We Never Go Away

Dennis Downey - Falmouth, Massachusetts
As heard on NPR’s All Things Considered, September 18, 2006
Dennis Downey

Cape Cod writer and performer Dennis Downey draws upon his poetic musings to express a range of beliefs — in the soul, the tribe, the book, and the fire at the core of the earth and on the surface of the sun.

Age Group: 30 - 50
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I believe in genes and a forward flow of time and in all things visible and invisible.

Smaller than a light microscope sees,

a gene is a genie (is a ghost)

is one-half of each of us given by one-half of each parent.

Each of us comes from two parents

each of whom came from two parents

each of whom came from two parents

in an endless criss-cross of streams of time and persons going backwards

And each of us is as in our own incarnation

a soul inside a body

for some reason

a fire

a flame

a soul

what we desire

(that we desire)

Lighter than flesh, the soul is the glow of us.

The soul is the particular glow that the genes make when they make.

It’s the soul that stands the body up and gets it moving forward.

Every body’s soul is on a journey.

I believe we live in a solar system

that we go around a sun, the Sun

and that the Sun is a giant ball of flame.

I believe that most of the energy for everything on Earth

comes from the Sun except

for the energies of the Earth itself

because the Earth itself is also on fire.


In the center.

At its core.

We know this from volcanoes.

That there is fire going on inside of the Earth.

We stand on an earth that is

a boiling ball of iron

on fire in space

spinning at its core as it circles a source of sunshine.

And each generation is short. A mutation.

first we’re a child

then an adult

then a parent in turn to a child

then an old person


with change, constant change all around us all ways through out

who wears what who’s in charge what music sounds good

I believe that a book is a box.

Because a book carries something from some one person to another

And because it is used (and can be used) to carry ideas across time.

Which is how ideas build up.

And each of us is not only our own lives unwinding forward

but also a part of (and in service to)

the larger life of the tribe

which in turn is in service to the larger life of the species

which in turn is in service to a larger life source

lost in a bath of stars that is a galaxy

scattered in the hugeness of the universe.

We are not lost when we die.

We never go away.

Why would we go away?

When we’re gone, we come back.

Writer Dennis Downey hails from a large, Irish Catholic family in New England. His performance talks combine history, language, culture and technology to describe the larger world beneath our everyday lives. Downey lives with his family on Cape Cod.

Independently produced for NPR by Jay Allison and Dan Gediman with John Gregory and Viki Merrick.