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

BACK HOME, A SHORT STORY OF THE COMFORTS OF COMMUNICATION AND CONFUSION

 

-Where’s the thing? she asks, her mind racing faster than the push-up response of the recline on the sofa.
-What thing? I inquire, startled out of a semi-induced state of hibernation to save myself from the 2nd instalment of the evening of Emmerdale which was briefly interrupted by 23 minutes of Coronation Street and two visits to the kitchen; the 1st for a cracker and the 2nd for a bag of leftover Christmas nuts…

-Will you be baking anything with those pecans one of these days? came the roar from the kitchen on that 2nd visit and I could hear the excitement in the voice at the thought of an exotic pecan to chew down on instead of the usual insipid old walnut.
-There’s a good date on them, all the same, I always look for a good date, but if you’re not going to use them I might go ahead and eat a few of them and pick up another bag when I’m in the shops during the week, cause I know you like to have your nuts in the press, just in case.

-What thing? I inquire again as she comes right way up on the sofa, one big red hair curler on her head, the others sitting on her shoulders as if waiting to be mistaken for a Beth Lynch tribute act.
-The remote, says she while the phone in her right hand continues to ring. Squares of torn-off kitchen roll, used to cover everything from half-drunk tea to half eaten slices of cake under which the icing seeps into the tissue and you can never go back to eating it, go flying into the air in the frantic flight to pause live tv before the 1st unidentified caller of the evening gives up, hangs up and then calls us back on the mobile, or via messenger on the iPad, all lined up on front of The Mother like the accoutrement required for a Bond Mission; 3, 2, 1, ready, call, answer! Or not, where was the remote?
-Is that it in your other hand? I proffer and she looks and laughs and drops it onto her lap so she can laugh more freely and grab one of the flying kitchen squares from the air and blow her nose with it before relaxing back into her seat as a curler falls down into her nightdress and startles her back into the realisation that the phone is still ringing and we are no longer following what the hell is going on down in the Dales!

She regains control. She grabs the remote. The Woolpack is put on hold!

-Don’t worry, I’m told, we can rewind to catch up on what we missed, and then she accepts the call from the land line and I can hear the voice of her youngest sister, mid conversation to someone we cannot see, on the other end. However, Mum cannot hear so she shouts-
-Wait. Hang on. Wait a minute. Where’s the button? And then she flicks the call onto loud-speaker and I can hear the dust-gathering Waterford Crystal beginning to rattle behind the glass doors of the mahogany cabinet with its fairy lights twinkling with twenty thousand batteries picked up in Penneys last week when she popped into the shops to get me those nuts. I know you love the nuts!

-Where were you? I was ringing. There was no answer. I thought maybe you were in the loo but I knew Emmerdale was on and you’d be watching so you couldn’t be in the loo so then I was going to phone you on the mobile but sure isn’t he after falling asleep like a big fucking lump over there on the armchair with the phone between his arm and his arse. Where were you? Youngest Sister asks again although she hasn’t let in a breath to allow an answer to be proposed.
-I couldn’t find the remote.
-You couldn’t find the remote?
-I couldn’t find the remote and then Damien had me laughing because it was in me hand all along. What’s that down me back? she asks, having forgotten the descending curler amidst all the excitement.
-Oh, Damien’s there with you, lovely. And you’re glad to have him…
-It’s a curler!
-Damien has a curler?
-What? What are you saying, for God’s sake? I think I lost a curler while watching Emmerdale, she says as she taps her head for reassurance. Yes, head’s still there but no hair curler.
-I don’t like it- Emmerdale, full of farmers. What do you think about Sharon and Phil?
-Were you talking to the other one at all today?
-No, or was I? Well, not since this morning, after she’d been out in the field.
-Yes, I know, spoke to her this afternoon. She said she’d been out in the field and then she came back in.
-Oh right, says the Youngest Sister, with a little resentment, as if jealous that that titbit of news hadn’t been shared. She didn’t tell me she came back in!
-No, she came back in alright, because she called me afterwards. Only went out there for 5 minutes.

Silence.

-There’ll be frost tonight, did you know that? Get that water bottle filled. His feet will be freezing next to me, I know they will.
-I know, I was watching the weather. What did you think of her dress?
-Awful. Looked awful on her. She looked better last night in the pink dress when she was telling us it was going to rain all night and yet that never happened. Took the washing in all the same.
-Oh, you did?
-I did.
-Yeah, yeah, right so, yeah.

A moment to catch a breath passes between them where they both respect the fact that neither of them should try and claim control of the conversation at this point.

-Listen, Youngest Sister jumps in with a refreshed set of lungs, Sacred Heart of God, I have to go. The Cat is giving me the eye right now and I know he’s gonna piss all over the floor and he knows I know. Oh Jesus, He’s starting. I’m going, I’ll talk to you so.

