Terry McDonagh – Fourth Floor Flat

Profile Terry McDonagh LE Poetry & Writing July 2018

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Fourth Floor Flat –  44 Cantos, poems by Terry McDonagh

Terry McDonagh taught creative writing at Hamburg University. Was Drama Director at International School Hamburg. Published ten poetry collections, letters, drama, prose and poetry for young people. Translations into Indonesian and German. 2016 poetry collection, ‘Lady Cassie Peregrina’ – Arlen House; 2017, included in Fire and Ice 2 Gill  Education; 2017, ‘UCG by Degrees’ included in Galway Poetry Trail; 2017, Director of WestWords, Germany’s first Irish lit. festival in Hamburg. www.terry-mcdonagh.com

The following are two cantos taken from my latest poetry manuscript to be published in September by Arlen House.

The protagonist in this collection is the Everyman in us who leaves the yowl and yelp of his home crowd to shape a future – to distance himself from the familiar, so-called tried and tested. He finds his place, space and voice in a 4th floor flat from where, in 44 Cantos, he grants us access to his hopes, dreams, expectations and thought patterns.

As we progress through the collection, we begin to realize that the human being cannot avoid thinking unusual, strange, confused, happy, absurd and ridiculous thoughts – and these thoughts or images present themselves consciously and unconsciously in orderly, chaotic, mumbo-jumbo chunks from birth to death.

Buzz and Brand

I’m afraid I don’t have a buzz word,
Mr Commerce, but sun, moon and
rain don’t either. If only you could
see me up here, you’d say, ah ha,
hold it right there – you’ll need a
decent set of golf-clubs and an
up to date six-pack to set you right.
You’re a looney, a basket case,
a header in a tower without any
notion of noise. So let’s dally in
the real world of brand and label,
even jazz up the Mother of God
if needs be  – give her top ratings.
She’d not come cheap with her
in-house contacts, but let’s face it,
it’s all about fat loss, wink and
tongue muscle training, isn’t it.

Mr Commerce, if you could
see my corpulent neighbour
scuttling the street below
I’d imagine you labelling
these unique features as
reincarnated throwbacks to
a previous life badly led
without image or add – could
even be extinct cherub or
dodo parts – alien bits on a lost ledge.

It’s true, my neighbour won’t model.
Could be a blow-in on a nightmare,
a manipulated food outlet, a daydreamer
trapped in caged, corporate air – but

you don’t own up to nightmares, Mr C.
You trumpet, foghorn and flush
to still the mocking jigsaw under grass.

If I were asked for a buzz word
in noisy gym, rip and muscle time,
I’d be inclined to lean towards silence:
side-of-hill silence
deep-valley silence
prayer-at-grave silence.

Saint Mary Magdalene
you know
I’ve always wanted to
be nothing other than
a high-flying singer
in a gush of notes
by a humming river bank.


Thoughts can be disturbing,
flimsy, tatty – as disjointed
as wrack and ruin. You’ve
got them lined up, pensive
when out of the blue, words
like financial haircut, crash,
or a few rounds of wallops
and dancing to corporate tunes
interrupt the stillness of silence.

From time to time, as foil against
the weary weight of gloom,
I’d take part in pub shenanigans
with youngish dreamers.
Some, innocent as oysters,
sparkled – others lamenting,
swore minor poets were lesser,
postmodern was passé
and Paddy loved pints. We’d
get ruddy, cheery and beveraged.

On one occasion a pale male,
having taken time to ponder
on a considered position
adopted by a young woman
in pink stilettos, plagiarized:
unthrifty lovelinesse
why dost thou spend
upon thyself thy beauties legacy?
                 …Shakespeare Sonnet 4.

Motto: don’t look back – ever!
Guinness, Guinness it’s your call,
who’s the latest to cringe by the wall.

Needless to say
we went our poetic ways.

© Terry McDonagh