On being an author

I am an author, with an hour to spare between readings, descending

From the gallery to the tea gardens (as you do); a man, leaning

Out of the frame and over the edge above me, is calling my name.


From the audience, or from a film, something about him is familiar,

his collar hunched against the chill, the script, the pointing finger.

Flattered by the recognition of a stranger or better still, a reader,


I call back and the people pouring down the steps behind me

And the customers seated at wrought iron tables with coffee

And cakes and couples for company, they all await the finale.


Then she flies in from the wings, in a flurry of love and hair in her eyes,

A spectacular girl, pushing her way through the audience

With exclamations of delight, accompanied by violins and dry ice.


Their applause is not for me; I am ashamed and shamed.

I thought he was calling me, I say to myself, that is my name.




The oil paintings seemed to me to be all about the doppelganger

In the corner, watching our back, the ghost, the stalker,

The pencil marks under the paint and the clown and the wanker.


But in the basement, myself I found there. A photo of a derelict room,

a dark lighthouse or beach hut tomb, the paint is peeling, the gloom

and dullness fog the eyes, the dust chokes the throat, alone I lean


against the splintered door and reach my hand through the glassless window.

This is my view. Out there the sea, a great, grey rolling in of water

and I am back where I started, a view of the west coast from an Irish tower.


I wanted to pay money and own this picture of the tides taking their toll

on me, the salt rubbing my paintwork, hang the unbound ocean on my wall.

But my teeth are falling out and I have bills to pay and that is all.


At my table, in the Princes Gardens, there are two cups, two plates, two spoons.

I could send a postcard to my home address and have it forwarded to you.