possibility

vulnerable to abuse


and what, pray tell

do we have to offer them?

in Bia Bar, Dublin

the hip Irish set hang out

with overseas students

and foreign workers

speaking in tongues as diverse

as the international mix

of salsa, reggae and afro beats

the dance floor jumping

craic flowing, couples flirting

and me watching in fascination

as Maryam

a twenty one year old wonder

moves with easy grace

large Arabian eyes of Celtic blue

in her unadorned face

an Irish-Iraqui mix

of delicate beauty

smart, vivacious

and incredibly attractive

despite her skinny frame

she takes my breath away

while Galway sleeps

down on the waterfront

a half moon hangs over the town

tiny lights flicker across the bay

a lamentation of swans slip softly by

magnificent, magical apparitions

drifting serenely in the midnight calm


a stranger breaches my peace

with talk of sex and his want

alas, on a night such as this

he is moved only to speak

of a pathetic desire

for physical release


the mood has shifted

and I move quickly on

that crude intrusion

having brought me rudely back

to the less than magical

world of men


and so the story goes

again, and again, and again…


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