There can be earthquakes
in little towns,
far from tectonic plates,
on little streets, rarely shaken
where we sat, once,
on the wall of a garden
now obsolete,
the summer burning
through our cool-lessness
as we trembled beneath attractions
we didn’t have the words
to understand
while eyes watched from windows,
trying to translate
thoughts tossed
between their local boy
and a sandy-haired student of exchange.

And I wanted to exchange-
to uncover
all that was growing curious.

We sat on this wall, once,
in the kiss
of youth’s sunlight,
in the stifling days
of undulating adolescence
and the growing tension
beneath every question,
and that temptation-
and I wanted nothing more
than to touch that temptation
despite our twisted tongues
and those eyes
always watching, always wondering
what was unfolding between us-
two boys just beginning
to join the colours that made blue,
for a while, beneath the weight
and the worth
of all the nothingness
that never trembled
for longer than a month in the summer
when our legs
occasionally touched, like tectonic plates,
shifting positions beneath
all that was once solid,
sensations rubbing up against
all that we wanted
and what, I suppose we knew,
at the time, we could never really have.

There can be earthquakes, in little towns.


All words and photos by Damien B Donnelly



One ordinary, rather hot summer night, nothing special,
nothing different, in my mind I ran my finger down
the line of hair that ran from your chest before disappearing
beneath your shorts as the breeze blew open your shirt
and I caught the smile in your eye as you read thoughts.

You, with your short dark hair amid a season of blondes
I was tiring of, you, who I never kissed or lay with,
who I never undressed outside of that dizzy dream.

Later that night, while fuelled on cocktails, you brushed
my finger along that same hair line, nothing said,
nothing promised, just that fine line between you and I,

you, with your eyes which shone that breathless night
towards a blue side of green, black jeans, red shirt
and a tan to stop just short of where that line disappeared.

You seemed like the first man I’d seen in such a long time
having been lost for a while in a sea of bleached boys,
all as harmless as they were hairless while I cavorted
about their sweet skins with careless concern for complacency.

But you looked like something else on that fortuitous night
as the setting sun sizzled and breezes briefly blew bodies bare.

That tremendous night when nothing really happened
except for the soft touch of that line I never managed to cross
and, more importantly, never managed to forget.


All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly.

This month is about looking back and the life and lust of summer nights in Paris in order to move on. The bar was La Tropic, a gin fizz on the terrace, by Les Halles, the summer was 1998 but the location of both the line and the man are now a mystery only the summer stars can shine a light on.



We take slow steps into the sweet water, watch the current
caress the dark rock, the volcanic roar no longer rupturing,
its rage now rocked to slumber by this single shore. I lose
my shirt to time’s tide and this shimmering sand, I lift it up
and feel the weight that washed over it as you turn to face
the vast ocean and wonder what the next wave will bring
upon us. We have crossed currents, trained through towns
and cut across mountains, we have laughed at sadness
and cried over cocktails, we have come so far to wade out
into these waters as locals watch us with questions of how
and why. We have come curious to this country, we creep
along its coast like this tide, rummaging over these rocks,
wondering what happened to the heat it once ran with
when man was more forgiving and the mountain more daunting.
We climb the dormant mount, once maker of molten menace,
to watch the sun swim up from the sea and we count minutes
till the darkness will be disregarded as if time is all that’s needed
to destroy depression, decay, dysphoria. This mountain, once
a monster the sea could not settle and land could not control,
this country, once more than a division of north and south,
of emperors and conquers, Confucians and Catholics, devout
and deserted. We were once more than single souls searching
for the way back. We are tides, coming and going along
these beds we find shelter in, arms wrapped around us
like seaweed we equally fight off and hold down, we are lava,
trailing tunnels through our own thoughts, destroying
what we think to be too much but never quite knowing
how to fill the hollowness that’s left behind. We take steps
down into the open earth, adding sweaters to our short sleeves
and I wonder why it grows colder the closer we get to the core.
Isn’t the inferno on fire anymore? Dante will be disappointed.
We look like ants crawling over cobbled rock as we curve
through these corridors created in centuries now cemented
into time and caress these walls and catch our breath
under cathedral ceilings created by no creature but by nature’s
creation. Deeper and deeper still and the silliness is replaced
by a silence in this place where the waters drip from porous rock
and we look smaller, less special, not so strong in this cave
carved by once molten rock, by lines of luscious lava
that laughed as its lungs opened and its power poured. Later,
back at the beach, the tide again tickles our feet as we stand
upon the rock that once before roared. We are equal parts
creator and equal parts responsible for all that we corrupt.
We have come curious to this country but find ourselves
asking more questions about who we are than of this coast
that will still be counted long after we have been smashed
upon our own current. We take slower steps through
the sweetness and my heart beats louder, longer, lighter.


All words and photographs of Jeju Island in South Korea by Damien B Donnelly

This is a repost of a week considering Creation and our position within it.



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



as the city
slips into slumber,
after last night’s thunder,
as skin slides from winter’s
shawls and shackles and pitches
itself proudly in parks where not even
dogs bark, where shadows have sunk
into sweaty
soil as feverish
fingers smooth skin
with soothing oil. Summer
in the city and temperatures
are oozing over bodies, all tease
and no breeze to appease. Summer
in the city and the music mellows as fellows
fold frowns
into bottom drawers
with winter wishes and curate
concerns toward sunset kisses. Summer
in the city and she unfurls her curls like foliage
finding form over greedy grass, and he goes green
with envy and furrows his frenzy as the fountain flows
with full force, unabashedly, and he grows as greedy as the grass
while her
curves caress
his consciousness
and he wilts in watchful
wantonness while I wait for kisses
caught on Spanish lips that creep along
the current of sweeping storms and sensual
shifts, we are ships crossing under starlight, snakes
slivering over sheets, I am not his, he is not mine, he is not
hers and still not mine, we cast concern into the ripples that sink in ocean
too deep
to remember and
too cold for concern,
ripples that are arousing now
beneath these fountains now flowing,
in the park, in the sunlight, in the summer,
in the city. Summer in the city and babies are sleeping
in buggies buried under bushes while nannies’ doze and daddies
delight in their sweet blooming rose. Summer shines on the city and
streets slip
from worries
and rushes to brushes
with light and lazy, humming
hazy harmonies like he once strummed
upon my strings a serenade sweet enough
to sweep us to older days, other days, days of revolution
and voices that shone as bright as this burning sun, and on
to simpler days of lemonade and laughter. Remember laughter,
back before the pitter patter of drought and disaster? We are just people
through parks,
looking for stars
in between the sunlight,
looking for fleeting kisses,
treats that are never free, saints
and snakes all hissing across lawns
in summer. Summer in the city but somewhere
out there, beyond the sleeping stars and the deep blue sky,
someone is probably crying and another, senselessly, about to die.


All words and paintings by Damien B. Donnelly

This is a re post from a series of mine inspired by the artistry of Joni Mitchell




I sink beneath your skin
like sea
sweeping over sand,
you, a thousand grains
while I wash over you
in warm waves,
your salty sweat


below my current.

I slip between your lips
like cream
coming into coffee,
our senses fired
like frothed fluid
as we pound passion
into fragile

once fresh,
now feverish,
once timid,

now tasted

once begun,
we can never go back

You are now the sea
and I the sand,
upon your back,

I am now the coffee
and you have taken

to the cream.



We seek shelter from the sudden sun
within this city of concrete class,

everything here is concreted,

change is considered
but takes centuries to occur.
I have been asked for fax numbers,
offered cheque books and been told
that fibre is only forming and would dial-up not do?!

We seek shelter from the storms
here in this city that sites class and culture

above the chaos that is corrupting.

Everything here is cornered in concrete.

Shadows have been whitewashed
and the pigeons sprayed
in a shade of peace
the seers cannot swallow

I watch the streets be swept clean
of history, locals reopening in boroughs
they’ve been blighted to,

to Hell or to Connaught
we were once told in Ireland,

from Paris to the peripherique

is the new phase as designers dig up
the bones of the barely dead,

so our city can look chicer, sweeter, safer.

I seek the only thing time has taken.
The past gets further while the shadows get stronger.

We seek shelter
under palaces still being prized
for their no longer pristine polish.

A second star does not a paradise make.

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly


Day 24: National Poetry Writing Month #NaPoWriMo

Hot flames
burn beneath
the breath of
whiskey’s heat,
dry and stale,
the eyes
like coal
never burn out;
never burnt enough,
trapped by heat,
suffocating heat,
slowly smoking
more smoke,
light, no light
in the darkness,
find the match,
burn it,
break it,
matches break,
all that is matched breaks
snaps like thin sticks,
fragile like brittle bones,
they all burn out
or break
but linger in the air
like whiskey
on the breath,
dry, stale…

All word and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

Audio version available on SoundCloud:




A Short Science Fiction Story

          The first time it happened she was only 8. It was the middle of Downtime. Everyone else was reenergising in their personal preservation pods. The viewing portals were switched to black-out, concealing the constantly burning light outside. The overhead generators whizzed hypnotically as they blew frosted air through every compartment of the enclosed compound, containing an entire civilisation that hovered next to a burning planet. It was the 1st day of the 6th sighting of the 2 new moons in the year 2615AE. After Earth, she used to think to herself, what a funny expression. Was there also a Before or During Earth too?
          The second time it happened, she was in the observation deck of wing 153D in the outer quadrant, alone. She was 16. She had learned all about Before and During Earth by then. Monthly identity and history injections thought her all about it. A tiny needle inserted below the right ear had replaced the need for what planet Earth had called school. Earth had become an unsustainable planet, a drained dot in the universe, once home a race somewhat like her own but less advanced, less aware of their personal effect on the world around them.
          When it happened the third time, she was 24 and knew exactly what it meant and this time knew how to fear it. Fear had been a recent injection, one of the few traits from earthbound humans that her own race now injected into their civilisation in order to keep communities in check. Originally, they had irradiated all forms of weakness but it had lead to an uprising without the balance of weak and strong. Without the consideration of what could happen. Therefore certain characteristics, once thought to be essential to removal, had been reintroduced. Shame, guilt and finally fear.

          The legend had been hinted at, briefly, in one of the injections, but it was believed to be nothing more than a distant dream; a trait of the human heritage they had yet to shed. It foretold how one day someone would embody the power of their own planet which would in turn reinvigorate life on Earth, a world so destroyed by its own people that, after it had exhausted its own resources, the planet itself had turned on them; the seas reclaimed the land, temperatures fell and ice once again reigned triumphant as it had done in millenniums past. Many of their leaders still believed that one of their own would one day burn with the heat of the sun, a heat which would melt the frozen surface of the planet of their past.

          When she was 8, it has been a slight sensation that had awoken her, a tinkling along her right hand and up her arm that had felt alien to her. Temperatures in the sealed compound were kept at a firm minus 32 degrees. Their body temperatures had changed dramatically over the 500 years they had spent adapting to the heat of the sun around which they now lived, surviving inside a secluded floating system that prevented them from ever stepping outside or feeling the pressure of the planet they now called home even though they could never step foot on it. Water had trickled along her skin, a situation she was normally accustomed to, but this time it was not cold water, it was water generated from heat, a word she did not yet know at the time. When she was 16, standing on the deck, looking out into a terrain of volcanic fire and flames, she felt the sensation on her face. Her cheeks suddenly igniting with steam which hit the windows and crystallised with the frosted glass and fell and smashed on the floor by her feet.
          At 24, she wasn’t alone when the flames shot from her hands like flared talons that flickered with every single movement of her fingers. They were all gathered in the canteen, queueing up for their daily nutrient injections. Everything was injections; knowledge, skills, nutrients and fear too. Some people cowered, others ran, children screamed but the majority watched in awe as legend became life on front of them. Gradually they fell to the ground and bowed before 24 year old Agatha who now held the light and heat of their fate in her hands.
          No injection had ever mentioned the transporter that had been built 300 years earlier, that had been hidden and hushed but motored just in case fate returned. No knowledge giving needle had prepared Agatha for the faces of her family as they held her one final time to say goodbye. No understanding of love readied her for letting go of Paul’s heart so soon after she had found it, cherished it and felt it beating like her own.

          At 24, when the seal slammed shut, the engines challenged the very flames of the sun itself, she had barely begun to understand the secluded, cold cradled compound in which she had lived her entire life. She had no idea what air was like, what a breeze felt like when it brushed your skin, how the sun felt, from a distance, when you swan beneath it in warm waters. She had no understanding of the simple beauty a flower could offer or how it felt to walk upon a field of grass. No one was alive anymore who remembered such things. Now all that promise lay in the heat that had taken over her body, a body now worshiped like a god, a body now hurtling to a distant planet once filled with lush mountains, deep valleys and heated homes that housed warmth and life. She had no idea what would happen when she landed on the frozen planet but hoped that the heat now radiating from her heart was enough to ignite a whole new world.


All Words and Drawing by Damien B. Donnelly