Kevin Doalty Brophy, How I Made My Vaudevillians


i turned the dial,
increasing the volume,
at exactly the moment
the next caller was introduced.

the previous twenty minutes
of conversational discourse
had pertained to the following:
– the castle doctrine
– the non-fatal offences against the person act 1997
– the defence (and the dwelling) act 2011
– the lethal use of force
– dpp v barnes [2006]
– dpp v nally [2007]
– the possibility of retreat.

this caller
made no reference
to any of the above.
he merely said
that there was
no way of knowing
the true intentions of
the intruder
until it was too late
and if given the choice
between seeing a kettle
filled up with boiling water
held over the head of
one of his three children
and spending ten years in mountjoy
he already knew his answer.

before the host
of said radio show
could respond
the caller promptly hung up.


i). in the absence of traffic lights and road surface marking, right-of-way was determined by the size and speed of each individual vehicle (please slow down).

ii). under a bench adjacent to a mcdonald’s, we thought we saw a dead body. our tour guide, who was really nice, told us not to worry and ushered us along.

iii). we were offered a tour of the local kfc to inspect its level of cleanliness, which was initially an intriguing proposition — until we started to believe the employees were attempting to lock us inside the freezer.

iv). young children approached us on the streets and grabbed our hands, begging us for either our water bottles or our money, just as their parents had taught them to do.

v). at a hospice for intellectually disabled young men, the administrators invited the street kids into the courtyard entrance every sunday afternoon. each child was served a meal. we were instructed to ensure none of them stole any of the food — particularly the eggs — to bring back to their families.

vi). if dining out in a restaurant that was not the product of western imperialism, we always ordered the cheapest item on the menu.

vii). the headmaster of st george’s invited us up to the terrace from which we could see over the great wall that partitioned the yards of the neighbouring public and private schools. on one side of the wall the children wore eloquent uniforms and played cricket; on the other, the children wore their own clothes and had no recreational equipment to speak of.

viii). on a trip to the ganges, we watched a newlywed bride walk into the river, submerge herself in water, and re-emerge, soaking wet, turning her dress a different colour entirely. we also witnessed a funeral pyre, the odorous quality of which almost overwhelmed the senses.

ix). on the flight home i contracted pneumonia, which progressed to pleurisy shortly afterwards and ultimately necessitated in a chest drain to remedy the situation.

x). it is difficult to imagine the circus gyroscope continuing to spin if we were not immediately replaced by fellow volunteers upon taking our leave.


gaze into the looking glass;
what do you see –
conclusive proof that a cat may stare at a queen?
no intrinsic value
beyond its usage
as a medium of exchange.

reclaim islands from the sea;
slapping my face –
a second system of differentiation.
the market’s just buying time,
pulsing, giving life,
demanding hearts, supplying souls.

technicians of desire,
do you believe
the representatives of the revolution;
the bankers and brokers,
and their wild orgies?
libidinal investments, please.

great sedative –
willingly self-inflicted;
european ancestors.
one bides their time –
human beings in disguise;
They are sending us to war.

labrador sleeping underneath the table
as i read the new york times.


unknown to you throughout the sculpting process
your mother’s womb — an old wooden workshop;
its warmth — the hands moulding you out of leftover clay
yet unpurchased at the end of the day.

you are not papier-mâché or wood
nor fiberglass-reinforced resin or urethane;
filled latex or neoprene.
you’re only made of flesh and blood
though you’ll often think you should
be made of finer steel —
it’ll do for now.


we spend our whole lives hoping to see
poof of subconscious red blue greens.
resolve to oneself —
‘it’s better off just visiting.’
unspoken double act: finitude and meaning.

Kevin Doalty Brophy is Irish and twenty-four years old. He holds a degree in Economics, Politics, and International Relations from University College Dublin and Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, and is pursuing his Master’s in Common Law from University College Dublin. 

Kevin has had fiction published by Caveat Lector,, Bindweed Magazine’s 2018 Anthology, and Fifty Word Stories; and poetry by the University College Dublin Observer.

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