IN BETWEEN THE LIVING AND THE SLEEPING

 

Packed like yams into dusty carriages
we watch from the safety of our sitting room
where Nana used to sit and iron by the table
and Pop, in the corner, with his pipe,
now just names in prayer and that picture
of their wedding on a wall that still stands
and they, long taken to the sleep.

We sit in all this space while passengers
are packed like sandwiches in tin tubs,
trains swapping stations and germs
on the Underground, over the water
where I used to live, once, when nana
was still ironing and Pop, already sleeping.
I was happy then, I think, I tell myself,
I played happy at times, hilarious
and happy little me in Hampstead,
back stage, behind the spotlight
and considering the distance
I’d covered and the sitting room,
the sofa, the Nana and the Pop.

We watch from that sitting room,
now, with its ceiling since lowered
so the heat stays closer to the body-
the only contact we’ll consider-
she on the sofa and me- single armchair
for single boy returned home as man
and now kept home in quarantine,
in close quarters, two grown-ups
counting the money they cannot spend
and watching lives unfold on the telly
after playing clean-up in the garden
and looking to the trees for carvings
of connections since taken to the sleep.

 

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

BOOK OF MEMORIES

 

I lift a book and watch as dust particles catch air

(dust; tiny particles of waste matter lying on surfaces)

sentences stir, structure returns to life after slumber,
some things come back- having long been forgotten

(memory; the mental ability to retain and to recall
previous experiences)

I turn pages with consideration, parts pressed back
through time, corners folded over where you wanted
to hold onto a moment for longer, retaining words
that came easy but were lost too soon.

My fingers trace the line of narrow spine still holding
onto crinkled paper like crisped skin that once held us
in firm holds to spite time.

If time was held in paper, I’d take it, like the pages
in this book and fold back the parts too piercing
for the memory and duplicate days where we held
minutes as monumental, recalling them later, after,
when dust settles and weeds overgrow the delusion
that we should have been more.

(Delusion; a fixed false belief, resistant to reason)

I lift the book and watch as dust catches air-
particles of spirits that still matter, recalled from pages
that once held them captive before their chapter came
to its conclusion.

(Conclusion; the end or finish of an event or text).

 

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

THE THINGS WE LEARN, AFTERWARDS

 

In a fat box by the skinny bed
in a dusty room rarely regarded
covered clumsy with crushes
are the contents of a childhood-
lost letters of love- all penned
but never posted & cut-outs
of pin-ups next to wrist bands
friends twisted & time forgot.

In a lost room fallen to dust
hope was a cradle of comfort
in this box her father opened
when she failed to come back

from a war she never wanted.

 

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

Written as part of the Cobh Writers and Readers #PoetryPrompt featured on Twitter. Do drop by and join in the creative distraction. @CobhWR

ATTENTION

 

I glisten to distract,
like a snowflake;

the sparkle before the melt.

Particles of fleeting perfection
floating through the hands of time,
falling through all these imperfections.
If only my clutch were tighter, truer,
if only I knew more of my own truth,
too many skins already slipped through,
too much prediction put on that perception
of perfection that can never be preserved.

A snowflake
cannot be caught intact. We cannot catch a cloud.

We cannot always clear the way for the truth.
Perfection: a twist of our perception,
a precious perspective from a single point
never again to be seen. What if it’s never seen at all?

Glistening like a snowflake, falling.

A snowflake can be a melting tear
or a tiny miracle on track to disappear.
Truth; an elusive illusion, a deathly desire
tenuously tied to what I present to you
and to how you perceive me.

To what we fear and what we are willing to reveal.

I glisten,
to distract attention
from all about me that doesn’t sparkle.

 

All words and designs by Damien B. Donnelly

THE SWEPT AND THE SWEEPERS

 

Fragility falling

through fine flecks of fair filigree,
perfect patterns of individuality speckled
on imperfect individuals.

Snowflakes melt

on steaming skin thin on time,
too thick to break through, you cannot always sink
below the surface of an iceberg,

we cannot break through

all that lays beneath, all the lies below the surface,
it gets hotter the closer you come to the cold truth,
only in space can a spec appear spotless.

Fragility falling

through the folds of a snowstorm,
we are the swept and the sweepers, we must be swift,
icicles can injure, perfection can pierce.

I can be broken,

I can be better, I can be broken, but it takes time
to rebuild. I can be a snow-swept filigree
falling through the perfection of time

and time,

with all its perfection, with its constant movement
and minutes, is as fragile as that snowflake.

 

All words and drawings by Damien B Donnelly

 

BOOKENDS; TIMING IS EVERYTHING

 

Coming in

is easy.

Learning when to leave

is an art

not easily understood.

   

All words and photographs by Damien B Donnelly

This month is about getting ready to leave Paris, for good. Today will also be my last day as pattern maker at the Paris fashion design atelier of & Other Stories and who can say what the future will bring but, (to wickedly steal a show tune) because I knew you, I have been changed for good.

  

  

 

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.

