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Dec 2020 · 49
Donall Dempsey Dec 2020

It was a sunny day
in Wales

as it can only be
in picture postcards.

It was pinned
above her bed

but with the picture side
facing the wall

as if she had turned away
from that scene a long long time ago.

I had only ever
seen it once

(when she was asleep
I took a peek)

a scrawl of words
told her that it loved her

in a fadey violet ink

that could now barely be

The postcard itself
as fragile as a leaf.

“Don’t turn it! ”
she pleaded in panic.

“I like to see his voice
in words! ”

running her fingertips
over his I LOVE YOU!

letting it speak
to her

from the fragile fading past

letting it speak
to her

even from beyond
his death.
Dec 2020 · 25
Donall Dempsey Dec 2020
the ocean had disappeared
from view
probably on its coffee break

or whatever oceans do
when we
are not looking at them

the mountains were silent
their noses in the air

when the humans had gone
they chatted amongst themselves
wore stupid looking clouds on their heads

the littlest mountain tiptoed
nearer and nearer the ocean until:
". . .bOO!"

"God" gasped the ocean
"Ya nearly put the heart
crossways in me!"

the ocean sulked
ignoring the mountain's jeers
gazing at its own horizon

the ocean said nothing...nothing
did not even utter
a single solitary seagull
Donall Dempsey Dec 2020

the swish of her
dress as
thigh crosses thigh

the static electricity of her
nylons laddered
from climbing trees in high heels

the rescued cat now
safely asleep by the fire
snoring not purring

the whiskey a jewel
in the cut-glass decanter
the glint in her eye

again the sigh
as thigh crosses thigh
she singing softly to her

self as if
she was the only one
left in existence

the clock leaving
a longer and longer
silence  between each tick

and tock

and tock

the clock now stopped

looking elegant
in a thin white vase
the yellow chrysanthemums

just stare and stared
as if they were frightened
of the silence

a shepherd carrying a lamb
in chipped china
looking out of place

without his companion piece
a ***** shepherdess
broken only last week

it was ten past 7
though the clock did not know

Time had abandoned
the room
outside the first snowflake falling

Do not attempt this at home children and always remove high heels if you should do so. Make sure you have a responsible child supervising you.

Martha suffered a snapped heel and torn tights due to her hasty action in saving her cat who came down when she came up( thus rescuing itself in reality)and had to be rescued by burly laughing firemen.
Dec 2020 · 39
Donall Dempsey Dec 2020

The universe
waited outside herself

like an impatient taxi
already thinking of the next fare

after her
"Let it wait!" she thought to herself.

In exactly 5
and 25 minutes

Christmas would arrive
in all its cutomary vulgarity.

It now an Xmas
rather than a Christmas.

She on the other hand
walked through her memories

adrift  in an attic
looking for a lost angel.

Her childhood packed away
in boxes broken open

under the constraints
of time and age.

Days wrapped
in cobwebs.

The angel nowwhere
to be seen.

Here her headless horse
of the rocking variety.

Somehow getting by
on only three legs.

Time hadn't been kind
to it and her

being such
a boisterous child.

And here at last
the angel that had

set her on this journey
of discovery

finding this
lost self.

An angel absconding
from its duties topping the tree.

And glitterless.

a wing.

Her first doll still
gazing lovingly at her

through its one good
button eye hanging on by

a  blue coloured

Outside Christmas came
without her

even knowing it was

Mist hid everything
instead of snow.

Erasing reality
as it was

when she was

the little girl
of before.

The time being
always a Christmas Eve

that excited hush
of expectancy

rather than
the day itself.

The doll remembering her
as she was

when she kissed her
and cried all  over her.

"Oh oh...she's

Hugging her once again
to her chest.

The bells mounting the sky
announcing her joy.
Dec 2020 · 42
Donall Dempsey Dec 2020
****** OF CROWS

Scarecrow stood
perfectly still.

His face hidden
under a battered hat.

Hard to tell
what he was

looking at
hope it was


He a black crucifix
as the day died.

Three crows hanging
upside down

from a thin right arm
from a thin left arm

three crows hanging
upside down.

Life had left them
to rot.

Present only by
a terrible absence.

A series of crows
nailed to a barn door.

The wood weathered beyond age.
Paint peeling off like skin.

Wings outstretched
like a deadly blessing.

Like heraldic emblems
on Medieval  shields.

Was as if one had
stepped into

an Andrew Wyeth

and the painting
had refused to let you go.

As if scarecrow
had gotten a shot gun.

Shot them down.
One by one by one by one.

The bark of the gun proclaiming
"My name is Death!"

Or that scarecrow
had pulled them from the sky

with his bare hands
tore out their eyes.

A maggot's feast.

Crows fleeing beyond
a far horizon.

The light darkening.
Scarecrow raising his head.

Old turnip skull.
Dead and not dead.

His straw hair
ruffled by the wind.

He grins.
Donall Dempsey Dec 2020

lost in Praha
lost in Kafka
losing myself

careful making deals
with old Nick
I said 'Beatle' not 'beetle'



'When Dónall Dempsey woke up one morning from unsettling dreams, he found himself changed in his bed into a monstrous version of a certain F. Kafka.

Someone must have been telling lies about Dónall Dempsey, he knew he had done nothing wrong but, one morning, he was arrested to find out he had been turned into this F. Kafka.

Where had his Dónall Dempsey-ness gone and why -  Kafka? He knew of but had never actually read any - Kafka He had knowledge of the tropes...what Kafka could be reduced to in terms of general knowledge that could possibly clinch a pub quiz victory so that people would nod sagely and say "I being a poet and all...that you would know the answer to that."

I found that what had happened to me...whatever had happened to me...was more extensive that I had thought so that even my initial "D" become the 11th letter of the alphabet instead of the usual fourth. I was now merely a  "K."

I realised I would have to go to Prague to bring some semblance of sense to this transformation. And when I did so...hiding myself among the many tourists...I discovered that Kafka had become me and that we had somehow traded places.

