PLAYING GAMES

 

When I was a child,
was I thoughtless or taught less
or was there less to think about,
less to love?
Though life was never loveless.
When I was a child,
did I dream less because
I didn’t know any more?
When I was a child,
I lied without knowing
the truth of a lie.

As a man,
the closer I come to the truth,
the more I turn to the dream,
for now there’s less to love,
less to give,
for so much more
has been taken.

When I was a child,
I held trust like it were breath,
ever buoyant,
flirted with faith
as if it were a fountain
that could never fail.

As a man,
breath grows cautious
to capture
and faith has fallen to faithless,
has fallen to fate, to fear.

When I was a child
a puzzle held 10 simple pieces
and when combined
they formed a whole.

Now, as a man,
the pieces are countless
and this puzzle
is far from complete.
When I was a child,
I played like the sun
would never settle,
now playing is paused
as paws are poised
for the running,
running to catch the light
before it falls off a horizon line
they tell me is not a flat drop off,
but this is a truth
I must see for myself
so as to know it’s not a lie.

Time falls
into something, off something
and we are runners in races
whose finish-lines
we don’t want to face.

The truth
is not what we dreamed of
when we knew not
the value of that dream.

As a child,
finish was never a word
that took flight in dreams,
no bird flaps its wings
with desires to meet its end.

I see, in the mirror,
dimly, and sometimes clearly,
pieces that have parted
and the puzzle that remains
between child and man,
between innocence and all the light
that grew dimmer
after the loss,
and between the thinking,
the taking and the being taken.

And somewhere
between it all, I am there,
looking back at who I’ve become.

  

All words and photos by Damien B. Donnelly

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. 

GRAINS OF SAND BENEATH CERULEAN SKIES

 

Faith
is fragile,
courage
is not always conclusive
until called,
we do not command the waves
nor comprehend the clouds.
I tell you this sand
will be swept into the sea by night fall,
this baying breath of cyan
neath the stretch of those cerulean skies.
This smooth, salt-licked land
was forged from fire
before you were born,
when vultures had feathers
instead of hands and knives,
when volcanos were all there was to fear.
Faith is fragile,
we cannot see what once was
or what will come to be.
We are not the fire nor the future,
we lie somewhere
below the caelum
searching for a shred of security
on a spot of shore
before the tides return
and we, in turn,
become a grain of sand
that some being will one day look upon
and try to see what is no longer there.
It is ours to be the basalt
or to be
something
better.

IMG_3077

   

All words and photographs (taken on Jeju Island, South Korea) by Damien B. Donnelly

27th Poem for National Poetry Writing Month

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ORANGE COLOURED SKIRTS

 

‘And there can be days like this,’
and the boy smiled and sausages
swam past him in shorts and shades
and in the sky dogs with Madonna mikes
flew over kittens in orange coloured skirts
and Beyoncé in their boogie.
‘And there can be days like this,’
his mother said as she painted
pictures of cows in caps and snakes
in sarongs shopping in stores
for shoes to put on. ‘Put on what,’
he asked, ‘they have no feet?’
‘But still,’ she carried on,
‘there can be days like this
all wonder and magic.’
‘But how,’ he asked as he sat
on her bed, as the machine
kept beeping, as the white coats
kept creeping, ‘just close your eyes
and see with your heart
what your sight can no longer see.’

There can be days like this.

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

Poem for Day 10 of National Poetry Writing Month

RUBY RED

 

We walk on berry bushes,
capture lies in jam jars,
rich ruby reds
to dapple sweetness
over the bitter truth.

We walk on clear waters
fishing through sieves
for reflections
of who we were
before we drowned the earth dry.

We walk on land
but turn towards the clouds,
trying to draw conclusions
from the cotton candy
we cannot catch hold of.

We walk on the world
with a faith

that can’t always keep us afloat.

