Noel Monahan

Stone-Breaker / Surprised by Words

Noel Monahan

Share Via:


(after the saxifraga flower)

We survived the last ice age, huddling

Eye-to-eye in a land of clouds, skylight of open air

Looking down on distant hills of ice, pillows of snow.

We are the unsung song of the Cuilcagh Mountains,

In tune with the howls of the wind

Constant crunch and crackle of ice chunks.

We are the dream catchers

                        Flowers growing for ghosts,

We are outlaws revelling on our own

Hanging on to arteries of stone.

We are fossil flowers, a blizzard of bloom,

Tough and tender, bent on growing into seed.

Our only prayers that some seeds may fly

With the winds of chance

Into the open mouths of years to come.


Our brain power grew. We could light fires,

Stitch skins together. We headed North

With flint spears, throwing stones at wild horses,

Cattle ... Sleeping in the brown bear’s cave.

We lifted our arms to implore the sun to stay

But night came down, herds of stars grazed in the dark

The moon opened her eye

                                    and we prayed

That the ghosts would leave us alone.

Surprised by words, we played with sounds

Heard them changing into other words:

Piter, Pater, Da, Do, Di- ri, Toop...

The rain softened our faces, we laughed, wept,

And coupled words with our fears and told them as stories.

Noel Monahan

Noel Monahan was born in Granard, Co. Longford. He has won numerous awards for his poetry and writing. His awards include: The SeaCat National Poetry Award, organised by Poetry Ireland, The RTE P.J. O’Connor Award for drama, The ASTI Achievements Award, The Hiberno-English Poetry Award and The Irish Writers’ Union Poetry Award. He has read his work on Sunday Miscellany, RTE 1, on a number of occasions. His poetry was prescribed text for Leaving Certificate English, 2011 & 2012. “Where The Wind Sleeps”, is Noel Monahan’s sixth collection of poetry, published in 2014 . “ Opposite Walls”, was published in 1991, “Snowfire”, in 1995, “ Curse of The Birds” in 2000 and “ The Funeral Game” in 2004, “ Curve Of The Moon” in 2010, all published by Salmon. A number of his poems have been translated into: Italian, Russian, French and Romanian. His most recent plays include “ The Children of Lir”, performed by Livin Dred Theatre and “ Lovely Husbands”, a play for young people, based on the work of Henry James. For twenty three years he has worked with Heather Brett as co editor of Windows Publications. A seventh collection, “ Celui Qui Porte Un Veau” , a selection of French translations of Noel Monahan’s work was published by Alidades in 2014.Noel Monahan holds an M.A. in Creative Writing.