THE MOTION OF GOING SOUTH

 

I’ve only been to Cork once,
to a funny place they called The Other Place
which I thought was like the Scottish play
with the name you’re never supposed to say.

In another place, beforehand, we’d sat
on beer kegs in a girl’s bar called Loafers
and I giggled at all the comfy shoes
in astonishment and thought that sitting
on a keg felt more like a punishment.

I’d only been to Cork once, when I was 20,
a year since I’d had my first kiss, with a boy,
behind a sofa, at a party.
You catch on quick, I heard him murmur
and so I dropped the tongue in further.

That drive down to Cork in the 90’s
felt like operation transportation-
5 sisters of Dorothy all crammed in the car
singing Liza and Barbara in proud
polychrome while inside I was thinking
this was certainly no place like home.

We slipped out of Loafers
and their shoes that had absorbed me
and headed to that no name place
that was actually called The Other Place.

A disco it was with lads against the wall
and I thought you’re man in the white socks-
I won’t be snogging him at all.

They opened up a back room, in Cork,
halfway through the Whitney medley
which caused a run for the big buns on sale-

fruity scones sausage rolls,
fondant fancies and fairy cakes,

in Cork, at the disco,
in The Other Place,

when all the gays still ate sugar
and some grandmother’s doily
was the only bit of fecking lace.

 

All words and photographs by Damien B Donnelly

WHO WE ARE

 

I came out;
a silent scream
to summon a voice,

screaming,
a hunger
wanting to be heard.

I came out;
a kept cry, cold to comfort,

aching,
a cry looking for compassion,

I came out
in a time changing,

I came out
from a boy learning,

I came out
to let go of a secret,

I came out
to let the secret let go of me.

We are more than the fears we forgo.

We are more than the tears we trickle through.

It is not over when we tell you what we are

but when we can be seen for who we are.

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

THE FIRST TIME, UNDER THE PINK

 

Tears on the sleeve of a boy
he’s gonna find release today,
‘Tears on the sleeve’ is what she sang
I fear he is a man today

Tears on the side of his face
this was what he’d waited for
thrown by the time and the place
he thought it would be so much more

things to touch
things to kiss
things to feel
and things to miss 

Tears on a bed not his own
his tongue is gonna roam today
as Tori plays the piano all forlorn
he finally woke the dream today

Lips on the chest of a man
desire came throbbing into life
fingers trace the length of his spine
to many years under stress and strife

where to look
what to see
how to hold
and who to be 

Tears on the sleeve of a man
he stripped the boy from man today
tears in the throb of each thrust
there’s no more need to kneel and pray

Lost in desire and despair
as bodies bend beyond the bed
not what he thought it would be
confusion raging in his head

where to run
where to hide
how to breathe 
but still he cried 

Under the pink with his pants
while the wrong band came to play
‘Can’t stop it coming! she sings
and suddenly he’s on his way

Getting off 
getting off
while they’re all 
downstairs

Wanna go
wanna go 
but they’re all 
downstairs 

He read in the stars of a match
the horoscopes were wrong again 
somewhere in the hold there was a catch 
he won’t be cumming here again 

Tears on the chest of a man 
he left behind a boy today 
between the thighs of a golden haired man
he left behind the boy today

Someone’s knocking
on the bedroom door 
you can go now
he can go now 

he’s a man now
it’s all done now.

All Words and Photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

THE THINGS THAT LEAVE US COLD, PART 4

If you missed Part 1/2/3, please click on the links below:

https://deuxiemepeau.wordpress.com/2016/02/08/the-things-that-leave-us-cold-part-1/

https://deuxiemepeau.wordpress.com/2016/02/09/the-things-that-leave-us-cold-part-2/

https://deuxiemepeau.wordpress.com/2016/02/10/the-things-that-leave-us-cold-part-3/

The Things That Leave Us Cold

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Part 4 of 4(Audio version available to listen to; link at the end of page)

          We’d been living together, the monsieur and the boy, for almost 3 months in our apartment when he first witnessed the illusion he’d created for himself of me being this mysterious, aloof, guarded kind of guy disappear beneath a laundrette and a lot of money. The phrase laundering money was never mentioned so literally before and I saw the shock of who I really was hit him, like the balloon falling back down to earth, like the mask had dropped and the man beneath stood revealed in his humble state. Somehow he’d formed this misconception that being a writer meant that I had this air of introverted, introspective, subdued magnificence, that my clumsiness was a charm indicative of my mind being elsewhere, dreaming up characters, scenarios, novels in the planning, when in truth I was just hiding out, settling into shadows, comfortable behind the door instead of walking through one and facing people and their complicated realities. Jesus, you know me, I was happiest sitting in my armchair, in my boxers with a book, although you quickly changed the boxers for fitted briefs, house pants and that ridiculous antique artist’s over-shirt which you thought bestowed me with a certain creative look while I thought it to be the perfect cover for a cadaver in a coffin. And yet I still wear it and the boy always laughs at me when I do as if I’m about to make a study of him for a portrait and I get suddenly defensive, can you believe it? I’m finally defending your choice, your taste, your shirt that I only grew to love grew when you were gone, as if that could somehow bring us closer together. He thinks I bought it for myself. Of course he does, because I told him I did. It was easier telling him that than telling him I wear it because you gave it to me and whenever I wear it I feel like a part of you is wrapped around me. I don’t sleep in it. He likes huggable sleeping positions and I don’t want him to touch you through the shirt. I know, I can hear myself saying it, admitting it to you, of course, not to him, never to him. We are monsieur and boy, sharing a little light on the edge of a life. One of us thinks this is real life while the other is just waiting it out. It’s not all the time, but I still see shadows and wonder, now and then, if they will become you, in time, in hope.

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          Anyway, back to the boy losing faith in my mystery. The washing machine broke. Saturday afternoon and you know how I like my routine, fresh bread from the bakery on the corner, newspaper, clean the house, do the laundry and head out while it spins to avoid the vibrations. So I went to the laundrette instead, Madame China was setting out her goods on front of her shop and laughed at me which was her way of saying hello. She’s still utterly incapable of speaking french so she just smiles and laughs, well, more like giggles but it still makes me uncomfortable. What do you say to a giggle?
        Laundry loaded and left, I headed back to the apartment where the boy was waiting for a promised shopping spree for his birthday. I never have cash on me, these days no one does, its pin this, pin that but for some reason I’d taken out 500 euros the day before thinking it would be easier and fun to shop with cash. I was halfway into the bedroom when I realised, in the rush to grab the dirty clothes for the laundrette, I’d also grabbed my jeans. The jeans I’d worn the day before. The jeans I’d been wearing when I took out the money. The jeans which held my wallet. The jeans which were probably in the last stages of a rinse cycle, in the washing machine, in the laundrette, next to the laughing China woman. And in one single moment, everything changed.
          He saw me that day, the real me, a mess of a man on top of a machine, looking more like I was trying to mount it than rid it of money, my money, now laundered money. He saw me and just laughed. I thought he would have panicked, turned and run but he just laughed. He laughed while I cried. The back at the apartment, our old home, his new one, he held me while I sobbed and then he listened while I spoke, broke down, broke it all out, told him everything. Can you believe it? I swear, if the machine hadn’t laundered all my money that day, that ordinary Saturday, I would have stayed, for the rest of my life in the shadows, waiting and wondering. Waiting for you, wondering if you’d ever come back.

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          But you never could, never would. It’s not possible. So, finally, I find myself here, standing on front of you. Finally back at the last place I left you. We were beautiful, sometimes a mess, sometimes a disaster, it’s true, but we were beautiful all the same. He knows me now. I let him in, can you believe it? I let him into the world I’d kept prisoner in the shadows and strangely, he, the boy, this creature has found a way to let the light in.
          I’ll still think of you, I’ll still wear that shirt, sit in your chair, I gave him mine. But I might not think of you all the time.
          Well, that’s it, that’s me. I hope you like the roses I brought you. They are white, they are in memory of the light that you once brought to me in a dimly lit bar. I gotta go now, Alex is waiting for me. It feels good to say that. To say that someone is waiting for me now. Alex, that’s his name. He now has a name.

