Poem Hunter
Being Given A Minute To Clean Up The World
(15/07/56 / Curragh Camp, Co. Kildare, Eire.)

Being Given A Minute To Clean Up The World

Poem By Dónall Dempsey

Fascinated with atlases

the where of how
places be

I fly over
their coloured surfaces

aware of sea shading
into different declensions

as a continental shelf
suddenly deepens

under the cartographer’s hand

& I
get dizzy

my fingertip tracing
the Nile

as sensuously as a seam
on a lady’s stocking

I follow it
from its birth to its delta

mountains rise
underneath my hands

as I turn pages
quickly to connect them up

taste the strange
sounds upon my tongue

holy as
Holy Communion.

I create the world
in my living room

& with the aid
of a blue crayon

the Dnieper &
the Dniester

flow down the last leg
of the table

followed by the Tigris
& the Euphrates

on their continuous journey
across sun-splashed linoleum

(a jewelled brooch
belonging to my mother)

I in my infinite wisdom
placing high on a sofa

quite near a chipped China cup
representing San Francisco

(geographical accuracy didn’t matter)

only the world

walking over the floor

A4 by hastily scribbled A4

a collection of
shoes & slippers

becoming the Carpathian Mountains

blue ribbons becoming
river after river after...

until my mother
(rather sorry now I guess
that she made me in the first place)

opens the door with a gasp:

“My God Donall! Just what on earth
do you think you’re doing? ”

“Creating the world! ”
I say with awe.

She sees
only mess

& tells me to clean up the world

...this minute!


I used to love and be amazed with atlases as a child...stunned that there were so many places that were real to so many people but not to me and that my place known to me was just as unreal to someone else. So it was that I would be familiar with the geography of Bulgaria or Hungry or Romania or delighting in the strange sounds of place names like sherbet on my tongue. I would endlessly draw them and take atlases apart and continue on where they left off or make everything in the room whether it be a chipped China cup or a sofa become or stand in for Sofiya or a mountain range.

I liked the names of the rivers Dnieper and Dniester and so they stayed with me all this time. And so once again after all this time casting an eye over a map of Bulgaria this poem jumped into my head as I jumped onto a bus coming back from a concert and there they were in all my scribble and scrawls just waiting and willing me to type them and...

....so I did!

User Rating: 5,0 / 5 ( 5 votes ) 4

Comments (4)

And so once again I travel into the world of Little Boy Donall, who became the man, Donall, who has such an ability to retravel the world of that wonderful little boy...now, there, my dear, is the real journey! THIS one is one of my all-time favorites.
You've created your own world in your poems, Donall. Don't, please don't clean it up.Fx
classic! kept me rapt all the way!
Wonderful portal into your world again - thanks for this joyous tale! HG: -) xx