PLAYING GAMES

 

When I was a child,
was I thoughtless or taught less
or was there less to think about,
less to love?
Though life was never loveless.
When I was a child,
did I dream less because
I didn’t know any more?
When I was a child,
I lied without knowing
the truth of a lie.

As a man,
the closer I come to the truth,
the more I turn to the dream,
for now there’s less to love,
less to give,
for so much more
has been taken.

When I was a child,
I held trust like it were breath,
ever buoyant,
flirted with faith
as if it were a fountain
that could never fail.

As a man,
breath grows cautious
to capture
and faith has fallen to faithless,
has fallen to fate, to fear.

When I was a child
a puzzle held 10 simple pieces
and when combined
they formed a whole.

Now, as a man,
the pieces are countless
and this puzzle
is far from complete.
When I was a child,
I played like the sun
would never settle,
now playing is paused
as paws are poised
for the running,
running to catch the light
before it falls off a horizon line
they tell me is not a flat drop off,
but this is a truth
I must see for myself
so as to know it’s not a lie.

Time falls
into something, off something
and we are runners in races
whose finish-lines
we don’t want to face.

The truth
is not what we dreamed of
when we knew not
the value of that dream.

As a child,
finish was never a word
that took flight in dreams,
no bird flaps its wings
with desires to meet its end.

I see, in the mirror,
dimly, and sometimes clearly,
pieces that have parted
and the puzzle that remains
between child and man,
between innocence and all the light
that grew dimmer
after the loss,
and between the thinking,
the taking and the being taken.

And somewhere
between it all, I am there,
looking back at who I’ve become.

  

All words and photos by Damien B. Donnelly

PAINTING PARADISE WITH SOMEONE ELSE’S COLOURS

 

We painted walls into the paradise we wanted
before I learned colour had its limits. Borders
had been beaten into our canvas long before
I touched the brush with borrowed thoughts.

We painted orange coloured stars and wild hopes
onto concrete walls and I trembled as she told me
the parrots, perfectly positioned in stuffed stillness,
pranced on their perches while I slipped to dream.

We’re taught what is truth, as children, not told
to truly think. He was tipped in black with no name,
a night sky forgotten by the moonlight and we-
impressionists, desireless to be outlined in darkness.

Children not the creators of fact but the little sheep
who come to submit to the not-so-subtle suggestions.

 

All words and photographs by Damien B Donnelly

WHAT LIES IN THE VALLEY

 

Truth, lies, tall tales spread across the canyon
of our sighs. My hope, your hurt, my side,
your silence, nothing is distinguishable in this void,
I cannot even identity any let up from the winter
of this valley where the wind winds its way around
the silent subtleties of how you express your hurt
and how I hold my hope- foolishly, foolish, fool
or fooled. We are both breakable and some parts
dissolvable while riding horseback across this canyon
whose cracks are cavernous, two cowboys believing
more in disguise, in the delusions and so we sweep
into such deluge. Somewhere, in between this valley,
somewhere, down below this wind, still tangible,
there is a bridge that crosses the truth of our lies,
bashful and broken. But we don’t want to find it

anymore.

 

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

THE LIGHT IS TOO LIGHT

 

Light leaks like water
dripping from the faucet.

You called me baby
before you really knew me
and stopped calling at all,
afterwards
drip…
drip…
nothing.

Light lingers in quite corners
like memories that refuse to flicker,
not acknowledging that the night
has fallen.

We pour over each other
like liquid on a perched desert,
sucking sustenance from substance,
leaching life from any length,
dryer…
dryer…
death.

I dived deep down to the bottom
and found only a drought
drowning on the ocean floor.

Were you the desert or the drought?

Was I the ocean or merely drowning?

Bubble…
bubble…
nothing.

Light lifts the illusions
we sleep upon beneath the darkness,
when everything is possible
and no one ever parts.

I am not one part us,
I am not one part you,
I am not one or the other,
I am the I that was your baby.

Remember?

I was light, you said in the midst
of so much weight but you remained
light on love, regardless.

Light leaks like dripping water
from a faucet
drip…
drip…

onto the broken plates and half eaten hopes
that cannot be either washed or erased.

Light is too light to lift the stains
from the remains of what began
with the words

I want to drown in your eyes.

Light frequently floods
the flaccid lies we feed ourselves
just so we can get from day to night.

