Extracts from

The Waistband and other poems


Born in Port Glasgow. There and then it's true; but when I see it stated in a publisher's blurb or conference press release, the facts are never cold. I left Port Glasgow in my mother's arms, so this journey's a sentimental one - short and bitter-sweet: a ghost train ride to a town that never was. Yet the only town for me.

Time travellers need their fetishes and jujus. Preparations must be made. By my bed, I keep my father's missal, minature, maroon, its pages gilt-edged, guilt-dredged. Obsolete as hell. A gorgeous ribbon minds his place: Dan O'Rourke, 1 Huntly Place, Port Glasgow. His exquisite slate-perfected copperplate, hardly faded.

Then there's the photograph: a blurry sepia 10 x 8, quietly angling for attention on the pine kist in my living room: 63 men (each one counted), 60 assorted cloth caps, two bare heads, one bowler. Between the foreman's knees, a chalked on blackboard: 'John G. Kincaid & Co Ltd, Turning Shop (Arthur Street), 7.5.30'. The youth in the Bowery Boy bunnet kneeling in the bottom left hand corner, the one who's pouting, will wait nearly thirty years before becoming my dad. ....


© Donny O'Rourke, 1997