Mick Joyce – Four Poems

Mick Joyce is a native of Mayo, now living in Ballyheigue, Co. Kerry. He is a regular contributor to Just a Thought and the Horizons programme on Radio Kerry. His poems have been published in Inside Out, The Shop and in the anthology Still in the Dreaming. He was shortlisted for the Listowel Writer’s Week Poetry Competition 2012 and his work has been included in Visions, an anthology of new writing supported by Kerry County Council.

In Nyungwe Forest

I step into your layers, o wood,
I watch the droplets on the giant ferns
Glistening, streaming loveliness.
Oh! To adore, to cry.

I spin in a swirl of joy, o sky,
I launch my soul to the thrilling sounds
Blessing, beaming gentleness.
Oh! To cry, to adore.

I call to the eucalyptus, o leaf,
I prance before the bounding waterfall
Leaping, loving eagerness.
Oh! To cry, to adore.

I feast on a burst of colour, o rain,
I still my heart before the hidden muse
Sighing, heaving tenderness.
Oh! To adore, to cry.

I feel the mood of the Twa*, o root,
I hear the throb of an ancient absence
Longing, pleading remembrance.
Oh! To cry, to implore.

*A minority group in Rwanda who no longer live in the forest.


For my grandmother, Elizabeth McGeough

I imagine goldfinches
having the courage to build
a nest in your hair, the kind
that were skittering about
this morning,
among alder leaves.

I watch their pecking order
at the feeder, the wait-and-jostle,
wondering how you,
a red-haired blow-in from Armagh,
a woman who kept herself to herself,
managed to breathe among the tangled
brambles in our village.

How your humours and skittish
indifference to the rules of the tribe
never endeared you!

How your song became a trill,
even if, in this terra incognito,
it was an outsider’s lament!

Did anyone cradle your wings
when the middle child died,
when the song in your eyes went blank?

Rest in peace among them now,
lady of sorrows, lady of courage!

I still see you
gazing through the leaves,
making peace with things
as they are.


Four buds on a wind-swept rose bush again,
October promises of hope in bloom,
Not surrendering to forecasts of gloom,
Four yellowing stars before Autumn rain.

I picked another from a sheltered side,
Swell of romance lifting my heart.
Petals plummet to earth and died,
An earwig escaped for another start.

Background voices from a radio debate
Register panic: time’s running out
For our beleaguered planet! A spate
Of warnings, wavelengths of doubt

Mingle on the soundtrack of my soul.
I cup dishevelled fragments of rose,
I ask for wisdom, pathways to oppose
a stumble towards despair, a role

for epiphanies of giddy hope to rise,
a thrust towards action, the will to write
a poem that celebrates a rose’s right
to illuminate debate, to advise.

Treading Water

Who really knows what happens
when an enervating wave crashes
and sidles up to the curved beach,
nudging strollers on to the stones?

Who really knows what is moving
in the lost depths below sand and shore,
when a swell belches and spindly birds
scamper towards banked-up kelp?

Who really knows what is creaking
beneath a moonscape of ancient bog,
as sunbeams glisten in the hollow eyes
of spooky tree-trunks that darken the strand?

Who really knows what will break surface
when a poet dives into hidden currents,
treads a line between risk and ignorance,
scrambles ashore with a poem in hand?











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1 Response to Mick Joyce – Four Poems

  1. bronfan says:

    Mick, congratulations on these wonderful poems. So lovely to read them. x
    Barbara Derbyshire – aka Bronfan

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