Sunday, November 23, 2014

Poem - Poem Polishing


polishing a poem never ends
you read it for the 100th time
and find a height or a hollow, 
or a lump or a rough place
as you run your mind over it.
but worst of all, 
you find a jagged word,
a word that does not belong,
does not fit anymore, did it ever? *
the poem alone can cut, 
bleed, insult, vomit, 
but the word that is jagged
is a living nightmare.
you think of it having your dinner
driving along the road
making love to somebody.
there is no escape,
except to edit.
be thankful… 
not to be published..

...and so the down into that spiral of how did this word insinuate itself into the poem / or how did I miss it and all the other human frailties that seem to emerge when a mistake creeps up on you and you are there down at the end of an alley with a bad word and nowhere to run.. except to face it - deal with it... this may sound melodramatic and so it is... above all other things a poet's life is melodramatic.. one single little tiny word of a few letters can ruin your weekend...


Sunday, November 16, 2014

At the Bottom of the Night..suicide beckons

Every life lost in the modernisation of China is so sad, so needless, so futile - one such life lost is that of the young poet;-  Xu Lizhi (1990-2014). 

I would like to extend my sincere condolences to his family and friends and also to thank the friends of the Nao project for the translations of poems by Xu Lizhi (许立志)

Here below his death poem together with commentary, background and links to the full article and more of his work.

“On My Deathbed”

I want to take another look at the ocean, 

behold the vastness of tears from half a lifetime
I want to climb another mountain, 
try to call back the soul that I’ve lost
I want to touch the sky, 
feel that blueness so light
But I can’t do any of this, 
so I'm leaving this world
Everyone who’s heard of me
Shouldn't be surprised at my leaving
Even less should you sigh or grieve
I was fine when I came...
and fine when I left.

-- Xu Lizhi, 30 September 2014




-- Xu Lizhi, 30 September 2014


For those 'employed / indentured slaves', in emerging economies there may seem to be little alternative. Is a return to the poverty / humility / simplicity of a rural backwater so bad?

Tens of thousands of the young in China are sold the illusion of a better future, glamour enhanced by photoshop in magazines, actors in roles all painted up on television and in film... much of it fantasy, lies and illusion.. sleight of mind. 

Aided and abetted by their American counterparts the Chinese company executives consuming all in their path. The wealthy international corporations engaging in abject dishonesty, studiously avoiding the images and news of the deaths of workers - workers who are treated like dogs at the end of an ornate supply chain.

The reality is that the capitalist system is built on dishonesty, greed and ever increasing consumption, for the majority of workers it is impossible to defeat the system;-

  • you will be paid a fraction of what is ever fair
  • you will work extra hours without pay
  • you will be removed / abused if you complain
  • increasing taxation will dilute your earnings
  • you can easily waste the best years of your life

This is not unique to emerging economies, all over the world people give their lives in an attempt to gain more money to gain more things.. to gain more money to gain more things.

We do not need more consumers consuming and perpetuating the nightmare of immoral rampant consumption; we need more artists and philosophers and writers and poets...  happy to live simply without consumerist trappings. Only then will we get a reset of a system being destroyed by its own greed.

Des Donnelly.. aka Drax


Xu Lizhi (许立志) was a Foxconn worker who committed suicide on 30 September 2014, at the age of 24, in Shenzhen, China. The full article also includes an obituary and explanatory notes.

Please read the full article on entitled ;-

 The poetry and brief life of a Foxconn worker: Xu Lizhi (1990-2014)

Xu's departing poem 

by Li Fei and Zhang Xiaoqi
10 October, 2014


“On My Deathbed”


I want to take another look at the ocean, behold the vastness of tears from half a lifetime
I want to climb another mountain, try to call back the soul that I’ve lost
I want to touch the sky, feel that blueness so light
But I can’t do any of this, so I’m leaving this world
Everyone who’s heard of me
Shouldn’t be surprised at my leaving
Even less should you sigh or grieve
I was fine when I came, and fine when I left.

