in the dungeons
of men’s minds, below
the dance halls and the giddy
galleries, deep in a declining darkness
holding no pride over permanence, appetites
edge on apps to ease entrance as dogs eat dogs.
These are no longer the days of Wilde’s wit
and wicked word play, temptations are
no longer teased from tongue
twisters but twisted from
tongues in the darkest
part of the night
where dogs prowl
the popper pool, sniffing
out stimulating stimulants,
playing with prey, praying for applause
to that great god ground down; credit card cuts
of white lines that can’t quite cut through
these savage times. Digging deep
in the dungeon of darker minds,
men make moves too difficult
to swallow. Dogs eat dogs
and I realise I’m more
captive to caviar

than canine.

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

Audio version available on Soundcloud:





As a child
was I thoughtless
or just thought less?
Less taught.
Less to think about?
Was there really less to see,
less to love?

For life was never loveless.

As a man
I have given so much away, I guess,
less love left,
less to give,
more gone.

Does it grow back,
like children grow
and learn and know
before becoming thoughtless again,
before taking more of their share,
before leaving less for the rest?

Less to give. More gone. What rests?

But I am not a noisy nothing
because I have emptied love
into other hearts,

But now, with the knowledge
that I no longer know less,
I know this:

I am not less than the child
who once thought less,
I am not less than the man
who once loved more.

I see
in the mirror, dimly,
and sometimes clearly,
those pieces that have parted
and the person that remains,
someone between child and man,
somewhere between innocence
and all the light that is dimmer after its loss,
somewhere between the thinking
and the taking and the being taken,

I am
between it all,
looking back, reaching out,
holding up the faith that has fallen
and regarding the fate that is waiting,
reflecting the hope that the child sees
and the one that every man needs,

up the love
that will always be
at home in my heart,
whether or not I am
framed by someone
or single, just me.
just one.

For even if it is just one
it is far from none.

I am not nothing and never will be.
This I used to know in part
but now I know in full.

All words and pictures by Damien B. Donnelly

Audio version available on Soundcloud:




And we are all a sum of circles…

spinning, spiralling,

circling something,
orbiting our own atmosphere,
seduced by our own stratosphere, (oh, how we smell)
chasing our own tails;
can circles have tails or is it just dogs?

Although Plato portrayed us
as circles split apart;
restlessly looking for the rest of ourselves,

worrying the best half
is the other half that was snipped away.

So are we circles
or just the unfinished sum of a circle?
Are we accounting or just counting our own charisma?
Fragmented fractures
trying to add positives with only negatives,

semi circles circling the greater circle of life,
some all seeing, some all knowing,
some too wrapped in the self to see the shadow

and oh how the shadows can settle over the oh so indulgent.

And she calls
and she cries
and she sees

nothing and no one as needy
as she caresses her own concerns

and she combs
long shining strands
of sustained soliloquies
over the silence, shivering.

And he sleeps
and he cries
and he needs

all and everyone to see how suffering
stifles his strength to see beyond the self

and he breaths
his burdens over brothers
he believes are blind
to his behaviour.

Oh the poor ones,
oh the pity,

pretty girl,
pity boy,

how they want you to see them,
to see how hard it is
to be them.

Make way for the music;

see the swines strumming the sinew
as the crows cut through callous cords
and the vultures make violent overtures on the violins

and cut to crashing crescendo!


If only fortune
could free them
from the self satisfying shackles
they slip over themselves.
Shackles too shiny
to ever enslave.

And she calls
and he cries
and they see themselves

as singularly central to the circle

and not just a number in a sum of an incomplete equation.


All words and wall hanging by Damien B. Donnelly

Audio version available on Soundcloud:





‘You gotta be what you want,’ that’s what they say,
‘You gotta be what we want,’ that’s what they mean
and, brother and sister, they can be mean.

But we can’t all be compliant in complacency, we can’t
all be kept compartmentalised into your conditions,
I have my own conditions. Cotton Avenue has come a calling
with its shiny beat on a changing street and this is the just
the latest edition, fresh off the press and it’s less and less
of before and more and more of more.

So come see me, if you feel it, in the morning light
when I’m musing bright and rough and ripe for the fight
but that reflection will have taken flight by the evening light
when I’m straddling the moonlight naked by your bedight,
twisting temporary between thighs so tight that make us feel so right.

Originality’s been ostracised without being obvious, like wolves
now wet as pets, fractured and folded into fickle formulas
customers can get their claws into, accentuated with sugar
to sooth the jaws into silently submissive but still we can salivate.
But you were always looking for the other side of obvious,
breaking down the fences, flipping the B Side to the A side.
They felt you fitted into folk, at first, fragile filigree as a woman
should be, caressing concerns of the passing of casual companions,
the woman’s champion you never wanted to be and so you grew listless
within the laurel and the labels, and turned from the men’s measuring
tables that pulled down from up and turned to rocking restless,
seeking out a new way to swing, but you swayed so far from
their familiar so they dared to deny you, wanted to tie you up
in your old strings of sorrows and musings from the midways.

