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Paul McLoughlin (1947-2021)      about Paul      back to Paul's page

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Sanary-sur-Mer               Having the Gift

         Fishing Rights           The Garden




         She climbs out of her shift and pays

        ten francs for a lilo to the beach-boss

        who has rushed his torso and his

        squeaky voice across to share a joke.


        She adjusts the ivory teeth about her neck,

        ties her hair back, lets her breasts subside

        and slides slowly down until her legs

        are gentled firmly to a fearless V.


        Muscularities are at her feet

        like moths for volleyball

        but get no closer than retrieving

        ricochets, are left to play for real.


        The man who picks her up at five

        must be her husband, and

        the mini-belle their daughter.

        She’s serene enough.  I don’t watch


        all of this each time, of course—

        sometimes she’s lying there when I arrive.

        It’s possible that somewhere else

        you’ve heard about my ritual from her.


Paul McLoughlin

Previously published in The Frogmore Papers, No. 49

(Spring 1997) ISSN: 0956 0106

and What Moves Moves, (Shoestring Press, 2004)

ISBN: 1 904886 05 1




Having the Gift


        It’s a long way to Hollyhead by night,

        then to arrive as close to America as Ireland gets,

        to see the very picture I’d imagined in the train’s

        dark window: a whitewashed cottage with its whitewashed

        garden wall. There was a gate you had to drag

        off the ground, and a forge I’d stand outside

        at one end of a path that petered out to grass—

        and nettles I’d fall in though I’d been forever warned.


        If the cottage came while I was travelling backwards

        all those years ago through Wales, I couldn’t see

        the peat fields the men set off for every morning

        with the horse and cart. Once they did say yes, laughing,

        only to put me down in the lane. They wouldn’t be

        keeping a constant eye on me, for fear I’d disappear.


Paul McLoughlin

Previously published in The Rialto,

No. 52 Winter 2002/3 ISSN: 0268 5981





Fishing Rights


        Community means Europe trawling Norse-named shores

                with Gaelic caught in the Gaeltacht if at all.  

                Smerwick gulls, like cats-eyes, stand in shallow water

        and house-ends are sails across the bay, above the one-field farms

        that can’t afford farmers living the life of Reilly as they do.


        Armada Spanish hid in these hills and changed their names.

                Had they stayed at home till Franco made Madrid

                the centre of everything, they’d have had to buy back

        the fish transported there and eat it looking out on the water

        they’d fished it from. They’d send their haul to Dublin now.


        Like your man Joe who’d always complain, arriving late

                to set up his stall in Maine Street, that the Upper

                you go the Mainer they get. But they’ve gone,

        to England or the U.S.A., leaving a lobster pot

        to lie on its side in the sand like a sweepstake tumbler.


        A row-boat’s chained in rust to a concrete disc, beside

                a spreader that made whirling tracks around it

                in the early hours, an empty plaything with a cone.

        If there’s little left to fertilise anyway here, at least

                the lichens’ green is green - and it’s colour,


                fresh as the breeze you huddle from, you notice most,

        and the gulls, and how far back where you come from goes.


Paul McLoughlin

Previously published in Navis No. 5 (Summer 1996)

and What Certainty Is Like (Smith/Doorstop, 1998)

ISBN: 1 902382 01 3





The Garden


        Midnight under a fish-skin sky,

        the cut-out dip and rise of blackened trees dropped in

        for distance. Warnings come


        with thick black borders like mass cards

        for the dead. An untipped cigarette.

        Silly to suppose there’s life beyond those jokes of yours.


        This kind of peace. Monk’s straight-fingered

        evergreen Round Midnight will play for drinks tomorrow.

        “The original is always best.”


        Here, the night-light spent, mild air is improvising

        a disturbing calm. Find the poem you’ve been looking for,

        plundered second-hand.


        Death, it decides, becomes

        a problem of style. How are we living still and vexed

        by what we’ve achieved?


        Two late bottles of London Pride help

        create a reputation I can smile about. I take one chilled,

        the other warm, then come inside.


        Behind the central evergreen that you want rid of,

        a brick shelter is your wine vault

        and a cold retreat, its fat cigars for gardening


        and driving home from taxing days.

        Why should you want it seen?



Paul McLoughlin

Previously published in Magma 36

(Winter 2006) ISSN: 1352 9269



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