I found where they keep the light-
here, at the far end of the long road,
just up from childhood summers
near slip-away shores,
contained in a considered space
where books are bound to interest
and cosy corners tipped
in velveteen seductions of blue
that does anything but chill.
to find this here, where once this structure
of simple stone held such complicated
conditioning, home once to a bigger book
you daren’t touch and a language
no one understood,
where they performed shows on Sundays
with their asses to the audience,
rattling off the auld Latin, the trail
of the Tridentine, without a single
Shakira shake.

to find all this here, now,
this room of light and lending,
where knowledge can be found and held
and taken home and thought about
and brought back, without any penance
or concept of confession, for the next
and the next again.
what you find when you let in the light.


All words and photographs by Damien B Donnelly



The always inspiring Liz at Exploring Colour

introduced me this week to this beautiful drawing by Jean Mackay of Drawn In,

a sketch revolving around the various stages in the basket making process. Liz hinted there could be tales uncovered within the shadow and light of the sketch and, after an initial look this week qnd finding a certain nostalgia mixed in amid the delicate pencil strokes, this is the story that unfolded for me…


Before they break the bread they make the baskets,

hands twisting like roots turning, finding the source

beneath the soil; finding the form between the fingers

fixing, wondering if knots can hold, if what is born

can bind and hoping that what they make might mend.


And she saw the fine filigree of her grandmother wave

from within the weave, remembered how it felt to be

entwined into a hold that held so much heart, the smell

of those hands now her smell, her scent, her hands

finding form as the circle turned into something greater,

broader; wider, darker, not all twists can be unturned,

wicker bends and leans in as if to whisper and falls away

and under and she wondered how it might find its way

back as the other laughed, the giggling girls with their long

skirts over skin already stained, looking for ways to twist

out of their own tales, platted into tatters too soon.


Maura gave birth to a Saint Bridgits Cross that day,

wove her worries into a fallen belief, soaking her swollen

aches with the reeds in the water that would never warm.

Brenda bore her basket like a baby, fragile folds

and tucks and wrapped the rim carefully like covering

a blanket neath the chin of a child she would never forget.


Before they broke the bread they made the baskets

the babies would be placed in, each reed drowned

in a river that ran from their fears, ties never attached,

hope never to be held while behind them, resplendent

after lashings and splicings, the black winged women

cawed over the faithful feathers they wore as robes

as their beaded hands prayed for the sinners now

servants for the so-called stains of their skin.


And she watched, as she weaved wicker through

the wicked world, in a convent grown cold,

in a kitchen to clean, those witnesses of judgement,

the untouched sisters of seeming servitude, religious

reeds never bent by other hands, folding only

to an unseen force, foreign to the feeling of other flesh,

twisting their rosary around their faultless fingers

as she turned the reeds around the coming regret

of being born and borne away to never come back.


Before they broke the bread they made the baskets,

before they broke their hearts, they buried all hope in their broken waters.


Audio version available on Soundcloud;



All words by Damien B. Donnelly

Artword by Jean Mackay of Drawn In,

Encouragement by Liz at Exploring Colour



I hear you



from your performance 


the shit-pit of sermon 

where you scared 

the simple man.

I hear you 



of parish and prayer

with your manners moody 

at mass 

with the mouldable masses.

Years later

over dinner 

and before dessert 

you spilt your sins

between the bread and wine,

your collar in the car

and your blessed ring

upon your manhood.

We can dress in robes,

we can fuck who we want,

but you can’t preach before the choir 

if you take boys in for hire.

All words and drawings by Damien B. Donnelly