The Cure for Homosexuality, by Owen Gallagher

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I confessed to the priest about a boy
who made me light-headed,
and prepared for a stint on my knees
but was forced to attend hospital for my penance.
Mother knelt while electrodes
were placed on my thighs.
I was shown pictures of naked men.

From Fourth Form, I was ‘ the poofter’.
Someone who, at playtimes and during PE,
would report to the medical room.
I’d piss myself rather than go to the BOYS.
At home-time I was released first.
My name was chalked on walls.
Masses were offered to save my soul.

It was always winter in our house.
Two single beds replaced the double
I shared with my brother.
Since then we’ve never spoken.
I slept with my hands above the blankets.
The sheets were checked daily.
For fear it might aggravate his heart
father was kept in the dark.

I reported to the priest in his room after school.
He’d insist on exorcising the devils
and had a crown of thorns tattooed on his back.
He made me swear a vow of silence.
I was sent to a House of Correction.
It was a House of Wrongs.
I made it out to the streets.

Owen Gallagher

from A Good Enough Love, Salmon Poetry, Ireland, 2015.

A Good Enough Love is a Bogman’s Cannon Recommendation.

Owen Gallagher is from Gorbals, Glasgow, and lives in London. His poems have been published widely in the UK, Ireland and abroad. He has awards from The London Arts Board and The Society of Authors. He has won poetry competitions and his poems have been displayed on London buses and in public places in Ireland and on the Listening Wall, Southbank Centre, London at the Poetry International Festival, 2014.