SNOW WHITE

 

I saw you, one morning,
blanketed in white,

a speckled canvas of virgin purity,
all colour lost out to a simpler shade of simplicity.
No more that magnificent mass of contrast and contradiction,
just quiet and gentle unencumbered distinction.

Distant laughter carried on a breeze
swirling round trees caught motionless in time,
branches bare but for the kind kisses of that slow falling snow.

I saw you like this, one ordinary morning,
as tears formed icicles on my face, snowflakes falling
from your skies to hide your valleys and hills

as my feet disappeared beneath the snow-white earth.

I saw you, like this, one extra ordinary morning,
and that long lost smile

reappeared.

 

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

Merry Christmas everybody, Dami xx

WHEN WHITE FALLS BLUE

 

Snow falls and the darkness drowns in silence,
a hush from the heavens falling, so slowly,
even crystals cry. Are these the tears
of angels weeping who’ve watched us, falling,
like this slow snow, like their tears, trembling?

Snow falls and there’s a stillness and still
all this silence between us. Bruises covered
in this cold cotton candy coating of fragility,
every day more freezing, more frozen,
just not enough to numb. Snow falls
and all paths disappear, I thought our tracks
ran deeper, like this winter, like this weight,
like this waiting, behind the window, behind
this glass I can’t see through, beyond the storm
falling, slowly. Snow falls and the sorrow
slips in, cold where there used to be comfort.

What happens to my tears, who will watch them
with wonderment like I look out now at the snow,
slowly falling, and think of angels?

Wasn’t I once your angel?

Are you watching at some slow distance
as these snowflakes cover my confusion?

In time, this too shall melt and be no more than memory,
even snowflakes fall for but a season. Snow,
falling, slow. Already wishing it was spring.

Even white is blue in the falling light.

 

All words and photographs by Damien B Donnelly

EARLY AUTUMN

 

The sky is burning,

the last light eclipsed by the night
and we stop and stare like fools at its blaze,
not seeing within this gaze possibility falling
though our hands like snowflakes in a season
that has kept captive the summer.

The sky is burning

while we travel in taxis, all of us
back-seat partakers being driven down roads
we know not where they lead as our minds run
tattered threads along all the tracks we wanted to press
with our own print but we cannot choose a direction
like a snowflake cannot control its pattern.

The sky is burning
with a fine filigree of fire and ice,
with thoughts we try to catch hold of but flames
are ever changing as no snowflake is ever the same
and we take hold of other dreams others dreamt of
in other beds, under other skies blazing
through futile snowstorms and we melt,

like a snowflake
in the dry heat of an early autumn.

 

All words and drawings by Damien B. Donnelly

ATTENTION

 

I glisten to distract,
like a snowflake;

the sparkle before the melt.

Particles of fleeting perfection
floating through the hands of time,
falling through all these imperfections.
If only my clutch were tighter, truer,
if only I knew more of my own truth,
too many skins already slipped through,
too much prediction put on that perception
of perfection that can never be preserved.

A snowflake
cannot be caught intact. We cannot catch a cloud.

We cannot always clear the way for the truth.
Perfection: a twist of our perception,
a precious perspective from a single point
never again to be seen. What if it’s never seen at all?

Glistening like a snowflake, falling.

A snowflake can be a melting tear
or a tiny miracle on track to disappear.
Truth; an elusive illusion, a deathly desire
tenuously tied to what I present to you
and to how you perceive me.

To what we fear and what we are willing to reveal.

I glisten,
to distract attention
from all about me that doesn’t sparkle.

 

All words and designs by Damien B. Donnelly

THE SWEPT AND THE SWEEPERS

 

Fragility falling

through fine flecks of fair filigree,
perfect patterns of individuality speckled
on imperfect individuals.

Snowflakes melt

on steaming skin thin on time,
too thick to break through, you cannot always sink
below the surface of an iceberg,

we cannot break through

all that lays beneath, all the lies below the surface,
it gets hotter the closer you come to the cold truth,
only in space can a spec appear spotless.

Fragility falling

through the folds of a snowstorm,
we are the swept and the sweepers, we must be swift,
icicles can injure, perfection can pierce.

I can be broken,

I can be better, I can be broken, but it takes time
to rebuild. I can be a snow-swept filigree
falling through the perfection of time

and time,

with all its perfection, with its constant movement
and minutes, is as fragile as that snowflake.

