THE BLACK OF NIGHT

 

See, he says
to the child by his side,
see how the water rises.

Wait, he says
to the child by his side,
to see how life surprises.

Dark, he says,
is the black of night,
the stars too far to enlighten.

But day, he says
to the child in his wake,
brings a light for the willing to find sight in.

I see, says the child
by the side of the man,
feeling his ancestors were blind.

All words and photographs by Damien D. Donnelly

7th poem for National Poetry Writing Month

CURSED 

 

Blackened hands hardened
over the heart exposed, expunged,
red roses rubbed into ruins,
‘We are no more
than the dust we leave
after death,’
a curse forgotten,
a force too rooted to be released.
Black heart burnt to broken,
banished to the ashes
of her aftermath and he cannot
cry, but he can crack,
like a mirror, now marked,
shaped into shards now,
splinters to spilt the skin,
grown thin, torn.
Blackened hands hardened
over the heavy heart,
bloodless, no longer
bound to the beat,
no longer whole.

‘Kiss her and curse her,’

and so the curse was cast
but they were young
and too busy kissing to take time
to listen to the whispers
of the witches of the wood.
All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

BY THE PARTING

 

Being young
we bent by bench
and placed our kisses
on love,

growing old
I lost the strength to follow,
so you left me
by the parting of the trees,
shaded in loss.

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

Poetry prompt from VerseReversal on Twitter

 

PARIS PAST; YEARS GO BY

 

Years go by
and I’m still here, remembering.
Years flying by feeling like minutes in my mind;
a decade lost in the passing,
like I’ve fallen forward through a gap in time.
Years in between
and yet that first morning still so fresh,
waking up into a home I’d gate crashed;
the Irish abroad; Jeannie,
with the flaming red hair and welcoming hug,
a son in the shadows of another country
and a daughter to fall in love with were I straight.

Unable to forget
those heated floors boards,
the note of good morning in the kitchen,
the crispy toast from a packet,
the tiled green bathroom, separate toilet
and back to the bathroom to wash hands.
The plant filled balcony,
those frosted glass doors which echoed
through the apartment as you opened them,
so mundane and ordinary
and yet so much more a part of me now
than those trivial things ever where then,
long before they became a memory to cling to,
to cherish.

I hold on to so much more now
than I ever thought possible or considered important;
the feel, the taste, the smell,
like those disgruntled old madams
who threw water from their balconies every morning,
clocked in sombre shades of black
and scowling at passers-by like me
for the demise of their youth
and their looks.

I can recall,
as if it were yesterday,
those precious summer mornings that soon followed,
the air filling with the fragrance of freshly baked croissants
as boulangeries opened their bell-ringing doors
to delighted strains of bonjour and ca’va.
Years, reaped upon years
but I still smell it as fresh now
as the day was new.

I can hear those familiar sounds of kids,
singing out in ignorant celebrations of their youth
but always hidden from view behind high walls of stone.
Paris; the city for artists,
Intellects and the amourouse,
where children are heard but rarely seen.
No tantrums in stores, no snotty noses in bistros,
no changing of nappies in sight.
Our Lady of Magic was fully grown, fully developed,
no question of who She was or where She was going.
This City was born dressed in Chanel attire
with precious pearls to match,
born a proud, free speaking, free thinking,
pompous, confident adult, without question.
Her raison d’etre;
Herself entirely.

And there I stood
in the middle of it all
trying to find my own trend
and set a route amid multitude of pathways I longed to explore,
get lost in, fall in love in
and find adventure in.

Time slips away
but it somehow leaves a part of me still there,
somewhere, wandering through covered passageways
packed with marionette cheaters and tiny trinket stores
watched over by age old glass ceilings,
discovering underground chambers of sewers and tombs,
lost generations of the past,
slipping unnoticed through graveyards of forgotten faces
and heralded names decorated with weeping women,
stone eyed Madonna’s and cast-iron wings, never to fly,
remembering those I’d never known
and wondering who’d remember me,
sitting by Seurat to make connections in his colours
and wondering what Mr. Wilde
would make of us now.

