Daniel Wade reads from Rapids

What better way for Trasna to honor the conclusion of National Poetry Month in the United States–and celebrate the First Anniversary of Trasna–than with the current work of Daniel Wade, a rising star in the world of poetry! An award-winning playwright and a novelist as well, Wade appeared in Trasna in November, 2020, with his insightful tribute to his mentor, Dermot Healy. Daniel Wade is hitting his stride this year: Rapids, his debut volume of poetry will be published (by Finishing Line Press) in August, 2021, and his novel, A Land Without Wolves, (from Temple Dark Book) will arrive in October, 2021. The following four selections, evoking the classic and contemporary, including a sonnet, written and read by Wade, will whet your appetite for Rapids.

Daniel Wade reads from Rapids

Side View 

Not sure where I am, exactly: the wind’s icy babble

around cast-iron rails, cross-city wires sputter

above an unbuilt LUAS stop as a Brazilian rickshaw

driver checks his phone 


before the night gets busy. What if I call him friend,

or follower? I double-tap a thousand profiles

before seeing yours; then, and only then, do I know

that love is unavoidable. 


I try teaching myself your language, the warp

of its adjectives, the way the verbs squat 

on the tongue, your glossary’s proper annunciation.

Do I now have your approval? 


A single glitch is all it takes for the Leap Card

to deny me any kind of entry, any kind of leave;

crushed beer cans soak a back alley fire-exit,

skips from KeyWaste brim over 


with black, bloated bags at the Red Line depot.

At last call, the Stag’s Head becomes 

a submarine, its radar tuned to a garbled frequency.

“Dublin’s fair city? Ask me bollix…” 


Bone-hard wrists crossed tight, she waits for sleep

in a doorway, her shelter of damp cardboard

and piss-damp sleeping bag. What if I asked her

her name, at least? 


Across the street, a Highway Maintenance crew

ebonises the curb, slow cell growth seepage; I still haven’t

a clue where I am. “What else are you, but a ghost?”

Diesel fumes, dizzying, curl to my gullet. 


On the Shooting of Lyra McKee in Derry 

After John Milton 

So, do we avenge the murals and saintly bones

scattered over Creggan streets, with cold 

intent of gunmetal where soldiers once patrolled,

molten sparks to scrape stop signs, traffic cones,

police Land Rovers, petrol-scorched air? Stones

to step over, keep her in mind: a reporter on hold. 

No-one declared this ground as sacred, or refuelled

it for us to strike matches, hold up our phones

and record her last moments before a stray

bullet took her, as sirens, lurid ingots aglow

with sodium, cruised through the dark. Just say:y

“No, no, not this again,” and abide the sorrow

for both Celtic Tiger cub, Ceasefire baby:

freed of blood, silence, the tears of tomorrow. 



The sybils didn’t bother with me 

but one or two poets filled the blanks in:

an Ithakan king, vying for the sea, 

conscripted men to the mast on 

his flagship crossing to Troy. 

Nearly his whole crew, wretched cost 

of rudderless roving, would die 

in some way or another. I’d outlast 


my comrades, my skull a cave 

for every marooned thought, 

cleared by sea-winds. The waves’ 

aged murmur, a wine-dark clot 

of spray, was my eternal clock 

to flail and flare on the ebb. 

I stood watch as if on my ship’s deck 

and slept in a berry-shrub 


 at night, held my hungry peace. 

He was out there, tremoring the island 

with his rams, roaring without cease, 

a brute, drooling shepherd, blind 

in one gored eye and still raging. 

Him, and a tribe of him, their fangs 

gritted by quotidian corpse-chewing, 

eyes rusted as mooring rings. 


I’d neither the brains nor the backbone 

to engineer my escape, as my pilot

had. I preferred to linger, my beard laden

with barnacles, and eye the blood-lit 

skyline for rescue. Laughing gulls, 

black-armoured scorpions and flame 

petalled flowers thronged the hills 

and shore, and the sun’s daily whim 


beat too heavily for comfort. When 

sleep did take me, I saw brass shields,

chariots, my old xiphos drawn, 

flames tearing through Trojan fields. 

I prayed for the gods to be cruelly kind

and smite me with flood or drought; 

somehow I kept my presence of mind,

did not gasp my despair out. 


I needed a woman, needed her touch

and kiss. I thought often of the girls 

I’d loved before sailing, memories a crutch

for my mind to stoop on. Heavy scrolls

of loneliness, heat-rippled, tore at me.

I’d see none of them again, I knew, 

had drunk my life’s fill of their beauty; 

and lost them like my ill-starred crew. 


If I am to die, may I fall by man’s 

hand, not crushed or sunk or devoured.

I prayed for that much, at least: the plans

of Olympus to see me safely delivered

from his eyeball’s crimson gush, 

the cave we’d made our woollen escape

from gawking at the bay, lethal hush 

stirring him from sleep, the grapes 


that gave him his wine burst in his palm,

his voice and footfall alike echoing 

the strafed harmonic of thunder. Blessed to swim,

or condemned to sink: I’d no way of knowing

until a fresh, high glut of tide brought

the Dardanian galleys, and my first glimpse

of raised sails, bellying and white, 

in an age. Mariners walked in slumps,

leaning to their oars, arid lips


panting for haven and home, beards

surf-smeared, fibrous as bullwhips. 

