SUPREME

 

I loved China Beach, as a boy and its opening
theme tune- Miss Ross belting out her light voice;
Reflections of the way life used to be, reflections of…

I was too young then to understand anything deeper
than the melody that rose in me while the meaning
sank,

of an age then that had barely left any marks
for time to reflect on later, after.

Youth is too light, like her voice was, to be consumed
by thoughts of things concerned with used to be.

They were lovers and friends and mores and lesses
playing other tunes by the shorefront firelight-
reflections in the flames. All heat and hazy.

But there was a war too, of course, for these medics
and the soldiers they were saving while I pondered
free love and long youth

but now, looking back on the way life used to be
a week ago, a month ago, I see how, even then,
a nurse could rise to be a hero.

And so she sings; Through the hallow of my tears I see a dream…

 

All words by Damien B Donnelly.

Photograph of China Beach TV Series cast pulled from the internet 

BOOKENDS; TIMING IS EVERYTHING

 

Coming in

is easy.

Learning when to leave

is an art

not easily understood.

   

All words and photographs by Damien B Donnelly

This month is about getting ready to leave Paris, for good. Today will also be my last day as pattern maker at the Paris fashion design atelier of & Other Stories and who can say what the future will bring but, (to wickedly steal a show tune) because I knew you, I have been changed for good.

  

  

 

THE CARETAKER

 

High on a hilltop, you climb above your age
and whisper the wisdom of your ancestors like its wealth
(hush, I say, to hear the humble)
worn words as woven into the earth as the roots
of the trembling trees standing to support those above it.

High on a hilltop, a former teacher caresses history
like a caretaker tends the glories growing in a garden he was given,
tales time would have tossed but his time mind still meditates over
while I wonder where I was a year, a month, an hour ago?

High on a hilltop, we lean into the comfort
to accept all that we have found indecipherable.

We take the right side at the entrance, as instructed,
and bow, thrice, and the empty space recalls the place of the emperor
who once took the central path while the guards, armed
with faith in the form of a dragon, harmony in the form of their music
and strength in the size of their sword, wards off the demons
and welcomes in the inner light.

There is light here, a gentle light, a subtle light to caress the skin,
to sink within as we mount and meditate on how we got here,
to this hill, to this land, to this life, to this breath.

High on the hilltop, we breathe in the simplicity of common incense
and sway as the chimes ring out to remind us
we are not one, alone, but one single part of the whole

and we bow again, thrice, and follow the stream that knows more
about its route than we will ever to understand about our own.

   

All words and photographs by Damien B Donnelly. This is a reworking of an older poem for a week recalling travels in South Korea in 2018. 

LISTEN

  

We cannot truly change that which
we are, we cannot really laugh louder,
be brighter, stay longer than our journey
has already jotted down in a journal
whose language is not our own.
We cannot truly change the air,
the ocean, the fire that forges its way
through us, leaving us inspired
or expired, hot or just overheated.
We cannot truly change much
but we can cast corrections
into the darkness caught in corners,
we can see sages that hover over heads
if we need to add meat to the monotony,
singing songs of stories never too old
to be retold, never too new to be anything
more than necessary.
We cannot truly change that which
we are, we cannot promise to hold
any longer than time allows us,
we are tied to the tension of the knot
that knows more than we do,
whose heart lays on a hinge
that hangs both the hope
and the hammer. We cannot truly
change much but we can learn to listen
to lips that have lingered, that have
laughed in the face of lies
and been nourished by the face
of the fortunate who found favour
with who they were and then substance
in the soft stream of steady words.

   

All words and photographs by Damien B Donnelly

From the series A Month with Yeats

 

 

 

THE BEAT OF THE BAT

 

The brighter man, the lighter man,
the darker truth, the deeper vein,
bind me to the rough, the real man,
I beat as a bat.
The clearer glass, elusive glass,
the broken bed, the better lay,
tie me to the rider, all night,
I beat like a bat.
The gentle rose, considered rose,
the troubled torn, the rotting root,
plant me in the wild field, riled field,
I beat as a bat.
The sweetest light, the sun light
the witching hour, the darkest night,
pitch me in the rainstorm, windstorm,
I beat like a bat.
The house plant, the tendered plant,
the raging bark, the twisted branch,
nature’s not calm, not quiet, nor I;
I beat as a bat.
An angel rises to heaven’s skies,
bats hang downside, looking inside,
teach me what’s inside, light the dark side,
I’ll see like a beating bat.

All words and photographs by Damien B Donnelly

This is one of the poems from the A Month with Yeats series

SCARLET RISING

 

Eat the storms, Mother said,
boil these beds of bitter blackness
until the dream rips through the rain
and translucent turns to trust,
even a diamond must ache
in the darkness until compression
can no longer compound its shine.
Eat the storms, Mother said,
slip the shivering skin out
under shimmering sky until touch
recalls the sweet music of scarlet rising
caught below the lick of leaf lost
to the shadow of the shade,
even the petal must rise above the thorn
before its fragility can dance in the light.

Eat the storms, Mother said,
but I didn’t hear it, at first.

It takes time to swallow the truth
and teach the tongue
to taste the refreshment of the rain.

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

Poem for Day 5 of National Poetry Writing Month