Timothy Donnelly was born in 1969 in Providence, Rhode Island, and attended Johns Hopkins University, Columbia University, and Princeton University. He has been Poetry Editor of Boston Review since 1995. His own poems have appeared in Conduit, Crowd, Denver Quarterly, Fence, jubilat, The Paris Review, Verse, and elsewhere. His honors include a fellowship from the New York State Writers Institute, The Paris Review’s Bernard F. Conners Prize, and Columbia University’s David Craig Austin Award. In 2003, he was named an “It Poet” by Entertainment Weekly. His first book of poems is Twenty-seven Props for a Production of Eine Lebenszeit (Grove Press, 2003). Donnelly teaches in the Writing Division of Columbia University’s School of the Arts. He lives in Brooklyn.

Birdsong from Inside the Egg
by Timothy Donnelly


As meteors pierce the sky’s tin vault,
so molecules sail through the many

pores of my own enclosure, what trash what
treasure, piss and brilliance, a fleet of

snippets shed from the vast exterior’s
chaos haystack, flop and fodder, there

is no NO, not here, not yet. I have been
forever, I am not yet born. Into the one

tremendous whistling laze of this, my
pulsed amalgam, I admit the all, a just lie

back and snap! arrangement, confetti
hoof and concertina, what blind mouth’s

breath what pleasant nesting. I am
a composition, the one life’s work I have

been forever, the loom and the wool and the mat
for dreaming. The song that’s tensed

in past as happened “just like that” is
too much once, and lying back to bask in basking’s

tongues of flash, I can’t believe it.
One’s quarantine’s a peace pinched-in

with heavenly visits. A heavenly visit
has no close. Take the most exquisite

moment in the gallop, where all four
hooves now tread the air, and stretch it

taut indefinitely, shot through as it is
with hops and dung and does and loves,

and you have an inkling. An inkling sparks
half the congregation when you rub it right,

half the congregation when you rub it wrong.
I am song forever. I will not have sung.


reprinted from Legitimate Dangers: American Poets of the New Century with permission from Sarabande Books.