I’ve only been to Cork once,
to a funny place they called The Other Place
which I thought was like the Scottish play
with the name you’re never supposed to say.

In another place, beforehand, we’d sat
on beer kegs in a girl’s bar called Loafers
and I giggled at all the comfy shoes
in astonishment and thought that sitting
on a keg felt more like a punishment.

I’d only been to Cork once, when I was 20,
a year since I’d had my first kiss, with a boy,
behind a sofa, at a party.
You catch on quick, I heard him murmur
and so I dropped the tongue in further.

That drive down to Cork in the 90’s
felt like operation transportation-
5 sisters of Dorothy all crammed in the car
singing Liza and Barbara in proud
polychrome while inside I was thinking
this was certainly no place like home.

We slipped out of Loafers
and their shoes that had absorbed me
and headed to that no name place
that was actually called The Other Place.

A disco it was with lads against the wall
and I thought you’re man in the white socks-
I won’t be snogging him at all.

They opened up a back room, in Cork,
halfway through the Whitney medley
which caused a run for the big buns on sale-

fruity scones sausage rolls,
fondant fancies and fairy cakes,

in Cork, at the disco,
in The Other Place,

when all the gays still ate sugar
and some grandmother’s doily
was the only bit of fecking lace.


All words and photographs by Damien B Donnelly



We moved, once, and habitual was your foot to my follow,
in debt my blush to your concern

like we were the oxygen of the other, at either ends of the water.

We swam, once, to the other, in crossed currents, in avoidance
of those cold-blooded fish dipping their blond hairs
into clotted canals that your darker locks turned briefly bland,

the beginnings of a ballet in two parts, you the body and I the babble

written in flame on the water

in this city sucked from the sea with its ferry, crossing and connecting,
as habitual to its route as I became to the curve of your spine.

You were fire and I the fury. Or was as I the fire and you the flight?

We lit fires, for moments, on the water, flames that found their place,
finally, in the stars, fading before fully noticed.

We moved, once, as if each was the compliment to the other’s jewel
even if we knew that time was not the compliment to the us

that danced, for a time, as a flame, on the surface of the water.

If I was still there, by that water, waiting for the blue ferry, crossing,
I would habitually dip foot into current to test its temperature.


All words and photographs by Damien B Donnelly


Inspired by a Twitter Prompt



I weigh flour and sieve it, like snow falling-
a few select seconds of harmless dust
to decorate these stopped streets
with isolated sirens that stir more in body
than the contents of this bowl.
I reach for those tiny flakes that offer rise
before pouring over the honey-
a smooth sweetness to cut the bitterness
of all that cannot be held in isolation.
Oil comes next, with the water,
once called incompatible
but when all else is distanced
other things find ways to dance.
While it boosts by the window
in a bowl of sunshine,
we take a slow stroll along small paths
that meander through muck and memory.
Mum points to a rickety door
she once knocked on to buy milk,
only a jug left now in an upper window
holding moments that will evaporate.
We pass fields and wonder
that is leek and what is weed
and in our minds make lists
of all that still grows in open pasture
while aisles look empty indoors.
Back home we sit, after bread is baked,
finding comfort in its crisp corners
as butter melts over this uncertain heat
and we remember yesterday,
when life was as simple
as a slice of bread with butter running.


All words and photographs and bread by Damien B. Donnelly (bread recipe from The Happy Pear)

Inspired by a #PoetryPrompt on Twitter from the #PoetInResidence Catherine Anne

Cullen at @PoetryIreland 




We evolve
from wombs to rooms
we revolve around, a space
within space where we whisper
tender tales into tight twists
in curt corners crammed
with comfort and chaos,
this shifting space whose sides
echo with movements that time
has noted but pain
has not yet processed…

Fragility unfolds
throughout space;
my space, your space, the space
that used to be our space, their space,
space now displaced, washed down
with whispers that were once wishes,
that was once laughter, light and liquid,
liquid days when you drowned
in the other’s desires that drove
toward lust, that dove toward love,
that fell, thereafter, toward tired
and toxic; tender turns
toward twisted,
tick tock.

Tick tock.
How time tolls
over hold. Hands
hold and time turns and then
time folds and hands turn
taunt through this place,
this space, once our space,
their place, now displaced, this room,
once loved, now rarely reserved.

We lay, we lie, we fall, we fight
until we leave a weight
behind us in our flight.

Whispers of loves now lost
rattle in a past still present,
not yet processed, pain permeating
into pattern, tissues soak
up solitude, torn tissue, twisting
and turning like the hands
of time as we try to find ourselves
again, trying to become a whole
within the hole, trying to clutch
hope again, however hopeless
it is to hold hope
within the hole
that houses us.

We connect and come loose,
we break (each other often,
accidentally on purpose)
and feel the noose pull tighter,
pull us further from the other.

Left are we with lines drawn
by love’s touch, like trees are we;
after each struggle more circles,
after each encounter more lies lines
spiralling us further from thoughts
thought to be central. I am anger.
You are sadness. We are over.
They are done. Who is sorry?
Is it important anymore?

