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Aleppo, Syria - Mosque interior and doorway     Date: circa 1908
The Elsewhere Moment


In the semi-second between

sleeping and waking


the cool, footworn courtyard

of the Halawaniyya Mosque

appears to me.


The ablution fountain is clear-voiced.

Murmuring humanity is distant

beyond the sun-baked door.


A blackbird in the ash tree

is my call to prayer, to the ordinary day.

I open wet eyes.


Broken – magnificent – Aleppo.

How will you mend?



© Karen J McDonnell, first published in This Little World, 2017

Picture 11095944, photograph on a postcard, circa 1908



Karen J McDonnell lives in the Burren in the west of Ireland, and is published most recently in Irish Times: New Irish Writing,, and Irish editions of The North and CoastToCoastToCoast. She has won several awards and been listed in competitions, including 2018’s Anthony Cronin and Bangor poetry competitions, and the 2017 Robert Monteith, Poems for Patience, and Dermot Healy Poetry prizes. Non-fiction was nominated for Best of the Net in the USA.  Karen has read at many festivals and spoken word venues, and on RTÉ’s Sunday Miscellany and The Poetry Programme. Her debut poetry collection is This Little World (Doire Press, 2017).