The old walls have been walled in
by warmer ones
but their youth has nothing on the cracks
and secrets the originals would disclose
if you could still sit around that old fire
and watch the smoke rise up to the high ceilings
since brought down to a more manageable level
and yet I have seen that hidden height-
looking down from the upper attic-
and I know there are whispers trapped
in those forgotten few feet
just like the heat that must still linger
behind the fake wall and down below the soot
now gathered over the old hearth
where you all once gathered to hear the tales
of how life was tilled and turned and that shrill excitement
when someone first turned on a light,
indoors, in a wide-walled room with high ceilings
that kept the heat away from the feet,
a little room where once there was only darkness
just like the light that was turned on, out there,
in that Space where this world spins
while we know nothing of the whispers
that were once words,
echoing out from other planets that too evolved.


All words and photographs by Damien B Donnelly



We sit now and sip cocktails, the waiter pulls out
your chair and hands me the menu after calling you
madame. I strain now to hear your voice; softer,
gentler, feminine finding freedom. I catch you
checking your lipstick in the mirror, pulling a curl
back into place above those blushed cheekbones
still a little swollen, a normal evening in August,
in Paris, sipping gins and rums and telling tales
before swapping tables over Korean cooking
that give us a brief taste of who we used to be.

We sit here, over cocktails; the man and the madame,
looking like a couple in the reflection of a tainted
mirror and I wonder can anyone tell, as you smooth
out your skirt, that you used to be my boyfriend.


All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly.


This is my final full month living in Paris and it is about looking back to see who I was and giving a moment to recognise all that has evolved and some of the breath that has returned.



‘You gotta be what you want,’ that’s what they say,
‘You gotta be what we want,’ that’s what they mean
and, brother and sister, they can be mean.

But we can’t all be compliant in complacency, we can’t
all be kept compartmentalised into your conditions,
I have my own conditions. Cotton Avenue has come a calling
with its shiny beat on a changing street and this is the just
the latest edition, fresh off the press and it’s less and less
of before and more and more of more.

So come see me, if you feel it, in the morning light
when I’m musing bright and rough and ripe for the fight
but that reflection will have taken flight by the evening light
when I’m straddling the moonlight naked by your bedight,
twisting temporary between thighs so tight that make us feel so right.

Originality’s been ostracised without being obvious, like wolves
now wet as pets, fractured and folded into fickle formulas
customers can get their claws into, accentuated with sugar
to sooth the jaws into silently submissive but still we can salivate.
But you were always looking for the other side of obvious,
breaking down the fences, flipping the B Side to the A side.
They felt you fitted into folk, at first, fragile filigree as a woman
should be, caressing concerns of the passing of casual companions,
the woman’s champion you never wanted to be and so you grew listless
within the laurel and the labels, and turned from the men’s measuring
tables that pulled down from up and turned to rocking restless,
seeking out a new way to swing, but you swayed so far from
their familiar so they dared to deny you, wanted to tie you up
in your old strings of sorrows and musings from the midways.

You had leapt electric and they stood stoic; confused in what they
considered too eclectic. Jazz, like poetry, is the puzzle rarely pondered
by the populous! They hated your hissing as if you were pissing
in your own park and couldn’t pardon Don Juan from this darkened
daughter who was merely looking forward to see what was to follow.
‘Stay true’, they say to me and you, but through to who? Wild things
run free, you cannot cage creation even as breeders of a nation without
a notion of what’s possible in lieu of the lie that’s much more popular.
I turn to the TV in the impermanent ‘pop-up’ plot by the parking lot
and tune in to see tales twist and spin as CNN flies with fears
and fragility in France, where terror has taken over tourism
while I’ve been in the park in Paris with Parisians still proudly
playing in their paradise. Terror, Trumpers, is tapping on your toes,
a cannonball of chaos careering through your school halls,
and your gun clubs and the bold bravado of your right to a riffle
like life was a raffle. France has fallen to foreign fears and we feel
the tears burning and the eyes watching as metros keep moving
cause commuters have commitments but in your homeland,
in that brave land, Americans are killed more by their own hand
than by any other hand and still you stand and sing
‘land of the free’, ‘home of the brave’. ‘
Political is now popular but god forbid if you try to popularise
being political. Remember; we all have our positions people.

France is fool to its own folly, as the cast-outs camp out
in cardboard boxes they’ve crashed into, hoping for help
and hand outs from the common men because the political ones
are busy building domes of duplicated documents
they’ve demanded you deliver even though they are decades old,
documents that are difficult to keep track of when your home was hit,
your city in shreds and you ran for refuge.
Ireland, oh Ireland, it’s a long long way from home,
not sure I can still drink a crate of you but happy I am
to dream you from the distance, to reminisce of your better days
you are now getting back to. Back to basic, like you needed to,
coming closer to the craic you’d cashed in when you had all that cash
to get lost in, the greed that grinded down the greatness and cut
more character from the classes than faith and famine killed the masses.