We are whispers whispered
in rooms disjointed, reflections
cracking under the hunger
and heartbreak, the love and loss.

We are music in the making
until the melody meanders off,
until the cords are cut, until
the harmony is too harsh to hold.

We fall, we let go, we fall, we let go…

we continue, we are a continuum
of connection and confusion,
curious concern and self obsession.

We are whispers of the noises
and nooses we navigate in
and under, over and through.

We are particles of passion
and pain that penetrate the self,

that identify us, that mark us,
that make us who we are.

Particles so primal that we would perish
if they ever departed from our persona.

And so we persist, are persistent.

And so we beat on,
beat bruises onto our own flesh.

Beat on. Beat. Beat.

We are nothing if not beasts
with breasts bare;

beating to be broken.

All words and sketches by Damien B. Donnelly. Inspiration by Giulio D’Anna.

So, where did this poem come from:

Last Monday night, here in this city of light and shadow, I was one of the fortunate spectators at Espace Pierre Cardin, Theatre de la Ville (a single movement away from an unusually still place de la Concorde) to witness choreographer Giulio D’Anna’s post-modern dance theatre entitled OOOOOOOO. It was bare, bold and breathtaking and, with Giulio; it always is. I can call him Giulio because I knew him when that was his name. Now he is Giulio D’Anna, visionary! Quotation mark intended.

Giulio, originally an Italian student of ballet (and medicine), found favour with contemporary dance in Florence, studying with Simona Bucci, before moving to Amsterdam to study at SNDO (School for New Dance Development) and his career has not stopped since he graduated, although some of us were lucky enough to see it taking off even beforehand!
Now an award winning choreographer, he is paving this occasionally unsettling but always intriguing journey through what he calls the dramatic body. Parkin’son is possibly one of the most moving pieces of dance theatre I have ever witnessed. The truth and emotional strings that carried each movement of the duo onstage was that said duo was Giulio and his actual father who is actually living with Parkinson’s himself. A moment of blood and bone, father and son, battles and bonds, youth and all that comes after.

This piece on Monday night, was inspired by a visit Giulio made to the Museum of Broken Relationships in Zagreb (and I though that’s were I lived, poetically at least!). A piano on a bare stage in shadow and light gradually fills with 8 characters whose loves and losses unfold through the physically and emotionally charged 1 hour and 10 minutes. We are introduced to them by a collection of truths appearing on a screen at the back of the stage; a collective CV; where they came from, what they believe in, how they love, who they love, how they have broken and if they still hold hope. At the same time as being unnerving, unsettling and uncomfortable, it is engaging, enthralling, stirring, thoughtful, compassionate and, just at the right moment, hilariously funny. D’Anna’s ensemble opens us, the viewer, to our own feelings of how we hurt, who we hurt and asks us the question to which there is no truthful answer; what we would be without that beating heart that trembles and terrifies within each one of us. What if we didn’t beat?

There is beauty and colour in the Museum of Broken Relationship, shades of light and laughter putting a pattern onto pain. In this piece too, on Monday night in the city of shadow and light, beauty resonated in all its rawness. I was already writing in my head on the metro home.

His website is simply but this choreographer, creator, questioner, philosopher, dancer, carer, and friend, is far from simple. You can find him online, on YouTube and certainly, one day soon, in your local theatre. Book early!

OOOOOOOO will have its final performance on the 29th May 2017 at the Museum of Broken Relationships in Zagreb. A fitting completion of a circle for a piece of post modern contemporary dance/comedy musical whose inventor is only just beginning.

Watch the trailer for OOOOOOOO here:

Audio version available on Soundcloud:



under onwards colour

Washed over
in whiskey and rum
and falling, on a street,
by a bridge in the lamplight
as the river rushed under us
onwards and out of sight,
falling into each other
in foreign lands
into foreign hands
sliding along foreign bodies,
lean and slender,
twists and thrusts
of bodies curious
to what they’d not yet tasted.
You danced around me
on stages, in my head
in stages, on my bed
above the water
that never stopped moving
under us, onwards and off.
Falling into you,
our own echoes
reverberating into a dance
we were generating,
a tale of three acts;
the fall,
the fairytale
and the future unfolding
more fierce than we’d foreseen
and those hours,
always the hours,
slipping in between,
splitting the space around us
like the water that night
beneath the bridge where we kissed
rushing under us, onwards and over us,
dissolving us without consideration
a gradual obliteration
and yet my lip still tingles 
from all we thought we were
in the moment the movement made us,
falling through time, through a space we couldn’t name, 
stretching skin and bending bone into a structure unstable, insubstantial,
kissing and courting and covering up the parts that could never be,
trying to be what we never were and ignoring the bits that we didn’t want to see. 

All Words and Photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

Photograph of the Blauwbrug bridge on the Amstel Canal in Amsterdam, The Netherlands


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.