So that now there was a Dónall Dempsey cafe and postcards bearing my features and other such touristy attractions that would be sure to be a sure fire attraction to the traveller with a literary bent of mind.

I visited the grave...his grave...and sure was my name that was chiseled into the stone.
Meanwhile Kafka was enjoying my life and strolling around Guildford as if it was his own. He appeared to be enjoying being Dónall Dempsey.

"Ha ha..!" I thought. "Give it time...give it time!" And Franz would surely find that being Dónall Dempsey wasn't such a good thing.
And myself being a literary tourist attraction? I ****** well hated it  I wanted to crawl away and die or be trampled to a pulp by a frightened child who had discovered a cockroach in her cornflakes.
Dec 2020 · 64
Donall Dempsey Dec 2020

ashamed of what it was
going to do
my shadow merged into the dark

the sudden light
my shadow
jumping out of my shoes

my shadow leaving
me to my fate
a traitor to the self it served

'CLICK!" said the switch
'LIGHT!" said the light
"Aghhh!!!" I said

I was surprised to be
still me
the bullet journeying through my flesh

I could hear it
into the wainscot behind me

my shadow lay
unconscious on the floor
"Come 'ere!" I swore at it

"We gotta get outa 'ere!"
my shadow pulled our self
up off the floor

my shadow
my feet

it takes a bullet
passing through ya
to make

I had never felt
more alive in all my natural
I wanted it to stay that way was
corny as it may seem
the Butler done it

"drIPdrIPdrIP!" the blood screamed
I snapped at it

well well well
Jane Butler was back in town
that would explain a lot of things

"Jane Butler!"
"Jane Butler...Jane Butler!"

" ya know!"

a pack of shadows
feeding on
the sole surviving scrap of light


the headlights hurry ahead
as if making up the road
for the fleeing car

the body in the back
shifted from side to side
let out a groan at each turn

"Ah come on!" she smiled
"...only a flesh wound...lost a lot of blood"
"Ughhh...agggh" said the body

"Look brother...if I wanted you
I would have killed you!"

the world rushed by
everything moving
quickly into the past

"I wanted you alive
so that you could really know
I was going to ****** you!"

her voice was calm
her crimson pout
barely holding back the bitterness

"Jail was no laugh!"
she laughed
her voice like broken glass

"So, you thought you'd leave
the little lady in the lurch
...did you!"

consciousness kept
dipping in and out of my reality
she dipped her lights

the car sped on
throwing the road
over its shoulder

a cop car
approached us
disappeared into the night

somewhere her voice
was talking
her words were like ghosts

"Oh I want you babeeee
to die nice and slow
. . .& know!"

"I call it due process
I want you to see your life
slipping slowly away from you!"

trees lurched after the car
trying to grasp...gasp
I was going to die

the car screeched
to a halt
she looks in mirror...applies makeup

somehow she managed
to get me into the driver's seat
"Boy..." she laughed ". . .your a dead weight!"

"Here babeee...have a last drink!"
she poured the whole bottle
all over me

I stupidly thought
"That's my favourite ***!"

she let off the handbrake
the car almost tip toed
to the edge of the precipice

the car tottered a bit
unsure of whether
it should take the plunge

finally the car
made up its mind
went for it

"Enjoy your drive hell!" she smirked
lighting another cigarette

"Bye bye bâtard!"
she smiled
using the French

the car tumbling like a toy
then the explosion
lightning up the horizon

she redid her lipstick
"*******!" she cursed
"I got a ladder in my new tights!"
Yeah...the ghosts of his past have come back to haunt ghost is Jane Butler and she's very real and very mad and wants to make a ghost of him....who is Jane Butler and what is she to him and him to her...guess we'll never find out unless the words hijack my mind once more and hold my sleep to ransom.

Too much Matheson before bedtime.
Donall Dempsey Dec 2020
(for Barbara & Ray)

Ah, little daughter
the only thing

I can tell you
was that you were made

with love
our love

and that before we
could get to know you

Death: unmade you
& you vanished from our sight.

Ah, little daughter
if only I could tell you

what you would
like to know:

'What was I like? '

And I cry: 'I don't know
...I don't know? '

The only thing
I can tell you

(little daughter...are you listening)      

the only thing I can tell you

was that you were

with love

our love
Dec 2020 · 222
Donall Dempsey Dec 2020

the fox pauses

a paw
left in mid air

resting upon
a clump of darkness

the fox listens intently
the countryside listens to the fox's


a stillness falls
upon all
a snail stops mid-wall

nothing moves
the fox's eye glistens
the world holds its breath

the fox trots
as if in a dream
across countryside that's never been

my face reflected
in the diorama
the museum closing for the night
Dec 2020 · 45
Donall Dempsey Dec 2020

My uncle took an axe.

“! ”
the tree said.

But he didn’t listen
turned it

into wood
silent wood

that only found
its voice

in fire

cursing and spitting
at the dark.

I return
to the wood

gaze into
the nothingness where

the tree used to be

It’s ghost
gazes back.
Dec 2020 · 36
Donall Dempsey Dec 2020

The lost sparrow poems


left on an Irish bus
going God knows where.

Sparrow too
lost to us.

Can't remember when
I last saw one.

This little being
so beloved

for just being

But here in Rome
twenty sparrows to a table

picking over the remains
from touristy meals.

A glorious glut
of sparrows.

"Hey passero!" I grin
as one perches on my camera.

But just then the waiter
claps his hands and shouts.

"Vattene...passeri... spostarlo!"

They fly away to the statues
who greet them with open arms.

But when the waiter turns his back
they're back.

They the reason we are here.
The food neither here nor there.

"Vieni qui passeri ... Ciao!"
Donall Dempsey Dec 2020
(in memory of my mother Ita)

“If you fall
off that wall

& break both
your legs

...don’t come
running to me! ”

Could never understand
my Mam’s mind

& how it

One moment
she 'had half a mind

to come up there
&' get me off that wall.

Then she 'was in two minds
about' whether to tell me to stop.

