Everything would have to come out. Everything does eventually. It all rolls through a hole in a pinball machine. Whether through the pores. Or the tear ducts. Or the mouth. Or out of your arse. There was no need for further explanation.

In the past 24 hours, Francesca met a boy. He looks like a young Alfie Gallagher as in ‘Life! The song, according to Alfie’ – My imaginary poem that hasn’t yet been written. Why do we feel a stinging rejection? Even when we haven’t necessarily been rejected? Flashback. I was tired and had not been intending going out that night. At that moment I did not feel equal to talking shite to a stranger. Let alone try to be charming. My charm had tried up, died up. Well scratch that. Not quite true. It was all being funneled into the dance. Beats. At that moment I couldn’t step out and attempt a verbal entanglement – one with no clear resolution. No guarantee of well-oiled social cohesion. I didn’t want to push myself? Or it just didn’t come naturally to me? Anyway I urged her forwards. I’ll say one thing for me. I’ve never been a cock block. In fact, I would go so far as to say I’ve actively enabled cock action – on the part of others. Not so great at it myself it has to be said. Why is the pen is an automatic writing? Is it meditation in a pen stroke? Is it the cut out method of word choice? Is it, is it, is it, what is it? Birdsong so sweet. Twowhowhip TwipTwipToo Twowoowheeip. It can’t be phonetically spelt. Well Joyce would probably have had a good crack at it. He nailed that miaow. Inspiration is not striking and that’s when you have to keep on writing. Just go at speed and then it will feed your need. To go. Just like now. Just like then. Just like when you said you loved me. Only you never actually said that. And I wouldn’t have expected you to. Nobody would have. Everybody would be extremely shocked to hear that. How do you write? Do you have an idea in your head? And then you try to crystallise it? Something inside trying to get out. Struggling. Punching the air. Going look at me. I can be free. I can go, go, go light as air. Stop talking about the weather. Yes, everyone knows that’s a pack of 52 jokers. And we use it to fill the gaps. Step on a crack break your mother’s back. The good thing was that in the car – on that first journey – you didn’t feel the need to be arsed with small talk. Your son even quipped ‘God, way to stick to the small talk da!’ Then I felt we were connecting. I like your smile. But then when I looked at you in 2D in a photo I wish you didn’t have a fringe like that. You don’t need it to frame your face, it goes down in little spikes. Kind of like icicles. It’s not au courant. But then again, you probably don’t give a shite. It’s become part of you. The way everything does seem to become a part of you. Somehow. Bloody eventually. It’s quite maddening really. Always so close in the corners of my mind’s pockets. But it’s like it’s trapped in the lining. You try to empty it out to find something tangible. Something you can actually hold in your hand and say I have this. I’ve got you. But it’s not that simple when it’s a baby stone trapped in the lining. You might have to take your entire coat off. Dismantle your protective barrier. That could awkwardly disrupt life’s flow. Like if you were at a checkout and all the other customers had to wait while you took your coat off. Tried to find a hole somewhere, root it out with your finger. And then trace it all along the spine of the lining. And it might still be hard to find and hard to grasp. And you might not be at a checkout. You might be doing something so mundane like living your life. Looking after your kids in your slippers. “Me slippers.” They’re slippery your slippers. Did you ever pause to consider that? Hmm? Anyhow where were we? Ah yes the lining. So you might have to take your coat off. And depending on the circumstances of your life, that might mean nothing more than a temporary blast of coldness. Or if it was hectic, like non-stop-hectic like standing in a five deep queue where someone has already been fucking about trying to buy a pack of cigarettes by putting €8 on their card and paying the rest in cash. But there’s a 25 cent surcharge for using their card which they wanted to pay in cash but it got put on the card and now they’re into an unauthorised overdraft on their card and need a refund – then you might not have a moment. And you could go through the rest of your life knowing that precious (Is it precious? I think it’s precious) feeling that stone coin rattling about in the lining. Knowing it’s there. Feeling its potential powers beat like a drum. Itching, itching and rattling through your life. But if you could just take a moment. A single, solitary moment. Before you go any more grey you silver fox! Where you could take the coat off, unfurl it. Then slowly crack through and slant at just the right angle. It would go rolling, rolling and plop. Then hold it gold and glistening in your hand. The heat emanating. It was in you – your gold all along. You were the originator who put it there. Maybe someone else gave it to you. But it was definitely, indirectly or directly, very much because of you that it ended up in your pocket. And indirectly or directly because of you that it slipped through into the bloodstream. A multicoloured dream coat although anyone plebeian enough would probably call it black. Well sir you’re holding it in your hand and feeling its drum beat pulse and echo your heart. It’s stirring. Don’t spend it all at once.


Sure-footed pride
Sauntered in deep-rooted humility
Derry, you are soft in the soft hours
A maiden unfurling her mane.

Soft as the Donegal birr
Steeped in a splinter more fire
Forever the underdog
Sister to the oppressed
Yet you somehow tread
In grace.

Derry they had to call you stroke city
Because you hold too much
Too many
To be contained
In just one name.

Derry, you are Martin McGuinness
The uniform consensus
Can’t decide
What to make of you either
But no matter what they call you
You will still stretch
Your hands across the divide

Even if
You never manage to meet.

Derry, no wise man
Would ever mess
With one of your women
Because just like you they somehow
Despite it all
Are warriors
Who know
Their worth.

Your quick-witted irreverence
And unwilling to show the world
Just what you have to give
Defences of a walled city
Derry, you are hard in the hard hours
But your generosity
Will always


I wanted to go out and dance in the rain like a child. My soul had already gone out in front of me. Floating like the dancer on the stage. Arching forwards, aching, limbering out, climbing fairy-footed into a stretch, grace gliding and I too wanted to move. My body was moving in hers, echoing her footsteps, treading the air, slipping away like a wisp, a wisp of cotton, gossamer, freedom. Striking our love and I know that you will never belong to me. On the stage. Inspiring others to stretch like a cat. Into the sunshine. Into the smile. Into the glory. And give them a purpose. A carefree playfulness. Like a child dancing in the rain. And I wish I could stretch into your arms again. Your poetry lives not in the lines. But in your life. You are a poem. Out of this world. Circling into our orbits. Making existence richer. The rain misting down I could barely feel it on my body. But yet I felt it. Touching. Skin. Fleeting. Bliss and gone. Yet your hope burns on. Trickling down, trickling down. Into the pores. Caressing. Guiding. The light.

Chaos Before The Last Day

Of entrails.
Gluttonous fat deals
Dripping hot sumptuous on molten train rails.
Mangy dog heels
To whine on his recline on a bed of nails
Hammered by slippery electric eels
And now pedal fast boy on your wheels
See glorious concrete hardened by steels
Wash, wash, wash, but grit you shit under your fingernails
Why, this is what you wanted as the bell peals.
Zap-ting, zap-ting, ting-ting-ting-ting go your microwave meals.
Greasing up your desperate bid to burn on among writers of great tales
But selfie, self loathing, self loving mastery, your progress is as slow as a snail’s
And soon, the filmy transcribe of time, your dignity steals
They say that love heals
But I don’t give a damn, I just want all the feelz.
Sewed into a corner by the bloodied strands – trails of entrails
The mighty man kneels

Before God
And Prays.

(C) Gilliam Hamill: 14/02/17

Apollo House

“Anyone can become homeless”
Reassurance –
Handed out along with scarves, hats and socks –
To Natasha
From under cardboard;
Up through tears caught in throat
“We’ve been working all our lives.”

Politicians attempt to atone for inaction
Telling us Natasha
Has “a complex set of needs”
All she and her partner asked for,
Was a blanket.

Of which we had run out.
Unable to carry more
Of Apollo’s treasure trove of donations,
In our arms.

A man sleeping in a man-shaped cardboard box
Outside the Gaiety Theatre
Told us he had everything he needed.
But when pressed
Maybe socks.
If you have them.
A five-pack of thick black men’s from Dunnes Stores
Lighting up his face
Inspiring more joy
Than any Christmas present so dull
Has the right to provoke.

The streets making it
Weirdly comforting
To know that if you have ten euro
You can buy a chair
In a 24-hour internet café
In a den
Where misfortune is a

The 50-odd sandwiches all gone
Made earlier in the kitchen
The butter satisfying
In smushing into bread
Pasting into more even coverage
Ridged by uniform tracks of lightweight plastic knife
The more we got into
The rhythm.

For a fleeting fancy
I imagined a sensory perception
Of a memory
Which it wasn’t.
But all the same;
I remembered.

Standing in my parents’ bedroom that morning
The radio announced
Eglinton Primary School closed for the day
A mark of respect
My mother raging.
“What about the parents
who have to go to work?”

