Fred Johnston – Welcome

fred_johnston_1Fred Johnston  is an Irish poet, novelist, literary critic and musician. He is the founder and current director of the Western Writers’ Centre in Galway. He co-founded the Irish Writers’ Co-operative in 1974, and founded Galway’s annual Cúirt International Festival of Literature in 1986. His Recent work has appeared in The Spectator, The New Statesman, STAND, and on RTE’s ‘Arena.’ His most recent collection is ‘Alligator Days’ (Revival Press) and he is working on a translation of Béroul’s prose edition of ‘Tristan et Iseut.’


Now is the toll-booth
with its basket for spare change
the yellow barrier like a border crossing
and beyond, the last run home

Now the foot pressing out
a glad acceleration
under the neon watchtowers –
the night territories avoided, passed
far small lights over black fields
mark where jaded others undress
TVs turn themselves off
and ‘phones perish unanswered

Now too the tunnel
entered like a rape –
ripping under the river’s skirts
a damp probe of headlights, groan of gears
changing everything. After this,
the crass familiarity
of sniffling rubber on a bed of gravel:
all day we’ve waited for this

Now the house so predictably dead
rain prostituting itself
in the drains, the smell of sex
rising out of the wet gardens
the engine cooling, calming
out of breath. I’m home. Welcome me.



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