Richie McCaffery – four poems


In the morning she comes down
and from the kitchen table sees
a robin cocky at the bird-feeder.
She shouts out his name, then
remembers there’ll be no reply.

She goes into the garage for a tab
and lighting up sees a mouse
making its frenetic chess moves
and again she calls out for him
realising even quicker he’s gone.

From then on the day just sinks,
going down as she climbs upstairs.
Tomorrow she’ll try all over again
and will forget to remember
to forget to speak his name.

A. K. Davidson Hall

They’re demolishing
my old halls of residence.

Fit for habitation back then
but not any longer.

The day I went back, the place
was all making and unmaking

the old pathways blocked off,
torn-up or already built upon.

I was reminded of a York hotel
where it’s said the ghosts

of Roman centurions march
through brick or stone,

following straight roads
they made for fear of bends

and meeting the ghosts
they became for never turning,

and the paths I knew
are becoming walls.

Runaway wives

I read in a copy of The Leeds Mercury
from 1797, that missing women
were known as ‘runaway wives’
as if the only reason to disappear
was to pick open the wedlock.

I am two centuries too late to join
the hunt for these fugitive brides,
having kept my eye on my mother,
decades hanging on the garden gate,
and my father happy to run off too.

A Northern accent

They say even victory does not please me
and that is true when you consider
the trophy cabinet of the cricket club –
so many cups won over the years
and no place to display them
because the joiner who built the case
made it so pessimistically small
he set the limits of our success
even before we began to play.

Richie McCaffery (b.1986) recently completed a Carnegie Trust funded PhD on the Scottish poets of World War Two, at the University of Glasgow. He now lives in Ostend, Belgium. He is the author of Spinning Plates (Happenstance, 2012), the 2014 Callum Macdonald Memorial Pamphlet Award runner-up, Ballast Flint (Cromarty Arts Trust, 2013) and the book-length collection Cairn (Nine Arches Press, 2014). Another pamphlet, provisionally entitled Arris, is forthcoming in 2017. He is also the editor of Finishing the Picture: The Collected Poems of Ian Abbot (Kennedy and Boyd, 2015).


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