THE IDENTITY OF AN ISLANDER

 

Entity. Identity. I identify. Running gives no reason
until you run out of places to hide. Identity. I identify.
I recognise now what it means to be connected. A continent
can be chaos. An island doesn’t have to isolate. I. Island.
I can identify as an entity of this island. I didn’t hear them
telling me the truth. I didn’t know they knew me before I did.

I tore through tracks; teenager, twenties, thirties, I am tired
now, my trainers have taken to the tide. I am sand again,
ready to be cast upon beach, I want to be a grain in this garden
I was ground upon. I was barren of breath. I choked, drowned
in an ocean that wasn’t mine to begin with, we can bare too much
as well as being blind to all there is to see. I see now, this entity.
I was split once, by what I dreamed of and what I already had.
I see now, how this island, this entity, held my identity. Whole.

 

All words and photographs by Damien B Donnelly

THE CARETAKER

 

High on a hilltop, you climb above your age
and whisper the wisdom of your ancestors like its wealth
(hush, I say, to hear the humble)
worn words as woven into the earth as the roots
of the trembling trees standing to support those above it.

High on a hilltop, a former teacher caresses history
like a caretaker tends the glories growing in a garden he was given,
tales time would have tossed but his time mind still meditates over
while I wonder where I was a year, a month, an hour ago?

High on a hilltop, we lean into the comfort
to accept all that we have found indecipherable.

We take the right side at the entrance, as instructed,
and bow, thrice, and the empty space recalls the place of the emperor
who once took the central path while the guards, armed
with faith in the form of a dragon, harmony in the form of their music
and strength in the size of their sword, wards off the demons
and welcomes in the inner light.

There is light here, a gentle light, a subtle light to caress the skin,
to sink within as we mount and meditate on how we got here,
to this hill, to this land, to this life, to this breath.

High on the hilltop, we breathe in the simplicity of common incense
and sway as the chimes ring out to remind us
we are not one, alone, but one single part of the whole

and we bow again, thrice, and follow the stream that knows more
about its route than we will ever to understand about our own.

   

All words and photographs by Damien B Donnelly. This is a reworking of an older poem for a week recalling travels in South Korea in 2018. 

RUNNING THROUGH THOUGHTS IN A PARK ON AN ISLAND BY A RIVER IN PARIS

 

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 of Ile de la Jatte famed by Georges Seurat by Damien B Donnelly

This is a repost for a week considering creation and how it flows around us

IMG_9664.jpg

TO COME CURIOUS

 

We take slow steps into the sweet water, watch the current
caress the dark rock, the volcanic roar no longer rupturing,
its rage now rocked to slumber by this single shore. I lose
my shirt to time’s tide and this shimmering sand, I lift it up
and feel the weight that washed over it as you turn to face
the vast ocean and wonder what the next wave will bring
upon us. We have crossed currents, trained through towns
and cut across mountains, we have laughed at sadness
and cried over cocktails, we have come so far to wade out
into these waters as locals watch us with questions of how
and why. We have come curious to this country, we creep
along its coast like this tide, rummaging over these rocks,
wondering what happened to the heat it once ran with
when man was more forgiving and the mountain more daunting.
We climb the dormant mount, once maker of molten menace,
to watch the sun swim up from the sea and we count minutes
till the darkness will be disregarded as if time is all that’s needed
to destroy depression, decay, dysphoria. This mountain, once
a monster the sea could not settle and land could not control,
this country, once more than a division of north and south,
of emperors and conquers, Confucians and Catholics, devout
and deserted. We were once more than single souls searching
for the way back. We are tides, coming and going along
these beds we find shelter in, arms wrapped around us
like seaweed we equally fight off and hold down, we are lava,
trailing tunnels through our own thoughts, destroying
what we think to be too much but never quite knowing
how to fill the hollowness that’s left behind. We take steps
down into the open earth, adding sweaters to our short sleeves
and I wonder why it grows colder the closer we get to the core.
Isn’t the inferno on fire anymore? Dante will be disappointed.
We look like ants crawling over cobbled rock as we curve
through these corridors created in centuries now cemented
into time and caress these walls and catch our breath
under cathedral ceilings created by no creature but by nature’s
creation. Deeper and deeper still and the silliness is replaced
by a silence in this place where the waters drip from porous rock
and we look smaller, less special, not so strong in this cave
carved by once molten rock, by lines of luscious lava
that laughed as its lungs opened and its power poured. Later,
back at the beach, the tide again tickles our feet as we stand
upon the rock that once before roared. We are equal parts
creator and equal parts responsible for all that we corrupt.
We have come curious to this country but find ourselves
asking more questions about who we are than of this coast
that will still be counted long after we have been smashed
upon our own current. We take slower steps through
the sweetness and my heart beats louder, longer, lighter.

