Thank you to Paul Stephenson for his blurb for my debut poetry collection Enough! published by The Hedgehog Poetry Press, coming 29th August 2022.
‘This finely crafted collection takes us on a personal journey to places of love, leaning, longing, and quickly belonging. Richly evocative poems in and of Paris that twist and turn like the narrow staircases of Haussmannian apartment buildings. Studded with literature, painting and cinema, each poem is a portrait of the city in the changing seasons as the young poet sits and sips, drinking in the people and their promise. Donnelly is a romantic who captures the hope and heat of summer, conveys the losses, the strummed cords now cut, the echoes that could not be contained. A sumptuous book of six sequences that offer a linear narrative of having and holding, of latching on, laying down and letting go. Paris gives lessons in love, glitters and sparkles as the poet makes his way across the Seine, over bridges and on the metro, in pursuit of the other, as the sun sets and rises on the City of Lights. Sensual poems that play with slippage and disappearance, repercussions and illusion, as our protagonist, older now, rummages in Sunday markets of memory, sits looking back on crowded squares of desire.’
Paul Stephenson, author of Selfie with Waterlilies
Violet descending, grieving light in the white shade of a jungle that strangled the dinosaurs, Venus; the fly trap for a summer’s notebook of fine young cannibals along a coast of blazing sands where saint Sebastian dug down into sin and beak broke into the belly of all they had named as enchanted.
The Blue jays had departed to other places; blond shores after a season of too many browns.
In the operating room, sugar is a dose of doctor caught between cause and the cost of being peaceful after the dry heat of all that horror, of sliding desire back into the parts it cannot dissect and the Drum not bright enough to silence.
Rainbows were only reflections of light before they became pathways of pride.
Suddenly, in the last summer of kindergarten, I am closeted case in the examination room of teenager; turning Tennessee pages tentatively, dreaming of tasting how it would feel to catch fire for a moment, in a summer that didn’t burn, on a faraway beach that stank of wolf’s breaths and flesh eating birds; a desire to be torn from the choke of all those Venable pearls.
Lonely is deeper than death, alphabet blocks are only clutter in the darkness of a closet. A lobotomy is a cut cold to consideration.
This was one of the first plays I saw the movie version of when I was trying to come to terms with my own identity. It’s difficult to understand who you are when on TV or stage they were not even allowed utter the word gay or homosexual and a lobotomy was ordered for someone who tried to explain it- Let’s just cut it out! I read this poem on the Pride episode of Eat the Storms, the podcast podcast, one of two poems I opened the show with. Spotify link below but also on Apple, Anchor, Google, ITunes, Breaker, Castbox, Overcast, Pocket Cast…
wanting to be able to open a book, in the early days of trying to identify who it is we’re on route to becoming, and find a reflection of that self smiling back at us from the inside pages we can easily open out.
We are still, all of us , trying to teach the others how to spell Pride.
Movement, into open, this Earth is now an ocean and our toes eager to taste the tide again. Roads are waves, cars are accompanying dolphins, schools of fish, cruising outside of classrooms. Movement, into open, we are astronauts teaching ourselves how to stabilise our legs on old streets that come to us like giant steps onto new moons. Motion sickness triggered in these minor moves we used to make blindfolded and now take, breathless. We are bouncing Ariels and Armstrongs. Movement, into open with that far field still stuck to the sole, masked now with vaccined assurances where before we had a hat and that hurry. Minor movements we are making; the universe no longer as big as a 20 minute bus ride that drops us off in leaps of elated exhaustion. And so, even more, we say thank you to the drivers of busses and trains and taxis and check-out assistants and shop keepers and sales teams and chemists and nurses and doctors and the girl who stabbed me yesterday with Pfizer and a 15 minute pause to preserve.
He was tame, if truth be told- a curtain twitching kind of fool-hearted guard dog making studies of how the others made their way through the humdrum. He was sturdy in routine, if not stature- nose in the paper after the Six O’clock news on the far edge of the sofa every night, inside-out sweaters on a Saturday and passing round the basket in the chapel on a Sunday- altar boy breeding still beaten into his being like the scars he wore on his shoulders of all the things he could no longer put down. From afar, you could see how fear had opened itself up within his frame like a cushion forced to house too much foam and the stitches strain from the stuffing. He was tame, of course, but at the time, I was cautious of his bite.
Everything is about numbers; numbers to hold, numbers to call, numbers to count you back to when you last came, to where you came from, to the miles you’ve moved since then, the things you lost, the weight you gained, waiting. Everything is about numbers; race, pace, the breath you chase, the peace once possible, the place you never knew you were meant to be in in relation to where you ended up, in its place. Everything is about numbers, 2 metres apart, 4 doors to the left of where you thought you were going, 3 corridors in mourning grey, daisies on the floor, 1st floor, cubicle number 5, patient number 196629. I was 18 the last time I was here. I was 4 days in the 1st ward where 2 men died on my 1st night. They moved me to another ward, later when they figured out I wasn’t to be number 3. I stayed 5 more days. I’d been courting glandular fever- the kissing disease, the doctor said with a giggle and the nurse smiled, all 20 years of her wanting. It had been 2 months since I’d told someone I liked boys instead of breasts. 6 months after lying in bed with the kissing fever I was kissed for the 1st time on the 8th of august. I was 23 days away from 19. Sometimes you catch the disease first, sometimes it’s all in your head although the comfort of kisses can’t be calculated on charts like the outcome of an ECG that happened at 13.46pm.
Come Imbolc / we’ve left the gate on the latch / waiting
Come Imbolc / turn us over and all else / out We’ve left out straw to ignite ashes into action Into obliteration / cleanse this dust / this despair
Come Imbolc / empty us / our bellies lie open Eager to be burped / belched / unburdened We have eaten our own fears and grown fat
Come Imbolc / there’s an empty bed / for later / after And the gate is off the latch / has long been off while we waited and the door has long creaked of welcome
Winter stayed too long / we grew weak / under its weight Under all this waiting / swallowed all we did not want to see
Come Imbolc, carve the fear from the tissue we’ve choked on That festered in these bellies / come bring it out / unbirth it
Tomorrow we will light a candle / burn the memory and the ash / the ash will turn to notes as we sing of your return.
Imbolc is the festival celebrating the beginning of Spring and I wrote this poem based on a Poetry Prompt from Catherine Ann Cullen, poet in Residence at Poetry Ireland via Twitter on St. Brigid’s Day which was the 1st February 2021
I read this poem on last weekend’s episode of Eat the Storms, the Poetry Podcast…