KEVIN CAHILL was born in Cork City. He studied at University College Cork, and later worked with the European Commission. Recently he has been working as a reiki practitioner. His poems have appeared in many journals, including Poetry Ireland ReviewOrbis, The SHOp, Edinburgh Review, Crannóg, Agenda, and Berkeley Poetry Review. He is currently seeking a publisher for his début collection titled Tsk.


Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien

i.m. Ernest Dowson and Adelaide Foltinowicz

If you drown him in vodka
an abominal hand in a bun shop
dickers with a proprietor
for a bun. This is two months
before he died. If you dunk him
in ice he is roaring with the love
of a toothless, sick, dying variety
that felt right…twenty months
before he died…if you duck her
in soup the matter and mark
of a catheter is about her
some months after he’s died…if we
hoick her up by the forelocks
her spotlessness, bottle-green eyes, and freckled nose
grow big with abortions, some time
after he’s died…if he’s smacked
with sal volatile he sucks
on the end of his stub
and sends our schoolgirl
Virgilian verses…if he’s pushed
alexandrines…if we bring her round
she’s no longer twelve…destined in the womb
to marry the waiter
and open her idyll like a pore,
if we shock him once…he’s cocked up
like a torso
in a bag…on the Thames…handing her
clotted cream and compote
on a perfectly-composed scone
cooked on his knees,
if we wake him …green fairy,
if we…darkness pricked remarkably with a Dickens,
digested fags, ipecacuanha wine
and a bloody bedsheet sat on by an angel
of a woman holding his head…if we slice him open
his one life goes for a duck
but gave us parasols to watch flutter
and fold up.


Annie Dowson*

Gay, green, seeping, filled
with sand, Alfred’s mouth, swilling the chloral back
and making his manhood
wet with wishing. Moistening you faintly.
When you hanged yourself
from the railed bedstead
Ernest was due to call…
the carpenter splintered the door
and we found you on the lily-broidered kerchief
preserved like a flower.

The coroner made nothing of it,
but he might have said
you suffered being you, and not the world:
a little flower tied up like a suckling,
a little flower tied up like a flensing knife –
emptying your life
from the bedside pan, abhorring yourself,
abhorring your life.

Not life.



i.m. Ernest Dowson

Part of a century turning the drawers over
on a complicit romping
and covered-up shag-fest.

He dragged his hangdog to the Cheese,
perched on a stool, in a cabman’s shelter,
or barstool, and lived nowhere.

His face – mould, his lungs – smog, his words –
music. And that girl – thirteen, Polish,
alabaster, trefoiled, waylaid

always by Puckish games as she crazed
only him, and grew to abortions
in the hole of backrooms

he didn’t live to see. At dawn, half-illumined
at lanterns, he sat damned,
read Dickens, blood on his lips

strung the last day… each drop
a blossom of roses perhaps,
(not vanities), pearl-spores

on a girl’s wrist.


*Note to poem: Annie Dowson was Ernest Dowson’s mother. Alfred, his father, died due to the ingestion of chloral hydrate, and Annie, died due to hanging six months later.

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.

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