Almanac Poetry: ‘The Irish Girl’ Part 1 – Tommy Mallet


*** Readers Alert: Please note the poem contains mature themes ***


Sometimes life is a series of moments.

Each with many angles, that merge into each other, or overlap,

creating the illusion of time.




The publican knows things I don’t. Not enough to raise the dead, but enough. On these still moon, foggy nights we’re the last in an empty pub that only saw three ugly men, who, in their rut, talked, smoked and drank without pause or listening, just go through motions of what they are. The publican and I are alone past close, dreaming of fucking women and drinking enough to justify nothing and be nowhere.


He is a friend, maybe my only friend, if only for the pauses. It’s easy to be around him and not say things. He is an ex-copper, and we share a bitter, mean loneliness.


I leave his pub, driving through silence, spiraling down from the hills, through the large arc towards my coastal valley home, both predictable and without ruder.


In this still night, when clouds grow roots and become as solid as mountains and earth, I brush off the cows at my gate, cock my head as if it was cocking me and yell into the river mists, the creeks and waterways, the bogs and distant, dark hollows. Yell nothing, with all my heart and soul, just to touch this world. Be a part of its still dark, even if only for the length of a shout.


Even if only in echo.


Words save me from this lazy defeat of no intimacy, no sex or touch. Every night I write and I’m safe. But first I’ve got to reach that desk, that never, in the weathers of night, shields me from the crossing of my front door.


Each night I leave the pub, up on the ridge, still covered in mud from work in the bush, empowered by something, even if I don’t know what. Life? A moment? The still of the world? The air of here? That’s remote, cold and crisp, that feels hard and sweet and subtle and everywhere, that has a mood?


I would, at times, get out of this place, and be where the moon’s just another neon and has no power. Where there’s no air and no silence, and there are women who, on the whole, seem to like no air and no silence. But then I would not have the power and lifeblood of work in the bush, the simple strength my lungs are fitted to, and I might die.


I am aware of, sometimes in love with, and hardened by this horrible hurt. It hits and drags at me, worst and always, when I walk through my midnight door.


And I am some kind of proud.


And go nowhere and fall.



She told me on our first night,

the sort that’s more like the first three months,

where rules are made and grooves slotted into:

E’m Irish, okay?

Never give me compliments, or apologize.



The Irish Girl

by Tommy Mallet


The Tambourine


The Tambourine did the rounds, found the hand of every drunk and clown in a small pub back-room in the city.

With an eight-piece band, no stage and forty-odd crowd we were all in every song, every drop of sweat, each piece of noise.

With the tambourine being thrown from hand-to-hand the lines blurred.


The Irish Girl


The Irish girl has the tambourine again, laughing, dancing, beating out perfect time.

“They’re meant to be radars for the rhythm-less,” I tell her. “You’re letting the team down.”

“E’m in a band,” she says. “Drums and vocals ”


A man trips over in front of her, she thrusts her fanny at his face, like an adrenaline rush, complete with ratbag’s smile. Then says: “Sorry“ or “Sarry“ and, without missing a beat, helps him up, giving me a brief look that isn’t sorry at all. That’s all fun, like letting go of a rope, not knowing or caring where you fall.


He has bad skin and is as drunk as you can get. She props him against the wall and says something to him. Something soft, that makes him, in his hunch, smile.


And even though she’s with me, and has been all night, suddenly she’s here. A physical thing within the blur of motion and sound.

We dance and she bashes and bashes that tambourine until cuts and blisters start to appear on her hand and has a ball.



A Jacket Crowd


In the small, packed band venue we wear the crowd like jackets. They’re everywhere, keeping us warm, moving with our sway, housing our heartbeat and noise. Pushing us in close in the easiest of ways.


The Irish girl has about five jobs, the way someone trying to impress someone has five jobs, which is fantastic and fine. She’s a wild woman, full of sex, which is also fine. Not by trying, but by not giving a damn. She has a way of rolling her ratbag’s eyes over me in passing, with a ratbag’s smile.


Six hours ago I was half a state away, in the fading light of a valley, knee deep in mud and leeches, covered in sweat and petrol, chainsaws in my ears.


It’s all fine.



