Mark McDonnell





Long ago, I watched them pound
their drinks while I hid, fiercely shy
behind the door. An uncle found
me there. And even now I try

to block their shouts, so unrestrained
yet forced, that room so very small.
They laughed but said they grieved; they drained
the Bells. My father most of all.

They brought me in to ‘give us songs’
and, being young, I must have seemed
a balm for all their petty wrongs,
some token of the things they’d dreamed.

I think I flashed a mad, wet eye
in his direction; someone led
me stumbling, Comin’ thro’ the Rye.
He stopped me, sent me off to bed.

She was gone – but they were left
with drink and song. He looked so numb
that night, so fragile and bereft.
So fearful of the days to come.




Mark McDonnell lives in Staffordshire, England where he teaches in a high school. His poem ‘Communion’ was recently shortlisted for the 2017 TLS Mick Imlah Poetry Prize. His poetry has appeared in Snakeskin Poetry, Antiphon, Shot Glass Journal and will be featured shortly in Measure. He was a finalist in the 2016 Eratosphere Sonnet Bake-Off.

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