You had leapt electric and they stood stoic; confused in what they
considered too eclectic. Jazz, like poetry, is the puzzle rarely pondered
by the populous! They hated your hissing as if you were pissing
in your own park and couldn’t pardon Don Juan from this darkened
daughter who was merely looking forward to see what was to follow.
‘Stay true’, they say to me and you, but through to who? Wild things
run free, you cannot cage creation even as breeders of a nation without
a notion of what’s possible in lieu of the lie that’s much more popular.
I turn to the TV in the impermanent ‘pop-up’ plot by the parking lot
and tune in to see tales twist and spin as CNN flies with fears
and fragility in France, where terror has taken over tourism
while I’ve been in the park in Paris with Parisians still proudly
playing in their paradise. Terror, Trumpers, is tapping on your toes,
a cannonball of chaos careering through your school halls,
and your gun clubs and the bold bravado of your right to a riffle
like life was a raffle. France has fallen to foreign fears and we feel
the tears burning and the eyes watching as metros keep moving
cause commuters have commitments but in your homeland,
in that brave land, Americans are killed more by their own hand
than by any other hand and still you stand and sing
‘land of the free’, ‘home of the brave’. ‘
Political is now popular but god forbid if you try to popularise
being political. Remember; we all have our positions people.

France is fool to its own folly, as the cast-outs camp out
in cardboard boxes they’ve crashed into, hoping for help
and hand outs from the common men because the political ones
are busy building domes of duplicated documents
they’ve demanded you deliver even though they are decades old,
documents that are difficult to keep track of when your home was hit,
your city in shreds and you ran for refuge.
Ireland, oh Ireland, it’s a long long way from home,
not sure I can still drink a crate of you but happy I am
to dream you from the distance, to reminisce of your better days
you are now getting back to. Back to basic, like you needed to,
coming closer to the craic you’d cashed in when you had all that cash
to get lost in, the greed that grinded down the greatness and cut
more character from the classes than faith and famine killed the masses.

Sceptical still as to whether racism should be ruled out,
religion is racing towards relic but feet still flow to the masses
like in uniformed formation, as if in some sort of heightened
migration, a hypnosis from on high even if the brothers have abused
and battered all hope of ever being saved and the nuns no better
in their neglect for a nation of unmarried mothers who became
unpaid servants while their babies were left to swim in still waters,
that were far from blessed. Maybe you were right; God must be a boogie man!
The green land, the homeland, how time has loosened its hand
on our hold, age informed me while youth had veiled me
from the force of your females eager to remind your males
how they were made to be their meek; men moulded into
money making and quiet keeping. The motherland, indeed,
where the hens hold the cock clenched but I have things to say
just as much as those clocking birds running headstrong through
the homesteads. You can’t shut me up and just talk to me.
That’s not how it’s gonna be! I have options and opinions
and others versions who I’ve yet to be. I am changing sides,
slipping, like she did, the B side to the A side and will not
be pushed aside so perhaps that’s why I’ve taken off to the other side.
Cause I gotta be what I want and not what you want to see.

You see?

Gotta be free to muse,
regardless of the roughness,
for this is the justice that the just deserve.

All words and picture-collage by Damien B. Donnelly

Audio version available on Soundcloud:





A constant darkness,

the future unfolds like the road;
route unknown,

the past ever present
but kissed goodbye;

my lips still taste of yesterday,
my hips the heat of your caress
that has since slipped from these sheets.

I was always bound to restless,
to rest less and less,
I am creature creative;
a constant recreation concerned more with shadow than light,

more with what I don’t yet know
than where I have already been.

I am taxi traveller,
I will take you with me
naked under the sweating sun,
tender under starlight

but you are only fair;
you are the hitchhiker
along my highway,

a distraction on route to destination.

We are not destiny,
no two are designed alike,

every soul a single sojourn.

I am city when you are desert,
I am sand when you are stone,
I will have dried up
before you learn to open up.

I will meet you
under moonlight,
by the gaslight
already flickering in the morning light,

only the stars will see us burning bright
for we are stars;
rising in the darkness,

this constant darkness,

I will drink you and then discard you
when the dawn calls me back to destination

before you break me,
I will set off before you slow me,
before you show me who you want me to be.

I am everything and nothing
in your eyes, all lies,
we are only reflections,
projections of hope and hurt,

How can I be all you want
when we don’t really know who we are?

We are starlight, like I said,
already burning out before begun,
drawn to distraction
and drawing on our own dust.

But I am constant, now, to the calling,

am free to flight and fall,

I will love you forever
and yet leave you
before you’ve even considered it
a compliment to concern yourself with who I am

because all we have learned
is to look for ourselves in each other.

