Last Orders

© By Ciaran Carson

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Squeeze the buzzer on the steel mesh gate like a trigger, but
It’s someone else who has you in their sights. Click. It opens. Like electronic
Russian roulette, since you never know for sure who’d who, or what
You’re walking into. I, for instance, could be anybody. Though I’m told
Taig’s written on my face. See me, would I trust appearances?

Inside a sudden lull. The barman lolls his head at us. We order Harp –
Seems safe enough, everybody drinks it. As someone looks daggers at us
From the Bushmills mirror, a penny drops: how simple it would be for someone
Like ourselves to walk in and blow the whole place, and ourselves, to Kingdom Come.

© Ciaran Carson, Last Orders, 1989, complete text, Belfast Confetti, 1989, The Gallery Press.

Ciaran Carson’s poem recalls the days when pubs were bombed or attacked by gunmen and going out for a drink carried a risk. He describes the security gates which many pubs had installed at their entrances.

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