I am posting a link to Dancing in the Current, a new blog from Exploring Colour‘s Liz Cowburn. Her husband Nigel took this photograph and afterwards both Liz and I wrote poems based on our interpretations. I originally posted mine last week but wanted to show you the three pieces together, Nigel’s photograph along with Liz’s poem and mine. I am so pleased how our work has intertwined despite the distance between France and New Zealand. I wasn’t able to reblog the post directly so I have copied it here but you can click on the link below to be brought to the original post…


Liz’s post:

Drawn To The Light. Dunedin, Otago, New Zealand

The St Clair’s Piles, St Clair Beach. Taken by Nigel Cowburn 31 January 2019

My husband Nigel took this fabulous photo when he was on the beach at sunset, at St Clair. I love the view of the piles seen against the esplanade lights reflected in the wet sand. In fact, I was moved to write a poem and also invited Damien B. Donnelly to do the same. Damien lives far away, in Paris, and yet he wrote a remarkably perceptive poem. Here both poems are published together, with Nigel’s photo.

Nigel works as a Landscape Architect and blogs at  Growplan


— Poem by Liz Cowburn

[piles’ perspective]

Sentinals of the sand,
we stand

Driven deep to defend
this beach

Regimental relics – we resist,

Fight for footing! Look to the land,
the sand!


[my perspective]

Battered, beaten by tidal terrors ‘the breakers’
— bowed but not cowed

Centred in a century’s swirling currents,
St Clair’s piles sink, subside…


You can see Liz’s original poem post here:


Her new blog is: https://dancinginthecurrent.wordpress.com/


— Poem by Damien B. Donnelly

And in the tide
tight with time and its turning
they left their posts,
impaled upon the sand,
impressed upon the land.

And there they stood
ten in heart and ten in tide
for time to tend,
impaled upon mind,
impressed upon mankind.

And on they marched
up the land and on from shore
for evermore
impaled upon their wain,
impressed upon the flame.

And out with wave
woe on water and touch from time,
tormented years
impaled upon the crest,
impressed upon the chest.

And on they went
refugees in search of root
swept along the shore
impaled upon with tears,
impressed upon with fears.

And on it goes
those who run and those who can stay
and those who are lost,
impaled upon the wars,
impressed upon the waves.

All words by Damien B. Donnelly
Link to view the poem on Damien’s blog:  The Weight Upon The Waves

Notes on Damien’s poem

The reference to refugees made a big impression on me. In April 2016 Dunedin accepted their first group of Syrian refugees. Damien wouldn’t have been aware of this when he wrote the poem; I told him later via Comments at his site – the following was his response:

“When I saw the piles and the lights heading off inland in the distance a journey immediately came to mind, the struggle of those who survived, who carry the flames of the hope and the souls of the past; those who were left behind or lost on the journey, the hills we all have to climb and the oceans too many have to cross to seek refuge, I am so glad to hear how Dunedin opened its gates to welcome in a new hope. I think our global commonality is that we are all refugees looking for our place in the world, just some of us have it much easier and a more comfortable journey than others.”
— Damien B. Donnelly (conversation via Comments)

Originally Posted by Liz; Dancing In The Current (2019)


Reprinted by Damien with permission



Behind the fanfare we fan the light
to make our way through another day
to night. Behind the fuss we muddle
through movement on route to contentment
caught in quiet corners of unconsciousness,
like that word on the tip of the tongue
we can’t quite pronounce.

On terra-cotta tiles I turn through cards
of comfort from days now distant,
wishes signed with love from names
I can no longer call in this light,
in this life. Far from the fanfare,
far from the fuss, you are all still
somehow a part of each movement
I make, distant stars now that once
held dreams, that once signed cards
of greetings, never thinking how much
one day, beyond the fuss, they would mean.

All words and photograph by Damien B. Donnelly

Audio version available on Soundcloud:



It’s outstanding
what odours
can own,
how biographies
in bottles
can board,
how illusions can lie lay
in liquids,
how subtle scents
can be savoured.

I sprayed you
on my hands

-so cold to caress-

from a bottle,
a simple bottle,
in a shop,
a simple shop,
in a city
that never saw us,
in a land
that never heard us,

or knew
what we felt
or how we smelt,

that never caught
our connection
shattering into pieces,

leaving nothing
but a sweet scent
on the sheets
of other beds
in other streets.

All Words and Photographs by Damien B. Donnelly


My mother hangs memories
on the wall of her garden
in the land where her grandparents toiled,
on a wall in the garden
are my mother’s memories
that not autumn, winter or summer can spoil.

There are tea pots and trinkets
and there are trophies and tack
and mirrors watching time brushing past,
and a blue bird, once my bird,
upon the side of my crib
proving somethings from childhood can last.

My mother has memories
now rooted in her garden
next to bushes and berries in bloom,
there are things that can tickle
and there are things that can touch
and things that were broken or just had no room.

My mother’s hanging hope
on the walls in her garden
to cradle the heart in when it’s cold,
in the heart there’s a garden
where we cradle the grace
that my mother plants just like it were gold.


Words and Photographs by Damien B. Donnelly, the Grace and Garden by Mona Donnelly

Audio version available at Soundcloud:



Screen Shot 2016-08-15 at 23.05.51

And every day
that the sun still rose,
and some days
were unexpected,
she took the dress
and put it on
as if it pulled
back the years,
as if her skin again
was taunt,
as if her hair again
was blonde,
as if her friends again
were there.
And in the dress
she walked the streets,
in her simple little dress
with flowers in hand
she walked to him,
with lipstick
licking lips
no longer there,
and when she found him
she took a seat
by the earth
under which he lay
and knew he smiled
at her on high
still a beauty
in the dress,
in that little black dress
he had bought her
on one fine day.

All Words and Drawings by Damien B. Donnelly

Audio version available on Soundcloud;




It’s funny
how you slip in
along the side lines
on days that don’t deliver
that don’t distract.

It’s strange
how you pull me
from the pit falls
on days when I feel undone
when I feel attacked.

It’s alarming
how you linger
in the background.

It’s odd
how you hold me
despite the distance
even though
I thought us done.

It’s funny
how you trickle by
when bikes blow past
and windmills bellow.
Its funny how a land
can be as addictive
as a hand to hold
a tie to bind
and a heart to heal.

All Words and Photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

All Photography taken in Amsterdam, The Netherlands 


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