Kevin McManus is an award-winning poet and writer from Carrigallen, Co Leitrim.

This poem is taken from his first poetry anthology entitled “Spirits in the forest” which is now available from Amazon.

Lost souls

Sitting alone at the bar in Kilburn,
mid-afternoon on a mid-Summers day
wearing a suit stained with blood,
sweat and booze,
drinking the last of this month’s rent.

He took the boat in 57’
leaving behind Mayo,
full of hope and fear,
an address in his pocket,
for a ganger and a start,
money for a week to tide him over,
Sunday best on his back,
new shoes squeezing his feet.

No Irish need apply,
lodgings hard found,
working every hour God sent,
paid in the crown at the weekend,
missing home laughs to hide the pain,
another from the top shelf.

Saving for the summer holiday,
putting a little by,
back home for a week to the old sod,
buying pints for the lads,
bragging about the wages,
gold chains around the neck,
bought from a suitcase.
When did you get home?
When are you going back?

Back to back-breaking in blighty,
years passing on,
body getting tired,
drink taking hold,
no money for the holidays,
or the funerals at home.

Nights in the doss house,
sleeping on the rope,
days on the streets,
dreams of a long-gone family,
passing away in the cold.