    

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

This is a re-post

COULD NOT HAVE BEEN MORE, I CAME TO THE CITY

 

We held hands over hearts
housed in other folds, ink
had tipped another name
into your flesh as we fell
into holds, harbouring no more
than musing moments, the south
going north for something different,
something foreign, someone fresh,
perhaps that was all we ever were;

a diversion from all that was defined,
from all that was assured. I was never
going to be anything more than something
to adorn an ordinary day in a city far away,
I would never be ink penned in permanent,
signed in the shade of your skin where
sorrow had somehow settled into shadow,
we were too thin to be anything more
than temporary, a painting the artist
considered too crude to be continued,
too confrontational to be anything more
than crass. We were hearts folded
into the hands of other houses, however
hopeless, however harmless, however much
we kissed and cavorted, teased and
twisted, we were branches bound
to other roots, ties are eternal to the trunk;
foolish is the fragile foliage that always falls.

Time turns tides, suns set,
touch is only temporary,
a kiss can be enough to curse.

I hear you, in the wind, at times, messages
that come calling from places I cannot picture,
from sheets I have never set my skin to,
from sweltering stones I will never step upon,
whispers of what once was, a wish
for something that was momentary
to have meant something more monumental.
But not every harbour hides hope, not every
hope is enough to hold a heart. We were
brushes, tipped with colours that weren’t
compatible, merely complimentary enough
to court a spark in a corner where comfort
felt a little less cold for a while. You called me
beautiful, at midnight, on a Monday
and I called you mine neath the gaze of your eyes
and we laughed our way through all that was truth
and all that lingered on the other side of our lies.

 

All words and photographs by Damien B . Donnelly

From a poetry series inspired by the albums of Joni Mitchell.

TRUTH OR DARE, for Poetry Day Ireland

 

It’s Poetry Day Ireland so I am supporting from abroad. This year’s theme is Truth or Dare and this final new poem recalls older days when this Irishman was still a growing boy on the streets of Paris…

 

Truth or Dare

At 22 we locked the bar at 2am
and turned empty bottles around
tittering tables, wishes weaving
into comrades’ ears of who to pick
and who to kiss; the ex-pats in Paris,
running an Irish bar like it was
their open bar, even when it was closed,
eager to acquire a taste for foreign desires,
no one ever wanted to know the truth,
we were too young to be serious
and too stupid to know that it mattered,
that taste didn’t lie on the tongue,
though it later laid lies on our lips. At 22
we closed the bar and dared each other
to dive into anything other than the truth.

 

All words and photographs by Damien B Donnelly, except for the one below as that’s me pulling my last pint in the Irish bar in the 13th arrondissement of Paris.

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WHITE LIES

 

What if I admitted to you,
here and now,
before I even begin,
before I even let you in,
that all I am about to tell you is a lie,
perhaps white, perhaps a depth darker.

What if I lay it all on the line,
here and now, naked,
the truth of all the lies,
would you believe me,
would you still listen,
would you still want to hear
and make up your own mind

if what I’m telling you is a lie
or if I’m just laying lines upon the truth?

We live a life
on both sides of the line
and exist somewhere
in between what we believe
and what we know to be false.

I have told the truth many times,
its many lines spilt
over many skins, in many beds

and still I lie alone.

This is what I have left;
this is the truth of my lie.

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

12th poem for National Poetry Writing M0nth 2019

BURNING STARS 

 

We are liars, all and often, lying

in folds familiar, hoping

for holds to fill the failure,

settled into settlements

we never wanted but thinking

something, anything, this thing

is better than nothing, while

the Poet prefers to pen

the pessimism than to perish

with it. And still we are liars,

the pen turns thoughts

into reasons, into rough sketches

and in turn we soften the edges

with subtle suggestions

to make the truth more soluble,

the lie more acceptable.

We are all laying in masks

of mistrust, mistruths, the more

we take off- the more we build up.

Clothes cover only the concept

of identity; eyes can be distracted, tongues

can be thought to taste

what they are told, ‘I am forever,’

he said and she licked his longing

that left her not long after. ‘I am

comfort,’ she confided as she set

her claws into his confusion.

And the lie goes on forever,

like the sky; consistently blue

until it’s black, streaked

with bright stars already burning out.

 

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

SUMMER RAIN

 

Left burning
in a bed of broken
limbs and lies

winer was wild
but her summer rain
settled beneath his skin
and sunk with a sting.

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

Poetry prompt of Summer Rain from @ShapePoetry on Twitter

IN THE LIGHT OF LIES

 

Behind the darkness,
before the morning wakes,
I reach for you, one last time
and accept all that must fall away
in the light of our lies and mistakes.

All Words and Photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

Photograph: Light flooding the Hato Caves on the Dutch caribbean island of Curacao