Poetry of Existence

American Prose Two Thousand And Seventeen


The word


The American tome,

By way of North America.

Manifests its destiny

Upon a map. Extends its lines

Across foreheads, 

Across faces.


This word says it, Alone,

Knows what to do.

Scans the circumference

In awe,

Some mild regret, then

Dashes off its terms.


American word believes

It is the answer.  

Once more writes itself 

Upon the world

With fire.


Friendly poems

From afar

Uncertain of the prose

They now belong to

Turn to poetry,




Asking one another

About meaning.

Stressed, unstressed:

The repetition of the variation

Of the pitch,




American word:

Neither rhyme 

nor reason

In its refrain.


Sombre  Cinco de Mayo 


Merry Christmas


Garlic bedecked

wine driven

            I am

captive of Rome

for 2000 years.


Jesus the Christ

peers through

            stained glass

sees me

prostrate and


wonders how

I allow myself

            to be there,

not the idea



in the starlit cold

night of birth,

not about saving

more about


in the world

for good.


Angels sing of


            rapid advance

of reality toward

the present,



after thought

blasted into stone

to last-

            not for belief,

for good.


What is better

than this idea

            mocked and mimicked

all the while

            consecrated in makeshift art


to be more than

            imagination can bear?


Silence escapes history

tome and book,

            candle and tale,

winsome delivery

of faltering belief

            standing guard

at the temple.


Mercy skips a beat

seeking mercy.

            Faith on the edge

ready to leap.

            Hope glistening

in the distance.

            Charity staying home

dressed for the occasion.


Wound in the world

open again



Siobhán Ó Mócháin Breathnach

December 19, 2011           





Immaculate Apparition


It’s December 12

in the City of the Angels.

            The Virgin of Guadalupe,

She who crushes snakes,

Tonantzin of old,

appears before me

ready to reveal

the real Tilma



Saint Juan Diego,

aka Cuauhtlatoatzin,

hovering nearby


“You are only


with modern eyes

that do not see.”


Juan saw Her

on Tepeyac Hill

believed on the spot,

            became Roman Catholic

embracing a life

of celibacy.


“What will you do,

He demands,

            with your tendency toward


O ye of little faith?”



I consider

the option to view

the Tilma image

            against the sound of

O, Lord I am

not worthy


ringing in

a child’s belief


by Sisters of Charity

on my isle of inherited faith,

Staten Island.


Was it a sense of wonder then

imagination perhaps

            that made me and Juan

yield our minds

to a vision?

to a miracle

or is symbol enough?


Juan, I say,

What does it matter?

the Virgin,

the venerated cloth?           

You, sir, are celibate


earning you


            What will I gain

from returning

to the Fold

in Her Garments?




pompous now

in His new status,

is silent.

I offend Him.

I must show

more respect to a

478 year-old-elder.

“You will gain

Eternal Life,”

He whispers

and vanishes.


I consider

answering Cuauhtlatoatzin’s call

sharing my apparitions

with the local bishop

to “come home”

as the sales pitch


to see once again

as Juan sees.



I decide

no one

not anyone


on earth

or in heaven





Siobhán Ó Mócháin Breathnach            

December 11, 2011

Cloud of Prayer

Up there

a cloud of prayer

capsule of rosaries


our fathers

hail marys

floating waiting

for me to waft

upward and gather.

Down here

all the years

of prayers sent up

collected there 

for my return.

All the masses


holy communion


even after thought

pleas for mercy



for that one moment

when my soul alights.

Not the wasteland

of the poet

my prayers I imagine

revered by a Maker

efforts to be counted

for entrance somewhere


have my name on them.

When I arrive

I'll know what to do

place them in a satchel

toss them over my spirit

fly to the Center

of the universe

spread my history of prayer

before the Unknown


My Guardian Angel

at my side

will estimate

their value


weighing my bundle

measuring sincerity

glancing occasionally

in my direction

testing my attention.

I'll tell her

I always wanted

to be good on my own.

But she will not hear me

as she calculates

my calculating ways

and casts me 


palm leaves


my descent.

Siobhán Ó Mócháin Breathnach
Palm Sunday
April, 2008    

Prayer for Maintenance



I want to keep

my teeth

for as long

as the dentist

tries to pull them

maybe longer.


I want to keep

my mind

longer than

the civilized line

at the

therapist’s window.


I plan to keep

my soul

longer than

the Wholly Roman’s




I want to be

a lower case catholic

and an

upper case woman

minus the red hat

white collar


unholy communion.


I intend to keep

my teeth sharp

my mind keen

my soul intact.




Siobhan OMochain Breathnach