KEPT IN RECESSES OR THROWN TO DUST

 

Old wheels still turn through new miles.
We are more than we look- muscle
is not only what it takes to transform.
We skirt old roads now well educated
on my departure, it’s not just the seasons
that circle back on themselves. I’ve left
parts of me in every other recess in order
to recognize the parts I portrayed, later on,
when the route returns me to worn road.
I peddle at times without predetermination,
you cannot lose the track if you haven’t
traced its outline, beforehand. The road too
is more than just a route as we roar along
its rigor despite its restriction. I was never
happier than when taking the dirt track-
scattering over-weighted thoughts
of who I was upon the disrupted dust.

Old wheels still turn through new miles.

  

All words and photos by Damien B Donnelly

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

TO CAPTURE EACH OTHER TOGETHER

 

I took photos of us once, together, to remember
all I had before I set off to find myself in other fields
that other lands had whispered of other welcomes
across other waves, moments to return to later as I navigated
new roads, strange turns and gates I had to manage alone.
Now, our shadows sing again of the old songs we once sung
when we hadn’t considered to count our connections.
We potter and ponder and eat and gossip and get grumpy
and take to our rooms and then eat again and garden and paint
and re-ponder and thread newly discovered thoughts across
old fields that still hold fertile as a familiar favourite.
When we come now to gates, we have seen what extends
beyond them and appreciate the safety of what exists within them
and so stop and listen to that song, recently resumed,
beneath all this stillness- mother and son, singing slowly
on the same path, somewhere between the coming home
and the lockdown. Someone sent wishes recently and I said-
We’re back together and they replied- You were never apart.

Mother and son, capturing moments because somewhere else,
out there in another field, another town, another land,
another mother has lost another son or a daughter to a gun
or a bomb or a noose or a knife or a knee or a pill
or a pointless moment that no camera will ever
be strong enough to capture how the world just stops,
thereafter
I took photos of us once, but now we simply try to capture
as much time as we can possibly hold.

  

All words and photos by Damien B Donnelly

ORIGINS

 

We
are
not
always
daughter to the day or son to the stars.
Some
times
space
shrinks
and we find ourselves light years away
from
the planets
that hold the answers to where we came from.
We
take
giant
steps
across
uncharted
terrains,
nerves attached to transmitters connected to nothing but a need to know.
Eminent
are these
swinging
spheres we
circumnavigate
in search of the solution to the question of how we came to draw our first breath.

 

All words and photos by Damien B. Donnelly

TO COME TO THE TABLE

 

Knowledge is not an end in itself

Some of the best books have made me yawn-
After Nietzsche I needed a nap
And Joyce makes me question often
My ability to comprehend the written word.
Perhaps that was always his aim.

Knowledge is not an end in itself

No jump is ever made
after reading how it’s done.
I swam like a fish as a child
In the steady stream of a warm bath
But to dive into any depth was never something
Any teacher could tempt me to do.
Though it never stopped them trying

But I’d been born already aware of falling.

Knowledge is not an end in itself

Not a line in one single book
Or a simple, harmless push
Into the incoming wave.

Knowledge is how we learn to stand

Living is how we come to understand
What it takes to stand up.

 

All words and photos by Damien B Donnelly

TRACKS AND CHANGES

 

They’ve built a running track beneath the low hum
of this humdrum small town with its two pubs,
skinny batch and round tower. Men lift weights
with uncovered arms that’ve been internally attacked
by giant sized popcorn. I lift smaller weights
in the privacy of the shadows in the back garden
but have still yet to distinguish the difference
between mass and muscle. Every day they build
more roads, ring roads, roundabouts around us
as if concrete tongues were unfolding from metal
monsters driven by manmade megalomaniacs
while we take shorts walks around slowly widening
circles, digging out those older lanes that twist and turn
around rural trees instead of the line of an urban plan.
Everything keeps changing- bodies, muscles, roads,
routes, plans, personalities. Nature is the only constant-
still rooted in who she always was. I was not born
to be so confident. Even my name is not the name
I began with and even earlier someone gave me
another name before giving me away. But I’ve stopped
running and covering things over, being naked now
is so much more revealing than when I was born,
the scars on this skin tie together the threads
of my tale, even these skinny arms have been seduced
recently by so much more sunshine than ever before,
digging through the dirt to get closer to those roots
turning through the earth. The view is once again
familiar when looked at close up, in detail,
even if all the cars race you away from what matters-
the vines of veins trying to climb out of these ditched
trenches. They have a running track here in this town
and when I follow its route I realise how enlightening
it can be to make steady circles around all that you
had not yet considered about yourself instead of
hasty tours around the edges of this cold old world. 

  

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

BETWEEN THE COURSES AND THE CLOTH

 

Gracious and godly, if I recall correctly,
you sat stocky at the table and told us
your passions for paintings and pretty
things and how you’d fallen often, of late,
on bended knee over a foreign body
to worship the whole beauty of his being.
I was shy of 20 at the time, new to dating
and dinner decorum and you- new to me
in this costume of finicky dinner guest.

I recalled you instantly from years earlier
in your work clothes, but said nothing
of how I myself had come to bow
on bended knee before you, confessing
my dirty poor boy childhood secrets
of curses and disrespecting my elders,
in that parish you described over pre-
dinner drinks as devoid of any delights.

I remembered you most as angry man,
sharp like a stick that knew how to smack-
clearly chocked by the confines of that collar,
cursing from the pulpit when babies cried
during your long, slow moving soliloquy’s
of the suffering saint stripped on the cross
and all us sinners, all smelly in their seats.

I wondered, in between the forgotten entree
and the main course of stuffed pheasant,
what it took to be a man of the cloth
in a modern age while I was listening
to your collarless sermon at that table,
after you’d turned to be someone else’s
parish priest, the night you regaled us with tales
of the ring you wore on a recent Vatican visit-
pierced in pride of place beneath that very cloth. 

  

All words and photographs by Damien B Donnelly

TYPES OF DOLLS

 

They call them Russian dolls
but there was a shop that sold them
by the Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam,
not far from those ruby lit windows
displaying Dutch dolls in de Wallen,
both of which provided excitement
for wet tourists under rain coats
in the soaked summer months
terrified of traffic and tram tracks
and serial cyclists ringing their bells
like they were shooting guns.

The Russian dolls within dolls
within dolls were higher in price
than those locals offerings
you couldn’t bring home with you
after the money was handed over.
I used to see them, in their windows,
in the mornings- reading the paper
with their crispy toast and mint teas
in G-strings and little else.

I find it funny how undressing
reveals even less of the person
than being fully clothed.
I wonder if those Russian dolls
hold more truths in their multiple layers-
building up into a whole
instead of stripping down for a price.

  

All words and photographs 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