Christmas, It’s A Wonderful Life

Bells and baubles bound to branches
While tinsel twists and turns and ties,
Santa’s sleighs and snowmen dancing
Lights all aglow like stars in skies,

On the tree an angel sparkles,
Crackers to pull and bells to ring,
Neath the tree a manger slumbers
With a bed that waits for a King,

Reindeers leap with noses glowing
And crystal snowflakes catch the light,
Mama’s wrapping, Daddy’s snoring
While not a child can sleep tonight,

Carrots washed and the cookies laid
The fire is out and chimney preened,
Sprouts are steeping and pudding’s made
Stockings hung and the turkey cleaned,

On the telly Julie’s singing
Over the hills and next to nuns,
In their beds kids are dreaming
Of barbie dolls and small toy guns,

The cards have come and candles lit,
Mistletoe placed and holly hung,
Cupboards bursting and bellies full,
Potatoes pealed and Bing has sung,

Sons and daughters are back at home
Reunions made and laundry done,
Mince pies warmed and the mulled wine brewed
Carolers called, charades begun,

In the dawn all children wakening
Reaching out to stockings now filled
Leap down stairs to gifts awaiting,
Their magic, myth and dreams fulfilled,

Big bird’s in the oven cooking
Husband will carve to charm the wife,
The crib’s now filled with the new born King
Its Xmas tradition, it’s a Wonderful Life.

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Merry Christmas Everyone

A New Year

A new year,

A new day-

Sky’s still grey.

A new year,

A new day,

Still raining-

Weather’s still the same,

No change there,

People still on the streets

With their brollies-

Shopping,

Plodding through puddles

And slipping in the sales-

Buying what they don’t want

In wet shoes and stockings,

And cursing what they do need-

Those festive tummies

All bigger from stout,

But its cheaper today

Than yesterday

And it makes the sky

Feel far less grey.

The fairy lights have faded

And snowy white dreams

All stored away for another year

As diets replace deserts

And multi-shakes

Become the new mulled wine.

A new year,

A new day,

But it’s still Monday

And tomorrow’s still Tuesday

And the weekend

Will follow on from the week,

Still grey, you know,

Still rain,

Still getting wet-

Still sweaty under sweaters

And scarves

And undercoats and topcoats.

A new year,

A new day,

Sky’s still grey

But under rock and stone

I can see color

Where there was none before,

Not lots of color-

Not the full spectrum on the ground

But beginnings,

Hints, possibilities-

Like those resolutions of New Year

So full of promise

In those first new days,

There is hope

Beneath all that rock and stone

And above all those clouds of grey

That will, I’ve been told, soon blow away.

A new year

A new day to live…

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The Christmas Kiss that Wasn’t Mine

For two months

I’d waited for you-

Adrift for a time from

The mere sensation of even

A stranger’s touch-

Not knowing it was you,

Of course,

But for that longed for warmth

To envelope me.

How funny

And how easy

You became my Christmas present-

Mon cadeau.

My only gift had been a self-bought

Over-sized,

Under-priced

Tatty jumper

And then you arrived-

Dropped yourself at my table

In your yellow rain-coat

With slightly drunk,

Tear-filled eyes-

Lonely for your lover

Who’d flown home to family.

You’d been abandoned

For three days,

Or so you thought-

Till you were in my arms

Amid a darkening street

In The Marais

And each kiss goodbye,

That started as a cordial bisou,

Seemed never quite enough

And your hands-

Finding their way easily inside my clothing-

Felt only teased

By what they had not yet

Touched.

I wanted to take you home-

My hotel-called-home,

With it’s corner balcony that hid

All but the tip of Notre Dame

And my pillows-

Like feather-filled lozenges

That enticed no sleep,

But my concierge had other ideas-

Even on Christmas night

No guests meant no guests,

However cold it was outside

And however innocent

We attempted to look

While the imprint of your lips

Burnt away on my neck.

And so I found myself

On the red sofa

Of your Les Halles living room

Amid your cat and dog,

With His scent everywhere-

Upon the delightfully pillow-like pillows I slept on

And in the painters nightshirt

You dressed me in,

Later on,

When the kisses stopped

And the dawn’s cold air

Dropped by.

We had nothing in common-

Not even a language-

But we were both alone

Amid a city of fairy lights

And family affairs

And what else mattered.

I awoke each night

As you stroked the hair from my face

With your architectural hands-

Your eyes pouring into me-

Looking, perhaps,

For a deeper meaning

Or some forgivable

Justification

But there was nothing

But our basic needs.

Even as you suggested to stay

In contact-

You knew my eyes

Saw your sophomoric lies

And twisted attempts

At half-truths-

Trying to clutch onto something

New and different

In the midst of the complacency

You’d created around you.

There was nothing more

Than two boys

And three nights,

So much shared in silence-

The inevitable not needing a voice.

I waved you goodbye

That last morning

Inside your age-old building,

On your spiraled staircase,

Half a floor below you

With your scent covering me-

Like a blanket

That’s never quite big enough

To stay wrapped in

Forever,

And your cat stated back at me-

Questioning me through half-closed,

Sleep-filled,

Feline eyes,

Sensing the betrayal of the situation

Which she had slept through most of

And I was walking away from.