“Go ahead...go ahead
& **** yourself

...see if I care! ”

“I’m warning you child
if you fall off that wall

& ****

I’ll personally
come up there

& **** ya myself
so I will! ”

I used to watch the words
climbing out of her mouth

& fly around the room

looking for a place to land
in my mind.

Never cared
whether she gave out.

I just loved
everything she said

the music of her
& how

she made the words

I came down
and kissed her

kissed her worry away.

'I'm sorry Mam'
I told her.

And she cried.
Donall Dempsey Dec 2020

He surfed
and suffered

all the channels
forward then backward

choice after choice of
no choice.

All channels appeared
infected with canned laughter

as if the dead
were laughing.

The TV glared at him:
"Don't you dare...turn me off!"

He dared.

Switched if off as if
he were switching himself off.

When he did so
next door...did so!

To test the coincidence
switched on again

and next door also did so
as if in synch and serendipity.

Maybe he was turning on and off
the whole hotel.

Or other people's lives
who could tell?

He, the turner-on-and-off
of worlds.

Felt as if he could
zap the rain

un-rain the rain
then let it loose again.

Or making the hooting owl

He was afraid to do it once
again to see

it was so
better not to know!

Felt the remote.
Felt remote.

Silence reigned.

As if sound had been stolen
from the world and

been replaced not with silence
but with non-sound.

Even silence would have been
a sound

compared to this

He watched the dance
of the lazy lace curtain

as if the window were

in and out and in and

Or it were
a ghost

doing a Hawaiian
hula dance

as if his entire self
had been replaced

molecule by molecule
with loneliness

nothing but loneliness
a man made entirely of


Only then could he begin
to cry.

Somewhere in a can
the dead were laughing.


“Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.”

― Maya Angelou
Dec 2020 · 51
Donall Dempsey Dec 2020

My uncle shimmers
as he walks

as if the sun has got him
and shakes him

until he walks
like waves.

His gait all
heat haze.

He's a walking

as if the air
were water.

He looks like
he's a dream

made of summer

but he is the real thing
a solid Uncle Michael.

I expect his voice
to waver with the heat

but his words
stay steady

whittled out of love
like wood.

I am up a tree.

He can't see me.

The branch below me has sn-

and I am wondering like a cat
how in hell I am

going to get down.

Up here in the air
the farm is the map

of itself.

I share a branch with a bird
and a small cloud.

Uncle goes on looking for me
his voice searching the everywhere

but I am a nowhere.

His voice trying to pull me
out of thin air

like a magician would
but it's not good.

I am half sky half tree half child the maths.

I feel like a white rabbit
lost inside a top hat.

He died one sunny Sunday
******* a sweet in the blue van.

I still see him
walking out of the sun

his body shivering
with the heat

as if he is a dream
calling my name

like an abracadabra.

I sit in the silence
in the middle of my sky

lost in that forever

wondering how to get back
down on solid ground

calling his name
like a broken magic spell

always trying to find him
even though I can't

...find my self.


Pitching in with great gusto to bring in the hay I sliced through my brother Brian's earlobe with the pitchfork...I was terrified....scampered and hid up "my tree' for the rest of the day....not even Mikey was able to find me stuck up there in the sky.
Dec 2020 · 51
Donall Dempsey Dec 2020

Here, your laughter
fastened to the air

with a little twist
of memory.

Time, spell stopped
as it were.

Your laughter
pinned to this

particular place

little scrap of sky
and field

that to an unobservant  eye
would mean nothing

...nothing at all.

But see, your laughter
unfurls its flag of self

snapping in the stiff wind
of what's lost is lost.

This simple second
alive for ever.

I pick it as
I would a flower

untouched by either

time or
Donall Dempsey Nov 2020

I always listened to
the dud notes

the mute notes that went
doh instead of do

as the music stumbled
but recovered just in

time to be
embarrassed with

the piano going all shy
at having let out

a no noise note.

I watched fascinated
as the key was depressed

and an awkward silence
tried to catch up with

the rest of its
brother notes.

Soon they were
the only notes

I listened to
as I

strung them
together in my mind

a musical necklace
of a silence

like snow

as the dark caught up
with the light

and turned it
into the night

before Christmas

Donall Dempsey Nov 2020

thousands of voices
flowing through my head
the ancestors are restless

I borrow their faces
use their voices
inhabit this present

let them live
through me
I a cast of many

and who
will borrow my face
many ages from now
Nov 2020 · 42
Donall Dempsey Nov 2020

The lightness of
your footstep

as you hurried to me

caught in the slowly setting
you didn’t see

holds your fleeting love

your footsteps
greedy for me

paying no attention
to the world whatever

only knowing that
in a few footsteps more

you would be precious
and adored for who you are

your footsteps
still exist

echoing inside my tears

as I put my next step
inside yours

and the snow fills
the other   footsteps        up.
Nov 2020 · 28
Donall Dempsey Nov 2020

I laugh
with a dead man’s laugh

(a man I never knew)  

my grandfather’s laughter

flowering like Springtime

blossoming in my mouth

not listening to the years.

Time joins the dots.
Painting by Numbers.

I see
with my mother’s eyes

the world
stealing into my mind

become music

anything it

Time joins the dots.
Painting by numbers.

This gesture
is my big sisters

gathering me
up into her



Time joins the dots.
Painting by Numbers.

My father’s love
beats in my heart

sings in everything
it touches


me to see

how I


all those others
as well as me.

Time joins
the dots.

Painting by Numbers.
Nov 2020 · 192
Donall Dempsey Nov 2020

Built an over large snowman
on your front doorstep

hid behind it.

Rang your doorbell

until you were
annoyed  by it.

“Yes...yes! ”
you flung open the door

to be confronted
with a snowman

telling you
he loved you

until slowly

your heart

to melt.
Nov 2020 · 34
Donall Dempsey Nov 2020

My Uncle's old blue van
our delighted childhood

transported from train to farm
creator of our Summer


as magical as anything
could have been

to our open
innocent minds

lies forgotten
& forgetting

behind the barn
rusting in rain

stung by sun
in summers come & gone

an orange rust
delicate as lace

chewing like cancer
into its solid blue body.

A chicken drives it now
perched upon its steering wheel

going nowhere

clucking'' Get outta de way! '

Rotted rubber
still clinging to the wheels

like flesh
leaving bone

protected by gangs
of highly strung nettles

ravished by weeds
& overgrown trees

me & some newly laid eggs
jostled together in the passenger seat

a cockerel crowing
he has all the back seat

the windshield
flecked with years

of flattened flies
a multitude of squashed bugs

as we speed
into the past

meeting my own ghost
with tears in my eyes.
Nov 2020 · 86
Donall Dempsey Nov 2020

Felis Catus blinks
"The Tories think
( I didn't know they could do that)

we are not sentient beings
or that we do not feel pain?
Only shows they have no brains!

'Unheimleich' as Heidegger
would have observed!"
she purrs...delicately...cleans herself.

"Your philosophy is
your  fail-osophy...
you simply think too much.

Think instead of do
and you can't do without thinking.
Poor poor you!

Be like me.
Just be.

Only when you play
with me do you
escape being human.

I am your distraction
from the prison of your self
just stop your self thinking

live in this
no before or after.

Ah 'the great chain of being'
placing your self at the top
oh so smugly superior.

Our feline-osophy
would be if at all
not to have a philosophy.

As Montaigne  put it
so succinctly  you 'needed
a mind departing distraction"

to deal with your consciousness
and awareness of death.
And I my friend - am it!

Now if you can be
a good chap and feed me
that can be my fee

for talking you through
your all too human dilemmas
and you may yet achieve

but until then or when we cats
learn to peel the foil

from Kitty Kat Salmon
and so leap to the top
of the 'great chain of being."

Felis Catus
will rule
over all.


ATARAXIA....a state of freedom from emotional disturbance and anxiety; tranquility.
ATARAXIA....a state of freedom from emotional disturbance and anxiety; tranquility.
Nov 2020 · 35
Donall Dempsey Nov 2020

the piano was angry
he tried to sooth the music
that kept biting at his fingers

each note...each note
the world fading away 'til there was only
the music alive in him

just him & the music now
sharing the same body
the music snatching at his soul

when the music left
it took time
to become human again

he sat with a cigarette
having a conversation
with the smoke

the music loved him
he tried
to love it back
Nov 2020 · 33
Donall Dempsey Nov 2020

The mirror
watches him warily

mimicking his
every move

careful not to
miss the least gesture.

The mirror unhappy
it can copy

everything except
this man's mind.

Try as it might
what goes on inside his head


The mirror drags him
into its self

drowning him in
his own reflection

keeping him forever
under glass

calmly awaiting
the next one who

stops: pauses -
checks to see if

his tie's straight
or his zip's zipped

or brush back
hair gone astray

straightening an eyebrow
into place with

a licked fingertip
a wink at his self

before the mirror
eats him.

The mirror
likes humans

likes to assimilate

Only then
the mirror can

taste the tang
of thoughts

as only
humans can.

It enjoys their final fear
their silent fear

as the man
begins to realise

what is
happening to him

as slowly silently he
becomes glass.


As a kid I was astonished at JEAN COCTEAU's Orpheus where mirrors could be entered into and were a lane to the land of the dead...the images still zing around in my bloodstream...still astonishing me. One of my major influences in my poetry....this was a flickering poetry in motion.
Nov 2020 · 48
Donall Dempsey Nov 2020

Flake by flake
Heaven falls

until its whiteness
covers all.

Angels guard
their dead.

All is quiet.
All is light.

Even marble flesh
feels the cold.

The dead have forgotten

A Christmas the angels
have never known.

A forgotten bicycle
half there-half not

looking like an art

until it too succumbs
to the snow's will.

The silence slowly
erasing the world.

A raven perches
upon an angel's wing.

She pays it
no mind

gazing with sightless eyes
as land and sky become one.

Even the horizon is
being filled in.

The raven's
harsh voice.
Nov 2020 · 36
Donall Dempsey Nov 2020

You wait by the lake

except for your self
your reflected self

as if the landscape
dreamt you up.

Your thoughts a flock of birds
scattered across the failing light.

Clouds laugh
run along the ground
on tiny unseen feet.

Trees stand on their heads
wriggling their toes in the air

& you
become as two

both real & unreal

as if a living

You hum
Pachabel's Canon

as sun & horizon

Not bad for a human
they both agree.

It's as if
I need a key

to enter this magical

as if I have to
invent one

...a magical one.
I take a little stone

whisper to it the secrets
of flight

and teach it how to say: "Splash! "
in the language of water.

The little stone
transformed with its new knowledge

does as it is told

this mirror world

the dream

and I enter

as any fairytale

my voice
calling your sweet name

with longing

you turn
& we embrace

& look upon ourselves

as the dream
remakes itself

stitching itself
together with silence.

An old artist
(unknown to us then)

places us
the lovers

at the center
of his composition

adds this
final brushstroke

and pleased
with his efforts

folds up
his chair

packs up
his paints & easel

smiles at our

us a goodnight

and is gone
eaten by the twilight.

Our laughter
frail & fragile

lingering on the night air

playing peek-a-boo
with the moonlight.
Nov 2020 · 95
Donall Dempsey Nov 2020

The wind flowed
into the room

like an immense invisible

pushing aside the curtains
of stone.

The world was
in flood & i

felt like a cow
stuck on a roof

my mind meandering
in a fever

me...mere human debris
caught on a bend.

I lost inside of me.

my sister's voice calling
my name as if

I were a distant planet
that had yet to be discovered

the shreds of self
clinging to the love

in her voice
the string on the kite.
Donall Dempsey Nov 2020
( For Jan on her birthday )

She laughs
like water

pours herself
into my embrace

takes whatever shape
(cuddle hug Indian ******
statue Kamasutra)

within these

I kiss her
with a love

that cannot
harm her

me the container
of who I am

holding her love
like water's laughter.
Nov 2020 · 173
Donall Dempsey Nov 2020

"A year has gone, as the tortoise goes,
   Heavy and slow;
And the same rose blows, and the same sun glows,
   And the same brook sings of a year ago."

