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  • Writer's pictureafricmcglinchey

Lean season

Updated: Dec 3, 2020


Either that or I’m a boat.

Usually I feel whoosh.

Cut down the bookcase, bottles of whiskey.

That’s how a car drives down here, very west cork.

I’m laughing because you should see what they say

when they stop you: Cove 13.

The tide is a dog in the lap. In a week, a minute, he turns into a mental pygmy

and I get to be the grumpy

old man at the pier – that’s my next career move.

Every tall dog operates on her hips, gets lots of loving.

More than an hour, including two, even four times,

you might get a chance.

I was vaguely aware of the lads,

and a courting couple last summer.

Enough company can fall right through.

Regulars and children are a quick red rock,

checking the slip.

I’ll sit down to look at the bottles of wine.

Three’s the alarm.

These are therapy dogs – warmer and drier than my pipe and net

or any pretty skills. One had cancer in her ear.

The vulnerable are discharged to us. All very idyllic.

Toby pisses on the cheese

and a boy on a stool; dodgy combination.

Legs on the sill and white; no substitute for days when you’re busy.

Oh dear god. This rage comes from nowhere, into position

A hot workshop, where I suggest eggs.

They all recognise a car.

Fachtna the postman spilling lollies, and Miller spilling joy.

A fly gets arrested while I stand above

at the garda checkpoint.

It’s all to do with the torches. I have the west cork works.

On the busiest mornings, they scarper.

Two had a barbecue on the boat.

The most expensive, of course, are never any good

At the minute, I can’t eat all the mackerel people bring me.

A minimum of six in these stricken years.

The last hour will give you the nod.

A resident would love to go bonkers, clear out the summer.

It’s howling outside, hence the one ear.

I was silent all night, and what the fuck, I owe him.

He’ll take on an accent, come roaring into four legs.

When kids ask, I say you should see how the other dog looked.

Toby was always just enough

to raise me up in the mornings, after Luke died .

Even water, even your mentor can be frozen.

Conscious of someone outside the scene.

It’s payback time. Nothing is amiss.

Look after yourself. It’s lovely to see you.


This experimental poem arose after a half-hour spent with a Scots friend, a lovely man who also happens to be an unofficial harbour master in a tiny West Cork cove (with special appearances from his therapy dogs, one-eared Miller and Toby, who needs an operation). The poem was also published in Pandemia, a stunning anthology of this dislocating year, edited by Patrick Cotter and published by Southword Editions, available here:

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