I saw horsehair helms and blunt swords,

a fleet steered clear off the map’s edge

and held back, afraid for my life. 

But these were men in the anchorage,

not beasts. Surely blood was enough


for mercy; with my thorn-fixed cloak,

what possible threat was I to them now?

Despair, weariness, terror and shock

felled me at the knee, and I howled out:

“Men of Troy, fly you far from this shore!

Where you make port is not important.

The danger you here face is too great to ignore.

Put back to sea, save yourselves this instant! 


I who was your Grecian foe, now beg thee

to grant but one meagre service: 

bring me with you if you will, or else kill me!

But cast off now, before the giants arise!”

I say this without shame: I wept, groveled,

kissed the barren sand before them.

The oldest of them stepped forward 

to give me his hand, and I stood abeam. 


Their captain, a born survivor as mine

once was, saw the giant for himself 

and did not stay to fight. Jaded as his men

were, he led them back down the pebbly shelf

to the ships, with myself in their number,

and we slipped a swift course from the cove.

The one-eyed clan cursed our venture

but fathoms ran too deep for their heave, 


their stride. Now seaborne and free at last,

I was ragged locus for the shoal 

and river-mouth, reefs clenched like a fist

under the bare walls of the Geloan. 

Yet, sun-drunk and hunger-shredded,

I saw we had a good skipper, wary 

in his pilotage but alert to the dreaded

unfolding of a voyage, dogged emissary


for nomads. Yet he never claimed 

to know his heading; he was as lost as I. 

As gratitude, I kept my head down 

and worked the mains, my new duty 

to share utterly in my rescuers’ fate. 

They fed me, healed me, found me a home. 

And it came as no surprise of late 

that a price isn’t on my head, or that no- 


one even set off in search of me 

or my brothers. Yet I am here, thankful 

and restored, saved by an enemy 

whom I greet and look to now as an idol 

of my flight, no longer hunched 

as the rock I saw the blind herder fling 

at my receding ship. So from staunch 

shores, now, may my voice once more sing. 


In Virgil and Ovid, the Greek castaway Achaemenides is a member of Ulysses’ crew who is left stranded on the island of the Cyclopes after his comrades make their escape. He lives on in the hills until he is eventually rescued by Aeneas, who is seeking a new homeland following Troy’s destruction at the hands of the Greeks. 


Monkey Gone to Heaven 

Naturally, under the brownstones’ squat shade, 

  you see moss and weeds sprout up 

from each thin, aged slit along an anterior patio,

  dusk’s amber fume tingeing tar-black 

fire escapes, neon spat through the windshield, 

  the sun’s molten crest left to ripple and stoke 

behind Fenway Park, or the Charles unspooling 

  ten million pounds of sludge into the ocean 

like scrubbed silver. But to see beyond these, 

    you remind yourself that it takes just a look 

or word freighted with design, for love to begin 

  or end. Being stuck in 5:00 p.m. traffic on 

93 North is half the experience, in your dad’s silver 

  Honda-Accord, amid dump trucks and 4x4s, 

beyond the subway’s reach, while I ride shotgun, 

  my palm on your knee, the stereo tuned to “92.5 

The River, Boston’s independent radio” as Nirvana’s

  ‘Come as You Are’ (the MTV Unplugged version),

 replete with audience whoops and an extra rogue note

   slipped into the main riff, starts up. We both say

nothing, our voices bottled, stilled to a cool finish,

  and enjoy the drive ahead. But there are things I should

say that I’d rather you didn’t hear just yet: the ex

   I kissed and re-kissed without your knowledge,

 the girls I conjure up when I’m wanking, the looks, words

  and fucks held in inimical reserve—all of this I need

to tell you now and only now, on the road ahead, swept clear

  by headlights, while we still have the luxury of time.

                               (Massachusetts, 2017)


Daniel Wade is a poet, playwright and fiction writer from Dublin, in the Republic of Ireland. Daniel was the Hennessy New Irish Writing winner for April 2015 in The Irish Times, and his poetry and short fiction have featured in over two dozen publications since 2012. In January 2017, his play ‘The Collector” opened the 20th anniversary season of the New Theatre, Dublin. His spoken-word album “Embers and Earth”, available for download on iTunes and Spotify, launched the previous October at the National Concert Hall. A prolific performer, Daniel has featured at many festivals including Electric Picnic, Body and Soul, and the 2019 International Literature Festival (ILFD). In January 2020 his radio drama ‘Crossing the Red Line’ was broadcast on RTE Radio 1 Extra, and later won a silver award at the New York Festivals Radio Awards for Best Digital Drama, whilst November 2020 saw his screenplay ‘Strike’, co-written with filmmaker Shane Collins, nominated as a finalist in the 2020 Waterford Film Festival. His debut collection ‘Rapids’ is due to be published by Finishing Line Press in August of 2021, whilst his novel ‘A Land Without Wolves’ will be published by Temple Dark Books in October of the same year.

2 Responses to Daniel Wade reads from Rapids

  1. Louise says:

    Like love, poetry “is unavoidable”. Thank you for showing us just that Daniel.

  2. Mary says:

    Enjoyed reading these poems by Daniel Wade. He shares with us both a visual and emotional response with his well-written words.