WHILE YOU WERE DREAMING

   

And as you dove through distant dreams
just beside me, you left to my centre,
I woke to the night sky splitting above me,
the stars were burning, bleeding through
the darkness as the heavens opened,
their gates no longer golden as the
rooks took flight, soaring into my fright
here in this cold night as you tossed
through thoughts and I watched mine
beating, beaten with feathers on fire,
the disparate darkness drawing delight
in my downfall, in my blindness, and you
turned in sweeping motions, your back
to me as I should have done, as I could not
and I wondered where you had wandered
as I was culled into consciousness, frozen
by the flames and shivering, were you
moving through memories we made
or making room for more to come
in other beds, in other arms, and then
befell the bodies, bound, in chains locked,
in flames crying, cursing, trying to pull
apart bonds that should have broken,
and you turned again and your arm
came over my chest and the vision
was smashed in contact, reverie
retreating but the burning continued…

 

All words and photographs by Damien B Donnelly

From the poetry series A Month with Yeats

Photograph taken at La Lune exhibition at Grand Palais, Paris 

 

 

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

THE MATTER OF THE MUCK

 

The Americans and the British were bent on finding Jim Morrison while the Irish and the Japanese, for some reason, longed to add new kisses to the now ball-less Sphinx lingering over the long decayed body of Wilde, who probably watched down over their stupidity and offered a wicked wand of wit as their rouged up lips found a free side of the concrete to consecrate. Kissing a carcass is much like kissing an ass, you come away from both with a distinct desire to rinse out your mouth immediately.

At one point, somewhere amid the ongoing battle of the trees reclaiming the conquered landscape, I took a turn into the shadows and a darkness fell all around as if a cover had been put on the sun like one drapes a cloth over the cage of a bird mid song and suddenly the silence is stifling. Darkness comes over you in the same way when unannounced. The weight of its dominance takes on a persona as its very essence runs its icy touch along your skin. Under its spell, and there was a spell upon me, I lost all sense of direction, trapped so strikingly between the desire to run towards life and the horrid reality that I was standing upon so much death. I didn’t believe in ghosts, not because I was sure they didn’t exist, but because I’d never thought about them or allowed such superstition to cross my path. But there, in that twist of day and night, amid the moss covered beds of those who had long since reached out their heads and hands to eternal rest, everything was open to suggestion.

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I twisted and turned over directions in my mind, the routes I had taken that brought me there, both literally and figuratively. I’d come for the fun, to find the forever flames of the famous, now fruit for roots and worms. I’d come also to escape, to escape the daily drab of life, the 9 to 5, the rush hours, the traffic jams, the gossiping, the nattering, the crowded metros and shoulder shrugs. I’d come to death to escape life and lost my way beneath its shadows. I’d wanted something different and found something terrifying instead, mortality. Under the silence of the surreal, I heard bones rotting, flesh festering, souls scratching, ties breaking, my heart beating and my watch ticking, teasing me with every minute I had wasted seeking diversions from the right roads, the real roads. The track trembled before me. Tombs lay broken and open, dark holes reaching into darker realms that only Dante had dared to dwell on in life and all that watched me were birds; black birds, big black birds, baying, sinister sentinels and not a single dove to drown out the darkness.
I felt my own skin tighten around tensed muscles, pulses pound around veins as if starved for blood, as if my whole body feared its finality, foresaw what would one day become of it, here in this place of buried beds and eternal sleeps where the angel creeps and mourners weep.
Suddenly I heard a child’s voice laughing and I turned and ran towards its distant direction but my feet heeded not my mind and my footing fell upon a broken branch of nature and the break of my ankle echoed through my frustration as I fell while nature itself looked and laughed and length. I fell upon a grave. I fell upon an open grave and I lost sight of the cemetery. I lost sight of the trees fighting the concrete columns. I lost sight of the weeping madonnas. I lost sight of the stone eyes angels and so, as I plunged down, deep down, I closed my eyes and waited to be swallowed by the bowels of the earth.

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With a shock, I jumped up, in bed, at home. My bed, my home, not a grave, not the end, not Dante’s inferno. My breath could not find itself in the confusion, still stuck in the dream, in the nightmare disguised as a dream, down in the layers of hell. Eventually, in a sweat, I managed to make it to the bathroom and turned on the tap to wash my face in cold water and drown myself back into the security of reality. I looked in the mirror, it was still me, still my refection, still my face. I looked down to turn off the tap and noticed the dirty water running down the drain. Then I saw my hands; covered in muck, my body; covered in muck, my feet; covered in muck.
What in hell is going on, I asked myself? What was happening, had it all been real, had I actually been to the cemetery somewhere under the cover of night and nonsense? I looked back into the mirror at my reflection and it smiled back at me. My heart stopped. My skin tensed, just like in the dream.

