Not all bees write back
Not every beetle takes the right route
Some letters, like roads, wind on regardless.

We don’t always notice the sting
Until after, until later, until it’s too late.

Honey is sometimes sweetest
When far from reach.

We wrote words on each other’s back
Thinking time to be tender but we couldn’t turn around
To see how they’d both twisted.

These love letters- like journeys with no maps
One of us always the backseat driver of the beetle
Such stings from the boot.

Not all bees write back.


All words and photographs by Damien B Donnelly

Inspired by a Twitter Poetry Prompt from Cobh Readers and Writers



Sea claims what man can no longer cradle
but time’s tales can be freed from nasty nets
when the wreck is beyond want, when the cable
has been cut and we come to the call of the current.
Rough becomes rust becomes wrecked becomes ruin,
might becomes memory. Day is done but night unfolds
tales of tides that were tamed, slim seas that harboured
heavy hopes in trusted holds. We dive and then differ
on the return, are undone, unmasked, back to bone-
a battered beauty, once a witness to the wild waves.


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



It was this morning and yesterday, all at once,
a smell, a scent on the metro, in my nostrils,
a decent into memory, a reverie playing, replaying
while the Counting Crows played Round Here.

We sang our own song, once, but time, like the metro,
took us into different directions, with obligations
steered to other distractions; men and marriage,
movements and meanders, an Irish song we had sung,
you once sung, while I listened and then I left
for a while, while you stayed on, stayed on track.

But I came back and you were still there, still here,
Round Here, as the Crows sang, are still singing,
those Counting Crows; their words still ringing
in my ears, today, on the metro, with that scent
that opened a tunnel in time between yesterday
when we were young and today; wiser and wider.

All this motion, this morning, as my mind rushed
and passengers crushed onto carriages commuting,
lines crossing, junctions joining as I went to work
remembering who we were, I wore waistcoats even then
and you a brown coat that caressed your concerns.

I went to work, this morning, while traveling onwards,
along the same rails, in the same direction as before
but different too, some things old and some things new,
still me on the metro, still me and still, there’s you.


All words and photographs by Damien B Donnelly

Mary (the one on the brown coat) and I met at the Irish College my first time around in Paris and then I left for London while she stayed round here till I returned and we sang again, together, poetry this time, while finding our place.


This poem was originally a part of my Joni Mitchell series from two years ago but it felt appropriate to be a part of this series of Journeys…

I have been courted
by counts and clowns,
too costly to count,
too considered to be questioned,
too comical to consider courtly
while in cities crowded with crossing carriages
and calm corners curated in comfort.
I have been coloured in, cared for,
cooped up, critiqued, cried out
and carried on, careless at times,
cautious at others,
I am creature creative
within this creation
in constant recreation,
a commuter
on this continuing carriageway
as cryptic as these clouds
of cotton-like complexity I cannot catch,
this carnival carousel of colours
not always complimentary
but of constant curiosity
that keeps on careering
and I am caught, concentric,
in consensual contentment
on its current that cannot be caged.
I came to the city,
this city, a city, other cities,
on a calling caught,
to cast all caution into the chaos
so as to compress the cost,
to consider the curve of common cliche
and covet the calling of the unconventional,
to cast a cry into the canyon
I have cut from my own carcass
so as to be counted as contestant.
I came in from the cold corners of complacency
where the crows were cawing callous
with the canines of carnality
to carve my confession
upon the confines of concrete
so as to comprehend the kisses I’ve captured
and the cords I’ve become a connoisseur of
within these courts that have contemplated me
and these circuses that have certified me
as compliant competitor.
I can only compliment the countless confusions
that called me careless
and I considered too crude to be counted,
but they count as the catalysts
that corrected my compass to
its calling within this circle
I am committed to seeing through
to its conclusion.

Shine on, shadowed sky,
with your stars like songs
singing along their sojourn.
I see sinister no more in shadow
and sight not always in sun.
We are seagulls and snakes
and saints and sinners
in the same situation,
searching for stimulants,
singing in unison
of our struggles and our strengths,
striving to see salvation in the spotlight,
searching out that spark to court
in sex and sense
that will send our souls soaring
into the stratosphere.
We are songs being sung
in a simultaneous serenade.

