THE THAW

 

Blue is the breath,
blue is the earth, morning, early,
the sky a clean canvas of white and the earth; blue,

a bed of frozen blues born from dawn’s breath,

a blanket of freshly fallen slow snow,
trembling along the hairs of the land, caught
in the calm before the crunch, before the footprints
mould into mud all that is now a myriad of mystery.

There is beauty in blue,
there can be beauty in being broken,
in time being frozen, in the breath baying.

I twist and tremble between these sheets
still fresh upon these old shadows, still crisp
over this drying skin. I twist and tremble through this season
to be unsure, falling into blue, into time, time is frozen

along with all that is born in this bed,
a blanket of fallen findings; some things
I thought to be more, some things
I hoped to mean less,

like loss; less loss,
less time, less breath, more blue,
the mystery is already moulding into mud.

Blue is the breath and slow,
soft as the early morning snow
so slow, awaiting nothing more than
the affirmation of an approaching melt.

 

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

 

 

FRIENDS FOR A SEASON

 

They were just girls in a stifling city,
each but a slip of the seasons,
baring a hope for what they might see
and running for different reasons.

Jenny was winter and already withered
and looking for comfort from the cold,
she was journey and distance all rolled into one
and the secrets she stored had never been told.

Mary was springtime and fragile under foot
yet thoughts took root in her head,
she was innocence dressed in a short mini skirt,
a fledgling of faith, a seedling to be fed.

Sarah was stuck in a summer since parted
always looking for what she had lost,
as illusive as tides that trickle through time,
she sunk beneath skin now frozen from the cost.

Together they lived and together they fought
for a season on the old river lane,
but when fall came calling all connection unraveled
and the three girls parted with their bags still full of pain.

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

BORDERS AND BOUNDARIES, NO.22, NAPOWRIMO

 

On blood soaked walls 

he painted his pain 

in shades of scarlet 

crying,

on walls worked red

he captured the child

with cries that still 

are drying,

on scarlet walls

he hung his hurt

on hooks too high 

to handle,

in rooms since then

he sees that shade

still kindling 

in the dwindling candle.

All words and drawings by Damien B. Donnelly

KEPT SILENT

 

Worries weaves
beneath the skin
like filagree
all twists and thin,
but secrets seep
as veins grow violent
for nothing comes
of sins kept secret.

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

Inspired by A Twitter prompt ‘Kept Silent’ from #Written River

AGEING FRUIT IN THE HOT SUN

 

And so my first try at online Magnetic Poetry, at first glance I thought “Well, this is fun,” but I was wrong. A challenge of limitations.

 

 

Beat and blow
and bare away,

let not blood rip beauty black

We watch,
we want,

“I want hot peaches, honey,” you said

“No music for me,

no sun”

 

All Words by Damien B. Donnelly, limitations by Magnetic Poetry.

BREAKING NEWS; A TINY STORY

IMG_0344

It wasn’t front page breaking news or even in the supplement section. It wasn’t the sex scandal that scorched the headlines or bloody enough to have readers beat each other for a copy but it still found its way into black and white, pressed forever, or until the print faded, into a line between births and marriages, deaths and disasters.

“Mary, come take a look,” Peter called to his wife at No. 19, “it’s here. Look at it.”
Mary wrapped her dressing gown around her waist but didn’t need to ask what he meant as she came downstairs towards what she knew would be the tiniest of ads, for what more was there to say?

“Have you seen it?” Joe asked his brother over breakfast at No. 15.
“I did,” he said sombrely, “still can’t… can’t believe it. Has she called?”
“No,” replied Joe, “not a sound, but, sure… we’ll see her later.”

At No. 21, Matthew could hear the newspaper being shoved through the letterbox. He was lying on the daybed, in that room, with the cot, staring at a million stars they’d filled the ceiling with only a month ago.

Michael was busy folding the morning paper into a million creases at No. 22, covering it with smudged fingerprints, looking for yesterday’s football results when Anne came in and saw the mess he was making of everything that had kept her awake all night.
“Would it kill you to think of something other than sport, just for once?” she asked him, pulling the paper from his jam-stained clutch and bringing it up to her chest like it were gold leaf about to dissolve and there was nothing she could do to stop it.

At No. 20, the kids were throwing Cheerios at one another when John walked into the kitchen, wondering why his normally rule-rigid wife was ignoring the commotion as she held the newspaper up, lost in what she was reading. Was the world ending and only the newspaper was reporting it? He walked behind her to see what was stealing her attention and then, there it was, the tiny message, not even a paragraph, but it had been enough to let riot rule at their breakfast table that morning. He put his hands on his wife’s shoulders and Alice knew, instantly, that that gentle touch meant more than any words he could ever say.
“I can’t go over yet,” she told him, looking up from the newspaper to her children who played as if there wasn’t a worry in the world. Suddenly she felt guilty at being able to see her own kids on front of her, as wild and wearisome as they were.

Back at No. 21, Jane was also lying down, but in their own bedroom, when she heard the weight of the newspaper falling to the floor downstairs, just below the letterbox. She felt the force of it like it was a building falling on her chest. She couldn’t move, breath. She couldn’t face reading it, not just yet. Was it wrong to seek comfort in the shadows and stillness for just a moment longer? Was it wrong to let reality linger outside for another minute or two? She knew he was in the other room, that room, with its yellow walls and butterfly border. Why had they listened to everyone telling them to paint it yellow? Why was yellow a neutral colour? Now it felt simply cold, sickly and uninviting, or at least that’s what she imagined. She hadn’t gone into that room since, well, not for a while.

