FREEDOM IS A WISH ON THE WIND

 

I steal
deep into space, in the far field-
inches are miles these days
and miles can hold worlds.
I kick
imaginary balls into empty posts
and run tracks that dig circles
around the turns I cannot take.
The eye spots
white specs, like snowflakes, dancing
on the far side of deep ditches-
daisies making their own chains
while
les dents de lion
cast their own wishes out
into a breeze that knows no boundary.

 

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

WHAT LIES IN THE VALLEY

 

Truth, lies, tall tales spread across the canyon
of our sighs. My hope, your hurt, my side,
your silence, nothing is distinguishable in this void,
I cannot even identity any let up from the winter
of this valley where the wind winds its way around
the silent subtleties of how you express your hurt
and how I hold my hope- foolishly, foolish, fool
or fooled. We are both breakable and some parts
dissolvable while riding horseback across this canyon
whose cracks are cavernous, two cowboys believing
more in disguise, in the delusions and so we sweep
into such deluge. Somewhere, in between this valley,
somewhere, down below this wind, still tangible,
there is a bridge that crosses the truth of our lies,
bashful and broken. But we don’t want to find it

anymore.

 

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

A SLING BACK TO SALLY. (MS. BOWLES, ONCE THE TOAST OF MAYFAIR ) AFTER ISHERWOOD.

 

Guiltless, work less, here in this deep end, in this sling back
to the not-so-selective slung back, this slum, this time
of rebounds, of reverberations, KitKats and ghettos.

Wilkommen, Bienvenue, Welcome…

to the deep end, where the guilt is less, less selective,
less to depend on, more flexible, less to wear, less of the weary
where we dive deeper, beneath the covers, below the uniform
while they march overhead, over the deep end
where we dived, dive, down to this dive

where the fingernails have grown green, decadence is divine

before death.

Where we say no…
no to depending on, no to marching, no to understanding,
no to guilt, no to work, more sex, more pineapples, Cliff, Chris?

Always something sweet before the shaft, before being shafted

here, in this deeper end, this sling back, slung, no slip to support
but this time (comes gullible) this time around. Maybe this time

I’ll be lucky, maybe this time… let’s see…

Life is Cabaret, old chum.
Life is a party, in bomb shelter, where we bring our own bondages.

 

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

WHEN I DREAM OF WHO WE WERE

 

We used to hold hands, a quiver
along the skin
at touch,                     do you remember?

You handled me like I was food,
to be prepared pealed back,
to find the taste within.

I was advised not to- but I had hungered,
had grown ill                      without.

A cold cut cannot survive without the fold

of the fridge.

Or were you the oil and I                     the onion?
Having already been cut,

sliced before being found. Remember?

But we’d been spared                     the tears.
We tasted of a thousand nights
that had never known                     any stars

and then we wanted to taste                     it all.

Do you remember? No,
you don’t.                        I forgot.

We only held hands in my head
in that room I shared

with the one                     I shared the tears with.

Still slicing.

 

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

SEA AND SAND

 

Sand slips under foot like memory into mind,
waves wash up along a country lane leading down
into a secreted sea, past a thistle that pricks not;

so much beauty cannot bear a beast.

There is breath in these back fields I recall
on the curve of this spiral game, returning like these tides
that tickle the familiarity that floats on the foam
of the waves I once forged freedom on,

getting far enough out just to find my way back in.

Home is not something you recognise until you return,
like the smell of this sea stretching out to islands
that look in on me, as if trying to find a way to connect,
home is not something you miss until you swim out,

not something you recognise until the tide takes you back in
to that secreted sea, stashed away down a country lane
and you recall

how the sand once felt under foot.

 

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

THE MOTION OF GOING SOUTH

 

I’ve only been to Cork once,
to a funny place they called The Other Place
which I thought was like the Scottish play
with the name you’re never supposed to say.

In another place, beforehand, we’d sat
on beer kegs in a girl’s bar called Loafers
and I giggled at all the comfy shoes
in astonishment and thought that sitting
on a keg felt more like a punishment.

