Born in Canada and raised in Scotland, Candradasa is an ordained Buddhist who now lives in New Hampshire, USA. His poetry has been published (sometimes under his given name, Michael Venditozzi) in Agenda, Acumen, Black Bough Poetry, Chapman, Finished Creatures and elsewhere. He was nominated for The Pushcart Prize in 2020.
That time we walked up to Banagher Dam
competing all the way:
the shocked, stern, physical silence,
and the miraculous heat,
and our thumping hearts
when we got to the top.
I fell asleep on the grass.
When I woke you convinced me
about eating apples including the core,
though already a little wary of me;
so it felt like I was being taught,
not the old mutual sharing of ways.
(A few years later, a man in Wales
tells me birds won’t eat an apple’s pips
as they contain some tiny trace of cyanide.
He’d stopped himself on hearing this
and, glad of the excuse, I found
it made a lot of sense to me.)
But back at the dam it’s getting late.
We’re starting down, lighter between us
as we come near the moss-wood,
fern-breaks, soft-crumble sides
falling away to the burn beneath;
we cross a bridge – and run:
Whooping, barking, down on all-fours,
shuttling between trees like men
formed in a certain kind of light
growing supple as deer,
while overhead a tawny sky,
and underfoot the fawny ground.
Scampering the wounding way
of a young forest’s hollows: trip-
humps and leaf-fills and rotting trunk-cuts;
ducking in and out of vision
like the lost patrol in a film
of a far-off jungle war.
A wreathing passage then, the yield
of branches; smooth our stooping,
sharp our awareness of the other,
even when invisible. We’d stop,
dead but for the beat in the ears –
then strain, catch sound, and whoop again
And run again, and harry and chase
and laugh respectful; maintaining reserve –
then suddenly veering over new paths
won together through the wood: crisscrossing
in front, behind each other,
never getting in the way.
Till eventually we emerge –
glorious and nakedly undefiant –
to collapse sweating, roaring with blood,
silent again in a heap of grasses
piled dry beside the stile
close to where we’d left the car.
‘Ailein Duinn ὸ hì shiubhlainn leat’
My Allan Donn, where do you lie
in foam white as an alb?
Your pillow now a mermaid’s purse,
your bed of kale and gorse
unseen beneath the sea,
Oh, Allan, who can comfort me?
The seals kept faith with every soul
that fell from Hurkar rocks;
their mothers watched them from the doors
but no one made the shore,
and all of us were torn,
Oh, Allan, may we be reborn?
So talk with them, my Allan dear,
as we would in the dawn,
our little boat with anchored dreams
of other ways and times
warm by the harbour side,
Oh, Allan, have we lost the tide?
Then pity us, sea kings and queens,
the orphans of your race;
whose fathers wash ashore like shells,
and all the stories tell
of hearts lost in the sound,
Oh, Allan, sorrow’s in our hands,
My Allan, when will we be found?
Brú na Bóinne
Those stones. Stones like huge mountain breads
all dried out, still with the memory of oil.
The heaviest overlaid in rings,
spiral darknesses, sun-proofed
save for the keyhole glow shown once a year:
a god lasering in.
The blessed work of generations
roped together, hauled up and on:
setting unequal day and night,
their solstice harvest of grain and art.
The wonder of river minds
that floated quartz the length of the Boyne
and turned whole hillsides to heavens
where all our kings will be crowned.
Banagher Dam: exclusive first publication by iamb
Allan Donn: Chapman (Vol. 106)
Brú na Bóinne (Newgrange): Deep Time, Vol. 2 (Black Bough Poetry)