Michael Donaghy

We may not stay, not even with the most familiar things.

No sooner is the image comprehended than the mind

Accelerates into the waiting emptiness: and therefore

Only in eternity shall we encounter lakes.

Falling is all we must hope for, falling

From the known into the guessed-at, falling further.



When he failed the seminary he came back home
To the Bronx and sat in a back pew
Of St Mary’s every night reciting the Mass
From memory – quietly, continually –
into his deranged overcoat.
He knew the local phone book off by heart.
He had a system, he’d explain,
Perfected by the Dominicans in the Renaissance. (more…)

A lady might pretend to fix her face,
but scan the room inside her compact mirror –

so gentlemen would scrutinize this glass
to gaze on Windermere or Rydale Water

and pick their way along the clifftop tracks
intent upon the romance in the box,

keeping untamed nature at their backs,
and some would come to grief upon the rocks.

Don’t look so smug. Don’t think you’re any safer
as you blunder forward through your years

straining to recall some aching pleasure,
or blinded by some private scrim of tears

I know. My world’s encircled by this prop,
though all my life I’ve tried to force it shut. (more…)

i.m. Mike Donaghy

More instruments ring these walls than raised a roof
for God througout all medieval Christendom;
stone arcades spring like dancers from the Minster floor,
keyed to their lord’s calling-on song ‘Da Mihi Manum’. (more…)

Listen to this and purr…


Creator, thank You for humbling me.
Creator, who twice empowered me to change
a jackal to a saucer of milk,
a cloud of gnats into a chandelier,
and once, before the emperor’s astrologers,
a nice distinction into an accordion,
and back again, thank You
for choosing Irena to eclipse me. (more…)

Don’t be afraid, old son, it’s only me,
though not as I’ve appeared before,
on the battlements of your signature,
or margin of a book you can’t throw out,
or darkened shop front where your face
first shocks itself into a mask of mine,
but here, alive, one Christmas long ago
when you were three, upstairs, asleep,
and haunting me because I conjured you
the way that child you were would cry out
waking in the dark, and when you spoke
in no child’s voice but out of radio silence,
the hall clock ticking like a radar blip,
a bottle breaking faintly streets away,
you said, as I say now, Don’t be afraid.

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