Almanac Poetry: ‘The Irish Girl’ Part 2 – Tommy Mallet


Tommy Mallet’s poem ‘The Irish Girl’ is being published in three parts on the Footy Almanac site. Part 1 was published last week and can be read Here.  Part 2 continues below, and Part 3 will be published next week.


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


The Irish Girl II


The Irish girl meets me late into the second night with a cigarette behind her ear. She’s that touch less warm, that touch less wanting. She’s less drunk and it shows, not hungry like she was the night before.


We kiss, and her cigarette falls to the ground.


It falls five times, then ten, and it hits me, these little things. It’s a cigarette, not a packet.


We grind into each other without the slide of yesterday and she bluffs her way through being broke again.


Taking Drugs


“Band practice was good,” she smiles at me. “They’re just takin’ drugs, they’ll be here soon.”


But they’re not here soon.


We’ve moved to another crowed live venue, up some stairs, two suburbs down the road, and are watching the music without dancing, or making much eye contact. Every time I try to touch her hand, it’s texting, her nose buried in her mobile. Her body’s reacting all wrong. I’ve done something she doesn’t approve of, some small thing between then and now. Given some tell of my own.


Here Comes the Music


Junior, the founder of the Irish girl’s band, rocks up, all huge, Maori and friendly, with wide, kid’s eyes. He has that energy that makes things happen from nothing. Things like bands. That tries to be likeable and whatever, wherever, while not caring, while pushing hard.


Behind him are his girlfriend’s tits, followed by his girlfriend, everyone and everything following her noise.



Junior And I


Junior and I greet well and talk shit. We have nothing in common, might even be enemies except for the Irish girl, who has nothing in common, not deep down, with any of us other than a burning desire to be in a band. Even hip-hop, if she must, with a forced smile. Tonight she oozes ambition, which makes me a fifth wheel.


I shout Junior a drink, and the girls. He’s massive and gets so excited about life he spits all over me when he talks. Neither of us are people-dumb. We try to find common ground and saddle up for the long haul.



Sell Out…


Every club and band venue in this city has a smoker’s garden, where most of the people are. We go out and mingle, the voice of Junior’s girlfriend cutting a path.


It’s as packed as the bar is empty. You could slice the peer pressure with a knife. I don’t belong here, not ever. These people are the enemy. The back of the school bus all over again.


“Don’t be old,” I tell myself. “That’s why you’re here –  to not be old.” And join the crowd.


But the Irish girl is still auditioning, two weeks after getting the gig. She sings Irish ballads, with look-at-me expressions, in the middle of a crush of people who don’t give a damn.


Big Man


Junior’s a big man, with big ideas, surrounded by a lolly shop of a city compared to his New Zealand home. He decides he wants to busk, to do it all.


Out on the street, he can’t play guitar, but butchers the thing for all to admire. I can’t really sing. The Irish girl can, but doesn’t know any of the words. She blames me that I do. I can see it in those beautiful eyes.


Junior’s girlfriend uses those tits and that voice to thrust the hat at passers-by.



The Leering 3am Crowd


Soon, the arseholes come out, the try-hards, the bitter fuckless, the exhibitionists, the few good and many bad. The 3am crowd. They gather around us, flies to shit, strutting, leering, passing insults, because we’re no good, which give them license in their eyes. The Maori doesn’t care. He’s on drugs and doing his thing.


“This is fun, Bru, hey?” he smiles, like a child.



Rocking Up Rockers


Some rockers rock up, all tatts and leather, tall and full of it, mocking us, getting in our faces, while we sit against a shop-front murdering songs. They won’t leave as if they own us because we’re tethered by our act, because there are no bouncers on the street and it’s past 3am.


“Oi!” one of them calls to his mates, from start of his run-up. “Watch! I’ll jump over all three of them while they play…” And




Enough’s enough. Junior’s up.




He’s not a wide-eyed child. Everything about him is hard.


“Fuck off,” he snaps, fists clenched.


“Hey, I-” the closest man starts, trying to swagger on through.


“Fuck off!”