Band Wrestling


“I teach uni students how ta review books!” she says, wrestling for volume with the band.

“I have a line I made,” I say. “It just came out of my mouth as I woke up one morning,” I say. “It’s not an opening line, it’s a final line,” I say. “One day I’ll write a book around it, this final line.”

“Wha’ is it? ” she asks.

And that’s why it hurt,” I say.


And she puts her arm around my neck, bumping and being bumped by other arms and shoulders as it comes, pulls me into the slowest, sexiest smile, that slides, as I touch its teeth, into a kiss, then back into a smile.


Arm still around my neck, she purrs: “Every time you say sometin’ like tha’ you’ll get one of those,” as if she’s the one seducing me, which she is.


And I act pleased, all funky and determined, which I am, even though we both know we’ve already crossed that line.



I Tell


The band’s doing its thing, making noise. We try to raise our voices without shouting too loud, or making them hard.


“Tells,” I tell her.


“Do tell,” she says.


“Just one,” I say.


“I have just one?”


“You have many,” I say. “I’m telling you just one.”


Our lips are an inch apart. Her nicotine breath smells like a sweet bruise. In a crowded place I’m eating it and her words and the way she breathes, sometimes soft, sometimes hard.


“You never seem to plough into a kiss,” I say. “You wait on its rim, and wait more, and let it slide,” I say.


And she smiles more and closes her eyes, tilts her head, puts the slightest tip of her lips to mine… and waits… and breathes… and waits… and breathes,


and slides.




This Slot


There is this slot, when you’re in it, a moment of gold. When what you are and what you do, when what you mean is there on the table, in their hands.


If you and they aren’t in that slot, these self-same things are bad things, you, are bad things. But.


She liked my dead tooth, because it was a scar, thought it was great I didn’t own a mobile, my bad jokes went down fine. She let all of me come out, stupid and proud. I didn’t so much drop my guard, as leave it behind.


That slot, we were in it, untouchable.


If she had any faults I didn’t see them, if only because I wasn’t looking, and/or didn’t mind.




I Don’t Know


I don’t know how it comes up, but it does, and usually does. She’s 24.


“Fuck it,” I curse. I thought she was older.


“How old are you?” she asks.


“40,” I tell her, feeling that awkward sleaziness of age, resigned to being all pissed off and letting it slide.


That age of loneliness, where any women, young or old, are rare.


She pauses


Tilts her head, squishes her face into a perplexed thing.


“Who’s turn is it to shout?” she says.


It’s mine.



Those Damn, Lovely, Compatible Bits


She’s fearless. I should run away, but she’s too full of life and trouble, the sort you celebrate by meeting head-on, as man, woman and lust, then, when the dust settles, see what other compatible bits remain.


And it’s been a very long time.





After the band we take a cab to the city, to go dancing like foreplay. It’s more honest this way. The place is a dive – cheap paint, black walls, lost in its messiest hours, but so what? We dance and get all horny, like sure things.


Her handbag is stolen, her friend’s jacket found in the urinal. I shout all my rent money. None of us care.




Dawn Stretches a Yawn


Standing by the cab, dawn stretching out a yawn, like dot-to-dot the Irish girl asks me home.


“Tell me where. I’ll follow,” I say. “It’s the best I can do.”


“Why?” she asks.


And twenty minute later, the cab drops us both on the wrong side of town, so I can let my work dog out of my work ute.


“It’s been a Damn that one beer night,” I tell her.


She leans into my chest, breathes in my skin, picking up the damp and soil of not twelve hours ago – mountains, bush and mud, 300kms and another world away,


and smiles.



Good Gumbo


The dog kisses her, and me, stretches, pisses, and is off sniffing strange city smells. We walk in the cold morning, the Irish girl kicking along all easy. This should be awkward, the worst, an impatient chore between horny strangers, but she turns it into a small, quiet victory, somehow.


The dog shits, and sniffs more, and soon we’re gone.



Me Tracks


I drunk drive to her place with the slow, steady hand of a bush boy who can’t go to any pub, any party, anywhere without a car. My ute and dog are family, I won’t leave them behind in that haze between night and dawn.


