Edward O’Dwyer, The Art of Not Drooling

There Is A Time To Be Immensely Jealous

Though I count myself quite lucky
for having mastered the art of not drooling,
and for being able to the reach the handle
to open the refrigerator, there is a time
to be immensely jealous of a mongrel terrier.

He has been tied up outside a convenience store
and he has sat and waited most obediently,
his tongue dancing in the steady summer breeze,
for his owner to come back out,

and when she has done, her floral-patterned dress
dancing equally in the steady summer breeze,

she has stroked the rough, scraggy-looking hairs
beneath his chin and told him
he is her best boy, and in turn he has nuzzled
his head against her scandalously long, bare legs.

Together they have moved off towards
the greens of the trees in the scene’s background,
and I’ve been left to imagine
the coolness of her tongue as it licks at
the ice-cream cone she has just bought.

Of an ice-cream cone, too, there is a time
to be immensely jealous, and it is now,
as it melts on her lips and, perhaps,
an especially fortunate drop escapes,
dribbles down her chin before
tumbling into the canyon of her cleavage.

Polite Evenings

We have been doing these evenings for several months,
trying out a different restaurant on each occasion –
it’s just convenience that couples
should find other couples to socialise with.

For the most part, they are very civilised, polite evenings,
everyone drinking wine but nobody drinking too much,
the conversation, almost as a rule, kept light,
no religion, no politics, no abortion.

There are eight of us, I should mention – four couples
of a similar age, no children to speak of.

Trevor’s wife always wears a very short skirt
and has a tendency to get just a touch flirtatious,
and he either doesn’t notice or doesn’t think much of it.
Then again, it’s also possible they argue about it later,
after we’ve all said our goodnights
and gone our separate ways.

I cannot claim to have never taken notice
of the length and exquisite sheen of her legs,
or the curve of her neck as it is licked by candlelight.
I also never fail to notice the lipstick
that stains the rim of her wine glass.

I have wondered if Alan and Jeremy
would admit to noticing such things also,
if it were a conversation just the three of us men
were having, and I had brought up the topic.
or would they look shocked and deny it.

I get the impression Jeremy would admit it,
but Alan, I’m not quite so sure he would.


Each day, one destination or another
takes me by the house we almost bought.

I can’t help thinking of the times
we almost spent dancing
on the chessboard-tiled kitchen floor
while the kids would be at school
and the rain would be pelting the windows
and the afternoon would be ours.

And that big mirror in the bedroom
that was almost yours, where you
do your hair, apply make-up,
your reflection smiling at me, almost.

There are blue-sky days when I can hear
the almost barks of our almost dog
coming from the back garden.

And of course, there are all the almost kisses
and, not meaning to sound crude,
there are the years of sex
we almost had there, all of which

never ceases to cross my mind
as I pass by the house we almost bought,
almost made our own,

back in a time just before the moment
in which we almost stayed together,
and almost didn’t live
completely separate lives.

Edward O’Dwyer is from Limerick and has published poetry in journals and anthologies around the world, including The Forward Book of Poetry. He has two collections published by Salmon Poetry – The Rain on Cruise’s Street (2014) and Bad News, Good News, Bad News (2017). His work is regularly nominated for Pushcart, Forward and Best of the Web Prizes. A first book of fiction, Cheat Sheets, is forthcoming from Truth Serum Press.

To read more of Edward’s poetry, click here.

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