And yet I am other. Another.

No other,

bound to no body and everybody,

at home in hotels
that hold me for hire,
every stop another station in the formation,
every sheet another burn as we twist and turn

and then, in twisting, we turn,

we are roads constantly crossing,
trying to get to the other side

to see if the darkness is lighter, brighter,

but this darkness,
this constant darkness
is not a dark abyss,

this constant darkness
can only be conquered at the check out.

A constant darkness,

we are all travellers on a road
making moments, making magic, making mistakes
believing the future is forever.

But I am not concerned or consoled by forever,

I am here now,
running reckless along these roads,
seeking sustenance, seeking solace,
and occasionally a comfort from the cold that comes a calling,

(I will give you what I have willingly
if you promise not to take it unevenly)

seeking satisfaction in things temporary,
leaving a part of me in everything I touch,

hoping it’s enough,
hoping you will remember
the scent of my skin
though we were too thin to be true,
too fragile to be anything more than a fickle tickle,

trying to understand the sweet sorrow,
the ebb and flow, the hope and the hurt.

Goodbye can be a greeting as warm as hello.
Good boy, I am trying to be a good boy

burning through this constant darkness

and smiling as I soar and sizzle.


A constant darkness

so we can gaze at the stars in their glory.


All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

Audio version available on Soundcloud:




as the city
slips into slumber,
after last night’s thunder,
as skin slides from winter’s
shawls and shackles and pitches
itself proudly in parks where not even
dogs bark, where shadows have sunk
into sweaty
soil as feverish
fingers smooth skin
with soothing oil. Summer
in the city and temperatures
are oozing over bodies, all tease
and no breeze to appease. Summer
in the city and the music mellows as fellows
fold frowns
into bottom drawers
with winter wishes and curate
concerns toward sunset kisses. Summer
in the city and she unfurls her curls like foliage
finding form over greedy grass, and he goes green
with envy and furrows his frenzy as the fountain flows
with full force, unabashedly, and he grows as greedy as the grass
while her
curves caress
his consciousness
and he wilts in watchful
wantonness while I wait for kisses
caught on Spanish lips that creep along
the current of sweeping storms and sensual
shifts, we are ships crossing under starlight, snakes
slivering over sheets, I am not his, he is not mine, he is not
hers and still not mine, we cast concern into the ripples that sink in ocean
too deep
to remember and
too cold for concern,
ripples that are arousing now
beneath these fountains now flowing,
in the park, in the sunlight, in the summer,
in the city. Summer in the city and babies are sleeping
in buggies buried under bushes while nannies dose and daddies
delight in their sweet blooming rose. Summer shines on the city and
streets slip
from worries
and rushes to brushes
with light and lazy, humming
hazy harmonies like he once strummed
upon my strings a serenade sweet enough
to sweep us to older days, other days, days of revolution
and voices that shone as bright as this burning sun, and on
to simpler days of lemonade and laughter. Remember laughter,
back before the pitter patter of drought and disaster? We are just people
through parks,
looking for stars
in between the sunlight,
looking for fleeting kisses,
treats that are never free, saints
and snakes all hissing across lawns
in summer. Summer in the city but somewhere
out there, beyond the sleeping stars and the deep blue sky,
someone is probably crying and another, senselessly, about to die.

All words and paintings by Damien B. Donnelly

Audio version available on Soundcloud:




Part I…

Everything comes and goes,

you can’t court without a spark
but nothing lasts as long
as that first light, that first night,
already fading before the morning
finds us fumbling, trying to get through,
to get on, to something shinier, to something more new.
Something more new.

Everything comes and goes

like those lines we never got to cross
though we prayed and paced ourselves
like panthers on the prey. ‘Stay time,’
we beg, ‘and I will bend to your will,
if you are willing,’ but it doesn’t and we can’t
get back to where we started, to that point where hope departed.
Where hope departed.

Everything comes and goes

and trains change tracks along the midway
and beauty is dying in the cut bouquet
as we change carriages for convenience
to be closer to connections, but touch, like time,
is temporary and every stop sees another petal
fall to the stoop, we are dying to be held but by death propelled.
By death propelled.

Everything comes and goes

and we are people parading in parks
in technological bubbles that bind us
to a common blindness, courting on computers,
arousals now viral and no virtual, thinking
time is to be trusted, trains will take us where we want
but time is not ours, lines get lost and petals continue to fall from the flowers.
Fall from the flowers.

Everything comes and goes

but I’ve become accustomed
to carrying carriages inside me
for the colours I’ve collected
and the connections now curated,
nothing I no longer leave as refuge on the road.