There was no option
But for me to go with Mrs Keys
A woman of the church
Who naturally headed for Faughanvale Presbyterian Church Hall
To cater
To a palpable sense of shock

Northern Ireland’s tragedy had reached
Our doorstep
A massacre;
Shooting in Greysteel
Horror greeted by
The Rising Sun.

A stalwart crew of pensioned ladies of the congregation
Making sandwiches
And 10-year-old me, the youngest by several decades
Put on buttering duty.

At both times
A crisis
Bringing a community together
To heal hurts.
To make sandwiches.

Unable to lay longer in our bubble
Where we think pain caused
By our society’s divisions
Doesn’t affect us.
Because it happens to other people.
When something like this happens;
We realise, it doesn’t.
It happens
To us.

In a crisis
Always tea and sandwiches
To let people
Clear away the plates
Of our remorse.

Back at Apollo
I felt close
To my buttering companion
A kind woman
Unsung grace,
Spreading love.

A warmth echoed throughout the building
Where the men who got the water running
Also plumbed in
A piece of their heart.

We didn’t forget our promise
To Natasha
After the shift finished
Drove over
With a horse blanket.
Waterproof exterior
And fleecy lining
“Put that over yous.
It’ll help.
Keep you warm.”

So fucking unfair
Any human being in Ireland’s centenary year
Should be left to be
For scrap of kindness
Designed for animal.

But already
Booting back to O’Connell Street
To the illegally parked car.
Grateful to get back
To the warmth
Of our homes.

Home Sweet Home
But galvanised.
And needing
To do more.

Canal walk home

What is it
About the power
of the water
To heal hurts

Three lads sit on the boardwalk
They hardly look like delicate
And yet they gaze out
The rushing rippling mottles of the
Undulating lake
Can soothe souls.

Car lights are reflected in
Striking streaks, always dappling
Buzzy thrill of
Modern pyrotechnics
In the most basic of
Science laws.

Edged by banking sycamore leaves
I took one and put it in my pocket
To describe it better.
The smell of its earthy salt and bark
And the bare elegance
Of stripped black branches
Spearing themselves into the night air
Soldered into the genesis
Of life
And yes they are
Wild quiet.

A little further on
There’s a piece of street art says
Only the river runs free
And maybe that’s the attraction
Of this portal into liberty.

And then to gaze down the row
Through Camden Street from Portobello
The multi-potted chimney tops
Sophisticated lego bricks
Pricked by the Edwardian arc
Of ornate street lights.

The red car lights more dense
The further in you go
Speeding up into
A crescendo
Of urban adrenalin
As if in a movie
And the cameras were moving in
Drawing you in

Quick, quick slow

For all your talk
Of dalliances with the dark
Don’t you know that they are
One and the same.

The splendour of the curvature of the
veins in a leaf’s skin
Echoed with variations
Of trickled threads of gold.
Are as a naked woman’s
Crystallised spine
Waiting for your touch
Nymph and nature
They are one and the same.

But purity
Glorying in freedom
In liberated breeze
There is no need for


(c) Gillian Hamill 8/11/2016

Ophelia down by the canal

The water it is so tempting

Through the sheet of silver slithers of glass

Sluices the voice of your sister sprite born in 1963 and

I baptise you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit

Into the ether

And I pray that you may not

Be born again.


Cast off nymph woven from steel-corrugated gossamer

Love refuses to wrap his muscle-hacked arms

Around you

And you have always slipped through

The net.


(c) Gillian Hamill

Connect the dots

Pain can flow through the lines in between,

Weaving stitch memories on the task of joining.


But as long as there are clearly defined dots.

Centres of joy.

Structure will hold.


That is why I write

To anchor those dots.

Through the multifarious doldrums of continuity

In my mind.




My soul is saddening.


And crying out to the wolves.


Take me away. No answer.

Take me away. Louder.

Take me away. Hysterical.


But while geographically there were many places she could have gone to.

In reality there was no place left to go.


His flinty eyes of malice recognised this.

And licking his lips. Charged.


Through sinew and synapse chomped.

No morsel left to be spat out.


Only her emptiness lingered

He could not wrap his jaws around

What did not exist.


That seething chasm of nothingness


Every second, every minute, every hour, every day.

Swallowing all hope in its midst

And mainlining the remaining smulch into veins of her ill-begotten offspring.


Why, the wolves of course.

Ravenous little critters.


Engorged breasts of black milk

Mewling malevolence howled.

But madre macerated could not answer with a kiss.

Consumed by her own despair.