Friday, May 24, 2013

I Wish I'd Written This

Last Lonely Flight
by Donall Dempsey

Butterflies that flew in 1932
still held in that summer

by the exquisitely neat calligraphy 
& cruel glinting pin. 

I wipe the dust from the glass 
& they gleam as if they still dream 

of being alive. 

i smash the glass 
clutch them in my hand & climb 

from attic to roof & slowly 

drawing myself up to 
my full height 

release them back into time 
smile as they flutter in the summer breeze 

of then & now 
their dead eyes taking it all in


their one last lonely flight 
back into nothingness

Donall Dempsey, an Irishman based in England (at Guildford, Surrey, where he works as an English teacher) is one of various amazing poets I first met on MySpace and encountered again on facebook. It was hard to choose which poem of his to feature; he is prolific, and there are many I'd love to have written. He writes on all manner of subjects, and is particularly good at human relationships, from tender and funny recollections of his daughter when she was little, through grief over the loss of his beloved mother a few years back, to sensual love poems for Janice Windle, a poet and artist whom he met through poetry nearly five years ago. As far as I can gather, they fell for each other immediately and were obviously made for each other. While they write their own separate poems, they collaborate in the production of books and sound recordings, and in hosting poetic events. Also Donall is sometimes a subject for Jan's paintings.

Although it ranges over different styles of writing, Donall's voice is unique and unmistakeable. His work includes haiku, free verse and prose poetry. And when he posts his poems to facebook, he will often include the back story, in prose, for his readers. It's usually at least as fascinating, moving, and beautifully written as the poetry. I frequently feel like saying to him, 'Can I please have your imagination when you've finished with it?' His work is often imagined, probably even more often autobiographical, and even the autobiographical pieces reveal a very personal, imaginative way of looking at things. Luckily for his readers and audiences, I'm sure he'll never be finished with it as long as he lives.

One of his online biographies says:

Dónall has spent a lifetime loving words and images and will continue to do so. He believes poetry should always be an aural and oral experience. His early work in Dublin included performance on Irish radio and television with John Cooper Clark and Paul Durcan. He has been writing and performing regularly in London venues since 1986.

You can see and hear him in perfomance on YouTube

The lovely poem I chose for you here will be included in his forthcoming book, Being Dragged Across the Carpet by the Cat, which he says will hopefully be out in time for the July/August festival in Fermoy. (Oh, I didn't mention his wonderful, and often self-deprecating sense of humour. This book title is a good indication.)

Others of his poems can be found at PoemHunter, on facebook, and at a site called Poem Punch. He and Janice share a web page, Dempsey & Windle, where you can obtain their books. They also collaborate in spoken word poetry as Shadows of Our Former Selves.

Poems and photos used in ‘I Wish I’d Written This’ remain the property of the copyright holders (usually their authors).


  1. Thanks for sharing!
    i loved the message in this poem. a metaphor for a release from prison / pain?

  2. That's our Dónall, liberating the already dead! Good one Dónall, good choice Rosemary. <3

  3. beautiful heart --->wonder filled words --->beautiful poems

  4. Rosemary---so much talent in this world, it just boggles my mind. Thank you for sharing yet another wonderful poet :-)

  5. Donall Dempsey, what an amazing poet... the idea of liberating the dead butterful. I had purchased one in Puerto Rico. I was so naive, I actually thought they died of natural causes and picked up to be mounted for posterity. Never entered my mind, the cruelty of this "art."

    It's still with me. I may do the same one day, or perhaps give it a little funeral... until then, its iridescent blue stands as a monument to what we are losing, all too quickly, in our fragile environment... Thanks, Rosemary! Amy

  6. Totally Wonderful! I too wish I had written this, but I am delighted to be a reader. I could also wish for this child's belief in resurrection.

  7. Oh it is beautiful, poignant and liberating at the same time, to picture those butterflies freed from their pins and frames at last.

  8. I really enjoyed this, it has great imagery and you really want those butterflies to come back to life and realise they have been set free :)

  9. This was a wonderful sharing, Rosemary. Really enjoyed the poem AND your article about the poet.

  10. As always, delighted you all enjoyed my choice. :)

  11. Greatly enjoyed this; what a wonderful example you've penned here!!


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