SHEDDING

 

When all the fuss has faded
like guilt that glides from gloss,
when I’ve pulled back the hair,
when I’ve crept from the clothes,
when my flesh is all that you see
and there is nothing left
to hide the parts of me
I never wanted to be,
Will you…? Will I…?
When my tears come like the floods
with no temperament to temper the tempest,
when there is no laughter to kneel neath,
when I bare no gift to beg you like me
and there is nothing left
of the roles I’ve roped myself into,
of the masks I’ve twisted my face around
to veil my own identity, Will you…? Will I…?
Will you be able to read
the life lived between the lines,
will you see the soul
that slipped within the shadow?

I wrote it down
but ink fades faster than these pains
that have patterned
themselves into permanent
beneath this skin
I’m now unseasonably
and unceremoniously shedding,
scars that parade now in the spotlight,
in the parts of the play
I have been permitted to perform.
But they are scattered
between the scenes,
broken into awkward acts.
When the curtain finally falls
and I cast off the costume, Will you…? Will I…?

Will you understand what it took to get here?
Will you look further than the festering flesh?

I am more than just skin on the bone.

 

All words and photographs by Damien B Donnelly

From an earlier poetry series entitled Between the Bone and the Broken

I AM…

 

Beau, tu sais?
Tu es beau,
c’est vrai.
Non, I say,
ca, c’est pas vrai.
Moi, je sais
d’autre chose,
mais beau?
Non, I say,
je ne suis pas beau.

Fragility I know,
mon ami s’appelle
fragilité,
pour lui
je porte a smile,
comme de vêtements,
like a shield,
mon sourire
est beau,
ca, tu peut dire,
ca, tu peut écrire,
but I am not my smile,
I am the boy behind
and sometimes it hurts,
tu sais? Ca fait mal.

Mais merci, comme même,
c’est beau ce que tu m’a dit,
ce que quelqu’un m’a dit,
c’est beau, mais non,
c’est pas moi; I am…
je suis autre chose.

 

Translation:

Beautiful, you know?
You are beautiful,
it’s true.
No, I say,
that, it’s not true.
Me, I know
something else,
but beautiful?
No, I say,
I am not beautiful.

Fragility I know,
my friend’s name is
fragility,
for him
I wear a smile,
like clothes,
like a shield,
my smile
is beautiful,
that, I can say,
that, I can write,
but I am not my smile,
I am the boy behind
and sometimes it hurts,
you know? It hurts.

Thank you, anyway,
It’s beautiful what you tell me,
that someone tells me,
it’s beautiful, but no,
it’s not me; I am…
I am something else.

 

All words and self portrait by Damien B. Donnelly

This is a repost of an older poem.

RED INK

 

I love and lose in circles, scratching
at skin tipped in ink, trying to find
the truth beneath the colours
I’ve let others colour in, hiding
the paler flesh I held from view,
we always need to hold on to something.

I am not comfortable over quiet dinners;
too much stilled air coursing
through the courses as I question
the seconds ticking by, in silence;
will you find me failure and flee?
But I’ll always be the first to fly
since that first flight I had no hand in.

I stir the stilled air with performances;
shy boy in the spotlight singing songs
he can’t quite find the notes for
or find the right to call his own.

I love and lie in circles that spiral
back on themselves, that cast further
reflections, not quite clear, on the boy
now faced as man in the mirror,
that flood more ink into that fading flesh.
‘Chromolume No. 9, Georges?’ she asked,
once, in a play, how many more?

Variations grow stale, thought becomes
tension, creation becomes controlled,
breath becomes bearer, bleaker. My chest
beats too quickly to let in fresh air,
fresh flesh, compressed, repressed.

I cannot lie in these circles,
these spirals that seem to linger,
longer, no longer. I am looking
to find a new shape; turning back,
returning, recalling that first mark,
to measure how far from it I ran,
to see what was left behind,
to lay it to rest and find the rest,
the rest of me beneath the red ink
tipped into this fragile flesh.

   

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

18th poem for National Poetry Writing Month

CAST OFF

Along the river bed,

long running with water

already washed through our hands,

long is not the hold we have to harbour,

long running with this water

no longer light at its level,

no longer smooth along its sands,

along this bend of river

I cast into the current, like a kiss

no longer catchable,

this weight no longer workable,

now on route to dissolvable.

From breath to bubble,

bobbing

bubbles,

from breath to bubble and then trouble,

then off they blow,

splashing as they sparkle

and splutter on to spent.

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I cast you into this current,

where shamrock slips to sapphire,

to let the past depart,

not sad of heart, not hard,

just a shadow of blue

in a bend of the bank

at the edge of expire.

To slip from soul like a skin

now shredded from recognition,

a cast off of character no longer cast

in this current condition.

IMG_9726.jpg

We knit until we are knotted,

we weave patterns;

loops locked under chains,

some stitches saved and others slipped,

connected to a comfort

until they struggle under strains,

a fragile filigree

we cannot always wear,

hands can only hold

what wants to be held,

we are not fortunate

for the future to foresee,

IMG_9728

we can not always follow,

sometimes even sheep

must make their own route

before they are wound as wool

or substance to swallow,

even the river bed must turn, in time,

twist at others, we are no straight line

but a collection of corrections

cast on and cast off,

kick off

pay off

drop off.

We are more than characters

or thinly drawn caricatures,

I am more than this flesh you see,

you see; I can fester or I can be free.

I shed this skin of a former self,

here by the edge of this river running,

running onwards, searching for its shore,

searching for something more,

for its share of the truth,

I shed this skin to let the other

parts of me find their sea.

I cast into the river bed

this weight so the rest

can float and form and be.

IMG_9727

All words and photographs by Damien B Donnelly

Audio version available on SoundCloud:

https://soundcloud.com/damien-donnelly-2/cast-off

CONTROL

Control.

How to cut deep.

Tipping toes in the tepid

tides of therapy.

We are cunning creatures

in unconscious,

under cover,

cool to discover

the character

beneath the cadaver.

Control.

How to discover,

how to distance the self

from its disguise,

from the depths

we dive to deceive the day,

the way we weave

tepid tales through the tides

of our twisting truths,

ever evolving, ever revolving

in directions we cannot dictate,

covering over shades

we cannot eradicate,

those waves that ruminate,

that sweep through veins

already raging red

before the oxygen

burns the blue. Control.

How to find the true blood

in a body beaten into believing

the truth of what the consciousness

considers to be correct.

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

CHRISTMAS COVER UP

 

In the shadow of all its history,

in the sorrow behind its sparkle,

I sprinkle fairy lights on the drying roots

of this dying tree.

 

At the summit of all its beauty,

from the forest freshy felled,

I place a blood red rose on this tree

cut down from hope.

 

All words and photographs by damien B. Donnelly

INSIDE THE MAN

Day 20 National Poetry Writing Month #NaPoWriMo

What is it
when he looks at me
that makes me want to
love him

and when he cries
that makes he want to
hold him

and when he hurts
than makes me want to
heal him

and when he lets me in
makes me want to

run and hide?

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

THE PRICE OF A STAR

 

And she sang of hope and harmony
in a borrowed frock on Tuesday nights
in a smokey bar below the Bowery
where the Irish downed their whiskey
while the Italians were always frisky

and they touched her, always, afterwards
her faithful followers fingering flesh
as if to caress the affection
she injected into lyrics, light and loving,
in the bar beyond the Bowery
where she came to entertain
the Irish and the Italians
who joined in the refrain

and they left her, always, afterwards
on Tuesday nights in the smokey light
with hope and harmony already fading
in that bar down below the Bowery
where the laughter never really
managed to linger for long after

and in the silence below the Bowery
as the stars all blew out one by one
she felt betrayed by what they’d taken
by the hope they had mistaken
to be theirs for the taking,
and felt betrayed by herself
by her need to amuse,
to be the muse in the limelight
but then alone in the shadows
that followed, always and forever after,
by that bar below the Bowery
where the light was far too low
to notice that her soul
had left her long ago.

All Words and Photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

Photograph taken on the High Line in New York 

Audio version available on Soundcloud:

https://soundcloud.com/damien-donnelly-2/the-price-of-a-star