BLACK IS ONLY SHADOW

 

Winter has grey wings,
feathers of sodden soot
that come from concrete clouds
too dense to discern any light beyond.
Winter spawns grey wings
but spring is an architect of possibility
by a canal of colour that sweeps in
after the fright of the frost
and baths us in a blithe breath
that blows across a chest once in chains.

Round the red bricked bridge we ride,
each pedal pushing past the storms
that rained rivers through our winters.
Follow the river, she sings,
seasons are short but the earth is a sphere
turning towards the light,
dark doors open often into hopeful,
the river recalls its route
regardless of the water,
blue can be a bright beacon to bathe in,
black is only shadow
before it finds a reason to ignite in light,
bark is dry but the branch bares blossom.

We can be the water or the bridge,
the natural path or the paved plot,
the route is bright beyond the chains,
the greyest night is but a sleep behind
the colours waiting beyond the bend.

    

All words and water colours by Damien B. Donnelly

22nd poem for National Poetry Writing Month

JOURNEYS, PART 18; THE BEAUTIFUL BRINY

The moon is a diamond dream, a sweet shadow
of midnight, butterflies drunk on sleep
into which we seep like the blood red sun
beneath the blue blood sea and we are waves
in bottles bobbing along on the beauty
and the briny, too intoxicated to think
of our time being temporary, too insignificant
to think of ourselves as anything other
than spotlight central, hurtling through this journey
of shiny and sleepy and catching reflections
on the slippery surface of the rest; the best
of what we’ve yet to be. The moon
is a diamond dream and this journey;
a blind belief that cannot be broken by the truth;
we can master the major even if we are minor,
we can catch that kiss caught in another corner
of this cosmos even as we burry more and more
of ourselves within the bright red borders
but we broke from Eden and it didn’t end.
We are self-starved delusions winging it
on a whim of wonder beneath a glass cloud
in a sky of shining steel. We are diamond dreams;
how we shimmer in the shade of the moon.

All words by Damien B. Donnelly

JOURNEYS, PART 10; THE REST

Revisiting a past poem as my journey hits its 43rd Birthday

THE REST

I was once silent amid the noise,

shadowing the world in stillness

while all else found its motion,

watching dreams slip swiftly

through fumbling hands.

I’d been held and felt nothing

in that very touch

but the visceral arousal

of man at his most primal.

I’d seen a lifetime of possibilities

with single glances

and built worlds in my mind

before blinking them away.

I held a man’s hand in a taxi

as we raced through a foreign city

I’d once called home, while my mind

ran to thoughts of someone else

before remembering a touch,

of another, from long before. Once,

I circled the globe and returned home

to find that home was but a word,

a word that wakes a memory

to plot a beginning,

as weightless and mobile

as the drifting traveler.

Once, I was silent

but in that silence,

in all that stillness

I found a voice.

I am, like you all,

no more than a burnt-out,

used-to-be, falling star,

sparkling in front of you

although my future’s already faded

somewhere light years away.

As I hurtle through this journey

my eyes fall sleepy;

but my mind rushes towards the rest,

looking, always, for the rest of me.

All words by Damien B. Donnelly

JOURNEYS, PART 7; METAMORPHOSIS

How still it is, silent
beneath the somber shade
of night, beyond the light
already departed. Alone in thoughts
that twist and turn and dig deep
amid the this and that,
the important and the redundant,
the stillness builds, oblivious
to the restlessness beneath my skin,
between my toes, a sense of something
unseen, somewhere a future
already on the move, shaken
into substance, substantially self-sufficient,
while I sit in silence, in stillness, in waiting,
wrapped up cocoon like beneath
the hibernating blanket of this interim,
this condition of considered change.

I will soon slip into a sleep
born of the metamorphosis
of the moment,

aware of who I was,
in the knowledge of who I am
and accepting of what I will,
in time, become.

Tomorrow awaits the memory
of who I was while today exists
only the dream of what will come.
This stillness is as teasing
as the unknown route ahead,
the trail my feet have yet to thread,
to carve out a crater
that smacks of existence
long after I have journeyed on
and found fresher, unexplored lands
I shall, one day, for a time call home.
Somewhere, just out of sight,
on the edge of this stillness a night owl
toots a tale of transition
above the silent slumber of a world
with eyes closed, unconscious
to the weighty wisdom of tomorrow’s light.

