Maurice Devitt

Maurice Devitt, after thirty years plying his trade in the world of Insurance & Banking, decided he wanted to be a poet, so he retired. Now eight years and 200 poems later he has recently published his debut collection, ‘Growing Up in Colour’, with Doire Press.

During those eight years he also completed the MA in Poetry Studies at Mater Dei, won the Trocaire/Poetry Ireland and Poems for Patience competitions, and was placed or shortlisted in many other competitions including The Patrick Kavanagh Award, The Interpreter’s House, Bangor Literary Festival, Over the Edge New Writer of the Year Competition, The Listowel Collection Competition and Cuirt New Writing Award.

Selected for Poetry Ireland Introductions in 2016, his poems have appeared in a significant number of journals, both in Ireland and internationally. He was a featured poet at the Poets in Transylvania Festival in 2015 and a guest speaker at the John Berryman Centenary Conference in both Dublin and Minneapolis. His poems have been nominated for Pushcart, Forward and Best of the Net prizes and his Pushcart-nominated poem, ‘The Lion Tamer Dreams of Office Work’, was the title poem of an anthology published by Hibernian Writers in 2015. He is curator of the Irish Centre for Poetry Studies site.

Unspoken

for Teresa
  
 It must have been long before we met
 that you learned the sorcery of silence -
 how words only matter when they matter,
 and how the breathless scram of conversation
 sometimes does little but distract the senses.
 I remember one time driving to Connemara,
 you said nothing until just outside
 Kinnegad – then merely to remind me
 how the motorway spurs and not to miss
 the turn. I had started the journey
 with a skittish collage of jokes
 and useless facts, intended to impress
 my captive audience, but even these
 quickly trailed off into quiescence -
 the car a hide from which to stalk
 the passing beauty, our breath measured
 and perfectly in sync, eyes on fire
 and your lips carved into a blissful smile. 

Going to School

 Waiting for the 40 bus at Finglas Bridge,
 I was hoping for a go ahead* conductor
 who would back-hand me enough change
 to buy a tipsy cake in the dairy on Dorset Street.
 Indolently looking around, I noticed 
 our new neighbour approaching the bus-stop.
 A solicitor, my mother told me,
 although that meant little to me,
 except to be struck by the meatless, angular
 frame and the bulging black briefcase
 that seemed to travel everywhere with him.
 Conversation with adults wasn’t really my thing,
 so I looked with studied intensity
 in the opposite direction and, when the bus arrived,
 swung myself deftly onto the platform, 
 scampering up the steel stairs to an upper deck
 already stuffed with the smells and bundled shapes
 of a winter morning – pillows of smoke and steam 
 rising from the shoulders of a squadron of dark coats.
 I managed to get the last window seat
 towards the front, though my plans were dashed
 when he sat in beside me – the conductor being unlikely
 to perpetrate any sleight of hand
 in the presence of the legal profession.
 The trip passed slowly – him prodding me
 with questions about progress in school
 and me answering in a clipped, evasive fashion,
 although, the balance did tip slightly
 when he reached into the cavernous innards
 of his dark case, riffled through the sheaves
 of even darker lives and produced a bar
 of Urney’s TWO and TWO, 
 fitting compensation for cramping my style. 
  
 * Go ahead: a practice I remember from the 1970s for some Dublin bus conductors to stage-whisper go ahead while returning a portion of the fare tendered and neglecting to print a ticket 

 Walking

 I set off in the confident heat, my destination a secret
 even to me. The crossroads at the bottom of the hill
 offers three choices: the first looks particularly promising
 – straight with a slight incline – although I know
 from experience that once out of sight, the path turns
 sharply and disappears into itself, a rather frustrating
 denouement for the ambitious walker but, on the other hand,
 a worthy excuse for a hasty return to the house, on days
 when not all my fates are aligned and my plantar fasciitis
 is acting up; the second is bearded with trees and seems
 to funnel into darkness but, after the descent through
 the railway tunnel, the road rises briskly, dusts itself off
 and opens out into a delta of grassy aspects, each more lush
 than the last; the third choice is by far the most enticing,
 a set of stout bollards manning a sinuous pathway
 that on this frou-frou autumn day seems to be paved
 with gold leaf. It leads to what I believe in the distance
 is a small wood, abundant with fruit and multifarious fauna.
 I have been tempted I must admit, although the Weimaraner
 perched on the pillar of the first house is a slight deterrent.
 My neighbour went there last week and never returned.
 His wife received a letter in his distinctive hand,
 reassuring her that he was ok and not to panic.
 She has woken in the night to footsteps in the attic
 and the front door swinging open,
 though she’s convinced the events are not connected.    

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