The Sum Of

Everything is about numbers;
numbers to hold,
numbers to call,
numbers to count you back to when you last came,
to where you came from,
to the miles you’ve moved
since then, the things you lost,
the weight you gained, waiting.
Everything is about numbers;
race,
pace,
the breath you chase,
the peace once possible,
the place you never knew you were meant to be in
in relation to where you ended up,
in its place.
Everything is about numbers,
2 metres apart,
4 doors to the left
of where you thought you were going,
3 corridors in mourning grey, daisies on the floor,
1st floor,
cubicle number 5,
patient number 196629.
I was 18
the last time I was here.
I was 4 days in the 1st ward where 2 men died
on my 1st night.
They moved me
to another ward, later
when they figured out I wasn’t to be number 3.
I stayed 5 more days.
I’d been courting glandular fever-
the kissing disease, the doctor said with a giggle
and the nurse smiled, all 20 years of her wanting.
It had been 2 months
since I’d told someone I liked boys
instead of breasts.
6 months after lying in bed with the kissing fever
I was kissed for the 1st time
on the 8th of august.
I was 23 days away from 19.
Sometimes you catch the disease first,
sometimes it’s all in your head although
the comfort of kisses can’t be calculated on charts
like the outcome of an ECG
that happened at 13.46pm.

SLOW HUM

 

Slow hum.
Morning beckons-
delicate dance of daisies,
baby bunny in back garden
thinking it’s his whole world,
even the breeze is bouncy.
Breath better than before.
Slow hum
of day unfolding,
footsteps on sidewalks,
sights on slow lanes, softly humming.
Even runners head towards hedges now-
hedge funds thrown to the ditch-
see the bunny bouncing
far from the banks.
Slow hum,
songs from tall trees
in place of traffic, alarms, sirens.
A hushed hum dedicated to the lost light-
birds sing of wings now rising,
nests have grown cold
even under all this sunlight.
Some have flown, others simply slowed,
missing the integration under the hallow hum
of this softly slung isolation.
Slow hum.

  

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

SOMETIMES ITS DANGEROUS TO CONSIDER HOW TO BREATHE

 

There are clear patches in the sacred soil
at the far end of the side garden where life
is expected to return. We planted it last week.

There are clear patches in the soft sky
behind clever clouds that carry the condensation
I covet for those bald patches in the tilled soil
where there will be grass. We planted it last week.

There are sometimes clear patches in these caged ribs
that house the lungs that shoot me with shock waves
at irregular intervals when I fall too concerned
with how to breathe. I panicked last week.

Or when I’m too forgetful to distract myself
with painting the panic into poetry at the far end
of the side garden with its selected soil all curious
for the cunning clouds to carry forth its condensation
across that sweet sky. I planned this last week.

There’s a peace when I potter beyond the panic.
I know this. I planted it last week in my head
when I sowed the seeds that will soon be grass.
I planted them both, deep inside.

   

All words and photographs by Damien B Donnelly

BRIGHT LIGHTS IN GARDEN PONDS

 

Stars dance at the bottom of the back garden
where the rain waits in shallow ponds
for the earth to lick it dry.

Reflections are dependent on position-

you cannot catch the moon lying on the ground
from the front window where the sun lingered
a little longer today than the tear stained back
where stars tickle the empty earth we’d since weeded
while the moonlight’s absorbed by the shallows
never deep enough to hold the right answers
to the questions the imagination is too distracted
to decipher.

Breakable is dependent too on position and how we transition-

will the earth lick the stars from callous pond,
here, in the back garden while I sit trance-like,
in this window of the empty sky,
turning this piece of plastic over in my hands
to pacify panic, counting the intakes and holding…
one, two, three, four and then out… releasing
for a second longer like the sun that lingered earlier,
in the front, while I was out digging holes
in the earth at the back,

trying to get closer to the cure-

plunging pressured palms down into that hellish heat
to dry this pond of trapped starlight, allowing them
to rise again instead of dying out here,
on this empty earth.

There are times I want to quit this place, these concerns,
this kitchen, this garden, this land, this planet,
this moonlight and feel what it’s like to burn
through eternity and not just lay here,
waiting to be licked.

