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This poem is taken from PN Review 158, Volume 30 Number 6, July - August 2004.

Three Poems Peter McDonald

Work: 1958

Hardly another car on the whole road
to Cookstown from the far end of Tyrone;
hardly another traveller in town,
but shopkeepers and farmers by the cartload

in the Royal Hotel, piled up at a bar
so busy now, so packed, that there's barely
room to lean across, or to catch the ear
of a customer among this crowd in early

for the weekend, scarcely time to catch the eye
of a barman working himself off his feet;
matches, and just one goodwill round to buy,
then back to the lodging house in Union Street,

where scarcely a word passes, as you sit
down to a tea of half-stale soda farls
and eggs fried hard: at last a cigarette,
then your letter home, to 17, Mount Charles,

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