I release you
From the obsession,
From the overly long
Ogles of observation,
And a grass,
Seemingly green,
Long since remembered.

You are no longer
That deep desire
In the distant darkness,
Distracting me,
Daring me
To deploy,
To defect,
To retour.

That significant
In the shadows,
Swaying slowly,
Seducing me,
Enticing me.

I release you
From the waking dream
And the nocturnal rêver,
The phantom waiting
For the return
And the temptation
Teasing me
With time.
The illusions
That eluded me
In waking light,
The visions
Deceiving me
In the shade of night.

You are no longer
The haunting hunger,
The taste of what once was,
What still could be,
That insatiable need
Never fully quenched,
Never truly tested.

You are now no longer obsession,
You are now just a place called home.




There is silence
As if all the world is hiding
As if every soul is sleeping
As if every breath is breaking
As if every person’s perishing
In the silence

There is silence
As my eyes they drown in tears
For the loss of days and years
For the thoughts that became fears
While the energy disappears
Before the silence

There is silence
And all I know is dissolving
And all I had is disappearing
As if every fear is unfolding
And every tear is falling
Within the silence

There is silence
As if all my thoughts are tiring
And all my dreams are drowning
As if all my hopes are hiding
And all my buttons are breaking
And still the silence

There is silence
In the distance I’ve put between us
And in the things we can’t discuss
In the floods that try to drown us
In the frailty, in the fear and the fuss
Behind the silence

There is silence
In a city that’s turned against me
With it’s tone, stone cold and angry
A city that had failed to hold me
While another is waiting-
Hoping to set me free
From the silence




You’ve lingered in the shadows

For so long now

Hovering like some ghastly ghost

Breathing a beat behind my neck

Baying in the stillness

And beckoning me

To see you

To hear you

To return to you.


You’ve lingered in the memory

For a lifetime

Refusing to dust and die

Replaying your part repeatedly

Washing me in waves of what was

And teasing me with

What I left

What I forgot

And what we became.


You’ve lingered neath the skin

Like a venom

A serpent silently slivering

Seeping beneath the bones

Salivating on the separation

And hissing at me

To succumb

To submit

To surrender .


You’ve lingered in the lines

For pages past

Writing your way into rhymes

Wriggling through the rhythms

Stealing sense from my sentences

And poetically pointing me

Back to you

Back to me

Back to before.


You’ve lingered in the pictures

I took of you

Finding you always solitary

Seeking out the unseen shadows

Peeking into parts undiscovered

Perhaps to persuade myself

To trust you

Be part of you

Be seen with you




Packing boxes…
Separating substance
From superficial,
All that matters
In the memory
All that clutters
In the closet,
And France is calling…

Packing boxes…
Selling superfluous
And saving sentiments,
At trousers
Thought to be trendy
And fretting
At photos
Of faces forgotten,
And France is calling…

Packing boxes…
Putting pressure
On the present,
If the greener grass
Can be gainful
While worrying
If the words
Will return,
And France is calling…

Packing boxes…
Filing fears
Into folders,
And skipping
And sighing and shaking,
The tracks
To tomorrow,
And France is calling…



At 22,
I knew as much of myself
As the exotic world
I’d just found
With streets willing me
To walk them
Witness them
And be wooed by them.
My twenties
Had typically emerged
As a decade to be a no one;
An empty slate to be carved upon
Before my thirties would find me
And shout me with substance.

I’d lost parents
Before knowing them; given up
In a sacrifice of selflessness
Almost incomprehensible
And found
In the arms of another mother
A love that would prove

I searched,
During infantile years,
Amid childish ego
And innocence,
For connections
To those around me;
The mother
Loved so unequivocally
And the father
Aged in aggression,
With a gap too great to bridge
And so I turned to walk
Shadowy miles of roads in my head,
Clumsily cramming teenage years
With classically confusing
Childish dribble,
Trying to sound like a grown-up
In size 6 shoes,
Feeling different,
And, more often than not,

I braved knocks on dark doors-
Frequented bars in back lanes
And alley ways,
Away from the eyes of the pious
Whose ignorance
Bullied the boys
With different desires.
I kissed
My first boy
At 18
Behind a sofa
As excited as a child
On Christmas morning,
Finding courage
Behind shades and acceptance
In a community I had become
No longer
Soul member of.

Cuddling and kissing progressed,
Over time, to sweaty,
Fumbling, amateur athletics
Behind the lights
Replacing shame and catholic guilt
With newfound feelings of freedom
As I began
To notch my way
Onto bedposts
Of various conquests.

Between courtings
I often cried
For lovers in whose arms
I should never have laid
And wondered why I ran
From others in whose embrace
I should have stayed,
All but memories
Patterned into the tissue
Of my sleeve-worn,
Still learning, heart,
Cherished moments
That wished to be relived
Along with others
That longed for time to fade.

