Cold clouds burrow beneath the forest,
the spirits have taken cover,
peace and fruit now buried
beneath a bed of lichen,
summer’s rose too ruined to redeem,
her last scent is now a dream.
Love has been lost here too
on a wind that wandered
from wondrous to winsome
beneath a bed of burlap
that burrowed the bone
down to brittle.
Neither body no longer a bucolic bounty
in this season of saturation,
blue is in bloom though not
as calming sky or comforting wave
but icicles bending branches
into less fertile fields. Less.
Not more. No more.
The fall has been frozen.
Cold clouds burrow,
clouds burrow into the cold
beneath the forest bed,
beneath the bodies
digging in these frozen fields
for the sound of the cycle being sung
in a distant spring not yet sprung.


All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly


Beat. Break. Beat. Break.

Is there a monitor of these movements

                that shift beneath the skin? A rummaging

within the ribs. I hear a broken bird

                beating against the bars of its cage,


All organs and organisms need oxygen and optimism.

Panic. Breathe. Panic. Breathe.

I shift within skin whose movements

                I cannot monitor. I have mounded

matters into metal I cannot master. Alchemist

                is not altruist. I can be an organ

of oxygen

but cannot count on optimism.

Breathe and so fill my lungs, air entering,

                blood flowing through arteries, the rising

and falling, the beating and beating

                and for every beat; a break, for each breath of air;

a drowning.

A bird was not born to fly under water.

Beat. Break. Beat. Break.

Medical is not the same as mental but mental

is now being measured out by medicinal.

Run. Rest. Run. Rest.

Running from the nest, the rest, the rest of me,

                    the mess that has been left in place

of all the rest that has left.

What has been left?

I stop in the park and watch the rest, watch a bird

                break from perch, bold and brave, unfold

against the force, feathers in flight, feathers in fight,

                winded in the chest. Pushed back. Pushing forward.

Pushed back.

Beat. Back. Beat. Back.

I cannot handle heights, I have felt too much

                the fall, my feathers are for fancy now.

I am done with flying. I am digging, deep

                within the ground, deep within the body.

I will pull out every root

till I pluck the panic

and catch a breath again that I can breathe.

Pull. Panic. Pull. Harder.

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly


to distract,
like a snowflake;
the sparkle before the melt.
Particles of fleeting perfection
floating through the hands of time,
falling through all these imperfections.
If only my clutch were tighter, truer, if only
I knew more of my own truth, too many skins
already slipped through, too much prediction put on that perception
of perfection that can never be preserved. A snowflake
cannot be caught intact. We cannot catch a cloud.
We cannot always clear the way for the truth.
Perfection: a twist of our perception,
a precious perspective
from a single point
never again
to be
What if it’s never seen at all?
like a snowflake,
A snowflake
can be a melting tear
or a tiny miracle on track
to disappear.
an elusive illusion,
a deathly desire tenuously tied
to what we present and how you perceive.
To what we fear and what we are willing to show.

I glisten,
to distraction attention
from all that doesn’t sparkle.


All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly


We sit in rows, in reverie, with reverence,
neighbour to defender and defiant,
some say the saved above and the rest below,
new coat and scarf on the shoulders of one,
the timings of the turkey and its trimmings
in the head of another, already ticking,
already thinking of some other wonder
needing worship while the choir continue
to carol higher than some notes should be heard,
not all those singing have a sense of themselves,
minds are off on soufflés instead of solos
and outside the bandstand plays an empty tune.
We speak in tongues, thoughts we were taught,
lessons that were learnt; that protection from all anxiety
and yet pills rattle in my pocket, no talk of the patterns
we discovered, no pause to the path we paved
beyond this parish and its prejudices,
its own pockets filled with coins that don’t jingle,
my tongue now tickles other languages,
in other fields I felt I had to find freedom in;
that kingdom, that power and that glory,
my tongue still tackles, in these times, the old ways,
the old words since thought to be too confusing,
service is now simplified to satisfy this new society
of social-media mongers in the spotlight
of the internet and the camera rolls for those
who could no longer find a foothold in their home
and across the empty bandstand a wall recalls
the names of those who fought the fight
one Easter, once remembered, now forgotten,
when we wanted to be a Republic, a Nation,
a Brotherhood, an allegiance and not just a flock
of flag waving celebrities. We sit in rows at the beck
and call of the rising and the falling, being forced
backwards into an innocence we believed
was beyond question when Adam gave Eve
a rib and a virgin gave birth to a baby
they hung on a cross. Some are still nailed
to the truth of the church as much as one man
was nailed to the wood he once carved,
one sacrificed for the sin of us all and the others
sacrificed to be sinners ever after. We sit in rows
where the wafers choke us on the truth
while the bandstand’s tune has been forsaken
and no closeted confession to a priest still closeted
into conformity will ever bring the names of the souls
on the Easter wall back to life on this Christmas Eve.
And the priest leaves us with a joke
and I wonder if he can see the irony behind the idolatry.

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly