Robert Shanahan – Grand Romance

Shanahan profile Dec 2020

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

Robert (Roibeard) Shanahan. I am a poet playwright and a painter. A storyteller. For me all there really is…Compassion and Expression. I describe myself as a…‘Grand Lector of Apocalyptic Utterances’. I live in Tasmania. I am from the Irish diaspora. My family from Cork. My prose was published in Australia. Ireland in Outburst magazine. India in Setu poetry magazine. I was awarded high commendation. In the W.B.Yeats poetry prize with ‘Violence at the Egg’. It was read out in the National Parliament of Australia.

Grand Romance

I write this at someone’s gallery
Out of a maelstrom laden inundation

Escaping the relentless pelting rain
I pushed through the glass doors
Shaking myself
I stumbled and entered a greater unfurling chaos

As I looked at paintings and the installations
And the approaching faces of friends as ‘strangers’

All were changed
All I could see was each of them transformed
Wearing the other ones faces
As I peered their faces continued to exchange
Women’s becoming Men’s then changing to children

Their very expressions as I knew them transmuted
And when I spoke to one then others
While looking where I thought their face that belonged was
I now spoke in the voice
Of the one that I was talking to!

The visages metamorphosis dulled vacuousness
These people filling spilling the vicinity of me
Acting as if nothing noticeable had even happened
Almost alive in their everyday expectations

They point to the paintings
Now flapping putrid soiled sheets
One freed from its frame hangs as a cloak on me
The instillations immersed discharging thick emissions
I now in a whirlwind of unrelenting coughs

I felt as I stumbled outside
I was not in my body
As I lolled on the lawns
The grasses stems startled
As people passing
See right through me I am not there!
I am not here!

The compartments of my mind laid out
Like as a child I did with lantana flowers

One day I will walk on your streets
I will lean against the trappings
The putrid wheeled engines whine
Swaying street signs
A kaleidoscope of abstracted shadows
Flickering dead branches from ghostly trees

I will blink ten thousand times and now the street is quite
You alone in your room will blink but once
You will feel the desire for nectar

And alighting on sunlight
Will go down to the street

You will spy me a standing
Cut out from the crowd   edging a wall
I then appear closer still

We will embrace and sink beneath the sidewalk

Leaving behind taunt stringed marionettes
Scarecrows festooned with all our pains
Fears our heartfelt hurt
All our disappointments

Effigies of ourselves
Left for the world to deal with
No longer as arrows in our sides
All that knew us may greet us
Not knowing our true selves are not there

We lay
On verdant grass
Our fingers toe’s all appendages
Are blooming amongst flowers
Encompassing ferns shading a mothering sky
We are in each other’s arms
Far from the destructive inhuman cities and minds

We are the hallowed future
Futures a nature return
Our prodigy like the grand animals as they sleep together
Singing together
Sing with us
It’s a Grand Romance

A Mild Hallucination

The tilt of my head
Once then again diagonal

Aslant to my oblique oscillating face
Emoting space moving through flux
Space of oblivion thrilling
I am greeting dramas of singing air
Tunes of the dark senses hum to me

In the ocean again salted water waves
My sinking log holds me safe
Murk and gloom under me tremulous
Yet I am not floundering!

I am in my bath
Paint peelings floating bobbing
Not a log I see now that my towel has fallen in
Slow in my grasping I sink

Systematic extinguishing of oxygen
Breath riding away on a fast horse
I see its dyspnea tail
Flicking at the night flies

I raise my head
On the side of the bath
Fluorescent shafted gleamings
Mesmerize me in my splashing

High in the ceiling of shadowed plaster
A radiance fighting its way through cobwebs
A travelled moon mysterious to the eye
Illuminating   emitting Luna effusions
Changing reorientations of Culture it seems

At once sandy emissions
A painted black eye
Falcon vision

Then olive tree leaf silhouetted statues
The explosive fire of drama
Warming up the marble
Poetic rhapsodies elegiac

Images undergo a change to drumming sounds
Wooden idol splintering cracks deafening
Animal skin beats
I hear myself chanting
Soft incarnations
This strange moon counter-glows into my eyes

Unravelling frontal lobes
I look into a broken mirror
The palm of my hand
Now behind me I see a hanging sign
‘Museum Entry’

Not my bath ah

I remember a fellow pirouetting   stumbling
Around a marble statue
And I saw flowers around his head
Strange in their wilting

And as raise myself to try to think
His form was
If through a million mirrors reflections
The parts of me refracted apart
Then linked together as that marble statue

I sway at an ancient Irish hot air bath exhibit
Greetings I am an intruder
On marble tiles
Dirty feet
No shoes
Now as I look I seem to have too many toes

Dear Reader
What must you think of me?
Or please think for me!
Yes! Do my thinking


What be this!?
An undesired heave of the mind stills
Stalled not stilled I now feel

Away from cogent clutched display
Where all seemed to be flowing
Ahead of me

Perception now slipped abeyant
Concealing concept pathways
Imagery absolute pitch black

Pulsing through this mundane travailing
Muse now little felt masking itself
A griever a seeing of blank pages
Enveloping the entrusting
Severed Muse

If you are here somewhere
I now cannot channel you
Nothing now that beholds
Holds anything

Drugs cannot overthrow this
I cannot climb
On an empty bottle ladder
To release down a poetic strand
To land on my empty page

Ah to the left of me A flick
Then a flick again inside
Flicking portraying    disclosing
Unknown concealed new characters
Indiscernible spells come from them
I cannot now facilitate them
I scream “I have no words to describe you’’
“I cannot feel your stories”

An unheard scratch
Beyond scratching
An itch beneath presence

My grasping fingers
Scrawling in limbo
Away from perceptibility
Touching leaves
Scribbling now with a caterpillar sac stain
Veins lines of my descent

Something shakes me violently
I scream

“Be as a fear”
“As a bird”
“Immersed in the weight of its cracking branch’’
“I clap in startle”
“Bird if I can I will catch you”

I stop the car
Leaving the steel shell
Harsh in production and movement
Though held like I am in my lounge room

Stepping out
Hard roadway beneath one foot
Rubble and soil the other
A miasma between my bracing toes

The road a shutter
At once imposing in its hardness
An imposition hard on nature
Over the graves of the who and the many
The forever unknown beings beneath this road

A wallaby
Smashed in the path of speeding zooms
I lay by its side
In a puddle of drips from its snout
Water from the watering holes
Of its hind legs shared crowd

The graceful gaze in its dying brown eyes
Grasses and leaves from its stomach
Flow a deluge on the road
Instantly the ants

Mix that last image Reader with your thoughts
I will save the saddest bones

© Robert Shanahan