EXAMPLES OF BEING STUNG

   

Not all bees write back
Not every beetle takes the right route
Some letters, like roads, wind on regardless.

We don’t always notice the sting
Until after, until later, until it’s too late.

Honey is sometimes sweetest
When far from reach.

We wrote words on each other’s back
Thinking time to be tender but we couldn’t turn around
To see how they’d both twisted.

These love letters- like journeys with no maps
One of us always the backseat driver of the beetle
Such stings from the boot.

Not all bees write back.

 

All words and photographs by Damien B Donnelly

Inspired by a Twitter Poetry Prompt from Cobh Readers and Writers

TURBULENT SACRIFICE

 

Mama was an unmarried mother
at the end of the summer of 75
as Joni hissed of the snakes
in the gardens of complacency
where ignorance was still very much alive.

Mama was only a girl in the growing
and possibly no more than just 18
when she bent down and placed
a kiss on my cheek and whispered
goodbye to her own little green.

Mama is someone who I’ve never met
aside from the dream I once had
of her life in a kingdom that ruled
you could not mother a child unless
at first you were a legitimate wife.

Mama was an unmarried girl one winter
in the arms of a man barely stretched
from a boy, her trust in the throws
that left little to believe in and a pain
that pulled on the strings of goodbye.

Mama was once an unmarried mother
and bursting with thoughts her shape
couldn’t hide, but helpless and hopeless
were not part of her form and so she did
what she could when you can’t be the bride.

Mama was a childless woman
when winter that year came cold with its calling,

and the tears started breaking
and the leaves began falling

like the water that had broken,
like the hold that had not held,
like the hope that was drowned,
and the hand that was expelled…

too short, too quick, too hard,
too much to let go for good

and the snakes started hissing on the lawns.

Mamma was the unmarried mother
who gave me the greatest gift
that anyone could, of growing up
knowing that what she had done
was to give me up for a greater good.

     

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

This is a repost form my Joni Mitchell series.

Last month I added my name to the National Adoption Contact Preference Register in Ireland. Maybe the story still has a tale to be told, time will tell…

Sometimes knowing where you came from gives you an idea of where to go. This coming December, after 23 years living abroad, I will move to Ireland to start a whole new adventure in my home country that now feels like an exciting new land waiting to be discovered. I am looking back, at the moment, but seeing in that vision, only where the future will take me. Thanks to you all for listening on along the way,

Love Dami xx

NO KNOT CANNOT BE UNDONE

Day 21 National Poetry Writing Month #NaPoWriMo

Pulled are we
(OFF; no more)
from under and over
and pushed (panting)
by fleeting fate when we fail
to trust (when THRUSTS grow frail)
and the body rolls off, recoils
and the mind rethinks, returns. Let go,
did you, of that hand ONCE held
in that taxi ONCE, while thinking of another,
in that BED while sniffing out that longing
for SOMEONE missing while growing tired
of the taste of someone PAINFULLY PRESENT?
Fine is the line between decision and destination,
(that fine line that COMES quickly before it curdles)
between the CHOICES we make in a moment’s PLEASURE
and the paths that reposition our POWER.
Is it held by the BOTTOM or by the TOP?
We are FREE to release, (across your chest,
across our chains) we are free when released,
(emptied, exhausted) free from confusion;
untangled; no KNOT cannot be undone,
double negatives should never be done,
but we are UNDONE,
undefined or redefined,
reduced again
to that single state
of SELFISH.

                                MY, ME, I.

How quickly
we slip from tongues touching
all that is SACRED to a solitary scrubbing
of all that’s been SOILED.

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

THE THINGS THAT LEAVE US COLD, PART 3

If you missed Part 1 or Part 2 you can click on the links here:

https://deuxiemepeau.wordpress.com/2016/02/08/the-things-that-leave-us-cold-part-1/

https://deuxiemepeau.wordpress.com/2016/02/09/the-things-that-leave-us-cold-part-2/

The Things That Leave Us Cold

IMG_9903IMG_4647

Part 3 of 4 (Audio version available to listen to; link at the end of page)

          It rained the first night I walked back to our apartment with him, just as it had rained that first night when you persuaded me to take you home, ever the flirt you were. We had our jackets over our heads to keep us dry, do you remember? One of those tropical rainstorms that graces Paris in August, as if to wash away the dust and heat, though it’s always hot rain, of course, not the full relief the stifling city longs for, mourns for. You can almost see the steam rising from the ground as it falls straight down from the sky. Straight, that’s what I told you that night, which you laughed at, as if I was pointing out the most mundane, the most obvious. But it’s true, and still is. The rain here falls straight from the sky, like water from a shower, not to the left or to the right, not at all slanted, it just drops straight down. You can leave the window open and it never comes in.

IMG_8226IMG_8228
          I’d fumbled nervously with the keys to the gate when we got to my building, the building that became our building, the home that so quickly became our home, the one that adapted to you and your sounds, leaned in, to your customs, your scent which still haunts the air on random days. As I persevered with the key, you came behind me, kissed the back of my neck and gently ran your tongue along my skin as if to soak up the rain that fell from the back of my hair but I knew it was just to test me and perhaps in part to taste me. It worked. You had half my clothes off before we’d even reached my first floor apartment and I scurried with the final lock before the neighbours would hear us, or even worse, come out to find us in such a state of undress and desire. I was not that out, I was not that daring, that provocative, but you managed to bring something out in me, something that had been utterly dormant, a certain appreciation of the unexpected, a fondness for excitement, spontaneity, a carefreeness that was infectious. We made love on the living room floor that first night beneath only the lights of the street lamps and the comfort of our shadows entwined on the wall. Made love, was it that, I said it was that afterwards, actually I think I thanked you for it in some rather embarrassing, teenage way and you joked that I was merely a good shag which you overly pronounced in your heavy french accent which was all the more erotic. There I was, immediately trying to make it all proper and above board, nothing sordid, nothing naughty, ignoring the silly fact that you’d just picked me up in a bar, taken me home to where we’d stripped each other naked and shaken the leaves on the wisteria outside with our sweaty, salty, sensuous explorations of the other.
          He didn’t kiss me on the neck when we finally arrived, wet through, to our gate. He didn’t rip my clothes off as we climbed our staircase. He didn’t know that each step I took, I felt more and more guilty, that I was bringing him back here, to our place, to our home and possibly into our bed, or maybe even onto our floor. He didn’t pounce on me when I closed our door, didn’t press his body tightly against mine and steal the breath from my mouth with his own lips because he wasn’t you. He stood by the window instead, looking out across the small garden and over the wall into the empty street, just as I had done for the past year.

IMG_1285IMG_3190

          He thanked me as I took his wet coat and hung it in the bathroom next to mine and then took a seat on my armchair while I made tea in the kitchen. I didn’t even have the customary coffee in the apartment. You were the coffee drinker, the true Parisian, while I sipped herbal, fruity teas which you referred to as piss, continuously. When I turned the lights on, he noticed the candles and asked if I could light them instead. I shivered again. That was always your preference. Not the silly scented ones, of course, too prissy for you, just simply so you could watch the shadow of the light flickering on the wall and make up scenes, monologues to connect with their movements. When he said he liked to watch the light flickering I closed my eyes and imagined it was you.
          Was that cruel? Was that too much, too wrong? To be with someone and imagine he was someone else. I held his hand in a taxi while thinking of someone else from long ago, someone said that to me once, years ago, before you, before us, before the emptiness and I thought it to be so horribly unkind. And yet it had become my truth. I didn’t tell him, of course, I would never, I couldn’t hurt someone in such a way, no. But it was how I felt. I was happy to have someone, to hear someone breathing, other than myself again, within our walls, within all that had become our sanctuary and somewhat angry at the same time that who it was in reality was not who it was in my head.

IMG_1468IMG_8431
          He had a name, of course, what a stupid statement to make. I don’t really mean it like that, it’s more that I didn’t realise at first that I never used it, never referred to him by his given name. I called him boy, pet, hot stuff when necessary, moody occasionally, but I think that was more me. To use his name would have sounded far too real, far too impolite to you, not like I ever mentioned that to him. I’m not that mindless.
          He called me Monsieur, at the start, which turned into a continuing joke, then a nickname and then my name, as if my own given name became lost and I didn’t mind that, not at all. I’d given you everything I had, including my name so it seemed appropriate that I became just a pronoun and nothing more.
          And so it went, with the boy and the monsieur, a little story, a little tale unfolding amid all the other daily distractions and, of course, the waiting, well, my waiting.

To be continued…

All Words and Photographs of Paris by Damien B. Donnelly

https://soundcloud.com/damien-donnelly-2/the-things-that-leave-us-1 

 

THE THINGS THAT LEAVE US COLD, PART 1

The Things That Leave Us Cold

IMG_0524IMG_3451

Part 1 of 4  (Audio version available to listen to; link at the end of page)

          I stood by the open window and watched and waited, surrounded on all sides by the wisteria that clung on as time passed by and forgave nothing. It felt like I was watching the seasons change as the leaves lost their gleam in the sunlight, found their darker shade as the early autumn encroached and finally fell to the ground and withered as winter wound its way onto the deserted street. Our quiet little street with the bench just beyond the gate where I’d watched you, from that same window, smoking outside so you wouldn’t aggravate my asthma, in the rain with a brolly, in the snow with your fur hat, one hand gloved and other taking heat from the cigarette you clasped between your fingers as tightly as I was wrapped around them. Our street which is now graced with a flow of cyclists, can you believe it? Paris, the new city of cyclists, which just gives Parisians, especially Parisian drivers, one more thing to complain about. We cycled together once, do you remember, not here of course, not back in those days. In Nice, I think it was, in a field covered in red poppies, you at the helm with your soft blond curls unravelling in the breeze and me on the back, with that silly beret you forced me to wear, legs akimbo and arms wrapped around your waist, carried away by the strength and charm of your laughter which was endless and the smell of lavender fabric softener from your t-shirt which I nestled my nose into as if there was nothing more pleasant in the world to inhale when, in fact, it was you I was inhaling, nothing more all encompassing than simply the scent of you with my head on your back and the world falling away behind us before we tumbled off the bike and tumbled over each other. You still had grass knotted in your hair when we got back to our hotel that night which, of course, left me embarrassed and you elated as the receptionist nonchalantly pointed it out. And so it was, with the memory of all that had once been so palpable, that I watched and waited, watched and waited, finding a certain hope in the sound of every approaching footstep and then disillusionment in the appearance of every human shadow I realised could not be yours.
          And yet I’d known all along, from the very start, the foolishness of my folly, my frivolous foray into the past. But I’d convinced myself that it was fate that lead me back, not regret, not loneliness, not quite the truth I finally realised as the days became weeks before I folded up the months and packed them away with other, niggling, neurotic memorabilia in the closet, in the dark, in the past. It was brave though, at the beginning, going back up that staircase, those old timber steps which wound their way to that silly door with the stupid key I never got the hang of, not like you, in all your practicality, standing amused at all my clumsiness. It was audacious to open that door into what had become a marooned mausoleum in our absence. The years had only clustered cobwebs onto our acquisitions, trophies, treasures. I lifted dust laden sheets off the furniture as if undressing the room, as if I’d find you beneath them with that devilish smile of yours, laughing at my inability to find you like you did so often, all those years ago, when you’d hide in the shower, behind the armchair, beneath the bed, like a child at play at hide and seek. But you were nowhere to be found and yet you were everywhere at the same time. Your imprint was etched into your seat, your footstool, your side of the bed. It was brave, I’m not lying, simultaneously brave and hard and cruel to an ageing man seeking only a scent of what once was and finding only emptiness in three rooms, teasing me with everything we once believed to be all we would ever need in the world.

IMG_1280IMG_1287
          Then slowly life began to move on, as it does, necessities, chores, rendezvous, routines and somehow I found reasons to come away from the window without even realising, new paths that took me in opposite directions to the past which I had been seductively drawn to. At first I’d walked to Montsouris, that park, along the hill you’d always run up before me, because that was you, always ahead, always on front, always seeing where we were going before we actually got there or, at least, before I got there. You at the top cheering me on while I gasped for air and crawled and I did basically crawl up there, on hand and foot and in that tracksuit you’d bought for me because you knew I’d never have the guts to buy it myself. As usual you knew what suited me more than I did.

IMG_0172IMG_1908

          But distractions came their way and carried me from those painful apparitions, those streets we’d once claimed as our own, walking hand in hand in a time when nothing seemed to matter apart from the closeness we shared amid your humour and my desire, the intimacy we’d embraced in that back room with its red carpet while we entwined limbs, lust and love beneath the sheets of that bed we finally battered to death and the connection we created until we got so lost in each other that I managed to lose sight of who we once were individually.
          Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t that I forgot you entirely, not at all. I’d come back for you, come back to find you, no matter how ridiculous that may sound after so long apart. But somehow it dawned on me that there was a difference between waiting and wishing, and actually living. Losing you had been my greatest waste, perhaps our greatest waste if I can still speak for us both, but I couldn’t let myself waste away anymore while waiting for you too. I hope you can understand that. It was I who’d come back, be it more or less in the shadows, but I wasn’t sure if the light of day would be forgiving to all that had fallen in between us. And yet, even in the bare light of day, your shadow still hung over me, shading me, sheltering me.

IMG_5771 IMG_5773 (1)
          And then he came along.

 

To be continued…

All words and photographs of Paris by Damien B. Donnelly

Also available to listen to-the audio version of Part 1 from SoundCloud…

https://soundcloud.com/damien-donnelly-2/the-things-that-leave-us-cold

THE STORM

I stood, firm footed against fate, beside the storm,
A raucous rage of twisting winds and hollow howls
As waves, frothing with fierce foam, forced their way
Upon the land, as if claiming some right to survive.
I saw, amid the sweeping sound of the stormy sea
As it clawed, climbed and crashed its way forward,
The horizon line, looking like no more than a drop off;
A free falling finality from which all would fall and fade.
I watched the wilful waves as they crested the currents
And fell beneath, all in one endless search for a shore
To stumble upon, to rest along, in the everlasting hope
For an end to the ebb and flow of life and all its longing.

I turned, just as all those times before, to share with you
This wondrous world unfolding but found myself alone
Staring into a void where time and space had placed us,
Distracted us, before it carelessly, casually destroyed us.
I wondered, in absence, what world you now witnessed
As the tides tickled my feet and sand slapped my skin
And I reminded myself, once again, that you were gone,
No longer by my side, or in my hand, or breath on flesh.
Your desertion washed over me like the tides, in waves
As I wondered why I had met you and how I had lost you,
How I had let myself believe that an oarless broken boat
Could ever carry us onward to the places we’d dreamt of.
I lost myself, in that time, in all those seas of uncertainty,
Lost in a hope that the tides would set us right, that winds
Would carry us and an ocean of something could make up
For a past full of failures and fears you had yet to cast off.

I could have drowned in all that debris, in all that decay,
Stayed silent, not swam, not fought back at all the forces
But I gasped for air, in those final moments, and the ripples
I made favoured me and carried me back to the shore, alone.

I stood, firm footed against fate, and realised the storm had passed.

 

Audio version available on Soundcloud:

https://soundcloud.com/damien-donnelly-2/the-storm

THE REASON AND THE RHYME

Goodbye he said
As the train door closed
And sliced our world in two

Goodbye I thought
What a word to use
At the end of me and you

Goodbye he said
And I wondered what
Good there was in farewell

Goodbye I thought
As he left me there
Hurt and unhappy in hell

Goodbye they say
When the endings near
Suggesting we can breathe

Goodbye they say
At the curtain call
Signalling the time to leave

Goodbye we say
When it’s time to go
When to stay is far too futile

Goodbye is all
That the heart can hear
When love has been bashed and brutal

Goodbye we say
When there’s nothing else
But a whistle to signal time

Goodbye is all
You have left to hold
When the reason leaves with the rhyme

THE DRAW OF ANOTHER DAWN

Sitting
Wrapped in blankets,
In search of comfort,
In a corner,
Away from the mirth
And the madness.

Sitting
Wrapped in thoughts,
Distance dividing sorrow,
Tears washing away
Your image.

Sitting
As the piano plays,
Tickling tunes
Taunt with tension,
Tinged with regret.

Sitting
Worrying about
The what has been,
While waiting
For the what will be.

Sitting
As light fades from
Another day,
Waiting
As another dawn
Draws near.

The Judgment of the Shadows

Did we smile at each other,

At least, at all,

Before the bond broke

That day, that morning,

After the dawn rose

In all its innocence,

Imperceptive

Of how it would part us,

Ignorant of the virtue you’d lost

And the sadness it would cost.

 

 

And did you feel the judgment of the shadows?

 

 

Did I know you at all,

That day, at least, back then,

In the thin thread of time

That we borrowed briefly,

In that deceiving dawn

That polluted the promise

Of the morning’s light

As so-called Elders

Counted constantly

The limited hold we had

Over each other,

Over the past, on the pain-

You- bleeding fresh in convent bed,

And I; still too ignorant to the wounds of this world

And the life we could have had.

 

And did you notice how they judged in the shadows?

 

I wonder, if in your crying-

And I’m sure that you cried-

Did your tears caress my face,

In all that wasteful

Wailing and wrenching,

Baby was born

And little girl grown,

Did the pain erupt

And submerge us-

Did the situation swallow us in,

Stirring the sorrows of a too-soon mother

In the birth of a so-called sin.

 

And did we hear those judging in the shadows?

 

Did you ache afterwards-

Alone, without me,

After the morning crippled all connection,

Did you ache all alone-

In that room without me

After your sacrifice that saved me,

Do you understand the gift that you gave me-

Your body that housed me,

Month after month,

Amid the swelling and stares,

The Jeering and sneers.

 

While all the world judged you from the shadows.

 

Did it change you, at all,

That day, that time

In that place

Of penance and prayers,

In that sacrificial suffering,

In that final goodbye,

In that giving up,

In that letting go-

In the loss that followed too quickly

From our very first hello.

Do you feel me still,

At all, after all, On holidays and birthdays,

When babies cry and mothers run

Do you wonder that happened

To your little baby son?

Do you remember us today

Right now, as we were

So long since our separation,

So deep in separate lives,

In ignorant oblivion

And an opposite direction

Since the hands of this world pulled us apart,

Since the judgment of the world forced us apart

photo-77