          “Au revoir,” he said as he turned and slowly made his way down the sweeping hill and out of the cemetery, feeling a weight lifted off him. Weight, wait, the waiting was over. Death would come for him one day too, just as it came for the others, even those we love and can’t let go of, but for the moment, death would be the one who had to wait because there was still more life to live.

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All Words and Photographs of Paris by Damien B. Donnelly

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https://soundcloud.com/damien-donnelly-2/the-things-that-leave-us-2

THE THINGS THAT LEAVE US COLD, PART 3

If you missed Part 1 or Part 2 you can click on the links here:

https://deuxiemepeau.wordpress.com/2016/02/08/the-things-that-leave-us-cold-part-1/

https://deuxiemepeau.wordpress.com/2016/02/09/the-things-that-leave-us-cold-part-2/

The Things That Leave Us Cold

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Part 3 of 4 (Audio version available to listen to; link at the end of page)

          It rained the first night I walked back to our apartment with him, just as it had rained that first night when you persuaded me to take you home, ever the flirt you were. We had our jackets over our heads to keep us dry, do you remember? One of those tropical rainstorms that graces Paris in August, as if to wash away the dust and heat, though it’s always hot rain, of course, not the full relief the stifling city longs for, mourns for. You can almost see the steam rising from the ground as it falls straight down from the sky. Straight, that’s what I told you that night, which you laughed at, as if I was pointing out the most mundane, the most obvious. But it’s true, and still is. The rain here falls straight from the sky, like water from a shower, not to the left or to the right, not at all slanted, it just drops straight down. You can leave the window open and it never comes in.

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          I’d fumbled nervously with the keys to the gate when we got to my building, the building that became our building, the home that so quickly became our home, the one that adapted to you and your sounds, leaned in, to your customs, your scent which still haunts the air on random days. As I persevered with the key, you came behind me, kissed the back of my neck and gently ran your tongue along my skin as if to soak up the rain that fell from the back of my hair but I knew it was just to test me and perhaps in part to taste me. It worked. You had half my clothes off before we’d even reached my first floor apartment and I scurried with the final lock before the neighbours would hear us, or even worse, come out to find us in such a state of undress and desire. I was not that out, I was not that daring, that provocative, but you managed to bring something out in me, something that had been utterly dormant, a certain appreciation of the unexpected, a fondness for excitement, spontaneity, a carefreeness that was infectious. We made love on the living room floor that first night beneath only the lights of the street lamps and the comfort of our shadows entwined on the wall. Made love, was it that, I said it was that afterwards, actually I think I thanked you for it in some rather embarrassing, teenage way and you joked that I was merely a good shag which you overly pronounced in your heavy french accent which was all the more erotic. There I was, immediately trying to make it all proper and above board, nothing sordid, nothing naughty, ignoring the silly fact that you’d just picked me up in a bar, taken me home to where we’d stripped each other naked and shaken the leaves on the wisteria outside with our sweaty, salty, sensuous explorations of the other.
          He didn’t kiss me on the neck when we finally arrived, wet through, to our gate. He didn’t rip my clothes off as we climbed our staircase. He didn’t know that each step I took, I felt more and more guilty, that I was bringing him back here, to our place, to our home and possibly into our bed, or maybe even onto our floor. He didn’t pounce on me when I closed our door, didn’t press his body tightly against mine and steal the breath from my mouth with his own lips because he wasn’t you. He stood by the window instead, looking out across the small garden and over the wall into the empty street, just as I had done for the past year.

