Machines

Dearest, note how these two are alike:
This harpsichord pavane by Purcell
And the racer's twelve-speed bike.

The machinery of grace is always simple.
This chrome trapezoid, one wheel connected
To another of concentric gears,
Which Ptolemy dreamt of and Schwinn perfected,
Is gone. The cyclist, not the cycle, steers.
And in the playing, Purcell's chords are played away.

So this talk, or touch if I were there,
Should work its effortless gadgetry of love,
Like Dante's heaven, and melt into the air.

If it doesn't, of course, I've fallen. So much is chance,
so much agility, desire, and feverish care,
As bicyclists and harpsichordists prove

Who only by moving can balance,
Only by balancing move.


from Remembering Dances Learned Last Night (Picador, 2000), copyright © Michael Donaghy 2000, used by permission of the author's estate and the publisher.

Recordings

Michael Donaghy Reading from his poems

1Caliban's Books

2Our Life Stories

3Irena of Alexandria

4The Tragedies

5Not Knowing the Words

6The Excuse

7Resolution

8Tears

9The River in Spate

10The Drop

11Black Ice and Rain

12Reprimands

13My Flu

14Haunts

15The Hunter's Purse

16A Repertoire

17A Reprieve

18Down

19City of God

20Liverpool

21The Brother

22Held

23Reliquary

24Machines

25Pentecost

26Shibboleth

27The Present

28Southwesternmost

29Alas, Alice

30Refusals

31Acts of Contrition

32Cruising Byzantium

33'Smith'

34Annie

35Local 32B

Books & cds by Michael Donaghy