  

All words and photographs of Jeju Island in South Korea by Damien B Donnelly

This is a repost of a week considering Creation and our position within it.

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 out-yonder,
look to the light
and not the loneliness,
the night is falling
but the light
is still 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

This is a repost for a week of Stars and Moons

GOING EAST

 

I have crossed oceans
without feeling the weight
washed beneath their waves…

I have cut through clouds
without knowing the worries
they whisper to the stars…

I have flown
from darkening dreams
towards tomorrow’s daylight
and yet

the light is already fading
on front of me

before my past
has even slept

before my future

somewhere far behind me

has even been conceived…

   

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

This is a repost for a week looking at clouds

MOMENTS AFTERWARDS

 

In absence
lips lean out
in longing,
clouds gathering,
a chill in the air,
the warmth slipping.

Memory is a playful thing,
you tease and turn
over and back to before.

We kissed,
I feel it intensely,
I see it clearly
in the mirror
still marked
from a night now over.

Cold showers
call out
from the falling rain,
seasons come and go.

Moments linger longer.

  

All words and photographs by Damien B Donnelly

This is a repost for a week of looking at clouds 

LIQUID RHYTHM

 

Need is hard
(to give in to
that craving for connection)
‘Not yet,’ I said (to Time,
teasing along twitching ties),
‘Drink me not, dark angel’
(we are light still and far from brewed).
Joy is a dance
of liquid rhythm
(lithe are we, fluid forms falling into arms
not always favouring hold),
hearts bleed when opened
(steel we are not, though hard are we
to mould into mutual).
‘Make us a secret
though our embrace is concrete
so maybe we (can) linger longer,
(let’s drink ourselves slowly,
regardless of how time ticks roughly).

All words and photographs by Damien B Donnelly

This is a repost. I am reposting old poems at the moment as I am editing my novel and working on new poems for a possible chapbook and sending out others to literary magazines and planning the move to Ireland in 4 months and thinking about packing and doing life laundry and doing the day job for another 3 months and still a little hot under the Parisian sun. Fingers crossed for all, one or none!

NORTH OF THE NOISE

 

And so I come north
where the air cuts colder,
where daylight is a breath
that barely bays, night
a blanket bound to days.
I am not here to stay but
on a sway through ticking
time, to see what rests
where the light is less,
where day finds end before
being truly bent, where life
harks to harder as the day
hangs darker, dreams now are
the comings and goings,
the stuffing out of hours
before a bitter blanket of
blinkered blindness. Sad hearts
grow sadder, they say, grow
seasonal into sombre, into
the shadow of a city standing
still, waiting for the will. Days
fall short, are gone before
they can be caught, like hours,
like time, like the hand in that taxi
I once held, like all we cannot
hold, like all that ticks onwards,
all that moves off with the light
while I come here to the land
which time has left behind it.

  

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

From the poetry series A Month With Yeats

THROUGH THE SANDS

 

And when they danced
she would hold him, her
perfume by his face, his
hands as her strength
as they waltzed through
their current as the tides
swept the shore, through
love and labour, to the first born,
still born, through the twins
who stopped the tears
and the girls who tied
the bows as the sands slipped
through time and the pace
became a quick step, through
the hands that held and those
hips that swayed through
the melody they were making
as they danced through
waves of washing houses
into homes, children into
strangers; rarely calling
and barely remembering
but on they danced as red
locks swept into silver strands,
as full head turned to bald head
on an older head as they turned
to the music now made
in the memory, till she left him,
finally, one morning in May,
as he rose to the sunlight but
she had lost to the moonlight
and so he built her an alter
of sea shells and sentiments
and now he turns, alone, across
the sands still slipping,
as the stars plot a path for him
to reach her in eternity.

  

All words and photographs by Damien B Donnelly

From the poetry series A Month with Yeats