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          He thanked me as I took his wet coat and hung it in the bathroom next to mine and then took a seat on my armchair while I made tea in the kitchen. I didn’t even have the customary coffee in the apartment. You were the coffee drinker, the true Parisian, while I sipped herbal, fruity teas which you referred to as piss, continuously. When I turned the lights on, he noticed the candles and asked if I could light them instead. I shivered again. That was always your preference. Not the silly scented ones, of course, too prissy for you, just simply so you could watch the shadow of the light flickering on the wall and make up scenes, monologues to connect with their movements. When he said he liked to watch the light flickering I closed my eyes and imagined it was you.
          Was that cruel? Was that too much, too wrong? To be with someone and imagine he was someone else. I held his hand in a taxi while thinking of someone else from long ago, someone said that to me once, years ago, before you, before us, before the emptiness and I thought it to be so horribly unkind. And yet it had become my truth. I didn’t tell him, of course, I would never, I couldn’t hurt someone in such a way, no. But it was how I felt. I was happy to have someone, to hear someone breathing, other than myself again, within our walls, within all that had become our sanctuary and somewhat angry at the same time that who it was in reality was not who it was in my head.

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          He had a name, of course, what a stupid statement to make. I don’t really mean it like that, it’s more that I didn’t realise at first that I never used it, never referred to him by his given name. I called him boy, pet, hot stuff when necessary, moody occasionally, but I think that was more me. To use his name would have sounded far too real, far too impolite to you, not like I ever mentioned that to him. I’m not that mindless.
          He called me Monsieur, at the start, which turned into a continuing joke, then a nickname and then my name, as if my own given name became lost and I didn’t mind that, not at all. I’d given you everything I had, including my name so it seemed appropriate that I became just a pronoun and nothing more.
          And so it went, with the boy and the monsieur, a little story, a little tale unfolding amid all the other daily distractions and, of course, the waiting, well, my waiting.

To be continued…

All Words and Photographs of Paris by Damien B. Donnelly

https://soundcloud.com/damien-donnelly-2/the-things-that-leave-us-1 

 

THE THINGS THAT LEAVE US COLD, PART 2

If you missed Part 1 you can link on the link here:

https://deuxiemepeau.wordpress.com/2016/02/08/the-things-that-leave-us-cold-part-1/

The Things That Leave Us Cold

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Part 2 of 4  (Audio version available to listen to; link at the end of page)

          I didn’t go looking for him, if that’s what you’re thinking. It wasn’t like that, well, you know me. I’m not what you’d call the outgoing sort, as I’m sure you remember. It was you who’d found me all those years ago. God, it seems like a lifetime and not just a few years that have whittled away. You’d seen me while standing by the bar with your beer, perusing the evenings prey while I sat, tucked away at the back, blocked in by a group of lively fashionistas, a timid dog feeling older than I should have, trapped and probably terrified.
          But you came to save me. You, with those blond curls. You, in that brown sweater. You, with those pale blue eyes. You, with that look, that brazened determination to push your way through the dimly lit bar, the crowded tables and floor filled tote bags. But you were never one to let anything stop you, you never minded being looked at, being seen, being heard. You remember that time on the metro, someone got on and sang a dreadful rendition of La Vie en Rose, the one song that every beggar, talented or not, thinks every tourist wants to hear and they’re probably right but do the rest of us, the ones who were born here or the ones, like me, who came here looking for a new life, need to hear it also, day in, day out? It was the fourth time we’d heard it that day and it was by far the worst attempt so you stood up and sang it, full voice, full force, trying your best to drown out the accompaniment, much to the applause of the tourists on our carriage and to the dismay and utter horror of every frenchman on board.

