Three Poems by Laura Sheahen


Naturally the roots reach for the stream bed;
Predictably the plant pulls towards the sun.
Wild instinct in all life that must be fed
Knows where nourishment wells or can be wrung:

I have tapped your limbs for marrow and for heart’s blood.
I have gathered your sweat into balm that does not sting;
How can I change, who now am poisoned and blistered—
Inevitably the doomed, blind reflex springs:

What can I do but cup my hands for water
When I am weak and you are in my sight?
Nothing in nature says betrayals matter:
What can I do but lean towards you for light?
Little the green leaf learns what reason taught her;
Little I learn what heals me best can blight.



my heart is free of rage, the world will be rebuilt
–Miklos Radnoti, poet killed on a forced march during World War II

The world was rebuilt. We rebuilt it.
The bricks were sort of the same
Their cracks were the same.
We put trees mostly where they were then.

Some blueprints were different: not blue.

We wrote “new” on the doors of the courts
We wrote “changed” on the cemetery
and of course a fresh coat of pain
for the soldiers and Senate.

Former tenant:
We think you may be impressed
though disoriented.

We invite you so come,
You come see it,
Come see.


Migration Flows

Now rescued from a sea that did not drown you.
The lifeguards pull your choking body free
from shivered boards, wreckage of raft around you.
The other victims exit silently.

Your coughing body, black-bruised limbs are free,
but prison circles round you as you walk.
The natives blind. The other victims see.
The lifeguards practice antidotes for shock:

Flat prison circles round you as you walk.
The lifeguards keep their watch but grudgingly.
Land-balance harder. Dry land is the shock.
The ocean safe, without a boundary.

The natives watch your breathing grudgingly.
The balance tips and they win. You retract
to where they cannot draw a boundary:
Safer in ocean soon. You circle back.

Land-balance harder. Go where you are free:
Better to maybe wreck the raft around you,
safer in waves with no guards there to flee:
White, the white water close, that will not drown you.




Laura Sheahen‘s poems have appeared in Stirring, Four Way Review, MiPOesias and other publications. She works in humanitarian aid on refugee issues and has traveled widely in Asia and the Middle East. She posts at and her photos are at .