Whatever happened to Cain?


The bad son

the one who killed

the good son,

broke the family, appalled the neighbours,

got thrown out in to a hostile world,

walked the earth homeless, loveless,

followed the Majii (at a discrete distance)

stood on the road outside the stable

holding a small lamp beneath a sky of stars,

his clothes ragged

his tears tasting of salt.


Mick Corrigan lives in County Kildare with Trish his loving lifer, Molly and Ben the eight legged groove machine and a large collection of pork pie hats. He regularly has ideas well above his station.




Slipping Down


Boxing Day, and when asked what you ate

for Christmas dinner you say,

‘I should remember’.


You are slumped in a high-backed chair,

covered with a name-labelled blanket:

someone else’s.


We are told that at the Christmas party

you boomed out the unerasable hymns,

rallied the others to sing.


Today you remember your daughter’s face,

not her name; and of your son you inquire,

‘Have we met?’


You search my face much longer than you

would have thought proper if you were not

as you are.


I am introduced, again, as ‘Rob’s friend.’

You scan from son to daughter,

and back again,


the half-formed thought refusing to set

like jelly made with too much water,

and you shout, ‘I’ll have to think about that.’


You’ve slipped further in your seat,

as your grandson does when watching TV.

Now it’s Roger Moore as James Bond and


the woman in the red sweater wanders

in front of the screen and demands,

‘Does anyone know what’s supposed to happen?’


Your hands are bony thin; your thumbnail

thickened like a split hoof; and as you slip further

your shirt breaks free from belted trousers.


I have seen old photos, tie and jacket,

dapper. A care worker says

‘We do put a tie on him,’


‘But there’s health and safety to consider.

Joggers, that’s what they need

when they get like that.’


Your skinny bottom changed by day

from too-loose pyjamas

to baby rompers.


Time to sit up for the latest snack: soup,

two triangles of bread and ham.

You are lifted by three tabarded women,


one at each arm, a third at your waist.

You growl as you are raised.

You want to be left to slip down.






 Maria C McCarthy is author of strange fruits (Cultured Llama 2011). Her collection of stories,  As Long as it Takes, is forthcoming in 2014. She writes in a shed at the end of her garden in a village in north Kent.

Note: ‘Slipping Down’ is published in strange fruits by Maria C McCarthy (Cultured Llama and WordAid 2011)