Fergus Allen

The Lives of the Cousins

Fergus Allen

The Lives of the Cousins

Fergus Allen

The Lives of the Cousins

The Lives of the Cousins

The snaps are in black and white, of course,
Few captions, the album-covers scuffed,
But Kitty and Joyce still smile their smiles
From a speedboat tethered by stone steps
In what has the look of a Swiss lake.
One page on and Derek at a picnic
Strains facetiously to draw a cork,
And General Sawyer in dinner jacket
Poses by the rear door of a Daimler.
(It was he who without explanation
In a late codicil to his will
Left me an old-fashioned naval spyglass,
Presumably for looking at stars.
But I have never been a stars person,
Preferring to train my objective
On the bay windows across the townland.)
Hermione and Julius on a cruise
Fill several sheets – games on the boat-deck
And eager Arabs in djellabiyas
Pestering the tourists in Port Said.
Then to badminton at Cowes, and drinks
On Graham's destroyer in the Solent.

It was not like that - nor is it now -
In New Ross or the herbaceous valleys
That trail down from Carlow and Kilkenny,
Where the livestock stand dumbly around
Under broad-leaved trees in the demesnes
And the Nore slides swiftly over crowfoot.
In these parts there is not much call
For cigarette-holders or shady hats.
The creamery coughs from before dawn
And all day the foreigners' meat lorries
Rumble and thud along the main street.
Though I shoot with a couple of Councillors
And the Principal of the Tech,
A brace of woodcock is small return
For hours of damp shoulders and cold feet.
But asylum resides in the office –
Virginia-creepered, shabby but warm –
Where my pink-cheeked secretary sits
Typing out conveyances and wills.
Drinking my morning coffee, I observe
Her bosom snug in Botany wool
And her reassuringly thick legs.

'The Lives of the Cousins' from Who Goes There? (Faber & Faber, 1996), © Fergus Allen 1996, used by permission of the author.


Fergus Allen

Fergus Allen Reading from his Poems


2The Brown Parrots of Providencia

3Tanks in Moscow

4Foreign Relations

5Actor in Mirror

6Sodium Light

7Wall of Death Bray

8Flies and Nettles

9Knight Errant

10Modern Times

11Blue Sky Dusty Horizon

12When the Car Gave Up the Ghost

13Who Goes There

14A Time for Blushing

15The Lives of the Cousins

16To Be Read Before Being Born

17A Young Protestant Lady

18Parental Guidance


20Waltzing with Veronica

21The Visitant


23Eve's Lament 24Fancy Dress


26After Pneumonia


28At the Meeting of the Niles

29Gas Light & Coke



32A Bad Debt (1842)


34Death Sentences

Books by Fergus Allen