Tim Dwyer – Sailing Back

Dwyer profile Dec 2020

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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing, Volume Two, December 2020.

Tim Dwyer’s chapbook is Smithy Of Our Longings (Lapwing Publications). A previous contributor to Live Encounters, his poems have appeared in Cyphers, Orbis and Poetry Ireland Review among other journals. He recently moved from the U.S. and now makes his home in Bangor, Northern Ireland.

Sailing Back

After the war, he finally accepts
his brother will come into the farm.
On the Galway Road,
he labours with pick and shovel
for a ticket to New York Harbor.
There, he is a farmer
riding the subway,
ploughing through crowds
to a job in the South Bronx,
a half-life across two centuries.


Released from the walls of Tuam,
her baby never seen again,
she will be a servant in Dun Laoighaire
for the next seven years.
Cooking for a doctor’s family
is a comfort and a grief—
the children of the house laughing upstairs,
the bottle hidden in the kitchen below.

One day, the doctor books her passage—
to sail away from the secret wound
she will carry to her death.


I carry it still.
Growing up neither here nor there,
ocean waves ebb and flow,
my life emerges, recedes,
emerges yet again.

The experiment in America
has come to an end.
My passage is booked,
I am sailing back.

Thankfully, No Quarantine Letter

Ballyholme Bay, 3 April 2020

arrived in the post today.
Flush of northern wind
enlivens the trees
on my way to the shore.

A skein of brants
lands in the mudflats—
I hope they will stay
until the viral eclipse.

I write on weathered paper,
texture of vellum.
On this strand, a 9th century monk
hears a blackbird sing.

I lean back on the pulsing wind.
Long ago, this gust
carried the voice of God.

Ballyholme Bay, 20 April 2020

Missing for a week,
the brants have left on their flight
to nest in Greenland.

I Lie Awake Until The Blackbird

begins to sing.
This could be a sky
painted by a young artist,

she covers the canvas
with watercolour blue,
feathers in cirrus clouds
and a herring gull
eternally in flight.

My shy confession:
this morning I wish
to be part of the sky,
ever changing, always there

Day of The Epiphany

Walking East this time of day,
my shadow stretches
over the incoming waves.
A toddler squeals in joyful fear,
knee deep in the foamy sea.

A golden spaniel greets me,
nuzzles my hand, believes
my notebook is a stick
for me to throw
and for him to fetch.

The white-haired sisters,
who call me writing man,
wave as they venture into the lough
for their first swim of this new year.

Keeps us forever young, they say,
as they take the icy plunge.

© Tim Dwyer