And the Irish girl’s here, in the passenger seat, digging the stereo. Her hand lazy on my thigh.



Passing Booze and Traffic Lights


I’m a tall man, heavy with my job. Booze passes through me, I might blow under the limit by now, or might not. Like so much of the night, it’s all so what and border-lines. There are no cars on the street, no people in the world. The ute strolls though suburbs towards her place, leaving moments, houses and intersections behind. It drives unrushed, in straight lines.





She likes my music, so inside it comes, to be played in her room, which is blurred by the perpetual twilight of drawn curtains, everything horny, unrushed and grouse.


Unprompted, the music rises and rises more. Volume has nothing to do with it. The CD is Curtis Mayfield, a grimy soul artist from the 50s who’s made one of those husky old man comebacks with young, hip white boys. His voice is low and slow, giving off the velvet breath of a hard life, all gravel and sleaze. And everything becomes just fine within this wrong world.


The Irish girl’s room has nothing on the walls. No moss, no roots, no frills. Her clothes are on the floor.



He Plays Us


Curtis Mayfield plays, and plays us, lost in the dark. In his beat we have our rhythm, our slide, that takes away all awkwardness, gives our sex that mutual timing, slow and easy, that most lovers take months to find. His voice, as all soul voices should be, becomes fanny juice and sweat and cum.


It slides its way around her fingers and drives me home.



A Rusty Man


The Irish girl asks if I have any protection. I don’t. I’m so rusty with everything, with life. I feel like an idiot teenager again.


I offer to rummage around my car, but that would kill the moment. She’s on top. All I do is keep her there, all I have to do is make no move, let ice melt, and soon we’re fucking anyway.



Heart and Fingertips


When a woman’s on top for that first stroke, that first time, I’m content with the world. It feels like I’m falling, brilliantly lazy, with her hair in my face, through her luscious, slow, uncertain groove.


I put my heart and senses into my fingertips, to be better consumed by her skin, to feel it rise and fall into sex, to worship the way her body fills and releases when her breathing changes its tone.


She bends down and kisses me, just, with that first stroke, and the difference in her breath is one of those moments our bodies live for.


She seduces me, because, by waiting, I give her the power, and in that I seduce her.



That First Stroke


That first stroke, that first time. She’s on top, my back isn’t arching, my forearms aren’t working, my thighs not sliding for grip, or awkward toe-hold, I’m more than relaxed, more than at ease, the bed swallowing my back, the air between her breasts and I is full with our warmth. In that first stroke, I give it my eyes by closing them, carry my smell down south, shut off my ears, and let my troubled world go.


That moment, its heat rises over me, engulfs me.


Then, gradually, my senses pull out. There is her face to admire, her body to explore. There’s fucking to be done. Slow battles to charge, everybody on the same side.



Oh Honesty


Oh sweet honesty,

when you arrive you fill me.

I hurt with it,

with you,

suddenly aware of your strength,

of your absence until now.

Oh, honesty,

when I meet a woman,

or Irish girl,

who knows you

and breathes you,

and has no need for games,

or window dressing,

a woman

who sees me and knows,

and admits, in intent,

we don’t know each other,

other than what’s honest.

We want to charge.


when we charge,

we’re strong with it,

invincible with it,


am invincible with it,

infused by her strength.

A roaring thing!

Lost and victorious,

in an unwinding spiral…



These Small Vital Motions


It didn’t take long to find her body’s angles, which was the sweetest thing. Most women have them, their fannies aren’t walls. Most men have them. The politics of it are mind-boggling. I have them. Though most women I’ve slept with either think all I want is a hole, or don’t give a damn what I want, or assume what I want, like  “All men like this.” and go to work.


They don’t search for angles, which is a shame.




I Alter My Breathing


I alter my breathing and body language when a woman happens across my angles, give off little noises, but they usually bounce off them, and plough on their way. If they want to make me cum they can speed up. If they want me to enjoy it, all they have to do is find the right angles


then slow down.


