He is forward flying,
A novice to noise
And nuances
Of staggering streets
Unknown and numerous,
Honed to the humming
From the surge and speed
Of manoeuvres he can
Meddle through
Mingle through
Move through

He is a nubile note,
A minor chord
In a major movement,
Braced for a rebirth
By foreign fingers
Forging him finally
Into a signature
Of sonic structure,
A rhythm and rhyme,
A tune to tingle
And temper him
And a chorus to call
And encourage him

He is a leaning leaf
Balanced on the brow
Of a branch, braced
For worthy winds
Of foreign fields
To find him, float him,
Carry him to clouds
And dive down deep
Forever after
Into the chaos
And cacophony
Of life and it’s longing
And the lust among the living

He is made of math,
The sum of every smile,
The addition and attrition
Of a world of worries,
The multiplication
Of a multitude of thoughts
Mixed and mumbled
And the subtraction
Of scars and fears,
He is the solution in full
The joy and the tears

He is the beating body
Of festering flesh,
Tasting and tasted,
Touched and taken,
He is the brittle bone
Stretched over skin
And the shroud of skin
Bound to the bone,
He is whole,
And hungry,
Growing, groaning, gaining,
Rotting, renewing reigning

He is the devil
In the darkness,
He is luminous
In the light,
He is the form
Finding features
In the forces
In between
The growing greys
And the shifting shades,
He is the something still unshaped,
He is the someone still unseen

He is forged of fire,
Flames flickering
In front of him
Fierce and unfailing
As the particled past
Blazes behind him
The life already lived
Echoing all that will finally fall
A hundred years from now
A forgetful fading
Of all he wanted to become
And all he managed to be,
Everything remembered
At once as the light descends
On the rise and fall of he.


All words and pictures by Damien B. Donnelly



Taken by the sea
And buried in the sands
As man could not claim him
Hold him, place him,
Lost to the world
A loss before life began,
He crossed the waters
Of hurt, in hope.
We may cry for him
We may mourn for him
But we are the makers
Of this wicked world
And in our failing hands
We sealed his fragile fate

They come with only hope
But drown in our own denial.

Words and Pictures by Damien B. Donnelly



A haunting is happening in this house that holds me
A sinister spirit that sighs in the shadows
A feeling of fear is feeding on a frenzy
As it ghoulishly groans and gasps from its gallows

A breath is baying by this bed that now binds me
With its fetid foulness that’s flitting by my face
A mischievous menace that will not let me be
The already dead trudging through time and space

A demon’s devising a death to destroy me
As he cloths me in his cold and callous caress
While neither face nor fingers nor form can I see
But there’s dread in the dark that I cannot suppress

A sour scent is staining the sheets where I slumber
And it’s reeking of rank and rotten revulsions
It exhales a heinous, a horrible, hunger
Its demonic desires and its cursed compulsions

A miserable monster while mumbling madness
Is slapping and sliding something sharp on my skin
Between life and death there’s not much to divide us
The guidance to good and the seduction of sin

A haunting is happening in this house that holds me
A sinister spirit groaning from its gallows
A face is now forming and two eyes can I see
As I’m dragged into darkness, sliced neath the shadows.




I can move mountains
At night,
In the darkness,
Within the costume of sleep

I can part the seas,
Call the currents,
Will the waves
Beneath the waves of a duvet

I can save the world,
Untie the menace
From the mission
With the hero of my dreams

I can find my voice
Bold and brave,
Protect and save
When I am sound asleep

In the light
I take steps,
Singularly significant,
To wake the dream to the day


All words and photos by Damien B. Donnelly



What if spiders were pink
What if rats had a perm
What if mozzies sang sweetly
What if fear was just a term

What if mice poohed diamonds
What if worms wore hats
What if medicine tasted of vodka
What if lions were the size of cats

What makes thunder threatening
What makes darkness dour
What makes silence sinister
What makes lemons sour

What if pigs wore perfume
What if sweat didn’t stink
What if Monday was Friday
What if nothing was as we think

What if panthers had pigtails
What if ants wore pants
What if ghosts were glitzy
What would you rhyme with pants

What if sad was happy
What if funny was just a taste
What if the end was just the beginning
What if this poem is too silly to paste?




There is a light,
Amid the shadows,
Within our slumber,

There is a light,
That never flickers,
That cannot stumble.

There is a light,
In the very breath
That feeds us,

There is a light,
In every loving eye
That sees us.

There is a light,
In every dream
We dare to hope for,

There is a light,
In every joy
We try to reach for.

In the grace
Of every waking day,

In the rise
Of every starry sky,

In the person
That we can still become.

There is a light,
And it shines
Beyond reproach,

There is a light
And it burns
Beyond decay.

There is a light,
I can see it
Right before me,

There is a light
And within it
Lies my story

Still waiting to be told…




18 years ago I first moved to Paris, 22 years of age and the first time away from home, security and everything familiar. Two months ago I arrived back in what has become my home away from home. This is the story of how it all started…

