THE HAIR ON THE BACK OF HIS NECK

 

You had long black hair, a horse’s mane
that I held as we rocked through early years
and a red furry coat I never stopped to question
while we rode across uncertain terrines that echoed
his silence and her longing to not give up anything again.
Even then, even at play, I knew their mask of a marriage ran
short of imagination. I cut your hair later, amid the tension
but before the divorce, when I would have cut any cord
at the time if it meant getting out, getting away, me
and a red rocking horse with a mutilated mane,
wishing, later, that things we cut could find
a way to grow back,

better.

  

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

COMING BACK TO COURAGE

 

I’d heard of songs being sung in other fields
before I could even read the notes.
Sometimes scores are set before the scenes
have even been shot. Brave, they said,
but I shrugged and set off. I had yet to learn
how fear could freeze.

A fool’s soliloquy is often lighter
than the enlightened and I’d little room for weight
during take-off. I’m certain I folded nothing more
than dreams into a back pack just beyond
the ripening of twenty. Courage hadn’t yet come
to be of any concern.

It arrived much later, when the breath disappeared.

Only when you cannot breathe can you appreciate
what it takes to climb down
from the mountain of ignorance you’d ascended.
Notes can only be held for so long and the higher
the note the more difficult it is to control.

I learned, midway through discovering
I was expected to construct my own questions
before finding the answers, that I was more base
than tenor though forever reaching for that illusive note.
You need breath for both but it takes bravery
to bring either back home.

I didn’t hear those strings strung over home lands
until I was so far away that sound
circled back on itself and I became the shell-
far from shore, finally a chamber to house an echo
that held a song swelling in from the old sea.

Leaving didn’t require anything other than the frivolity
of a single flute but coming back, coming back required
the courage of an entire orchestra.

 

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

BLOOMING SHADES

 

Everything is cyclical like sunlight and seasons
and hair styles and hemlines. Everything is cyclical.

I found you at the first turn- a pencil line on a blank canvas
by an academic of fine fashion with a fringe of falling violets,

it was the back side of the Botanics, at the later side of winter,
all grey, even then, back in my untasted youth, even there,
surrounded by all that should have been blooming green

but I just saw the shadow between the black and the white,
the empty bench in between the bark, not the blossom sitting
a frame away, left side, across the bridge, more to the main path.

Roads, wood and diverges and me-
always looking for another way out.

Everything is cyclical like creation and country and going out
and then coming home again and again. Everything is cyclical.

I found you recently, again, on a green day, later, when my hair
was greyer but my soul a sway more centred towards the violet.

I stole a piece of you, this time, on film but when I looked back,
after coming home, I noticed how I’d caught you in that shade,
that former shade found in between the black and the white.

Everything is cyclical like births and blossoms and sometimes
belonging and sometimes colour when it’s blooming grey.

 

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All words, drawing and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

SHINY HAPPY PERSON

 

I do not play chess.
I grew bored of board games at an early age, as an only child
who lived in his head where fairies were magical and not mauled.
I guess I had enough make believe on my shoulder, already.
I was ultra-shy as a kid,
I guess I didn’t understand who I was and tried not to get tied up
in conversations that consisted of ruminations of who I wanted
to become. Identity was difficult to determine on a blank canvas
that already had sections sinking below the surface.
We had a cherry blossom tree
in the front garden that rained pink petals onto the lawns
in late spring, I remember standing under them in a white suit,
new holder of the holy spirit and wondering if it would make it
any easier and what is the weight of a knot.
I would slay dragons for you.
I remember saying that over and over, I’d heard it once, in a movie
when I was too young to know how many people I’d say it too
and how few would slay even a tame dog in return.
I know who I am, now
since those quiet days under the fall of the cherry when rainy days
meant silly games and the coming of the spirit didn’t have as much
effect on my soul as it did on my wallet.
I have tasted more, too-
beauty, bounty, boys, bitches, sunsets and saints, gods and clowns,
serpents that tasted sweet and a certain kind of cute
that gave venomous a new name. I too have found the bitter side
of who I can be, they’d put me on a pedestal at a young age
and left me there, perishing alone, at that height and since then my knees
have always trembled at the sight of stairs.
I’ve climbed right down since then
and managed to make my way out of the gutter while putting together
my own idea of what it takes to embrace the darkness while shining
like a fucking star.

 

All words and photographs by Damien B Donnelly