Roscommon Road

Stories housed within the soul

exact in every detail,

the deliberate forgetting

of a mind linked to survival

inoperable in the secret register

where every encounter’s sacred

despite the pain or tragedy;

the look on Bobby’s face telling me

our best friend Brendan’s dead,

my father’s eyes down

who should have borne the weight;

Brendan’s look the night before

his cigarettes in a rolled up sleeve,

a fierceness to his fate

I knew but could not fathom;

two moments of so many years

and more the stories of ancestral past

inherited through the blood

or some marvel of the life force

so who they were and all they suffered

would never be forgotten.

Years ago my father and I

walked upon Roscommon Road

and there we met an old woman

in peasant black and ruddy face

her bright eyes shining as she met

the man who should have been her son.

My father’s eyes were down of course,

he would not bear this weight

so I took it as I had learned to do

and looked into her tear filled face

with all the questions she’d never answer,

happy for the son alive she’d hoped to carry;

one chapter in a secret story,

the library of my soul to guide and witness

his coat and tie and shiny shoes

that kept him from the mud filled yard

where love was lost, one truth abandoned.

I haven’t forgotten to remember Mary

or Roscommon Road, and the place

within her empty womb

where nothing less than life itself

still waited to be born.



12 Responses to “Roscommon Road”

  1. Bill Dare says:


  2. This one I understand very deeply as I’ve been uncovering my Irish roots that go back to the people of the mists. Unbelievably complicated people, survivors of some of the worst tragedies known. And many unknown. Research helping me to understand the “whys and wherefores” of this dark cloud of sorrow in contrast to the lightness of my spirit. Complicated. And yet, the genes within keep me going regardless of loss. Abandonment that has driven me deeper than genetics, than history, into the absolute truth of myself which is love.

  3. Athena Coleman says:

    Beautifully written. I love the depth of compassion in this piece. Such a simple phrase, “my father’s eyes were down”, yet it conveys so much. I appreciate your ability to lay bare with brutal honesty (yet remain tender of heart) the contradictions of human interaction. I could say more, but choose to leave a path clear in my consciousness for this poem to further flesh out.

  4. David Banner says:

    Don…this one is really complex, with lots of shaded meanings and visuals….very good, my friend!

    Love, David

  5. Robin Bryant says:

    Thank you for the enlivening journey with you down Roscommon Road, awakening so much in my soul. In the midst of technology, your words
    are consistently a place of remembering for me .. a place of rest,
    surrender, and creative thought. We are our stories past, present,
    and those yet to be told. How rich Life is!

  6. Sandy Jensen says:

    This one rambles (I know it’s a journey poem, but I don’t particularly mean it that sense) a bit for me into the prosaic back to the lyrical…I have some poems that are notes from my soul to write something longer, more structured, perhaps as a lyric essay, and this narrative seems to me like that. Pieces of the story are surfaced and suggest whole chapters in a long story. Only you, of course, know whether or not there is something more complete you want to do with either the poem or a story. I would be surprised if you thought this was finished, though!
    PS I’m in the middle of preparing spring classes, but one day I will surprise you with a reading of the packet/project you sent me!

  7. Heart capturing of presence, pain and portent.

  8. Keith Fairmont says:

    The bittersweet longings and desires of humanity so deeply contained in this poem. Oh, for the Roscommon Roads we all remember at various time along our journey.
    THank you.

  9. William piChay says:

    “…the whole motion of our time is from the material to the spiritual…slow as it is, it’s still a pretty huge motion. I don’t think the world is going to leave (us) alone.” [Illusions, Richard Bach). That’s the human perspective, and our human experience.

    but…WHO is walking the Roscommon Roads? That’s the big question, regardless of story–every time.

  10. Elaine says:

    WOW! It touched a place in my heart and I REMEMBERED. I too have walked down Roscommon Road!

  11. Thanks Don, I have walked that Roscommon road as have many- I like that the soul knows its path regardless of the trials and tribulations of the journey- that path is ours to discover and keep sacred. I appreciate that you walk the fine line.

  12. Eleanor says:

    This is one of your best. You have somehow been able to use the poet’s gifts to clothe in words what all of us have hidden within our life stories. You are the friend I know who writes with a golden pen.

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