Delete water, insert rubbish

Mary Byrne

Writer’s Note: Delete water was provoked by a very vivid memory of myself and a few student friends huddled over a meagre treat in a badly-heated room, discussing literature, as always. Ever short of money, we neither requested nor expected financial help from parents, as this might have restricted our freedom. We roamed the city on foot over long distances, bus fares a needless expense. This piece started life as a lined poem, but I found I’m more comfortable without the lines, floating somewhere between poem and prose, on a wet night in Dublin.

They had some good evenings in rented dives in Dundrum where damp ran up and down the walls, unsticking the ugly wallpaper. Friends kept them warm, Neil Young played, Leonard Cohen droned, Van the Man sang about rain around the time he was doing Nights in San Francisco and they too dreamed of nights elsewhere as they drank tea and ate Milkchoc Goldgrain carried urgently through wet streets on a Honda 50. The poet talked of Robert Frost, they all argued about Nietzsche and what books might be ordered in advance from a guy with acne who liberated them from a shop in Dawson Street and whether the unmarked car on the street outside might be the cops coming to find the stash of dope the dealer had hidden behind the toilet cistern on the stairs. Some mornings they couldn’t get out of bed and the phone bill arrived but no one would admit to the expensive calls, days when the shit-faced landlady in her warm coat appeared with a handwritten notebook to collect and count her money and they didn’t have the sense to say Deal with the damp and then we’ll pay. They saw Muddy Waters in the Aula Maxima and Horslips were all over the place. A handful of them used the same ticket to share a box for Van Morrison in the Olympia where he was late as usual and boys with northern accents cried We want Von [sic]! Van was taciturn when he finally arrived, but they were so happy afterwards that they walked all the way home. Before bed they were sharing a last cigarette when the poet phoned to say they must revise a poem he had given them: Delete water and insert rubbish, he said.

Mary Byrne is the author of the short fiction collection Plugging the Causal Breach (available from Regal House, Amazon, Book Depository, etc.).

Short fiction published, broadcast and anthologized widely. Writes the odd poem. Born in Ireland, she lives in France. Tweets at @BrigitteLOignon.