Aisling Bradley

30 & Lover

Aisling Bradley

Share Via:


Sitting pretty in panda pyjamas

Cotton. Yellow. Puerile.

At 22. In his apartment, looking down on Cork city.

Morning news bulletin. Dead dog.

Cannibalised by children on an English council estate.

“That’s what the end of organised religion leads to”

his sister declared, to no one in particular.

As I seeped quietly into my cornflakes.

He smirked, drinking his coffee.

All talons and teeth.

Him. The age I am now.

His friends were older. Mountainous. Infinite.

And I remember them all.

Dole days uphill to St. Luke’s.

Pilgrimage for Beamish and Murphys.

Thursday club Friday arse.

One always carried a Dunnes Stores bag.

One had a tattoo all round his ear ( I never saw anyone who looked so much himself.)

One hadn’t a tooth in his head, made money writing romance novellas.

One told me I could take over the town but he wouldn’t advice it.

One had wolves in his eyes and god knows what festering inside his head.

Fed us Marlboro’s and got in the rounds.

Walked us home, loaned us books.

Small kindnesses.

Life swallowed me up quicker than those nights.

Still my mind goes this way and that way,

Opening and shutting doors seeking something I left back with them.

Something I was told.

Something I should be heeding.

And I remember her, not much older than I am now.

A jezebel. A shrew. A muse.

Propping up the polished bar,

With just enough exposed,

Small mounds riding high on ribs,

Teasing bar tenders,

Laughing in the darkest corners of The Mutton.

Admired not trusted,

Gifted with unsigned paintings.

She drank whiskey neat,

draping herself around The Oval, like a siren on the rocks.

Past heavy velvet curtains,

under the namesake ceiling, once fallen in.

Her reflection in every bottle,

distorted by the bar mirrors.

The heart of the place torn clean out by her.


I don’t miss the one from Berlin.

With the handlebar moustache

and barbed wire tattoo.

Black beret artfully slanted,

As he blew smoke rings through me.

We sat alongside other long haired boys in dark bars

Nursing warm Berliners and Jack Daniels.

Our eyes red raw

Stale smoke clinging fiercely to us.

I loved his vanity.

We showered together

He cleaned his feet meticulously

Lifting them as a black smith

For daily inspection.

Always grooming

Licking his chops

Ever the cat who got the cream.

He rolled me cigarettes,

from an enormous Peblo tobacco pouch

Holding the filters in his teeth.

Pinching. Rolling. Licking.

Papers on his lips.

My translator and navigator

Guiding me with his princely posture,

Held. Flicked. Dragged.

Two hedonists drawing one another in.

I miss cigarettes.

But I miss myself more.

Rising naked before him from the mattress

To perch on the window ledge

To watch the street below with my morning cigarette.

That first inhalation like coming up for air.

Aisling Bradley

Aisling Bradley is a writer and visual artist based in Bristol. She was shortlisted for the 2016 Galway RCC poetry competition and has just been shortlisted for the New Roscommon Writing Award. She Tweets @AislingBradley 

More poems by this author: