Packed like yams into dusty carriages
we watch from the safety of our sitting room
where Nana used to sit and iron by the table
and Pop, in the corner, with his pipe,
now just names in prayer and that picture
of their wedding on a wall that still stands
and they, long taken to the sleep.

We sit in all this space while passengers
are packed like sandwiches in tin tubs,
trains swapping stations and germs
on the Underground, over the water
where I used to live, once, when nana
was still ironing and Pop, already sleeping.
I was happy then, I think, I tell myself,
I played happy at times, hilarious
and happy little me in Hampstead,
back stage, behind the spotlight
and considering the distance
I’d covered and the sitting room,
the sofa, the Nana and the Pop.

We watch from that sitting room,
now, with its ceiling since lowered
so the heat stays closer to the body-
the only contact we’ll consider-
she on the sofa and me- single armchair
for single boy returned home as man
and now kept home in quarantine,
in close quarters, two grown-ups
counting the money they cannot spend
and watching lives unfold on the telly
after playing clean-up in the garden
and looking to the trees for carvings
of connections since taken to the sleep.


All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly



I remember you, growing older,
how your skin adapted- as if it had grown in the garden
on the branch of the rhododendron.

Shiny it was, with lines that time had tempered into it,
ever so carefully, like you tempered peace into our panic,
stillness into our hast, serenity into our cacophony.

The leaf, always that single leaf of our lives, never wanting
to be the blush of the flower, just the leaf- always under, in support.

New leaves, like weathered skin, sprout slowly from aging bark,
a soft beauty between the bramble and briar,
between being the wife, the mother and the grandmother.

Today, I tended the garden- mum’s garden now,
your garden once when we were but shoots and you- the whole tree,

and I remembered you

and the slow shuffle of slippered feet and those grand cardigans
that wrapped their comfort across the curve of your back,
that bowed like a branch to reach us all the better.

I recalled your skin that had grown a line for each of us,
a connection to catch hold of, to come back to, those kids we once were
with spotless skins life had yet to mark, always eager to explore

while knowing how to find our way back
and the one who would be waiting on her stool, by the widow,
in the kitchen, in the sunlight, pealing and baking, baking and pealing
to the tune of the radio and the whirl of the twin tub

waiting for one of us to find our way home.

I remember you, as you grew older, today and every other day.


All words by Damien B. Donnelly


Today is my Grandmother’s 12th anniversary. She now grows in the garden of the hearts of her family.  




In a fat box by the skinny bed
in a dusty room rarely regarded
covered clumsy with crushes
are the contents of a childhood-
lost letters of love- all penned
but never posted & cut-outs
of pin-ups next to wrist bands
friends twisted & time forgot.

In a lost room fallen to dust
hope was a cradle of comfort
in this box her father opened
when she failed to come back

from a war she never wanted.


All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

Written as part of the Cobh Writers and Readers #PoetryPrompt featured on Twitter. Do drop by and join in the creative distraction. @CobhWR



The Dragon Slayer in Doolin

Brown cow seeks shelter
Such weight under so much rock
Hush, soft comes the sea

My past is not buried beneath all that rock and weed like I first witnessed. My past has become moss and mould that has made more of these monstrous walls than I first saw. See how the seedlings shoot from cuts and cracks. I have the same spots on my skin, now more worn, but also less sharp, less prickly, less pointed. Direction is something which distracted for too long, too far. Perhaps that is why I keep returning now to the harbour. The light from the lighthouse turns, it is not still, not stagnant. The sea cannot be captured. I cannot be caught. There was weight, but then comes the wave. Weight and wave. Wait, for soon there will be wave. See the brown cow standing.

Where did this come from; the ‘Cliff Ginko’ workshop hike, in Doolin, Sunday Morning, Writers’ weekend, we walked to the coast and back again through our past, we stopped and wrote, walked further on through our present, we stopped and wrote, walked further again into our future, we stopped and wrote and then headed back to the hotel, a cosy snug, some hot tea and we summed it all up which is how I arrived at the above passage and haiku. Below are the free-thought notes taken at the stops along the way…
Into the Past…
Rocks, rocks and famine walls, my nose runs, slow pace, fast wind, the mind rushes to that scene; the beach as a boy, breathless, always breathless and feeling so much less, then, at that time, now too, oh for God’s sake. Sake, stake. I felt trapped, my chest and that stake. I feel I was born out of shape, formless; a pebble, plenty of potential, ripe, but then you came and piled rocks upon potential, gave me your form, your design, heavy, clunky, sharp bits, sticking out and over and into me. I hated the penis, sharp bit sticking out, wilful, uncontrollable, on the outside, everything on the outside, no cover, no care, no armour. And yet all that weight.
Into the Present…
Little bird flies in, speckled, black, specs of white, like the sky, likes the clouds, darkness but light, behind, beyond. We walk further, out closer, wind coming in, wind and then water. Waves of weight, then comes anger, anger, more and then in the chest, panic. Feel the panic, free the panic. Coming out and up for air. Breathe. Feel the power. Power, like a shower. Welcome to Doolin Pier, the sign says. Welcome to the Dragon Slayer, I say, here in Doolin, who knew Jamie Lannister was here. I come to the sea, to wash off the dust like she did, like Joni did, after the city. The water cannot be captured, cannot be caught. No droplet, like she said, all those hours, but never the same water. I cannot be who you want me to be. I see bridges and roads and wires, telegraph wires, all leading and moving and coming and going. And here I am; coming home. I will slay dragons for you, remember, how I told you and you and you and you and you. Fuck, how I told you and you and you buried me in so much armour. I came to the sea for the salt to rust me, to break me free. We pass a house of loose old rock, rumbling, crumbling. How much will be left of who I am when I finally break free? See me, See Me! Don’t forget me when I take to the field to fight those dragons for you. I see you making already for the sink, to bash those dishes. Out of sight, out of mind. And I said it all because I wanted someone to slay a dragon for me, that day, by the beach, one day, some day. And now it is up to me, Me. I will be the sea and the Slayer. I cross oceans of my own dreams and desires and I will find my own shore. I will not be (cannot make out last hand written word as hand was frozen from the crisp morning air).
Into the future…
I come up and out and catch the light coming through the clouds. I’ve cut through, Joni, your clouds and those illusions. I run fingers of frozen flesh along these walls, settled now as my form frees itself. I don’t have to break it down, only chip away at it in places, smooth till it settles. I have rubbed my hands and hopes along these walls as this dragon slayer, blue as a tattoo, illusions and clouds, come together. Brown cow seeks shelter in the cut-out of the rock. See how much he hears the sea sigh of life.


