Caught is the consciousness in this constant climb,
in this city of constrictions and its current

that constricts
and I can’t catch a breath. And the barricades have broken.

Baffled by the beat my feet can’t follow and I am swallowed,
sinking in this city of stone swamps and its concrete

that compresses
and I can’t get a grip. And the barricades have fallen.

Stoned is the spirit of a soul now struggling
through these streets of revolutions and its suburbs

of no solutions
and not a single resolution. And the barricades are weighing.

Turmoil was her Troy as this place is my poison
burning through this body of burdens, wondering

if it was seduction or abduction
that imprisoned us both under Paris.

Are we to be buried beneath body and barricade?


All words and photographs by Damien B Donnelly

Remembering and moving on, a Month of goodbyes in Paris



You cannot go back, to return does not mean
to rerun, I recognise these streets, I can recall
a certain laugh, a twisted lie, an open door,
but my footprints have changed. I cannot find
the same sunflower I drew when I was younger
than this youth I now cling to and so many
of those old doors have twisted and the lies
opened out to be nothing more than lessons.

I cannot go back, the streets now wear shadows
that never fell from this form I have now become.


All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

This month is about looking back in order to move on, one last nod to Paris before I part.



Even on wrong turns, detours; damp and derailed,
along red lines I knew would rattle,
sojourns into subterranean thoughts
of finding forever in a place that only held a past

there was still a steady stream of perception,
a suggestion of adaption
worn into walls that never would.

The tunnels were only ever to be temporary.


All words and photographs by Damien B Donnelly.

This month is about looking into the shadow to find the light. I first moved to Paris at 22, left at 24 and returned at 40 thinking it would be last stop, rest, relax. But it turned out to be just another tunnel along this track of life. Next stop… Ireland; Boy Returns as Man.



There are but minutes now, minutes in motion on metros,
minutes moving in on me, on my identity, on my mark,
on my leaning, on my meaning, meaning I am moveable,
like a feast, as he said; A Moveable Feast, meaning I am
manageable malleable, maybe unremarkable, mistakable.

There are but minutes now, there are but minutes moving
in on my metamorphosis, on my undoing, on my unbecoming,
is it unbecoming? on my being misunderstood, misinterpreted,

misrepresented, missing.

I am famished, the feast has moved on, was moveable, mindless
to all those matters that manipulate me, mould me, remodel me.

Minutes, there are but minutes multiplying in metros moving,
on me, in motion, minutes, mounting, minutes minus minutes.


All words and photographs by Damien B Donnelly

This month is about looking back to move on, making sure I make the most out of the minutes left to me, minutes on metros, momentous minutes, minutes made of moments.



Some scenes we are stuck with like that hand
in that taxi as we left the city I hadn’t said goodbye to.

Whose hand did you think you were holding,
didn’t you know what you’d found hadn’t yet been formed?

Some scents are forever tied to necks where we’ve left traces
of our lips, like you said, yesterday, when I found you
crossing over after so long on the other side
and the first thing you mentioned was my scent, still that scent.

Some places latch on like limbs and I wonder if you will twitch,
still, when I slip you from my spotlight as another taxi
carries me off without a single person to goad my direction.

Some things stay the same and other things we only learn
to master when we find out the right time to walk away.


All words and photographs by Damien B Donnelly.


I first left Paris for London at 24, without a thought as to all I was leaving behind or whether or not I had found who I was. I held someone’s hand who knew who they were while I still had no real idea of myself. Falling in love is sometimes like falling off your own route and it takes time to find your feet afterwards. I will never not fall again, but at least I now know that there is learning in the rising.



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.



Sitting in a park in Paris, France as kids
climb trees they’ll soon outgrow and birds busy
their feathers in a dance of freedom we’ll never know.

I fall through thoughts as someone tickles strings
on cords too distant to be discovered and wonder
where you sat; on the orange carpeted concerns
of the girl growing through her song of sorrow?
By the guy with the hat and harmony, probably,
the guy guarding his guitar from the bright light
of the, as yet, starless sky as if he knows already
how celebrity will one day cripple his creativity.

A blackbird bows before me, burrowing burdens
into the road, looking for crumbs since cast off,
for a little refuge, like you did, like we all do,
looking for a little distraction from the circling sun
and shining skins blustering under bland or blander.

Sitting in a park in Paris, France, as if in a trance
from 22 to 42, recalling how I first found favour
with following you; back room, no light, bedsit;
we were masters of the Marais, simple singletons,
senselessly sinking innocence into the marshes,
courting kisses of single sparks and rising over losses
we thought at the time to be insurmountable disasters.

But they were just dances, like these tiny birds
around me now, prances we perform, up and under,
over and through. We are all naked birds flirting
with honesty and invisibility under a sweltering sun,
sometimes recalled, sometimes forgotten before begun.

Sitting in a park in Paris, France, still trying
to understand the message in the melody
underlying and still trying to comprehend
the cords forged in the flesh of the boy so blue.


All words and photographs by Damien B Donnelly. 

This month is about Paris and letting her go. This photo was taken at the garden on front of the Musee Picasso, in Paris where I lived in an apartment right next door at the end of the 1990’s with a young Irish girl who introduced me to the music of Joni Mitchell. On my return to life in Paris in my 40’s, I wrote a series of poems, while sitting in parks during the summer, based on the albums of Joni and this was a nod to the album Blue. Like tattoos and all things that stick.

This was the original self portrait I used when I first posted this poem as Joni painted or photographed all her album art…