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          But that was so you, right there and then, just like it was you back then in that bar, The Open Cafe, mecca to all Parisian men of our persuasion. You, coming towards me, sipping your beer as if nothing stood in your way between you and I, and me, helpless to do anything but be mesmerised by your stare and then, as you came closer, your perfume, but again, it wasn’t the perfume you wore but the scent you oozed all by yourself.
        I met him also in Le Marais, of course, where else do gay men go. I wasn’t looking for anyone, like I said. I wasn’t looking for anything lasting at all. I was looking for something that was nothing. Something that was temporary, no, shorter than that, minuscule, momentary, forgetful. It had been so long since anyone had touched me, caressed me, kissed me, that I was almost choking. Like I was becoming a frozen form of what used to be. A body deserted of all tenderness. I know what you’d say, I can hear you staying it, I’m skirting the issue, trying to make something dirty seem more romantic, less sexual, more visceral but acceptable. I know, I haven’t changed at all it would seem. I went looking for sex. Is that better, does that make you happy? Can that make you happy? I can’t even believe I am here telling you all this. I tell you I’ve come back for you and, in the next breath, I seem to be this sex starved old man willing to find whatever he needs under the cover of night.

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          Okay, anyway, I’m telling you what I’m telling you. He was there. This time he was in the back of the bar, another bar, that other seedier bar, with the staircase that I hadn’t been able to bring myself over to yet and if I’d had anymore to drink I probably wouldn’t have made it up those steps anyway, so it was probably a good thing that he touched my arm just as I took the first step and stopped me from going any further. He started to talk and tell me things about himself, I have no idea what it was at the time. I was thrown. I was touched, literally. His hand had not left my arm since that first touch and I realised that it was all I needed. Not just to be touched, as exciting and arousing as that was, but, more than that, I’d been seen. Someone had seen me. Do you know what I mean? Christ you have no idea what I mean, do you? You were never, not for a single day, never seen, not by me, not by anybody. Everyone saw you, no one could ever miss you or want to. But I wasn’t like that, ever. I was more a reflection at times than an actual living person. Not with you, of course, Jesus, not, never with you. But before you and certainly after you when friends stopped dropping by, at first just to give me space and then later it felt like they’d just forgotten that I existed. We had existed to them and then we stopped existing for them and then afterwards, well afterwards I think they put me into the non existent box too. But suddenly on the verge of finding a moment of nothingness, fast friction in a dark room, someone reached out and took my arm and I couldn’t move, could hardly breath in case it all disappeared too quickly. I wanted to remember the moment for as long as possible so I could recall it again when it had vanished.
          I know he was speaking to me because I saw his lips move, lips a touch fuller than yours, eyes a shade of blue darker. He wasn’t blond though, dark hair, slightly receding which was surprising as he seemed so young. Your height, give or take, slimmer though, not that you were in any way fat, I just mean he was less built, less muscle, less gym I guess, a bit more of a bookworm, not geek but not far from it either. I think I suggested we go upstairs but he wanted to talk, I didn’t want to talk but I didn’t want him to take his hand away from my arm so I let him tell me what he wanted to but the words never sunk in, only the touch, only that tenderness he’d placed on my right arm until eventually I felt it leave me and I shivered, actually shivered. It was august, I’d been back in Paris for over a year, the entire city had taken its usual month long vacation and it was almost midnight and still 30 degrees and that was just outside the bar and yet, when he took his hand off my arm, I shivered. Funny that, the things that leave us cold in the middle of so much heat.

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          But he didn’t leave me. He came back with a drink, two drinks actually, one for him and one for me and suddenly I heard him speak for the very first time. And I listened and he asked me questions and I found myself replying and, as I spoke, he put his hand on my leg and I shivered again. It’s silly, I know, silly, trivial, tiny. I don’t think in all the time we spoke that first night that he had any idea what it meant when his body connected with mine, how beautiful it felt to be touched once again and how painful that it wasn’t you.

To be continued…

All Words and Photographs of Paris by Damien B. Donnelly

https://soundcloud.com/damien-donnelly-2/the-things-that-leave-us

THE THINGS THAT LEAVE US COLD, PART 1

The Things That Leave Us Cold

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Part 1 of 4  (Audio version available to listen to; link at the end of page)

          I stood by the open window and watched and waited, surrounded on all sides by the wisteria that clung on as time passed by and forgave nothing. It felt like I was watching the seasons change as the leaves lost their gleam in the sunlight, found their darker shade as the early autumn encroached and finally fell to the ground and withered as winter wound its way onto the deserted street. Our quiet little street with the bench just beyond the gate where I’d watched you, from that same window, smoking outside so you wouldn’t aggravate my asthma, in the rain with a brolly, in the snow with your fur hat, one hand gloved and other taking heat from the cigarette you clasped between your fingers as tightly as I was wrapped around them. Our street which is now graced with a flow of cyclists, can you believe it? Paris, the new city of cyclists, which just gives Parisians, especially Parisian drivers, one more thing to complain about. We cycled together once, do you remember, not here of course, not back in those days. In Nice, I think it was, in a field covered in red poppies, you at the helm with your soft blond curls unravelling in the breeze and me on the back, with that silly beret you forced me to wear, legs akimbo and arms wrapped around your waist, carried away by the strength and charm of your laughter which was endless and the smell of lavender fabric softener from your t-shirt which I nestled my nose into as if there was nothing more pleasant in the world to inhale when, in fact, it was you I was inhaling, nothing more all encompassing than simply the scent of you with my head on your back and the world falling away behind us before we tumbled off the bike and tumbled over each other. You still had grass knotted in your hair when we got back to our hotel that night which, of course, left me embarrassed and you elated as the receptionist nonchalantly pointed it out. And so it was, with the memory of all that had once been so palpable, that I watched and waited, watched and waited, finding a certain hope in the sound of every approaching footstep and then disillusionment in the appearance of every human shadow I realised could not be yours.
          And yet I’d known all along, from the very start, the foolishness of my folly, my frivolous foray into the past. But I’d convinced myself that it was fate that lead me back, not regret, not loneliness, not quite the truth I finally realised as the days became weeks before I folded up the months and packed them away with other, niggling, neurotic memorabilia in the closet, in the dark, in the past. It was brave though, at the beginning, going back up that staircase, those old timber steps which wound their way to that silly door with the stupid key I never got the hang of, not like you, in all your practicality, standing amused at all my clumsiness. It was audacious to open that door into what had become a marooned mausoleum in our absence. The years had only clustered cobwebs onto our acquisitions, trophies, treasures. I lifted dust laden sheets off the furniture as if undressing the room, as if I’d find you beneath them with that devilish smile of yours, laughing at my inability to find you like you did so often, all those years ago, when you’d hide in the shower, behind the armchair, beneath the bed, like a child at play at hide and seek. But you were nowhere to be found and yet you were everywhere at the same time. Your imprint was etched into your seat, your footstool, your side of the bed. It was brave, I’m not lying, simultaneously brave and hard and cruel to an ageing man seeking only a scent of what once was and finding only emptiness in three rooms, teasing me with everything we once believed to be all we would ever need in the world.

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          Then slowly life began to move on, as it does, necessities, chores, rendezvous, routines and somehow I found reasons to come away from the window without even realising, new paths that took me in opposite directions to the past which I had been seductively drawn to. At first I’d walked to Montsouris, that park, along the hill you’d always run up before me, because that was you, always ahead, always on front, always seeing where we were going before we actually got there or, at least, before I got there. You at the top cheering me on while I gasped for air and crawled and I did basically crawl up there, on hand and foot and in that tracksuit you’d bought for me because you knew I’d never have the guts to buy it myself. As usual you knew what suited me more than I did.

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          But distractions came their way and carried me from those painful apparitions, those streets we’d once claimed as our own, walking hand in hand in a time when nothing seemed to matter apart from the closeness we shared amid your humour and my desire, the intimacy we’d embraced in that back room with its red carpet while we entwined limbs, lust and love beneath the sheets of that bed we finally battered to death and the connection we created until we got so lost in each other that I managed to lose sight of who we once were individually.
          Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t that I forgot you entirely, not at all. I’d come back for you, come back to find you, no matter how ridiculous that may sound after so long apart. But somehow it dawned on me that there was a difference between waiting and wishing, and actually living. Losing you had been my greatest waste, perhaps our greatest waste if I can still speak for us both, but I couldn’t let myself waste away anymore while waiting for you too. I hope you can understand that. It was I who’d come back, be it more or less in the shadows, but I wasn’t sure if the light of day would be forgiving to all that had fallen in between us. And yet, even in the bare light of day, your shadow still hung over me, shading me, sheltering me.

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          And then he came along.

 

To be continued…

All words and photographs of Paris by Damien B. Donnelly

Also available to listen to-the audio version of Part 1 from SoundCloud…

https://soundcloud.com/damien-donnelly-2/the-things-that-leave-us-cold

COLD CONDITIONING OF THE NOT-SO-DISTANT PAST

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They were conditioning,
conditioning attempts,
attempting to
condition them
under their conditions 
with stimuli, using stimulus 
trying to stimulate
his scrotum,
shock his scrotum,
to shock him,
shocking, 
shocking stimuli
of scrotums on screens
Slide after slide 
Shocking slides,
shoving more shocks
with each scrotum
into scrotums,
they called it
a mental disorder
order dismantled
ordered treatments
aversion,
aversive treatments
treat, treating
treacherous torture,
some transplanted testicles
giving gays boys

straight balls
to beef them
better then
push them
from being pansies
into to eating pussies,
they called them psychos
labeled them under
Psychosocial maladjustment 
social adjustment needed
psychos shocking society,
shocked into submission
stitched out of condition
Converting conditions
Conditioned converting 
Electroconvulsive converters
Causing convulsions
correcting characters
hunting the homo from the man
and hailing the new hetero
shocked, stunned,
silenced, desensitised,
submissive under stimulus
sectioned by stimulus
in days where we’ve still
to gain distance,
when being different
required medical assistance.

All words by Damien B. Donnelly

 

 

 

 

Joni on the Mantelpiece

 

They met in Paris, first, temple street, 2nd floor,
Capricious teenagers cavorting into their twenties,
Ardent and ernest, like you were once, in Greece,
In Californian climes, casually cruising that fragrance
Of embryonic adulthood, a god-fearing blonde
And a darker haired homo reading her his poems,
Pathetic irrational rhymes while she postulated
His meaning, his leaning, his lust, his hunger,
Different to hers, he was meat and she vegan,
Excessively, and a virgin, implausibly, but they danced
For a while, boho style, in their condo by Picasso,
In that marshland, tumbling through your tunes,
Cords you’d constructed, teased and twisted
Around your fingers, round your head, birthing
An early cognisance for that circle game,
The courting of the carousel they considered not
In their templed tower, seeing not the jest of life,
The godforsaken gamble, that game with terminus
At the top, where someone wins and the other one whines.

They slept in Paris, France, hitched up in a hotel,
On a rainy night, duetting in a double bed, withered
Wallpaper wilting over them as she caressed the keys
Of her Casio, covetous to sink between the sheets,
Descend within his dreams, distant and different to hers,
She sensed an extrinsic eroticism in every opposite,
An insatiable enigma in all that was alien, she giggled
Girlishly at the sumptuous sadness of the songs she sung
While it aroused in him a wilfulness, a wonder, a world
To be part, he drifted through dreams where fingers,
Other fingers, not hers, not his, freshly fervent fingers
Pressed him, played him, taught him, turned him on
As she lay, sidelined, solitary, single, sitting up
All the night, just like you said, to see who in the world
He might be, as if that might, in turn, unveil the truth
Of who was she. She was beautiful, he wanted to say,
But he could never tell her, truthfully, she could never
Understand his appreciation at a distance, his admiration
Without temptation but she drew him in, nonetheless,
Thrilled him with her air of ease, the breeze she swept
Into a single shift of the hand, flicker of the finger
As she perfumed, pouted, played the blues, blue,
Your Blue, hey blue, here is a song for you, you said.