Between us, and the bed, pillows, props and music, the Irish girl and I find what the other is looking for, and bury ourselves deep inside…




I’m Still In Her


I’m still in her when the arch of her back subsides. She exhales, and with that air, warm and damp from deep in her nicotine lungs, raises fingers for each orgasm, whispering “4”


There are women I could not make cum, not ever. We’d fight in sex like cat and dog, pushing without mercy to give each other pleasure, to compensate the lack of our own. This Irish girl seems to feel no need for tit-for-tat, just lets and makes it all roll and roll.



Getting to Know You


In bed we talk, cutting through layers that often take months. She insists she’s proud of her heritage.


“I don’t speak Gaelic,“ she says. “I speak Irish. Let’s get tha’ straight first.


Then, later:


“E’m Irish. Never give me compliments. Never apologize.”



When The Time Feels Right


When the time’s right I slide down her neck, across her breast, to her belly, before she stops my lips and their fall.


Either she’s had other men in her, or is being an Irish girl again, saying no to compliments one more time.



This Morning or Yesterday


Less that 20 hours ago, I was deep in bush, in places that disappear into clouds. There was no wind as I crossed a gully, under the canopy, heavy with work gear and saw, mud to knees.


Fingers hurting with cold, I pulled a leach from my head, looking up for the first time in hours. The air, still and dark, was green. Filtered by the mist and ground ferns and tree ferns and Myrtle Beech trees. By the mosses and vines and climbing kangaroo ferns. I was inhaling green, walking through it, letting it stick, a warming cold, on my skin.


In that moment I noticed my breathing. In such damp, still places, hard breath drifts forever.


And now, I’m here.


Looking Superb


When we fuck more she cums all over the place and looks superb yet again. “You’re goddamn gorgeous…!” I say, all horny with life victories and satisfied desires.


She puts her hand to my lips to shut them, all annoyed.



I’m Slow


I’m slow and try to accept it, what else can I do? These things are your bones, not clothes. I realize, in bed, in cooling sweat and drying liquids, a short lifetime after we’ve met: She’s the spitting image a girl from high school I knew before she was born. They’re both all curly and blond, like Monroe. White skin, red lips, a body that flows.


I hated that schoolgirl, her vanity and spite, the smugness with which she projected sex at the world. The way she clawed at getting her head above the crowd by projecting a vulgar exhibitionism centered on her cunt. She was smut in a can, unadulterated ego. My age and all “Not for you! I fuck men! You’re small.” and made my flesh crawl.


I wanted to fuck her more than anything, or anyone, over the next 25 years, and still might if given the chance, for closure. She was my fantasy girl, that touch of nausea and slice of taboo, that sin, because even dreams need a challenge – some push and shove in your soul.


And, here and now, in the dark, I catch something. A little sound in me, so small, goes




and this Irish girl looks the same as that school girl,  and is so the same, at least in ways. And I feel wrong, somehow.



A Beautiful Confusion


She’s beautiful, this Irish girl, I can’t take my eyes off her for that, but also looks like most fantasies I’ve had most of my life, for which I can’t take my eyes off of her again. Only this time I’m the older man who’s left kids her age in his wake. This time I’m face deep in what I desire if only because I can never have it, but do. I’m where I shouldn’t go. This time, it feels strange, wrong, and like revenge.


I didn’t pick it at first, didn’t pick her, because now I’m the villain for whom she saves her humanity and smiles.




Between That Hypnotic, Luscious Smile


Now, between sex, I watch her talk about life and family, while wondering if that hypnotic, luscious smile is her, or simply pointed my way?


I wonder what’s beneath that beautiful skin, those pale blue eyes…?


She’s done nothing wrong. Nothing. It’s not fair on her, not at all. But history and I project on the Irish girl.



Improvising In the After Sex


Finally, near 7 or 8 our train slows down. Sleep seeps into her voice, slurring it, giving it soft weight. The Irish girl curls and I curl around her in the after-sex, that, if the sex was good is better than sex, always. We both shift, just that bit, just for the pleasure of feeling each other’s skin move.


She holds my hand over her shoulder placing it on her breast, says: “Tell me a story.”


“Give me a topic.”


“Noh,” she gives me Irish. “Tell me a story.”


“A topic. Any topic. I’ll give you something new.”