I had assumed these
To be bruises
As I fell upon these new
Foreign streets
But have recognised them since
To be no more than lifelines,
Imprints, echoes merely of
Shadow and light.

They were all
Important diversions
Along the road,
Pivotal points
Goading me
Into this very direction.
Some of them
Fell away by your banks
And others settled in,
Ingrained themselves like streets
That mapped themselves
Out in front of me
And gradually,
Over time,
Carved their way
Inside of me.



Dance with me for a while you asked
And how could I refuse?
The belle of the ball at a soiree of cities
You are lady and goddess, the muse.

Deep in your heart I walked through you
To see you for what you are,
The product of passion and maker of magic
Like the light from a glorious star.

Home in your arms I was in you
And welcomed in from the cold,
You shone out your soul as you filled me with music
While your palaces shimmered with gold.

Comme La Petit Prince I came to you
Questioning life and romance,
Well I learned how to live ‘neath your city of light
And found real love in a solo dance.

In Père Lachaise I wept for you,
For the heroes you have lost,
The sparrow of Piaf, the spirit of Bernhardt
Seurat and Balzac and Proust.

Canvas of white, a child again
At play in the fields of you,
You opened the doors to your present and past
From the Palais Royal to the Pompidou.

You kept a watch both night and day
Lit a light for me to glide
From your cafes of jazz to your muscles of men
I inhaled every smoky dark side.

By Sacré-Cœur I looked on you
Till my eyes were pools of tears,
From La Tour Eiffel to your grand Musée du Louvre
I’d surrendered in you all my fears.



There once were three people
Namely you, him and me,
There once was voyage
Taking him out to sea.
It gave one chance meeting,
A liaison for us,
Your three nights without him
Lent you three nights for us.

Are you somewhere around
Can you hear me right now?
Do you wake in the night
Sometimes wondering how
Between you, him and me
Can the gap be so small,
If you loved me back then
Did you love him at all?

Can our minds talk freely
From the closeness we shared?
If he wasn’t away
Would you ever have dared?
Your union departed
To let our time arrive,
Your union returned,
Ours could never survive.

I’m alone now again
But not sad and not scared
Though silently missing
All the closeness we’ve shared.
I may wonder at times
Are you still together
Or has our chance meeting
Now changed you forever?

I look for you often
But I scare that we’ll meet
Though still I step slowly
As I walk down your street.
But again you are two,
Not our two, but your two
So I wonder who was I
In the time spent with you?

Just two little lost boys
Found but for a moment,
Cautiously caressing
An air of atonement.
A lack of time and words
Kept the pretence away,
Can love really be found
In a lover who’ll stray?

From long lovely kisses
Neath a slumbering moon
To minute embraces
In a candle lit room.
From finding each other
In a noisy café,
To parting on the stairs
And an end to my stay.

With not a word since then
I’ve figured out my part
And returned once again
To my solitary heart.
Although this time the pace
Has now one extra beat
For our three nights embrace
When our two hearts did meet.



If this sombre mood
At this Saturday sunset
Is not for love alone
Then it is for loneliness;
For all that might have been
Or the memory of what used to be.

That pure and perfect picture
Of the cities most captured kiss
May have been merely a moment
Imagined, an idea once captured,
But its essence is alive on the lips
Of each and every courting couple
With their hands joined, their bodies
Touching, teasing, cavorting, embracing
And displaying such a degree of affection
To each other that does nothing but affirm
The solitary state of the single man in Paris.




November rains in the park-
Trying to be an artist,
Attempting to capture it all
In a quiet corner
Behind the trees,
Away from the winds,
Beyond eyeshot from anything daring,
Sheltered in a huddle instead of in the midst of adventure.

I thought I had found myself
But it was safe fake lies;
Pacifying the ego,
Trying to paint a Picasso
With colourless pencils.
Frozen by mid-afternoon,
Not suffering for art
But merely suffocating
In all that surrounded me
That I wanted to be part of but knew not where to begin.

I sat in your garden
And sketched you
Devoid of feeling and life,
I failed that day to capture
Or even comprehend you
But hung you on my wall
Nonetheless, as if to remind myself
Of all I still had to do-
I needed to paint you from within
And not just with colours sketched from the tips of my fingers.

Your multi-layered canvas
Was a daunting place to start
For my amateur attempts
At early adventure,
I was only dabbling
In shadow and shade;
Lightless and lifeless,
Playing with untapped possibilities
And dreamed-of doings
Instead of head-on,
Opened-up, fearless, dive-into, unknown experiences.

One million options beneath my feet
Waiting to be walked
And I picked the solitary seat,
On a Saturday afternoon,
In a secluded setting of your park
That stretched for miles
And bloomed with life all around me-
But not beside me,
But not for me, not with me.
I was as lifeless
As the painting I had sketched-
Fast movement needed
Least winter winds would wipe me forgotten before begun.

All words and drawings by Damien B. Donnelly