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Fashioned out of a gritty urban edginess, Dan Donaghy's poems relentlessly happen at the conjunction of past and present. People lose things, they watch their fathers abuse their mothers, they are forced to step in harm's way, young boys strut and act like big shots, "Blowing off work./Not knowing what can't last." In "Cinderella and Middle Age," a woman wakes "...each morning to another midnight/with no way home from the ball." In "The Nature of Memory and Fireflies," an unsettling poem in which a mother "crushed (a firefly) in her palm,/smeared her finger with phosphorus/to trace the lines of (her son's) cheekbones," at which he cries out, "...I didn't catch it for that./I said I wished she were dead,/told her to get out, listened to her shuffle/back through the dark to her room." Donaghy's poems go way past anecdote, and, thankfully, the confessional ego is not present. He writes with unswerving restraint, honesty and directness toward his subject matter, and in poem after poem one recalls W. B. Yeats' "character isolated by deed."
From the book:
You're on your way home
when a thousand cars
pour onto Broad Street:
the ball game's over.
No one's going anywhere soon.
It's mid-July: eighty and humid.
You smell like all the fish in the river,
wear the ache of dock crates in your back.
Your buddy lost two fingers tonight
to a jigsaw: boss said go home early,
stay late tomorrow night.
These people don't appreciate
what they have: time to go to ball games.
You get out among blaring horns
and vendors hawking t-shirts,
walk the yellow line
between coming and going
like a tight rope, arms out for balance,
all the way to the corner and back.
Broad Street still as a parking lot,
wound tight as a fist.
You pop the trunk, fish a beer
from your cooler and pound it.
You get back into your car.
The radio's recapping the game:
your team pulled one out
it would have blown last year.
You've blown the last year working
nights while your lady works days.
Night work means bad lighting
and you've had enough close calls.
You've had enough overtime.
You've had enough.
Something has to give.
Somewhere in the distance a dog
is barking, a husband is coming home.
Daniel Donaghy grew up in the Kensington section of Philadelphia. He earned a B.A. from Kutztown University, an M.A. from Hollins College, and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing (Poetry) from Cornell University. He has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Constance Saltonstall Foundation for the Arts, and the Cornell Council for the Arts. His poems have appeared in various journals, including The Southern Review, Poet Lore, Alaska Quarterly Review, Texas Review, Commonweal, Image, New Letters, and West Branch. He lives in Spencerport, NY, with his wife and daughter.
Stadium Traffic is a 32 page hand-sewn chapbook.
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