Issue 9 – Winter 2005 – Joseph Donahue

Joseph Donahue


from  Terra Lucida                                     


The ocean is turning into sky
The sky flies off to the sun

The sun is nowhere to be seen —
maybe by monks in Tibet.

Light frees us, they say.
Dark condemns us . . .



As, every hour,
souls pour towards

selves, towards creeds,
ideologies, families,

cults, marketers, armies, 
prisons, pensions . . .

As, at all hours,
adoption agencies

those entrepreneurs of
birth, call about a boy

or a girl a world away, 
China, Ecuador, Rumania . . .

& rooms are made ready 
names are weighed

as plans go astray
like an affidavit in

a third world court
or, at the orphanage,

a mother or nun makes 
a last minute stipulation

or an exploded car
closes an embassy,

& sanctions are passed, 
& a child goes elsewhere  . . .



     (Lucifer fell in North Carolina)


And so: tobacco. 
And so: the moon. In

a milky gel. An irradiated 
nuclei in what’s left of a cell . . .




At check out: 
a reckoning. An

endless phone bill. Each 
number is a variant of the one

dialed before. So deep 
in that night, who

did you think you 
might reach?





The streets 
of Manhattan are

upheavals & screams. 
There seems to be a

mass panic in progress.
You move apace while

reading, with effort,
a fluttering book —

some Torah or
tour guide . . .

The fire storm, that
hurricane of flame, is

turning from sea 
towards land.

Doors & roofing fly
off after the pages torn lose . . .





May all yet be 
Mahler? May that

radiance of the will 
come to be, that neon

snag, that purple net of mist?
May wild parrots in the trees

on a mountainside also 
come to be, and a cup

half white inside, then red,
(gleam of wine not yet sipped. )

Lightning floods the cloud mass
above the treatment plant . . .

On the beach, some boys find
an obsolete action figure.

Who is he? Can he fly?
Can he blast lasers?

All that matters now is
what the living need . . .

Say what you have to say, 
urge the hospice philosophers.

Let your well-being 
fill the endlessness
inside a dying ear. Let those 
dark arcades on the moon

be lava flow. Let the holes 
glow bright that show

the end of the 
beginning: when

all not to be is sucked
back into what is . .


Joseph Donahue’s most recent colections are: In This ParadiseTerra Lucida XXI-XL, and Incidental Eclipse.