“A topic? No, I can’t do that”




“There once was a gorgeous wee little lassie,” I say. She looks over her shoulder and smiles. “Who loved life and was normal and fine, but had this huge hole in her. This hole, it wasn’t a bullet hole, or a hole in her heart, or head, or anything physical like that. It was a hole in her imagination…”


She looks at me again, accepting the topic-less dig with a grin.


In fact, the hole was her imagination. It simply wasn’t there.


This hole, it was hungry and needed filling every day if this gorgeous little lassie was to survive. So she said ‘Dad’ – no, no – So she said ‘Da’.


The Irish girl turns and grins ear to ear, a “You think you’re so smart…” grin, and gives in to the story and doesn’t turn again.


“’Da, I have this hole in me, please ‘elp.” Her Da loved his daughter so much he told her every story he knew.


But the hole was too big, his stories were never enough, so he started making up stories for his little girl.


Eventually, the little lassie’s father became a great story-teller. Soon, though, he had no more stories he could think of, so he went to his work mates, and they all took turns at telling him stories to tell her.


And the stories, they rounded out the little girl’s edges, they gave her soul good weight, and fleshed out her bones, they made her smile and laugh, but the hole in her that was her imagination, was always there and always hungry and always wanted more.


There came a day when her father had no more stories to tell. The little lass went to her Ma and said: ‘Ma, please, I have this hole in me, tell me some stories…’ and her Ma said: ‘Oi, be off with you an’ your nonsense! Oi’ve got clothes to wash and chores ta do!’


So the girl went out into the street and started asking friends, strangers and shop owners for their tales.


Gradually, over the years, the little lassie became known to everybody in her village. She was a nice girl, a kind girl, they loved her, and looked out for her, and as she grew from child, to young woman, to woman, to age, they told her stories whenever she was there.


They made her whole.


One day, finally, when the little lassie was no longer a little lassie, but a great, great grandmother with a family all her own, one of her great, great grandchildren asked her: ‘Nan, please tell me a story…’


The woman looked lovingly at her great, great grandchild, and explained her life and the gigantic hole in her that was her imagination that had never been satisfied.


“So ye see, child, as much as it breaks my heart, I canna tell you any story at all…”


“But Nan,” the little girl looked up at her, “you just did…”


An the old lady stopped, and thought,


and smiled…





I only thought of Sonja once last night, somewhere between here and there. I looked at this Irish girl and whispered to myself:


No, you are not her.


But it has been ten years now, or twelve, none of them are her, and I’ve changed. Time has changed me. I guess I’m not me anymore. Not the one Sonja wants back, not the one she’ll get one day, or not. I’ve been believing these things for a long time now.


I only still believe it because, for both of us, everybody since has come and gone but not punched, not lastingly, not hard.


Yet we’re not stupid, neither of us, we both keep all our doors wide open, just in case. We both need something close to the rare victory of what we once had, even if it’s not with each other. We both want something more.


I thought of Sonja, then looked at this Irish girl. She’s a woman, young, fearless with her youth, strong with it. She thinks that strength is something desirable, a horny thing she can wave at me and the world. It is, but it’s hot like a burning wick, not the warmth of comfort found in grooves.


Maybe Sonja’s was, too, when I first met her. Who knows?


Last night I thought of Sonja, briefly, then looked at this Irish girl. Maybe I can make this work, I lied to myself, watching her smoke, the strength of her lips, her eyes. The power in her unbreakable lungs. Maybe this time.



Unshared Things


When we wake I ask if she wants to share a shower.


“No,” she smiles. “My house mates are up.”


“So?” I say,


She gives me a discouraging look, which is a shame.



In The Late Morning


In the late morning she showers and straightens all curl out of her hair. We walk for breakfast, down a shopping strip like a billion others, talking about the book she wrote, nothing, a bit about the world, and somehow we hold hands, this stranger and I.


Her fingers fit and feel wrong. It’s also there in things other than touch, in both of us, hovering in the air, this much too soon. But is my call, and her hand is there.


Oh Lord, help me!


Quick, roll that dice!


Make me less lost!


My heart can’t wait,


I can’t wait.


I’ve grown into an impatient man.


History, please, cram!


Watch me take small, needy steps


at a stupid, reckless speed…



Single Teenaged Mums


She wrote the one book, about single teenage mothers in Dublin, mostly rape victims. It was hard.


