BOOKENDS; STUMBLING THROUGH THE DREAM, WIDE AWAKE

 

I was silent once amid the noise, stumbling through smothering,
a bare canvas cradling nothing in arms that had promised everything.

I circled the globe once to find that home was just a word,
a word that makes a memory to plot a beginning,
not weighted but weightless.

I am, like you all, no more than a burnt-out, used-to-be, fading star,
somehow sparkling in front of you though my future has already faded
somewhere light years away.

As I hurtle through this voyage, my eyes fall sleepy, looking for rest,
looking, always, for the rest of me.

I am the sparrow, lost to its nest, forever flying in circles, catching
your scent on every other breeze with the hope it will, one day,
fly me home on your courant d’air.

For all that I have become, it is because of all you’ve shown me,
for all that I lack, it is everything I left in our bed.
Sleep softly on it.

 

All words and photographs by Damien B Donnelly

 

This month is about looking back at my life in Paris in order to say goodbye and this poem is a collage of a group of poems I wrote just after i left Paris, the first time, in 1999.

JOURNEYS, PART 10; THE REST

Revisiting a past poem as my journey hits its 43rd Birthday

THE REST

I was once silent amid the noise,

shadowing the world in stillness

while all else found its motion,

watching dreams slip swiftly

through fumbling hands.

I’d been held and felt nothing

in that very touch

but the visceral arousal

of man at his most primal.

I’d seen a lifetime of possibilities

with single glances

and built worlds in my mind

before blinking them away.

I held a man’s hand in a taxi

as we raced through a foreign city

I’d once called home, while my mind

ran to thoughts of someone else

before remembering a touch,

of another, from long before. Once,

I circled the globe and returned home

to find that home was but a word,

a word that wakes a memory

to plot a beginning,

as weightless and mobile

as the drifting traveler.

Once, I was silent

but in that silence,

in all that stillness

I found a voice.

I am, like you all,

no more than a burnt-out,

used-to-be, falling star,

sparkling in front of you

although my future’s already faded

somewhere light years away.

As I hurtle through this journey

my eyes fall sleepy;

but my mind rushes towards the rest,

looking, always, for the rest of me.

All words by Damien B. Donnelly

STARDUST

 

Stardust…

the fallout
from the flames,
a nebulous of what
was once known by names,
now falling, through time and space,
trailing dust, a trail of gentle dust
in place of touch, in lieu of place,
in lieu of hold and how we hold;
tighter and stronger, longer, after,
trying to hold a star, a fading star,
burning out before us
when all that’s left
is dust,

our brightest moments
now molecules of light,
blazing through the silence
of the night, but oh
what a night.

Look up,
those who linger longer,
who fall and fret
before the great beyonder,
look to the light
and not the loneliness,
the night is falling
but the light
is just unfolding.

Look up
star dust is falling
from on high

writing names
across the sky
just for us

star dust…

All Words and Photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

Audio version available on Soundcloud:

THE PRICE OF A STAR

 

And she sang of hope and harmony
in a borrowed frock on Tuesday nights
in a smokey bar below the Bowery
where the Irish downed their whiskey
while the Italians were always frisky

and they touched her, always, afterwards
her faithful followers fingering flesh
as if to caress the affection
she injected into lyrics, light and loving,
in the bar beyond the Bowery
where she came to entertain
the Irish and the Italians
who joined in the refrain

and they left her, always, afterwards
on Tuesday nights in the smokey light
with hope and harmony already fading
in that bar down below the Bowery
where the laughter never really
managed to linger for long after

and in the silence below the Bowery
as the stars all blew out one by one
she felt betrayed by what they’d taken
by the hope they had mistaken
to be theirs for the taking,
and felt betrayed by herself
by her need to amuse,
to be the muse in the limelight
but then alone in the shadows
that followed, always and forever after,
by that bar below the Bowery
where the light was far too low
to notice that her soul
had left her long ago.

All Words and Photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

Photograph taken on the High Line in New York 

Audio version available on Soundcloud:

https://soundcloud.com/damien-donnelly-2/the-price-of-a-star

IN FLIGHT

Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 14.43.55

Movement
matters mainly
amid the currents of air
I caress
in flight
in dreaming
at night
I fall freely
on the breeze
I am taken,
turned, tuned
I am limitless
know no boundaries
I flit and flutter
at my own folly
forward falling,
I am light blazing
a burning star
burnt out, 
barely visible
hardly begun
and yet unstoppable
I am man of the moon
I am the first step
I am freedom in flight
feathers rising in the night
all beneath a blanket of sleep.

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

JONI ON THE WALL

 

After years of painting you
Tones of turbulent indigo,
Tending and transforming you,
I’m busy building you back
To basic, a fresco of freedom
For us both in walls of white,
Whittled back to what it was
Before I splashed a signature
Of substance and delight, hoping
A house could be a home, hanging you
With shadow and light, filling you
With finite fragments of all that I’d known,
Looking for a secret place, a sanctuary
For a certain time, placing Joni’s
Travelogue, framed in browns
On the bedroom wall, reckless
Daughter and muse of mine, parcelled,
Packed and now waiting removal
From this very sojourn, this song
About the midway, this intersection
Of 30 and 40, a reflective pause
In this tiny town where I never
Thought to stay, this hallow place
That prickled like a cactus tree
Till I heard it in the wind, that
Hissing, that constant twisting
Urge for going, back to the road
That lays in wait for me, cursed and charmed
But there are those who are born to stay
And others who are born to take the highway.

In that reoccurring dream
Beneath the constant darkness
Of the night, I see myself, still
Smiling as the free man in Paris
And I can hear it, even in the light,
Despite all your lofty protestations
That this place could be my place,
Soulful solace amid the hookers
And hash, but the eyes of the woman
Of heart and mind on the wall
Foretold the fear that we now face;
I am a prisoner of the white lines
On the freeway, bound not to permanent
Position, slowing down long enough to find
A place to come in from the cold,
To rest amid the warmth, a refuge
From the road, a lesson in survival,
A need for nutrition, but I am flesh
And blood and creature curious, craving
More and more from this Hejira, this journey
Not destined to be here and always,
Forever was never our factor, bound
To your tiny rooms and hallways
I’ve seen it all from both sides now
And all I want is not here growing crabby
But there and hungry and happy.

I know you will haunt me, shadows
Circling my final flight like Amelia
Lost out on her search for shore
While the black crow flies towards
The something shining, something
Seen long ago and now felt even more.

We’ve been good friends, indeed,
A fact not fiction, a love not lost
But you’ve been a mere chapter
All the same, a long season of blondes
I’ve tired of but words run short
In me now, in this place where I’m
Paying the cost, in these rooms
That have closed in on me
As time slipped by so suddenly,
So I strip you back to before,
Yet different somehow, similar
Though faintly forever changed,
The footprints never fully fading,
This flight tonight will be final
Though the sky is ablaze with stars
That never burn brighter than when
They’re already fleeting and falling.

I laid for too long neath your roof,
Dreaming of another, darker, wondering
About the what if and what could be
But let’s not talk about fare thee wells
For the wind is in and it’s set me free,
Packed with a case of you to last me
Well as I spiral through this Circle Game,
This carousel of life that looks back on itself
Through time, returning to pivotal points
Already changing and bringing me
Back into frame, to something
Once remembered, something
That can hold me, something
To inspire me, something
To encourage me.

After years of painting you
Tones of turbulent indigo,
Turning and transforming you,
I am busy building you back
To basic, finding a freedom
For us both in walls of white
But no canvas is truly the same
After it’s first been rendered,
There’s always the shadow and light,
Always something that slips away,
Always the rest that sinks within,
Always the parts that cement and stay…

While the lady sings…

“I am on a lonely road
And I am travelling,
Travelling, travelling, travelling,
Looking for something
What can it be…
All I really, really want
Our love to do
Is to bring out the best in me and in you.”

 

In search of a Still Shining, Fading Star

I was once silent

Amid the noise,

Shadowing the world in stillness

While all else-

But I-

Found its motion.

I watched as dreams

Slipped swiftly

Through my fumbling hands-

Hands powerless to awaken my slumber to the realm of reality.

I’d been held

And felt nothing in that very touch-

Nothing but the visceral arousal of man

At his most primal.

I’d seen a lifetime of possibilities

With single glances

And built worlds in my mind

Before blinking them away.

I held a man’s hand

In a taxi

As we raced through a foreign city-

Once my home-

While my mind ran to thoughts

Of someone else

Before remembering a touch, from long before.

Once, I circled the globe and returned home

To find that home

Was but a word-

A word that wakes a memory

To plot a beginning,

As weightless

And mobile

As the drifting traveler.

I am-

Like you all-

No more than a burnt-out,

Used-to-be,

Fading star,

Sparkling in front of you

Although my future’s already faded

Somewhere

Light years away.

As I hurtle through this voyage

My eyes fall sleepy;

Looking for rest,

Looking- always-

For the rest of me.

I saw you in the midst of these feelings

Early one morning

While December raced towards fairy lights

And tinsel toe-

Snowflakes speckling you in white-

An untouched canvas of pure potential,

No longer revolting in your bureaucratic bundle

Of mass and confusion-

While scarf-clad, gloved-up,

Red-nosed,

Shoulder-shrugging Frenchmen

Tutted as they wedged their way

Through the Metro turnstiles

That my blonde haired friend had just disappeared through-

Journeying back to her beginning

To start anew

And leaving me with no more than the distant memory

Of her laughter

That swept off on a breeze

And swirled around trees

Whose branches bared down to their earthbound roots.

No more the sharing of days and nights,

Mixing cocktails to our own design,

Toasting birthdays in Chinatown

For April’s fairest fool

Or surprise visits from friends

To break the daily routine.

No more lunches at Lina’s

With sandwiches too big to finish,

Dinners in white wolfed restaurants-

Leaving notes on toilet mirrors

For cute boys

On far flung tables.

No more spinning of bottles

And tempting of firemen

And late night parties

With boy bands

And dart players.

No more the sound

Of her click-clacking heels

Heard in the distance

Long before her arrival

Into that bar where we worked

And thought of as that very word-

Home.

She’d been the small town girl

More grown up than her years

And yet still a child as white

As the snow now falling.

As I saw you like this-

My dear city-

I wondered

How much more

Would fall away from me

And what else would take its place

As swishing snows let teared icicles stream down my face

While icy crystals fell from your skies-

Washing to white those famed grey rooftops

And smokeless chimneys

That had ingrained themselves

So indelibly

On my mind,

All the while hiding from me your cobbled streets

Through which my feet had sailed,

Feet that now disappeared

Slowly in the snow-white earth,

Leaving me to question where I’d be

When spring uncovered me

And pushed me back-

Once more-

Into the noise

And motion

And storm

Which I’d stopped that day to watch

In stillness

While another fine friend

Fell away.

I had once been silent

Amid the noise

But on that morning-

Speckled in white,

All was silent but for my heart

That raced with the beat of life.

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