Telling The Bees - John Greenleaf Whittier

A cloud of bees
angry not to be told

"Why the delay...
why this day!"

I tell them I could find
no words.

Could hardly tell myself
the truth of your death.

Unable to believe
or to accept.

I couldn't speak
or rhyme.

Despite the Plath
or Greenleaf Whittier.

Grief is a voice
that cannot speak.

Death tears the tongue out
then commands me to speak.

I have only
this silence.

I come before this
court of bees.

Speak only
in silences.

I stand in the form
of a crucifix.

Accept the suffering
of your fierce stings.

Atoning for
the not telling.

The bees and I
now as one.


The old tradition of telling the bees when someone has gone over to the other side...usually in a little rhyme....keeping them in the know so that they know what's what and who's what now that there has been this huge shift in the world with the death of someone loved. Sometimes hives were aligned to the house in acknowledgement.
The old tradition of telling the bees when someone has gone over to the other side...usually in a little rhyme....keeping them in the know so that they know what's what and who's what now that there has been this huge shift in the world with the death of someone loved. Sometimes hives were aligned to the house in acAnd so poem begats poem...

And here be John Greenleaf Whittier’s 1858 TELLING THE BEED

Here is the place; right over the hill
Runs the path I took;
You can see the gap in the old wall still,
And the stepping-stones in the shallow brook.

There is the house, with the gate red-barred,
And the poplars tall;
And the barn’s brown length, and the cattle-yard,
And the white horns tossing above the wall.

There are the beehives ranged in the sun;
; And down by the brink
Of the brook are her poor flowers, ****-o’errun,
***** and daffodil, rose and pink.

A year has gone, as the tortoise goes,
Heavy and slow;
And the same rose blows, and the same sun glows,
And the same brook sings of a year ago.

There ’s the same sweet clover-smell in the breeze;
And the June sun warm
Tangles his wings of fire in the trees,
Setting, as then, over Fernside farm.

I mind me how with a lover’s care
From my Sunday coat
I brushed off the burrs, and smoothed my hair,
And cooled at the brookside my brow and throat.

Since we parted, a month had passed,
To love, a year;
Down through the beeches I looked at last
On the little red gate and the well-sweep near.

I can see it all now,—the slantwise rain
Of light through the leaves,
The sundown’s blaze on her window-pane,
The bloom of her roses under the eaves.

Just the same as a month before,—
The house and the trees,
The barn’s brown gable, the vine by the door,—
Nothing changed but the hives of bees.

Before them, under the garden wall,
; Forward and back,
Went drearily singing the chore-girl small,
Draping each hive with a shred of black.

Trembling, I listened: the summer sun
Had the chill of snow;

For I knew she was telling the bees of one
Gone on the journey we all must go!

Then I said to myself, “My Mary weeps
For the dead to-day:
Haply her blind old grandsire sleeps
The fret and the pain of his age away.”

But her dog whined low; on the doorway sill,
With his cane to his chin,
The old man sat; and the chore-girl still
Sung to the bees stealing out and in.

And the song she was singing ever since
In my ear sounds on:—
“Stay at home, pretty bees, fly not hence!
Mistress Mary is dead and gone."
Nov 2020 · 65
Donall Dempsey Nov 2020

scratching at the silence
the pen's nib spreads the word
the empty page now overcrowded

the clink of an inkwell
the pen drinks its fill
word chases word

the pen drunk with words
blots the page
the poet curses

now the pen stops
to think. . .
before creating the next word

the candle fearlessly
standing up to the darkness
at last the last full stop

his head
rests upon his words
the candle loses its fight

in the morning
his words line up
for his inspection

his words
once only ink
dance in his mouth

he repeats them
to the walls...the furniture
anything that will listen

his thought
once invisible even to himself
now parades across the page

outside the world is
waking up
the dawn yawns

". . .these are my beloved words
in whom I am well pleased. . ."
his face smiles back from the mirror
Nov 2020 · 18
Donall Dempsey Nov 2020

"Blast this glass slipper!
They always crack along the sole."

curses Cinderella
in a blue streak.

"Note to self...must have words
with Fairy Godmother"

She kicks off
the offending glass.

"You just can't write this stuff
and the Prince is such a yuk!"

She takes her motorcycle key
out of her cleavage and revs away.

"Amazing how the Prince is
a first class ****** yet

his sister the Princes is such
a total wow!"

Delighted to get her digits
written on the back of her hand.

"Real life is just never..." she muses
" your typical fairy story."
Donall Dempsey Nov 2020

"Did she remember him?"
(of course she remembered him)

He gave her her first Babycham
and twins then...

buggered off to
God knows where.

His love nothing
but a sham.

Just your ordinary
horrible man.

She so eager
to lose

her virginity
so ****** annoying to her..

Hadn't seen him
since Xmas '66.

So nervous she
spilt her Babycham

all over her Princess Line
bright blues dress

so proud that
she'd made it herself.

Now he's back in town
doin' fine

top class job
wife and kids.

Babycham..ugh now
she can't stand the stuff.
Nov 2020 · 25
Donall Dempsey Nov 2020

(Mildred: Hey Johnny, what are you rebelling against?

Johnny: Whaya got? )

"Keats on a Harley..."
I begin to say.

"Oh! You think so. . ?"
she says.

"Thought he'd be more
a Ducati kind of guy."

Now her mind revs up
and she kickstarts her shtick.

"Byron would most def. be
a Kawasaki dude I betcha!"

She just runs through whatever
I was going to interject;

"And Shelly I see him
as a Suzuki rebel!"

Coleridge? Now he'd be
the Moto Guzzi type for sure!"

"Can I..." I say
trying to get a word in.

"..pull you over and get you to dismount
your Romantic poets/motorbike tangent!"

