Brendan – a Brief Encounter

Brendan – a Brief Encounter


A shock to bump into O’Byrne today,

he’s older than me, smokes sixty a day –

if there was any justice

he should have died years ago

coughing his lungs away.


‘held together, probably,

by tar and bloody obstinacy.’


He was in Fruitopia wearing an ethnic hat                    

(with battered remembrance poppy attached)

buying bunches of freesias, parma violets,

tinned prunes and an out-of-date stew pack.  


I waited behind while he checked his change,


‘Come on, old bastard, we ain’t got all day.’


But we have got all day – we have all day… every day.


We have all the time in the world until

the day our world whimpers away.


O’Byrne is an artist – he’s outsold Van Gogh.

His hands are shaky and his sight? Getting worse.


‘Time to set about ‘water lilies’, mon vieux?’


His mouth laughed but not his eyes

they were watery wistful –

scanning a gallery – people, places,

long past, near and far away. 


He spoke with duende –

brief encounters

regretted, enjoyed, survived.


And poetry.


We share the same history.

Know the same things.

Had the same women.

Fought at parties.


I bent his nose once,

he blacked my eye,

over some long-forgotten

youthful fancy.


Blind to the grizzled ancient faces

bemused beneath umbrellas

Brendan stood in the drizzle

outside Larkin’s Cafe

singing, in faltering baritone,


‘Mo Ghille Mear’



‘Why not?’

‘One for Cemetery Road?’

‘Lead on, old toad.’




© coolhermit 2023
Views: 1363
critique and comments welcome.
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

perfectly portrayed rivalry.


Strange animals, men 🙂


Nature and nurture, my friend…nature and nurture…

Flag Content