-- Xu Lizhi, 30 September 2014

Shy, quiet, introverted, solitary

In 2010, Xu Lizhi went [from his home in rural Jieyang, Guangdong] to work at [a] Foxconn [electronics factory in Shenzhen], beginning life on the assembly line. From 2012 until February of this year [2014], over 30 of his writings were published in Foxconn’s internal newspaper Foxconn People (富士康人), including poems, essays, film reviews, and news commentaries {…} Xu posted the titles of these writings on his blog in a post called “The Maturation Given to Me by a Newspaper,” indicating his gratitude for this platform for his literary aspirations. The first time his friend Zheng (pseudonym) read Xu’s poetry, he was astonished to discover that this young man could be so talented. Henceforth, Zheng always looked for Xu’s writings in the newspaper.
Zheng’s impression was that Xu was a shy boy, “of few words, but not silent.” “Xu asserted his convictions, but he seemed quite solitary – very much the air of a poet.” When Zheng heard of Xu’s suicide, his entire [week-long] break for [China’s] National Day was shrouded in grief. He could not go outside for days.

Turning feelings into poems; fearing they'd be read by family

Most of Xu’s early poems were descriptions of life on the assembly line. In “Workshop, My Youth Was Stranded Here,” he described his conditions at the time: “Beside the assembly line, tens of thousands of workers [dagongzhe]1 line up like words on a page/ 'Faster, hurry up!'/ Standing among them, I hear the supervisor bark.” He felt that “Once you’ve entered the workshop/ The only choice is submission,” and that his youth was coldly slipping away, so he could only “Watch it being ground away day and night/ Pressed, polished, molded/ Into a few measly bills, so-called wages.”

At first Xu Lizhi found it difficult to adapt to the constant switching between dayshifts and nightshifts. In another poem, he described himself by the assembly line “standing straight like iron, hands like flight,” “How many days, how many nights/ Did I – just like that – standing, fall asleep?” He described his working life as exhausting, “Flowing through my veins, finally reaching the tip of my pen/ Taking root in the paper/ These words can be read only by the hearts of migrant workers."

Xu once said that he never showed his poetry to his parents or other relatives, "because it's something painful; I don't want them to see that."


Thursday, October 09, 2014

Salute to Che Guevara

Che Guevara

Once again... October 9 2014 marks 47 years since the fall in combat of Ernesto Che Guevara, freedom fighter and legendary guerilla born: June 14, 1928, Rosario, Argentina.

His father Ernest Guevara Lynch said "The first thing to note is that in my son's veins flowed the blood of the Irish rebels", he said in a 1969 interview. He went on: "Che inherited some of the features of our restless ancestors. There was something in his nature which drew him to distant wandering, dangerous adventures and new ideas".

As an Irishman I must again reiterate my immense pride in the fact that Che Guevara has family connections with Ireland.

a toast to Che... y hasta siempre

Friday, September 19, 2014

Poem - Decanter Fish

I was sitting having a small glass of wine
when I saw a fish 
swimming in the fairy liquid decanter
I thought this was bizarre
even by my standards
I jumped up
and ran out to the scullery
for the fishing rod...
I thought to cover the decanter
give the fish a sporting chance
this time I opted for a worm
since fly fishing in the house can be very disruptive

by Des Donnelly   ..written 23.Apr.2014
a few readers have asked me to publish something / anything not politics.. :-)  so this is like an interlude...

Sunday, September 14, 2014

William Wall Essay - Riding Against The Lizard – On The Need For Anger Now

An Essay By William Wall

  (© William Wall 2009)
“Anger is the political sentiment par excellence. It brings out the qualities of the inadmissible, the intolerable. It is a refusal and a resistance that with one step goes beyond all that can be accomplished reasonably in order to open possible paths for a new negotiation of the reasonable but also paths of an uncompromising vigilance.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Poem - Not Kosher

extremist, terrorist,
interesting words

for an interesting phenomenon
the old freedom fighter and guerrilla gone
ISIS a creation of some sort by somebody
the truth of anything becoming more elusive
but definitely a smell to ISIS
paradoxically the whole thing is not kosher

by Des Donnelly   ..written 2.Sept.2014

Note: September Poems

Dear friends and readers

as always a busy and creative summer and now a hunker down into the dark oppressiveness of winter, but first the most valuable gold in the world - the gold of autumn :-)  .. how could you not be carried off on a flight of fancy on the back of sunbrowned leaves floating away on a placid stream to new endings or old beginnings..

