scarecrow poetics/essays

Thursday, June 08, 2006


To All Of My Dead, Drunk And Missing Uncles...

one uncle
overdosed in a cell
while locked up
for forging prescriptions:
no inquiry
just another dead catholic
in Belfast, 1962

one I remember
hid bottles of whiskey
in the fields
and we had “our little secret” -
entire days at the pub
while he drank and drank
and me, eating peanuts and drinking Coke,
as he explained the difference
between “wee white lies”
and the proper kind

yet another
was a vengeful alcoholic
who tried to kick
my grandparent’s door in
and fell out of bed
smashed his head
and bled
to death
as he slept

one went out for cigarettes
and never returned
another painted imaginary landscapes
from a cell in Long Kesh
my grandmother’s collection
of yellowing newspaper clippings
in an old biscuit tin
all that may remain of his legacy

when I was 14
I was suspended
for writing pro-communist pamphlets
and pasting them
all over my Catholic High School

the priest,
a watery eyed old alcoholic
shook with rage and said:
“Do you have any idea what the communists
“did to the priests in Spain???”
I laughed and said

they told my father that I was bright
but my mind needed to be

but instead of the priesthood,
or teaching,
or the business world
or any of that horseshit
I’m glad to say
I stuck
with the family business

Tony O'Neill © 2006.

In a previous life Tony O’Neill played keyboards for bands and artists as diverse as Kenickie, Marc Almond and The Brian Jonestown Massacre. After moving to Los Angeles his promising career was derailed by heroin addiction, quickie marriages and crack abuse. While kicking methadone he started writing about his experiences on the periphery of the Hollywood Dream and he has been writing ever since. His autobiographical novel DIGGING THE VEIN will be published in Feb 2006 by Contemporary Press, in the US and Canada. Wrecking Ball Press plan to release a UK edition Summer 2006. He lives in New York where he works a variety of odd jobs and writes.

More details can be found at


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