Geraldine O’Kane


‘Why don’t you like me?’
were the first words that wobbled
from your wide mouth with thinned lips.
Backed up by what I imagined at the time
were wanton tears. I have come to think of them
as a manufactured leaking of the eyes.
That first encounter was a small grief,
shocking but contained.

Coffee requests came in quick abundance
enough to spike my anxiety to kick-in levels
stalling any one-to-one cravings, you harboured.

Monitoring of my social media
ended in some ‘Tom and Jerry’ mayhem
with you demanding exactly which one
of the many events I clicked yes to
might I actually attend, you were exhausted
trying to work me out, was I threading you along?

Instead you arrived at my event,
down turned eyes and shy smiles
offering soft laments to your miscarried babies.
The following time you read some easy just for laughs poems.
Culminating in a series of sexualised ditties
recited with your eyes directly on me.

Next no reading at all but gifts
a candle, a poem, and a scarf,
knitted after a coffee shop epiphany –
to revive a six-year-old project
a way of recognising strong women
in your life. Was I in your life?

Finally, the ransom, a demand to meet!
“This fooling around has gone on long enough.”
No white flag detected; you retreat –
‘blundering counsellors should not
have encouraged you to pursue people.’

When your excuse didn’t smudge the edges
of my clipped reply, an attack –
your dogged pursuit an act of Christian charity,
someone must bring the loners into the light.

My first attempt at erasure:
outing you on social media
like a find the lady trick
poof you disappeared from view.

Two years on, it’s DVD night;
I choose ‘Enduring Love’ presumed a love story.
Saw nothing wrong when one man turned up
at the other man’s door after the briefest of encounters.
Then to his office, his usual café,
even his beloved book shop provided no sanctuary.
Uninvited, unannounced with wonton tears.
Suddenly the shadow of your words imbibes
the heat from my bones, I feel the weight of you
in my chest, expulsion had been too easy.


Geraldine O’Kane is a poet and mental health advocate. Her work has been published widely, recently Arlen House, Eyewear, FourXFour, Flare Magazine, and shortlisted for the Glebe House and Melita Hume poetry prizes. She edits of Panning for Poems. Her first collection is forthcoming from Salmon Poetry in June 2020.