The Oilliphéist Story

by Peter Halpin
Wild Poetry Forum
Third Place, September 2021
Judged by Donna Emerson

Lore has it the beast was sideswiped by Patrick
who is patron of Ireland and its first catholic.
Patrick seemed to have a distain for anything snake
flinging them into the deep ocean or fathomless lake.
Ould Oillie; a snake-dragon of mountainous size,
thought it best to scarper before his early demise.
So, he plucked himself free, leaving behind a big cut
that filled with water and became the Shannon, but
feeling hungry from his unplanned twists of torque,
stopped enroute to snack on the piper, O’Rourke,
who, two sheets to the wind and blurry eyed
continued to play, while swallowed inside,
much to the ire of Oilli, who spat him back out
before plunging into the sea; still hungry no doubt.

Here, Oillipheist, the sea serpent-like monster of Irish mythology makes quick work of the Shannon and the piper O’Rourke, thanks to the poet’s efficient use of fourteen lines of rhyming couplets. The poem remains lively, focused, and humorous. Structured poems do give us a frame into which we can, as Robert Frost said, just place the story. --Donna Emerson