   

All words and photographs by Damien B Donnelly

ART ISN’T EASY

 

Colour
catches on canvas as we lean towards light,
a beam to break the boredom like a breath
above the water after diving up from darkness,
ripples run across the current,
ink spreads out like veins upon this page;

art isn’t easy, breathing isn’t any better-

both come up from down below,
rise through risk into life, into looking lively.
The texture of the wave is as temperamental
as the tone that sets itself out upon the page.
I dab the brush, horse hair taps connections
and colour comes at a gallop. It is clear-

control is not concerned with the creator.

This body needs air, runs broken, breathless-
breath and then less and less and less
and sometimes, sometimes I need to turn back

and teach the lungs how to draw. In.

Ink dries and petals stand, enchanting time
with their dismission of the word wilt.
Colour catches on canvas, clear and captured
and I lean in with the hope of drawing fresh
breath before the dive recalls me to paint
panic.

   

All words and paintings by Damien B. Donnelly

UP FOR AIR

 

Diving is not that difficult-

I’ve held onto trickier things
over time than just this breath.

Diving is not what’s difficult,
not that descent into darkness-

it is the light that blinds,
it is the sun that burns.

Diving is not that difficult-

we swim into silence,
current cuts movement,
we make moments of a sunken stillness

and surrender.
There is nothing shocking in surrendering.

It is not diving that is difficult

but climbing back up, breaking out,
letting go of being held, of being weightless.

Diving is not that difficult-

difficult is letting go of the fear
that you’ll have forgotten how to breathe.

 

All words and photographs by Damien B Donnelly

Photograph taken of the Haenyeo (female divers) sculpture on Jeju island, South Korea.

BOOKENDS; A CITE OR A SHADOW

 
A city and a shadow, a choice; to stay or leave,

to concede and crown myself as conquered and then be crushed
or to continue on as committed commuter,

to be complacent
or constantly curious for more light so as to comprehend the darkness,

to break down the barrier between all there is to fear
and come, face to face, with all there is to be.

   

All words and photographs by Damien B Donnelly

This month is about looking back to see how I can move forward. A final goodbye to Paris before moving to Ireland. 

YELLOW LIGHT

 

I never knew
how far I could bend
before I would break

until it snapped
before the sunrise
before the yearning
of the yellow light found me

longing,

looking for a lost breath
in the back of a dark chest
I had filled with every worry

that wasn’t mine.

Even an elastic
knows its limit
before it lies limp,

before it cannot recall
its own recovery,
before its tension
rips it from its reason.

   

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

15th poem for NaPoWriMo

A PANICKED PULL

Beat. Break. Beat. Break.

Is there a monitor of these movements

                that shift beneath the skin? A rummaging

within the ribs. I hear a broken bird

                beating against the bars of its cage,

broken.

All organs and organisms need oxygen and optimism.

Panic. Breathe. Panic. Breathe.

I shift within skin whose movements

                I cannot monitor. I have mounded

matters into metal I cannot master. Alchemist

                is not altruist. I can be an organ

of oxygen

but cannot count on optimism.

Breathe and so fill my lungs, air entering,

                blood flowing through arteries, the rising

and falling, the beating and beating

                and for every beat; a break, for each breath of air;

a drowning.

A bird was not born to fly under water.

Beat. Break. Beat. Break.

Medical is not the same as mental but mental

is now being measured out by medicinal.

Run. Rest. Run. Rest.

Running from the nest, the rest, the rest of me,

                    the mess that has been left in place

of all the rest that has left.

What has been left?

I stop in the park and watch the rest, watch a bird

                break from perch, bold and brave, unfold

against the force, feathers in flight, feathers in fight,

                winded in the chest. Pushed back. Pushing forward.

Pushed back.

Beat. Back. Beat. Back.

I cannot handle heights, I have felt too much

                the fall, my feathers are for fancy now.

I am done with flying. I am digging, deep

                within the ground, deep within the body.

I will pull out every root

till I pluck the panic

and catch a breath again that I can breathe.

Pull. Panic. Pull. Harder.

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly