I Like to Undress You by Phone
hear your lips part,
your tongue draw moisture,
feel your mind as each garment slips.
I like for us to talk like this
and drain the sadness from the pools
in our eyes.
How thin you’ve grown.
Your hair smells of pine.
My hands are alive in its leaves.
The trees are full of song.
The Men’s Clinic
Here in this peach-lit zone, where they play My Baby
Don’t Care For Me, a receptionist, who could charm
salts from gallstones, points to a water cooler
and leaves me to fill in a questionnaire.
Posters advertise how to feel lumps men disown,
warn of mobiles irradiating bones,
erectile difficulties, prostate cancer.
I sit in sweat; fear the swelling that has grown
in my testicle, listen to staff advise each other
on love and loans. Told no one. Silenced my phone.
I settle for the agony columns, scratch my balls,
the only male to have shown up.
I consider painless ways to go.
A video plays Men and Lumps. My name is called
on an intercom. Not until it’s uttered three times do I go.
The Apostle of Dancers
He was last seen at the Matchmaker’s Festival
in County Clare. Women remarked on his footwork,
how he held them at afternoon tea dances
and dusk-shuffles, that he had the gift
as if he’d been dancing from birth, inquired
whether their details could be passed on
when he re-emerged. Perhaps he is still dancing.
He never stood still at home or at school.
Mother’s shelves are full of his trophies
awarded before he was ordained.
His landlady’s arthritis disappeared when he led her
in a quick-trot round the floor. She still feels
the kiss on her cheek, the hands on her waist,
the words he said. The media dubbed him;
‘The John Travolta of the Altar’.
‘The Fred Astaire of Co. Clare'.
There is no shortage of sightings,
from Knock to Lourdes,
in ballrooms and discos,
on the floor of ocean liners,
doing the Flamenco in Madrid.
There’s talk of a film. Given the prayers father
and the parish recite, mother is assured
God must have too much on, or the prayers
have been lost in transit. Either way, I pray
his feet will bring him home for Lent, to join
us in the fast, away from all temptation,
the lure of music and flesh. Mother’s tongue
is never still when she visits me in the convent.
The Personal Column
To have the seed, the bristle, the arms,
share in all that comes,
To cart the world, build an ark
out of words,
a place to bask.
Someone not parched or starched.
A heart uncharted.
Copyright © Owen Gallagher 2015