Shipwrecks : An elegy for Herbert Kearney

All Mothers Are Boats painting and collage by Herbert Kearney


For Herbert Kearney 1963-2021

The strand was crowded with broken boats

the Mighty Herbert ,the Lost Herbert

Herbie the Mystic Clown, the Irish Menace.


Barefoot, avoiding the splinters I touched

the name plates’ twisted copper.

Some letters had rubbed down to null

and the ruined hulls were half pieces

of a drum a god-child had played.


O child of god I prayed on the wet sand

let the soul of Herbert Kearney fly whole

to the mothership in the sky, an upside down

boat of a constellation spreading pink light

on  black dark. Wasted— like all light— on us.


“Do not despair” said his voice in everything

he made: the tumbling horse skeleton

he sat in proclaiming ruin as queen.

And the thick angel he lifted to show me

hope was no good here , only faith

could hold the pieces together

as they fell apart in his hands.


A video of Herbert Kearney in his studio discussing The Mother Ship and The Angel


1 thought on “Shipwrecks : An elegy for Herbert Kearney”

  1. Thank you for this beautiful poem + elegy, and for your outstanding video portrait of Herbie…. You touch the pith.

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