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Showing posts from July, 2017

Catalogue of Husbands

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The catalogue of husbands has arrived and is as thick as a brick. Mum clears all the bits of homework and unopened letters off the dining room table and plonks it down.

‘We get a reduction if we order today,’ says mum in the voice she usually uses in front of other people. She only has a few twenty pound notes left in the bundle she found tucked into the arm of nana’s old chair.

I chew the end of a red pen and stare at the catalogue.

‘I’ve got to go for something different Lily. Men aren’t always what they seem. Just nice. Normal, you know?’

Mum flicks through the catalogue. There is one man on each page. As the pages turn, faces run into each other like a cartoon character who has swallowed a potion.

‘Let’s go to the no frills section,’ says mum, going to the back end of the catalogue.

‘But we haven’t made any rules yet mum, you said always have rules.’

Mum looks up at the ceiling, then talks while I use my best handwriting in a notebook.

‘No beards. Kind face. Likes animals. And children. …

Liz Taylor

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Going out to top up the bird seed, Liz spots Dezzy hunkered by his frozen pond. Takes her a couple of seconds to spot what’s wrong with this picture – a jump back in time. What’s the man doing there? Forgotten he sold his house?

Interfering old buzzard. He could never leave anything alone, once he’d spotted a fault.

Liz, you got a blocked gutter there.

Liz, that back door jamming again?


However much you told him not to bother, he’d wear you down in the end. March round with the appropriate tools. Every job slow and determined, the end result checked and re-checked.

Funny, but Liz can remember him as a bad lad. Smashing street lights with well-aimed bits of brick. His dad was a drinker; Liz’s mum said Dezzy would go the same way. She was wrong, though. He got a job at the car plant; stuck to it. Had some pretty girlfriends, but didn’t stick with any of them. Hard to see why. Like he didn’t want to be nobody’s property.

Liz would have had him. Not for keeping, necessarily: just the having. …

The Last Summer

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There is a light at the end

Of the Garden; garish red and

Beaming back at me, solemnly

I leave the last slivers of

Summer: assuming it will come

Around again.



The glare catches me, promises

A second chance, so I follow it

Past the covered limbs and cracked

Plastics until, I think, a voice

Rumbled deep through the serene air

Dull and plain:


‘No time this is to kill

You live here, you are complicit;

Undo your thousand deaths and leave

This desecrated space before the

Wind blows in a last cash injection.

No time this is, no time’


What does it mean? The light is

Too close to go back now, bright,

Splendid it casts its gaze on a

Child covered in black paint under

The tree. A dull sigh, a quick glance;

The golden clock is telling me – 


I have time to kill




by Stephen Durkan