PERFUMED POISON 

 

Coffee and smoke;

A perfumed poison,
Linger,
Devour and drink

This thing,

This delicious desire;
You naked,

I need a cup,

A kiss,

A breath of you,
One morning to make an eternity.

All words by Damien B. Donnelly

Inspired by the poetry magnet oracle.

BOTTLED PAST

 

It’s outstanding
what odours
can own,
how biographies
in bottles
can board,
how illusions can lie lay
in liquids,
how subtle scents
can be savoured.

I sprayed you
today
on my hands

-so cold to caress-

from a bottle,
a simple bottle,
in a shop,
a simple shop,
in a city
that never saw us,
in a land
that never heard us,

or knew
what we felt
or how we smelt,

that never caught
our connection
shattering into pieces,

leaving nothing
but a sweet scent
on the sheets
of other beds
in other streets.

All Words and Photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

SCENE IN EUROPE, SCENE 8, MADRID

 

Scene in Europe, Scene 8, Madrid and the Reoccurring Scent of a Dream

IMG_7337 IMG_7339

Henry sat on the edge of the bed feeling his burgeoning body cave and crumble. He was exhausted, confused and broken. In Cologne, after a date that proved as evaporating as water, he’d met a group of Spaniards celebrating their last night before heading home to Madrid the following day, and, although he spoke no Spanish and they had hardly any English, he managed to wangle a free ride to Spain.
Little did he know that it would take so long, that the car would be so small or even worse, how much and quickly they would all speak, simultaneously, in a language he’d only ever heard his mother’s overly familiar gardener speaking. The trip unfolded into a 17 hour long cacophony of voices clashing within the confines of a sardine can while everyone sweated, salivated and slurped up whatever liquids they could find from motorway takeaways. Sleep had been hoped for but proved impossible sitting between two 18 year old boys intent on beating each other up. He’d envisioned an entirely different kind of road trip when they’d first made the offer, thinking of positioning himself between the two girls of the party but they turned out to be the designated driver and navigator and claimed the more spacious position in the front of the car, so close but just far enough to be out of reach.
Up till now, his European vacation had not overly taxed his Father’s credit card but his Father had told him that, if absolutely necessary, he could treat himself to a little comfort and so, as soon as he arrived in Madrid, he jumped ship, or car, grabbed a cab and headed to straight to Plaza de Santa Ana and the ME Madrid Reine Victoria Hotel, lush and lavish and on his list of just-in-case-emergency hotels.
“A shower and then a little rest,” he told himself as the bed seemed to lift up to meet his back and sooth his aching head before, almost immediately, all went dark. The next thing he knew there was a bright, warm light shining on his face, his mouth was so parched that his tongue kept sticking to the roof of it and a drool had dried itself to the side of his stubbled cheek. He moved slowly in the bed realising he’d fallen asleep, missing the afternoon and dinner, along with the entire night as it was now 11am the following day.

After a much needed shower, he gelled back his blonde quiff, admired his now refreshed physique and set out through the tiny, twisting streets of burnt orange buildings, bustling with determined locals and distracted tourists until he made his way to the Puerta del Sol, the swarming centre of the city and centre of Spain itself, with its famous Bear and Madrone Tree statue, the symbol of city, and the ever ticking bell tower, famous to all Spaniards as it rings in the New Year on every TV in the country while everyone tries of gobble down 12 grapes in the first minute of the midnight. Freeing himself from the crowd, he took the Calle Mayor with its 19th century buildings either falling, fading or fabulous, he found his way down to the sun drenched, sand coloured Palacio surrounded by melting tourists all queuing to see the guilt lined walls so he wandered around the neighbouring Almudena Cathedral instead before managing to make it all the way across town to the Prado Museum before 4pm.
“I’m gonna know this place in less than two days,” he told himself when he got back to the hotel and through down the postcards of El Greco, Goya and Velazquez before devouring two twisting, sugar coated churros looking like giant french fries.

IMG_7341 IMG_7340

An evening nap left him dozy when he woke up as the clock flashed 10.15pm and he thought he’d missed another night till he heard the heavy bass of a sound system steaming in through the open window. Dressed casually in a fitted black V neck tee and white jeans, he took the elevator up to the top floor and gasped as the doors opened to the sight of the city spread out before him, glistening in the night light while the coolest group of people partied and paraded above it; beautiful girls in revealing dresses; sleeveless, backless, breathless and men in cropped trousers of every colour imaginable. It was the United Colours of Benetton meets Victoria’s Secret, all under a magnificent sky full of stars.

“Como Estas,” asked a dark haired goddess as he stepped onto the wonderfully scented terrace while she offered him a glass of champagne from the tray in her hand.

