Samson Furlong Tighe

Ultimate Attention

I am measuring the distance between us

in Mayo’s biggest tesco.

You be the adult,

and let me push the trolley.


Kick prior knowledge out after you fuck

make her sleep on the fold-out.

Peel the taxonomy off with slick and snap,

toss in the wastepaper basket,

not needing it; too busy practicing

orgasm denial with the immersion boiler.


Be both. Have it all.

All at once.

But separately, separately.


Want to catch you looking at me

across the dinner table,

but never would, never did, never will.

so just tell you how

I’ve been making a competitive sport

out of casual masturbation.

tell you I’ve been thinking about this all night.

never say how I like it the other way.

say I would let you kill me

if you promised not to enjoy it.

Postcard of Paul Henry’s The Potato Diggers

Tacked to my window,

& sun-bleached by June.


Manus texts me in January:

        “I love Henry.

        One day

        I’ll get one of his at auction”


& I splay across the bed

watch the colour rise

from the two women

until they exist only

to outline the sky.




This is how power reproduces.

Like strawberries:

horizontally; in controlled climates; without ecstacy.

Vomiting, Sneezing, Mangos

The people I know from home meet the people I know from here and I become two different people at once. I code switch mid-sentence. Daniel asks me to pass the wine, and I do not know how to use my hands. Even my limbs, it seems, are speaking in a learned accent. Is my real voice a perfect mix of what I was given and what I have learned? Or am I only authentic at the moment of switch?




It takes me 47 minutes to get dressed in the morning because I do not know who I am.




Sometimes people tell others that I am intimidating, other times those people reach across a table and ask me if something is wrong. I don’t know how both can occur. Sometimes I know they’re about to offer their hands and I do not change my expression, I do not deflect. Maybe, this is a cruelty. Sometimes not switching is the performance.




I write a list of the things that have made me feel like a real person. Vomiting, sneezing, mangos. Being raped appears three times. Can I not be trusted with self control?



I make a conscious effort to be honest and my professor tells me to pay attention. My lover asks what she did to make me sad. My friends beg me to stop ruining the party, to sweep up the confetti and turn down the music.




Bill tells me not to worry because everybody does this. We all change for the people we know and do not know. But do we all do it with such skill? Do we all bartar

r vulnerability for attention?




Consider: Performance as survival. I perform my walk home at night. Performance as kindness. To not perform would be to give you everything. Performance is deception but deception is value neutral. The truth has no value here. I perform happiness and I am happy. I perform terror and my pulse performs too.




if everyone is duplicitous, is anyone? if you are always lying, can i get away with it too?

A version of this poem previously appears in Vagabond City Lit.

Samson Furlong Tighe is a writer from Dublin. They used to be the editor of Icarus Magazine, and now write the fortnightly newsletter Select All, Delete. Recent work can be found in ROPES, epoque press, and Wax Nine. They tweet @furtiso.