Tomato, onion, and cheddar toasted sandwiches
and cold pints of Guinness pulled slowly
                from the tap.
During the hour that it takes for
the stout to settle, my cousins take pains
to explain how the claxon of strength
does not travel well, how it tastes different
county to county moving out and away from Dublin.
And two sandwiches later I’m finally drinking
as my next eases into its glass.

Sunday evening at Morgan’s, crammed
shoulder to shoulder with family, families,
and shepherds. When Rita turned, Jimmy
slipped vodka into his orange soda
for purely medicinal reasons. He rang up Harps,
Carlings, and stouts, fags, crisps, and pops
                for the tots.
His raspy baritone held the Rose of Tralee.
When finished he brought rounds out
for the musicians and bade them play more
      for the stars had begun to shine.

The North wasn’t discussed. The divorce
referendum—the button issue—was on ballot
for the first time. The masses sang on key.
They moved in time. A bodhrán greened
the tempo to jig speed, and before I knew
just how smoky it could get
Down by the Salley Gardens,
sweat heavied my homeland spun
                wool garments.
I knew no lyrics but reeled drunk with them
      as the young and foolish are wont to do.

At evening’s end I was a beautiful young man.
I had been invited round for a spot of tea
the following day: three towns, two counties.
I would travel well.

About the author

Sean has swum with whale sharks in Mexico and has been out-boozed by Franciscan monks in Ireland. Damsel fish in the Philippines found Sean…

Read the full bio

Issue 19 · December 2013

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