Saturday, April 1, 2017


Timothy Donohue


We know how

The slight rounding

Of a high corner

Means the headstone

Has memorized the wind

We can raise a yellow-gold apple at dusk

And trace with a cool finger

Where the sunlight sat for hours

We are much more invisible than that

We are a name halved backwards

A thousand times

Living changes lives

Until who we are

And who we were

Are less known

Than what the wind

And sunlight did

The day these bodies

Were covered with earth

We are all energy and invisibility

We are all someone

We can only imagine


Death will come in the window

You thought was locked all these years

The one in the kitchen

The one right above the sink

Death will be tired

And hungry and wanting

A sandwich—all that gravity

Works up a good appetite…

Light from the refrigerator

Unspools on linoleum

Like a break in the clouds

Or a temporary shroud

Death leans into the light

Looking for cold cuts

Spongy white breads and mayonnaise

But you’re too healthy for any of that…

So the door closes

And the darkness returns

Until death finds where you’re sleeping

And drags you to your absence

Complaining of a certain hunger


Sometimes I wonder
If there was another way,
An ending we might have missed…
It was late morning
It was the end of summer
Cars came infrequently past that motel
A dog barked
Then silence would return,
Coating our lips
And closing our eyes

We played hooky from real love for so long
We lied about our whereabouts so often
Sometimes we forgot our real names…
Everything outside that room was always boiled
Inside we pulled black curtains
Against the heat and falling bombs
Of sunlight and friends…

No. There was no other way, no other ending…
It was late morning
It was the end of summer
We hugged so hard
We put our lives in a coma--
And left, in separate cars


I stood in line behind a fragrance.
It was you. Your face was invisible,
But it was you.
This was a long time ago.

An electric door kept opening and closing.
Pushing your scent deep inside me,
And urging me to say something clever
To the back of your head.

Inside everyone is a door
They will not open,
And a door they will not close—
Choices must be made.

I should have made you laugh.
Said some nonsense about
Your oolong tea or the candy bar
With the same name as your father

But I remained invisible.


       "there's no there there."                 
            -Gertrude Stein
  Everybody's Autobiography

Weekend-ending. Runway-runaway
Dallas to San Francisco 1:10 a.m.
And where I’m heading it’s 1986,
But it’s still yesterday
So much for the times of our life

I have made a mess of my life
Mixed the mess and painted with it
To outline voices in frames of silence
To take the waiting-for, out of wonder
To hear silence, with new ears

Like a poem, and making
That kind of sense, you left
Ferlinghetti in your Texas college town
And headed to his. You see his motel
Room stuttering, repeating itself in his sleep

Forty-five degrees south by southwest
The machine turned, pointing
A wing at Dallas another
At San Francisco. You hear someone
On the ground pointing a finger
At you. Feathers will fly

 The flight attendant leans over
Picking up a napkin. You use the word
“Callipygian” for the first time out loud
She smiles, looking backwards
She is happily confused. She will be
Your friend in the sky

Baudelaire said he wrote to
“Find the why of it; to transform pleasure
Into knowledge.”  I do it differently
There is so much
I don’t want to know

Between friendship and love
Comes conversational botany
A kind of plant-talk develops
Between a man and a woman
“Nice day.”  “Yes. I was tired of the rain”

“I see that bridge we were on”
Says a boy to his dad in the seat ahead
When you turn, it’s not there anymore
Your lips taste like a woman’s cheekbone
Communication from the neck up

“By definition, the poet must be
An enemy of the State” said Ferlinghetti
Afterward, you drove him to where
He would sleep, perhaps to dream
Against the state of Ramada Inn

Tired and unmemorized
You are up to 30,000 feet
And 36 straight hours
You’re slipping deeper
Into ball turret 36B

A fish turns in your stomach
It hears the desert below you
It hears the cacti and it hears
The coyotes below you.

There’s a “there” there
It’s just that whatever is unclear
Must be so cleared away, it takes the waiting-
For out of wonder.  Like hearing silence
With new ears.  Or seeing Ferlinghetti
Ten hours before arriving where he wasn’t

Thirty years ago


On a sidewalk,
Snow falls between
A man and a woman
Struggling against late December winds---it’s obvious
Their separateness is pre-planned
The snowy gap is precise
And irrevocable.

There is no touching now in these lives.
No looking back, nor at each other.
Just a wobbly march forward,
Into more and more invisibility.

What was the word that sawed them in half?
What failures of desire
Would make falling down,
Alone, under a winter sky,

The preferred embrace.


Timothy Donohue’s publications include Invisible ~ Poems And Aphorisms , with an afterword by Laura Kennelly (Mandorla Books, 2016) and Road Frame Window ~A Poetics Of Seeing  (Mandorla Books, 2015), that he coauthored with Dennis Patrick Slattery and Donald Carlson, with an afterword by Stephanie Pope.

A native of Lorain, Ohio, he spent a number of years in Texas, where he received a MA in Creative Writing at the University of Dallas. In a professional career spanning four decades, he spent the first 20 years as a writer, producer and sometimes teacher of print and broadcast advertising in Texas and Ohio. He spent the next 20 years as a managing administrator and Communications Director for non-profits dedicated to providing services to individuals with mental illness, developmental disabilities and chemical dependencies. He realized, over time, that poetry could quit him any time it wanted to; but he couldn’t quit poetry no matter what he did. Recently he founded Donohue Words & Works, LLC, which he describes as a “transfusional place for words on purpose and works on canvas.”

 Visit Timothy Donohue at

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Invisible ~ Poems And Aphorisms , with an afterword by Laura Kennelly (Mandorla Books, 2016)
Road Frame Window ~A Poetics Of Seeing  (Mandorla Books, 2015), coauthored with Dennis Patrick Slattery and Donald Carlson, with an afterword by Stephanie Pope.