Fool’s Kingdom

I am frequently fool:

Folly of fearful affection,

Fading fast behind a closed door

With key in hand-

My own hand.

Unseen,

Untouched,

Craving to be held,

But afraid to be found,

Figured out,

As failure, freak, fanatic fool.

I am boy grown man,

Growing old, going grey-

Recedingly so-

And all in the blink of my eye.

Am I really

That unrecognized reflection

In the mirror,

Staring back at me-

Questioningly?

Skipping, slipping, sliding,

Fidgeting,

Foolishly falling forward

Into a future-

Though of what?

I’ve been Dublin born,

Bullied and bored;

The bashful boy

Who never understood why the big boys pushed him,

The artistic child

Who painted a world where everyone loved him,

The boy child

Who never saw the streets as fair as the songs all painted,

Who only saw the limits and restrictions of an island-

Isolated.

The growing boy-

Who finally fell distracted by the body of man

And the feel of it’s touch,

Mostly mistaking momentary fumblings

To be romantic ever-afters,

But they were mainly misjudged minutes of madness-

More ‘Always Ending’ than ‘Everlasting’-

Learning curves,

Bathing pools,

Energetic experiments

And sweaty seductions

After too much booze

And mixed with pocketfuls

Of inexperienced,

Overly enthused

Disney-like

Naivety.

I remember laughing the first time he undressed me,

Crying the first time I came,

And settling in when I should have been leaving.

I thought me broken hearted-

But it was not so,

Could not,

Never have been-

You need to know the heart

Before it can break

And this man child had yet to meet

The beat that bleed him.

And so,

It was the first full stop,

Dublin Done.

Moving on…

Amid cobbled streets

And Marais magic

The boy became truly man-

Removed, replaced,

Relocated,

Refreshed- alone,

No longer island bound

No longer thought to be ‘Known’ by the common crowd.

A new kingdom- to find freedom in-

Lay await at my feet

And there I was,

Suddenly,

In the middle of it all

And-

Drowning,

Mistaking myself

to be Ardent Adventurer!

Explorer Extraordinaire!

How I’d convinced myself that

Fly on the wall, watching, dictating, reporting

Was so much more important to an aspiring artist

Than a dived in, soaked up, part of it all, competitor!

And then time, slowly,

Unbeknownst to me,

Drew me out,

Pulled me in,

Lessened my wide-eyed glare,

Cleaned my cumbersome and clumsy character

And left me

Grown,

As we do,

Totally unaware

Not able to pinpoint the very moment,

Or time,

Or place

That it happened-

It was just there-

I could feel it,

I caught it in my own reflection

Within the eyes of other men-

Bigger men,

Older men,

Grown men,

Who now seemed not so different any more,

And in that reflection

I fell surprised,

Shocked

Because nothing had changed in that person that stared back at me

But somehow,

Inexpressibly,

Everything was different.

There have been, of course,

Other lands,

Other men,

Many moments of madness,

Sadness,

Gladness.

Touches and tendernesses.

Lovers I’ve left and

Friends that I’ve lost

But they are, so often,

Like time- all fleeting,

They do not stay for long-

Forever is not for everyone.

But in my heart-

Which is now known

And heard

And occasionally understood-

There is the place for those

Who indeed have proved

Irreplaceable-

The pillars upon which I gaze

And markers toward that life

I wish to lead.

They are crowning

A new King, today

In this foreign City

That somehow,

Over time,

Has found its way to be familiar-

And I think somewhere

Amid it’s watery streets

Lies my future in waiting.

And, as I dress by the mirror,

On April’s last dawning,

I wonder to myself

As I catch that reflection-

Still so familiarly different-

When next will I feel

More King

In me

Than fool.

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The War Of the Worlds

How did it feel to hang

By nails

And wait for a death

You were born to endure?

Created by The Father

As a symbol

Of His power

To save

A crumbling humanity.

He gave you life

For it to be ripped from your body.

No saving grace for you,

No end to the pain,

No Lord to help you.

The Father,

The Protector,

The Divine Creator

Silently watching

As your human pain

Pours

From your human body.

Did you suffer a lifetime

For every second

That you remained

In that earthly body,

Punctured by earthly hands,

Jeered by earthly voices,

Cried for by earthly women?

Did Mary know the gift

Weaned upon her bosom

Would depart this world so heinously?

Did She trust

In the promise of Heaven,

Did She believe

In the prophecy of Angels-

Even at the end

When your screams

Shuck the Heavens?

Did you question your Father’s promise

Of a seat by His side

While the cold nails

Split your flesh

And the shimmering blade

Slaughtered your sides?

A Jew hated by Jews,

A Jew betrayed by Jews.

Did you foresee

On the cross

How the world would shake

In your aftermath?

Your Father sacrificed you

For the salvation of humanity

But ever since

That salvation

Has waged wars

In his name.

He first split the Earth

From the Heavens

And then he let man

Split the Earth in two.

Did you die in vain

Or did you die to show that the innocent must suffer?

But what is lost most through suffering

Is innocence.

Eye lids stitched open

So no pain goes unseen,

Voices raised

So we hear each and every scream.

Today

The crosses around our necks

Are adorned with jewels and pearls,

That day-

On the cross,

As you rose from humanity,

Did you foresee

The war of the worlds?

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NOTRE LIT

 

Missing your smoky strains

And longing for everything to be like those

Sometimes hazy,

Sometimes crystal clear

Memories I made in you

While you floated along,

Untouched and unfazed,

By that crazy mixture

Of bureaucracy and chaos

That was as deep rooted in you

As the pride was in your citizens-

Or what the rest of the world would call

Your Arrogance.

Your streets of cobbled charm,

Filled with cafés of impatient waiters-

All of which I forgave

And became to me

A part of your ingrained features;

Those habits your lover performs

Which pinch the skin

But you would be lost as to what to do

Should they suddenly disappear.

Your gargantuan gargoyles and their ghostly glare-

What sights their stone eyes have seen.

Your men for whom I swooned

And lost words

And blushed.

The passion-

Alive in the heart of you.

The affection-

I never lost for you.

And the romance-

Strolling along your banks

As the sun set

On each new day

Of my new life

Within you.

The person that became me

As I found my form

Behind your walls-

I surrendered to you

All that was before

And would ever be again.

For all that I am-

It is because of what you showed me.

For all that I lack-

It is everything that I left in our bed-

Sleep softly on it.

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

 

Remembrances along the roadside

 

That day- do you remember?

In the car, me- racing away

And you- running,

Me- crying,

and you- waving.

Do you remember?

He was inside- watching, brewing, stewing.

Unable to say what it was that he wanted,

Unable to stop what he had from escaping.

We were outside- turned inside out,

Silenced to the limit,

The end had arrived; childhood given over to adult reality.

That day- do you remember?

Me, being driven away-

Leaving the only home I’d ever known.

Leaving the home he’d broken with silence-

That icy cold reserve; reserved for the undeserved-

Me, you, Mum and the multitude of others

Who tried in vain to hold out a hand;

To reach him, to touch him.

I hear his laughter,

Somewhere in the back of my mind,

Somewhere where that boy still resides

And remember that cutting smile,

That ice cold stare and those eyes that night

When they cut like a blade.

That day- do you remember?

You chased me all along and down the road

As Dympna drove and Mother cried in the seat behind.

You- with tears in your eyes

As the car tore me away from all I’d ever know.

I know that boy’s still inside, somewhere,

Painting his bedroom, playing in the attic,

Writing words to help him understand

And patiently praying that all parents were perfect.

All words by Damien B. Donnelly

 

Italian Thoughts

 

You washed over me today-

Darkest hair, hazel of eyes

And that lower luscious lip-

As I retraced those steps

From a lifetime ago

And found myself

Lost again-

Like all those years ago-

When I’d first fallen

Upon this Sea of a City,

Back when your heart

Had begun to feel

More like mine

Than mine itself.

I’d walked that narrow walled city

That day

As gallant green waters

Glistened along side me

And I listened out for the ghosts

Of past parties

In Taffeta skirts-

Giggling

And with masked faces-

Smiling

Before I stopped,

And by this very bridge,

I called you

And told you

I’d fallen

And thought nothing of those rushing waters

Beneath me-

Their movement,

Their depth,

Their current-

How far they can take you

From the shore.

I thought us to be as inseparable

As Gondola from Gondolier

And yet we sank

As surely as the City will itself

One day,

Some day

When time itself has forgotten all about

The lovers who laughed

And loved

And kissed

And promised-

Just like us

Before the waves washed us over

And around

And in between,

Before our hands let go

And you slipped away to dance through other lands,

In other hands,

That Time and Space that time has almost forgotten

And yet,

Do you know-

There are times

When my lower lip trembles

With the memory

Of your kiss

And the weight

Of your heart

When I wore it?

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

 

Adapted to Adoption

 

Removed from you,

I hear your words more clearly.

You failed to understand me,

You neglected to comprehend my lack of questions

For the one from whose tribulations I was born.

What understanding could I have of myself-

When I failed to understand who I am?

And yet- my love removed- see this:

See the woman-

still wet from birth-

Look upon me with swollen eyes

And say goodbye.

See this woman embrace her child-

For all too short one silent moment-

And say goodbye.

Do I feel her pain today-

Or was there any there at all?

What does she think of me today-

Or does she think of me at all?

What right do I have to invade her life

To awaken her present to the wounds of her past?

Hers was the choice-

not mine.

Hers was the loss-

not mine.

Hers was the sacrifice-

not mine-

Not me.

So do not question me when I do not question myself.

Oft’ times I shall wonder but ne’r shall I intrude.

Old wounds have healed and in my hand the knife shall not turn.

I was embraced by others

While she said her goodbyes.

I have been loved by others

Since she relinquished her ties.

You make me laugh as I sit here alone,

You make me wonder-

Could you ever understand who I am?

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

 

Thierry’s Line

 

One ordinary,

Rather hot summer night-

Nothing special, nothing different-

In my mind’s eye I ran my finger down the line of hair

That ran from your chest

Before it disappeared beneath your shorts

As the breeze blew open your shirt and I caught the smile in your eye

As you read my thoughts.

You,

With your short dark hair-

Amid a season of blondes that I was tiring of-

You,

Who I never kissed or lay with,

Who I never undressed outside of that one dizzy dream.

Later that night-

Fuelled on cocktails while our friends fell distracted by a jovial waiter-

You took my finger and brushed it along that same hair line.

Nothing said,

Nothing promised;

Just that fine line between you and I.

You,

With your eyes which shone that night towards a blue shade of green,

You,

With your black jeans, red shirt

And tan which stopped just short of where that line disappeared.

We told tales,

Shared drinks,

Swapped numbers

But time, in its humour,

Fell shorter than either of us had imagined.

You seemed like the first man I’d seen in such a long time

Having been lost for a while in a sea of bleached blonds-

All as harmless as they were hairless

While I cavorted about their baby soft skins

With careless concerns for complacency.

But you looked like something else

On that fortuitous night

As the setting sun sizzled

And breezes briefly blew bodies bare.

That tremendous night when nothing really happened

Except for the soft touch of that line I never managed to cross

But-

More importantly-

The line I never managed to forget.

All words and drawings by Damien B. Donnelly

 

The Evaporation of the Earth

 

I am on a plane, again,

Flying over your gardens of green

And heavenly mountains-

Looking more like hollow hills from here,

It appears we are chasing

The last light of day

As East leaves West

Before finally we are pitched

Into an abyss of blackness

As the world disappears

And I wonder

If we are all who are left;

Flying forwards towards a forsaken future,

Gaining only on the remaining hours,

Oblivious to

The Evaporation of the Earth.

I look around to see who will be

Mother, Lover, Brother now,

Who will be friend

And which will be foe.

Who will scream first,

Freak first,

Break first.

Who will see the unseen that I have seen?

Will hunger harm us

Or fuel fade first

As we fly,

Fall

And fade

Over an Evaporated Earth.

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

 

We Never Saw Forever

 

No more sorrys,

No more words

No more time.

No more pretending

That this is working

Our days are gone.

No more waiting

For those calls

That seldom came.

No more arms

Wrapped around me

While I sleep.

No more breath

Upon my shoulder

As I dream.

No more questions

For our future

We had none.

No more hope

For a life together

Now it’s gone.

No more kisses

To last forever

They never did.

How could our kisses

Last forever

When we never did?

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

 

Thank you, Nana

We carried you,

Like a child, that day

As Spring shone around us

And the flowers took bloom

And I wondered if April

Had ever seen so soft a day?

We carried you,

Like a child, that day

And traced each and every journey

We’d made with you along the way,

On busses and trains and airplanes

To foreign towns and holy lands-

Your presence more beloved than the coins you always gave.

We carried you,

Like a child, that day

And remembered

Every knee you had bandaged,

Every tear you had dried

And every belly you had filled

With your apple pies and custard bakes

Fresh brown breads and coffee cakes.

We carried you,

Like a child, that day

As red roses fell

As fluidly as the waters over Niagara

While a breeze brushed our cheeks with a kiss.

We carried you,

Like a child, that day

Your body as weightless

As it was lifeless

While we covered you over with the red petaled ground-

But now we carry you in our hearts forever more.

Mistake me not;

This is no goodbye,

This is just a simple way of saying thank you.

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