Three poems by Richie McCaffery

   © Gerry Cambridge

 
 

    Dead man’s beer

 

They were bundled in a bag for life
in the garage, thirty yellow-black tins
of Boddingtons like a nest of wasps,
their presence stinging his widow.

I got the job of retrieving and
drinking them. It took me a week
to work through the lot – insipid stuff
and absolutely no hangovers.

Felt like a sin-drinker, not eater,
wishing the dead man
had thirsted for stronger brews
and lived to drink them himself.

 
 
 

    Circadian rhythms

after Donald Hall

 

Most diaries would have had it blank, that day.
We woke together late, you fed the cat, I the birds
then we made a simple breakfast together.

You had a shower, I had my bath.
We read, we worked from home, we went
for a walk to see the new fish pass on the river.

You cooked lunch, and I did dinner.
You spoke Flemish online with family.
I stuck to English on the phone with my mother.

The cat sat on both of our laps. We went
to bed together, both asleep within minutes.
It was one of the best days of my life.

 
 
 

    Trick candle

 

After Zaventem, security measures overflowed
though with each extra army machine gun
and baggage check we felt more insecure.

It’s the odd, off-key things I remember
about those red alert months when Goodbye
suddenly became more than an automatism,

how at Belgian airports, the flight companies
hired marquees, tents, tables and chairs
usually destined for weddings and parties

to deal with the delayed droves. I saw then
how we are married to this, having come
of age in a time of hatred and mistrust where

people are snuffed out as easy as cake candles
but the problem remains, ever re-igniting
like that one trick candle you can’t put out.

 
 

Richie McCaffery

About Richie McCaffery

Richie McCaffery divides his time between Ghent, Belgium where he lives with his Flemish wife and the UK. He has a PhD in Scottish literature from the University of Glasgow where he was a Carnegie scholar. He has had two collections - 'Cairn' (2014) and 'Passport' (2018) - published by Nine Arches Press. His essays on poetry have been published in places such as Studies in Scottish Literature, etudes Ecossaises, Scottish Literary Review and The Dark Horse. His poems have appeared in journals such as The North, Oxford Poetry, Ambit, The Times Literary Supplement and Magma.