I- The original


Water                            floods flesh

From carnal comes forth     creation

Washed in sin

and they watch. In judgement

Water releases               hold

Sign away the rights                to his name


II- The Second Coming


Tears flood                   drained desert

She will be  an ocean             once more

Blood             is not the only bond

Longing leans in                  with twice the light

while they watch. In judgement.

Her tears           taunt their dried lips.


III- The Journey


You are ocean endless   and I worry

about growing                tired.

Sides streets         hold songs.

Every cobble     a connection for collection

Born from one and raised                by another

Now the road    is the mother

Feet turn    on judgement.            I found the refuge

The final fate          is on the road.


All words by Damien B Donnelly



Eat the storms, Mother said,
boil these beds of bitter blackness
until the dream rips through the rain
and translucent turns to trust,
even a diamond must ache
in the darkness until compression
can no longer compound its shine.
Eat the storms, Mother said,
slip the shivering skin out
under shimmering sky until touch
recalls the sweet music of scarlet rising
caught below the lick of leaf lost
to the shadow of the shade,
even the petal must rise above the thorn
before its fragility can dance in the light.

Eat the storms, Mother said,
but I didn’t hear it, at first.

It takes time to swallow the truth
and teach the tongue
to taste the refreshment of the rain.

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

Poem for Day 5 of National Poetry Writing Month


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:


A week ago, my sister Marie got married to her soulmate Eddie and I was so proud to see her wearing the wedding dress I had made for her. It’s strange to say my sister got married because I grew up as an only child, but there you go. Life delivers surprises everyday.



I grew up knowing I was adopted, it was a bedtime story from when I was a little boy; I was told that while my friends all came from their mummy’s tummies, I was different and had been picked in a baby shop, my parents had looked around and chose me. Therefore I was special and grew up thinking adoption was pretty much the coolest thing in the world. And feeling extra special of course. When I was 18, I told my parents I was gay. Actually, I verbally vomited this information up on a Saturday morning, having grown tired of holding it inside for the previous 10 years. After the tears and the hugs and unquestionable family devotion, my mother decided that, as I had shared my secret, she would share her’s with me. I grew up thinking she had never had children but, on that Saturday, amid empty boxes of kleenex, she told me that she had had a baby girl before she was married, in rural Dublin in the 1960’s. More tears ensured, of course. The father didn’t want to stick around and Mum decided that the best gift she could give her baby daughter was to give her up for adoption in the hope that another family would give her the life that she could not provide at the time. That was my mum’s sacrifice and she carried it with her everyday. She still does. Years later, she met and married my father and they tried to have kids but, it turned out, my father wasn’t able to father children and so the circle turned and the beginning met the end and they adopted me.


Mother and Son

Just over 10 years ago, my sister came looking for her natural mother and another circle completed its turn. Unfortunately Marie lost her own mother just months before finding Mum. Life takes away and gives back to those who are fortunate. Mum and Marie are peas in a pod. Their not only share blood, but mannerisms, laughter, the same sense of style, the same hand movements which you think are learned from your everyday environment but it turns out not to be the case. Mum also has two gorgeous Grandchildren so I’ve been let off the hook for not providing her with any and I got two nieces into the bargain.


Marie’s daughters/bridesmaids, Mum’s grandchildren and my nieces 

This picture below is Mum and her daughter last Saturday in Dublin on the morning of the wedding in Marie’s bedroom.  Mother and daughter united again and my Mum got to walk down the aisle with her daughter on her wedding day with Marie’s adopted Dad on the other side.


If you look out the window, the building opposite is a nuns convent, Temple Hill. That’s where I started my life. I told you, Life always delivers surprises.