Behind your green eyes and blond hair

You wondered

How I could mean

So much

In so short a time.

Was it minutes later until his return-

Did you wash the sheets?

Did you hold him

As if he were me

In that bed,

Beneath the darkness

Where we once found each other

And took pleasure in the taste?

Did the cat snarl out the affair

Before you

Or did I dream it all-

The three nights,

The two boys

One brown,

The other blond

And the swift sweet unwrapping

Of mon Cadeau?

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Winter’s Child

You gently

Wrapped your first chill

Around me

The other night,

As if to remind me

It was time

For the first blanket

Of a season in changing,

And I felt

Comforted-

Like the return

Of the faithful familiar-

Prompting me

To double sheets under duvets,

Close windows on sneezes,

Return socks to naked feet,

Turn from salads to soups

And wear scarves instead of shorts.

You’ve barely begun

To layer me up-

Snuggled and bundled on the sofa-

And yet,

Even so,

In that silly short space of reunion,

I’ve replayed, in my mind,

How it rolls,

Every year,

From the final

Fading flicker of

Summer’s lasting light

To those

Autumnal sundowns

Before the Winter’s

Fairy lights.

I am born of fire

And storm,

I fear,

Finding so much more

Warmth and solace

Watching rain

Beyond windows,

Traipsing footprints

Through snowfalls

And cuddling indoors

As the wild winds roar.

I hear,

In the mere hint of your arrival,

The jingle of silver bells

And see the glistening

Of bright colored baubles-

Smelling yule logs a-baking

And mulled wine a-making.

I am Winter’s child-

Coasting home

On the last glorious rays

Of summer-

So grateful for those

Bright nights

And near bronzed skin

But overjoyed at the thought

Of wooly jumpers

And fur lined slippers,

Marks and Sparks pajamas

And hot milk with biscuit dippers.

I wrapped myself

In the first blanket covering

Of autumn

The other day,

As September slipped

Behind the last shadow

Of Summer…

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All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

In search of a Still Shining, Fading Star

I was once silent

Amid the noise,

Shadowing the world in stillness

While all else-

But I-

Found its motion.

I watched as dreams

Slipped swiftly

Through my fumbling hands-

Hands powerless to awaken my slumber to the realm of reality.

I’d been held

And felt nothing in that very touch-

Nothing but the visceral arousal of man

At his most primal.

I’d seen a lifetime of possibilities

With single glances

And built worlds in my mind

Before blinking them away.

I held a man’s hand

In a taxi

As we raced through a foreign city-

Once my home-

While my mind ran to thoughts

Of someone else

Before remembering a touch, from long before.

Once, I circled the globe and returned home

To find that home

Was but a word-

A word that wakes a memory

To plot a beginning,

As weightless

And mobile

As the drifting traveler.

I am-

Like you all-

No more than a burnt-out,

Used-to-be,

Fading star,

Sparkling in front of you

Although my future’s already faded

Somewhere

Light years away.

As I hurtle through this voyage

My eyes fall sleepy;

Looking for rest,

Looking- always-

For the rest of me.

I saw you in the midst of these feelings

Early one morning

While December raced towards fairy lights

And tinsel toe-

Snowflakes speckling you in white-

An untouched canvas of pure potential,

No longer revolting in your bureaucratic bundle

Of mass and confusion-

While scarf-clad, gloved-up,

Red-nosed,

Shoulder-shrugging Frenchmen

Tutted as they wedged their way

Through the Metro turnstiles

That my blonde haired friend had just disappeared through-

Journeying back to her beginning

To start anew

And leaving me with no more than the distant memory

Of her laughter

That swept off on a breeze

And swirled around trees

Whose branches bared down to their earthbound roots.

No more the sharing of days and nights,

Mixing cocktails to our own design,

Toasting birthdays in Chinatown

For April’s fairest fool

Or surprise visits from friends

To break the daily routine.

No more lunches at Lina’s

With sandwiches too big to finish,

Dinners in white wolfed restaurants-

Leaving notes on toilet mirrors

For cute boys

On far flung tables.

No more spinning of bottles

And tempting of firemen

And late night parties

With boy bands

And dart players.

No more the sound

Of her click-clacking heels

Heard in the distance

Long before her arrival

Into that bar where we worked

And thought of as that very word-

Home.

She’d been the small town girl

More grown up than her years

And yet still a child as white

As the snow now falling.

As I saw you like this-

My dear city-

I wondered

How much more

Would fall away from me

And what else would take its place

As swishing snows let teared icicles stream down my face

While icy crystals fell from your skies-

Washing to white those famed grey rooftops

And smokeless chimneys

That had ingrained themselves

So indelibly

On my mind,

All the while hiding from me your cobbled streets

Through which my feet had sailed,

Feet that now disappeared

Slowly in the snow-white earth,

Leaving me to question where I’d be

When spring uncovered me

And pushed me back-

Once more-

Into the noise

And motion

And storm

Which I’d stopped that day to watch

In stillness

While another fine friend

Fell away.

I had once been silent

Amid the noise

But on that morning-

Speckled in white,

All was silent but for my heart

That raced with the beat of life.

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