I played waiter on weekends to women and their well-worn wishes
and worries, after or in between or in avoidance of the shopping
and washing and cleaning and stewing, mothers sitting with mother,
packed onto the flattened pile of the green velvet sofa, scorched
with leftover tunes from parted parties and expired expectations,
milk and one sugar, black and boiling with a biscuit, coffee for her
up the road with hair in a chignon as if she wasn’t from round here
and later, maybe, a glass of wine squeezed from a box with a tap;
thinking we were posh when they changed our name from Coolock
to Clonshaugh. I was a willing waiter to these women on weekends
when they dropped in through the backdoor, over the mopped floor
to avoid the hassle of husbands and kids and all the copious concerns
that came a calling, later, looking for coins and cuddles and timings
for dinners and hoping for a spare biscuit while pulling up a chair
in the corner below the parrot; puffed up and padded on his perch.
I was a waiter, waiting, back then, on the far side of understanding,
wondering where I fitted in between the orders and observations,
teas and coffees, the women congregating and the men left waiting,
adding the cream and dunking biscuits and pondering the placement
of that perfectly positioned parrot; puffed and padded upon perch.


All words and photographs by Damien B Donnelly.

Inspired by a Poetry Prompt on Twitter.

Deuxième Peau/ Second Skin

You are my armor

To the world. My shield

To forge in front, to fight

The battles of which

I, myself alone, unmasked

And naked, am far too fearful for.


You are my role

Upon the stage of life

When the lights are on and the audience

Shifts slightly in their seats-

Judging my movements,

Motivations and intonations,

You are my script to fall back on,

My spotlight to lead me and that all important

Costume to cover me.


You are my Second Skin, a sheet

Of sheerness, unseen by the hungry mob

Who crowd, and cram and crow around me,

A protective gauze to sooth

Away their punches, to replenish me

When they’ve drained me

And to smile for me

When I’m dying inside.


When they look at me

They have no idea

I am looking at them

Through you.