On the Eighth Day of Christmas we bring you Bobbie Sparrow, Frances Browner and Mike Gallagher





There were men with fat wallets
in our Christmas eve kitchen
they sat with legs spread    hands in pockets
caressing car keys    their laughter
competing with Frank Sinatra on vinyl
and the clink of ice in Gin
they would see two roads on the drive home

I played good daughter
to make parents proud    I went
to pour and hand    smile
gaze drops from eye
to breast
to waist
to knee
familiarity an excuse to put a hand on lower back

I slip away to hunt for brothers    but
turn to see him grinning under mistletoe
too polite to run    too young to make a dance of it
I see my fear in his sweat
Happy Christmas!    his alcohol lips assault

the cold wall I back into is small relief
a punch line bursts my shock
raucous roars swell from the kitchen
as he returns to the party



Bobbie Sparrow is a poetry writing Psychotherapist.  She was long listed for the Over the Edge new writer’s award 3 times and short listed for the Galway University Hospital Poetry Competition 2016. Her poems have been published in both national and international journals including Orbis, Picaroon and Skylight 47.  Bobbie was the Featured reader at the Over The Edge open Mic August 2017.
She lives on the shores of Lough Corrib, Co. Galway with her husband and their two fine sons. Bobbie finds a good poem to be a good friend.




Fairytale of New York

Thanks Ma for the twenty Christmases
You rushed forward in Arrivals
When I burst through the sliding doors.

For the drive home to Dun Laoghaire
The two of us like chipmunks chattering
The sky a fiery gold.

For the rasher and sizzling sausage breakfast,
The hot water bottle and electric blanket
Toasting my bed.

For the sneaky hot ham sandwiches after
Midnight Mass and a surprise under the tree
Long after Santa stopped coming.

For the fruit cake topped with almond icing
The sherry trifle shivering on the sideboard
Mince pies flaking in pastry.

For soaking the plum pudding with whiskey
And lighting a match to see my face glowing
In the blue flame.

For saying that Christmas began as soon
As the Pogues were played on the radio
And my flight was booked.

Fairytale of New York used to remind
you of me
This year, it will remind me of you.



Frances Browner grew up in Dublin; spent twenty years in America, and now resides in Wicklow. Stories, poems & memoirs have appeared in magazines, journals, and anthologies; short-listed for competitions and broadcast on radio. She tutors creative writing & history.



Christmas Morn, Dulwich Irish Club

Shortest session of the year,
that gathering between twelve and two.
Queuing up for opening time,
pilgrims from afar; a brother,
down from Manchester, a sister
from Dumfries; Danny’s estranged
daughters, all the way from Birmingham,
‘How’s your Mum – tell her I miss her;
Ah, no, I wouldn’t expect her
to have me back’. Paul’s father,
crosses the city from Stonebridge Park,
like every other year, see the grandkids,
‘My, oh, my, how they’ve grown’.
Three wise men from Cavan came,
bearers of no gifts,
babes in swaddling clothes, their first showing
‘Aw, isn’t she lovely’ or
‘He’s surely got your dimple!’
Bridie’s two, home from Uni –
‘They’re doing great’, says she,
‘If only their father could see them now’.
The gathering of the Hickey clan,
The Boyles, Hartney’s, O’Keefes
O’Mahonys, Gallaghers, Ryans,
old stock, came off the cattle boats,
second and third generations now
more Irish than the Irish themselves;
Joe Thornton in the corner; ”Do you know
Mulranny at all – my grandfather came from there,
settled in Yorkshire; amuses the kids
with his now-you-see-it, now-you-don’t
mouse-in-a-hanky. Tralee Patsy
reminisces on a town of horses, carts
and Black and Tans – never went back;
you remember those who have gone,
and those that you have left behind.
Frank Becker speaks of crazy times
on the road with the Pecker Dunne,
sings ‘Sullivan’s John’, Henry plays
the box, lashes out some mighty reels
with John and Mary, a military two-step
for Micky and Peggy – I see them still,
gliding across the maple floor.
But only in my dream. All gone now;
The Jims, Shannon and Burns,
have shooed us out the door one last time,
‘Let’s have your glasses, boys and girls’.
No home from home to go to, anymore.



Mike Gallagher, an Irish poet and editor, has been published and translated worldwide. He won the Michael Hartnett Viva Voce award in 2010 and 2016, the Desmond O’Grady International award in 2012 and was shortlisted for the Hennessy award in 2011.

Comments are closed.