PLAYING FOR POSITION

 

I played waiter on weekends to women and their well-worn wishes
and worries, after or in between or in avoidance of the shopping
and washing and cleaning and stewing, mothers sitting with mother,
packed onto the flattened pile of the green velvet sofa, scorched
with leftover tunes from parted parties and expired expectations,
milk and one sugar, black and boiling with a biscuit, coffee for her
up the road with hair in a chignon as if she wasn’t from round here
and later, maybe, a glass of wine squeezed from a box with a tap;
thinking we were posh when they changed our name from Coolock
to Clonshaugh. I was a willing waiter to these women on weekends
when they dropped in through the backdoor, over the mopped floor
to avoid the hassle of husbands and kids and all the copious concerns
that came a calling, later, looking for coins and cuddles and timings
for dinners and hoping for a spare biscuit while pulling up a chair
in the corner below the parrot; puffed up and padded on his perch.
I was a waiter, waiting, back then, on the far side of understanding,
wondering where I fitted in between the orders and observations,
teas and coffees, the women congregating and the men left waiting,
adding the cream and dunking biscuits and pondering the placement
of that perfectly positioned parrot; puffed and padded upon perch.

 

All words and photographs by Damien B Donnelly.

Inspired by a Poetry Prompt on Twitter.

India- Along the Road

 

I’ve crossed continents,

Curtailed time,

Been somehow seduced

By sleep while squeezed

Into my single sized seat

And swept, in one day,

From winters winds

To summers sun as seen

Scorching over sabulous

Sands, ignorant to the floods

And rains and storms

That have become my norm.

 

I am a homeless traveler,

Displaced from those norms,

The wide eyed wanderer-

Aghast at what this

Delightfully distracting,

Dust dosed, dreamlike country

Clings to as commonplace,

Conventional customs.

 

My eyes, fearful to blink

And miss out, flurry about

Their sockets trying to take in,

Understand or just be a witness

To this unaccustomed view

While my fingers fumble

Over the lens of my camera

Already failing to capture

Each memory of life

As it passes me by

At breathtaking speeds

That cannot even compare

To the cacophony of captivating

Charismatic charms I’ve been

Suddenly submerged in,

Surrounded by

But am nothing more

Than passing through.

 

I am being driven

Through your lands of millions

Where sarees, in more complex colors

Than stars in the constellations,

Careen through my side-windowed vista

From the backs of motorbikes,

Twisting and turning through

Chaotic carriageways

Crammed with cars of every

Size, sign and signature,

All Honking through the

Hustle and bustle of the crowds

Who live their lives along the roadside

And ignore the rules

We westerners have grown

So weak and wearisome under.

 

Curious eyes watch me

From lofty positions

On backs of open trucks-

Some eyes smile, some

Frown, some wonder,

Naturally, on the reason

That lies behind my gaze.

The air; awash with sights

And sound unfamiliar to me,

The landscape; flecked with tones

My eyes have never imagined,

On the streets, idolized cows

Wander freely through the masses,

Nothing to worry about,

Nothing to remark over,

Just a godly cow

In search of water to drink

And land to graze upon.

 

We are stuck in traffic and a man,

Looking blind to all light,

Weaves his way through the carnival

Of carriages and cars

With three sheep tight by his side

As if they’d always been with him,

As if they were his children, his family

And I wonder who is leading who-

The man, the sheep, this car or me.

 

Amid all of this life carried out

In cars, on corners, at crossroads,

Along grassy knolls and sandy banks,

Lacking in obvious direction,

There is a freedom.

Amid all this weight

Of politics and poverty,

There are smiles a plenty

And it is I, in my branded costume,

Who looks the fool

Traveling through, taking it in,

Thinking I am better off,

Somehow, amid my laws

And rules and beds and baths

And running water

And walled in farms.

I am the foreigner,

Amid what looks like

The fortunate

Whose fortunes are far

More favorable than mine.

 

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly