I do not play chess.
I grew bored of board games at an early age, as an only child
who lived in his head where fairies were magical and not mauled.
I guess I had enough make believe on my shoulder, already.
I was ultra-shy as a kid,
I guess I didn’t understand who I was and tried not to get tied up
in conversations that consisted of ruminations of who I wanted
to become. Identity was difficult to determine on a blank canvas
that already had sections sinking below the surface.
We had a cherry blossom tree
in the front garden that rained pink petals onto the lawns
in late spring, I remember standing under them in a white suit,
new holder of the holy spirit and wondering if it would make it
any easier and what is the weight of a knot.
I would slay dragons for you.
I remember saying that over and over, I’d heard it once, in a movie
when I was too young to know how many people I’d say it too
and how few would slay even a tame dog in return.
I know who I am, now
since those quiet days under the fall of the cherry when rainy days
meant silly games and the coming of the spirit didn’t have as much
effect on my soul as it did on my wallet.
I have tasted more, too-
beauty, bounty, boys, bitches, sunsets and saints, gods and clowns,
serpents that tasted sweet and a certain kind of cute
that gave venomous a new name. I too have found the bitter side
of who I can be, they’d put me on a pedestal at a young age
and left me there, perishing alone, at that height and since then my knees
have always trembled at the sight of stairs.
I’ve climbed right down since then
and managed to make my way out of the gutter while putting together
my own idea of what it takes to embrace the darkness while shining
like a fucking star.


All words and photographs by Damien B Donnelly



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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