Noelle Lynskey – Homeless

Profile Noelle Lynskey LE Poetry & Writing June 2018

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Homeless, poems by Noelle Lynskey

Noelle Lynskey, now living in Portumna, is originally from Strokestown. Director of Shorelines Arts Festival for the last 10 years, she is founder and member of the Maple Poetry Group and Portumna Pen Pushers as well as Ballinasloe Peers. In the past, Noelle read at Galway’s Cúirt Literary Festival, Baffle, Inis Cealtra Arts Festival, Terryglass Arts Festival, Clifden Arts Festival, Group 8 and Sligo’s Cos Cos, Her work is featured in many anthologies and literary magazines including Crannóg, Skylight, Scríobh, Boyne Berries, Roscommon Anthology, RTE Radio 1 Sunday Miscellany, Strokestown Anthology 2017 and West 47. Awards include Baffle, Scríobh and the Hannah Greally award as well as runner up in Poetry Ireland’s Poetry Project. She was former judge of the Strokestown Schools’ Poetry and is current judge of Strokestown’s 20:20 competition 2018. A mother, a community pharmacist and a lover of the arts, Noelle is working on her first collection.


Sometimes I am noticed –
a blue bundle of pity,
wearing that shade
always suited to my eyes,
the same hue of my first
dancing costume, with its
two strips of celtic knots,
my eight-year-old curls.

Other times I dream
the drone of the sea
pulling me into the cobalt
of childhood, just there
off the island cliffs
near Gort na gCapall,
the song of the waves as familiar
as today’s beat of footsteps.

Or I pray,
wrapped in the warmth
of the Hail Mary, her blue
halo a softening voice
in the blown dust
and clicking heels,
the closed purses
at my eye level.

Sometimes it’s Joseph,
the saint’s prayer I hold,
propped in my empty cup,
the carpenter who chisels
a crevice to scatter saw dust
there around my childhood feet,
the carver of the welcome door
to the tap of dancers on the floor.

The Bed

What you share
cannot be undone by age
or sorrow. Lisa Taylor. What Lovers Know

Like a pair of undertakers
two strong strangers lift with ease
this chart of my long-ended marriage,

carry it through the bedroom door;
stagnant motes of detritus and dander
flying with skin and hair,

the scent of thirty years
swallowed by the springs,

the imprint of estranged lovers
shoved out the door,

leavings of anger rise
in the heartquake of betrayal.

My new bed fits the empty place
a blessing in this measured space,

let him off,
no payback,
no looking back.

Sunday Ritual

From the door of their small shop
that opened into the back room, I watched
the soaping of his shiny apple head
uncapped only on Sunday mornings,
herself leaning over the kitchen sink
in her ritual, as personal
as a whispered prayer.

My wonder at the sight of a wife
washing a man’s face,
her hands circled in bubbles
cupping the water to rinse the week away,
then shave his stubble in sandy strokes,
the kettle boiling on the Rayburn,
two eggs poaching,
his gleaming face renewed.

Only the wheeze from their red shop door
lured me away
to serve at the counter,
witness to an intimacy
I couldn’t fathom at eleven.

Their comfort with my presence
steadily drew me in to share their table
taste my first salted island of yellow yolk
set in a shining sea of white.

My first glimpse
of the comfort of a poached egg
of a woman so loving,
of a man so naked, so loved.


For Monsignor Charles Travers

For sixty years he has borne psalms in his pockets.
His feet move with the ease of one who has measured
the lightness of his own pace; a bell rings at noon and six
to the rhythm of his trimmings and vespers,
while a faint hum trills from his hearing aid.

Eyes that are kind and ever outward
deflect his aging need for a helping hand,
his curved bend more a genuflection.
He reflects my concern with his heed for me;
in alb and surplice, he cloaks me in his faith.

He is the rosary voice at my grandfather’s grave,
the purple stole of calm at my mother’s bedside,
the consoling hymn in generations of family grief;
through my stained-glass woman’s heart
he radiates hope as brilliant as the lunula
of the monstrance, so blessed in his hands.

When he presses his palms together in prayer
He is a church spire high above the street.

© Noelle Lynskey