The erudite Owl,
once perched in another land,
in another time, on the shoulders of Athena,
witnesses the world through eyes
that see beyond the darkness
of all that has been and has yet to unfold
and carries, in his very presence,
on this very night, in this very stillness,
while all else surrenders to the silence,
a confirmation of the transition felt within me,
sensed around me and promising
to take hold of me as sure as he will
spread his well-worn wings,
find his flight and take to the shadows
before morning finds it’s light

while all through time
a metamorphosis is made of me.

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

JOURNEYS, PART 6; DAFFODIL DREAMS

I climb clouds
between the night’s blanketed sleep,
a billowing blossom of smoke
that never chokes the mountain moon,
where the world is a warm walk
through a blue breeze
and the only plight
is to find your path
within a forest of daffodils
on a prairie of peace.

On a prairie of peace
within a forest of daffodils,
beyond the billowing blossom of smoke
that never chokes the mountain moon,
I climb clouds
as a blue breeze uncloaks
the confusion of consciousness
and the sky glistens
with a golden glimpse of tomorrow
tipped in a topaz tempered truth.

I climb clouds
to sleep in a dream of daffodils

too distant for daylight to deliver.

Photograph taken in Holland Park, London, in an earlier lifetime

JOURNEYS, PART 3; THE CLIMB

 
For every cracked climb,
unconsidered but compulsory,
that catastrophic clamber
over chaos and confusion,

there also comes the
slide into smoothness;

that paved path,
pure and polished,
an offer of an anchor
before the next convulsion of the course.

All words and photographs by Damien B Donnelly

Photograph taken at the National Park of the Calanque, Marseille 

JOURNEYS, PART 2; A FERRY FROM THE FUTURE

 

I took the ferry, once again, that morning, after a long repose,
to the other side, the one formerly ‘his side’, the side I used,
so often, to cross to, to eat, to sleep, to kiss, to share,
the same ferry that took me from the real world to his world,
which became my world until it was our world, for a while.
That small stretch of water that separated one from the other,
so small and insignificant and yet deeper than we ever imagined.
I cycled on and as morning met the afternoon, I passed that farm
we’d stopped at in the middle of nowhere, in that time long ago,
to buy eggs and milk for no other reason than because we could
but not with him, the other one, the one who’d distracted me
after we’d stopped ferrying back and forth when the water got colder
and proved less penetrable. That other man, the native man
and newly separated too, who’d kiss and cuddle and hold and stop
and break and kiss and stop and kiss and kiss and smile sometimes.
He’s happier now, I see it in photographs, but he stopped for me
for that time after we’d stopped, like I said, and I’ll always be grateful.
It wasn’t long after I cycled over the bridge at Ijburg and slipped back
into the city from the east and passed his house and smiled
at the thought of him, the one that had stopped, another one, not the kisser
or the one across the water, but the one who’d come before them both,
the blonde, after I’d been lost in a sea of darks or so she said
in that play, Suddenly Last Summer, and it never left my mind.
No, the first one who’d found me in that foreign land, who’d spotted me
in cap and boots, drinking whiskeys and beers on a Sunday afternoon,
my first Sunday afternoon, raining outside, of course, was it really always
raining? He wasn’t home that day, but he was somewhere close to me,
within, still teaching me scraps of his native tongue
that would later kiss me all over and cover me in its scent.
He used to watch me from the corner of his eye, wondering
if I was shocked and surprised at his life and smiling, sometimes,
at how I stayed around. But I wasn’t, not at all, not even once
in all that short life we shared together that swiftly passed into the past
just like yesterday and the day before, just like today will do tomorrow
and yet, for some sweet reason it all returned to me that day,
not so long ago, before I left the flatlands for the French ones,
that almost ordinary summer Sunday, in August that graced me
with warmth as it gently kissed me on the cheek before distance,
inevitably, carried it off on a subtle breeze as I cycled on home,
a home that is no more in reality, but that remains so close
to the heart as this journey continues along its route.

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

JOURNEYS, PART 1: ON THE ROUTE OF THE ROAD

The sun burns the shadows
as fields fall into forgetful,
speed is not my subject
nor a confusion I can peacefully pedal.

We are tethered to tracks;
all these pick ups and their set downs
that perish after purpose while we rattle
toward the repercussions and rebounds.

The sun burns the shadows,
I am senseless to why I strayed,
distance no more distinct like those faces
that had the fortune to fade,

baggage is back breaking,
space not as infinite as vowed,
I cluttered conscience in cupboards
but now cast countless confusions onto a cloud.

The sun burns the shadows
in fields of former exertion
now sullen at the sight of its descendants
and their detached desertion,

Tattered ties sag on trees,
forefathers flounder in a darkness
no longer indulgent to either
a hopeful herd or healthy harvest

(I have clippings of ribbons in boxes
but no recollection of what I tied them to).

The sun burns the shadows,
I watch from crowded compartments
all crammed with connections that deceives
with its distractions and derailments,

I am no more surprised
to set down on the wrong platform
than to drive in the right lane, so long
have I turned from the left of this sojourn,

remembering is rough,
memory meanders like tracks
that turn twists into truths, that take
their tales far from the foundation of facts,

(creativity is carte blanche to recreate,
the truth was too dull to disclose
and so it burns in the shadows
of these fields I am flying past)

The sun burns the shadows,
sets by a sea I’ve never seen,
where breakers are beached as if tired trunks
might tempt time to sweep more serene.

The morning sun is slow
as my feet sweep across salt sands,
I reach towards the crisp air that has crept
to a calmness to caress my hands

but in all this stillness,
before the day yet yawns awake,
its still as elusive as time itself
that never stops for you to catch a break;

We are not the fishermen,
but the fish viewing the hook
as something to hang onto.
We are not the sea
but the sand being swept into shapes
we cannot always smooth out.
We are not the tracks
but the train being taken
to places we never thought to touch.


The sun burns the shadows
and I watch from behind the glass,
my reflection cast upon
things I will never touch
while, in my eyes, I still see
the things that time has still to take.

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

TURNING CARDS

 

In tarot
I turned over cards
like time turns darker days
into enlightening nights,
fortune found me first
in the Fool’s hold;
a kiss of ignorance
upon freedom’s feet,
a deep dive into depths
I processed no questions for.
In the World
I saw the circle close in to caress,
a formation of balance
at my finger tips,
the elements clear
in corners to comfort,
a sphere of strength;
a celebration of the fine fragility
of my frame, naked
as it found its form
before the scales of Justice,
judgement residing
in my own hands
so long abandoned
by the satisfaction of self serving
while Doubt; the dark knight
in a brighter battle,
cast his concern to the cracked cup
and not the chalice overflowing.
Later, the Lovers
watched the light in its rising,
no longer grounded
by the mountains I had to climb,
no longer fearful
to let the light shine
while a family
stood beyond the bluebirds,
below the rainbow of 10 chalices,
waving me onwards
or calling me back to a home
I had never known;
accept the unexplored
or set a quest to uncloak the confusion.
I turned careful cards
like age turns knowledge
into something more tangible,
more truthful, and I saw myself in the end;
man-child on the back of the bravest of beast,
casting off the shroud of scarlet,
sighing under the glow of the internal Sun
as flowers bloomed over a library
of words waiting to be written.

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

Tarot reading by Alice.

MOTION

We stop and start

like trains

caught between tracks,

caught between the gaps

of where to go

and how to get back.

We stop and start

like trolleys

left wheel veering right,

right wheel now left

of the centre

but the centre falls apart.

We stop and start

like breath

the taking in and letting go,

the filling up and that feeling

of deflation

as the air of our space is dispelled.

I am made

of minor movements

performed at high speeds

on packed platforms,

before halted at temporary stations

that bare no regard to my route

or my rhythm.

I consist of baggages

within carriages,

not always connected,

my head in the trunk

and my feet walking blind

through corridors

that follow no order.

I am oxygen,

a vessel of the big O,

I have no room really

to hoard,

I can only board,

my belongs are as temporary

as this element my lungs;

kiss, caress and release.

We stop and start

and start again

and then stop.

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly