Richie McCaffery’s two poems

The human places

I keep finding oil spilled
in odd, human places –
in a chapel in Bruges
I saw little black droplets
in a confessional booth
and today in a Gent café,
a dark pool on the table.

It’s nothing new, I suppose,
blood-shed in mechanised
places, but the other way
round? We both break
and break down, but aren’t
yet machines, at least
I really hope we’re not.



Out shopping in the street,
he fell on top of his shadow
and smothered it to death.

People I love are dying off
as if to make room for
something that isn’t there.

You could hurt me most
of all, yet I give myself
to you without stint.

We are still here, where
nothing is so close and far
as our next breaths.

Richie McCaffery was recently awarded his PhD in Scottish Literature by the University of Glasgow where he wrote a thesis on the Scottish poets of World War Two. His pamphlets include Spinning Plates and Ballast Flint as well as his first book-length collection Cairn from Nine Arches Press in 2014.

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