She did it because; she was working with them, their stories needed to be told.


But, also; she thought she could be a writer, only to decide at 24 she can’t. Writing was a one off, a bi-product of an experience. Music’s her want now.


“Ah, it’s all stories anyhoo,” she smiles.



Haggard With Sex


We part of the day with promises that are nothing like guarantees. Haggard with sex and no sleep I hit a park, dog in tow, and like some crumpled bum close my eyes. When I was younger, a kid, I wanted to be a boozer: world-weary, full of drunken rage. We all did. Now I’m me. I just drink and put no tags on it.


None at all.




When I Close


When I close my eyes, close my thoughts, and let my body shut down, a heaviness enters and releases me. I notice one final thing: I’m not wearing her most private victories the place she pisses, cums and bleeds, ground into skin, up my nose, tinting the world.


The sex was superb. This is a small thing, but small things, in people, can be tells. Things not small at all. I wonder, once more, why she closed that door.


Finally, even that thought goes. My head becomes base. As I fade I’m vaguely aware of hoping my dog doesn’t wander, that nobody rolls me, no cops walk by. I hope no kids are scared, and move beyond hopes, and am warm, and fall.



Booze In My Hair


There are moments, when you wake with booze in your hair:


Where am I?


Where am I?


Where am I this time?


I hate this!


I hate it!


I’m sick of this!


Is it night?


Is it early or late?


Is it night or day?


Then, there’s the world.


I never ease myself awake, never half dream the words: Okay, I’m ready now. My body knows when it’s not in a bed, it knows the wrong place and time. And when I sit up, clawing and stretching my head free of sleep, one by one, the bigger, harsher questions, about myself, my life, and tomorrow return.


The morning after, questions fill my airs and drag me down.


I Eat Lunch


I eat lunch.


I don’t know where. There are people and noise. I can hear the clatter of dishes and cutlery trays, the shuffle of feet on polished vinyl, the constant scraping of chairs. People getting up and sitting down.




A Short Stop


I make a short stop between here and there.


“This isn’t poetry,” the publisher tells me. “Believe me, I know poetry.”


Apparently she’s married to one of those men, who write about walking into a room “Infantile, yet erect, with baby Jesus’ eyes.” and wins hoity-toity awards.


I don’t know them, or Jesus, and am not trying to be clever with words.


She’s a loud woman, her poetry’s loud, like theatre’s loud, even when its topic is a lover’s whisper, or other, smaller, sounds.




Getting Notice


Outside, hungover, I notice little things, nothing things, like:


A blood red convenience store.


A woman who works on a street with four banks on it.


“Sally worked in a block with four banks on it.” I sum her up from the hip, poor girl.


People are everywhere, I give them similar and different opening lines.


“Julie had perfected smiling without raising her sour lips.”


“Fred had a glow he hid behind plain clothes.”


“She thought sexiness was as simple as being skinnier than her cigarette.”


“The tram driver kept his head straighter than the tracks, but, deep inside, wished for something more.”


Again, from the hip. And again, and again, I shoot them all down. Right or wrong, I nail them to walls.


My eye’s caught by a poorly kept, overweight, lonely-looking man sitting at a cheap table, outside a cheap café, sighing at his empty plate. He seems the sort of person people cry for, without knowing why. “When I’m full,” I imagine him thinking, “I am safe.”


Last, I see a boy holding his lover’s limp hand, her head turned, every part of her tilting away,


“He held her hand, but not her body language.”


I want to scream: Kid, give it up! I know what its like to cling on to hope, but blind man could see!


I want to hug him, to help, to run away, but simply move on, into the late day.


(To be continued)



More from Tommy Mallet Here.



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  1. F*cking epic, mate.

    There is a line from the Foo Fighters’ best song, Everlong, which goes: “Breathe out…so I can breathe you in”.
    That line came to mind regularly while reading this.

  2. DBalassone says


    The Mallet Stripped Bare.

    Looking forward to part II.

  3. Daryl Schramm says

    Wow. Can’t complain about the diversity on this website. Mildly aroused thinking about those (distant memory) angles.

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