Patrick Donnelly

Throne Verse
October 3, 2012 Donnelly Patrick

Throne Verse


Two years of cinders built up in the hearth,

the new over and over the old.


I’d made nothing for months, just consumed

or operated what others made.


Pointless to say what, but I will: frozen food,

my name on petitions to save various things,


a spray for scale on the plants,

films that streamed to me from a link,


sometimes viewed from our bed, which

either went unmade or was made so particularly


as the only task I could complete all day

that I would not let my love help


and accused him

of not knowing how.


Before this, I’d made an effort, sent it out

for judgment and could make nothing else till I heard.


But did I have to compare every breath I drew

to “an angioplasty”?


Did I have to be so sad?

Did I have to be as sad as my mother had been sad


and in the same way,

and hadn’t I lectured her before she went


not to make her sadness a burden for others,

and by others hadn’t I meant me?


A job of work was what had vexed me,

three years, or eight years, or fifty-four, depending.


The time might have wished to release to me

some money or some other boon,


but not right there or then,

the hour wasn’t right. So those things collected upriver


behind some kind of dam,

like jellies in a larder, jars of garnets I couldn’t lift from the water,


garnets from Kenya, Finland, Rajasthan, the Ural Mountains,

pomegranates, gooseberries, stones made of cinnamon, live coals.


Are you the type of person who doesn’t need approval?


Who keeps on working, no matter what?

Like God, whose throne, it is written, extends


over the heavens and the earth

and who “feels no fatigue in guarding and preserving them”?


Well, good for you—right now I don’t care to lift

even the thinnest, netherest edge of the counterpane.


Nobody has yet said

we can’t afford to hold up the whole Internet forever,


but that’s right, don’t you see? We’ll have to vote

which parts to lose, which secret giant facilities


to keep cool with electricity made from burning coals.

Will it be the levels of games, the libraries, or the paths to the lonesome


no-talking-no-kissing-no-reciprocating hook-ups?

That was the link from which I somehow met my love,


and now it’s all gone—click there, if you don’t believe.

Even the gate has disappeared, from when


America was Online. Now the young flood

along other routes, open to them alone.


Wasn’t it two months before the crazy old girl died

that I wrote in a letter I must have sent


TO HER HOSPITAL BED, for Christ’s sake,

that “the kindest thing anyone could do for others


is to face their own fears”? And didn’t she reply

she was “not up to being challenged on any part


of her worldview right then”? Whatever happened

to her garnet wedding band? Sweet bloody prophets and saints,


at least I turned off the screens to write this,

several days running, at least I worked.


Just how long might you be inclined

to help me lift my heavy head


off its throne of heaped and burning dung?

Patrick Donnelly is the author of five books of poetry, most recently Little-Known Operas (Four Way Books, 2019) and the forthcoming Willow Hammer (Four Way Books, spring 2025). With his spouse Stephen D. Miller, he translates classical Japanese poetry and drama. He is director of the Poetry Seminar at The Frost Place, Robert Frost’s old homestead in Franconia, NH, now a center for poetry and the arts. More at