Even the lines I managed to miss have become moments I cannot dismiss…


Part II, The missing line…

Everything comes and goes;
a hot summer night long ago,
when my mind’s eye let my finger
linger on the line of hair that chased
a fleeting care along your chest
as the breeze blew bodies bare
and I was caught your smile
as you read my thoughts for a while.
You with your short dark hair
amid a season of bland blondes,
you, who I never kissed or lay with,
who I never undressed outside a dizzy dream
of sweat and steam. You, with your eyes
a subtle shade of blue in green. You,
in that red shirt and tight fitting jeans.
You were the first man I’d seen
in such a long time, having been lost for a while
in arms as harmless as they were hairless
while I cavorted about their baby soft skins
with a caress cornered in careless.
You looked like something rare
on that night as the setting sun sizzled
and breezes briefly blew that body bare.

That tremendous night
with the light already fading
when nothing really happened
except for the soft touch of that line
I never managed to upset and,
more importantly, never managed to forget.

Everything comes and goes…

All words and sketches by Damien B. Donnelly

Audio version available on Soundcloud:




We held hands over hearts
housed in other folds, ink
had tipped another name
into your flesh as we fell
into holds, harbouring no more
than musing moments, the south
going north for something different,
something foreign, someone fresh,
perhaps that was all we ever were;

a diversion from all that was defined,
from all that was assured. I was never
going to be anything more than something
to adorn an ordinary day in a city far away,
I would never be ink penned in permanent,
signed in the shade of your skin where
sorrow had somehow settled into shadow,
we were too thin to be anything more
than temporary, a painting the artist
considered too crude to be continued,
too confrontational to be anything more
than crass. We were hearts folded
into the hands of other houses, however
hopeless, however harmless, however much
we kissed and cavorted, teased and
twisted, we were branches bound
to other roots, ties are eternal to the trunk;
foolish is the fragile foliage that always falls.

Time turns tides, suns set,
touch is only temporary,
a kiss can be enough to curse.

I hear you, in the wind, at times, messages
that come calling from places I cannot picture,
from sheets I have never set my skin to,
from sweltering stones I will never step upon,
whispers of what once was, a wish
for something that was momentary
to have meant something more monumental.
But not every harbour hides hope, not every
hope is enough to hold a heart. We were
brushes, tipped with colours that weren’t
compatible, merely complimentary enough
to court a spark in a corner where comfort
felt a little less cold for a while. You called me
beautiful, at midnight, on a Monday
and I called you mine neath the gaze of your eyes
and we laughed our way through all that was truth
and all that lingered on the other side of our lies.

All Words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

Audio version available on Soundcloud:




Sitting in a park
in Paris, France
as kids climb trees
they’ll soon outgrow
and birds busy
their feathers in a dance
of freedom we’ll never know.
I fall through your thoughts
as someone tickles strings
on cords too distant
to be discovered
and wonder where you sat;
on the orange carpet
caressed by the concerns
of a girl growing through
her own song of sorrow?
Next to the guy with the hat
and harmony, no doubt,
who guards his guitar
from the bright light,
in the as yet starless sky,
as if he knows how celebrity
will one day cripple his creativity.
A blackbird bows before me,
burrowing his burdens into the
road, looking for crumbs cast off,
for a little refuge, like you did,
like we all do, a little distraction
from the circling sun and
shining skins blustering under
bland and blander. Sitting in a park
in Paris, France, as if in a trance
from 22 to 42, when I first
found favour with following you,
back room, no light, bedsit;
we were masters of the Marais,
simple singletons, senselessly
sinking innocence into the marshes,
courting kisses for a single spark
and rising over losses we thought
at the time to be insurmountable
disasters. But they were just dances
like these tiny birds around me now,
prances we perform, up and under, over
and through. We are all naked birds
flirting with honesty and invisibility
under the sweltering sun, sometimes
remembered, sometimes forgotten
before begun. Sitting in a park
in Paris, France, still trying
to understand the message in the
melody underlying and still trying to
comprehend the cords
forged in the flesh of the boy so blue.

All Words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

Audio version available on Soundcloud:




Gone is the garden,

we are paved now
in parts no longer potential
to growth, to goodness.

And the crow caws in the corner,
flesh festering into feather.

Gone is the garden,

we have paved
paths over all that was precious
while thinking thoughtless,

if only we’d thought less
about what we wanted
and more about what was needed.

And the crow cowers in the corner,
questioning what became of its celebrity.

Gone is the garden

and we can never get back;

the lock now lost in lyrics too light,
in songs surrendered from soul to sold out.

Gone is the garden,

gone to graze
over another galaxy
not yet grown greedy,

we are now alien
to all the earth has asked for

strangers to the simple sand
that sweeps the shore,

and stranger still to the starlight
that shines through it’s last breath burning.

We are the crows, cawing
over concrete, in corners
claws cracking in our chaos

and confused as to where went the worth.

Al words and drawings by Damien B. Donnelly

Audio version available on Soundcloud: