I love and lose in circles, scratching
at skin tipped in ink, trying to find
the truth beneath the colours
I’ve let others colour in, hiding
the paler flesh I held from view,
we always need to hold on to something.

I am not comfortable over quiet dinners;
too much stilled air coursing
through the courses as I question
the seconds ticking by, in silence;
will you find me failure and flee?
But I’ll always be the first to fly
since that first flight I had no hand in.

I stir the stilled air with performances;
shy boy in the spotlight singing songs
he can’t quite find the notes for
or find the right to call his own.

I love and lie in circles that spiral
back on themselves, that cast further
reflections, not quite clear, on the boy
now faced as man in the mirror,
that flood more ink into that fading flesh.
‘Chromolume No. 9, Georges?’ she asked,
once, in a play, how many more?

Variations grow stale, thought becomes
tension, creation becomes controlled,
breath becomes bearer, bleaker. My chest
beats too quickly to let in fresh air,
fresh flesh, compressed, repressed.

I cannot lie in these circles,
these spirals that seem to linger,
longer, no longer. I am looking
to find a new shape; turning back,
returning, recalling that first mark,
to measure how far from it I ran,
to see what was left behind,
to lay it to rest and find the rest,
the rest of me beneath the red ink
tipped into this fragile flesh.


All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

18th poem for National Poetry Writing Month

Published by deuxiemepeau

Published poet, writer, baker and former fashion maker, with footprints in Paris, London and Amsterdam but currently back home in Dublin with sights aimed at leaving a mark on the West coast one clear fine day...

11 thoughts on “RED INK

  1. Red has always been my favourite colour, the one I come back to every time after brief flirtations with other colours. I’m enjoying your colour poems!

    1. I was thinking about you this evening, Liz. I just came back from Atelier des Luminaires, à local gallery where they currently have a Vincent Van Gogh exhibition, light installation, and the colours were breathtaking!!!! His paintings were projected onto walls and floors, moving, blending, backgrounds coming forward, accompanied by music, the audience were a living part of it all, as you walked you entered the painting as they cast reflections of brushstrokes upon your body. I will put up some pictures next week. I wanted to stay there all evening. You can check out a little video of the exhibition at the website:
      They also had a Japanese installation ‘Floating’ and you felt like you were there, in the painting, floating on seas and into temples! Magical!!! 🤗🤗

      1. That sounds REALLY amazing! I wonder if you know that fairly recently in Dunedin we watched a movie about Van Gogh, his life and work, that was super interesting and we both learned such a lot. Later I got a dated but good book from the library and learned more about his different works and style. It would be so incredible to experience what you’ve just enjoyed, I’d love to go to that, and I’m so glad you’ve described it to me. I’ll visit the link next.. thanks so much!

      2. I just watched the Netflix movie last month about his later life, the turmoil and twists of his canvases which was extraordinary. I often went to the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam, the range of his work is just astounding as was his unaccepted talent until after his death. Take care my lovelies 🤗🤗

      3. Wow, wow, wow!!! So excited to see these! I’ve only been in a little infinity chamber done with lights – have never seen anything remotely like these. It’s all so wonderful I’m quite overcome and totally enthralled and enraptured!

      4. Well I had on my shoulder this evening as I wandered around as I knew you’d love it! They had Klimt last time but I couldn’t get a ticket! And I’m practically a neighbor 🤭🤪

      5. Heavens! So glad that you succeeded in seeing this one. It’s a bit like the town mouse and the country mouse – I can’t even IMAGINE being able to attend something like this, just down the street 🙂 Hahaha.. makes me laugh just thinking about it!

  2. I seem to be stuck in circles myself. And yet, even as they begin again, each turning is a bit different. Each line holds something new. (K)

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