Mark McDonnell

Mark McDonnell

Mark McDonnell worked for a Spanish / Catalan company and spent part of his career in Barcelona and Miami. He loved working with teams from a mixture of backgrounds and cultures and was inspired by the rich cultural heritage of his two favourite cities in Spain, Córdoba and Barcelona. Since retirement he has concentrated on writing and has had work published in several English and Irish magazines including London Grip, New Poetry, Friday Poem, NeuroLogical, Amethyst, Morphrog, Ink, Sweat and Tears, Dreich, Rialto.


The Set Portes, Barcelona

Her father used to bring them here for Sunday lunch.
Years ago, these same grand mirrors on the tiled walls
would have held the family, together, in the foxed glass.

She offers to me, between finger and thumb,
blistered and glistening, her pimientos de padrón;
a game of risk – every fourth or fifth burns the tongue.

Later, we fit together under her umbrella in streets
where waiters roll down shutters on empty cafés
and cruising late-night taxis hiss by in the rain.

In a room lit by tungsten street-lamps, finger tips
find that zip which runs from throat to pubic bone.
Trembling, we allow our rib cages to be opened up.

Breathing harsh gasps, she feels along my lungs and liver,
for anything her father might have left behind for her,
that day he left for ever, slamming the seven doors.

I ease myself into the opened casket of her chest,
close her ribs down over me and lie amongst the slippery,
pulsing, organs and wonder, Is this what I long for?

In a Bar
in Barcelona

With Imma –
Inmaculada –
We watch
him walk
in Tall
in his eyes
she told me
she liked
the tortured look

She told me
is for lovers’
meetings masked
as business dinners
for family
he’ll be
at home with his
wife, children
So will she

She told me
its her fix
and they too
are addicts
She told me
you perform
like a clown
do your tricks
go down
moves on

Return to Ithaca

He arranges chairs, has quiet words
with waiters, reprises their old walks
in a golf buggy so she can get around, then

lies in a corridor on a raft of malodorous
hotel sofa cushions, which ferries him
through the watches of a wakeful night, freeing

his wife to manoeuvre her retreating body
on the broad battlefield of the double bed
holding (then abandoning) positions, trying
to be pain-free, whittled back to the bone.

In the fingernail light before dawn,
words like the first morning calls of birds,
leave her bedroom and float
along the passage to where he lies:

You were always so far away,
away over the sea
I was never sure, until now,
that you loved me.

Published in The Friday Poem, 8th March 2024

When Night Falls

‘When night falls, expect my visit’
Wallada bint Al-Mustakfi

The branches of my nerves curl
around spaces which remember
the time when we were intertwined.
Every thought now must skirt
a sombre patio with a silent fountain.
When I go out, I go through
all the doors you opened to me.

I still wait for you in the night
to re-appear with all your spells,
take my hand, like an older sister,
and show me, as you used to,
where little flowers grow
out of cracks in the rocks
and shoals of tiny lazy fish shelter
in the shaded part of the pond

Cordoba, 2023

Poetry in this post: © Mark McDonnell
Published with the permission of Mark McDonnell