BETWEEN THE COURSES AND THE CLOTH

 

Gracious and godly, if I recall correctly,
you sat stocky at the table and told us
your passions for paintings and pretty
things and how you’d fallen often, of late,
on bended knee over a foreign body
to worship the whole beauty of his being.
I was shy of 20 at the time, new to dating
and dinner decorum and you- new to me
in this costume of finicky dinner guest.

I recalled you instantly from years earlier
in your work clothes, but said nothing
of how I myself had come to bow
on bended knee before you, confessing
my dirty poor boy childhood secrets
of curses and disrespecting my elders,
in that parish you described over pre-
dinner drinks as devoid of any delights.

I remembered you most as angry man,
sharp like a stick that knew how to smack-
clearly chocked by the confines of that collar,
cursing from the pulpit when babies cried
during your long, slow moving soliloquy’s
of the suffering saint stripped on the cross
and all us sinners, all smelly in their seats.

I wondered, in between the forgotten entree
and the main course of stuffed pheasant,
what it took to be a man of the cloth
in a modern age while I was listening
to your collarless sermon at that table,
after you’d turned to be someone else’s
parish priest, the night you regaled us with tales
of the ring you wore on a recent Vatican visit-
pierced in pride of place beneath that very cloth. 

  

All words and photographs by Damien B Donnelly

BLACK THREADS

 

Worthy.
Are we worthy? Are you?
I am not worthy to receive you.
I am not worthy.

These are not the words
of any wizard, of any wonder,
of any wonderful god.

Wonderful does not whip us with worthless.
Wonderful does not teach worthless words.

Worthy.
I am not worthy…
These are the words of men
dressed in robes; black threads
woven over winged capes (not that dark knight bearing light)
not dressed as plain men,
preachers married to invisible faiths,
not married to people,
not knowing true love
or what remains after its loss.

Worthy.
Are we worthy, Are you?
Lord, they are not worthy
to speak for me, not in my name
and not, either, in yours.

Worthy.
Were they not worthy,
those wards your black winged women
washed away in the water?
Where is the worth in the world?
I thought laundries
were meant to clean clothes
not suffocate babies in sewers
beneath the shadows.
Was it worth it?
All that worry washed away with the waste.

Worthy?
Lord, here is my worth.
I place it, next to their judgement,
by your feet
and you can decide what has worth
and whose words are worthless
as I reteach myself the value of that single word
in this complicated world,
as I build my own words to be a witness
to losing the less and seeing the more,
I will be my own critic
keeping the Christian and shaking the ‘anity’
that lingers too close to insanity.

Worthy.
I hear only the devil in my head
whispering of worthless.
Surely the right man should be brighter,
lighter?

Worthy.
Here is my worth…

thread carefully upon it,
not like the prints the pious
already pressed into it
from their proud position
behind the pulpit.

I live in the wild world, not privy to any protection.

Worthy.
Are they worthy to receive me?
I profess this belief, to you.
Alone.

  

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

26th poem for National Poetry Writing Month

BORDERS AND BOUNDARIES, NO. 10, NAPOWRIMO

 

I hear you

preaching

still

from your performance 

pulpit,

the shit-pit of sermon 

where you scared 

the simple man.

I hear you 

still

preaching 

of parish and prayer

with your manners moody 

at mass 

with the mouldable masses.

Years later

over dinner 

and before dessert 

you spilt your sins

between the bread and wine,

your collar in the car

and your blessed ring

upon your manhood.

We can dress in robes,

we can fuck who we want,

but you can’t preach before the choir 

if you take boys in for hire.

All words and drawings by Damien B. Donnelly