Wednesday 3 February 2021

Two Magnificent Poems by Robert ( Roibeard ) Shanahan





Stumbling down

Over the slippery Rivers banks

After endlessly following the mossed channeled Rills


Rotating stones down those weathered grooves

Day into night

Month into year

Tumbling them into the churning River


My sweated exhaustion

I’ve almost drowned in it

Always with the cawing of secretive birds behind me

Voicing the souls of sorrowful severance


Whilst pecking encrusted sweated salt

Off my glistening shoulders

And when so very tired I collapsed into the River

Amongst the stones I have rolled in

I laid silently in the water grasses

In Morpheus’s dappled aquatic shadows


Rippling in the reed beds

Rainbow lighted stems

Sighted or imagined all the same to me

I have a Need for the Miraculous


Colours and shades

Changing by the second

This consoled me

Any change of anything

Gave a chance to glimpse my loss


Lichen eddying in my hair

Then revolving down from my neck

Swirling over my body

Embracing me and now my clothes have decayed

I lay in naked grief


Moss has entered my ears

Now coming out of my eyes

Forming a partly submerged log

A moist pillow for my head

As I lift my head rubbing my eyes


Looking down

I see in the limpid running water

A brackish mass

A image suggested in the sediment

A silted picture of my passed lover?


No and I wish on wishes

I’m just not sure

But something is there


Then a fish darting fast from a nipper

Breaks up the seeing


Breathing fitfully

My lungs in rhythmical sadness

Collapsing in and out in grief


Moving my hand

Fingering over the riverbed


A throb

Feeling a special stone

A stone I’ve placed there before


And I can remember

In my watered mind

Where I found it

Or really where it found me


Once I meandered off the water table

Found myself at a magical Confluence

Two tributary streams meeting

One a current traveling up to the hills

The other cascading down to the River


I stood in troubled thought

One foot in each stream

And in that mental attrition

I never felt so alone

My loss vanquishing my very self


Standing in that turbulence

Feeling the force of the opposing streams

Dividing me

This the physical manifestation of my grief

Widening my legs

Splitting my body asunder


With the passioned vigour

Under beneath the surface

Lifting my feet

Floating now a few inches above each streams bed

Just above the Hydraulic action


The river stones constantly knocking into each other

Pounding themselves spinning to ricochet

Wearing away to roundness

These kinetics distracted me

And I almost unconscious

Left the tributaries

Entering the main River


Dropping to my knees


And I rise with this most rounded stone

It’s energy spinning me hope


Now as I have it in my hand again

Still spinning

And with this stone

I knock every stone I can

Expressing the vibrations of loss

Then a last knock a hopeful note

Before placing it now as the last stone

The bridge complete


And I imagine

Something from my efforts is telling me

All the continuous struggles

Has succeeded

My construction

Has become magic

Has become my saving


This River

Now has the stones to step on

In the correct order

The Edenic Sequence

And my labours have managed that


To walk over those stones

Placed in this particular order

I can place my hand in the bubbling water

To touch my one who’s passed

The one I need to touch


‘’And I have rolled tons of stones’’

‘’And I always will’’

‘’Till in word I can voice it!’’

‘’To give a sound to my loss’’

‘’If I’m silent somehow it’s maybe not true’’

‘’If I scream it it will be worse than true’’


The River laps

The Moon somewhere evokes

Some tidal change

The River’s level at its lowest


Making the stone walkway now completely visible

It looks a wonder a swaying stone ‘bridge’

A madly freestanding spindly ‘Stack’

From the shoreline to the middle of the River

An ‘on the swing’ edifice founded on Love


‘’I shall walk my stones’’

‘’And I shall find her’’


Walking one step after another

Finding the stones rhythm a hurry

On the slippery stones

Almost falling off on both sides


After edgy moments the end is reached

To a ledge that I had created

In fact this was the heaviest stone

A counter cornerstone I laid

In the centre of the River


I Collapsing on it

I douse my hand in the water

In expectance


For a second Nothing happens

I almost crumbled

Then Nothing returns

Over and over again

In sadder sorrowful laden increments


Again and again

For hours days nothing

Not even a biting fish

Or a passing leaf


My assemblage now sways

How can this be happening now

Then I notice the cornerstone moving

In quickness I place my free hand on it

To ease this displacement

Soon feeling the great pressure and weight


My other hand in the water

Swelling puffing up

I now can’t feel it


The hold on the cornerstone leaving

Placing that hand into the water

‘That’s my greatest need’

This hand now like a dragonfly flutters

Grabbing in every direction

In desperate need to find her


This causes a shaking

Uncontrollable vibrations

The River in waves around the construction

The stones began to fall away


All soon collapse

Fall in the surging to be a sad monument

An abstract form screaming love

Forever on the Riverbed


‘’I the air out of me’’

‘’An empty bag’’

‘’Left on the the last stone to collapse’’

‘’This ledge’’

‘’It slowly sinking’’


‘’No tears left I’ve cried them all away’’

‘’There is no imagination to save me’’


‘’May every stone I’ve ever moved’’

‘’Rise and orbit me now’’

‘’Can that denseness of stone pelt me’’

‘’One atom after another’’

‘’Drive me down’’

‘’Deeper beneath this River’s bed’’

‘’Life without her NO!’’


