Mordechai in Slogger, 1974

Mordechai in Slogger, 1974


rooting through books in a box outside

‘Barney’s Remainders’ in Bermondsey,

Rambling Boy was marked at one and sixpence.


‘one and six? Barney won’t miss it.’


stuffing the book in my jacket pocket,

I nicked it.


I read it avidly, 

losing myself in Mordechai Sweeney’s

tragi-comic world of whimsy

where everyone sang,

everyone danced, everyone drank,

and celebrated living –

in good times or bad.


I made it my mission to meet him,

make him my friend,

and get, if I could,

an introduction to his agent.


I sleuthed him to Slogger, (not in the atlas)

but Slaugar, in Mayo, seemed near enough,

so I flew out to Dublin - Aer Lingus.


no one in Mike Molloy’s bar, (Westport)

had seen Sweeney since summer,

but offered directions

and wished me luck,


‘he’s partial to a drop of Paddy.’ 


I bought a bottle.


the cottage door was ajar.

I knocked - no answer.


walking in and tripping over

unopened letters, garden tools,

and a rusted bicycle,

I followed my nose

to the faintly warm kitchen.


Sweeney smelled faintly of urine,

dozing on a tattered leather armchair

under a full-sized tiger skin -   

(filched from a flea market stall in Fermanagh )

grey hair pony-tailed,

one eye black patched -

he looked bizarre,

a washed-up buccaneer.  


a turntable played - on repeat - Kathleen Ferrier singing Mahler.


with Rambling Boy in one hand, the Paddy in the other,

I woke him, asking, ‘how you doing?’


Sweeney stirred, then spotting the bottle, grunted,

‘rinse a cup – there’s one in the sink.’


I filled his glass, my cup, and asked,

‘where do you source your inspiration?’



he sighed,

gazed into nowhere

and lapsed into muttering.


‘I loved a wife... love wasn’t enough... she left me...

I have a family... they ignore me...

I had a muse I adored... but she despised me...

I wake with a hard-on... it soon goes soft on me...

I split to Ireland... nosey bastards still find me...

everyone... everything... slips away...’


I opened my notebook, licked my pencil,

‘so you draw from the well of a broken heart?’


the black patch yielded a trace of tear,

‘I might if I had a heart to break...’


I poured him another.


a long silence,

a bittersweet smile,

a slow folding into sleep.


I caught his glass as it fell to the floor

and gently closed the cottage door.





◄ Silent Night [a seasonal pome]

Tiresias takes the bus ►



Mon 13th Jan 2020 17:50

Don, Charles Bukowski, USA poet - has some good stuff among piles of dross. Google him - my first degree dissertation was on him and his work with especial reference to entropy (I used to be half-intellectual, now I'm half-baked) 😃

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Don Matthews

Mon 13th Jan 2020 12:02

I also 'liminate pomes from my body
Pomes full of wisdom and wit
'xept mine don't come out from my rear end
My rear end's reserved for yes, it......

Dunno who Bukowski is......



Mon 13th Jan 2020 10:13

Thanks, Cynthia - I harboured expectations that this might be my last poem however I have a further one "Tiresias on the bus" and that might well be my last - we never can tell - these things cannot be squeezed out - unlike Bukowski who wrote, "I eliminate waste from my body... and poems" 😃

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Cynthia Buell Thomas

Sat 11th Jan 2020 14:37

Fabulous. You hook and you hold with great power.


Sun 29th Dec 2019 11:18

Thanks, Don, I had 3 endings - one where he died, one where he chucked his glass at the tosspot interloper and one where he went back to sleep - in view of the season I opted for the last one 😃

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Don Matthews

Sat 28th Dec 2019 21:56

I like it Rick......

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