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

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

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

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

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

BETWEEN THE SEAMS

 

We came for the cows-
sleek shiny skins to sew into seams and cents
but were caught in a contradistinctive cacophony-
silk sarees, careering through merging traffic
in colours more complex than considerations of the constellation,
on the backs of mopeds, motorbikes, motorcars, broken cars,
cars piled on top of cars, twisting and turning like my thoughts,
like shiny spun threads speeding through calescent carriageways
sweltering under the hustle of the crowd’s bustle,
horns and humans honking along the raw edges of overrun roadsides.
Curious eyes casting assumptions on the stiches I’d unpicked-
trying to see how they held it all together. Eyes smiling, seeing,
wondering on why I’d come and what I’d take away.

We’d come for the cows-
but slipped like silk over skin into the smooth symphony
of those streets where wild cows were prized idols
wandering freely through the masses, noting nothing
of our search for their hides that had slipped from being seductive
into being sacred, again. In the height of this mercurial madness,
a man, blind to all light, weaved his way through the carnival
like the weft goes through the warp, three sheep by his side
as if they’d always been with him- the silken worms to his weave
and I wondered, then, who was leading who;
the man, the sheep, this car or me.

Into every baste stitch, hand-made,
in Meluhha’s lining, was hidden a fine canvas
where letters spelling out the concept of freedom had been placed,
sealed beneath from the politics and the poverty, they’d sewn smiles
into each seam and it was I, in branded costume, who looked the fool-
traveling through, taking it in, thinking I was better off amid my laws
and rules and beds and baths and running water and walled in farms
that kept cows in containers too condensed to come close
to any considering of the constellation.

We came for the cows-
but discovered that this was no place
to search for that something sleekly-
for this was a city too silky for the stains of my synthetic skins.

 

 Words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

VREEMD OF MISSCHIEN NIET (STRANGE OR MAYBE NOT)

 

She was called Éireann, even in Holland,
(misschien vreemd, ik weet het)
though she was greener than I ever was,
back then, with the mud of the land
still caked into her guards while I was off
and running, ever forward, adding guards
to my guards till I saw the earth was round
when home appeared again, on the horizon.
(Vreemd, of misschien niet).

Later, decked in a fur coat of fine snowflakes
that clung to your form while they melted
off mine, you appeared as blank canvas
before a river to skate away on, like she sang,
once, in a city that was not this one. Funny,
what sinks in and what drowns, even light
can fade into the wrong water, even water
can remain on solid structures as icicles.
Some things cling on while others slip away.
(Vreemd, of misschien niet).

Round that red bricked bridge we rode,
a decade of being Dutch, (how long?
Ik weet het- vreemd, toch?), thinking
I was only stranger and the road my home,
but those were the days when the wheels
spun in circles around canals that turned
back on themselves. Maybe that’s how
we learn to come home- spinning in circles,
on roundabouts or her carousel of seasons
that went round and round.

She was called Éireann, even in Holland.
Maybe the answers to all I was looking for
were already there in her name.
Misschien wel!

Maybe some things take a cycle to sink in.

   

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

SOUTH CIRCULAR ROAD, DUBLIN 1995

 

I slipped recently onto an old road
that had circled back onto my diverted path
to find myself at first flat, basement floor,
25 years grown between us like the weeds
in the forgotten garden where I looked to see
if the cobbles still recalled my sole
before remembering how, on winter nights
that seemed bluer than black,
in hallowed hallway, I’d sit by the payphone,
juggling coins in jars of naivety and watch the lights
from the traffic flood the darkness like a fanfare
through the curved window above the door
and dream of how it would feel to slip, finally,
from streets that simply circled.

I slipped recently onto an old road,
happy to discover that even diverted paths
know how to accept circles as something to grow
to love, like certain weeds that complement
the cobbles where I found a part of my soul, sitting.
Waiting for me to call back.

 

All words and photographs by Damien B Donnelly