Desmond Kenny


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Do not take me to the mountain's summit
To point out the scenery in the valley below.
Do not ooh and aah and gasp
And have me wonder
About the roll of the rolling hills
As they climb to suckle the belly
Of a cloud grazing
Between the distant peaks and sky.
It will mean nothing, nothing, nothing
Beyond the breeze on my face,
The quietness in my ears
As they fill with vocabularies of your stare.
I can be with you but not there
For I've gone to another, wet Sunday visiting
In the art galleries of my mind
Where nothing hangs in place of stolen art.


(Remembering a workshop poet, differently real)

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His words came in cloud-bursts:
A down-pour-nonsense gushing, rushing,
Cascading over conversations
That drowned them in resentments smouldering
Of the fires of old friendships extinguished.
I would pull the collar of my world about my ears
And imagine, from ripples, the persistence of the rain
Falling on the pool where talk lay stagnant
And one wind-blown straw, just-floating,
Took the secrets of the long grass when it died.

His poems came in the pomp of thunder –
Long-grumbling dissertations in which sadness flashed
But was quickly lost to its reflection.
Dyes of colour squeezed from half truths
Clouded and wisped, reached rich as rainbows
Through the mad prism of another world
Where sense was dark and thought a spectrum:
Each hue a torture bruise,
From the meetings of his minds in the stars and asteroids
Where a nova was the light of his pain escaping.

Those who knew him excused him, schizoid mad – An exotic innocent on horse-back,
Swashbuckling, riding through our lives.
Only at the safe distance of memory, have I come to tolerate
The tilting hyperbole, the hyped-up fears
That laughed and jeered like an insensitive stranger
Who couldn't know the propriety of silences:
When next the rain cleaves the air,
And thunder fills my surprise with God,
I'll hear that horseman gallop on his way.


*These poems are from Kenny's book My Sense of Blind and Other Collected Poems (2013), reviewed in this issue of Wordgathering.


Dsemond (Des) Kenny, winner of Ireland's Christy Brown Award for Poetry, has been writing poetry on and off for the past 40 years while running Ireland's leading advocacy agency for blind people. NCBI (the National Council for the Blind of Ireland) of which he has been Chief Executive since 1986.