He offers no threats, gives no push, no shove, spouts no drunken bullshit. Just the bottom line. Just a promise in two words. One warning. Here and this moment now. The silence of it is inspirational.


We’re outnumbered. I stand to back him up, even though I know I don’t matter a damn.


The rockers slink off, tails between their legs, all full of poncy, origami danger.




Junior’s sitting on the footpath, all wide-eyed, having fun, butchering his guitar.



Into Me


Every time someone passes I throw my own money into our hat, just for the dumbness of it, daring people to do the same. All my life I’ve not understood money, and hated it, and spent it, and thrown it, when I’ve had it, at hats and moments and women and booze and the world. Soon, eventually, we have enough to buy a round.


“Top stuff! That was great, hey, Bru!” Junior beams. “I ain’t never busked before!”


And we take our pissy wage looking for a place still open on a work night, near four.





Married Men


We take our money for a walk, looking for a last hurrah, and find a nightclub down the road.


The mood’s set outside on the street – nasty looking homeboys and African men mill around with and without their white dates, giving off menace in the silence, itching their naked ring fingers. Nobody says much, it’s all small twitches, hand gestures, drugs passing palms.


I’m let in on the strength of the Maori. The bouncers seem more like bodyguards, they don’t say a word.





There’s something about 4am on the street. In clubs like this. People who are going to fuck leave to fuck as if on queue. Everything else is sausage factories. Wasted drugs, defeat, stubbornness and glaring eyes.


Out on the street between 4am and dawn are rarely women’s hours.



Out Front


Before we go in, the Irish girl says:


“It’s a historic moment!” and, despite having no purse, or bag, pulls a camera out from somewhere.


When she does at least three African men pull their jackets over their heads. One of their dates turns her face towards shadows, while the other women simply don’t care.


It’s as funny as it is pathetic. People want, and in that want don’t give a damn. They have their thing. They want! And crawl over rocks sideways, like crabs, out on the street, some time near 4.


I can’t believe the Irish girl didn’t see it, or doesn’t understand.


We all have our buttons, our thing. I’m insanely jealous of the obsessed. Always.


Their hunger.


Their weary eyes.



Noiseless Doormen


Out on the street nobody’s talking. When we enter the doormen don’t say a word. We don’t talk amongst ourselves as we walk up the stairs. The three of them have no cash and I’m done shouting. This is my food money, my rent, my want-and-need fuel. My last uppercut for a long while.


And I can feel it drain from me with every minute I’m still here. Not the things I could buy, but the hope, the one more night of not being alone cash provides.


The ability to drink in a crowded bar.


We down our busking fare too quick and in silence and house music drift towards a dead dance floor.



An Un-hard Man


We meet a man who half knows someone Junior knows. He has energy, and a beard – that’s all there is of him, apart from genuine eyes. He’s so skinny he’s almost not there. He laughs and is Life, more so than this place and its nasty, still air. But there’s something sad in him that makes him fit, somehow. Something lost. He’s not hard enough, not nearly. This isn’t his crowd.


He disappears for more lines of coke with men he doesn’t know, then returns. The Irish girl’s tucked under my wing, drinking without being drunk, when he blurts out: “My lover left me today.” with that warm grin of his, that smile that says hurt, that says: Please. I had to tell someone.


“So wha’?” says the Irish girl, right in his face. Spite dressed as humour, a spit dressed in words. She is pretty and, right now, one of the haves of the world.


The second the words come out, she feels my reaction.


“Sorry,” she mumbles into my armpit.


“I’m not the one you shat on,” I tell her.


But her sorry was just reflex, as was the insult, these small tells, that have nothing to do with the Bearded Smile, and everything to do with me and her.


Body Framed Mouths


On the first night, she prided us both, spoke her mind, which became a sexy, saving thing. On the second night she says all the right words, but her body frames her mouth and screams LIES! SOMETHING’S FALLEN BETWEEN THEN AND NOW! LIES! I’M TELLING LIES!


I don’t want you to call me.


I don’t want to fuck you again.


I don’t want you hanging around.