 

All words and drawings by Damien B Donnelly

 

BOOKENDS, SEASONAL STREET SCENES ON A SATURDAY IN PARIS

All photographs by Damien B Donnelly

The final photograph is me, today, back at Alesia, the 14th arrondissement of Paris where I first lived over 4 years ago when I came back to live in Paris for the second time. Today I was back here for lunch today with Mary, my dear Irish friend, who I met in Paris when we both first moved here 23 years ago. Circles closing and connections continuing…

BOOKENDS; KISSED BY SOMEONE ELSE’S KING AT CHRISTMAS

 

Lights danced on shivering trees dressed
in a blanket of snow while a tale was told

of a boy, born to be king, to never know choice.

I kissed Christmas in someone else’s shadow
and we whispered in the absence of his voice.

I dreamt of a crib where a kid had kept faith
for a while, as a child, while you watched me

sleeping, naked on a bed still fresh from his folds.

You wished for us longer than a festive fumbling
of flesh in the emptiness of his ephemeral flight

but our fate was like my faith; not as tightly nailed
to a cross as the kid who was crucified as a king.

I waked away from the tinsel toe and your touch

and left you

to smooth out the stains we screwed upon his folds.

   

All words and photographs by Damien B Donnelly

This month is about looking back at Paris to acknowledge all that has slipped away, like the lips once kissed, the snowflakes since melted and the faith, since fallen. As a kid I wanted to believe in Santa for longer than my age allowed because I didn’t want to let the magic end, I grew up in the church and tried so hard to see the truth in what I was being taught that it took a long time to see how closely they were wrapped in lies. When I first came to Paris at 22, I had my first kiss on Christmas night. I was alone and living in a hotel and everyone I knew had gone back to Ireland and I wanted to find the magic again, even if it came in the form of three nights in the arms of a man who wasn’t mine, who was lonely because his boyfriend had gone off to see his family for the holidays.

Sometimes we try to find the magic wherever we can and do our best to ignore faith, fate, the fates or the folds we didn’t make. 

CHRISTMAS COVER UP

 

In the shadow of all its history,

in the sorrow behind its sparkle,

I sprinkle fairy lights on the drying roots

of this dying tree.

 

At the summit of all its beauty,

from the forest freshy felled,

I place a blood red rose on this tree

cut down from hope.

 

All words and photographs by damien B. Donnelly

ONLY AFTERWARDS

Screen Shot 2016-01-10 at 19.56.37

He tasted of pine
pressed into skin,
nicotine fingers
and beer bound breath
naked beneath
the fairy lights
and twinkling balls
as a cat and dog
watched their shadows
kissing on the walls.

She tasted of punch,
cinnamon sticks
and orange scents
with red rimmed lips
and bare naked breasts
to blush the baubles,
suspenders suspended no more
as the cat and dog
played with discarded clothes
on the floor.

New Year’s Eve
had become New Year’s Day
as she took him to her bed
to screw away the hangover
and reason out the resolutions.

It was only afterwards that she asked him his name.

All Words and Photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

 

LIVING WITH PARIS, 1997, PART II- NO ROOM AT THE INN

If you missed the first instalment of Living With Paris, click the link below:

 
https://atomic-temporary-23614992.wpcomstaging.com/2015/09/02/living-with-paris-part-1-1997-the-arrival/