My sister asked me to speak at the wedding ceremony. These are the words I wrote for my sister Marie and her new Husband Eddie, with love…


He gives her his hand
not to take hers
but to place his heart in her hold

She gives him her heart
not because she doesn’t need it
but to let him know she needs him more

He stands beside her
not to sink in her shadow
but to rise higher together

She kisses his lips
not to take his breath
but to share his soul

He gives her his hand
she gives him her heart
they share their souls.
These are their best offerings
they are not money
they are not material

because material
can never hold your hand
and money
can never warm your heart

the way Love can…

This is how unions are made…
This is how families grow…


All Words and Pictures by Damien B. Donnelly



give him
she gave him
she gave him life
but she couldn’t keep him.
give him
she gave him
she gave him a name
but she couldn’t call him.
give him
she gave him
she gave him something better
she gave him something brighter.
give him
she gave him
she gave him that forever 
she gave him that forever after.
give him
give him up
she gave him life
and he gave her thanks.
hold him
she held him
she held him once
before they took him.
her son
he; her boy
he; who was her baby
he; who was her sacrifice.
give him
she gave him
she gave him up
but she never let him go.


All Words and sketches by Damien B. Donnelly


We are carved and we are cared for,
Cuddled and coddled all our lives,
But we are, will always remain
A mother’s creation, the love
And labour of the hands
That first held us.

I see you
In me, in the minutes so simple,
In the moments so precious,
Sometimes so predictable,
Other times obscure.

I see you
In me, all your lessons listened to,
Learnt from, lived out, a part
Of me now, a part
Of who I am.

I see you
In me, in my ever evolving hands,
Fumbling along their lines of life
But I see your caress steering,
Guiding me on as I
Clutch, climb,

I see myself
In you, in your eyes, reflecting all
My passion and your pride
Of this gift you gave me,
This life, its laughter
And its love.

I see you,
Ignoring the separating distances,
The forceful waters that flood
Their way around us
But have failed so
In their attempt
To divide us.

I see you
Today, in that jumble of geography,
Challenging the mountains high
And the tides returning,

I see you
The light and magic, the mother
Miraculous, a million others
All waiting, wanting, trying,
A million babies, needing,
And still we found
Each other.

I see you
Right before me, yesterday, today
Carefully tidying up memories,
Gently tossing away tears,
Happy in what we had,
Forever soothing
My fears.

I see you,
Smiling. I see you, living, learning.
I see you in heels and happiness,
I have watched you forgiving
And forgetting. I see you
Laughing and loving.
I see you.

I see you
And through you I can see myself
And smile at all we’ve created,
Laugh at the joy we shared,
Wait with the breath held
For all that’s still
Yet to come.

I see you
Now, see the twinkle in your eyes
And I smile at the strength
You taught me.

I see you,
Like this,


The Judgment of the Shadows

Did we smile at each other,

At least, at all,

Before the bond broke

That day, that morning,

After the dawn rose

In all its innocence,


Of how it would part us,

Ignorant of the virtue you’d lost

And the sadness it would cost.



And did you feel the judgment of the shadows?



Did I know you at all,

That day, at least, back then,

In the thin thread of time

That we borrowed briefly,

In that deceiving dawn

That polluted the promise

Of the morning’s light

As so-called Elders

Counted constantly

The limited hold we had

Over each other,

Over the past, on the pain-

You- bleeding fresh in convent bed,

And I; still too ignorant to the wounds of this world

And the life we could have had.


And did you notice how they judged in the shadows?


I wonder, if in your crying-

And I’m sure that you cried-

Did your tears caress my face,

In all that wasteful

Wailing and wrenching,

Baby was born

And little girl grown,

Did the pain erupt

And submerge us-

Did the situation swallow us in,

Stirring the sorrows of a too-soon mother

In the birth of a so-called sin.


And did we hear those judging in the shadows?


Did you ache afterwards-

Alone, without me,

After the morning crippled all connection,

Did you ache all alone-

In that room without me

After your sacrifice that saved me,

Do you understand the gift that you gave me-

Your body that housed me,

Month after month,

Amid the swelling and stares,

The Jeering and sneers.


