Beau, tu sais?
Tu es beau,
c’est vrai.
Non, I say,
ca, c’est pas vrai.
Moi, je sais
d’autre chose,
mais beau?
Non, I say,
je ne suis pas beau.

Fragility I know,
mon ami s’appelle
pour lui
je porte a smile,
comme de vêtements,
like a shield,
mon sourire
est beau,
ca, tu peut dire,
ca, tu peut écrire,
but I am not my smile,
I am the boy behind
and sometimes it hurts,
tu sais? Ca fait mal.

Mais merci, comme même,
c’est beau ce que tu m’a dit,
ce que quelqu’un m’a dit,
c’est beau, mais non,
c’est pas moi; I am…
je suis autre chose.



Beautiful, you know?
You are beautiful,
it’s true.
No, I say,
that, it’s not true.
Me, I know
something else,
but beautiful?
No, I say,
I am not beautiful.

Fragility I know,
my friend’s name is
for him
I wear a smile,
like clothes,
like a shield,
my smile
is beautiful,
that, I can say,
that, I can write,
but I am not my smile,
I am the boy behind
and sometimes it hurts,
you know? It hurts.

Thank you, anyway,
It’s beautiful what you tell me,
that someone tells me,
it’s beautiful, but no,
it’s not me; I am…
I am something else.


All words and self portrait by Damien B. Donnelly

This is a repost of an older poem.


9 thoughts on “I AM…

  1. Contemplating the existential question of who I am is always a valuable exercise. Your beautiful poem, Damien, made me pause and reflect on the differences between the part of me that others see and the part of me that only I see (or cannot see, in some cases).

    (From an editorial perspective, I would note that tu peux is the correct form of pouvoir to use (not tu peut); I think you mean “quand même” rather than “comme même”; and you should probably use “tu m’as dit” rather than “tu m’a dit.”)

    • Thanks Mike for your comments. And for the French- I am a street speaker as in I only learnt by ear and my reading and writing are interesting 🤭 thankfully I manage to get by each day, the Parisians seem to forgive me lots and I do them!
      It’s always interesting in what others see, the concept of who I am in their eyes in relation to who I am in my own, in relation to who I believe they think I am! Oh!
      Greetings to you

  2. my smile
    is beautiful,
    that, I can say,
    that, I can write,
    but I am not my smile

    Much is hidden behind a smile, Dami..

    thinking about your poem just now
    i realised that a smile can be a lie
    i hadn’t thought about it before
    — you write a lot about honesty
    and a smile may be.. just another lie
    in that sense, i have lied many times

    • I had this conversation the other day with a fellow poet, I was telling him about things that happened in my past and things that happened last year and he said ‘but you always seem so happy, you’re always smiling.’
      But I am not (always) my smile!

      Although these days I am wearing a truer smile than before 🤭😘☘️

      • Love the “truer smile”. I had a neat experience yesterday afternoon and found myself very “true” smiley – I was so smiley just walkig down the street in Invercargill that people were giving me lovely warm smiles back 🙂

  3. We are always more than we can put into words. And we often play hide and seek with ourselves as well as the world. Just as the same word in different languages can take on different layers of meaning. (K)

  4. I thoughtful, beautiful poem. We often see ourselves differently than others see us–and as Kerfe says we “play hide and seek with ourselves,” too. A smile can be protection or a shield, but perhaps what others see is beauty that is also there.

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