 
        December 24th, 1997, almost 2 months living with Paris and set to move into my first Parisian apartment, my own home away from the homeland. When I first arrived from Dublin on a rainy Thursday night, I’d gatecrashed into an Irish home abroad; Jeannie, a 40ish Irish woman with wild red hair, an estranged husband, a son in the shadows of another land and a beautiful daughter, looking set for a photo shoot with Vogue, perfect to fall in love with (if were I straight). I crashed on their couch for a week till I found a place at the Irish College, basically a fancy hostile the 5th arrondissement, once dedicated to the Irish fellows who aided the cause of the liberation of France and now witness to the raging hormones of a plethora of Irish boys and girls who missed the smell of the cow shite and their mother’s overcooked steaks, but I had my own room and that was all I needed. Breakfast was served every morning in the huge hall which was freezing cold so we all huddled together to stop from shivering to death before the morning ritual of rushing to see who got post from home and who got simply forgotten, the Irish can be a tough lot!
        I wanted to be a fashion designer, to be discovered, to be found, but I didn’t speak a word of French (slight oversight) so ended up trolling Irish bars, American bars and English bars hoping one of them was looking for a totally inexperienced bar tender with no French or pint pulling skills! Who could pass that up? Everyone, it seemed! 1 month later, I fell upon the last Irish bar (there were over 55 Irish bars in Paris at the time, I kid you not!), tucked away in the, as yet, undiscovered 13th arrondissement, (it’s a paradise now in comparison to the dead rats and half dead dragueres who once populated it) a stop too far from the tourist trail which unfortunately had a job to offer me and I had barely a French franc to my name to refuse!
        By Christmas eve, I’d been working for 1 month, had learned to pull a pint, change a keg and minimally converse in French with the local clientele. Decided it was too soon to go home for Christmas, I stayed behind to run the bar, find a flat, build a life and maybe even put up a tree. On the 22nd, I dragged Mary, a comrade in arms from the College, off with me to view an apartment. We arrived at the address with an immediate double take. The building was magnificent. On a side street, just off a bustling boulevard, sat a 6-storey mansion. The entrance had a courtyard where a mermaid perched on a fountain, behind which glass doors showcased freshly polished gold banisters and thick pile burgundy carpeted stairs. Could it be true? It was within my price range, which barely exceeded living in a bin, and yet there it was. Chuckling to myself and hugging Mary, we eagerly skipped up the 1st floor and on to the 2nd. By the 3rd floor, our skip slowed when we noticed the maid had stopped polishing the banister. On the 4th, the carpet disappeared. On the 5th, the gold banister became a wobbly unloved one. On the 6th and final floor, my hopes for a palatial dwelling dissolved as viewers came running down the hallway towards us. Behind them a narrow doorway lay in wait but what lay inside was not a lavish apartment as suggested by the building’s façade, nor did it resemble the description in the advert. The reality was a space no more than 6 x 10 feet where you could stand in the centre and touch each wall. It held a skylight partially covered by a water tank, beneath which was a sink, next to which was a fridge, on top of which was a hot plate, next to which was a closet that turned out to be a shower cabinet standing next to the front door and that was it. There wasn’t a bed. There was no room for a bed! There were 3 of us crammed into the room and you couldn’t see the floor for lack of space. The shared toilet down the hall was a little closer to hell in terms of condition. The walls were a musty shade of brown that hadn‘t come from a paint can! I took a deep breath and looked at Mary. “I could do great things with this place, don’t you think?” Her response was to fill up with tears, a reaction to my positive outlook when faced with a hellhole.
        On the night of the 23rd, I thankfully found a decent, clean, safe place. A small studio, with no room for windows, but certainly a bed and I was able to move in on the 24th (just like Mary and Joseph). The Irish College closed on the morning of the 24th so my Irish inmates dumped me and my belongings into a taxi before they escaped to the airport and families and festive food while I headed to work. That afternoon, after a phone call to my landlord, I discovered that my new landlord was now my old landlord as he’d decided to give the studio, that was supposed to be my new home, to someone else; someone with a better job, more papers, more experience, more French, basically! So I was homeless on Christmas Eve, again like Mary and Joseph (no room at the inn). Laurel and Hardy, the comical and continuously drunk duo who owned the bar, found it hilarious and offered me the attic of the bar to stay in over Christmas, (I was being offered a stable on Christmas Eve by the Turkish owner, who looked like Danny de Vito but less intentionally funny). It didn’t have a floor or proper door and you had to climb a ladder outside the building to get into it!
        I had a meltdown on front of them, a minor meltdown, well, not really minor but it scared the owners away and gave me time to think. By 5pm I’d phoned every hotel in town and managed to find a room in a hotel on rue des Mauvais Garçons; street of the Bad Boys, (I know!). Of course it was in Le Marais, the gay centre of Gay Paris! I slammed the doors shut at 8pm, grabbed a complimentary bottle of champagne, a bottle of whiskey, (Tullamore Dew) and all my belongings and jumped into a taxi which whisked me, once again, through the streets of Paris, not to my new apartment but to my new hotel with a tiny balcony that, if you leaned out far enough, you could see the very top tip of Notre Dame. I left the champagne to chill on the balcony, pulled on my best pair of pants and took off into Le Marais to find merry men to kiss away my disaster of a day. It turned out to be one very merry man dressed as Santa, but it was Christmas, after all!
        I woke on Christmas morning with a creak in my neck from the stupid roll pillow which looked more like a draft excluder, but, determined not to be downhearted, I popped the cork on the champagne and toasted myself, Notre Dame and my little life in this foreign land! Lapsed Irish Catholic or not, there was no missing mass at the Irish College, manly for the promise of hot mince pies and mulled wine afterwards even if it meant having to mingle with my other Irish boss! After a quick escape from being invited to an awkward dinner with a possible closeted homosexual and his family, I took off for ice skating at Hotel du Ville, Christmas dinner in a Chinese restaurant (of course) and drinks at the Open Cafe where I found a very attractive man who I choose as my very own christmas gift; a blonde and buoyant architect who was only too happy to have me unwrap him under the sparkle of the city of light! And so passed my first Christmas in Paris, far from typical, barely festive, but utterly magical and completely unforgettable!