The ghost

I’m haunted by

Is the one I’ve created

Myself, alone,


Without intension

Or foresight,

Without the slightest foundation

To fright.

The ghost

I’m haunted by-

Lurking but a fraction away

From a fingers touch,

Like the mind numbing


Of a menacing muscle

Convulsively contracting,

That lingers

Amid a thousand other

Consciously thought out,

Relatively reasonably


Is that one

That chills the most

Being from my own hand

Uniquely and ubiquitously

Carved in slivers

Of tempered steel.

The ghost

That haunts me

From Winter’s Fall

To Summers end

Is not

The nocturnal nuisance

Of nightmares,

Nor the shape shifter

Behind the sheet-

Shivering in shadows,

Nor the mythical entity

Or pulsating phantom

Of plasmic slime.

The ghost

That haunts me

In waking breath

And sleeping dream,

That resides on the edge

Of my happiness

And motivates the core

Of my sadness,

Is none other than I,


Or rather the self

I must become,

But the fear,

In truth,

Is what happens


I fall forgotten

Before begun.


All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

The Value of a Single Word

I am in the air,

Above mountainous clouds

Of candy floss and cotton balls,

Flying between beds

That are not mine,

Sheets bound to frames

And pillows too puffed

To be personal.

I am the single sleeper-


On the right edge of center,

Using just one set

Of towels

Of the two provided,

Opening single slippers

And leaving that other robe

Hanging unused

And yet,

For all it’s

Impersonal touches,

I sleep in these foreign buildings,

In foreign cites,

In foreign lands

I can barely plot on the map,

Akin to sleeping at home

And tonight

I question

The geographical pull

And sentimental value

In the word

We call home

When you live

In this world

All alone.


Compatible Blends

We found each other,

For a while

As we searched separately

For a new life

Amid the ashes of a life already lived

With bruised edges,

Fractured hearts

And losses to great to forget.

We stopped for each other,

All but briefly

And, in delighted ignorance,

Planned out a future

As inseparable

As water from land

And sky from sea

But proved to be less


Than we knew.

We shadowed each other,

At the start,

Sailing in separate shifts

On Chevelaret’s Street

In district 13

With Celtic music,

And pints of the black stuff

While a riotous racket of Turkish overtones

And Irish stupidity,

Parading as management,

Carved comedy into

Every inch of our jobs.

You were night and I the day

As we passed each other without

Sensing a connection

And yet I was already aware-

Intrigued by the mysterious air

You’d arrived on.

I had sat in the corner of the bar

And watched you being interviewed.

You polished off a glass of Guinness

On that unaccustomedly sun-lit day

In spring

Like it was the first drink ever

On a Friday evening

With not an ounce of fear or uncertainty

As Niall questioned you

With roaming eyes

That longed for more salacious information

Than you were willing to provide.

Your age was not to be a factor

Nor your flight from home

That had somehow lead you here,

To this place,

That must have rung out-

With first impression-

Like it was the end of the earth

Or the final stop for last chances.

You had shadowed the steps

I had made months earlier.

Were you as shocked as I

When you climbed down the metro’s stairs

And saw that lifeless street stretching out before you

With the Guinness sign in the distance

Like a beacon to call you home?

A dishevelled man-

Washed over in alcohol

And lost out in life

And two dead rats along the side walk

Had been my greeting

To this quarter

Lurking anonymously

Behind the chaos of Chinatown

And it sank into me-

As the train raced away,

That this was the one place were they would say


And my empty wallet would be

The one thing about me that

Could not say


But somehow we made it home

And as the sun grew stronger

We looked at each other more closely

And made connections-

Blind to what lay beyond the glare

Of those rays that hypnotised us.

So how did it happen

In that summer-

That glorious summer where we had

Promised each other to make it be the one

That shone the brightest in our memories-

That we ended up

Losing each other?

I sat on someone’s porch steps

Covering them in bitter tears

While two blonde boys watched on

And waited for explanations that I could not know,

For I was still unable then to see

How much we had failed each other.

Had we been no more

And no less

Than oil and water

All that time-

Fooled somehow into thinking us a more

Compatible blend?

But I had seen you and fell for you-

For all that you were

And tried to be

And all that you covered up-

Wounds naked only to me

And wounds that you could not cure

And so I lifted you

And carried you

And feared for you,

And wondered how to get in

And worried how to get away-

I knew the danger signs that lit up

In your eyes

And when to speak

And when to say nothing

But- at the same time-

You carried me

And cared for me

And cured me too.

I was the adopted boy who became

Your adopted brother.

Once, I had been given up

Where you had given up.

I was the follow on that you needed to see

And you- the listener

I needed to confide in,

To say I forgive,

I’m ok,

I have survived.

To your face

I said thank you to a mother never seen

And in my eyes

You cried for all that you had lost

And could never have the chance to be.

Maybe the mix was too explosive

And we shared too much from opposite sides

Of an unused coin

In that bond

We made

And loved

And let break-

Brother and Sister

And sometimes

Mother and Son.

We began to heal together-

Broken hearts that we thought we’d left

Back home,

Memories that came flooding back

Like children we’d forgotten

And left behind-

A part of ourselves that we’d ignored-

Hoping the past would let it slide to


But we found that not to be true

And in each other we found-

For all but a precious moment-

A way of letting go

And moving on.

How little,

In that middle of it all,

Did we know how soon we’d let go of each other.

For, in truth,

It was never enough

And nothing could cure the washed over lines

That lay buried in the memory.

I could not become the lost child

And you were not the shadowed mother for me.

Maybe that was our downfall-

We hoped for too much from each other

And found not even a whole summer

On that street with its temples,

Viewless windows,

Benoits who cried in our laps,

Cards games you thought me

And Lovers who came our way

To divert us more from what lay

Too deep to remove.

Brother and Sister-

Sipping coffees and cokes

And teaching each other French-

We taught each other a lot

But never managed

To teach each other

To hold on.

Where are you now and do you ever

Wander in your mind

Back down that street

And into that bar

Were we talked

And laughed

And cried the night away

Until the morning found us

And we set off home


And lay together

In one room,

In separate single beds

And spoke till one of us fell asleep.

I see you sometimes,

In my minds eye

With fag in hand, as always,

And eyes lit up as we danced through that bar

Which became our bar

On a Saturday night

As we simply entertained the audience

Perhaps just as simply

As we entertained each other.

In my mind we will always be dancing

Like that

Before closing the bar

And finding comfort in a cigarette,

A drink

And each other-

Brother and sister

For almost a summer,

Dancing in the ignorance

Of what autumn

Would have in store for us.


The Wonder that was You

Are we alike-

I ask myself?

Could we ever be linked


Today, any day,

As Mother and Son?

Can we even claim

Those titles

Within each others eyes

Having spent

All our lives


Or rather-

All of mine

Since that cord was cut?

And yet, I wonder

Do ties still bind?

Did it hurt

When we

That were both united

Were parted?

How was it to give life

And then watch it

Being taken away?

Do you still consider me child-

Your child,

Your first child?

Or were there others that followed

Who remained by your side?

Are you mother now

To others-

Do you wrap yourself around them

As you once,

So briefly,

Wrapped yourself

Around me?

Do they know

Of my existence

Or not at all,

As I know not of bother or sister-

Another title I dare not claim.

You should know

That I am happy-

That I’ve known joy,

Can you feel it?

After all, it was you

Who gave me the life

To live it-

The one who grew within you,

Who has developed without you,

Who has walked onwards-

SInce birth,

Though ever increasingly

Away from you,

Who has spoken

Often of you

But never directly to you,

Who grew to know love,

In part,

Because of a single decision

You made.

When I see you now-

Deep in my mind-

It is far from the fantasies I once

Envisioned you in.

You are more balanced

In realism, today

Than the childhood dreams

Of Queen in a tower

Or Star on the stage.

That I live-

It is due to your sacrifice,

Those 9 months-

A lifetime to the child that you were-

A child carrying

A child within,

But still,

You gave me time-

Body and soul,

You gave me the chance

With spirit and pride

As you waded through whispers

And rose above rumors.

I’ve had a mother-

Since we parted,

Since leaving the comforts

Of your swollen belly-

A mother who moulded me,

Minded me,

And moved me

With a thousand remembrances

Of your gift to her.

A woman who knew the sacrifice you had made,

Who’d cried the same tears you shed,

A woman who made me grateful

For the Wonder that was You.


The Christmas Kiss that Wasn’t Mine

For two months

I’d waited for you-

Adrift for a time from

The mere sensation of even

A stranger’s touch-

Not knowing it was you,

Of course,

But for that longed for warmth

To envelope me.

How funny

And how easy

You became my Christmas present-

Mon cadeau.

My only gift had been a self-bought



Tatty jumper

And then you arrived-

Dropped yourself at my table

In your yellow rain-coat

With slightly drunk,

Tear-filled eyes-

Lonely for your lover

Who’d flown home to family.

You’d been abandoned

For three days,

Or so you thought-

Till you were in my arms

Amid a darkening street

In The Marais

And each kiss goodbye,

That started as a cordial bisou,

Seemed never quite enough

And your hands-

Finding their way easily inside my clothing-

Felt only teased

By what they had not yet


I wanted to take you home-

My hotel-called-home,

With it’s corner balcony that hid

All but the tip of Notre Dame

And my pillows-

Like feather-filled lozenges

That enticed no sleep,

But my concierge had other ideas-

Even on Christmas night

No guests meant no guests,

However cold it was outside

And however innocent

We attempted to look

While the imprint of your lips

Burnt away on my neck.