As always I welcome (and seriously appreciate) your comments and observations. As a sort of beaujolais nouveau approach an appropriate quotation is one from the great French poet, essayist, and philosopher...  
Paul Valéry

"In the eyes of those lovers of perfection, a work is never finished - a word that for them has no sense - but abandoned; and this abandonment, whether to the flames or to the public (and which is the result of weariness or an obligation to deliver) is a kind of an accident to them, like the breaking off of a reflection, which fatigue, irritation, or something similar has made worthless."  
~Paul Valéry.


Sunday, September 07, 2014

Micropoetry #4

Sand Worms

we’re just sand worms 
life passing through us
intricate designs on Darwin’s beach
good to the next high tide
of evolution


Saturday, August 30, 2014

Seamus Heaney Events 2014

Bellaghy Bawn is the main location for the weekend's commemorative events.

Sat 2.30pm, the cemetery at St Mary's Church, poems will be read by graduates of the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen's University in Belfast.

A procession of celebration will then move through the village to the Turfman sculpture, where there will be choral music in his memory. Under the guidance of Magherafelt's Gino Lupari – of Four Men And A Dog fame – an afternoon of music will follow.

The Sands family will perform a memorial concert from 7.30pm in the Bawn marquee, where invited and local guests will hear a songbook specially prepared for the occasion. Derry man Gerard McChrystal will evoke the poem Mid Term Break through a specially commissioned piece for the saxophone. Afterwards, the public is invited to The Wall at Ballydermot Road to witness an event at Church Island.

On Sunday from 2pm there is an open mic session where visitors can read, write, sing, play or just listen. A series of coach tours of 'Seamus Heaney Country' will also take place with specialist guides exploring in detail the inspirations that framed the poet's life and work.

Full details online at

On Home Ground Festival. September 11-14th.

"Highlights of the programme include an exhibition of films made for the BBC and presented by Seamus Heaney, many of which have never been broadcast more than once.

There will be readings from some of Ireland’s finest writers and poets, children’s workshops, a poetry picnic, coach tours of ‘Heaney country’ and In Conversations with special guests – including Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody who will read Heaney poetry and perform songs, one of which he has dedicated to the late poet, and musicians Neil Martin, Rod McVey and actress Brid Brennan, will perform a bespoke session on Heaney. Artist Colin Davidson, whose portrait of Heaney was the last painting Heaney sat for, will be In Conversation with writer Glenn Patterson."

Friday, August 29, 2014

..tomorrow never comes


we are all only that sand 
blowing in the camel’s wake
little puffs of us rising up 
in slow motion
in our own tiny moment of time
enjoy it
as it passes 
and the foot of destiny
to fall in another's world

by Des Donnelly

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Micropoetry #3

I saw a man carrying his child out of the shop
here in Aughnacloy it was alive

by Des Donnelly

Sunday, July 27, 2014

A Poem.. Exodus, by Taha Muhammad Ali

The street is empty
as a monk’s memory,
and faces explode in the flames
like acorns –
and the dead crowd the horizon
and doorways.
No vein can bleed
more than it already has,
no scream will rise
higher than it has already risen.
We will not leave!

Everyone outside is waiting
for the trucks and the cars
loaded with honey and hostages.
We will not leave!

The shields of light are breaking apart
before the rout and the siege;
outside, everyone wants us to leave.
But we will not leave!

Ivory white brides
behind their veils
slowly walk in captivity’s glare, waiting,
and everyone outside wants us to leave,
but we will not leave!

The big guns pound the jujube groves,
destroying the dreams of the violets,
extinguishing bread, killing the salt,
unleashing thirst
and parching lips and souls.
And everyone outside is saying:
“What are we waiting for?
Warmth we’re denied,
the air itself has been seized!
Why aren’t we leaving?”
Masks fill the pulpits and brothels,
the places of ablution.
Masks cross-eyed with utter amazement;
they do not believe what is now so clear,
and fall, astonished,
writhing like worms, or tongues.
We will not leave!