“Muy bien, gracias” he said, a little shocked at her beauty but taking the glass anyway as she looked him up and down and smiled seductively before turning away and vanishing into the crowd.

“Como Estas,” came a voice from over his shoulder and he turned to see another dark diva smiling at him while serpent-like curls swayed over her barely covered breasts. Henry didn’t know where to look but couldn’t bring himself to divert his eyes.

“Muy bien,” he replied again, ‘I am fine’ being the only reply in Spanish he knew how to say but she’d already turned and was sauntering away like a model twirling back on the end of a catwalk.

This felt crazy, like he’d woken up to his hottest, favourite dream, with audio as well as visual.
As he watched her disappear like the last one, into the crowd, another girl, this time a blonde with silver painted lips and an almost transparent dress, sailed past him, blew him an air kiss and offered another “Como Estas,” without even stopping for a reply.

Henry knocked back the champagne and made his way to the bar for something stronger but, from out of nowhere, another tray of champagne glasses came up to his face, held again by another Spanish beauty, offering the same “Como Estas” greeting.

“I’m in love,” he answered this time, the last glass kicking his courage and labido into place, “you smell amazing,” he told her as the nights breeze caressed him with her scent, realising it was the same smell he had been inhaling since the doors of the elevator had opened.

“Lo siento, no hablo Ingles,” she told him before she offered the same greeting to a man standing next to him, along with the same enticing smile. At least he understood when someone told him they couldn’t speak English but he was a little offended that the smile and look of come-to-bed-with-me wasn’t just for him.

“Fucking hell mate, d’you see the ass on that one?” questioned the man next to him in a heavy British accent.

Henry turned, relieved he could finally speak to someone in his own language but a tiny badge on the collar of the man’s shirt distracted him. It looked like a tiny bottle and splashed across it were the words ‘Como Estas’.

“I’m sorry, you mind if I ask… what’s with the badge… on your shirt?” Henry asked, pointing to the welcome words that he’d originally thought were opening lines and already a little worried as to what the response might be.

“Ah, didn’t you get one in your room, when you checked in, with the stash of samples? I’m with the sales team, over from London… for the bash. So there’s an American team, eh?” the man asked him, “didn’t realise they’d take it global, so fucking soon. It’s a bit cheesy for my liking but I guess you lot like cheesy, sorry mate.”

“That’s all right but I’m still missing something, sales team for what?” Henry asked.

“Christ mate, you had too much bloody booze or what? The launch… this launch. ‘Como Estas’, the new perfume. Don’t it smell like a real dirty fucking dream?”

“Yes,” relied Henry, deflated and disappointed yet again, “like a reoccurring dream you just can’t wake up from,” he admitted as he downed the glass of champagne in one go. Europe was suddenly beginning to smell far to aromatic for his liking.

  IMG_7342IMG_7344

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

SCENE IN EUROPE, SCENE 6, CUNNING COLOGNE

 

Scene in Europe, Scene 6, Cunning Cologne.

