Alan McMonagle


Alan McMonagle






After a Day


After a queasy morning searching uselessly

for the source of the mystery stream

that trickles towards the harbour-end of the canal

where water once ran red

and seagulls linger about the blind man

tossing crumbs from his loaf-wrapper;

After a wayward afternoon seeking comfort

inside the dungeon atmospheres

of the alley bars, chiding each other

with swarthy tonics and clink-clink tributes

to the day we take on the murder-hill over which

thunderclouds hover like tormentors;

After a torturous evening mostly loitering

by our cooking pot wondering, this time,

will we conjure a semblance of the flavours

breezing momently through our broken window

from the side-street Bistro, while taking turns

at mangling each other’s toes during our kitchen waltz;

After all of that we limped into the night as far as

the unlit pier where we held ourselves

in the black chill until, at last, we stole a glimpse

of Aldebaran and the winged horse cantering

across the restless firmament.

Off to bed with us then, and we slept like spoons.




Harbour Bar


Outside the keening wind. The scudding cloud.

The spits of rain from the new moon sky.

Inside the dying fire.


Outside the creaking sign,

swinging on its iron arm.

Inside the ticking clock.


Outside the empty bottle,

making music with the cobblestones.

Inside the un-played piano.


Outside the lonely boats, the restless waters, the night wanderers

looking to the bleary light.

Inside the bar-keeper clearing wistful dregs.


Outside the faltering signal,

the forlorn rapping, the futile appeal.

Inside the final say.




Mr Wrong


My four-year-old nephew

calls me Mr Wrong.

I can’t remember how it started.

He draws a picture of a house

with crooked walls,

oblong windows,

an upside-down door.

The garden is full of weeds.

The chimney is on fire.

He says it’s where I live.

He even draws a Mrs Wrong,

a stick insect with feet

growing out of her head,

sitting at the kitchen table

nibbling the instructions

to a smoking Zanussi.

The next time we go to the lake

I’m going to use him for bait;

wrap him in tackle, perhaps,

and cut him loose

in a boat with the terrible frog.

For now, I regard the budding artist

and smile as I consider

the look on his

unsuspecting little face

when he makes his first mistake.






I hold the world in my hands.

Hike across continents,

say hi in every language,

become infatuated

with a sallow-skinned girl.

Daydreamer, night wanderer,

spaceman hopping rockets to the stars.

Everything happens. Everything begins.

Escape artist, three-card-trick man,

quiz kid of the century,

star of the silent screen.

I encounter the shape shifter.

Devour strange words.

Dread the monster on my wall.

I perfect my dagger look.

Try to giddy-up time.

I change the rules. Wage war.

Take Olympic gold

with a last-gasp dash.

I raid Treasure Island.

Tramp through snow with White Fang.

There are letters to my friends

Huckleberry, Oliver, Clint and Luke.

I suffer nomad fever. Need to be lost.

I am the winged horse.

I fly the magic carpet.

One Friday afternoon I go

around the world in eighty days.

Saturdays, I tidy up

my collection of worldly advice.

I make an enemy. Save the day.

Break the heart of the girl I like.

I live to tell the tale.

I count lights going out

in the sleepy-eye street.

Hero, inventor, saviour,

discoverer of all things.

I conjure the moon. Face bitter ends.

Reach deep inside my mirror

and pull out rabbits, flowers, coins,

the man I want to be.











Alan McMonagle is a writer living in Galway, Ireland. He holds an MA in Writing from National University of Ireland, Galway. He has received awards for his work from the Professional Artists’ Retreat in Yaddo (New York), the Fundación Valparaiso (Spain), the Banff Centre for Creativity (Canada) and the Arts Council of Ireland. He has contributed stories and poems to many journals in Ireland and North America including The Adirondack Review, The Valparaiso Fiction Review, Natural Bridge, Grain, Prairie Fire, Southword and The Stinging Fly. He has published two collections of stories, Liar Liar, (Wordsonthestreet, 2008) and Psychotic Episodes, (Arlen House, 2013). Earlier in 2014, his radio play, Oscar Night, was broadcast as part of Irish radio’s Drama on One season. He has just finished his first novel.

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