"Keats was not that Keats but
the URiNALS drummer's pet goldfish."

"Oh...!" she says "Oh!"
She was never a fan.

"Liked 'em when they became
the 100 Flowers better."

"Yeah they went from a **** take parody
of Punk to their Maoist moniker."

"Let 100 flowers bloom and.."
she knows her Mao.

Calls her cat that.
"...and a 100 schools of thought contend."

Bikes and Mao just
ain't my thing.

I was always
more a Gun Club type of guy.

Called my cat
Lucky Jim...because he wasn't.

But Keats Rides a Harley
would be a great title for a poem.
Nov 2020 · 49
Donall Dempsey Nov 2020

Flake by flake
Heaven falls

until its whiteness
covers all.

Angels guard
their dead.

All is quiet.
All is light.

Even marble flesh
feels the cold.

The dead have forgotten

A Christmas the angels
have never known.

A forgotten bicycle
half there-half not

looking like an art

until it too succumbs
to the snow's will.

The silence slowly
erasing the world.

A raven perches
upon an angel's wing.

She pays it
no mind

gazing with sightless eyes
as land and sky become one.

Even the horizon is
being filled in.

The raven's
harsh voice.
Nov 2020 · 33
Donall Dempsey Nov 2020

He runs
for the sheer joy

of being
a little boy.

I try to rein him in

with my voice but
he escapes even that.

"Watch out!"
I throw the words at him

"Or you'll hit
that cloud!"

Two clouds glower at him
and he stops in his tracks

suddenly uncertain if
that is possible.

And so perspective
cowers my little brother

and he runs back
holds my hand.

We tiptoe past
the threatening clouds

leaving them behind
he laughing nervously.

Now far far from that time
beyond even death

I call his name
and he runs and

takes my hand.

The clouds can only
look on.

It was only in death that Brian became my little brother again. He was able to make his way in the world easier than I and became the solid  dependable honest fellow he was able to deal with anything the world could throw at him so that in fact he became the "big brother." I on the other hand became a PIP( a poor Irish poet )stumbling from one thing to another trying to keep up with the world that was fast outpacing me. He was going to go for early retirement and move back home to look after our Da when he suddenly died. This planned retirement made him more open to the leisures and pleasures of poetry and he began to want to know how a poem happens and where it can come from. I told him ya know in frosty air ya can see your breath writing your words upon the air as if your soul was leaving your body and dancing with the stars upon a midnight...well it's a bit like organic becoming rather than any planned thing. Like a human spiderweb spun from your self. I said do you remember running away from me when you were a little boy and I called you back by putting the idea into your head that you might hit your head on a cloud? I  recited Ivor Gurney's IF I WERE TO WALK STRAIGHT SLAP and he saw how it was so that you could grow the most ordinary little moment in a life into a bunch of words that hung together to capture in sound a time that was gone and would never come again in exactly the same way or that a poem was the best time machine a chap could have.

After a while he could recite Gurney back to me and so started to keep poems in his head like a little room he could go into and treasure a moment again.


If I were to walk straight slap
Headlong down the road
Toward the two-wood gap
Should I - hit that cloud.

He also came to love Raymond Carver's LATE FRAGMENT. It always made him cry. This was the one and only thing he said he wanted. One night we waited in the dark for a fox that would invariably come to the glass door and stare if at us as if the other foxes dared him see what humans do in their little boxes. And Brian asked it....

"And did you get what you wanted from this life, even so? I did. And what did you want? To call myself beloved, to feel myself beloved on the earth."

I wasn't to know that friend fox was a psychopomp come to carry his soul away.

Later much later he became a card carrying member of some Cloud Association! Once when he was only his tiny self he asked me if "You die will there be weather?" I didn't know how to answer him and asked "How do you mean?" "Like...will there be clouds." Knowing no better I assured him that there would be! I still know nothing and he possibly knows everything.

I only hitting my head upon the clouds...talking to the skies.

I hope my little brother knew that he was beloved on this earth.
Nov 2020 · 117
Donall Dempsey Nov 2020

I place a tree...there.

I place a

I add a bird...
I...subtract a bird.

I alter a mountain
place it to the the right.

I let the little stream run.

I add a sun.
( turn it up).

I walk between
the spaces between seconds

check each moment is
- perfect.

Only then do I allow
time to

flap in the breeze.

Then I stop it all.

I adjust a a molecule
or two.

Place you at
the centre

of the big green field
you in your dress of

bright blue.

Then I, like a long ago

or a third-rate magician

command the memory:

"Now, live!"
Donall Dempsey Nov 2020

Auden & Isherwood
strolling in China

trying to soak up
The War

by the process of

staining it
with words

(at first what seems)  

green horses

but turns out to be
only white horses

painted green
for camouflage purposes.

That evening in Canton
also offering them

the futility of two men

trying to put a rat
into a bottle

a woman who lived
in a beehive

pouring water
into a sieve.

War knocks
over the inkwell

into men’s lives

covers the white pages
of their wishes

makes the idea of Hell
...all   too   real.

The spilt ink eating
the words of men

who send letters home
and die in pain

never to return

only in others' memories
& useless dreams

marble memorials

while green horses
champ the grasses

the bridles & the bits
clanking & glinting

in the hot sun
of Now.

as this last lost evening
Donall Dempsey Nov 2020

Her mother died
giving birth

so from that day to

we considered her OURS
one of the family.

Ok, so...she was
a pig

but oh such
a pretty pig

and we kept her
in the caravan

reared her as one
of our own

almost considered her as

Oh the squeals of
children &...pig.

Well, she grew & grew
until the day came for her

to be serviced.

Our maiden pig
a fine Welsh White gilt.

Now, being English
amongst the Welsh

I knew you needed
a license

to move a pig
from area to area

so, I presented my self
to our two man police force.

Well, of course
they had licenses

for the this of that
or the that of this

but alas
no license

for the moving of
a pig.

They had somehow
run out.

The licenses not the pigs.

So, they gave me
a license for a crane

& crossed out the bit
not pertaining to a pig.

