OWEN GALLAGHER is from Gorbals, Glasgow, and lives in London. His poems have been published widely in the UK, Ireland and abroad. He has awards from The London Arts Board and The Society of Authors. He has won poetry competitions and his poems have been displayed on London buses and in public places in Ireland and on the Listening Wall, Southbank Centre, London at the Poetry International Festival, 2014. His book publications include: Sat Guru Snowman (Peterloo Poets, 2001; Repr. 2004); Tea with the Taliban (Smokestack Books, 2012); and A Good Enough Love (Salmon Poetry, 2015) which has been nominated for a T. S. Eliot award.


Newspapir Boy Meets Goliath

Ah strode intae an early wurld stalked by a giant
an witnessed a man dreep doon a drainpipe,
pub doors openin like Ali Baba’a cave
tae knocks like the Morse Code;

ah priest sprinted wi rosary beads in hand.
Uncle Hugh bolted frae a tenemint,
shirt-tail flappin. Father stood on a corner
hopin tae be chosen fir wurk.

The giant boy blocked ma path,
seized the satchel an ma list,
placed a finger on his lips,
then droo it across his throat.

I walked aff intae the Valley of Elah,
like David in the Bible,
plucked a marble frae ma pokit,
turned an raised ma sling.


The ‘Whisky Fairy’

‘Mastirs of the Nose’ wi called them, thair nozzles purple
and pocked. Oor tenemint wis crammed
wi these connoisseurs of Scotch Whisky,
who cood tell an Aberfeldy malt frae a Ye Monk’s blended.

Blindfolded tastings wir followed wi a liquid history
of ah given brand. These auld fellas
hid the combined mind of a Whiskypedia.
Thae wir the Keepers of the Quaich.

Wance a month, before milk floats tinkled, a bottle
of the ‘water of life’ appeared
on oor doorsteps, a gift frae the ‘Whisky Fairy’
who’d kept us awake. He’d hammered an chiselled

an entrance throo the gable waw of the Whisky Bond
in oor back court tae fetch the ‘liquid gold’,
replaced an repointed the bricks
before the first shift clocked in. Ah raise a gless each night

tae toast the farmers fir harvesting the grain, the brooers
who performed a miracle,
the coopers fir the casks thae made,
the ‘Whisky Fairy’ who cin never be named.


Cat-flap Wi Bells

It wisnae the street vendir’s
    black cat costume,
        nor her spiel that collared me
          intae signin a direct debit
            fir the Cat Protection League.

It wis the bag ah kittens
     Mothir hid thrust intae ma hawn,
        that meowed awe the way
          tae Glesca Bridge.

Aged seven, ah stood, legs braced,
     throo the bag er the parapet
        an watched it sink,
          pop up an bob
            in ma mind ever since.

Hence the direct debit,
     the cat-flap, fish heids,
        saucers ah milk,
          the wind-up toy mouse.


If you wish to read the poems in page view, the following link will take you to a PDF – Owen Gallagher Poems

All works published by the Glasgow Review of Books are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommerical-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License and the journal reserves the right to be named as place of first publication in any citation. Copyright remains with the poet.

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The Glasgow Review of Books (ISSN 2053-0560) is an online journal which publishes critical reviews, essays and interviews as well as writing on translation. We accept work in any of the languages of Scotland – English, Gàidhlig and Scots.

We aim to be an accessible, non-partisan community platform for writers from Glasgow and elsewhere. We are interested in many different kinds of writing, though we tend to lean towards more marginal, peripheral or neglected writers and their work. 

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