They lived in Paris, once, in the 3rd, 2 rooms, a comical
Shelter that boycotted sunlight and a battered boiler
She duelled with at dawn with a horned heel
Of a working girl’s shoe as if to shock him from slumbers
Of wet dreams, far from her unspotted longing,
They were living together but a world apart, searching
For something to seduce them, a crown to anchor them
From the force that pulled and pushed them apart,
She was Marcie in her coat of flowers, dusting tables
With his shirt, just like you foretold, and he the fool
Trying to satisfy her by filleting her fish for her friends
To eat, concocting cakes of chocolate towers to sooth
Untapped temptations, too tempting to be taken.
They were Adam and Eve, teasing each other
Without promises, naked on hissing lawns, brother
And sister, devouring early orchards of adulthood.

They played in Paris, that pair, carrying cases
Of choruses to back street bars, decorated
In shadow and light, like you too, in Canadian days,
Cascading blonde curiosities before the camera
Found you and music makers moulded you
Into all you never wanted, never treasured,
The pleasure to try ‘em, the trouble to leave ‘em,
They knew nothing, either, about the want
But the spotlight, it was tempting, back then,
The applause, the rounds resounding, you said,
But she was more classic than celtic, more Mitchell
Than McCarthy, the green fields were almost foreign
To the fairytale Irish drifter and her keyboard carrying
Pansy who missed nothing of the cow shite and
Colleens of their native land. They were deserters
In post war days, fleeing only peace and potatoes,
Looking for a longing to dissipate complacency,
They’d been train travellers, plane passengers,
Black crows with sights on something shiny,
Motivated movers, climbing corners to catch a taste,
A scent of what was yet to be and they found each other
Like that, bold, bare and brave for a while,
On their templed street, she was his Sharon
And he, the Joni, but they were destined
For only a 45, no 33 long player and the needle
Cut through the rhapsody that ruffled them,
Aroused them, but they were too lost in the song
To notice they were singing a solo now, serenading
Themselves in a self-important spotlight, red is
Angry, green is jealous, or so you said, so she fled
The tower and left him with Joni on the mantelpiece
Singing;
‘I can’t go back there anymore
You know my keys won’t fit the door
You know my thoughts don’t fit the man
They never can, they never can.’

 

All words and artwork by Damien B. Donnelly with a helping of Joni too.

BY A MOMENT IN TIME

What do you see in me,
As your eyes bore into me,
Review me, regard me?
Are you looking at me, within
For a version of yourself, without?
A comfort, consolation, connection?
Am I your opposite or your equal,
Your reflection or your desire?
What subtle certainly sways you
To share your secrets, so suddenly,
Your dreams and your desires,
Your appetites and aberrations?
What tenacious tendency
Towards the truth tempts you
To touch me, take me, taste me?

What was that calmness
That cuddled in between us?
And your voice, like a sound
I was weaned on and your hold,
Like the touch, a trigger, a trace
Of attraction, always known.

Did the world really stop,
Did time slow down
To meet us, to find us?
Us, two strangers
Names newly known,
Body by body, body on body,
Your eyes open and watching,
Watching you, watching me,
Taking, tasting, releasing,
Tension washing away.

It is flesh
At the end of the day,
We are people
At the end of the day,
We have desires
At the end of the day,
We have needs
At the end of the day,
What is wrong
At the end of the day?
Who we make love to
At the end of the day?
Your tastes, your looks,
Your penis, your vagina
Your fears, who fed them,
Your scars, who bled them.

It started and I waited
But you didn’t say no,
You smiled and then held me
And just let it go;

For this moment,
For this night,
For all you believe
And all that feels right,
For all that you fear
Let the senses guide you,
For all you’ve resisted
Let the curiosity drive you.

For all that you question,
And all that you need,
Let this moment find you
Finally freed.
Let tomorrow’s thoughts
Not try to tease you,
Let the fear of the future
Not find or freeze you.

So hold my hand,
And touch my skin,
As you feel my breath
Upon your chin.
Sense my lips
Touching yours,
Forget the time,
Forget the jeers.
Take this moment
As just a chapter
Worry not now
For the ever after.

We are adults aroused
By a moment in time,
We are bodies entwined,
Me in yours and you in mine.