I thought they might
ask me

how many wheels
on your pig or

what type of machinery
is your pig?

But when it was done
it was done

a kind of
Frankenstein form

half crane/half pig.

And I was free now
to move my pig

where so ever I wished.

And so I brought her
to the boar.

And then there was the time
there was a pig born

without an *******

( not an uncommon
occurrence they told me ).

And so I set off for the vets
on my motorcycle and sidecar


. . .another story.
Donall Dempsey Nov 2020

the rose puts
her red armour on

goes to fight
the common enemy


her only weapon
an ephemeral beauty

three stars rise
above her head

this her last night
on this earth

fallen petal
by petal

was it enough
that she could say

"I am!"

I was thinking of my first wild rose I ever remember when I can barely remember myself of that time and not realising they had to leave us. "But why do they have to go?" I asked in "does-everything-go-voice" and my Da answered in an "Ô vraiment marâtre Nature" voice. It was the most beautiful of summers and I couldn't believe that time wasn't endless and life but a gift given to us...
Donall Dempsey Nov 2020
( for Michael Hartnett )

penny in a puddle
year of my birth

I pocket it
as the poet passes
cap in hand

this brilliant man
sculpted from sadness
loneliness falling like rain

he goes to greet me
knowing he knows me
but my face escapes him

I only ever meet him
when the drink has
taken him prisoner

inside his head
haiku breed
" maggots!" he says..." maggots!"

"I don't want your company
or your pity!" he snarls
"Just the price of a pint!"

I have only
the old puddle penny I've found
I give him my coat

he puts his hat on
his head
at a rakish angle

the tree flies away
the bird hangs still in the air
neon scribbles on the puddles
The title is taken from one of Michael's poems as is the idea of a tree flying away leaving the bird in mid-air! It always greatly amused me. The only other time I had gone to hear him read and he was too drunk to perform. I had to get a last bus back to the Curragh and by then I think he got around to reading. He had asked me if I wrote poetry too and when I said I do he said "Ahhh then....I pity you!"
Nov 2020 · 40
Donall Dempsey Nov 2020

We walk backward
out of the sea

our laughter gulped
back in our mouths

our words
drifting back down the past

until they are only
the original thoughts

our clothes falling
back on our bodies

as water falls from us
un-wets us

here I

then press play

the memory obeying
my mind’s command

as we happen again &

racing into our future

as if it has

never happened

Nov 2020 · 30
Donall Dempsey Nov 2020

"I like being dead me!"
he says.

"Much better than that living lark!"
he says.

"What I like is the complete absence of time."
he says.

"Or the way time collapses in on itself."
he says.

"Look out the window. See..?"
he says.

"A Roman Legion being chased by a dinosaur!"
he says.

" a hover car!"
he says.

"Wonders will never cease!"
he says.

"And that dinosaur...can't even drive!"
he says.

"It all gets a bit Thornton Wilder-ish!"
he says.

"But I shouldn't be saying this to you!"
he says.

"Not while you're not dead yet!"
he says.

"Or says you escape by the skin of your teeth!"
he says.

"And don't die at all!"
he says.

"I'm dying..?"
I say.

"You could call it that."
he says.

"And what are you...a ghost?"
I say.

"Naw mate...didn't get my ghosting licence!"
he says.

"Failed it every time!"
he says.

"I'm here to help you cross!"
he says.

"Aww mate...don't you go and live on me!"
he says.

"I'll catch hell for this!"
he says.

I say.

"Sorry! Sorry you says!"
he says.

And fades.

And life fades
back in again.

"Well..." I say to myself
"'s back to the old living lark!"
Nov 2020 · 75
Donall Dempsey Nov 2020

Ahhh little one
the only wrong you ever done

dying before
you were born

never to know

the blue of a sky
the whisper of a sea
the laugher of one who loves you

I tell you of these things
create a world for you in words

since it is all the world
that I can give you.

Forgive my tears
this is not the way to greet you.
Donall Dempsey Nov 2020
(Death without Tears)

"Life is the farce which everyone has to perform."
            Arthur Rimbaud - Bad Blood

Once again she
sensing her time

had come
she prepared

her last words
rehearsed her last breath

disappointed to see
a new day dawn

and Death had
stood her up.

"She has been dying now these
last 20 years!"

her long suffering husband

A fatal dose of

She lives to fight yet

Her mind rambling through
half remembered Rimbaud.

"Assez vu. . .
Assez eu. . .
Assez connu. . ."

(Enough seen. . .
Enough had. . .
Enough known. . .).

she intones as if she
were her own priest.

La music savante manque pas à notre désir
( Great music falls short of our desire. )

she chants as of she
were her own sacred ceremony.

Always the same snatches

"I never read him myself
but know him off by heart

from hearing them from herself!"
sighs her little husband .

Years later she
gets it right at last.

"Il y a une horloge qui ne sonne pas!"
(There is a clock that never strikes!)

She gasps.

"Que les oiseaux et les sources sont ****!"
(How far away the birds and Spring are).

"Life is the farce which everyone has to perform."
            Arthur Rimbaud - Bad Blood

("la vie est la farce a mener  par tous.")

Mauvais Sang - Arthur Rimbaud
Nov 2020 · 96
Donall Dempsey Nov 2020

And so, we celebrate our love
as if it were a religion to be believed in

& praise our days
& all the ways

that we discover
to love one another.

Each touch...a parable.
Each kiss...a little miracle.

You are sunlight
stained & transformed by glass.

You are a candle
kissing & caressing the dark.

You are incense
mingled with music.

You are the hymn
that ends & begins
& transcends all things.

Each kiss...a parable.
Each touch...a little miracle.
Donall Dempsey Nov 2020

It was...
Oct 5th - 1970.

A Monday.

It was the 278th day
of the year...only

87 days remaining
until the end of the year.

I knew I had to act now.
It was now...or never.

Time? I forget the time.
Time was standing still.

Huge clouds
menaced the horizon

impersonating an Armada
of Spanish Galleons.

