Poetry by Robert Daly, Shady Shores

By: Robert W. Daly

Volume 13, Issue 11, November 2018
Editor’s note:
This month. when I started to compile this issue, I wrote to Robert asking several questions and suggesting I do a profile on him for the next issue. Soon after, we exchanged phone numbers and Robert said he would call at 5:00 one night.  Just before he called, I googled his name and there he was… having written poetry published in a little online magazine… May, 2015… the magazine was our Thousand Islands Life with the article: “The Drive North” and other poems by Robert W. Daly.
Not only had I forgotten I already knew him, but I asked the very same questions and would have received the same answers! We enjoyed our conversation that evening, and I am honored to published these new pieces of poetry. Each one will bring back your memories of growing up, the River or life in general.  Enjoy.

Facing Wolfe Island from Shade Shores, with Cedar Point in Foreground [Photo by Katrina Nortz]

Poetry by Robert W. Daly, Shady Shores

A warm day at The Park Pool.

Instructors had

told us of the deep end, and

the place in between - where we could drown.



when you are acquainted with the water,

and able to swim where it’s shallow,

you will be in the deep end

where you can’t touch the bottom.”


"Later" is now.


I am terrified of the deep end.


There is no place to stand.

I won’t know with my feet

there is a world beneath the pale-green water.


Some kid who doesn’t like me,

or trying to save himself,

will push me under.


There are lots of kids to watch.

Instructors won’t notice

I’m drowning –

till it’s too late.

                                      Robert W. Daly

My turn to jump.

I see my Mother, the

kids who’ve done it, the instructors -

watching, cheerful, excited,

as if to say, “Do it, now.”


At The Park Pool, I’m supposed to believe

what adults tell me. They’ve been right, so far.


With fear not quite restraining me,

I push forward against the sky,

fall into the deep end.

I surface, alive.

Swim to the ladder. Safe. Pleased.


It’s exhilarating

when you can swim in deep water

where you can’t touch the earth -

and can reach a ladder.


Older now,

still listening to experts

- not always believing them -

I try to swim well in the deep end of life,

and find a ladder that frees me from its perils.


Sometimes, at least.

                                Robert W. Daly

Afterlife of a Cedar

As frantic clouds harried by the wind

paint The River grey,

from a shelf of land above the water,

I gaze upon a young red cedar -

lean and straight,

the peak a faded army green, its

trunk two inches round,

standing six feet tall above the ground.


I watched it strive to prosperShips at anchor Desimone

in rocky soil, in storms,

in bitter winters past,

in August heat.


This tree has a life. Its own. A cedar-life.


My son-in-law and others want it gone.

The limbs confound their

views of grander sights - of ships

and riverscapes they’d rather see.

I defended it for five years

against their wish to, “Take it down!”


The problem is I realize now,

they’re right.

If we will have our views,

I cannot keep this tree.


As I deliberate this conflict,

a black-brown mink scuttles past my chair,

an urgent mark to make -

a date in limestone lairs next door.


As he departs, I steel myself.

This young red cedar will come down.

Relatives and I shall have our views.


The future is at stake.

                                  Robert W Daly

A native of Watertown NY, Dr. Robert W. Daly has been a summer resident of Shady Shores, Town of Clayton since 1949. He is a graduate of St. Lawrence University and of the College of Medicine, Upstate Medical University, SUNY, Syracuse.  More of his poetry is found in recent issues of “The Healing Muse.” Dr. Daly’s professional and scholarly publications have appeared in “Literature and Medicine,” “Psychiatry,, the Journal of the American Psychiatric Association, “The Psychoanalytic Review, Medicine and Society,” “Santa Clara Lawyer,” and the “Syracuse International Journal of Law and Commerce.”  He is a veteran of the USAF (SAC, 1961-1963). He has also held appointments at Cornell University, the University of Cambridge (King's College), and as a Senior Fellow of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Shady Shores photographs by Katrina Nortz and Rutn Denismone.


In reviewing Dr. Daly’s first TI Life article, “The Drive North” and other poems by Robert W. Daly. I found these comments.  They too, remind us of our River days.

I really enjoyed these poems, especially "The Drive North". It made me feel almost as though I was riding in the car. Please keep up the good work and write many more poems. Sometimes it seems to be a lost art. – Nancy Bond, May 17, 2015.

Dr. Daly is a wonderful member of our Shady Shores community. His poetry is delightful--let's read more of his work! Cary and Janet Brick, May 17, 2015.

I enjoyed your poems and could relate to trying to keep the 16 year old safe! Hearing the words "the River", felt comfortable and familiar. Those words of my youth meant happiness. "Time to go to the River," my parents would announce as we packed the Studebaker and left Ohio for the trip north "to the River". Often we spent the night in some tourist home - checking out signs that still had their light on-which meant "vacancy".
Driving across the dramatic suspension bridge, trying to spot the cottage, stopping to reveal where we were born, and then arriving (often late at night), frequently greeted by relatives holding their flashlights (and maybe a cocktail, as well!) in the dark, everyone giving an opinion where we could squeeze our car at a slant, between the tall pines, while avoiding the already earlier arrival's parking spot. Then the short walk, stepping on stones I knew so well, breathing the pine scented air... and then finally, there it was; "the River". Liz Pulley, June 5, 2015.

My friend Liz showed me your comment. I too visited the Thousand Islands as a kid from Erie, PA. Your description brings it all back - except that I was a preacher's kid and no one greeted us with cocktails! Mark Andrews.

When the Jag broke down, and it was very new, we spend a week in Kingston waiting for a part. It was to come from Montreal by bus. We took a lot of boat rides in that pretty St Lawrence River, to keep the boys entertained. after about 10 days the car was ready and I took it for a test ride... same issue as before. So we just drove it to Toronto , and they put a RAG on the hose and we made it to Cincinnati... to Raymond motors while it was still under guarantee. What a trip !!!!!!I will never forget all the adventures with that Beauty, The Cat , as it was called. Liz Smith, July 10, 2015.


Comment by: Cary Brick
Left at: 7:10 PM Wednesday, November 14, 2018
Dr. Daly--About he time you were swimming at the Thompson Park Pool, my late father, Arch Brick, and Howard Neal were the organizers of the annual Can-Am swim meets at the pool. Watching my dad calling the start of each event and then pulling the trigger of his starting pistol was a thrill for me. That pool holds lots of memories for us Watertown "kids!" Two asides: fierst, my father swam competitively as a college student for the NY Athletic Club and his colleges, NYU and Stanford. Second, the land for Thompson Park was donated to the City of Watertown by John C. Thompson, a New York Air Brake Company executive. He stipulated that it be called simply "City Park" until after his death. The park was designed by the Olmstead firm, also responsible for the design of Central Park in New York City. The two parks have some similarities in design.

Comment by: Claudia Wool Marsh
Left at: 11:54 AM Tuesday, November 27, 2018
It’s so much fun to be from the “north country”. It has really kept many of the old family connections in tact. The families have stayed, or come back to the region, by the pull of the St. Lawrence, Lake Ontario, the varied landscapes, and the honesty poured upon us with it’s all star weather. I was personally pleased to find that you ( and your family) stayed nearby. I knew you, your Mom, your Dad and brother, when we were all young. We shared a driveway on Bishop St.. I am back here now and enjoy tending my Mom and her mom’s, Roses. Keep writing your inspired poetry.

Posted in: Volume 13, Issue 11, November 2018, Poetry

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