IMG_7189IMG_7185

He was sitting by the edge of the river, proudly stroking the growth of his beard, as tourist boats sailed by when she passed his table and her scent caught him, a lingering fragrance of citrus and bergamot, flooding him with childhood memories of beaches filled with exotic tourists who’d frequented his usually quiet seaside town during the summer months, hijacking the harbour with their boats, the sands with their strange accents and all the while emblazoning his local haunts with an air of excitement and mystery.
Dressed in an almost transparent turquoise skirt that caressed her ankles and a cream, almost gold, fitted tee shirt, she smiled as if in reply to his stare and took a table next to his, even though the terrace was empty except for them.
“You are foreign, no? American?” she asked in a direct and clear voice.
“Yes,” Henry answered, adding a cough to clear his throat and break his stare.
“I think so, I see you here and that is what I think, you look much too relaxed to be German.”
“Well, can’t say I know much about that, only been here a day… you know, but you got the American tourist damn right, and in one go. Am I such a goddamn giveaway?”
“No,” she replied, both immediate and forceful, as if there were no point to ever question her answer and she swept blonde tresses back from her face that bellowed on a breeze that continued to cover him with teasing traces of her scent, “but you have an air of elsewhere, if you understand me correctly, you have a… a certain mystery to you,” she said, almost repeating what he had just thought himself with regard to the people who’d visited his home town, now way across the seas.
“I gotta tell you, your perfume’s sweet as,” he told her, sensing a directness to the situation that was both integral and to be encouraged.
“Oh,” she said, almost dismissively, “this stuff,” she continued as she brought her wrist up to her noise and took in her own aroma, “I guess it’s ‘sweet as’, like you say, to someone who does not live here. No one from here would ever remark on it, but thank you,” she said and he wasn’t sure if that had been an acknowledgement of his own ignorance or a disappointment at her own countrymen and their disregard for all that lay beneath their noses, literally.
“May I ask what you’re doing here, at such an hour, you know, for a Tuesday?”
“I may ask you too, no?” she responded, cunningly throwing his own question back at him.
“Well, for me, it’s just like you say, I’m the relaxed tourist, remember? So I got my excuse.”
She raised an eyebrow and smiled at his slowly reverberating response before turning towards the water to watch an open topped barge pass by, shipping coal down the ancient flowing valley of the River Rhine.
“It’s good to step out of oneself, now and again, do you not think? Test the other water.”
“I heartily agree,” he replied, reminding himself of the various waters he recently waded through and the ladies who’d only been too willing to share them with him since he’d arrived on this exotic continent, overflowing with tastes and odours that he’d previously only dreamt of.
“I go to the Chocolate Museum this morning, two children were at the cacao fountain and, behind their parents backs, they let the chocolate trickle onto their tongues,” she told him,” it’s that building just over there,” she continued, pointing just a short way down the river.
“No one from here goes in, you know, we don’t even eat that chocolate. But I saw them and wondered what it felt like, to be so excited, to taste what you shouldn’t, what you usually can only dream about and then… well, I suddenly found myself doing the very same thing. Can you believe it?” she asked him.
“No, but gimme a sec,” he said and he began to imagine her delicate tongue slipping its way out from her tender lips and moaning slightly as the warm liquid caressed her tongue.
“Okay, now I can,” he said as he shifted in his chair and spread his legs in her direction.
“I see you can,” she said, giving him a sultry smile before standing up and walking over to him.
“4711,” she told him, “Glockenglasse 4. See you at 5pm, today, then you can really get close to the scent that is so arousing to you. I see you there,” she said and suddenly she was off before he could reply.
Shocked at her straight forwardness, he quickly noted her address on his phone. Jesus, he’d been told the Germans were direct but this was something else. He’d been in the city less than 24 hours, was leaving the following day, but had already scored and scored big.

IMG_7186IMG_7183
At 4.30pm, he was on the way to her apartment, No. 4711, in the Glockengasse, building number 4. He was wearing navy American Eagle jeans that gripped this thighs and a crisp white teeshirt, trying to suggest an air of low key, kinda-bothered-but-not-really.
That afternoon he’d wandered haphazardly around the ancient town, past the imposing darkness of the city’s impressive Cathedral, a short flit around the modern art museum next door before taking some photos of the old City Hall as a smiling, newly married couple posed on the historic Renaissance steps of the hall’s magnificent Loggia which looked as if it had been kidnapped from some sleeping Italian city.
Later, after changing at his hotel, he turned off the Rudolphplatz and wandered through the gay dominated streets known as the Bermuda Triangle and realised that not only were gazes turning in the direction of his 21 year old ass, but if he didn’t hurry up, then he might not make it past some of the tougher looking leather clad drooling faces, all busy dreaming up ways to show an American in Germany how down right perverse they could truly be.
Once free of the wolf whistles and surprising amount of chaps without a horse in sight, he felt a certain stride slip its way into his walk. This Europe was doing its very best to make a man out of him. Mamma would be pleased, he thought. She’d had her own share of foreign adventures right on her own doorstep, throughout his childhood, with the Cuban cabana boy, the Mexican gardener and the Brazilian so-called masseuse, so perhaps it was rooted in his jeans after all.
He crossed a busy intersection and immediately came face to face with a startling Neo-Gothic building with the number 4711 splashed across its top floor. Instantly his heart began to sink. What the hell, he though to himself as the stride slipped from his legs and his steps became heavy and slow. Under the arches of the lower floor he could already make out countless windows stacked with enormous bottles of perfume with a turquoise and gold label.
As he stepped beneath one of the arches and, as the sun slipped away from his fair hair, he made out the name of the perfume, Eau du Cologne, and suddenly a German sense of twisted humour flooded his 21 year old innocence and foreigner gullibility. He’d been duped, he thought to himself. He’d met what looked like the perfect girl by the water in Cologne who’d turned out to be nothing more than a walking advert for the water of Cologne itself.
“You’re one damn fool, Henry,” he said to himself as he opened the door to the ancient perfume store and followed up on the truth of her offer by really getting close to her scent, even if it was only in a cold, but well packaged, bottle.

