Great Uncle

Here is the sound
of the door opening, and the oldest family home
becoming part of your life.

Here is the sound
of opera, played loudly
in the basement in Harold’s Cross.

Here is the sound
of a cane clattering down the stairs
pre-arranged announcement that he was ready
to have his hair cut in the best barber in Dublin, Westmoreland Street.

Here is the sound of the fire engine
When they thought he had died over his tempura, South Great George’s Street
and the sound of relief, when he woke again
‘No Mr. Sheeran, there is no need to pay the bill today, we are just happy that you are ok.’

Here is the sound
Of a man telling you about your great great uncles
who survived Somme, Dardanelles, Independence, but not the sea.

Here is the sound of Glasgow 1938
and your grandfather, on a skite
with his brother-in-law.

Here is the sound of the camera,
Clicking to record a moment
a moment in a long life.

Here is the voice
recorded on a tape, just thoughts
of a man alone.

Here is the sound of breath
and a heartbeat, that has persisted.
Here is the sound of silence.

He is at the door:
Resplendent and welcoming ~
Here is The Sound of Life.

For John Gerard Sheeran, 1912-2011. R.I.P.

Published by


A native of Dublin, Ireland. When not busy with work or family, I try to create new stuff using words and pictures, often with a scientific theme. Thanks for visiting.

22 thoughts on “Great Uncle”

  1. Your haiku are lovely – but this long poem is musical and haunting, full of image. I felt that the last verse did not live with the strength of the poem and could be removed.
    Thanks for calling at my pages.

  2. Today I read in the telegraph that after all these years the body of my great uncle has been found, well, the bones… He was a poet and a pilot during the second world war… 3 days before the war ended his plane was shot down over Italy… they were never found, until now… and so the title of this poem caught my eye, and it’s mood and lyrical rhythm fit, and yet made me sad… because he was a poet too, and even though I never met him, he was family, and he fought for freedom, he was the same age as me… I wish I could have spoken with him.

  3. I’m very fond of the repetition of the first line. The last stanza confuses me, though — most of the poem appears to be a retrospective, and the second to last stanza could be interpreted as his final breaths. What would the poem be like if you ended with the second to last stanza instead of the first?

    Either way, I’m happy to have read it, and have shared it on Facebook and Google plus.



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