All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

For Kathy




Memory is a shot of stillness sealed behind a lens
that looks for what cannot be seen until it’s been frozen

by the frame.

Some see this as a season of rust and ruin and running
while I see a freedom in this fall and in every breeze
another breath to breathe brave into this body.

I will hang you on other walls, in other seasons
and you will hear me sing other songs to other suitors.

It doesn’t mean we never had our summer,
only that our spring was too short to be anything other

than sentimental.


All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly.

This month is about looking back so as to move on. A goodbye to Paris.



Eyes a slip of grey from blue in a city not known as home,
on a mountainside to shelter a temple,
she is as welcome as the wind is warm,
she was there before us and we were caught before we knew it.

She carves life, carefully, like the Buddha etched into stone,
the chisel is the compliment to the rock and not the ruin,
an outer expression of inner contentment,
a monastic monk on a meditative mountain and I fall
between the stillness that rests behind each word.

Did her mouth smile
or just her eyes that shade of grey a brush away from blue
as she takes us to her temporary temple of wood and wonder
and shares with us a simple feast on a sweltering day
a treat along the trail, a rest upon the journey,
a moment to bear witness; not to be greater than the Buddha,
not to rise higher but to reflect on what we can become.

We climb over rock and broken earth,
diverge through dead ends that still deliver more light than loss,
we thirst and tire and then take in another treat; another temple, another tree,
a smile from the locals who look and laugh
and wonder why we came and what we will take back.

We travel on and place our tired feet into holds others once held to
as we witness wonders so many others may never see.
We have sat and shared joy like food, laughter like it was love
and coffee like it was an elixir to let us in on the light that lingers over life
and the eyes of the gentle light from Lithuania,
a slip of grey from a sea of blue
seeing the simple synchronicity in all that is true.


All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly. This week’s theme is South Korea and recalling the travels though it and the faces found along the way.



There is art on walls, winding walls,
in rooms on show with light, luscious light,
and climate controls while she’s side-lined
to the shadows to weep for the darkness
that devours her skin, stuck like tar
and trapped in stone, once tempered
by an artist’s touch now off and absent,
now long grown cold, not being of stone
but breaking bone, while she weeps
beneath polished position on partitioned
pedestal and waits in the shadow of his name
long forgotten from rooms alight with art
on walls, the art of other men,
maybe more remembered

like lands, once considered, now grown
careless in their unions next to nations
who have not nurtured the need to be
noticed for notions long ago set in stone.


All words and photographs by Damien B Donnelly

This is a repost for a week of considering all sides of creation



Three boys and a girl, coasting carelessly
from teens to twenties and coping lazily
with hangovers beneath the summer’s sun.
One blonde and three browns, laughing
amid golden rays that filled the most perfect
of squares in the once marshland of Le Marais
with its cobbled streets, men of elegance
and women who followed their trend.
We were setting no trends, the four of us,
but caught up in the richness and comedy of it all.
We were Irish and English and one of us French,
young, unknown, foolish and arrogant
to everything but ourselves and ignorant
to who it was that we were.
We were like the ground we sat on;
a once sinking mess belonging to a world
of daylight dreaming, where un-cautioned laughter
tickled our sleep though not our feet, but suddenly
we’d found potential in possibilities
seen through slumber-less eyes, far from dreaming.
I was laughing with one, blushing with the other
and was sleeping with the one so typically French.
I’d befriended the one I’d hoped to sleep with
and undressed with the one I should’ve remained
discreet with. I would later miss her, lose contact
with him and wonder how to stop sleeping
with the other. But that day, in that light, in that heat
of that summer, we’d found our way, heard our voices
and finally found what it meant to belong.


All words and photographs by Damien B Donnelly

This is a repost of one of my older poems


Reflection. Connection
Make the connection
Water Earth Air
I can be fire
The fire

I walk on water
I dream I walk on water
I see stillness
I dream I walk on the stillness of the water
I hear the silence
I am the silence dreaming of the stillness that walks on the water
I am the reflection
I am the silent reflection of the dream that once walked on the stillness of the water.


All words and photographs by Damien B Donnelly

This is a old post, reposted.



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

From a poetry series inspired by the albums of Joni Mitchell.