Brendan Cleary Poems


for Lorna
Every Sunday
I play Nina Simone's
‘My baby just cares for me'
& with a different flower
in your hair every week
you spring out from the bar
& I leave the mixing desk
& we dance with our hangovers,
yes we dance around the bar
& last week we ended up
outside briefly on Lewes Road
in the petrol hazes
& we even waltzed
out to the beer garden
& everybody smiles
when we dance together
to ‘My baby just cares for me'
& for a few precious minutes
it's as if we have all swallowed the moon
& everyone is lighter
& the world might not ever end.... more »

Not Yet

for Michaella

hardly surprising
your Dad on the phone
explaining in graphic detail
the intricate laws of physics
when you say you're convinced
if you persevere that is
in the madness & chaos & wind
eventually you'll levitate

that's quite a lot of cushions
to be stacking up
& keep the best China
at the bottom of the other kitchen

keep your balance & concentrate
forget about your Da
think only of lonely angels
think about the dew this morning
or the frost all over the rooves

keep focus! steady girl!
you can do it!
& I'll wait for you somehow

sure look out at those stars winking
I've built a stairway up to them... more »


Father Dillon
at your grave
hands me
a plastic shovel
full of dust
in the bitter wind
& then nods
as I fling it in
then take out
your Man United cap
& throw it down
on top of you
inside that coffin


3 days
before you fell
over dead
on the concrete
near the green bit
with Rusty
& the teabag
in the Bunny mug
near the kettle
you reckoned
you were the only eejit
in the whole UK
who'd backed Boston United
in your £5 4-timer
& they were losing
3-nil at half-time
so I said ‘Face
I did them too'
& we gently laughed
& then you went away


on your sofa blocked
& you've explained
how you're goin' to
cancel your Sky subscription
for the 3rd time
in 20 minutes
& you've hit the brew
with all the stress
of havin' to print
the Giros as well
as issuing them
telling me straight
‘honest Brian
it'll drive me
to a heart attack'
& all about that bitch
Tattoo Tit
& the other boss
you told me often
was a total wanker


Keith's crying
at the bar
telling me
he's sent
a ‘few wee texts'
to your dead
phone since
like the time
O'Shea scored
in the last minute
against the Scousers


I remind
Peter Kirby
at your wake
about the fire
in your chimney
& as he knelt
in his uniform
on your hearth
you wound him up
saying it was great
to see a West Ham man
on his knees
underneath your poster
of King Eric Cantona


that lad tells me
of his vodka past
& how you followed him
into the jakes once
to see if there was anything
you could do
when his wife
was goin' through
‘a wee cancer scare'


during the World Cup
with the curtains drawn
& cider & specials at 6am
a whole gang of you
& Andy spilled his
so Rusty licked it up
& you were outraged
about him sending your dog
back to re-hab


yesterday in the gloom
I found the photo
of you & Alex Best
the night George came
to The Dobbins
for the Carrick club
& got blocked
on white wine
so I place you & her
on the little table
near the kitchen door
where you'd keep match tickets
a few old badges and programmes
& a few old passport photos
of you in the 70s
when you had hair
loads of it and a moustache
& looked like a Brazilian footballer


old Tommy Killen
reckons one day
during Deal or No Deal
he turned around
& asked you
‘well Martin?'
& you were there
on that stool he swears
‘I fuckin' saw him
Brendan I swear!'
but later he came back
from the jakes
clutching the barstools
& the rail on the bar
but you weren't helping him back
the way you used to


no dog sanctuary would do
& it was no good
sending her down
to D Root's outhouse either
as he told me himself
when you were over
in the Amblehurst
at the Birmingham game
she just cried and yelped
& wouldn't settle
for the whole weekend
until you came back
lifted her onto your knee
& tickled her tummy


let's go back there together
parties on Christmas Eve
up in your bedroom
in 55 Cable Road
with the Kate Bush poster
loads of us blocked
& the day Mama asked
Davy Root to come down
to collect the sandwiches
on the Pope's commemorative plate
& Big Tag drinkin' the peach schnepps
down in one from a pint glass


just inside the gates
of the cemetery
their heads bowed
4 guys in suits from the Carrick club
from The Windrose
where you watched United games
with Norwegian commentary
& I remember thinking
as they stepped forward
how you'd like it
they'd turned up
& were about to take
a lift of your coffin... more »

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