And so I found myself

On the red sofa

Of your Les Halles living room

Amid your cat and dog,

With His scent everywhere-

Upon the delightfully pillow-like pillows I slept on

And in the painters nightshirt

You dressed me in,

Later on,

When the kisses stopped

And the dawn’s cold air

Dropped by.

We had nothing in common-

Not even a language-

But we were both alone

Amid a city of fairy lights

And family affairs

And what else mattered.

I awoke each night

As you stroked the hair from my face

With your architectural hands-

Your eyes pouring into me-

Looking, perhaps,

For a deeper meaning

Or some forgivable


But there was nothing

But our basic needs.

Even as you suggested to stay

In contact-

You knew my eyes

Saw your sophomoric lies

And twisted attempts

At half-truths-

Trying to clutch onto something

New and different

In the midst of the complacency

You’d created around you.

There was nothing more

Than two boys

And three nights,

So much shared in silence-

The inevitable not needing a voice.

I waved you goodbye

That last morning

Inside your age-old building,

On your spiraled staircase,

Half a floor below you

With your scent covering me-

Like a blanket

That’s never quite big enough

To stay wrapped in


And your cat stated back at me-

Questioning me through half-closed,


Feline eyes,

Sensing the betrayal of the situation

Which she had slept through most of

And I was walking away from.

Behind your green eyes and blond hair

You wondered

How I could mean

So much

In so short a time.

Was it minutes later until his return-

Did you wash the sheets?

Did you hold him

As if he were me

In that bed,

Beneath the darkness

Where we once found each other

And took pleasure in the taste?

Did the cat snarl out the affair

Before you

Or did I dream it all-

The three nights,

The two boys

One brown,

The other blond

And the swift sweet unwrapping

Of mon Cadeau?


Winter’s Child

You gently

Wrapped your first chill

Around me

The other night,

As if to remind me

It was time

For the first blanket

Of a season in changing,

And I felt


Like the return

Of the faithful familiar-

Prompting me

To double sheets under duvets,

Close windows on sneezes,

Return socks to naked feet,

Turn from salads to soups

And wear scarves instead of shorts.

You’ve barely begun

To layer me up-

Snuggled and bundled on the sofa-

And yet,

Even so,

In that silly short space of reunion,

I’ve replayed, in my mind,

How it rolls,

Every year,

From the final

Fading flicker of

Summer’s lasting light

To those

Autumnal sundowns

Before the Winter’s

Fairy lights.

I am born of fire

And storm,

I fear,

Finding so much more

Warmth and solace

Watching rain

Beyond windows,

Traipsing footprints

Through snowfalls

And cuddling indoors

As the wild winds roar.

I hear,

In the mere hint of your arrival,

The jingle of silver bells

And see the glistening

Of bright colored baubles-

Smelling yule logs a-baking

And mulled wine a-making.

I am Winter’s child-

Coasting home

On the last glorious rays

Of summer-

So grateful for those

Bright nights

And near bronzed skin

But overjoyed at the thought

Of wooly jumpers

And fur lined slippers,

Marks and Sparks pajamas

And hot milk with biscuit dippers.

I wrapped myself

In the first blanket covering

Of autumn

The other day,

As September slipped

Behind the last shadow

Of Summer…


All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

The Long Kiss

Longing to kiss you,


And slow.

But first-

To tease temptation-

I would trace my finger tip

Along the line of your lip-

To feel

What soon I shall taste.

I imagine, now

Alone in the recess

Of my craving mind,

How we would move in


And I’d feel the heat

Radiating from your body

As we’d both shiver slightly

In the unison

Of that sensory touch.

I’d stand so close

That you’d feel my breath


The tiny hairs on your chin


As my nose brushes past your cheek,

I’d take in your scent

Before our mouths fall in sync

And our lips would meet.


To start with,

We’d close upon each other-

Lost in exploration

Of curves,

Of warmth,

Of shape and flavor,

The moisture building-

And we’d be unable to say

If it was yours, or mine

Our ours

And then,

Relinquishing control,

I’d crave to nibble

Upon that perfectly formed

Lower lip of yours

That I could feel

Pulsating against mine

And so I’d bite it softly,

As if to test you,

To tease you open

So as to feel your breath

Entering my mouth

And ever so naturally-

Almost innately-

I’d breath it in

As if to claim it

As mine-

Tried and tasted,

Before my tongue,


May find your cupids bow

And lick its way,


But with mounting hunger,

To the tip your teeth


As my eyes

Pour into yours

And our bodies tremble,

I’d enter you,

At last,

And find your tongue

Ready to greet me-

As if to welcome me in


And deeper



My hands

Would trace their way

Around your waist

And under your shirt-

One hand working its way upwards

Along your spine

To pull you closer,

While the other would

Explore its way

To the heat

Below your waistline.

Longing to kiss you,

I am,


And lasting…