Four Poems by Gavin Bourke

Pic by Olga Lioncat



A Disused Railway Line in Navan Town

Stretching for miles and miles
beyond what the eyes can see ordinarily
passed the horizon of richest greenery.
The tracks overgrown with grass and weeds
the steel discoloured
almost patinated
the wood beaten from the elements
and the unforgiving sunlight.

Two strangers walked hand in hand down the line
until they disappeared
a carriage passed by and disappeared too.
It was old, of antique wood, unvarnished
carrying cargo like in the old west.

Coming back to the moment
the wind whistled through the bushes and hedgerows
the leaves and the trees
the wildflowers and the weeds.

The absence had brought newcomers
that had settled here
almost as if
reshaping the structures
compensating for the losses.


St. Dominic’s Bridge

Helped push the heavy pram
passed the bollards
for years
up the steepest incline imaginable
of tarmac, ring-pulls, oil stains
and fragments of glass
to the top of the hill.

We sometimes accepted assistance
from passers-by
to tow the pram up to the peak
before the vertigo set in
from the sheer height and sudden drop
to the passing cars down below on the dual-carriageway
before we got down the hill to reach the other side
and pass the school on the right
to reach home with the shopping from H. Williams
and the things we needed
from the pharmacy beside it.

Took a long time
to cross the bridge
as we were so taken up
with the birds-eye view for miles and miles
from that wonderful bridge
that connected Tallaght Village
to our estate
back in the day.


October Before Midday

Letting the mood fall
for the words to come
opening the fourth eye.

The red light
carving up the brisk
autumnal morning.

To see Halloween
in the eyes
of the young.

the cross-section
of the beam
the emerging sun
to the road.

Bleaching the tarmac
transforming it
to blue-grey-gold.


Saturday Evening in The Priory in Tallaght

The long stone step forcing a stride to climb.
The holy water fount of precious metal in the grey brick outside.
The squeaking of the stiff wooden doors worn from over-use.
The loud sounds of the cars and voices from the road
Saturday evening moon in the cold wet chill
of October darkness.

Through the doors, through the porch,
through the second set of doors to the inside.
Sudden silence but for the creak of pews
a prayer book put-down, a door closes.
A latch closing or opening in the confessional booth.

The table down the back full of colourful literature
beside the tealight candles lighting
flickering in the half-light and sacredness.
The black sky in the skylight over the altar
you could feel the sound of the crowds in the empty isles.

The grey altar underneath the sanctuary lamp
stark from a distance.
Kneeling on the soft wooden pews, “I didn’t love God when I”
ten Hail Mary’s to cleanse the soul for the week.
An act of contrition.

The atmosphere of the altar, beads rattling against wooden armrests.
The warm orange lights hanging from the ceiling all the way to the apex.
Outside sometime after five, the smell of burning fuels
walking together in the heaviest rain and fog
with October well upon us.


About the Author

Gavin Bourke grew up in the suburb of Tallaght in West Dublin. Married to Annemarie living in County Meath, he holds a B.A. in Humanities from Dublin City University, an M.A. Degree in Modern Drama Studies and a Higher Diploma in Information Studies from University College Dublin. 

He is currently working on his thirteenth poetry collection. Gavin is also a multi-instrumentalist and has been a songwriter, composer and guitar teacher for the past thirty years. He plays Classical/Spanish guitar, acoustic-electric guitar, bass guitar, jazz guitar, electric lead guitar, banjo and bouzouki. He has written songs, music and lyrics, recorded albums, collaborated with many musicians and songwriters and has performed in venues all over Dublin.