Are we in the inside only to leave?
Leaving is just for the masks,
for pulpits and conventions.
Leaving is just
for the siege-that-comes-from-within,
the siege that comes from the Bedouin’s loins,
the siege of the brethren
tarnished by the taste of the blade
and the stink of crows.
We will not leave!

Outside they’re blocking the exits
and offering their blessings to the impostor,
praying, petitioning
Almighty God for our deaths.

Exodus, Taha Muhammad Ali
(from So What. pub by Copper Canyon Press.)

Friday, July 25, 2014

We are no longer here, do you care?

'Dutch Children Protest the Killing of their Palestinian Peers' 

Dutch children have taken part of a short movie to protest against the continuing israeli bombings of Palestinian civilians; children in particular. In a short video by filmmaker Abdelkarim El-Fassi, eight Dutch children tell the story of eight Palestinian children killed by israel.




Monday, June 16, 2014

Micropoetry #1


little beetle cars crawling
far down below  
the glint of sunlight  
on their eyes  
betraying them..

by Des Donnelly

Monday, May 12, 2014

An Trump Bizarre

and the saws
and the bucks
and the leps of them
was a joy to behold
hope for the old Ireland yet
no matter about the press gobshites in Dublin
sure what would they know anyway
they're so long conquered
fáilte go dtí Dónal Mór 
..trump that yous feckers.. ;-)


by Des Donnelly

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Ireland’s Engagement with the Diaspora - Suggestions

Review of Ireland’s Engagement with the Diaspora

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade recently completed a review of Diaspora policy to examine all elements of engagement with the Irish abroad.

The Department invited those at home and abroad who are interested in and affected by issues of emigration, and the wider questions of engagement with the Diaspora, to contribute their views to the review.

Please find below my Submission to the Irish Abroad Unit, Department of Foreign Affairs


Leaving Ireland you lose something of yourself, perhaps it is the deep sadness experienced in that parting with your people, your land, your own place. Often this is only felt in those intense moments of alone, out amongst strangers who sometimes have very little regard for their own people; never mind us, the immigrant.

As a person who left Ireland for the first time in 1977 I still remember this sense of loss acutely.

As a father with both daughters in Australia I am not alone in feeling a sense of frustration at the ever increasing ineptitude of the political class. In my own view they are now at the terminus of their gravy train and it it past time to get off.

This consultation by the Department is most welcome and I believe that all of us can serve our family, friends and relations abroad best by engaging positively with Government North and South.  There is consensus that there is an urgent need for policy modification and new policy introduction.

It is imperative that the Governments and Departments act decisively. 

Action / Suggestion Points

There will most likely be a degree of repetition in comments / ideas put forward, nonetheless I would like to make the following suggestions;-

1. Create a dedicated Minister / and Department for the Diaspora

Comment: it is not about squeezing a few Euro out of a few people being dragged back to Ireland reluctantly. It is about recognising that the cultural, artistic and spiritual psyche of the island lies in our engagement with and appreciation of those outside Ireland. The Diaspora are as much a part of Ireland as those of us who remain behind.

2. Create the post of Diaspora attaché, in sufficient numbers and deployed this year in geographic areas that reflect the distribution of the global Irish as indicated in Appendix 1.

Comment: the post of Diaspora Attaché could be created more or less immediately within DFA. These Diaspora Attachés would effectively become the cadre of the new Department of the Diaspora.

3. Produce a definitive / official analysis of the global distribution of the Diaspora to provide for detailed academic research and to guide ongoing policy decisions.

4. Produce real time quarterly data on emigrants

5. Create a number of Action Teams focusing on emigrants of differing periods, for example;-
Action Team A: those who have left in the last 5/10 years
Action Team B: those who have left in the last 10/20 years
Action Team C: those who have left in the last 20/40 years
Action Team D: those who have left in the last 40/60 years
Action Team E: those who have left in the last 60/100 years
Action Team F: those who have left in the last 100+ years

Each team’s responsibility would be engagement with the Diaspora of the period in the most appropriate manner.