And she’s gone. Mum hangs up the phone. The crystal settles down. She looks over at me.

-That was your Aunt.

I know this already, of course, because the phone was on loud-speaker and I wasn’t far enough away like New Zealand not to hear it, but I say nothing and give her that wide-eyed look of surprise that seems to work.

-The cat is gonna be the death of her. She was only on the phone to me there and in the middle of the call it started to pee all over her floor and she only called me this morning to tell me she had washed the floors, just this morning. And there’s the cat; peeing all over the place. I would be…

But the phone rings. The mobile this time. A horrific tune not even a deaf person would pick for their ring tone. She gets up and opens her dressing gown before answering and shakes herself until the big bad red curler drops like an unnecessary appendage from her night dress and rolls across the floor which causes a giggle. Now, ready for battle, she reaches out. She takes the Samsung phone off the table, careful not to disturb the house phone or iPad. She flips the cover over, slides her fingers across the screen, brings the phone to her ear and readies herself for the 2nd call of the night, offering out that usual yet cautionary Hello? which she always gives out even though I know she can see who it is on the screen. But the phone continues to ring. She tries again, this time using her thumb and we have connection. Lord save us!

Sister No. 2.

-I was calling you there on the land line, but you were engaged so I went to call you on the mobile instead, but I had to go to the loo first. Were you on the phone to the other one?
-I was.

Silence. A judgement is made on both side of the line.

-I said that to myself, I said you must be on be the phone to her. I spoke to her earlier after I’d been in the field. The legs are a bit sore now. I thought I’d never make it up to go and pee.

A deep breath from Sister No.2 and The Mother, simultaneously, as if they were both catching errant thoughts.

-She cleaned the floor this morning, did she tell you? Sister No.2 offers up.
-Ah, don’t mention the floor. Indeed she did tell me that she cleaned the floor, sure she called me just afterwards. (Nudge) And then, when I spoke to her later-on, she told me you had called and had been out in the field but sure you’d already told me that. (Nudge to the other) But wait till I tell you, she just called me there and Damien was laughing at me because I couldn’t find the remote for the telly but anyway… you won’t believe this. The Cat’s gone and pissed all over her floor, the floor she cleaned this morning. Ah Jaysus!
-Ah, for Christ’s sake, she just cleaned that floor this morning!

The mobile phone in The Mother’s hand next to her now curler-less head is not on loud speaker but it is on maximum volume so I can hear them both sounding like echoes going into mum’s right ear, out the left and rebounding off every wall in the living room with its glass-doored mahogany cabinet filled with the unused Waterford Crystal decanter and its matching wine glasses, now only 5 after a smash in the sink Christmas 4 years ago by a cousin who only gets offered drinks in a can these days, and those twinkling lights and twenty thousand batteries in a room about 10 foot square but home to no less than 7 lamps, not including the twinkling lights, nor the over-head ceiling light or the many, many battery operated alter candles. We currently have 6 lamps lighting along with the tv and the twinkling fairies and those battery-operated candles. It takes about 30 minutes to turn them all off before bed. The curtains had been pulled earlier, all over the house. 5pm had been designated as a good time to draw the curtains. The windows have different operating hours. They’re usually opened around 11am and a good hour to close those would be 3pm, giving the house a good 4 hours allotment time for letting in The Fresh Air.

-Did she tell you she didn’t like the dress on your woman last night, on that yoke, what do you call it?
-Who, Holly, on This Morning?
-No, last night, your woman with the rain, after the news.
-No, sure I wasn’t watching the news. I was in the loo. Go on, I better call her.
-Go on then, she’ll probably be cleaning the floor cause if he does it then he’ll use the wrong towels, you heard what happened last time, of course.
-Go on with you, I did indeed. Men are fuckers! If I don’t call you later then I’ll call you in the morning. Bye.
-Bye.
-Bye.
-Nighty, night.
-Go on. Goodnight.
-I’m gone.
-Good night to Damien.

And she is finally gone.

-That was your other aunt, she didn’t know about the cat, The Mother says to me. She’s gone to call her now. She didn’t seem interested in your one’s dress. Do you remember, I was calling you last night to come and look at it, but you were in the loo and wouldn’t come out to see it and when you did she was gone. Must have been a poo you were doing, was it?

Welcome Home and good Fuck, I think, but I say nothing and go for the wide-eyed look again. It seems to suit so many scenarios. Maybe that’s why my eyes have felt so strained over the last few weeks, too much of the I-Had-No-Idea look.
The TV goes back on, at last, some distant relative of the late Molly Sugden, once gay, now a father of three children which only he thinks are his, who recently married an ex call-girl who may or may not be his younger sister’s illegitimate child, finally gets to walk into the Woolpack. Regular TV scheduling is now returned to the room and its lit lamps although we have slightly fallen out of time. EastEnders is now being recorded and will be watched somewhere around 22.45 unless he has someone funny or in a lovely dress on the sofa of The Late, Late Show, now renamed The Even Later Show and to be watched on +1, much later.

I think about heading up to my room but all thought is interrupted by the phone. Again. This time it’s the mobile.

Remote. Pause. Change hand. Phone. Finger. Slide. Hello? Still the same surprised Hello that seems to say; however did you get this number and am I speaking to a person or life on Mars?

Youngest Sister again.

-She just called me, the voice bellows into the room and yes, I can confirm that the crystal is once again shaking. It’s the only time it gets to be used.
-I know, she said she would, The Mother confirms while managing to acknowledge all that she already knows.
-Yes, she told me that she told you that she would call me. She said to tell you that she won’t call you back tonight. Her legs are sore! I told her it was probably from being out in the field.
-I know, but what about The Cat?
-Why does she go out into that field?
-The cat?
-No, your sister? She says ‘your Sister’ but it is actually ‘their Sister’.
-What about The Cat? asks mum, ignoring the question and its implication.
-The Cat, oh, he’s gone asleep, bless him, sure he’s only scared, and he’s a beauty. But I got me slipper when he did his business, I got me slipper and hurled it across the room to that lump who’s been snoring this past hour. Little fucker, and I was trying to watch me soaps. You know it’s not good for you, snoring like that. The both of you should see someone about the snoring. Probably why The Cat pisses so much, the sound must scare him!
-Listen to me, what about The Cat?
-He’s asleep, I told you, I woke that fucker to get up and clean it.
-Ah, the poor man.
-Poor man me arse.
-But you know he’ll never clean it properly. Did you tell him which towels to use? Remember last time, Christ, he used the good cleaning towels and ruined them on you?
I don’t care. I’ve had it. I’m off to bed. There’s nothing on the telly. On a Friday night. There’s a man on the sofa there with him on The Late, Late Show and he’s wearing socks that are so bright I can’t even watch so I’m going to bed and he can follow me when he cleans up the mess.
-I’m still watching Emmerdale.
-What, sure that’s over, this ages ago?
-Not here.
-What do you mean?
-Ah, there were calls, I’m catching up.
-Ah yeah, yeah, that’s grand sure, yeah.

I get up and open the door to head up to my room. I can’t sit around on pause any more.

-Are you off? The Mother asks, still with the phone to her ear.
-Yes, I am, I said that already, are you listening? You need your hearing checked, my aunt replies.
-No, Damien, not you, he’s going up to bed. He’s goes up early. He likes to go up early to his room.
-Did he put the blanket on? The Youngest Sister asks The Mother.
-I don’t know, wait, I’ll ask him, did you put the blanket on she wants to know?
-I did.
-Grand, night then. I love you.
-I love you too.

I go in for the kiss. Right cheek. Next to the mobile phone. I can hear Youngest Sister shouting about towels to That Lump now cleaning the kitchen floor.

-Have a good rest.
-You too.
-Sweet dreams.
-You too.
-Night.
-Nighty night.
Don’t forget to turn off that blanket now.
-I won’t.
-Love you.
-You too.

-Did you hear him, he did, he put the blanket on, God love him, The Mother tells The Youngest Sister as I pull over the door into the hallway.
-Ah, isn’t it lovely to have him home to keep you company. Now can you send him up to me to wash the fucking floors?

And yes, I can still hear them talking out in the hallway.

-It is, it’s lovely to have him home, The Mother agrees, now, listen, if you do talk to the other one later or before me in the morning tell her that Damien put the blanket on, I forgot to tell her myself earlier what with all the fuss about the floor. Now would you not just take out the right towels before you go up so he doesn’t ruin the good ones on you again. You can’t keep buying towels because he can’t remember which ones to use. The poor man, what does he know about using towels?
-Go on, I’ll see. Anyway, that’s the story.
-Grand.
-Grand.
-Yeah, yeah.
-Good night.
-Bye.
-Bye, bye.
-Love you.
-Yes, you too, now, bye.
-Bye, bye. sleep well.

And they hang up.

And for a moment there is silence. For a moment. Then I hear her sitting back into the seat, the button clicks on the side of the sofa and I hear her legs go up and she’s in place, reclining and ready. She takes the remote. Pushes the button and she is back, once again, in the Woolpack and this is me, back home.

 

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

 

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

GONE, THE GARDEN

 

Gone is the garden, we are paved now

in parts no longer potential to growth,
to goodness. And the crow caws
in the corner, flesh festering into feather.

Gone is the garden, we have paved paths

over all that was precious while thinking
thoughtless, if only we’d thought less
about what we wanted and more
about what was needed. And the crow
cowers in the corner, questioning
what has become of its celebrity.

Gone is the garden and we can never
go back; the lock now lost in lyrics
too light, in the songs surrendered
from all that was soul to just sold out.

