The New Hats

Movement, into open,
this Earth is now an ocean
and our toes eager to taste the tide again.
Roads are waves,
cars are accompanying dolphins,
schools of fish, cruising outside of classrooms.
Movement, into open,
we are astronauts
teaching ourselves how to stabilise our legs
on old streets that come to us
like giant steps onto new moons.
Motion sickness
triggered in these minor moves
we used to make blindfolded
and now take, breathless.
We are bouncing Ariels and Armstrongs.
Movement, into open
with that far field still stuck to the sole,
masked now
with vaccined assurances
where before we had a hat and that hurry.
Minor movements we are making;
the universe no longer as big
as a 20 minute bus ride that drops us off
in leaps of elated exhaustion.
And so, even more,
we say thank you to the drivers of busses
and trains and taxis and check-out assistants
and shop keepers and sales teams
and chemists and nurses and doctors
and the girl who stabbed me yesterday
with Pfizer and a 15 minute
pause to preserve.


Come Imbolc / we’ve left the gate on the latch / waiting

Come Imbolc / turn us over and all else / out
We’ve left out straw to ignite ashes into action
Into obliteration / cleanse this dust / this despair

Come Imbolc / empty us / our bellies lie open
Eager to be burped / belched / unburdened
We have eaten our own fears and grown fat

Come Imbolc / there’s an empty bed / for later / after
And the gate is off the latch / has long been off
while we waited and the door has long creaked of welcome

Winter stayed too long / we grew weak / under its weight
Under all this waiting / swallowed all we did not want to see

Come Imbolc, carve the fear from the tissue we’ve choked on
That festered in these bellies / come bring it out / unbirth it

Tomorrow we will light a candle / burn the memory
and the ash / the ash will turn to notes as we sing of your return.

Imbolc is the festival celebrating the beginning of Spring and I wrote this poem based on a Poetry Prompt from Catherine Ann Cullen, poet in Residence at Poetry Ireland via Twitter on St. Brigid’s Day which was the 1st February 2021

I read this poem on last weekend’s episode of Eat the Storms, the Poetry Podcast…



Dominant bird rings on repeat his call
in the late afternoon- arriba, arriba,
arriba he appears to echo whilst other
feathered fellows join in his mash-up
as if they all know the price is now

time sensitive-

this has become their season to shine-
they sing and we sit in their shadow,
the quiet of our confinement seemingly
sweetening the juices of their melody. 


All words and photos by Damien B. Donnelly



9 is not yet known to this Sunday morning
but already I’m playing catch up with the dawn
in a once foreign field now renamed home,
running after breaths and age that is unobtainable
like caressing clouds or surviving on the sap of stems
where needles immerse nettles in a loneliness
we have come now to understand
as we make small steps out of the reeds of isolation.

There will be a telling later, after, in how we survived
the conservation in place of consumerization.

Will we continue running to catch up, later, after,
with all we lost or come out to shed the macho master
of the world masquerade and realise we’re all nettles
standing in the shadows of much brighter flowers,
our skins stabbed with too many stings
to truly get close to the truth of who we could be.


All words and photos by Damien B. Donnelly



Wondering how to move now
after such torpidity,
wondering how to recognise now
the trenches as we take slow steps
across the battle fields of playgrounds,
bus stops and aisles packed
with questions of contagion carried
in other people’s trollies.
Wondering how to move again
after such paralysis-
limbs lurching as thoughts shift
forward and then back
as if it were a dance.

There’s a couple dancing, always,
in a field of folly in the 8th,
in Paris, in faraway France.
She wears a red hat of nonsense
upon coiffed hair and he-
a blue suit, a little worn,
a little withered like himself
but they dance, always,
next to a bridge where a fountain
once moved to the melody.

They dance in a moment,
a single solid moment, a moment
that has past, like they have
and the hand too that turned this stone
into a study of a couple
who hold each other tightly.
But they are statue.
Stone. Still.

They’ve been caught
on a note that a band once played,
for a moment
before they packed up and left.
We are now careful dancers,
stepping out bravely
to catch that next note
before the band moves on.


All words and photos by Damien B. Donnelly.

Parc Monceau Paris 



daily. Early morning.
Wake up to bird call and input ideas for the new day.

Run. Write. Weights. Wash.

Garden. Grass. Weeds. No Smoking.

More Chopping. Manic. Now move indoors.

Pacing. Painting and onto poetry.

Moving out again from bedroom.
Old room. Once far room. Cold room,
where someone died once, before I breathed.

Moving out into adjoining kitchen.
Baking time. Breaking time. Music. Movement.
Being allowed to be berserk.

Leave fears to bake in the oven. Maybe burn.

Let the lowering light have the moves.
The dance moves. In this kitchen.
Here, at the end of day.

Another day. And another day. After the input. The output.

The routine. The new routine. For the new normal.

Making moments count.
Because berserk
is only for the moves and not the mentality.


 All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly



What if a rose grew on the far side of the moon,

now, after, later?

Would we spread out time to explore the space
between the bloom and the branch?

Nature is a construct, much like the moon-
we don’t always consider it when we cut its roots

or ignore its connection to the current.

Remove ourselves from obstruction and regard potential
from this far side of confined distance

that plants consideration.

See how far a single petal can travel without our interaction.

We cannot go back to before. Select assimilate

instead of annihilate.

There is a rose now, growing on the far side of the moon
and it didn’t need our manhandling to get there.


All words and photographs by Damien B Donnelly



Last month,
in the first breath of this coming season
of the sun’s light,
you crept in through the stillness
of the solitude that the birds had begun
to sing of
and spread out across the swaying branches
as we foraged for distractions beneath.
I climbed you, on occasion,
to release my feet
from the whispers that trembled
along the surface of the earth’s floor,
spiralling out
like panicked weeds whose roots
were as invisible as the dust
we cannot contain.
You’ve since fallen from sight, white tears
that only the birds recall in an evening song
that stirs the stillness
while we still hang to an invisible weight,
waiting to be told we can safely
let go.


All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly



Slow hum.
Morning beckons-
delicate dance of daisies,
baby bunny in back garden
thinking it’s his whole world,
even the breeze is bouncy.
Breath better than before.
Slow hum
of day unfolding,
footsteps on sidewalks,
sights on slow lanes, softly humming.
Even runners head towards hedges now-
hedge funds thrown to the ditch-
see the bunny bouncing
far from the banks.
Slow hum,
songs from tall trees
in place of traffic, alarms, sirens.
A hushed hum dedicated to the lost light-
birds sing of wings now rising,
nests have grown cold
even under all this sunlight.
Some have flown, others simply slowed,
missing the integration under the hallow hum
of this softly slung isolation.
Slow hum.


All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly



Silly things
sabotaged for the case of creativity-
barren bark
becomes blank canvas
becomes blue
becomes oceanic
becomes bewitching monster of humour
and not hurt.

This is the crisis
of clearing out,
not shelving all that will come to know stale,
but for shedding.
Sheds are no longer for the simplicity of storage
but the new distributers
of distraction.

This is no hoax,
no harm, no hostage
but a painting of honour, perhaps
for all that’s been felled-
for all that we’ve cut down
and for all the rest-
that’s been taken from us

in these days
where we’ve slipped from being held
to a slim holding of hope,
to painting bare bark in the back garden
in order to smile. 


All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly