TRACKS AND CHANGES

 

They’ve built a running track beneath the low hum
of this humdrum small town with its two pubs,
skinny batch and round tower. Men lift weights
with uncovered arms that’ve been internally attacked
by giant sized popcorn. I lift smaller weights
in the privacy of the shadows in the back garden
but have still yet to distinguish the difference
between mass and muscle. Every day they build
more roads, ring roads, roundabouts around us
as if concrete tongues were unfolding from metal
monsters driven by manmade megalomaniacs
while we take shorts walks around slowly widening
circles, digging out those older lanes that twist and turn
around rural trees instead of the line of an urban plan.
Everything keeps changing- bodies, muscles, roads,
routes, plans, personalities. Nature is the only constant-
still rooted in who she always was. I was not born
to be so confident. Even my name is not the name
I began with and even earlier someone gave me
another name before giving me away. But I’ve stopped
running and covering things over, being naked now
is so much more revealing than when I was born,
the scars on this skin tie together the threads
of my tale, even these skinny arms have been seduced
recently by so much more sunshine than ever before,
digging through the dirt to get closer to those roots
turning through the earth. The view is once again
familiar when looked at close up, in detail,
even if all the cars race you away from what matters-
the vines of veins trying to climb out of these ditched
trenches. They have a running track here in this town
and when I follow its route I realise how enlightening
it can be to make steady circles around all that you
had not yet considered about yourself instead of
hasty tours around the edges of this cold old world. 

  

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

COMING BACK TO COURAGE

 

I’d heard of songs being sung in other fields
before I could even read the notes.
Sometimes scores are set before the scenes
have even been shot. Brave, they said,
but I shrugged and set off. I had yet to learn
how fear could freeze.

A fool’s soliloquy is often lighter
than the enlightened and I’d little room for weight
during take-off. I’m certain I folded nothing more
than dreams into a back pack just beyond
the ripening of twenty. Courage hadn’t yet come
to be of any concern.

It arrived much later, when the breath disappeared.

Only when you cannot breathe can you appreciate
what it takes to climb down
from the mountain of ignorance you’d ascended.
Notes can only be held for so long and the higher
the note the more difficult it is to control.

I learned, midway through discovering
I was expected to construct my own questions
before finding the answers, that I was more base
than tenor though forever reaching for that illusive note.
You need breath for both but it takes bravery
to bring either back home.

I didn’t hear those strings strung over home lands
until I was so far away that sound
circled back on itself and I became the shell-
far from shore, finally a chamber to house an echo
that held a song swelling in from the old sea.

Leaving didn’t require anything other than the frivolity
of a single flute but coming back, coming back required
the courage of an entire orchestra.

 

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

RUNNING BY THE RIVER OF THOUGHT

 

I slipped off to the edge of the city,
this morning, where the stream found a stillness
and the air a crispness that kept confusion at a distance.

I stood beneath the bridge
that took the traffic and its tension far from me
and found the swimming swan rising higher in the stream,
the follow on from the floods that now seem so far
with these skies of blue, speaks of colour
in a park, on a Friday, in February,
where an artist once came to paint.

A park, in Paris, on an island,
by the Seine where the waters wash with colour
when you look beyond the shadows, a new rise
basking in the glory of what was once regarded
as great, by those who regarded the value of greatness.

Straight and tall, shiny structures shoot up,
like soldiers, by a stream ever in movement,
ever following the route, today’s design will be tomorrow’s sign
of an age the river has outrun.
I see trees towering tall in waters,
once rising, now falling, still strong, still weathering
the storm, still willing to be remembered, like an artist
captures beauty, captured beauty, in a park,
once, on a Sunday in a time since parted.

Nature is not in our control,
nature is willing to withstand all our wilfulness,
will not drown in these days of destruction,
will not worry, as we do, will not bend
but will let life flow around it,
in hope, in harmony.

In a park, on a Friday,
on an island, by the river,
in jogging shoes and sweatpants,
I ran through days already distanced
and tried to make connections between the road
winding onwards and the trees rising upwards, like the water,
rushing onwards like time, ever at play with its participants,
with all that it connects, with benches for the breathless
to recapture breaths and wheels
to help us follow the stream.

And in the windows,
I saw reflections of those towering trees,
never to be forgotten, blue of sky in the beauty of light,
light and harmony, colour and shade, captured in what is new,
a hint of what knows the bounty of age.

And on the river, by the park, on a Friday, in Paris,
I stopped and saw my reflection in the gentle waters
and in the waters saw colour, colour and light,
by a boat, in a park, in a city ever changing,
where an artist came to capture it all on a Sunday,
a simple Sunday, not a Friday but a Sunday, searching
for something between the shadow and light,
between all that will fade and all
the rest that cannot stay.

 

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

 

BLINDING LIGHT

Blanket light,

blinding

in the back seat,

not all light is light,

the sun can burn through its beauty,

the mind can tear through its thoughts

as wheels will themselves

across these bridges,

feet too far from the ground

to feel its gravity,

we build our own graves

along these roadside reveries.

Blanket light,

burning

in the back seat,

leather licks skin,

we cannot wash away the dust,

we cannot break away

from that grey light

burning bright behind the sunlight,

we are desert bound or ocean open;

we either dry up or seek salvation

in the comfort the current creates.

Blanket light,

a burning blindness breaking

through the open window

on this back-seat taxi-taker.

Destination is not always the desire

when running from reason.

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

FRIENDS FOR A SEASON

 

They were just girls in a stifling city,
each but a slip of the seasons,
baring a hope for what they might see
and running for different reasons.

Jenny was winter and already withered
and looking for comfort from the cold,
she was journey and distance all rolled into one
and the secrets she stored had never been told.

Mary was springtime and fragile under foot
yet thoughts took root in her head,
she was innocence dressed in a short mini skirt,
a fledgling of faith, a seedling to be fed.

Sarah was stuck in a summer since parted
always looking for what she had lost,
as illusive as tides that trickle through time,
she sunk beneath skin now frozen from the cost.

Together they lived and together they fought
for a season on the old river lane,
but when fall came calling all connection unraveled
and the three girls parted with their bags still full of pain.

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

STILL WATER 

 

We were like water:
rushing, rubbing
against bed and bank,
running; to get to nowhere,
not knowing where,
not knowing
we were already there.
We were like water;
no longer running,
our tale
withering on the river.

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

PICTURING PARIS; RUNNING BY THE RIVER

Sunday morning run on ile Saint Germain, Paris south west…


Where the city meets the Seine 


A splash of colour on an, as yet, dull day 


Better days- what we need right now


The Bridges of Paris County!


Nature is endless


A bench beneath the bark 


Fragility in the field 


Framed gardens


The human touch 

A seat at the summit of the morning…

All photographs by Damien B. Donnelly