‘The Irish in Britain’ by Sarah Clancy

The Irish in Britain

Had I lived I would be fifteen now
scrawling your name on my copy-book
as some listless teacher droned,
we made our own spells our own rules
you and I painted circle ‘A’s
on canvas bags with Tippex,
and later in my bedroom I would make
you sniff it so we could channel
some imagined high and discuss
all the things that anarchism isn’t
those were the only times
you ever came close to barefaced
to some great reveal.
We sang Billy Bragg songs
and grasped at something bigger,
something we hoped we could fit in
I held your hand while we marched
against apartheid as if it hadn’t
anything to do with us, but the sixth years
called you faggot and gave you
a lack-lustre kicking even their own hearts
weren’t in it still and all something
in you sickened and we were lost
to ignorance and ecstasy
and the worst you had to offer to yourself
we were lost to poppers,
to the summers in London
you spent sucking off bricklayers:
desultorily fucking.
You came home at the dark end
of your glue and aerosol dream
with a starry plough tattoo, as if some
or other republic waited here for you
had I lived I’d be forty now
but comrade you were never
coming with me –
more’s the pity.
The Irish in Britain is © Sarah Clancy

downloadSarah Clancy has been shortlisted for several poetry prizes including the Listowel Collection of Poetry Competition and the Patrick Kavanagh Award. Her first book of poetry,Stacey and the Mechanical Bull, was published by Lapwing Press Belfast in December 2010 and a further selection of her work was published in June 2011 by Doire Press. Her poems have been published in Revival Poetry Journal, The Stony Thursday Book, The Poetry Bus, Irish Left Review and in translation in Cuadrivio Magazine (Mexico). She was the runner up in the North Beach Nights Grand Slam Series 2010 and was the winner of the Cúirt International Festival of Literature Grand Slam 2011. She has read her work widely at events such as Cúirt and as a featured reader at the Over the Edge reading series in Galway, the Temple House Festival, Testify, Electric Picnic, Ó Bheal and at the Irish Writers’ Centre, she was an invited guest at the 2011 Vilenica Festival of Literature in Slovenia and in Spring 2012 her poem “I Crept Out” received second prize in the Ballymaloe International Poetry Competition.Sarah Clancy’s Collection Thanks For Nothing, Hippies was published April 2012 by Salmon Poetry.

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