This poem appears in 'Paper Trails'
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Over Ballyfermot’s humpbacked bridge
the paper mill siren called my name
come dance for me the banshee wailed,
skip to the beat of a cardboard drum
in my print and pack auditorium.
Making elbow room twixt maidens and men
I blazed a trail down Killeen’s river road
setting my pace at pushbike speed
along stony rites of passing tracks
amid rising pylons and smoking stacks.
While a tarp wrapped barge, morning pale,
slipped the lock gate’s damp embrace
to follow the reed-decked waterways,
I punched my card and when properly shod
danced to the tune of a make-paper god.
Mid hissing steam, true grit and sweat,
I served those hungry mouth machines
with manual skills and diverse codes
along the yellow brick road of the union man
towards mill workers in New Jerusalem.
While baffles trashed and ground stuff down
and man-sized cogs made demonic sound,
I wondered where that canal barge might be,
perhaps like a swan she’s paddling free
where water and wings are the powers that be.