Full sail ahead then.
I took a step into my future.

The smiling President drawing
nearer and nearer.

In Nass
the drenched crowed cheered.

In Newbridge now
flocks of children chase the car

like he was some
kinda Piper from Hamelin.

I kept a close eye on
the secret service

all dressed in the same suit
looking like clones

of one another
talking into their sleeves.

My gaze searches and settles
upon him

like the cross-hairs
of a ******'s rifle.

Sure he had called his setter
King Timahoe

after where his folks came from
another American looking for his roots

bolstering the Irish-American vote.

And now here he was
the man himself

in person
the 37th President.

Irish colleens dancing
upon a make-shift stage

in the square
of Kildare.

He's here oh so near
I can see the pores of his skin

a bead of sweat trickles into
that infamous Nixon grin.

Dare I do it now?
My hair falling into my eyes.

My mind flashes back to

when his Quaker ancestors
fled the Emerald Isle.

Three centuries pass by in a second and
we're here

in the middle of
The Vietnam War

and he speaks of
"a passion for peace...preventing war...building peace."

Yeah yeah...sure sure!

Carpet bombing Cambodia
the famous Nixon duplicity

the "credibility gap" opening
between what he says and what he does.

Oh there are protests
he has 5 eggs hurlers.

"Splatsplatsplatsplat and splat!"
Only one near hit.

And one man protesting
the price of a pint

up'd( for the occasion )to
one shilling and jaysus seven pence.

What's the world
coming to?

School kids waving
their plastic( in slow mo )

American flags
on little plastic sticks.

I raise my flag.
I raise my...voice

shooting my mouth off
with a great shout:


Several secret service scowl.
My words hit him...Nixon frowns.

Character assassination.

Mr. McCann
aka "The Bicycle Man!"

curses me
in Irish.

After all he is
my Irish teacher.

D'anam leis an diabhal...Ó Diomasaigh!"
("Your soul to the devil...Dempsey!")

A ***** A ****** SHOVEL..."

I yell as
I get a clip around the ear.

McCann holds his hand
over my mouth.

Then suddenly Nixon
is no longer


The hurled words
disappear into the air.

Us school boys
***** damply back to double Maths.

The De La Salle
Academy looming up before us.

Mr. McCann
hoovers near.

I cover both
my ears.

But he only tousles
my hair.

"Ahhh mo amadán beag cróga!"
( "Ahhh my brave little fool!")

"Maith an bhuachaill...maith an bhuachaill!"
( "Good boy...good boy!")

He grins.
Slips me a sixpence.

I sing the new Led Zep
only released that day.

"So now you'd better stop and rebuild all your ruins,
for peace and trust can win the day despite of all your losing."

Being only 12
I had done what had to be done.

My political life
had only just begun.

The long forgotten "never-to-be-forgotten" visit made to Hodgestown near Timahoe in the county of Kildare back in the day as we leave the Sixties sadly behind us for the austerity of the '70's and the "Yes we can" of the Sixties begins to loose its lustre.

The Timahoeans are not exactly proud of giving the world Mr. Nixon and stay quite quiet about it. The Kennedy visit was the golden one and Clinton and Reagan had theirs but Tricky Dicky's one has faded into the fog of history.

"Jessamyn West, who has written so eloquently about the background of our family, has said, the Quakers have a passion for peace. My mother was a pacifist. My grandmother was a pacifist. Jessamyn's mother was, her grandmother, her grandfather, going back as far as we know."

President Nixon in the Timahoe graveyard.

Don't know what happened to him then!

"The time has come to call a ***** a ****** shovel. This country is in an undeclared and unexplained war in Vietnam. Our masters have a lot of long and fancy names for it, like escalation and retaliation, but it is a war just the same." - James Reston.

"So now you'd better stop and rebuild all your ruins,
for peace and trust can win the day despite of all your losing."

Led Zeppelin 111 - Immigrant Song.
Nov 2020 · 22
Donall Dempsey Nov 2020

I kiss your philtrum
and you moan.

I lick a tiny trickle
of sweat

from it.

I know
it has no

apparent function
& survives

between your delightful nose
& your delicious upper lip.

But what
of it?

A kiss



And leads to lips
& lips upon lips

ending in an ******
ellipsis . . .

I love to look
upon it

as the indent left
by the finger of God

or where an angel
shushes the yet-to-be-born

teaching it to forget
all it has learned

in the world
of the womb.

I kiss again
your philtrum

a kiss


Nov 2020 · 51
Donall Dempsey Nov 2020

would you care to step out into this
we the only aliens at the human disco

"You have a very attractive
temporary arrangement of

we dance under
the disco ball
light from a distant planet

this human kissing
goes"... ooooOOOOOPS
inside your head!"

day trip to earth
done and dusted
take the last spaceship home
Donall Dempsey Nov 2020

He stepped outside
of himself.

Closed the door
of reality

behind him
with a sharp short click.

"Where had the time gone?"
he asked of a mirror.

"There is no time here!"
answered the reflection.

"So this is...eternity?"
he heard his thought say.

He took another step
left behind this world of flesh.

Here, where
not even memory


"Le silence va plus vite à reculons.."
Nov 2020 · 21
Donall Dempsey Nov 2020

I remember you
looking almost

Audrey Hepburn-ish.

My big sister
& oh...that smile!

Touching my world
with the wonder of your


We are Christmas-ing
the place

living in the candle's

nothing but love

in almost slow motion.

The holly bites
your little finger.

I ****
the drop of blood

that grows
& grows

until it is
kissed better.

You laugh:
' little saviour! '

and sigh with an almost
mock Victorian swoon.

Tiny curls cling
to the nape of your neck

like the tiniest
of tiny seahorses.      

We swim
in the sea

of our laughter.

The next Christmas
you were dead

lost to this

leaving me

to mourn

I...unable to
save you.

Now...all these years

(years you never knew)      

the holly
bites my little finger

& I **** it

tasting through
my tears

the sweet tang
of your blood

still so alive
in my mouth.
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