Gone is the garden, gone to graze

over another galaxy not yet grown
greedy, we are now alien to all
the earth has asked for, strangers
to the simple sand that sweeps the shore,
and stranger still to the starlight
that shines through its last breath burning.

We are the crows, cawing over concrete,
in corners, claws cracking in our chaos

and confused as to where went the worth.

   

All words and drawings my Damien B Donnelly

This is a repost (from my Joni Mitchell series) for a week of considering creation 

TATTERED BROWN TROUSERS

 

Father ate all the flowers
in the back garden
because he couldn’t swallow
the promise of happiness
that bloomed within the home
he couldn’t find his root within.
Father left all the flowers
in the front garden,
too proud for others to see
him pulling from the soil
everything he needed help with
but had never been taught the words.
Father liked to laugh, first,
when others lost,
so no one could hear his own loss
tearing at him, like weeds twisting
behind the restraints he wore
like his inside out jumpers
and tattered brown trousers
he thought no one could see through.
Father ate all the flowers
in the shadows
of the back garden
and choked on a laugh
that no one understood.

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

13th poem for National Poetry Writing Month

BORDERS AND BOUNDARIES, NO. 14, NAPOWRIMO

 

I hear you crying

from the runway,

as you tried to run away,

I was already off 

a fold on the wings of flying

while you sat there, waiting

and crying,

wishing colour was

no more than a past 

you could turn from.

I hear you crying 

above these clouds 

I am trying to reach 

the other side of,

moving west from east

as you fall south of north,

shivering in a skin 

you cannot slip from,

in a city with a grip 

to quickly crippling,

but geography is not 

morphology, we are bound

to the bones we are born of,

we cannot kill our kin 

to be kinder or simply 

slip from our skin to be whiter.

I hear you crying 

but I was already off

flying, we are the creators 

of our own clouds 

and can only conquer them 

with a calm courage and not 

just a quick comfort

that comes a calling 

in the cold corner

of our own confusion.

I heard you crying 

and wonder 

if I will remember you 

when you have taken to flying?

All words and drawings by Damien B. Donnelly

WHITE NIGHT, day 4 of A Month with Yeats

 

Day 4 of Jane Dougherty’s A Month with Yeats Challenge and in a day behind but onwards we roll. The quote comes from To some I have talked with by the Fire “…till the morning break and the white hush end all but the loud beat of their long wings, the flash of their white feet.” W.B. Yeats

The link to Jane’s blog is: https://janedougherty.wordpress.com/2017/11/04/a-month-with-yeats-day-four/

My poem is called White Night

 

We are vessels

either being filled

or being emptied,

portraying pretty

or rotting as rebels.

 

We are angels

dancing in the darkness

of our own worth,

feet of feeble footing,

flapping wings

within our cages.

 

We are flowers

never quite knowing

our beauty,

pruning the potential

out of others,

never the full bloom

unfolding,

fighting the true nature

that is ours.

 

We are winged warriors

flying through the fog

of our fate,

not knowing

that decision and destiny

are like oil and water,

like light and dark,

like love and hate,

like hush and horror,

like a beginning

and an end,

beating breasts

to be fighters

instead of followers.

 

We can be angels

but choose too often

to be anger.

 

We live in dark days

and only dream through

the white night.

 

All words and photographs by damien B. Donnelly

AT ODDS, AT THE TABLE

Day 3: National Poetry Writing Month #NaPoWriMo

Always
that fine line
between
what slots
together and what
slips in between,
those black spots
of doubt that cannot
be fully folded out
like linen that lingered
too long
before being laid,
like chopsticks
that fight for form
between fingers foreign,
like this morning,
in the park,
the birds you breaded
and tonight,
on your plate,
the duck, now shredded.

All Words and Photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

AGEING FRUIT IN THE HOT SUN

 

And so my first try at online Magnetic Poetry, at first glance I thought “Well, this is fun,” but I was wrong. A challenge of limitations.

 

 

Beat and blow
and bare away,

let not blood rip beauty black

We watch,
we want,

“I want hot peaches, honey,” you said

“No music for me,

no sun”

 

All Words by Damien B. Donnelly, limitations by Magnetic Poetry.

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT

Screen Shot 2015-11-03 at 12.45.33

Time slips past
unannounced, unnoticed
age gains weight, adds numbers
carves lines, plots paths
tomorrow turns, becomes today
falls to yesterday
love slips past, everlasting
never lasting
hearts hold hands, change hands
change hearts
I do becomes I can, then I will try
I cannot stay
life slips past
ever evolving, ever learning
as we rise and fall
we crisscross, we get cross
we get crossed off
we get confused, we feel confined
compartmentalised
become complacent, begin to question
what we did, where we’re going
without ever knowing
what happens next…

All words and pictures by Damien B. Donnelly