Wild Court

An international poetry journal based in the English Department of King’s College London

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.