My reflection was smiling but I wasn’t.

I wasn’t anymore.

All Words and Photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

All Photographs taken at Cimetière Père Lachaise, Paris, France

SLICED

 

A haunting is happening in this house that holds me
A sinister spirit that sighs in the shadows
A feeling of fear is feeding on a frenzy
As it ghoulishly groans and gasps from its gallows

A breath is baying by this bed that now binds me
With its fetid foulness that’s flitting by my face
A mischievous menace that will not let me be
The already dead trudging through time and space

A demon’s devising a death to destroy me
As he cloths me in his cold and callous caress
While neither face nor fingers nor form can I see
But there’s dread in the dark that I cannot suppress

A sour scent is staining the sheets where I slumber
And it’s reeking of rank and rotten revulsions
It exhales a heinous, a horrible, hunger
Its demonic desires and its cursed compulsions

A miserable monster while mumbling madness
Is slapping and sliding something sharp on my skin
Between life and death there’s not much to divide us
The guidance to good and the seduction of sin

A haunting is happening in this house that holds me
A sinister spirit groaning from its gallows
A face is now forming and two eyes can I see
As I’m dragged into darkness, sliced neath the shadows.

 

Haunted

The ghost

I’m haunted by

Is the one I’ve created

Myself, alone,

Singlehandedly,

Without intension

Or foresight,

Without the slightest foundation

To fright.

The ghost

I’m haunted by-

Lurking but a fraction away

From a fingers touch,

Like the mind numbing

Manipulation

Of a menacing muscle

Convulsively contracting,

That lingers

Amid a thousand other

Consciously thought out,

Relatively reasonably

Fears-

Is that one

That chills the most

Being from my own hand

Uniquely and ubiquitously

Carved in slivers

Of tempered steel.

The ghost

That haunts me

From Winter’s Fall

To Summers end

Is not

The nocturnal nuisance

Of nightmares,

Nor the shape shifter

Behind the sheet-

Shivering in shadows,

Nor the mythical entity

Or pulsating phantom

Of plasmic slime.

The ghost

That haunts me

In waking breath

And sleeping dream,

That resides on the edge

Of my happiness

And motivates the core

Of my sadness,

Is none other than I,

Myself

Or rather the self

I must become,

But the fear,

In truth,

Is what happens

If

I fall forgotten

Before begun.

photo-45

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

Haunted Heart

What particular particle

Of the self

Left itself behind

In your absence?

What form of matter

Is this

That moves

When all else in the night

Sleeps soundly?

Because here I am,

Stirred so,

My body jerked alert,

My eyes wide open

And my senses

Shouting to me

That you’ve just left the room.

And yet,

I know deep within

The deception

That resides in this thinking,

I know this feeling

Lacking in fact,

I know this belief

To be hallow of truth.

It is not

And cannot be,

In any reasonable way,

Your scent I can smell

Still sitting in this now chilly air.

It is not,

And likewise should not be,

The soft shuffle of your shoes

I can hear crossing the hall.

Tell me now,

In all seriousness-

With my conscious mind in control,

How I could believe it to be

The touch of your hand

That brushed me from slumber

Or the gentle kiss of your lips

On my neck, so soft,

That teased me out of a dream?

Why is it that now,

So much more than before,

You are the resonance of every

Waking thought,

As if all else

Were but secondary servings

Of something less substantial.

I am failing

In these nocturnal

Awakenings

To understand

How your absence

Speaks more about you

Than your presence,

All memories

Now more concrete fact

Than what was formerly a reality.

How does this present

Present you

More to me now

Than in the past?

I held your hands,

In those final moments,

Before you found your freedom

As the darkness

Released you finally

While everything else lost itself-

For what seemed like forever-

To silence

And a darkness of another sort

Fell upon my life

In your passing

And floundered to find its exit

Within me,

For so long after.

You see,

My dilemma,

My dearly departed-

I thought you gone,

I thought us done,

I thought our forever, over.

And yet,

Here I am-

Sitting up alone

Where once we lay together-

Blind to the sight of you

But convinced

Deep down,

In the depths of my soul,

That you feel me,

Hear me

And see me.

I know, with every ache of this solitary existence,

That you have left this earth for good,

But I cannot explain,

In any humanly perceivable way,

How much I feel you haunting my heart.

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