1997, Paris, France, The Arrival, The First Time

It was raining and I couldn’t see the Tower. I’d just arrived to this strange intoxicating land, packed to bursting with abounding excitement and endless naivety, and yet it was grey, raining, and the Eiffel Tower was nowhere in sight! I knew it was in the area somewhere and remembered seeing it from all over Paris that last time, but right there, in that first, big, life changing, suddenly-becoming-a-grown-up moment, in those first few hours of being totally alone, completely a foreigner and possibly way out of my depth, it wasn’t here to greet me and I actually felt that I needed to see it in order to convince myself that I’d really and truly arrived. It had been less than a month since I’d decided to leave my home town of Dublin for the mystery of Paris and those few weeks had passed by in a blur of toasts, tears, goodbye drinks and very little preparation and I’d just spent almost an hour on a small coach coming from the gobsmacking cow shed that was Beauvais Airport with a gang of middle-aged, Irish housewives, nattering on about everything they wanted to do and see, all giggly at leaving their husbands behind to cook the dinner for the kids and their duty free bottles were already opened.
I kept thinking of Mum’s face during our farewell at Dublin airport, smiling bravely while her heart was breaking and staring at me with watery eyes that did their best not to cry, but failing instantly when she saw the tears forming in mine. My final memories of Ireland, clouded in tears, and almost missing the plane due to constant announcements for Damien Donnelly (that’s me) to pick up the nearest courtesy phone, various friends phoning in their goodbyes, along with one too many manic phone calls from a deranged doctor that I’d dated for all of 5 minutes before I felt the cold brush of his scalpel that I’d just managed to escape.
If, that night, 18 years ago, my only problem had been that I couldn’t see the Eiffel Tower, then it would’ve been a stroll in the park. However, this wasn’t really the main concern. Let’s see, I had three huge and heavy suitcases, two back-packs, a bum bag, four portfolios of varying sizes (I was going to be the new Jean Paul Gaultier, seriously! The Irish version, of course, possible in Arran sweatshirts and tweed pants!), I had no job, nowhere to live, knew absolutely nobody, had no idea which direction to start walking in and, to top it all off, I’d never studied french, if you ignored the little grammar book I’d been trying to understand on the plane. Nevertheless, for some insane reason, instead of worrying about this or even seeing any of it as a problem, I felt blissfully happy, incredibly free, and wonderfully unknown. I just couldn’t see the Tower. I think missing the reality of the situation was actually a blessing for me!
The coach, that had brought me from the aforementioned cow shed, left me and everyone else at The James Joyce (an Irish bar, can you believe it? When I’m trying to get away from the place) in Porte Maillot, which is like dropping someone off in the middle of the M1, in a rainstorm. This meant that I found myself standing on a foreign street, getting soaked to the bone in foreign rain, wary about what and where the foreign bed would be that I’d be sleeping in and wondering how long the foreign money in my pocket was going to last. It had been in my pocket for over two weeks already and had begun to diminish before I’d even left Ireland. As a true Irishman, it was into the pub and out of the rain, but unlike the true Irishman, it was a whiskey and coke instead of a pint of the hard stuff.
By the second drink I’d developed enough courage to phone up a complete stranger. A friend of a friend had given me the number of a friend of hers who’d been living in Paris for the past twenty years and, if I’d nowhere to stay, I should phone her up. Well, nowhere to stay was defiantly the case and, as it was closing in on 7pm, I wasn’t too keen beginning the search for a hotel on a dark and wintry night, especially when I hadn’t a clue as to where I was. (I told you- no preparation!). Thankfully, the friend of the friend of the friend in question hadn’t forgotten her own language and we were straight into conversation, although it wasn’t quite going in the direction I’d hoped. I hung up the phone and stared at the piece of paper, a phone number for an Irish college that acted as a hostel for students and young Gaelic travellers. ‘Give them a call and they’re bound to have a room, ask for Rosen, mention my name.’ The friend of the friend of the friend didn’t seem too keen on having a stranger over and I suddenly felt afraid and asked myself, for the first time, what the hell had I done?
I downed another whiskey, pushed the fears aside, and called the number. The first girl didn’t know Rosen, the second said the office was closed, the third asked if I knew what room Rosen stayed in and did I have a description, and then the second girl, returning to the phone, cleared everything up by telling me that Rosen ran the place but didn’t live there. Apparently, this wasn’t the office number but the student pay phone and, as the students had nothing to do with the allocation of rooms, they couldn’t help me out. Instead, they offered me their best wishes, urged me to call the office in the morning and quickly hung up the phone, leaving me with a dead line and a dead end! I was gutted and felt let down by my first encounter with the Irish community in Paris. I was already becoming a french snob!
So it was back to the friend of the friend of the friend. She had, reluctantly, said to phone her back if all else failed. When I phoned her up, I was almost at the point of tears and when I hung up, I think I actually shed one or two. My first impressions of her had been completely wrong. ‘Here’s my address, come on over and have you eaten anything?‘ were her exact words. Thanks be to God! I had somewhere to stay and I hadn’t wasted my money on the bottle of Brandy I’d already bought her in the duty-free. It was all wonderful again so I had another drink before deciding to splash out and pop into the restaurant upstairs to have my first French feast. I forgot that being an Irish bar, it was also an Irish restaurant.
After my first dinner in Paris, my new home town, I used the courage from the alcohol warming my insides to hail a taxi, speak my first bit of French and meet a stranger and her daughter, who she mentioned would stay in to meet me. Paris, here I come.
It was still raining outside as I left the bar and I still couldn’t see the Tower as a taxi manically whisked me through the foreign streets with more foreign rain on the windows, distorting the shapes and colours of this beautiful place. If it were a movie, the camera would have filmed me struggling down the Boulevard Gouvion St-Cyr, hailing and loading myself into a taxi that would drive off into the distance before the camera would pan back, zoom up over Paris’ famed Palais des Congrès before turning left to the Arc de Triomphe with the Champs-Éysées stretching out behind it and, of course, standing tall and proud down from the Arc, just across the river, would be the vision of La Tour Eiffel. It had been behind me the entire time, just beyond an arc and a rain drop, watching its newest citizen set out to discover the adventures that lay in wait for him behind the passionate puddles of Paris.