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

2nd poem for National Poetry Writing Month 2019

THE ANNUAL OFFERING OF ATTENDANCE

We sit in rows, in reverie, with reverence,
neighbour to defender and defiant,
some say the saved above and the rest below,
new coat and scarf on the shoulders of one,
the timings of the turkey and its trimmings
in the head of another, already ticking,
already thinking of some other wonder
needing worship while the choir continue
to carol higher than some notes should be heard,
not all those singing have a sense of themselves,
minds are off on soufflés instead of solos
and outside the bandstand plays an empty tune.
We speak in tongues, thoughts we were taught,
lessons that were learnt; that protection from all anxiety
and yet pills rattle in my pocket, no talk of the patterns
we discovered, no pause to the path we paved
beyond this parish and its prejudices,
its own pockets filled with coins that don’t jingle,
my tongue now tickles other languages,
in other fields I felt I had to find freedom in;
that kingdom, that power and that glory,
my tongue still tackles, in these times, the old ways,
the old words since thought to be too confusing,
service is now simplified to satisfy this new society
of social-media mongers in the spotlight
of the internet and the camera rolls for those
who could no longer find a foothold in their home
and across the empty bandstand a wall recalls
the names of those who fought the fight
one Easter, once remembered, now forgotten,
when we wanted to be a Republic, a Nation,
a Brotherhood, an allegiance and not just a flock
of flag waving celebrities. We sit in rows at the beck
and call of the rising and the falling, being forced
backwards into an innocence we believed
was beyond question when Adam gave Eve
a rib and a virgin gave birth to a baby
they hung on a cross. Some are still nailed
to the truth of the church as much as one man
was nailed to the wood he once carved,
one sacrificed for the sin of us all and the others
sacrificed to be sinners ever after. We sit in rows
where the wafers choke us on the truth
while the bandstand’s tune has been forsaken
and no closeted confession to a priest still closeted
into conformity will ever bring the names of the souls
on the Easter wall back to life on this Christmas Eve.
And the priest leaves us with a joke
and I wonder if he can see the irony behind the idolatry.

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

TURNING CARDS

 

In tarot
I turned over cards
like time turns darker days
into enlightening nights,
fortune found me first
in the Fool’s hold;
a kiss of ignorance
upon freedom’s feet,
a deep dive into depths
I processed no questions for.
In the World
I saw the circle close in to caress,
a formation of balance
at my finger tips,
the elements clear
in corners to comfort,
a sphere of strength;
a celebration of the fine fragility
of my frame, naked
as it found its form
before the scales of Justice,
judgement residing
in my own hands
so long abandoned
by the satisfaction of self serving
while Doubt; the dark knight
in a brighter battle,
cast his concern to the cracked cup
and not the chalice overflowing.
Later, the Lovers
watched the light in its rising,
no longer grounded
by the mountains I had to climb,
no longer fearful
to let the light shine
while a family
stood beyond the bluebirds,
below the rainbow of 10 chalices,
waving me onwards
or calling me back to a home
I had never known;
accept the unexplored
or set a quest to uncloak the confusion.
I turned careful cards
like age turns knowledge
into something more tangible,
more truthful, and I saw myself in the end;
man-child on the back of the bravest of beast,
casting off the shroud of scarlet,
sighing under the glow of the internal Sun
as flowers bloomed over a library
of words waiting to be written.

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

Tarot reading by Alice.

SHROUDED IN HOPE 

 

Even
when shadows
settle over me
as shroud,
beside me
rests a light;
a faith
in what might
still be allowed.

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly. Photograph taken at the Dior exhibition at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris. 

NO ROOM IN THE ARC

Falling…

through time
that never truly changes
while never really stopping,

through thoughts
that cannot be accounted for,
that cannot be considered
accountable

and still we are counting

but not the cost.

Falling…

through floorboards
of homes that are no more

(did we invent the word war?)

no more the heart at home,
no more the heart of the home;

home now an ocean bed
and no boat big enough
to hold us all

even the arc
only took two of everything

while the heavens ran with rain

yet the heart still beats
like time,

still falling…

through cracks that cannot be closed
and every splinter
splits the skin
of illusion

and we are all a delusion;
a fading reflection
of subjection,
rejection,

speculation and conjecture;
the spectre of conjecture. 

Falling…

through hands
that no longer hold
hearts now hardened

(and they say icebergs are melting)

hearts have grown cold
and have no place in homes.

Drowning…

in shallow shoals
shoals of souls
too shallow to swim in,

too sullied to see survival

as we rewrite the bible.

Drowning…

in the falling rain
too polluted to have faith in,

faith; and so fell faith
fate; and so befell Our Fate

in slow moving tears
on piers were boats are bound
to no harbour,
to no hope,
to no humanity

(christianity was a cross to heavy to bare)

Falling…

while standing up

and yet no one seems to notice.
“I came in bright as a neon light and I burnt out right there before him.’ This line is taken from Joni Mitchell’s song Lesson in Survival

All Words and Photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

Audio version available at SoundCloud:

https://soundcloud.com/damien-donnelly-2/no-room-in-the-arc