Neil McCarthy

To exit this particular nightmare, please follow the illuminated floor panelling along the aisle


I can see it quite clearly, even if it’s a bit grainy, as though it were filmed on one of those Seventies cameras – the likes of which we watched Farrah Fawcett flick her hair and flirt; and there she is, gorgeous as an air hostess beside her Lee Majors, him with his hair parted to one side, both of them waiting for the flashes of press photographers the moment they step into a blizzard of confetti. There were no press photographers, of course, but the photographs were taken, printed, cropped and placed ever so deftly into a white laced album, the bow tied to keep it closed and that is how it stayed.

At least three decades must have passed for me to be thumbing through the unmarked pages of this affidavit of affection, flick animating the unknown couple through their I do’s, down the aisle and out into the shiny decorated Ford Cortina; the black and white film preserving in a split second’s flash the faces of faultless optimism. God knows how many years or decades of perusing people have passed contemplating who, if one, was the donor, and whether he or she will sleep tonight in the environs of this Saturday market, restlessly stirring every now and again to one of two particular nightmares.

Driftwood on a windy day

            for Simon Moosbrugger

Listening to Rory Gallagher in a wine bar isn’t quite right,
glancing over the window boxes down onto St. Nicholas’s
church yard where the last of the Saturday marketers begin
packing up their produce.

The French are upstairs in Sheridan’s, drinking Italian wine,
their vowels of uncertainty stretching annoyingly over
Irish Tour ’74; the sharp ones amongst us timing our statements
to have ended in time for the guitar solos.

And I’m a million miles away, two weeks ahead of myself,
as usual, traversing five lanes of traffic on a highway into
Los Angeles remembering Bowling Green, and the drunks
pin-balling past singing Silent Night, keeping us all awake.



Neil McCarthy is an Irish poet currently living in California.

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