A Droighneach by Thomas Davis
Crazed, the old man fled frightened from the house, unsettled
By spirit’s substance bled by the luminescence
Of energy, jangling jags nettled and re-nettled,
Made garish by the city’s flickering fluorescence.
Furious, he’d run to the dock, waters turbulent
On wet rock, his son’s stinging words echoing
Inside his head. He shoved his drumming discontent
Into a raging rhythm fed into his paddling.
Piercing into the moonlit island’s illumination,
Ancestral roots, rising from memories,
Deracinated, raging blood sparking rumination
Unlocked from a childhood’s flood of fantasies
Fulminating feelings long forgotten,
But still a song inside his consciousness.
He heard a singing unlike the jangling begotten
Of tangling time racing through his need to decompress.
Deciding suddenly, spirit wild, ascendant,
The child inside inspired, the old man, elated,
Grabbed his hand-held drum, descendants
Alive inside the meld decision’s dream created.
Climbing craggy cliffs where dark pines cling silhouettes
Against moon-silvered sky, spring serenading
Night as fields sigh slender, long-grass pirouettes
Beneath a breeze’s arc of shadow-waves cascading,
Carefree, careful, the old man seeks an overhang
Where cedars circle a coal-dark pool reflective
Of sky, human spirit whole, a boomerang
Fastening the eye on an earlier-earth perspective.
Palpitating lightning pulsed eeriness.
Above the old man moonlight convulsed, uncanny,
Until the sky-fire’s fury began to evanesce
Into circled cedars, dark-pool waters unearthly.
Unmanned, heart hammering, he stared at the intersperse
Of emptiness between stars, his son’s voice gravelling
In silence, “Stupid old man, your useless universe
Is cold dead bizarre,” he’d said. “Clueless! Repelling!”
Re-singing songs inside his head, immensity
In his breath, he stutter-stepped into a cataract
Of movement, dancing wildly, whirling festivity
Around the pool as he tried to counteract
Cacophony jangling madness, mauling senselessness
Into a waning world of troubled turbulence
As stars shining on the pool began to effloresce,
Out of his desperate dance, recovering providence.
A Droighneach is an ancient Irish, or Celtic, form of poetry. It is not commonly used by contemporary poets, although both Gerald Manley Hopkins, through his experiments with sprung rhythm, and Dylan Thomas, a bit more obscurely, modified old Celtic forms for their own purposes. This poem came about when Cynthia Jobin, an American poet who blogs at littleoldladywho.net, discovered that Nick Moore (gonecyclingagain.com) and I were challenging each other to write Spenserian and Italian sonnets rather than our usual work with the Shakespearean rhyme forms. Cynthia’s response was, “Say….I have an idea. Let’s all try to write a DROIGHNEACH …..(.Just kidding.I haven’t life enough, or time…..).” On St. Patrick’s Day I started what turned into an agonizing struggle to write a Droighneach. In the meantime Ina Shroders-Zeeders, a poet and writer from the Netherlands (inaweblogisback.wordpress.com), produced one in response to the conversation between Cynthia and I, which triggered Cynthia to write a traditional praise Droighneach to Ina’s effort.