Pieces of a Life that Will Remain Unglued by Jack Donahue

I. Land, Sea, Air

Embrace every living thing that crawls
along the grass, swims in the sea,
or walks upon the earth,
even slithers under rocks,
thrives in wood piles, or rots in wood piles.

Catch them as you see them.

Set traps if you can, lay down addictive treats
then wait, and wait some more
until they come in for a landing
cushioned on a bed of cherry blooms
so soon this time of year.

When you find yourself face to face,
stare into their eyes of ages past and present;
enter pageants wearing
their prized feathers and furs.

Being somewhat cynical,
I extract a live clam
from Auntie Em’s ass
and go bottom fishing
with my next door neighbor.

We share the common lake of a class
less society; he often stoops lower than I,
barely living in the second house
in from the corner on the road
lined with numerous dead trees,
twin oaks mostly.

All the fish in the sea will soon be consumed
as it all starts here, tumbling down the narrow trails
terminating in the marsh that huddles
with leftover roots of oaks, elms, yews
and short pine shrubs.

Try to get a grip on the bottom,
beneath the sludge
are some beating hearts
within tiny creatures hard to see,
near extinction,
all male for the present.

Curl your fingers,
pinch the wide neck of land
as in a funny photo
of you and the missus,
who misses us.

Within the marshes, toppling reeds,
ivies, brush swayed by wind,
pick the wild daisies
so the masque of earth will be diminished
as nature itself trails into the sea.

While the land gives way,
a giant fringehead mocks the bankruptcy clock,
opens wide to swallow the sea whole;
over time the land will vanish
within its sarcastic mouth
until the marshes will be no more.

Try not to wake the gannet, jaeger and albatross
that sleep on the bobbing waves.


II. The First Drop of Rain

The first drop of rain on my arm
reminds me of his touch,
the special needs man on a leash,
tethered to the ticking clock,
a record of the time he has to live
a difficult life.

Think how easy your life is now
with no one to care for, not even an animal,
the hollow places of the heart
so easily plugged with airtight corks.

Then the second drop falls, the third, the fourth,
signifying a change in the weather:
eye-piercing wind, wet with dust,
cannot see
what logs lie in the road ahead,
torrents, floods, rescue teams
drown in sorrow.

There is no one left to save on the island,
evacuated, each given their last dying kiss,
an invisible vapor
rising above
what’s left on earth.

Try not to wake the gannet, jaeger and albatross
that sleep on the bobbing waves.


III. Wild God

How small is our God
who can fit into seven billion boxes
lined up over a mile wide
and one inch deep,
a shallow grave for sure.

I speak as an emigrant
from my mother’s womb,
living my tasteless life
one fortune cookie at a time.

I just wish that God
would give me three of everything:
morning, noon and night,
breakfast, lunch and dinner.
three people whom I know who will die
within three days of this day.

I wish that God would wrap
three arms around me
and hug me to death.

In the meantime,
get the favorite recipe from someone
who has no idea how to cook
and follow their directions precisely:
gather ingredients, wash thoroughly,
boil, lower to simmer, reduce everything
to nothing.

Remove from heat, place lid on tightly
and put aside for step number four.

While you wait,
try not to wake the gannet, jaeger and albatross
that sleep on the bobbing waves.


IV. Where To Go When Lost

If you are close enough,
take a left on Defeat Avenue.

Look for something foreign, not exotic,
British in manners almost, but no more.
Share a common language
that does not complicate simple schooling.

Try not to wake the gannet, jaeger and albatross
that sleep on the bobbing waves.


V. At This Very Moment

Certainly, with a sense of immediacy,
my life changed forever at this very moment.
No amount of determined effort,
no passing of years,
no abundance of therapy,
nor the occurrence of counseling,
unsolicited advice,
expensive self-abasement retreats,
lifetime Indian guru ashram commitments,
trendy forums, sweat lodge baths,
nor any seminal event, movement,
sea change on earth or in heaven
could alter in any way
the course of my life
that received its unalterable,
inalienable compass point direction
at this exact, fixed moment in time.

Whether or not I have any control over this moment
or even the slightest influence
regarding its occurrence
makes absolutely no difference,
what or who started it
makes absolutely no difference
whatever precipitated or instigated its occurrence
has no bearing on the reality
of this exact moment.

This is where it all started
and there is no turning back,
for now.

Try not to wake the gannet, jaeger and albatross
that sleep on the bobbing waves.


VI. Thoughts on Music

I can blow a single note on the oboe,
tinkle the triangle three times
pound the drum once only
and clash the cymbals on cue.

Can you
express what a symphony means,
what it does?
Movement, story, sound
strings held so dearly
upon the shoulder,
others spit into
several sections of wind, brass, percussion
discussion between chords of blue,
who knew
simulating the sounds of nature
could create a tumaceous gaseous noise
coming from its willing orifice,
the interior of the composer’s mind,
slogging in quiet molasses fields of sound.

What is music
beyond the pleasant sound,
the fitting harmony,
the synchronization of living beings
offering few words
as to how they seldom feel.

At intermission,
try not to wake the gannet, jaeger and albatross
that sleep on the bobbing waves.


VII. Choosing a Mentor

What sin has been written
in the history of Nice?

Feels good, feels good.

His wispy hair, his soft skin,
I touch him here, there,
and everywhere.

Feels good, feels good.

I enter in
where there is no sin
and no fear of hell
in my burning woman eyes.

Well, that did it.
You woke the gannet and the jaeger
that could not wait
and ate each other.

Only the albatross is left
to spread her wings
and glide thousands of miles
across the barren land and empty sea,
an immortal force
as legend would have it.



Numerous short stories and poems written by Jack Donahue have been published in journals such as: Newtown Literary Review, Prole (U.K.), Poetry Salzburg Review (Austria), The Main Street Rag, Bindweed (Ireland), The Almagre Review, and others throughout North America, India and Europe. His first book of poems, Just Below the Surface is set for a fall 2018 launch. A children’s picture book, Come Play with Me by the Sea, will be published later this year. Mr. Donahue received his M.Div. degree from New Brunswick, Theological Seminary, NJ in 2008. He is married and resides on the North Fork of Long Island, New York.