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Ronnie is upbeat. It’s what he does best. Whenever
the team loses he’ll be the first to say: ‘Look lads,
we’ll be back next year, stronger than ever.’

The same when his wife walked out. ‘You don’t get it,’ she said.
He hadn’t a clue what it was he didn’t get. In no time he was down
the pub telling good-ones about wives walking out on their husbands.

Fierce craic altogether fair play to him, you’d nearly have to laugh.
No one knew what he really felt, about anything. He didn’t know.
He wouldn’t let himself. And there he is now, with his lopsided

smile, jollying up the nursing staff and the cleaners. The consultant,
who has seen it all before, says: ‘Give him a couple of days. The grief of it
hasn’t hit him yet.’ It took a week, but when the dam burst there was no stopping.

The tears of a lifetime. And what he’s remembering is the morning
after he turned eleven, his mother giving him a slap across the face
for calling his sister a thief. Later on, above in the hay-shed

he sobbed his eyes out, then gritted his teeth. ‘They’ll never see
me crying again.’ Which they didn’t, until this.

Michael McCarthy

Taken from The Healing Station, published by The Poetry Business. Available at

Scenes from The Passion – The Evening

There is an alley
where you can go,
where you can kiss
someone’s mouth
until you climb
inside them, force
your way in, push
your cells into their cells
and became one
creature – angelic.
It isn’t the way
you’d dream it.
There is piss,
dew damp moss crawling
across the brick.
Some nights it is so dark
you must enter only
by touch.
Walk by in the light
and it will seem
like nothing.
The scripture
is written by wenches:
4eva, L+J, I.T.A.L.Y.
A heart jagged in two.
But what you’ll find there,
it’s not love,
it’s not weighed
down with that,
it’s feathers, air,
an at-once exultation
of being not
of this time, this body,
this shut-down town.
I never went there,
I promise you.
I never knew
such sweet violence.
Though there are mornings now,
miles from that place,
when I wake
with the thought of it:
wet and bitten, half-

Liz Berry


The way-gone stare of your
elsewhere eyes,
weather-wall lean-to,
salted hide.

One more tribeless totem
propped-up on the side of the road
with the cracked surfboards, driftwood oars,
and all the rest: dispossessed.

Said they'd be back
later that year.

When the rains had passed
and the nights, grown longer.

But you don't really hear the traffic now,
plied by the waves in this as well.
The tender, thieving waves.
The hush and sigh of a distant swell.

What have they taken from you?
Down by the water's edge
where so many broken things
are breaking further still.

David Wood


‘I passed beyond the unreality of the thing
represented, I entered crazily into the spectacle, into
the image, taking into my arms what is dead’
Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida

After communion, some sunday lunch,
the garden.
Three generations line up
bucket smiles for us.
There's me at the end—
lips flared in acceptance that
memory is sometimes shared.
White knuckles crack

against the net of the lens.
Pupils make irises
shrink in the shade,
sink in a face made cherubic
by pale skin glowing with
overexposure; sulphur burns
blur its edges.

Translucent waif — chased
from childrens' wards to the Word.
Wrapped by my Grandfather's arm
and the sandalwood scent of his robes.
His mountains and ministry hang
love and truth on a small stretched chest.

Keen as my newly needed razor,
flowers wilt at feet washed
by storms of serotonin
misfiring all spring
until the garden — the world —
reeks of almonds and wounds.

Now flatline lips flicker
as a grasshopper mimics a camera's click.
Then they twitch: That's it! Or maybe. It was.

Benjamin Dorey

Kindly republished here by permission of the author. Taken from Route 57 Issue 11, available at


Next article in issue 86

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