Brendan - a Brief Encounter

Brendan - a Brief Encounter


A shock to bump into O’Byrne today,

he’s older than me, smokes sixty a day -

if there was any justice

he should have died years ago

coughing his lungs away.


'held together, probably,

by tar and bloody obstinacy.'


He was in Fruitopia wearing an ethnic hat                    

(with battered remembrance poppy attached)

buying bunches of freesias, parma violets,

tinned prunes and an out-of-date stew pack.  


I waited behind while he checked his change,


‘Come on, old bastard, we ain’t got all day.’


But we have got all day - we have all day... every day.


We have all the time in the world until

the day our world whimpers away.


O’Byrne is an artist – he’s outsold Van Gogh.

His hands are shaky and his sight? Getting worse.


‘Time to set about ‘water lilies’, mon vieux?’


His mouth laughed but not his eyes

they were watery wistful -

scanning a gallery – people, places,

long past, near and far away. 


He spoke with duende -

brief encounters

regretted, enjoyed, survived.


And poetry.


We share the same history.

Know the same things.

Had the same women.

Fought at parties.


I bent his nose once,

he blacked my eye,

over some long-forgotten

youthful fancy.


Blind to the grizzled ancient faces

bemused beneath umbrellas

Brendan stood in the drizzle

outside Larkin’s Cafe

singing, in faltering baritone,


'Mo Ghille Mear'



‘Why not?’

‘One for Cemetery Road?’

‘Lead on, old toad.’




◄ To Life (full colour version)

Mainstream Student Party ►



Sat 22nd Dec 2018 11:30

Cheers, Ray - hadn't seen the old bugger in years - the years rolled away ?

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Fri 21st Dec 2018 16:43

I sort of see Peter O'Toole and Richard Harris here Rich. Two richly lived old storytellers, a wonderful dynamic beset with historical allusions. Nice work as ever !!



Fri 21st Dec 2018 12:41

Thanks, MC - all I had was 'met so and so today - we spoke of duende' then it unravelled ?

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M.C. Newberry

Fri 21st Dec 2018 12:31

Could have been titled "Encounters Towards An Exit".
A involving vignette of past and present acquaintance, using the
vagaries of fate and promise as its identifying - and
identifiable - thread.

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