the poet

Candradasa was born in Canada and grew up in Scotland. He is an ordained Buddhist and develops websites providing free access to Buddhist resources on life, meditation and mindfulness. He lives in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, USA. Candradasa’s poems have been published (sometimes under his given name Michael Venditozzi) in Agenda, Acumen, Black Bough, Chapman, and Finished Creatures, among others. He was nominated for the 2020 Pushcart Prize.

the poems

Banagher Dam

00:00 / 01:44

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: triphumps

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.

Allan Donn

‘Ailein Duinn ò hì shiubhlainn leat’

00:00 / 01:44

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 (Newgrange)

00:00 / 01:44

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.

Publishing credits

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