BOOKENDS; MINUTES MOVING

 

There are but minutes now, minutes in motion on metros,
minutes moving in on me, on my identity, on my mark,
on my leaning, on my meaning, meaning I am moveable,
like a feast, as he said; A Moveable Feast, meaning I am
manageable malleable, maybe unremarkable, mistakable.

There are but minutes now, there are but minutes moving
in on my metamorphosis, on my undoing, on my unbecoming,
is it unbecoming? on my being misunderstood, misinterpreted,

misrepresented, missing.

I am famished, the feast has moved on, was moveable, mindless
to all those matters that manipulate me, mould me, remodel me.

Minutes, there are but minutes multiplying in metros moving,
on me, in motion, minutes, mounting, minutes minus minutes.

 

All words and photographs by Damien B Donnelly

This month is about looking back to move on, making sure I make the most out of the minutes left to me, minutes on metros, momentous minutes, minutes made of moments.

SHORT STORIES OF FEAR; WATCHING YOU WATCHING ME

 

 The Dead one

I woke to a mouth already swallowing the claustrophobic earth that mounded itself over my naked torso like crumble over stewed apples waiting to be crisped but I couldn’t feel the warmth of an oven, even buried, as I was, so close to the sparks of hell but, instead of digging down to join the demons dancing in the darkness, I ate my way up and out, through the crunch of earth now meeting the acid of my stomach, past the worms that wanted to wind their wills within this festering flesh still clinging to the bones of a body the day had pushed deep down into the darkness, although nothing works alone; the night has a moon while the day bears that ball of fire which burns through all the possibilities the light can shine upon and so, too, my demise did not happen alone but had his cowardly character carved all over its bloody finality. Oh, how we come and covet and then cum and croak. My name was Benjamin Grant when air was my everything and I wanted to taste all the world had to offer, when I thought I had found it all in him and his horny little hunger I mistook for happiness. Well, now I have no more need for a name and taste only decay, destruction, and a desire only death knows how to discern. And that desire will see his downfall.

 

The Other One, Still Alive

He woke up under a twisted blanket of sharp shadows, startled by a staggered pull of starved lungs begging for air and felt, instantly, the restriction of cold hands upon him, as if trying to close the circumference of his neck, all the while knowing the owner of those hands was nowhere near, all the while knowing what had become of him, all the time reminding himself that that man no longer sought out any air to fill his lifeless lungs in a body that would be nothing more than rotting flesh for fowl figures to feast upon, deep below the daylight, far from sight. He sat there, sweating in the middle of the bed with a fat man snoring beside him and, he imagined with a grim, his Tesla igniting gossip in the gobs of the next door neighbours, a bed once their bed, now his bed, recalling how he had dug, with his own hands, this former lover’s final resting place, a place he hoped never offered any rest, deep in the forest where only savage swine sought shelter, where only callous crows came to caw. He recalled the spot where he covered the cadaver, the one he once so openly cavorted upon, in the coarse, comfortless earth while he cried with a jolt of joy on front of the sudden stillness, the smashing silence that seemed even louder than the muffled screams his boyfriend had made the moment he had pulled the plastic bag down over his head from behind while he had been waiting for him, as usual, just as he had done every morning, for the previous 7 years, by the breakfast counter, in the kitchen. But that morning he suffocated from lack of air and a gulp of coffee he never managed to fully taste.

 

The Dead one

You came into the bathroom, once our bathroom, once our choice of towels and tiles, once the place where I would take you in the shower, against the glass, my fingers in your mouth, my breath on the back of your neck and your body bending into mine. You came in and stood by the toilet, pissing, without lifting the seat, without lifting up the fucking seat. You were still half asleep, totally naked but half asleep. You wore that nakedness often on front of me as if it was something I could never again fit into. You were always standing, posing, looking for the right light to fall upon your flesh. I had thought you meant to tease but now I realise how you saw it more as a torture. You didn’t notice as I moved from behind the door, didn’t hear me step into position behind you, you didn’t even hear me as I sniffed your scent one last time. But there was nothing. I was dead, I didn’t breathe, didn’t sleep, didn’t fuck, didn’t piss, and I couldn’t even smell. You had taken all that from me, a month ago, on an ordinary morning that had barely found its light. You’d grown tired and wanted new attention, someone new to look at with admiration so you could look back and swoon at your own reflection in their eyes. Maybe that was why I chose to break one of the mirrors in the downstairs hallway, earlier, before I’d crept up the stairs and took my position. And then, there I was, standing behind you, not fucking you, not smelling you, no longer a lover of you, raising my right arm, bringing it up and out and around until the shard of glass I was holding caught my reflection just before it found the softness of your socket. Did you have a moment to catch the look in my eyes, watching you, in the glass, before it pierced its way through your eye?

 

To be continued…

 

All words and photographs by Damien B Donnelly

BOOKENDS, coming soon

   

Coming in November…

Bookends

A month of goodbyes

Spending my final full month in Paris looking back in order to move on. Each day will be a new or revised poem and, of course, some photographs of this city that I’ve been connected to since I was 22 and will soon leave at 44.

Starts November 1st,

here on WordPress.

À bientôt