Lynda Tavakoli – Family Ties

Lynda Tavakoli LE Poetry & Writing October 2017

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Family Ties, poems by Lynda Tavakoli

Lynda Tavakoli’s poems and prose have been broadcast on the BBC and RTE and included in a range of publications including Templar Poets’ Anthology Skein, Abridged, The Incubator Journal, Panning for Poems, Circle and Square, The Honest Ulsterman, A New Ulster and Corncrake magazine. Lynda has won both short story and poetry prizes at Listowel and featured as The Irish Times, Hennessy poet of the month in October 2015.

A Weight of Dust

She perches on our parents’ bed
dusting words from books
when she should be
Green eyes flit
saccades across pages,
hoarding books on shelves
in the attic of her brain
while ornaments hold court
to words leaking their
through the
movement of her lips.
Years later I
would wonder at
the weight of knowledge
magicked from my sister’s
weekly chore,
remembering only
the emergence  of her Sunday smile
and those dusty rooms where
stories shed their skins
in settled particles
on listening window sills.


My father used to shine our shoes
mainly at night
when his working day was stowed away
and out of sight.
At the kitchen table, newspaper spread
with monochrome tidiness
I’d find him hunch-backed,
taking pleasure in the rub
and polishing his undemonstrative love
in an act of simple practicality.

I never saw him spit to seal the shine-
he was not the military type but later on
his rowed recruits would stand with silent pride
lining the cream linoleum.

These days my shoes remain unbuffed and dull
disgraced from lack of care
I sense their outraged
stamp of soles on gloomy shelves.

Do not forget, they say,
the dance that glued the two of you
to move as one across a kitchen floor
cheek to belly, palm to palm
the glisten of your polished shoes
that weighted down on his
and later on the promise
of an empty hopscotch tin
scuffing the chalked pavement.

Initiation by fire

I’d been smoking proper cigarettes
behind our garage for years
before persuading her to succumb;
until now my sister’s
goody-two-shoes veneer
always a deterrent against
my naïve blatancy.

So we waited for an empty house,
where evidence of her sin might
permeate a smoke-choked hearth
and like our Santa letters
from the past, fly the chimney,
spattering cancer dust upon
our unsuspecting red tiled roof.

The newspaper spooled itself
sausage-fat between my fingers,
the day’s headline briefly
inked within the rollup layers
of a virgin cigarette.
My spit secured the sides
and sealed the deal.

I let the match lick
over the sheared tip,
an ochre flame chewing
into airless layers of
yesterday’s news,
grasping for words
to ignite its unforgiving grip.

It’s like jumping into
a cold swimming pool, I said,
you have to do it all at once,
and when the smoke sampled
that first sweet taste of lung
I watched my sister drown
in the smouldering ash of my deceit.


Today I read the past
still inked on pages
of a love’s young dream
and you were in
the rhythm of the words
your presence pulsing
soft between the lines
of lonely notes
that hum upon a stave
still waiting for the chord
to make them whole.

How beautiful then
the heart that aches
for absence sake
as once it did for you and me
and tucked away
inside those envelopes of time
your letters undisturbed from sleep
for such a while
have wakened now the
memories of what we had
and what was yet to be.

Library Formaldehyde

Library shelves, book bloated,
the smell of oldness
without a ticking clock
and a back room waiting.

Better than all the words
on every musty page
a wall of specimens
are glassed in sleep.

Floating eyeballs, warted toads,
a chevron snake
my brother said was found
in someone’s bed.

I never slept the same again.


I am fifteen,
smoking in a hay barn
with a boy I hardly know,
the day stretched behind us,
the fall of evening
passing shadows through gaps
in corrugated tin.

It is madness,
this risk too far,
as I taste the smoke-spill
on his mouth and wonder
at the old man’s dog
outside on the concrete,
untroubled by the fading light.

© Lynda Tavakoli