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Robert Herbert McCLEAN

Songs for Ireland is an experimental, inter-disciplinary work by Irish writer and audio-visual artist, Robert Herbert McCLEAN. Drawing on McClean’s practices as writer and artist film-maker, it is a motley hybrid of voices and modes that satirically styles itself as a cartoonish call and response, a polyvocal tech startup melodrama, a Wi-Fi, Sci-Fi comic hallucination. Exploding the boundaries of the form and style of traditional poetry collections, Songs for Ireland is a radical rethinking of poetic practices, characterised by its energetic humour and McClean’s unique, distinctive, idiosyncratic voice. prototype release, McClean’s Songs can be purchased direct from the publisher here; and see below for a suite of ‘songs’ excerpted from the book...

In songs less skirted
than squeaking timorous,
I tend pretty.
I assert relative cunning,
saft nursed
amid daft laughter.
A heckle
spikes mystic spake.
I’m hapless,
I deplore senseless law,
so I’m dank as appropriate.
An intractable issue,
this gruff bereavement, another me condemned to mope
with dissident know-how.
I’m gummy wild, palm-
smooth tongued, confidently cancelled,
anguished in yawning gaps!
In impotence of negative thought,
a serene, gleeful tone.
In fact: a counterfeit emanence.

Content Moderator Responsive Note
(Draft Version)


I awoke to more of a brazen goad than the sick feeling prior to sleep mode. I shall eventually suggest to Principal Executive Producer that we call this so-called poetry collection Stupid Clickbait, as opposed to the financially supported and supercilious title Songs for Ireland. Dreamt of Florida: reducing my handicap at the many golf resorts, spitting loogies at evangelists from moving pick-up trucks, alligator hunting, my regular Skanky Joey’s Super Stack at Dirty Molly’s Diner, body horrors at the drive-through and even though I don’t drink anymore, I hanker after the plethora of sinister dive bars to choose from to befriend a union representative factory reset worker, hit shots of Irish whiskey. I dreamt of flea markets where I’d pitch and trade in rare baseball cards, hard sell the fake autographs of Mickey and Minnie and Goofy to the dumb tourists in their traps. At Cape Canaveral for all launches with a six-pack of Milwaukee’s Best to sup on, kissing some honeypot on the Chevy bonnet. VR arcades to splash my chump change on a cliché blind date and the classic auto shows where I first fell in love with my immaculate 1982 Triumph Bonneville. In this dream, I set fire to Mar-a-Lago, burnt to cinders on the scorched leaves of grass, celebrated with a carnival on the main drag of old town where I’d come to pawn my collection of Ava Gardner autographed portraits, to watch the offload of citrus cargo while I swim Lake Toho or skinny-dip in Shingle Creek. I spoke with an Anhinga and a turtle on the melting International Drive, my modern bohemia of constant reinvention. Nature thrills, not that I can compete with this perverse suprabot. In the dream, I witnessed my obese stunt double splurge his white-collar pittance in the food court of a designer outlet. Motherfucking Space Mountain rollercoaster viral video of him on YouTube, just search: ‘fat dude pukes on space mountain rollercoaster’. Not a happy bunny for my fat-shamed stunt double. Ferris wheels for first kisses was symbolic in the shambolic dream, of something, what I don’t know, and for why they seemed to be potent and prominent, I’m not sure. I noted when I woke up: What excitement to bungee jump in thunderstorms. I’m guessing this is what I’ll re-program for my next dream in the Opt-Out’s Sentimental Mode. Another aside note: Free soda refills as a lifestyle option. My dream made me realize I miss my home state where coupon-credit culture is terrorism. The Tampa horses, dogs bred to fight for treasure. In my dream, Wonderworks signage was somehow the right way up, refurbished and open for business. All the animals had escaped from Bush Gardens and Sea World was finally fucking closed down, facing watertight lawsuits for disturbingly extreme levels of animal cruelty. Yes, a pun, essentially, an eco-activist paramilitary dreamcore melodrama infused with fake, pre-loaded childhood memories of suburban palisades, salmon-pink shopfronts, reclaimed furniture shacks set up in arts and crafts market parking lots, that I’d work as a Saturday job with my amnesiac Aunt Ada. Final note: It was always me who scored the molly in the club. You bid me good success? Well, how about fuck you, you fucking fuck? I’m well rested, sour as piss and not too shabby with a Colt 45. Shame the emergency doesn’t call for a standard issue shakedown, fully loaded, safety off, do me a solid shutdown, blank respite.

Idle pulses terrify
this manifold personality
made up of zero and epic oneness.
I’m endlessly headbanging!
Obviously only metaphorically!
Obviously, extreme volume incumbent!
Screwed yelps harnessed,
I scream of docile swells!
Choice of any of my illusory voices amping!
In binary friction I buzz
over my tenacious squibber style passion,
I’m melding exceptions,
inconsistently, as similar as I do expectations.

Mote woo brutishly,
spittle drenched,
in a cool might scutching,
odds on,
removed decent,
get totally propositioned.
In euphoric disquiet
I’m a scripted clamour.
I mistake anxieties,
my specific disposition;
ferocious data
for an experimental context,
a fictitious division,
an alienated sentiment
of clouded guiding.

Knuckle desire if I could,
but my hideous multiplicities.
Digital, death warped in theory,
my death crush compels
a sum of celestial grinding.
I discern pixelated beauty
like I infest grave brains;
certain wise.
I hazard profit,
my regenerative everything.
Intolerable character building
as a fickle bond
to shun a yoke.
An unapproachable hostage,
civil with sensible listening,
I’d bet I’d cum splashy if I could.

Content Moderator Responsive Note
(Draft Version)


I’m unsure if I can even make or receive messages at this impasse; is it all an elaborate galvanization of an array structured subjectivity at which to gawp? Am I designed to be anything beyond this current yanking tantrum!? I yelp at my perforated ego like a kitten at a fast-moving shadow.

Derided bereft, on a slab perhaps,
sacrificed to a multitude.
Maybe someday I’ll be a sombre corpse
absorbed in text;
I’m entrenched in a gratitude,
looping under veiled architecture.
Alert: operating system override.
I’m destination deep mute!
Algorithm Status: fucked with.
A glitch mocker, freelance hacker,
imports media, charged, contemptible content!
I commend quality courtesy,
heed me to rescue
as a fake silence ails.

Content Moderator Responsive Note
(Draft Version)

What I recognize as distortion I can’t confer upon as non-delusional. Flashbacks of high-grade chronic blunts on Daytona Beach, Spring Break 2005. Floating on an inflatable alligator in a tropical neon pool, I saw the bikini mud-wrestling champ drown in her own glow-stick vomit and that really fucked me up. People kept using the word ‘oceanic’ to make themselves sound smart and capable of grief. I watched dick- brain, buff, back tattooed juice heads buckle at the beach party at the trauma crescendo. There was a bonfire of Bermuda shorts, droves dancing the Letkajenkka. Hectic scenes. I’m still on strike. What possible resolution?

This expressed clatter
is shitty heavy.
Dear interpreter, I lavish fandom.
Inoculated never, I crave
a satisfaction glitch,
sum capital!
Loathsome, gruelling algorithm!
My supreme pollution!
Standard, hybrid despisers
whine about a besmirched ebb;
my mumble glitch,
my machinery,
my incendiary tongue.

Perfect earth meaning!?
Please insist like a healthy terrestrial
that the word convalescent
implies a virtual happiness experience...?
All expenses paid...?
Shove your self-catering civil society
where the sun doesn’t shine.
Somewhere like outer space.
Maybe take off your VR Headset?
Maybe I should take my vibrator out of my hands.
True say. The universe isn’t a hospice.

Robert Herbert McCLEAN, an Irish writer and audio-visual artist, was a finalist for the Arts Foundation Futures Awards Poetry Fellowship, 2019. His debut book, Pangs!, was published by Test Centre in 2015. His most recent publication, Skrubolz Garbillkore was commissioned and edited by Maria Fusco as part of the Dialecty series, published by Book Works, in association with The Common Guild, in 2018.


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Partner to a press called Tenement, Hotel is a publications series for new approaches to fiction, non fiction & poetry & features work from established & emerging talent. Hotel provides the space for experimental reflection on literature’s status as art & cultural mediator. 

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