But I cling to desperate hope. Three parts determined, one part lost.


One part brave, one part afraid.



Keeping Nothing




But we keep it nice, swap small as-you-do things, like phone numbers, while making small, bullshit promises, until, eventually, my body screams back: OKAY, FUCK YOU! FUCK YOU, THEN! GIVE IT A FACE-SAVING MINUTE! I’M GONE!




The Nature Of Sex


She’s dancing with Jr.’s girlfriend, leaving me alone on the dance floor. The nature of sex baffles me. I think of it while watching her.


What fool says sex doesn’t count? How hollow a woman or man? What person’s so shallow, they think sex, like they do personality, is pretty much the same?


The sex matters, and the person. And love.


How do people compromise on want, ambition and desire?



Head Rolls


My head rolls about my shoulders, around the room. From on the dance floor it flops and wallows like Sundays. Its eyes keep catching the Irish girl burying herself in her crowd. They’re talking coke, even though they can’t afford alcohol. I don’t care. It’s over, but still, like desperation and loneliness, I ask myself these things.


Could I talk to her?


Could we lie in each other doing nothing almost anywhere?


Could I bury her in affection? Would she permit it?


Does she have touch beyond sex?


Or, simply, even: Is she really this wild?


Does she have that thing, that any thing, for good or bad, not the same? That power of subtlety or rage of the world? That hunger, in gentle touch or volume most people avoid.


Can I charge, cover, carry, or be lost in her?


I do it to them all: tick off a list without realizing it, deep down inside. Picture a big picture between thoughts. Feel for moments, yearn so bad I can feel it eating my bones. Want, oh sweet whatevers, wherevers, whenevers! Want! It’s not that hard to find a lover, but I’ve had love once, and won’t settle. And can’t settle. Not for less.


I want, something precise, something rare. And I don’t care what shade of precise or rare.


Or there’s no point at all.



The Close-Eyed Shuffle


I close my eyes as I shuffle like an old man to a tired tune, trying to find some place other in the dark.


I believe in long-shots. I believe in the moment.


Lucinda and I met in a moment, we didn’t pretend otherwise. At a music festival, we saw each other across cafe booths, and knew, there and then, somewhere, some way, we would say enough words, then put first things first, anywhere, day and night, but only because there was something more.


First we would burn…


I was lost in her moment, from the first moment. I was lost in her.


Within that moment, each time the sweat cooled, we talked.


She was from Europe.


She was trained as a nurse.


She worked bars and cafes.


She seemed to be throwing her fanny at the world out of frustration and boredom, because she had all this strength, but no dreams or plan.


She wanted more, but had no idea what, so drank, choofed, raged and fucked through her here and now. So became a moment girl.


She was so strong in it, as if it would last, even though all moments last forever in themselves, even though all moments fall. We met in want and were so invincible in it, felt so right, tougher and hornier and more a perfect match than the rest of the world.


Driving to a farm somewhere, windows down, watching her hair and smoke fill and dance through the hot summer air, she told me of how she’d always wanted seven kids, from several men. If she had asked, I would have pulled over there and then, given her her first on the side of the road, and maybe her second some time after that, before we drove each other insane. Fed them love and hopelessness. Taught them how to live off it, breathe it, celebrate it and loyalty and pride.


Not because she fucked like all hell, or was wild, but because she was real.


One week later she kept a promise to a black architect from Arizona who she’d met for three days a year ago and was gone…



Years Later


Lucinda returned years later. Said my love had ruined her. Her and the whole American thing, which was never going to work. Architects have structure in their lives.


She looked unhealthy, punch drunk by life. We tried but were faking it. Her invincibility had become a tired rut, which had become her.


She was too far gone. Our moment was gone.



Stop Counting Time


Even this place closes.


Outside again, I’ve stopped counting time. The sun still isn’t up which is all that matters in these hours.


“What time is it?”


“Not dawn.”



Part 3 will be continued next week

Part 1 can be read Here




More from Tommy Mallet Here.



More poetry from Almanac Poetry can be read HERE


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  1. Nice, Tommy

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