[Poetry] — Peter Donnelly

Minor Garden Parties: The Human Sense


Frisson of wind through tree
Passes through me

A stump of dead vegetation

Weathers in the heat, adding to its complexity
In gnarl and burr.
Lighter, and balletic, is the sheaf and sheath
Of foliage

Caught up in the wind.


Frisson of wind through tree: a rustle
Through its nervous system, 
A tingling and tinkling of stem.
Gentle acoustics accelerate in gusts

And then subside to stillness 
(More so an absence of movement)
In the lulling after-moments
At the cusp of eco and ego:

An effulgent foliage today.

The wind renders itself in high resolution
Through the filter of subjectivity:
The self a kind of filter.

Behind all this, a kind of compression of time.


At these minor garden parties,
Wind lushes and lashes 
Through tended-to bush;

Gusts across tennis courts (the nets slap 
And billow); Ford Fiestas at the perimeter

Unmoved by all of this.


At the barbecue, charcoal,
Chardonnay (its icy rattling and slush
Clinking the cooler).

This all slowly swallowed into
The dissolving eve:

The silence that was there, later on,
Seemed to raise in pitch, in memory,
Contextualised by a minor garden party.

Hours ago now, radiating off the asphalt, was the heat 
(That was almost suffocating) 
Which stultified and dominated.

Flat grass, its gradient undetectable:
Its verdancy desiccating into a rather

In great hedges, at the in-fade 
Of the crepuscular, 
Deepening verdant 
Hues coalescing in obscurance. 

In the air the evening clarifies
Itself to coolness.


In the darkroom-and-studio of memory,
Images, unstable,
Won’t settle.

The reshaping and warping of
Ink and canvas
Is constant.

Restless spirits meander and maraud
Through the walls.
Floorboards creak and 

Deepening in the hues of suburban 
Gardens an aroma, coniferous, resinous.

Out of mind, the dew slickening
Across the grass

In darkness remains

Undisturbed by the human sense.


Born in Dublin in 1988, Peter Donnelly’s first collection, Photons, was published by Appello
Press in 2014. Following its publication, playwright Frank McGuinness commented that
“Peter Donnelly already shows he has a strong imagination; indeed, a savage one presents
itself on occasion when the beautiful and brutal confront and confound each other.” His
second collection, Money Is a Kind of Poetry, was published by Smokestack Books in 2019;
it has been described as “a meditation on contemporary alienation and the processes by which
every new technological advance seems to increase our isolation from each other, and the
more connected we are the less we appear to know ourselves.” He is currently working on a
third collection.