While all the world judged you from the shadows.


Did it change you, at all,

That day, that time

In that place

Of penance and prayers,

In that sacrificial suffering,

In that final goodbye,

In that giving up,

In that letting go-

In the loss that followed too quickly

From our very first hello.

Do you feel me still,

At all, after all, On holidays and birthdays,

When babies cry and mothers run

Do you wonder that happened

To your little baby son?

Do you remember us today

Right now, as we were

So long since our separation,

So deep in separate lives,

In ignorant oblivion

And an opposite direction

Since the hands of this world pulled us apart,

Since the judgment of the world forced us apart


The Wonder that was You

Are we alike-

I ask myself?

Could we ever be linked


Today, any day,

As Mother and Son?

Can we even claim

Those titles

Within each others eyes

Having spent

All our lives


Or rather-

All of mine

Since that cord was cut?

And yet, I wonder

Do ties still bind?

Did it hurt

When we

That were both united

Were parted?

How was it to give life

And then watch it

Being taken away?

Do you still consider me child-

Your child,

Your first child?

Or were there others that followed

Who remained by your side?

Are you mother now

To others-

Do you wrap yourself around them

As you once,

So briefly,

Wrapped yourself

Around me?

Do they know

Of my existence

Or not at all,

As I know not of bother or sister-

Another title I dare not claim.

You should know

That I am happy-

That I’ve known joy,

Can you feel it?

After all, it was you

Who gave me the life

To live it-

The one who grew within you,

Who has developed without you,

Who has walked onwards-

SInce birth,

Though ever increasingly

Away from you,

Who has spoken

Often of you

But never directly to you,

Who grew to know love,

In part,

Because of a single decision

You made.

When I see you now-

Deep in my mind-

It is far from the fantasies I once

Envisioned you in.

You are more balanced

In realism, today

Than the childhood dreams

Of Queen in a tower

Or Star on the stage.

That I live-

It is due to your sacrifice,

Those 9 months-

A lifetime to the child that you were-

A child carrying

A child within,

But still,

You gave me time-

Body and soul,

You gave me the chance

With spirit and pride

As you waded through whispers

And rose above rumors.

I’ve had a mother-

Since we parted,

Since leaving the comforts

Of your swollen belly-

A mother who moulded me,

Minded me,

And moved me

With a thousand remembrances

Of your gift to her.

A woman who knew the sacrifice you had made,

Who’d cried the same tears you shed,

A woman who made me grateful

For the Wonder that was You.


La Mere et Moi

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 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-

All but another window perched

But a hands throw away-

And loving eyes that saw through mine

And smiled-

Relieved, relaxed and entranced.

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.

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 nights 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-color,


Damien colour.

We painted away the days and nights


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 honor.

Remembrances along the roadside


That day- do you remember?

In the car, me- racing away

And you- running,

Me- crying,

and you- waving.

Do you remember?

He was inside- watching, brewing, stewing.

Unable to say what it was that he wanted,

Unable to stop what he had from escaping.

We were outside- turned inside out,

Silenced to the limit,

The end had arrived; childhood given over to adult reality.

That day- do you remember?

Me, being driven away-

Leaving the only home I’d ever known.

Leaving the home he’d broken with silence-

That icy cold reserve; reserved for the undeserved-

Me, you, Mum and the multitude of others

Who tried in vain to hold out a hand;

To reach him, to touch him.

I hear his laughter,

Somewhere in the back of my mind,

Somewhere where that boy still resides

And remember that cutting smile,

That ice cold stare and those eyes that night

When they cut like a blade.

That day- do you remember?

You chased me all along and down the road

As Dympna drove and Mother cried in the seat behind.

You- with tears in your eyes

As the car tore me away from all I’d ever know.

I know that boy’s still inside, somewhere,

Painting his bedroom, playing in the attic,

Writing words to help him understand

And patiently praying that all parents were perfect.

All words by Damien B. Donnelly