IMG_7188IMG_7184

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

SCENE IN EUROPE, SCENE 4, PARIS

Prose,
Scene in Europe,
Scene 4,
Paris, L’ombre dans l’Eau / Voyages Extraodinaires

IMG_6625 IMG_6628

The Arts et Metiers metro station in Paris was deserted and glowed like the inside of Jules Verne’s Nautilus with its mock porthole windows, copper clad walls and giant cogs peering down from the roof. Winter winds rushed through the tunnels before dissipating in the open space of the platform as if Captain Nemo’s ghost had finally given up his search for the unexplored. The underworld voyage of Professor Pierre Aronnax had been Jack’s favourite childhood story, even if he’d felt himself to be 20,000 leagues away from an adventurous life at the time but now, how things had changed. Not only had he left home, but he’d left behind him the only continent he’d ever known and was busy blazing his own path through a whole new one, leaving a trail of tried and tasted fruits in his wake.

IMG_6726 IMG_6725

Today, he’d just witnessed 19th century cars with wings, flying machines resembling giant bats and a whole world that would have been an inspiration to Verne, all housed in the Musee des Arts et Metiers which now resided just meters above him. His childhood dreams had practically turned into reality under the stained glass windows of the museum’s 13th Priory Saint Martin des Champs stocked with early aeroplanes and avionic automobiles while a giant Foucault Pendulum swung from the domed ceiling, demonstrating the rotation of the earth. Perhaps ghosts did exist, he had been thinking. Perhaps time travel was possible, he told himself as he set down his already well worn back pack and remembered those joyous nights from his youth, spent dreaming about underwater adventures and around the world travels. And now here he was, travelling the world himself and experiencing all it had to offer. And it was already offering a lot more than a boy of 6 had even dared to imagine.

IMG_6616 IMG_6629

Very slowly, the unmistakable sound of high heels made their way towards him from one of the connecting corridors. Closer and closer the footsteps came, at first from above, then apparently down a staircase until finally the sound terminated behind him. He turned around from the copper wall he’d been resting against to find a woman in a red dress currently bent over, with one foot perched upon a shiny metallic seat, while she seductively adjusted the central black line of her stockings. A reminder of the wet weather outside dripped from her auburn hair and made dark seeping trails along the back of her fitted dress. She was perhaps 40, a curvaceous size 10 and surprisingly smelt of the one perfume that had haunted his adolescence. It was the one his mother’s acupuncturist wore when she came to provide his mother with a temporary relief from the stress of her life, and by stress he meant how to decide on which glass was best to use for an early morning fix of vodka. The acupuncturist, coincidentally French, had ignited many imagined scenarios in Jack’s juvenile mind, all centred around her particular scent, which he later discovered was called l’Ombre dans l’Eau; the shadow in the water, and it was that very same aroma that now caressed his nostrils, all these years later. He stood, almost paralysed, watching this mysterious woman run her fingers delicately over the back of her lower calfs. It was one of the most erotic moments he had ever experienced, a moment when long ago adolescent wet dreams met a moist Parisian reality.

“Avez-vous une cigarette, Monsieur?” she asked without looking at him, suddenly breaking the silence, acknowledging him and his stare and all it longed for, without dismissing any of it.

“I’m sorry, I… I don’t speak french,” he replied, surprised that his vision was actually audible.

“I ask if you have a cigarette?” she repeated in english with a deliciously daring French accent that did nothing to diminish Jack’s day dream.

“No, sorry but, well… I don’t think you can smoke here,” he told her in a slightly flustered american drawl, even though since being in Europe the only thing that had flustered him was figuring out how to leave a bedroom politely when morning broke and language barriers shut down, far from late night bars and beers that had previously loosened inhibitions.

“Dommage, je besoin d’un petit quelque chose. You know? I just need a little something,” she said, teasingly, turning to him with a pout on her jungle red lips which told him inexplicably that a little something was the very least of what she was after. He might only be starting out on gaining his worldly experience, but the little he had so far experienced thought him enough to understand the substance of subtlety. He rubbed the stubbled cheeks of his face, like a lion preening himself before his prey while he toyed with ideas of what to say next, wondering how to prolong the pleasure he was feeling in this woman’s company. Stay in the moment, he told himself. Don’t let this slip away.

“Maybe I’ve some in my backpack,” he said, turning back to where his bag was stashed, already knowing there were no cigarettes inside but not knowing what else to say or do.

Suddenly, there was a clash of metal rubbing against metal and a train swept into the station, taking Jack unawares and he turned around quickly to watch it. It stopped for only a second before an electronic whistle blew and it was off again, without the doors even opening, but he could have sworn this very same woman was staring at him from inside one of the carriages, hair still wet, damp red dress clinging to her luminous body and a cigarette between her fingers on the way to her Jungle Red lips. And then the train was gone.

Slowly, Jack turned back to where the woman had been standing to discover all that remained was a small pool of water. She was gone, vanished, departed. Perhaps it was the light or the wind, which had now returned, but he was sure a shadow moved, for a moment, in the water.

All Words and Photos by Damien B. Donnelly