Michael Egan

bruns mcdermott holt

they put erskine childers up against a wall     shot him
at paschendale kneeling  bullets           whizzed over
that side           this side           beyond the lane            in full field
his bruns brother-in-law facing him    couldn't have known that then
two weeks he went missing for             after     leeds by train
out to sea from newcastle     came back     he'd dyed his hair
no one knew it was him           at lime street      copy of riddle
of the sands
in one hand         you're a bloody riddle
laughter at the dinner table     no one mentioning
why he left   or how it'd gone       allerton cemetery
smallest of graves        he'd whistle to himself
same as my friend       whistles in his silence
his phone off for two weeks    I'm sure there's
some explanation        all's I wanted to know
was his shoe size          but none of this is true  hardly think
they saw action maybe ypres     I think I remember them
saying in ypres they might have shot each other  where'd we all be?
then the next week gone    just like that  to hamburg    see his sister
shot for desertion    grey grey       uniform mud on his boots
he'd stopped cleaning them     keeping the mud like a memory
I got through to my friend      asked had he gone?   but nowhere
just there reading erskine childers                  though half way
through              and here's a riddle      half way through
there's plato in mid flow       then back again to the water
low land      no sorry about that just needed to get away      just
for a chapter or two                    some printing error     unique
I thought          so I paid two pounds for it        they kept an old
german helmet     tinny   the type with a spike and a ceremonial
sword               it was the money he left that opened
the hat shop    where    after leeds      that was all there was
no middle of the night waking    hush   and she never let him touch
her again    she was a wall     cold and hard to his wants
each night he gave it a shot   her once soft hands gripped
her nightdress  drank it all out of himself  need
regret  they shouldn't go before you    all went out with the in of the gin.