6. Create Action Teams split by age segmentation. The objective being to develop ‘help/intervention cases’ from the characteristics of emigrants by age distribution. For example this may well be served best by using the mediums of sport, music, art, literature, language as common bonds that remain long past the date of leaving.

7. Create a global award system for those proactively participating in Diaspora entities worldwide to the betterment of their fellow emigrant and the global Irish. As an example these could be named 'The Boru Awards' and would essentially be our global cultural celebration of all things Irish.

8. Allow the Irish abroad to vote on the simple premise if you hold a current Irish passport you are eligible to vote.
Comment: the length of time it is taking to resolve this issue and indeed the whole manner of treating those who have left as no longer being of Ireland is a disgrace and needs changed immediately.

9. Use real world technology to achieve improved contact and collaboration with and among the Diaspora.
Comment: a cursory look at the use figures for Gmail, Google Apps for Business, G+, Facebook, Paypal, EBay, Twitter, Pinterest will show that each of these companies deal with billions of pieces of data daily

NOTE: It would be crucial that any of the crowd involved in the electronic voting debacle are not allowed near this.

10. Create an annual ‘Ideas for Ireland Competition’ operated at club, school, college, university and open levels to garner ideas from our entire tribe worldwide.


My own personal experience having worked and travelled all over the world is that my fellow Irish are always there with a helping hand - but you have to be able to find them and ask nicely.

One of the most encouraging things about technology is the ease of communication that it brings.  We can now find them.!

Looking at this on a wider front Google or Facebook or Twitter could set up a Irish community for 5 or 6 million in the while of an afternoon and add the other 60 odd million the next day.

We could all vote on everything by teatime, plus we could post photos of each of us at our tea. We could share our own detailed analysis with friends on our mobile, ipad, Chromebook, tv or even our ‘Glasses’.

There is no longer any technological impediment to real time data, real time voting or opinion seeking and global connectivity with many millions of the Diaspora.

What remains is the political will and foresight.

Des Donnelly,
Co Tyrone.

Ps: I am happy to engage in dialogue with anyone on this subject and to elaborate on any of the suggestions made here, the contact form here would be the ideal way to do.

Appendix 1 – the Global Irish


Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Poem - The Eluvium Bar

I walked into the Eluvium Bar
a cheer went up 
the aliens recognising the dig as an art form
I definitely made an impression last night
“pity the pithy poet” roared Zmurofska, one of the actor bouncers
“beat it” I shouted back
the stalky people in the corner fell over laughing
and the free drink began to flow
she was there too, her mad red eyes glancing towards me
I blew her a kiss for badness to get the row going
watching the ripple effect in frowns circling out
how big a pebble I wondered
almost ducking in response to the hate wave reflected back
from all the admirers
her red eyes were something else
all the tall dark brunettes in my life fading with every parsec
I edged up to the bar, no elbows, trying to be mannerly 
as well as polite to the bartender with 4 arms and 2 mean rights
jesus it started to make some sort of sense, the engines were volcanic
so much for ‘the final frontier’ we were at it, on it and in it
I could feel the chaos sliding towards me, the ESP shots starting to work
the triangular candle trying to tilt enough to light the long fuse
the bar counter aiding and abetting by leaning back into the roll, 
catching a few newcomers unawares, 
I tried hard not to laugh but it was too late,
like a dying canary warming up, puffing up 
humming its own song of doom
the gravity made the fights relatively harmless
tell that to my black eye
‘you need to learn karate’
the whisper from grandfather on old earth
a truism valid 
for any galaxy

This is a little poem that was submitted to an excellent and really most imaginative competition;- Ó Bhéal Five Words International Poetry Competition - congratulations to the winner Don Nixon. 

The deal - they gave you 5 words and you had to make a poem, the five words for this poem were;-
  • eluvium 
  • red
  • pithy 
  • volcanic
  • candle 

by Des Donnelly