Years gone by
and I still go back there;
left side, art style, boho chic,
where Oscar last laughed
and Sartre sighed
and I remember who I was,
laugh at who I’ve become
and wonder why I’ve fled so far
from the city that never changes
whilst I never stop.

Saturday afternoons, after lazy lie-in’s
rising through the cobbled hills
of once moulin covered Montmartre
with Abi’s and Vincent’s and Yasmine’s and Shaun’s,
where artists ghosts,
intoxicated by the green fairy’s potent mix
and the ruffling of high kicking can-can skirts
would swept through air
that you had only to touch to feel a part of,
while tourists flocked to pick up
as many copies and replicas as they could carry
without so much as breathing in
all that surrounded them for free.
I was a free man in Paris too, my dear Joni,
and have wandered down that Champs Elysees
in search of those I once knew and cared for
and loved and lost.

Years outrun years
but I can still close my eyes
and feel the sun on my skin
as we filled Victor’s fine square with resounding laughter
that soared around the fountains
and columns and palaces fit for queens.
14th of July ’98, Champ du mars,
Three tenors, fireworks, Mary and me
and a thousand others.
We were the luckiest in the world.

I can see myself at 23,
cast bright in the lamp lights
that I sailed past on the back of a motorbike
tearing through world of Hemingway
on the slumbering market street of Rue Mouffetard
before the bank side approached
and Notre Dame lay reflected in the sleeping waters.
My arms wrapped tight around my leather clad driver
with Spanish blood and gallic looks,
willing to show me it all.

The years may continue to build on years,
time will continue to tick-tock away,
but there are lifetimes in moments
which years can do nothing to suppress
or erase if the heart wills
not to forget.

marydami 002
 
All Words and, almost all, photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

 

THE ECHO OF HIS LAUGHTER

 

He sits
on a bench
on my street
as the cars pass by
and the leaves fall down

in autumn.

He sits
with a girl
on the edge
of his childhood
curiously considering

adulthood.

She talks
and he laughs
and in his laughter
you hear his age, on his face
you see his blush and in his voice;

his innocence.

He hasn’t
yet realised
all the power
of her attractions
but her voice is beguiling
and her face and her smile,
and that dream of what she might

give him.

A life
in bloom
on a street
on the bench
as cars pass by
and leaves fall down
and their laughter is the

only sound.

The bench
will eventually
outlive his innocence
but his laughter will linger
on in the lines on this page, in
the echo of his laughter, his echo,

ever-after.

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT

Screen Shot 2015-11-03 at 12.45.33

Time slips past
unannounced, unnoticed
age gains weight, adds numbers
carves lines, plots paths
tomorrow turns, becomes today
falls to yesterday
love slips past, everlasting
never lasting
hearts hold hands, change hands
change hearts
I do becomes I can, then I will try
I cannot stay
life slips past
ever evolving, ever learning
as we rise and fall
we crisscross, we get cross
we get crossed off
we get confused, we feel confined
compartmentalised
become complacent, begin to question
what we did, where we’re going
without ever knowing
what happens next…

All words and pictures by Damien B. Donnelly

SCENE IN EUROPE, SCENE 6, CUNNING COLOGNE

 

Scene in Europe, Scene 6, Cunning Cologne.

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He was sitting by the edge of the river, proudly stroking the growth of his beard, as tourist boats sailed by when she passed his table and her scent caught him, a lingering fragrance of citrus and bergamot, flooding him with childhood memories of beaches filled with exotic tourists who’d frequented his usually quiet seaside town during the summer months, hijacking the harbour with their boats, the sands with their strange accents and all the while emblazoning his local haunts with an air of excitement and mystery.
Dressed in an almost transparent turquoise skirt that caressed her ankles and a cream, almost gold, fitted tee shirt, she smiled as if in reply to his stare and took a table next to his, even though the terrace was empty except for them.
“You are foreign, no? American?” she asked in a direct and clear voice.
“Yes,” Henry answered, adding a cough to clear his throat and break his stare.
“I think so, I see you here and that is what I think, you look much too relaxed to be German.”
“Well, can’t say I know much about that, only been here a day… you know, but you got the American tourist damn right, and in one go. Am I such a goddamn giveaway?”
“No,” she replied, both immediate and forceful, as if there were no point to ever question her answer and she swept blonde tresses back from her face that bellowed on a breeze that continued to cover him with teasing traces of her scent, “but you have an air of elsewhere, if you understand me correctly, you have a… a certain mystery to you,” she said, almost repeating what he had just thought himself with regard to the people who’d visited his home town, now way across the seas.
“I gotta tell you, your perfume’s sweet as,” he told her, sensing a directness to the situation that was both integral and to be encouraged.
“Oh,” she said, almost dismissively, “this stuff,” she continued as she brought her wrist up to her noise and took in her own aroma, “I guess it’s ‘sweet as’, like you say, to someone who does not live here. No one from here would ever remark on it, but thank you,” she said and he wasn’t sure if that had been an acknowledgement of his own ignorance or a disappointment at her own countrymen and their disregard for all that lay beneath their noses, literally.
“May I ask what you’re doing here, at such an hour, you know, for a Tuesday?”
“I may ask you too, no?” she responded, cunningly throwing his own question back at him.
“Well, for me, it’s just like you say, I’m the relaxed tourist, remember? So I got my excuse.”
She raised an eyebrow and smiled at his slowly reverberating response before turning towards the water to watch an open topped barge pass by, shipping coal down the ancient flowing valley of the River Rhine.
“It’s good to step out of oneself, now and again, do you not think? Test the other water.”
“I heartily agree,” he replied, reminding himself of the various waters he recently waded through and the ladies who’d only been too willing to share them with him since he’d arrived on this exotic continent, overflowing with tastes and odours that he’d previously only dreamt of.
“I go to the Chocolate Museum this morning, two children were at the cacao fountain and, behind their parents backs, they let the chocolate trickle onto their tongues,” she told him,” it’s that building just over there,” she continued, pointing just a short way down the river.
“No one from here goes in, you know, we don’t even eat that chocolate. But I saw them and wondered what it felt like, to be so excited, to taste what you shouldn’t, what you usually can only dream about and then… well, I suddenly found myself doing the very same thing. Can you believe it?” she asked him.
“No, but gimme a sec,” he said and he began to imagine her delicate tongue slipping its way out from her tender lips and moaning slightly as the warm liquid caressed her tongue.
“Okay, now I can,” he said as he shifted in his chair and spread his legs in her direction.
“I see you can,” she said, giving him a sultry smile before standing up and walking over to him.
“4711,” she told him, “Glockenglasse 4. See you at 5pm, today, then you can really get close to the scent that is so arousing to you. I see you there,” she said and suddenly she was off before he could reply.
Shocked at her straight forwardness, he quickly noted her address on his phone. Jesus, he’d been told the Germans were direct but this was something else. He’d been in the city less than 24 hours, was leaving the following day, but had already scored and scored big.

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At 4.30pm, he was on the way to her apartment, No. 4711, in the Glockengasse, building number 4. He was wearing navy American Eagle jeans that gripped this thighs and a crisp white teeshirt, trying to suggest an air of low key, kinda-bothered-but-not-really.
That afternoon he’d wandered haphazardly around the ancient town, past the imposing darkness of the city’s impressive Cathedral, a short flit around the modern art museum next door before taking some photos of the old City Hall as a smiling, newly married couple posed on the historic Renaissance steps of the hall’s magnificent Loggia which looked as if it had been kidnapped from some sleeping Italian city.
Later, after changing at his hotel, he turned off the Rudolphplatz and wandered through the gay dominated streets known as the Bermuda Triangle and realised that not only were gazes turning in the direction of his 21 year old ass, but if he didn’t hurry up, then he might not make it past some of the tougher looking leather clad drooling faces, all busy dreaming up ways to show an American in Germany how down right perverse they could truly be.
Once free of the wolf whistles and surprising amount of chaps without a horse in sight, he felt a certain stride slip its way into his walk. This Europe was doing its very best to make a man out of him. Mamma would be pleased, he thought. She’d had her own share of foreign adventures right on her own doorstep, throughout his childhood, with the Cuban cabana boy, the Mexican gardener and the Brazilian so-called masseuse, so perhaps it was rooted in his jeans after all.
He crossed a busy intersection and immediately came face to face with a startling Neo-Gothic building with the number 4711 splashed across its top floor. Instantly his heart began to sink. What the hell, he though to himself as the stride slipped from his legs and his steps became heavy and slow. Under the arches of the lower floor he could already make out countless windows stacked with enormous bottles of perfume with a turquoise and gold label.
As he stepped beneath one of the arches and, as the sun slipped away from his fair hair, he made out the name of the perfume, Eau du Cologne, and suddenly a German sense of twisted humour flooded his 21 year old innocence and foreigner gullibility. He’d been duped, he thought to himself. He’d met what looked like the perfect girl by the water in Cologne who’d turned out to be nothing more than a walking advert for the water of Cologne itself.
“You’re one damn fool, Henry,” he said to himself as he opened the door to the ancient perfume store and followed up on the truth of her offer by really getting close to her scent, even if it was only in a cold, but well packaged, bottle.

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All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

SCENE IN EUROPE, SCENE 2, VENICE

Prose,
Scene in Europe,
Scene 2,
L’Ora Blu- The Hour of Blue

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All was cloaked in sombre shades of azure as dusk gently fell. Henry, 21 and fair haired, wandered through the shadowy slender streets of the ancient city that awoke within him so much of his, as yet, unspent youth and energy. He was only now beginning to feel the pulse of blood rushing through his body as he finally understood what it was like to look upon life and taste its endless bounty. Free and far from family ties, he’d been travelling through Europe on his father’s seemingly endless wallet of money and his mother’s gin flavoured blessing and quickly found temptations too intoxicating for his nubile body to say no to. He had a swagger in his step now that had replaced his teenage goofiness and the stubble, newly worn on his high cheek boned face, still enticed his own fingers to stroke its magnificence.

Having spent the last hours of sunlight in Piazza San Marco, amid the lure of the orchestra and the popping of champagne corks which increased his relaxation with every explosion, he left the small group of Spanish ladies who’d gathered around his table, intoxicated by his charm, carefree gaze and ripening musk, and wandered off alone to explore the island, leaving the grandeur of the Bell Tower, Basilica and the Doge’s Palace, stopping along the way to watch the market traders of the Rialto Bridge close down their stalls for the evening before he let the island and its canals be his guide. After taking a turn somewhere to the north of the island, through a cluster of narrow side streets of scorched red walls, lined with drain pipes, hanging baskets and swaying blankets on balconies being aired, he approached a rundown old bridge where a wane woman leaned over the balustrade and permitted troubled tears to fall into the water. Her taffeta skirts, in bolts of brilliant blue, billowed in the breeze while in her hand she held a single white zinnia. As Henry drew close to the woman, her scent enveloped him, an aroma reminiscent of his grandmother’s pantry filled with cinnamon sticks and almond paste wrapped in muslin cloths.

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“Why are you crying, Madame?” inquired Henry, “don’t you think Venice is already filled with enough water of its own?”