I’d only been to Cork once, when I was 20,
a year since I’d had my first kiss, with a boy,
behind a sofa, at a party.
You catch on quick, I heard him murmur
and so I dropped the tongue in further.

That drive down to Cork in the 90’s
felt like operation transportation-
5 sisters of Dorothy all crammed in the car
singing Liza and Barbara in proud
polychrome while inside I was thinking
this was certainly no place like home.

We slipped out of Loafers
and their shoes that had absorbed me
and headed to that no name place
that was actually called The Other Place.

A disco it was with lads against the wall
and I thought you’re man in the white socks-
I won’t be snogging him at all.

They opened up a back room, in Cork,
halfway through the Whitney medley
which caused a run for the big buns on sale-

fruity scones sausage rolls,
fondant fancies and fairy cakes,

in Cork, at the disco,
in The Other Place,

when all the gays still ate sugar
and some grandmother’s doily
was the only bit of fecking lace.

 

All words and photographs by Damien B Donnelly

FIELDS OF GOLD

 

Gold grows in many ways-
like how the soil can be pressed with seed,
how a daisy decorates that which has been deserted,
how the sun burns at a safe distance
or at least it did, once.
All is relative, now, to time-
I didn’t know what ozone meant as a boy,
or Wifi or gluten free or panic or pandemic
but there were days when I could have cradled distancing
when school corridors closed in too tight
on skin that hadn’t been taught tough.
Gold grows in many ways
as we find a new rhythm of crossing over into fields
once forgotten where daises make waves instead of chains
and farmers strive to find fortune
for us all in fields of food.

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

WHAT YOU WISH FOR

 

Remember
When all we wanted was a little distance?

Remember
Starting out with a cushion on the sofa,
A pillow in between the folds twisting against us,
One word less
And then another.
Every move a single mile.

Remember
How all we wanted…

I wonder-
While watching shadows growing stiller
Beyond the window of this other room,
Here, at the end of all these miles,
At home with our wants,
Without a word-

If we’d held a little tighter
Would we have survived the distance now?

 

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

PERMISSIBLE TO ASK?

 

I take the boat out on the water,
rowing out to come into the stillness
in this place where space is still displaced.
Chez moi, c’est quoi, c’est où ?
Il est permis de demander ?

Merci, I say, still, when I should just
stay still, like this water where I row out,
stretching limb, exhausted, after the search
that brought me back, to pacify.
Pacifier- je peux le toucher, presque…

but these movements, however measured,
deprive peace from pacify, remove the stillness
from all this space I am, still,
struggling to reach. Mais.

Priver, je ne veux pas, non, non plus.
Je ne regarderai pas mon nombril, pas comme avant.

Moi- I shed who I was, am, along with time
but not breath- I lost breath, once- tu te souviens,
tu étais là, non ? Oui ! Tu ne te souviens pas.

Regarde ce bateau-
hope is a delicate placement of desire upon wish,
of wood upon water.

Je suis le bois, ou non ? C’était toi avant,
Mais tu as été viré. Viré. Fired. Sacked. Sack.

Meanings can give way to so many misunderstandings,
like translations- so much gets lost in the turning,
in the movement, going out and coming in,
with each row

further out. On the water.

Sometimes thought is not what is needed but stillness
within a world that cannot stop.
Arrête. Stop

but that word is too final.

 

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

PAINTING

 

On comes the light
and I reach out for the taste of morning
in an orange orchid that unfolds a sash of summer’s stock
to tie its threads around the ears of anxious.
On comes the morning
and I stretch emerald strokes onto a light canvas
pulled out across grouchy grasses that cannot see hope
glimmering in far off fields.
On comes the light
and I strike rainbows into shivering streams
that take dreams off to open oceans where the breaths bays
just above the surface, waiting for us to dive back in, to the light.

 

All words and water colour painting by Damien B. Donnelly

 

Based on a Poetry Prompt from Cobh Readers and Writers on Twitter