THE HAND OF HUME

 

I was in Paris at the time-
drawing rabbits on chalkboards
in an Irish pub, on a Friday,
in a cut-off corner of Chinatown.
Joanna had studied in Queens,
Mum was over from Dublin
and Anna and I
had promised each other
forever friends
though we barely survived
the slow pull of a decent pint.

Some dreams are not for daylight.

It was Easter- hence the bunnies,
and I dropped the chalk
when the tv turned to home-
suddenly eager for everything
to be penned in permanent.

Later, in Dublin, Mum met him
at a Do at some hotel.
I have to shake his hand, she’d said
and so she did.
The hand of Hume. A hand
that had held itself out to hope.

We were in Paris, at the time
but still the streets hushed
at the hero we’d found in Hume.

 

All words by Damien B. Donnelly

MY THREE FATES

 

I- The original

 

Water                            floods flesh

From carnal comes forth     creation

Washed in sin

and they watch. In judgement

Water releases               hold

Sign away the rights                to his name

 

II- The Second Coming

 

Tears flood                   drained desert

She will be  an ocean             once more

Blood             is not the only bond

Longing leans in                  with twice the light

while they watch. In judgement.

Her tears           taunt their dried lips.

 

III- The Journey

 

You are ocean endless   and I worry

about growing                tired.

Sides streets         hold songs.

Every cobble     a connection for collection

Born from one and raised                by another

Now the road    is the mother

Feet turn    on judgement.            I found the refuge

The final fate          is on the road.

 

All words by Damien B Donnelly

LIMITATION OF ROSES

 

I had the biggest bedroom as a boy
but curiosity picked the box room
at the lighter end of the short corridor
for my summer’s sojourn.

I was always looking for other walls
that caught the shadows of other lives

being lived-

to touch the thought, at that time,
was tantamount to taking part.

The biggest room was back-side,
the garden view of rising roses
trying to escape the bordered beds
and their own threatening thorns,

but the box-room was front facing
for those teasing summer nights
where people passed and paused
and the paths were so portentous-

diversions to drive daydreams
further than those beds of roses
that never made it any further
than a dull brown glass vase
on the small sitting room table
where we rarely found time

to entertain.

 

 All words and photographs by Damien B Donnelly

 

KNUCKLE KNOTTED LIBERTY

 

A navy jumper, twice monthly washed, a blue shirt and striped tie
with a red thread. Grey trousers growing tighter though not getting
any longer. I was 12

in patient leather shoes with points to piece the playground’s pricks,
all sweaty under pit and after-school spit and fearless, only, in the face
of other fools, the types

the teachers all cheered for, for their football field finesses
(everyone wants to fit in) and cursed, later, for lack of flare in their classes
(grade goals were not the same

as game goals). Those were the days of ruby red walls and stained floors
I’d stripped one summer, looking for a more tangible form in the simple wood
buried under a carpet

of complicated patterns- knuckle knotted boards that twisted in place
like my feet, knowing that liberty did not live in things beaten into place.
Those days when education

insisted, with its uniform and a ruler to measure the distance of the hair
from the collar, that similarity was the best way to integrate- 30 not-so-neat
navy jumpers, pulled,

stretched and torn at the cuff for the thumb to slip through, 30 ties tied
in tight knots around necks licked by the sweat of the sport instead
of the inspiration

of individuality. Those days when I turned the cumbersome carpet over
in a red bedroom, trying to carve out a single sliver of liberty, fraternity
and equality

that I mistakenly believed should have been cardinal to the classroom.

 

All words by Damien B. Donnelly. School day photograph

SOMETIMES ITS DANGEROUS TO CONSIDER HOW TO BREATHE

 

There are clear patches in the sacred soil
at the far end of the side garden where life
is expected to return. We planted it last week.

There are clear patches in the soft sky
behind clever clouds that carry the condensation
I covet for those bald patches in the tilled soil
where there will be grass. We planted it last week.

There are sometimes clear patches in these caged ribs
that house the lungs that shoot me with shock waves
at irregular intervals when I fall too concerned
with how to breathe. I panicked last week.

Or when I’m too forgetful to distract myself
with painting the panic into poetry at the far end
of the side garden with its selected soil all curious
for the cunning clouds to carry forth its condensation
across that sweet sky. I planned this last week.

There’s a peace when I potter beyond the panic.
I know this. I planted it last week in my head
when I sowed the seeds that will soon be grass.
I planted them both, deep inside.

   

All words and photographs by Damien B Donnelly

BIRD SONG

 

I stroll in soft sundown across the cushioned grass,
the earth a pillow I never stopped to consider,
I consider going in, inside to where the light looks neat
and named but a bird calls from a branch I cannot see,
sight comes in second after his song- soft, slow
and cycling back on itself like time, tide and your touch,
at times. Time was never our lover until it left us,
until we saw how quickly we aged in its agonising absence.

The night holds less time, with less light to cast shadow over,
with less sight to see the hands surge around the circle.
I move in circles around this garden of cushioned grass
while the moon comes out to feed, we eat what we can,
sleep when we must, the birds sing songs and only when lost
do we permit ourselves to stop and ask of the meaning.

   

All words and photographs by Damien B Donnelly

FINDING THE RIGHT COLOUR TO PAINT HOPE

 

Silly things
sabotaged for the case of creativity-
barren bark
becomes blank canvas
becomes blue
becomes oceanic
becomes bewitching monster of humour
and not hurt.

This is the crisis
of clearing out,
not shelving all that will come to know stale,
but for shedding.
Sheds are no longer for the simplicity of storage
but the new distributers
of distraction.

This is no hoax,
no harm, no hostage
but a painting of honour, perhaps
for all that’s been felled-
for all that we’ve cut down
and for all the rest-
that’s been taken from us

in these days
where we’ve slipped from being held
to a slim holding of hope,
to painting bare bark in the back garden
in order to smile. 

  

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

WHEN WE COME TO PRESS THIS TIME UPON THE PAGE

 

Come friends to gather at end of cycle
Spring is done and summer will have new song,
Time will tell of when it all went viral
Of distance that reigned and hold that was wrong.

Come friends to pressure pen upon the page
Thoughtless is time if man won’t leave his mark-
Sing of the stars we’ve lost upon this stage
Yonder moon’s slow to rise so night lies dark.

Come friends as we stand with light between us
Our fighters are saviours in this war’s ward,
Hold a lamp, a candle, come make a fuss
This hope’s not hungry for soldier or sword.

Come friends, let us sing, apart, united
Night is long but dawn will not be blighted.

   

All words and photographs by Damien B Donnelly

AL LAST

 

Shoes thread lightly
over freshly stirred soil.

Seeds are no longer singular cells but shoots
and this hardened carpet no longer compliant
to cover up.

Sometimes we plant with the dream
of discovery.

Sometimes we dream in the hope
of being woken.

Sometimes
light begins in the dark

where roots rumble in soil, now stirred.

Green grass decides, at last,
to admit that being buried

was only the beginning.

   

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

COME THE GLEAMING

 

New leaf climbs old tree-
this ivy will not be held
down is no direction,
dynamic is the trail of this root
now gleaming on the hallow wood.
Sometimes empty centres are for holding
hopeful hearts.
Layers of leaves come like coats of zinc-
a wrapping for these times were comfort is craved.
Nature nurtures freshly cut back bark
by the side of the garden
where thought had been neglected.
Not everything will survive-
not all bark, not all breath,
but hope, when held, can be as simple
as a trail of fresh branch
born around a broken bark.

 

Words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly