The Poetry Place

Poetry Ireland had a competition for Joyce Cycle: Love your Bike Competition. 

When I tried to write about bicycles I am back again at my two teacher school where the young master always seemed to have a sore head and beat children badly and many children had no one to help them with their lessons at home.

Many of these children came in their bare feet to school and many younger than me have died young. I have here two poems already published in my earlier books. I feel for the bus drivers as they have no space to pull in when Pearse St. fills up with bicycles but they are so careful, I really admire them.

Mary Guckian

Bicycles in the 1940’s

Well worn and rusty, 

Raleigh bicycles got us 

to our destinations 

but pot holed roads gave

us loads of punctures.

We loved getting away from

the farm, cycling to the store

with eggs or taking lunches

to the bog during turf cutting.

Errands for my Mother

at Carrick town, visiting

our cousins or a spin on

Sundays with school pals.

When the young master

came to teach in the

two teacher school

I was a mere two years old,

later the eldest of seven.

The local priest asked 

my Mother to give him 

lodgings  until he could 

afford a bicycle and go

and live in the local town.

He never slapped me 

but I cried a lot, watching

all the children suffer.

The boys loved to pull

the saddle of his bicycle

apart, it was their only

way of getting back

at him as he ruined

their hands with whining

wallops from sally rod

Mary Guckian

Parked Bicycles

Surrounded by parked 

bicycles from Barrow Street 

to Grand Canal Dock,

Dublin City Council is 

sending out messages –

keep cars off the road,

leave space for cyclists

and get them pedalling 

wearing helmets and

live a healthy lifestyle.

Pearse Street gets crowded

with cyclists criss crossing

at every junction, baskets

full of documents or food.

Bus drivers need acrobatic

senses as they manage

to find parking space at

the Bus Stops, allowing

their passengers alight

safely onto the footpaths.

Mary Guckian

Trace Worlds by Liffey Waters

But what I wondered was

how you calculated

distances, knew 

the seas sailed

before these boats anchored,

read oceans

in some sailor’s eyes.

You could decipher ensigns

too, colours 

daubed on the planet’s

hard waters 

now flying

above the familiar Liffey.

And you judged 

the freight of nations,

how sundry galleys shone

in the sun of Trinidad

or Tobago, how this ship 

or that navigated

an icy North Sea.

Reckoning the saving 

worth of beacons

was another calling,

or approving a good eye-splice 

like the ones you included

in my skipping ropes.

Dead ahead

in your own space,

you were your father’s child

with the ocean’s roar

in your ears, 

your great

grandmother’s cutter

barely below the waterline,

of your memory,

and the smell 

of her small harbour

at low tide,

sun sinking.

Marie MacSweeney,