We are stars.

We are not nothing and never will be.

See how we Shine.

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly



The clouds quieted the stars above

as I, on bended knee, bowed to the river

and into its flow, in the growing light,

let my hand slip beneath its movements,

under its motions and waited to watch

as its sway of waters waltzed over,

moved through and flowed onwards,

while never stopping, never straining,

never staying and I saw, in that dawning,

in that simple second, how life flowed

around me, through me, and past me,

all precious moments to be borrowed,

to be begged for and to be bartered

before they will eventually break away,

leaving me more than I was before, less

than I will be tomorrow and certain today

that I will, like this current, one day,

as I weave my way through these wants

and wishes, find the way to my own ocean.

we never saw forever


As lithe breath called to morning and

the stars found their cover in the clouds,

I bowed to the river, forever bending,

forever mending, forever finding its form

along the bank and bed, amid the light

that lingers along the route and the darkness

that comes to call for but a while.


All words and photographs by Damien B Donnelly


Last weekend my mother and her two sisters, the identical triplets of Lusk, Co Dublin, the women who shaped my life, came to visit me in Paris for my mums birthday. Mum has been celebrating her birthday abroad with me since I first moved to Paris in 1997, and then to London and then to Amsterdam and now back to Paris again. Some things, it seems, never change. The below poem I wrote 18 years ago after mums first visit…

Mum and I on my street 22 July 2016




The Sisters


Birthday celebrations at La Rotunde, Montparnasse, Paris



Aspirational house hunting by Parc Montsouris


Wishful thinking


Blondes in the Parc





I am sure it was Spring but in the scattered photos
by my slippered feet the weather recalls it winter.
Your first foray into the new world I had run to,
forsaking the familiar for the unknown,
discarding childish ways for other adult desires.

Your glistening eyes lit up as I showed you
the treasures I had found, enlightened eyes that hid
so well the tears reeked down since my departure.
Eyes that frowned upon my green sofa bed
resting but a foot from the floor, that laughed
at the view from my first window; just another window
perched but a hands throw away and loving eyes
that saw through mine and smiled; relieved,
relaxed and enthralled. And quickly you began
to revel amid it all; my new transitory family
who took you to their hearts, tempted you with cocktails,
boat rides and frolics within a Spanish tavern
in the Frenchest of all cities where you slowly found
my raison d’être and the joie that had become part
of ma vie became, as always, a part of yours.
My adventure you, now, a witness to, a part of
and integral to. You had been no more deserted
by me than I by you and so geography became now
no more than a different view and no longer
a means of separation. You floated through the city,
your feet feeling nothing but comfort
even as I dragged you up the steps of Montmartre,
hiding from you the lift behind the trees.
With the wind freezing our faces and tears
streaming from our eyes, we huddled together
in queues filled with adolescent vacationers
and mounted fair Tour Eiffel. Through the night’s
falling darkness the city lit up below us
and I traced for you the paths I had taken.

You left amid only tears of joy, my life no longer
to you an empty canvas a world away, but a painting
being filled up and coloured in, in tri-colour, technicolour,
Damien colour. We painted away the days and nights
ourselves, Mother and son, as inseparable as Mona
from Lisa or the Moulin from the Rouge.

It may have looked like winter but we knew
that behind the wind lay a spring in bloom
for both of us. We had earned our time in the sun
and we would wear its rays like medals of honour.


From the vault, Paris 1998.

All Words and Photographs (except the ones I’m in) by Damien B. Donnelly





Screen Shot 2016-06-20 at 21.30.46

And the leaves
leaned back

by the bench
beneath the branches

to let the light
linger longer

on the memory
now maintained

when two sat together

and dreamed
of the distance

they had yet
to discover.

All Words and Photography by Damien B. Donnelly

Photograph taken in the Jardin du Palais-Royal, Paris