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Price: €12.00

Stopgap Grace

Neil McCarthy

ISBN: 978-1-912561-07-0

Page Count: 78

Publication Date: Saturday, February 03, 2018

Cover Artwork: “Bing” by Jennifer Bada, California, USA

Click to play audio "A man with bleeding hands" - read by Neil McCarth... play
Click to play audio "How to kill a pig" - read by Neil McCarthy - from... play

About this Book

“Stopgap Grace is proof that the sublime and absurd sometimes switch jobs. All sacred words get used and every recklessness sanctified. No sooner has night “slid its burlap sack over our heads” than we are given “alibis for something that / never happened.” McCarthy’s voice is the one we want when we’re running low on grace.”

Brendan Constantine
author Dementia, My Darling (Red Hen Press, 2016)

“Like a love letter to the world on the eve of its destruction.”

Stephen Murray
author House of Bees and On Corkscrew Hill (Salmon Poetry)

Author Biography

Neil McCarthy grew up in West Cork in the eighties watching MacGyver and launching himself from trees on zip wires fashioned from old clothes lines. His sense of adventure followed him into his twenties when he graduated from the National University of Ireland, Galway, and began travelling and writing poetry soon after. He has so far featured as a guest speaker in literary festivals, conferences, fringe festivals etc. in Australia, the US, Ireland, the Czech Republic and Austria to name a few. In this time his poems have also appeared in dozens of international journals and anthologies, in print and online, and have additionally been translated and published in Romania, Serbia, and Hungary. He now lives in Vienna where he teaches English and still climbs the odd tree whenever the chance presents itself. 

Read a sample from this book

A man with bleeding hands
A man with bleeding hands at the back door of Out of the Closet
this morning asked me for the bride and groom figurines at the 
top of my donation box to put on the grave of his recently married
sister. He was topless, wore skateboarder jeans and hid what was 
left of his shrunken skin behind an eddy of venous blue tattoos. 
Impulse almost succeeded in steering me clear of his sanguine arms.
But who was I, making a donation, to doubt him, to dismiss his story
and bracket him on account of his homelessness? I watched as he
inspected his bounty, the plastic case unopened, his blood in the hot
midday sun running softly off the white exuberance of the dress.

How to kill a pig
I expected them to tell me that my bacon 
had come from a happy pig, one that had had a full life, 
was corn fed and had free range, did yoga in the mornings,
played the cello, spoke Latin and learned 
to salsa dance while visiting relatives in Cuba. 
I thought maybe there would have been a photo album
to accompany the sacrifice, documenting its first birthday, 
first snow and first of everything else, 
here an oink, there an oink. 
In far corners, I dubbed the mouths of others,
their new voices outbattling the clattering gunnery of plates
slamming down organic everythings. 
I gifted one woman berating her phone the French language
to make her all the more endurable. 
Sweet as raw cane sugar to my fair trade coffee, 
I had the young couple across from me nattering fondly
from their deathbeds; their soon-to-be-left world 
better off now than it was when they were younger. 
The child in the high chair was at it too,
breaking into L'enfant et les sortilèges when faced 
with a spoonload of non-GMO beige matter. 
I used a sortilege of my own in stripping the walls clean
and emblazoning the newspaper headlines all
over them to see if anyone would notice, remark, question 
that one glaring absence as Truth was strung up by his legs out
the back, throat slit, left to be hung there until the 
last drop of blood spattered into the bucket.

No access to the Hollywood Sign
Everyone on Beachwood has a dog.
There is never parking.
The dogs are almost always small and yap 
in the hours when most wish to sleep.
If there is parking, it’s because there’s
street cleaning the next morning.
One of these afternoons I will get lucky
and park on a small dog.
I will casually get out of my car, lock it,
and stroll off in my air of nonchalance.
The owner of the dead dog will be too
engrossed with a smart phone to notice.
The sign that informs tourists that there is 
no access to the Hollywood Sign is the 
most ignored sign in Los Angeles. 
The morning after the rain, I sit outside 
slicing strawberries into my Special K
watching tourists pose for photographs.
Satisfaction and beauty go hand in hand, 
encouraging the Jacarandas to defy the 
street cleaners and casually cast
their purple confetti across the sidewalk, 
down onto the parked cars, the dogs, 
the tourists rebelling against the signs.

All poems © copyright Neil McCarthy 2018

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