“Tis the hour of melancholia, sir,” she replied and, as their eyes met, she saw immediately in his those sparkles of youth and life that were so recently his gain and so long her loss. She looked away, as if to shield herself from more unnecessary pain, turning her gaze instead to the zinnia which trembled in her hands, hands that had once been complimented on their texture and tone, which now looked like cracked particles of paint longing to fall from a mural upon which it had rested for far too long.

“I am Padua,” she told him, but her eyes remained on her fading reflection in the water beneath her, “I was once worshiped like this Venetian City, had a youth that was considered priceless and a lust for life that was worshiped by all, and not just the myriad of merry men who courted me constantly. But time is cruel and now I’m as broken as the bridge upon which I stand, as the city upon which it leans into. So quickly fallen from momentous to meaningless and I’m falling still,” she said as she dropped her single zinnia into the canal.

Henry quickly bent by the water and retrieved it, still intact, though dripping with its own tears, but when he rose there was nothing more to see except for the empty broken bridge and a rusting balustrade held by nothing but the grip of unyielding time. It was then that he noticed the old and pealing poster on the wall just across the bridge, advertising the perfume.

L’Ora Blu was written in sapphire smoke escaping from an open bottle. “We are nothing more than the memories we make,” it read, “remember who you once were in the melancholic magic of L’Ora Blu.” And there, in print on the cracked poster, was Henry’s vanished woman, younger certainly, but still recognisable. As he watched the last of the light caress the wall, her fragile hand extended out to accept a zinnia from a man serenading her from a gondola, while the rest of her body leaned toward another hand, beckoning her deep into the shadows.

Time is cruel, he thought to himself, remembering her words, but then he remembered the bar from the previous night with its own myriad of merry maidens and he turned away from the scented shadows and headed off for continued adventure with that newly acquired swagger. As he hummed a tune to himself, he was totally unaware, that with each footstep he took, another petal fell from the single white zinnia that he still held in his, as yet, unblemished hand.

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All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

Summer Sun in the Marshes

Three boys and a girl,

Coasting carelessly

From teens to twenties

And coping lazily

With hangovers

Beneath the summer’s sun.

One blonde and three browns,

Laughing amid golden rays

That filled the most perfect of squares

In the once marshland of Le Marais

With it’s cobbled streets,

Men of elegance

And women-

Who followed their trend.

We were setting no trends-

The four of us,

But caught up in the richness

And comedy of it all.

We were Irish and English

And one of us French-

Young, unknown, foolish

And arrogant-

To everything but ourselves,

And ignorant-

To who it was that we were.

We were like the ground

We sat on;

A once sinking mess

Belonging to a world

Of daylight dreaming,

Where un-cautioned laughter

Tickled our sleep

Though not our feet,

But suddenly we’d found

Potential in possibilities

Seen through slumber-less eyes,

Far from dreaming.

I was laughing with one,

Blushing with the other

And was sleeping with the one

So typically French.

I’d befriended the one

I’d hoped to sleep with

And undressed with the one

I should’ve remained

Discreet with.

I would later miss her,

Lose contact with him

And wonder

How to stop sleeping

With the other.

But that day,

In that light,

In that heat of that summer,

We’d found our way,

Heard our voices

And finally found

What it meant to belong.

photo-64

Years Go By

Years go by

And I’m still here-

Remembering.

Years flying by-

Feeling like minutes in my mind;

A decade lost in the passing,

Like I’ve fallen forward through a gap in time.

Years in between

And yet that first morning-

Still so fresh,

Waking up into a home I’d gate crashed-

The Irish abroad;

Jeannie, with the flaming red hair

And welcoming hug,

A son in the shadows of another country

And a daughter to fall in love with were I straight.

Unable to forget

Those heated floors boards,

The note of good morning

In the kitchen,

The crispy toast from a packet,

The tiled green bathroom,

Separate toilet

And back to the bathroom to wash hands.

The plant filled balcony,

Those frosted glass doors

Which echoed through the apartment as you opened them-

So mundane and ordinary

And yet so much more

A part of me now

Than those trivial things

Ever where then-

Long before they became

A memory to cling to,

To cherish.

I hold on to so much more now

Than I ever thought possible

Or considered important-

The feel, the taste, the smell,

Like those disgruntled old madames

Who threw water from their balconies every morning-

Clocked in sombre shades of black

And scowling at passers-by like me

For the demise of their youth and their looks.

I can recall-

As if it were yesterday-

Those precious summer mornings

That soon followed me-

The air filling

With the fragrance of freshly baked croissants

As boulangeries opened their bell-ringing doors

To delighted strains of bonjour and ca’va.

Years, reaped upon years

But I still smell it as fresh now

As the day was new.

I can hear those familiar sounds

Of kids-

Singing out in ignorant celebrations

Of their youth

But always hidden from view

Behind high walls of stone.

Paris- the city for artists,

Intellects,

And the amourouse,

Where children are heard

But rarely seen.

No tantrums in stores,

No snotty noses in bistros-

No changings of nappies in sight.

Our Lady of magic was

Fully grown,

Fully developed-

No question of who She was

Or where She was going.

This City was born

Dressed in Chanel attire

With precious pearls to match-

Born a proud,

Free speaking,

Free thinking,

Pompous,

Confident adult,

Without question.

Her raison d’etre-

Herself entirely.

And there I stood

In the middle of it all

Trying to find my own trend

And set a route

Amid multitude of pathways

I longed to explore,

Get lost in,

Fall in love in

And find adventure in.

Time slips away

But it somehow leaves a part of me

Still there- somewhere,

Wandering through covered passageways

Packed with marionette theaters

And tiny trinket stores

Watched over by age old glass ceilings,

Discovering underground chambers

Of sewers and tombs-

Lost generations of the past,

Slipping unnoticed through graveyards

Of forgotten faces

Ad heralded names

Decorated with weeping women,

Stones eyes Madonnas

And cast iron wings-

Never to fly,

Remembering those I’d never known

And wondering who’d remember me.

Sitting by Seurat to make connections in his colors

And wondering what Mr. Wilde would make of us now.

Years gone by

And I still go back there-

Left side,

Art style,

Boho chic-

Where Oscar last laughed

And Sartre sighed

And I remember who I was,

Laugh at who I’ve become

And wonder why I’ve fled so far

From the city that never changes

Whilst I never stop.

Saturday afternoons,

After lazy lie-in’s

Rising through the cobbled hills

Of once moulin covered Montmartre

With Abi’s and Vincent’s

And Yasmine’s and Shaun’s,

Where artists ghosts-

intoxicated

By the green fairies potent mix

And the ruffling of high kicking

Can-can skirts-

Would swept though air

That you had only to touch

To feel a part of,

While tourists flocked

To pick up as many copies

And replicas as they could carry

Without so much as breathing in

All that surrounded them

For free.

I was a free man in Paris too,

My dear Joni,

And have wandered down

That Champs Elysees

In search of those I once knew

And cared for

And loved

And lost.

Years outrun years

But I can still close my eyes

And feel the sun on my skin

As we filled Victor’s fine square

With resounding laughter

That soared around the fountains

And columns

And palaces

Fit for queens.

14th of July ’98-

Champ du mars,

Three tenors,

Fireworks,

Mary and me

And a thousand others-

We were the luckiest in the world.

I can see myself at 23-

Cast bright in the lamp lights

That I sailed past

On the back of a motorbike-

Tearing through world of Hemingway

On the slumbering market street

Of Rue Mouffetard

Before the bank side approached

And Notre Dame lay reflected

In the sleeping waters.

My arms wrapped tight

Around my leather clad driver

With Spanish blood and gallic looks-

Willing to show me it all.

The years may continue

To build on years,

Time will continue

To tick-tock away,

But there are lifetimes

In moments

Which years can do nothing

To suppress

Or erase

If the heart wills

Not to forget.

photo-36