Neil McCarthy is an Irish poet from Cork now living in Los Angeles. He is the author of three chapbooks of poetry, with his poems appearing in over 30 international journals, including The New York Quarterly, The SHOp (Ireland), Magma (UK), and Poetry Salzburg Review (Austria) to name a few. He is a regular feature on the reading circuit and has performed as guest speaker in bookstores, cafes, embassies, bars and universities, in cities such as New York, LA, Denver, Dublin, Krakow, Budapest, Vienna and Melbourne. Earlier this year, he released a CD of spoken word recorded live in Vienna.  He can be found at


Los Angeles with every light turned on

From the metro we crossed the street and marched up the
steep hill to Universal City with a wave of Mexicans, all
prim and proper with their glitter belts and hair wax, and
you and I zig zagging the sidewalk like it were the 405
on Fridays, late for the most recent Clint Eastwood flick.

That was Los Angeles with every light turned on, every
door wide open, a couple of thousand people tuning their
car radios to This American Life.
I turned my head to my American wife and tried hard to
block out everything else, the crowds, the traffic, the sound
of Ira Glass’s voice, the glow in the sky above a city where
the stars never get a look in.


Neil McCarthy


A man with bleeding hands

A man with bleeding hands at the back door of Out of the Closet
this morning asked me for the bride and groom figurines at the
top of my donation box to put on the grave of his recently married
sister. He was topless, wore skateboarder jeans and hid what was
left of his shrunken skin behind an eddy of venous blue tattoos.

Impulse almost succeeded in steering me clear of his sanguine arms.
But who was I, making a donation, to doubt him, to dismiss his story
and bracket him on account of his homelessness? I watched as he
inspected his bounty, the plastic case unopened, his blood in the hot
midday sun running softly off the white exuberance of the dress.

published in Magma (UK).



They are plastering on lipstick in pay-to-enter toilets
around the corner from the mosques, where old men
sit on back streets selling toilet seats, spices by the
shovel, flashlights, and Audrey Hepburn t-shirts;
the city going about its day like a petulant child,
pushing us on impatiently, racing ahead and turning
back to beckon us to catch up, to buy whatever it points
at, to stay up late with us and tug at our shirts to the
extent that we take refuge in a café across the bridge
from the Grand Bazaar to watch the helium moon float
and burn above the Bosphorus while murmuring a prayer
to the Marmara or to whatever god is above us that we’ll
sleep with the belief that we had found something new.


2013 Neil McCarthy


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