Sceptical still as to whether racism should be ruled out,
religion is racing towards relic but feet still flow to the masses
like in uniformed formation, as if in some sort of heightened
migration, a hypnosis from on high even if the brothers have abused
and battered all hope of ever being saved and the nuns no better
in their neglect for a nation of unmarried mothers who became
unpaid servants while their babies were left to swim in still waters,
that were far from blessed. Maybe you were right; God must be a boogie man!
The green land, the homeland, how time has loosened its hand
on our hold, age informed me while youth had veiled me
from the force of your females eager to remind your males
how they were made to be their meek; men moulded into
money making and quiet keeping. The motherland, indeed,
where the hens hold the cock clenched but I have things to say
just as much as those clocking birds running headstrong through
the homesteads. You can’t shut me up and just talk to me.
That’s not how it’s gonna be! I have options and opinions
and others versions who I’ve yet to be. I am changing sides,
slipping, like she did, the B side to the A side and will not
be pushed aside so perhaps that’s why I’ve taken off to the other side.
Cause I gotta be what I want and not what you want to see.

You see?

Gotta be free to muse,
regardless of the roughness,
for this is the justice that the just deserve.

All words and picture-collage by Damien B. Donnelly

Audio version available on Soundcloud:




Day 29; National Poetry Writing Month 30 Days/30 Poems #NaPoWriMo


I am
that fine line
that divides
what is feminine
from what is
That fine line
that flushes
the fabulous
out of the fickle.
The reflection
of what once was
in something else
and might
one day
be called
another new look.

All Words and Photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

Photograph taken at the Fashion Forward exhibition, Musee des Arts Decoratifs, Paris 2016


I shift like nature, calling snows
To coat me, cover me in a crisp
Canvas of change to bathe in,
To be reborn in, before I skate away
From winds that wither my world.
Bone chilled, I can wander off
To warmer shores, eager for sun
To sooth me, to sink within me
In the form of friend, in the hope
Of something more significant,
Safely steering past the storms
Sent solely to scare, to remind me
Of nature and it’s naughtiness,
Prickling and pruning me, nipping
Away at my every blossom, often
Plucking me at every possibility.
I can be a season of hurricanes,
All harshened and hardened
By human history. I too can tear
Through territories and leave
My markings. I can command a sea
Of storms, all of my own making,
And rise a wave to part the oceans,
To aid me in my crossing to a new
Wide world of my own creation.

To the Days- Present and Past

If I looked back

At you


As who I now am,

Would you still recognize me?

Could you still see in me

The one you hoped,

Back then,

To become?

That shy,


And frightened boy-

So often alone,

A step behind the shadows

And I’m still not sure

If it was where you wanted

To be

Or the only place

To hide.

You built a world

Within those bedroom walls

And seemed to dream up


Before you actually learned

To live,

Where you escaping

The quarreling voices


Or just avoiding the

Feelings inside?

On my knee,

Over grown, over time

With dark brown hairs,

There still lies

The white scar you made there

When you fell at 10

From road to curb-

Do you remember?

On my forehead,

Now higher-

And with less hair than before-

That tiny mark

From the collision

With head and pillar

In the driveway,

Sunday morning,

After Mass,

At 12,

In the rain.

On my right foot,


Just below the ball,

I can still feel the stab

Of the nail

You walked on-

Back garden,

Mid summer,

In the middle of the game,

Unimaginable pain.

Does this help

To remind you

Of who I was

And so recognize

Who I’ve become?

I remember

Your fears

Back then-

Are you there yet?

Are they slowly

Taking over and tucking in-

Reverting spoken words to

But thinking thoughts?

Has it begun yet

To creep along your skin,

At night,

After the bullying boys

In the day?

Those days that

Tore from you

Everything that school

Should have offered

And replaced it

With the fear

Of the next push or shove,

Spit or jeer.

That time when sick days

Became more common

To the week

Than saturdays,

When bedrooms

Were the sanctuary

And playgrounds

The prison.

There are no scars

On my skin,


Of those milestones

But you know

I am marked

Because of them,


Perhaps you are a little older-

Passed along into

Those teenage years

When prayers

Were piled

Onto fucked-up feelings

And the complexities of

Sexual awakenings.

All those years

Of wanting for myself

To be

Nothing more

Than normal,

Nothing to note me

The Nancy,

Nothing to notice me


Nothing to make me feel alone

In a world

I’d barely experienced,

In a body

Barely developed,

In a mind

Still grasping at straws-

Feeling broken before begun.

How would it feel to know, now

And carry it back to then,

That I’ve loved-

Openly and freely

Exactly as I’ve wanted,

Who I wanted

And when I wanted?

Would it comfort you

To know that when the secret’s


You’ll start to wonder

What the worry was about?

In time-

Awaiting you

On the eve of 18-

Even those you imagined

To be your greatest enemies

Will become your biggest supporters.

Let me shout you aware

That you were the only one

To ever really cast yourself out-

During all those years

When you locked yourself in.

Believe me,


When the shadows

Loose their attraction-

The light shifts

In your favor.

I remember

How old you felt

When you were young-

Smiling outwardly

To hide the secret within.

Dear child,

Brave one-

Would you laugh

At me now

If I told you

How young I feel

Now that I’m old-

Perhaps the final rewards

Of secrets having been told.

Would you recognize me

If we met right now,

Face to face,

Boy to Man?

I think us more now

A united part of each other

Than ever before

And I smile happily at

My integration,

At last,

Of those days-

Present and past.