BLACK THREADS

 

Worthy.
Are we worthy? Are you?
I am not worthy to receive you.
I am not worthy.

These are not the words
of any wizard, of any wonder,
of any wonderful god.

Wonderful does not whip us with worthless.
Wonderful does not teach worthless words.

Worthy.
I am not worthy…
These are the words of men
dressed in robes; black threads
woven over winged capes (not that dark knight bearing light)
not dressed as plain men,
preachers married to invisible faiths,
not married to people,
not knowing true love
or what remains after its loss.

Worthy.
Are we worthy, Are you?
Lord, they are not worthy
to speak for me, not in my name
and not, either, in yours.

Worthy.
Were they not worthy,
those wards your black winged women
washed away in the water?
Where is the worth in the world?
I thought laundries
were meant to clean clothes
not suffocate babies in sewers
beneath the shadows.
Was it worth it?
All that worry washed away with the waste.

Worthy?
Lord, here is my worth.
I place it, next to their judgement,
by your feet
and you can decide what has worth
and whose words are worthless
as I reteach myself the value of that single word
in this complicated world,
as I build my own words to be a witness
to losing the less and seeing the more,
I will be my own critic
keeping the Christian and shaking the ‘anity’
that lingers too close to insanity.

Worthy.
I hear only the devil in my head
whispering of worthless.
Surely the right man should be brighter,
lighter?

Worthy.
Here is my worth…

thread carefully upon it,
not like the prints the pious
already pressed into it
from their proud position
behind the pulpit.

I live in the wild world, not privy to any protection.

Worthy.
Are they worthy to receive me?
I profess this belief, to you.
Alone.

  

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

26th poem for National Poetry Writing Month

THE DREAM; SUNDAY NIGHT, ALMOST LIGHT

 

The Dream; Sunday Night, Almost Light.

I dream of dark nights
that cannot hold their identity tight,
that break into tight pieces of light
when mind succumbs to dream’s dimension
and stumbles (still sweaty under sheets)
upon hidden altar in open field,
light cast as day amid dark of night,
depth of dream, this stone altar cast of granite grey
and cold where congregation gathers,
each pebble imprinted with the palm
of every parishioner now present before me,
though I know no rock embedded in this sacrificial table
(where body is broken and blood is drunk)
is a captor to my own print
because still I sleep somewhere
above the grey clouds turning translucent
like my skin in this dream
and grass burning green behind the hazel of my eyes
that know this sight is not sound in sense.
Children come to candle
and their faith gives way to flames fired from fingers
in this field of unfavourable familiarity,
in this night of broken light
where community comes together to confess,
confide, comfort or criticize my coming.


I dream of day borne in a twist of still night,
stilled light, still strange in fields I’ve flown from
and now flung back to where heads turn
below those clouds, low and grey, baying,
still grey, stilled breath, as if all colour
(except the growing grey and grinding green)
have not yet been considered.
Stony eyes, cast in concrete that could crush,
cower upon my questioning
of how I fled so far from all that stands so close.


I dream of dark nights
on old roads I could walk blindly,
your cold caress of cross now left behind me
in that stone-cold field now returning to shadow
that the night somehow chose to light for me,
I shiver beneath the darkness,
on this shady street where I stand
and somewhere, in the distance, in the bed,
I lie looking for shelter beneath my blanket of sleep.
I come upon a clearing,
a turning, a returning, I am home,
not my home but a house called home,
that old home I no longer hold the keys to
(though my pockets tingle with too many connections
to other doors now closed).
But it is the home recalled
only in photographs now fading,
not in the building still standing,
a meander of the memory
I barely have the right to call mine
like this skin turning translucent,
twisting off the bone, falling and fading
from a form I seem to not recognize in this sleep.
Still, I search in pockets
hoping to pull out not another cross
to carry on shoulder, to bear down on this tight chest,
growing tighter under this night, now darker,
on this dark night once somehow light,
in this twisting dream
I am both aware of and oblivious to.
I find no key or single soulful saviour
in this starless night,
even the simple sailor had at least the stars
when lost at sea, what hope is there to be found
when one is lost in the dream
he never deemed desirable to dream?

__
And I stop,
time stops, breath stops.
I stop on front of open door,
wide open in this still night,
still a dream, still asleep,
but I did not open the door,
I did not break handle upon floor
or toss dishes from dresser
or painting from wall.
I did not.
I did not ache for the field
or the weary worshipers watching me
find footing upon a land that has forgotten my print,
whose eyes still creep across my flesh,
sensing its scent to be something foreign,
something to fear.
I did not come willingly
within this nightmare
to stand before this open door,
this battered threshold,
this scene that has lost all soul.
I did not come to drown within the dream
but then came the scream,
behind my ears,
tearing through this dark night,
dark dream, once for a time light,
that scream creeping along the covers,
slipping through time and its displaced dimensions
and settling upon my mouth as I open my eyes
from all that was a dream,
open eyes to the sound of my own scream
beneath the stilled light,
filled with a stilled fright,
below the darkness
that uncovers the stillness of this night,
almost light.

All words and photographs 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.

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