PROTECTION for Poetry Day Ireland

It’s Poetry Day Ireland so I am supporting from abroad. This year’s theme is Truth or Dare so throughout the day I will be posting a few of my older poems on Truth and a few more on being Irish…

Protection

In many rooms,
in multiple houses,
in a dozen cities
I pulled shadows
over the light
mistaking the darkness
to be a better blanket
to twist around the truth.

   

All words and photographs of Dublin by Damien B. Donnelly

BORDERS AND BOUNDARIES, NO. 8, NAPOWRIMO

 

In sweeping rain 

he was swept through streets 

in a taxi turning with thoughts

he had not yet learned to express. 

Windows can shield 

from more than just the weather.

In unswept rain

he was sweeping through streets

that had not yet soaked him,

had not yet drained him

on the storms that were settling

under the shade of summer.

He was a spring in the bloom 

in the shadow of a back seat,

speeding through streets

already stained with too many winters.

All words and drawings by Damien B. Donnelly

SHADOW AND LIGHT

At 22,
I knew as much of myself
As the exotic world
I’d just found
With streets willing me
To walk them
Witness them
And be wooed by them.
My twenties
Had typically emerged
As a decade to be a no one;
An empty slate to be carved upon
Before my thirties would find me
And shout me with substance.

I’d lost parents
Before knowing them; given up
In a sacrifice of selflessness
Almost incomprehensible
And found
In the arms of another mother
A love that would prove
Incontestable.

I searched,
During infantile years,
Amid childish ego
And innocence,
For connections
To those around me;
The mother
Loved so unequivocally
And the father
Aged in aggression,
With a gap too great to bridge
And so I turned to walk
Shadowy miles of roads in my head,
Clumsily cramming teenage years
With classically confusing
Childish dribble,
Trying to sound like a grown-up
In size 6 shoes,
Feeling different,
Unknown,
And, more often than not,
Undiscovered.

Finally,
I braved knocks on dark doors-
Frequented bars in back lanes
And alley ways,
Away from the eyes of the pious
Whose ignorance
Bullied the boys
With different desires.
I kissed
My first boy
At 18
Behind a sofa
As excited as a child
On Christmas morning,
Finding courage
Behind shades and acceptance
In a community I had become
No longer
Soul member of.

Cuddling and kissing progressed,
Over time, to sweaty,
Fumbling, amateur athletics
Behind the lights
Replacing shame and catholic guilt
With newfound feelings of freedom
As I began
To notch my way
Onto bedposts
Of various conquests.

Between courtings
I often cried
For lovers in whose arms
I should never have laid
And wondered why I ran
From others in whose embrace
I should have stayed,
All but memories
Patterned into the tissue
Of my sleeve-worn,
Still learning, heart,
Cherished moments
That wished to be relived
Along with others
That longed for time to fade.

I had assumed these
To be bruises
As I fell upon these new
Foreign streets
But have recognised them since
To be no more than lifelines,
Imprints, echoes merely of
Shadow and light.

They were all
Important diversions
Along the road,
Pivotal points
Goading me
Into this very direction.
Some of them
Fell away by your banks
And others settled in,
Ingrained themselves like streets
That mapped themselves
Out in front of me
And gradually,
Over time,
Carved their way
Indelibly
Inside of me.

IMG_3164

Summer Sun in the Marshes

Three boys and a girl,

Coasting carelessly

From teens to twenties

And coping lazily

With hangovers

Beneath the summer’s sun.

One blonde and three browns,

Laughing amid golden rays

That filled the most perfect of squares

In the once marshland of Le Marais

With it’s cobbled streets,

Men of elegance

And women-

Who followed their trend.

We were setting no trends-

The four of us,

But caught up in the richness

And comedy of it all.

We were Irish and English

And one of us French-

Young, unknown, foolish

And arrogant-

To everything but ourselves,

And ignorant-

To who it was that we were.

We were like the ground

We sat on;

A once sinking mess

Belonging to a world

Of daylight dreaming,

Where un-cautioned laughter

Tickled our sleep

Though not our feet,

But suddenly we’d found

Potential in possibilities

Seen through slumber-less eyes,

Far from dreaming.

I was laughing with one,

Blushing with the other

And was sleeping with the one

So typically French.

I’d befriended the one

I’d hoped to sleep with

And undressed with the one

I should’ve remained

Discreet with.

I would later miss her,

Lose contact with him

And wonder

How to stop sleeping

With the other.

But that day,

In that light,

In that heat of that summer,

We’d found our way,

Heard our voices

And finally found

What it meant to belong.

photo-64

To the East of Ignorance

I had wanted to show you it all;

For you to revel

As much as I

In the magnificence I had seen

And felt.

Perhaps it was my fault-

In the extreme-

Maybe my blinkered view,

Like the race horse-

Seeing only the green of the track

And the glory of the win ahead

While missing the money hungry betters to the sides

And the jockey with whip behind.

But still,

The entire time your view

Saw only the concrete beneath your feet

As if you feared to place a step

Wrongly

And so lose your American footing.

You proved as cold

And impenetrable

As the surface upon which you walked,

Moved only by a metal banister

That you pleaded with me to photograph

Least your creativity

Failed to capture it.

Yet it was you who’d become captured;

Trapped in a foreign land

That you had longed to see

And yet failed-

So perfectly-

To look upon.

To create means more than just

Standing on the spot of inspiration.

You lolled about

Almost as inanimately

As the statues that surrounded us.

However,

Their shadows appeared to sway

In the sunshine

With so much more gusto than yours-

At least, until you fell needy

And your dull American twang

Rang out monotonously

To disrupt the ambience

And civility

That enchanted me

And washed over you

Like you were oil-based,

Cardboard cut-out,

Dull reflection

Of someone else-

Hardly remembered.

Alcohol loosened you

Along with athletic fumblings

In a beamed ceiling room

In Saint Paul,

But we were neither drunk

Nor naked

All the time,

Although it felt like I had stripped

Bare for you,

To show you my secret

Parisian life

That, malheurusement,

Over half the world shared.

In that tree-lined park

Below the radiant sunshine

I feigned sleep and watched you

Behind darkened shades

And wondered

Where you were.

You noted it strange how the boys played

Football

Instead of baseball

And I realized

That you had not even boarded the plane

Or removed yourself

From your ignorant States.

I chilled in the warmth,

Amid that sun-filled square,

On that Sunday afternoon

In July

As I watched you

Fall intrigued

By little boys at play

And your comic books

Became all the more

Disturbingly understandable.

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