A Man Alone


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Stephen O'Donnell's short stories have appeared in various publications. To find out more visit: http://bit.ly/stizzle0dizzle

Image of Short Circuit - Short Circuit #08

© Short Édition - All Rights Reserved

Your widow came in to the bank today
Waving the certificate of your suicide around;

I go along by the cut glass of canal banks
And the bare lots where drunkards curse your name;

September is a stamped mask in the mud;
And a body count rising like a fever;

Frost under the bridges and in the lees;
Behind the station where the sun never shines,
The tent tarp withers

Fiends make their beds,
All seeing, all knowing.

Under the canvas, beneath the trestle,
Feet touch the nylon in orgasm.

Everything hanging on by a thread.
More life. What life.

Three nights of drink and abuse.
We watched your body by candlelight
A holy thing in an unholy world
Dublin, your district lines have fallen

We huddle in each other's homes, terrified.
Or trudge the damp unlit corridors, October mornings

Upstairs neighbours fumble in the darkness
As we stare at the walls and pool our hours like small change
We are fools.

With your hair curled and smelling of a stranger's bedrooms
You have been out past the turning wheel of the portside

Where have all your wharf rats gone?
Floating drowned, amid the cans and the lifebuoys

They will come to kick in the door and pry the pen from you screaming
Prison mouth of the world.
A man alone is nothing.

I live, I live, I live, heave in the darkness.
I fan the embers of your hurt.

The police came down to the bridge to move you along
Someone in the window must've seen you staring
But you were already gone

Hidden in the reeds
After dark
Beat it back to the canal

It don't get friendlier
The further along you go

Groarty went down into the dredged bed for a look.
Syringes slick with canal mud

Somone's been torching tents
Someone's been lying

I latch tight to the love
That raises me from the bed
And drives needles beneath my nails.

A thing of fire
Of sticky hot nights
And no air

Up on the hill the light burns furious
And the music yet rages
Despite the storm

3

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