In a daze at No. 19, Mary made Peter his coffee, with a dash of milk and two spoonfuls of sugar. When she finished, she sat across from him at the table, watching him drink it, wondering how and when she’d made it. His black hair had a life of its own in the morning, finding every way to stick up, out of place and at odd angles but she would’t have him any other way. He put his cup down and caught her stare. The clock ticked away on the wall but he heard nothing except his wife’s gentle breathing and he realised that if that one sound was all he heard, for the rest of his life, then that would be more than enough.

Joe stood by the hallway mirror of No. 15, attempting to knot his tie for the forth time while his palms perspired.
“Ah, for God’s sake, did Dad teach you nothing?” his brother asked him as he came over and took the tie and all its complications away from his younger brother. When he finished, they both turned and looked at each other in their black suits, white shirts and black, now neatly knotted, ties.
“Our sister needs us today, so head up, young man,” he told Joe, smiling at him in the mirror but they both knew there was nothing concrete behind that smile to hold it up for long.

“For feck’s sake, come on now, Mick, why are we always the last ones? You’re always saying that women are the slow ones! And look at you, Jesus, was it too much to ask for a suit… on today of all days?” Anne was asking at No. 22.
“Ah for Christ’s sake, you kidding me? It’s bloody Tuesday, Anne. I’ve a job this afternoon. Want me fixing a leak in that penguin suit? I mark it and I’ll never hear the end of it from you.”
She took a deep breath, as if every reply from him lately was the wrong reply and he knew exactly what she was thinking, saw it all on her face. 18 years of marriage was a lesson in reading expressions, if nothing else.
“Hey, come here to me for a minute,” he said and, totally unexpected, he put his arms around her and held his wife against his chest like he had done so often in the early years and it felt so good, in that moment, to be held, to be wanted, to be still seen amid all that was now invisible.

“I want you both to behave today,” Alice told her kids while John finished washing the breakfast dishes at No. 20.
“Maybe we should get a dishwasher,” she then said randomly, “to make life a little easier, you know?”
“I think it’ll take more than just a dishwasher for that,” he answered with nod towards their two blonde boys, already kicking each other under the table, “don’t you agree? And you were the one who wanted kids?”
“We wanted kids,” she corrected him, “and aren’t we lucky to have them,” Alice reminded him and he hit his head with a sudsy covered hand for his majorly inappropriate remark in the midst of the current devastation that had brought a silence and a halt to life on their normally idilic street.
“Jesus, I’m sorry, you’re right… of course we are. I’m a gobshite at times.”
“That’s true, but I love you for that too,” she told him as she walked behind him on the way to put on her black dress and ran her hand along the broad expanse of his back, the back which she nestled her head against every night.

When they finished dressing at No. 21, they came downstairs together as the cars arrived. The silence felt like a presence that had moved in with Jane and Matthew, suffocating them. The only break came from occasional cries that filled certain rooms, cries from adults now, not their child. The newspaper was lying by the door. They didn’t pick it up. They knew what was written inside.

‘We held you for only a moment, but we’ll remember you for a lifetime.’

All Words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly.

Photograph taken in the Musee Rodin, Paris, France.

Originally published by OriginalWriting in Ireland in their 2015 Short Story Anthology ‘Second Chance.’

THE COMFORT OF THE SHADOWS

 

Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 00.58.03

I seek out silence
as I settle in the shadows,
as I settle in the darkness,
as the darkness drowns me in its silence.
I seek out comfort,
I seek out solace,
a space safe from sonic stimulants
escaping sound
beneath the silence,
a refuge from the rage
that roars within my head,
raging, roaring, raiding reason,
cover me in comforting cradles
until unconsciousness carries me off.
I lean into nothing,
the soothing embrace of the nothingness
blanketed within the darkness,
l lean in to draw breath,
I lean in to draw silence from these hands
no longer holding pencils, painting pictures,
painting words in lyrical lines.
I seek to draw distractions
from this piling pressure
that towers over me,
that topples down on me,
that trembles tap tap on my temples,
trembles, trembles,
a terrific torture, torture, torture
pounding, pounding, pounding, pounding.
I seek shelter from the weight that weighs against neck,
that climbs over blood and bone,
that steals sight from eye
and human from head.
I seek comfort
in the silence of the all-encompassing darkness
and wait for the suffocating pounding to stop.

All Words and Photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

 

THE STRUGGLE

To be a poet of
The heart and mind
Is to step away
From all that is close
And to look back
From afar.
To struggle
With the truth
Of what we are told
And to search for
What we believe.
To fall on the road
And document the struggle
To stand again.
To be torn from
The heart of your dearest
By the changing hand
Of that very heart
And find a place again,
In your own, alone.

To breath again
And remind yourself
To do this daily,
To look into the dark
And, in blindness,
Search for the light.

To dream at night
While accepting
The reality
Of the coming dawn.

To open your eyes
To an unknown world
When you were safe
In the one you’d accepted.
To wander
The lonely road
That you must take,
Alone.
To cry,
To shed your pain,
To cleanse your body,
To clear out
So as to move on.
To sob
In the face of beauty
And smile
In the midst of horror
So as to live.

To travel
The mind’s horizons
And discover the bounties
Hidden in its depths
So as to release the poet
Inside lays within us all.

IMG_3190