Poem introduction

I had an imaginary friend between the ages of five and seven that my whole family believed was completely real for two solid years, so that even now the word for lie in my family is ‘Brendon Gallacher’. ‘She told a great big Brendon Gallacher’ means ‘she told a whopper’.

Brendon Gallacher

He was seven and I was six, my Brendon Gallacher.
He was Irish and I was Scottish, my Brendon Gallacher.
His father was in prison; he was a cat burglar.
My father was a Communist Party full-time worker.
He had six brothers and I had one, my Brendon Gallacher.

He would hold my hand and take me by the river
where we’d talk all about his family being poor.
He’d get his mum out of Glasgow when he got older.
A wee holiday some place nice. Some place far.
I’d tell my mum about my Brendon Gallacher.

How his mum drank and his daddy was a cat burglar.
And she’d say, ‘Why not have him round to dinner?’
No, no, I’d say he’s got big holes in his trousers.
I like meeting him by the burn in the open air.
Then one day after we’d been friends for two years,

one day when it was pouring and I was indoors,
my mum says to me, I was talking to Mrs Moir
who lives next door to your Brendon Gallacher.
Didn’t you say his address was 24 Novar?
She says there are no Gallachers at 25 Novar.

There never have been any Gallachers next door.’
And he died then, my Brendon Gallacher,
flat out on my bedroom floor, his spiky hair, 
his impish grin, his funning flapping ear.
Oh Brendon. Oh my Brendon Gallacher.


from Darling: New and Selected Poems (Bloodaxe, 2007), © Jackie Kay 2007, used by permission of the author and the publisher

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1Double Trouble

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2Dracula

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3English Cousin Comes to Scotland

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4Fiere

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5Grandpa's Soup

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6Love Sick

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7Lucozade

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8Mrs Dungeon Brae

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9My face is a Map

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10My Grandmother's Pink River

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11No 115 Dreams

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12Pride

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13Red Running Shoes

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14Sassenachs

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15The Angler's Song

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16The Moon at Knowle Hill

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17The Nine Lives of the Cat Mandu

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18The World of Trees

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19Valentine

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2021st Birthday Poem for Matthew

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21At Home, Abroad

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22Attention Seeking

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23Black Ann

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24Brendon Gallacher

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25Burying My African Father

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26Darling

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