‘’That cannot be’’


My voice trails off

The lapping on the sinking ledge

The only sound heard now

The tip of the ledge

With an eighth of my prone body

Just above the water


Suddenly it stops descending

Sits still as a small atoll

In this drama of moonlight


‘’Staring into that moonlight’’

‘’It’s beams entering my eyes’’

‘’This the last vision on this earth for me’’

‘’Pale beams the Moon in its phases’’



‘’Fate has altered me’’

‘’Is this! the finality of the sequence?’’


‘’I am in a new vision’’

‘’Yes this is the last’’

‘’The enumerated!’’




‘’With repetitions of exhaustion’’

‘’And needed bewilderment’’

‘’Ah the Set endured ‘’




‘’I feel my Passed Lover’s presence’’

‘’She saturating it all over me’’


‘’Pulsating through my skeleton’’

‘’Feeling it warm’’

‘’A powerful release’’


‘’The very air around me liquidized’’

‘’My eyes glassy empty’’


‘’Respiratory impairment’’


‘’I cannot breathe’’

‘’I’m beginning to drown’’

‘’Though my mouth is above water’’

‘’Water is’’

‘’Blowing out of my mouth’’


‘’In the gushing’’

‘’I can now speak it ’’

‘’I can fucking say’’

‘’My Lover drowned in this river’’



‘’Then I saw a future i saw the way !’’

‘’I sing it with my heart’’

‘’I believe she hears it’’



My tears fall into the River

Making little joy wavelets


In that water

Droplets of water

Each in individual microscopic patterns

Each different from the other

Uniquely beautiful

Apartness Spurns memory



‘’This River! has a memory’’

‘’Her body 70% water’’

‘’She swallowed water’’

‘’When she drowned’’

‘’That is the salvation’’

‘’Droplets of her in the rivers memory’’

‘’Must remain’’


‘’The stones’’

‘’All that wretched work a folly!’’

‘’The absurdity of grief!’’

‘’No !’’

‘’A blessed springboard’’


I dive into the water and I drink

I drink and I drink

And I drink

I can taste her

The pores of my skin to sponges


With every gulp I taste her deeper

In gurgitating

I drown





I in anxious grasp

Of my green wooden chair

At swelled moments tears fall

Deeply absorbing into the timber



My chin perches as a destroyed bustard

On the top of the chairs left leg



My body sideways hangs over it

The back rail pressures pain in my forearms

Then slowly comforts

Then back to discomfort



Sweat soaks moistures penetrates the wood

Radicles germinating on the underside of the seat



My stretching legs cold

Now seem to be drilling

Through the floor entering the ground

Tap roots searching seem to follow me

Through my toes



The chair moves inside itself

The need of its ligneous self

What it was before the felling



I now raising a glass

Liquid streams from the corners of my mouth

I can not stop drinking and it's all pouring out

An uncontrollable urge to keep filling the glass

The chair and myself sodden



Dropping the glass I in mutualistic eye vision



The chair sprouts

Buds on the rungs and rails

Side branches early limbs surround me

Chlorophyll misted air

Murmurings up and down in the emerging vascular system

The seat is rising on trunk

Warm bark for a moment covers me



My head now lies on a gall insected cecidia

My arm winding a blossom

To the centre of the heartwood



Leaves fresh in their profundity

Are a green curtain over my face




I fall forward the chair is gone

I slowly walk forward

The emerging foliage shadows my steps

Onto the next chair and tears






I am a poet playwright and a painter

A storyteller

For me all there really is

Is Compassion and Expression

I described myself once as a...

‘Grand Lector of Apocalyptic Utterances’


I live in Tasmania

I am from the Irish diaspora

My family from Cork

I have had my prose published in Australia

Ireland in ‘Outburst’ magazine

Numerous times in ‘Life Encounters’

India in ‘Setu’ poetry magazine

One of my proses was awarded high commendation

In the W. B. Yeats poetry prize

‘Violence at the Egg’

Was read out in the National Parliament of Australia


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