catches on canvas as we lean towards light,
a beam to break the boredom like a breath
above the water after diving up from darkness,
ripples run across the current,
ink spreads out like veins upon this page;

art isn’t easy, breathing isn’t any better-

both come up from down below,
rise through risk into life, into looking lively.
The texture of the wave is as temperamental
as the tone that sets itself out upon the page.
I dab the brush, horse hair taps connections
and colour comes at a gallop. It is clear-

control is not concerned with the creator.

This body needs air, runs broken, breathless-
breath and then less and less and less
and sometimes, sometimes I need to turn back

and teach the lungs how to draw. In.

Ink dries and petals stand, enchanting time
with their dismission of the word wilt.
Colour catches on canvas, clear and captured
and I lean in with the hope of drawing fresh
breath before the dive recalls me to paint


All words and paintings by Damien B. Donnelly



November rains in a park, trying to be an artist,
attempting to capture it all in quiet corners,
beyond earshot from anything daring,
sheltered in shadow instead of off in adventure,

thinking I’d found myself but it was safe, fake lies;
a pacifying of the ego, trying to paint a Pissarro
in a Paris park with colourless pencils, not suffering
for art but suffocating in the subject that surrounded me,

your multi-layered character was a daunting place to start
adding colour to this blank canvas, I was but amateur
attempting astounding, dabbling in shadow and shade;
more lifeless than lit, more stilled life than filled with life.

One million options beneath my feet waiting to be walked
and I picked the solitary seat, in the shade of a Saturday,
in a park, in Paris, a spot speckled with strokes of life
but my own form had yet to be found within the frame.

I was as lifeless as the simple scene I had sketched
but I hung you on my wall nonetheless, as a reminder
perhaps; fast movement was needed least winter winds
would wipe this foreigner as forgotten before begun.


Words and photographs by Damien B Donnelly. This is a month of looking back at my life with Paris in order to start moving on. I wrote this poem at 23. I was 22 when I first sat in le jardin du Luxembourg and tried to painted a canvas with colourless pencils.



is a red
Russian rose
on the run,
a bouquet
to brush the blues
from their burdens.

is his hand
on her head
in the night,
taking flight
as that blue bird darkens.

her moon
was in Pisces
and she was said
to be expunged
by her sensitive soul

in his hands
he still held her,
his red
Russian rose
and so
he painted a song
to perpetuate her soul.

Her moon
was in Pisces
and his heart
in the bloom of her hand.

All words by Damien B Donnelly. Painting, Le Paysage Bleu, by Marc Chagall



And still we will come to lick the honey
from the purple petal and still we will come
to root out the weeds of worthlessness in gardens
where others eat up all that is beautiful. Time turns
and we, in turn, follow its path, suns set and the moon
shows us its song, hold hands and then release,
hold hope and then move on, we only own the moment.
Mothers may still hand over their hearts to other mothers
waiting to be wanted, fathers may rise to be fearless
or choke on the root of their own fear, those black-cloaked
women pouring water from windows onto withered plants,
who’ve buried their living bodies in a bitterness
for all that life has lynched from them, will continue
to cry as flames flicker out along the Seine,
like their memory, revealing structure still standing
but soul no longer settled. They will still pour
their buckets of tears down the aging walls of a city
that cannot see beyond its past. If we cannot catch colour
then we too will be cremated in the concrete. But black
is only shadow until it finds a reason to ignite in light,
bark is dry but the branch bares blossom. Eat the storms,
Mother said, remember? Boil the beds of bitter blackness
until the dream rips through the rain and translucent
turns them lighter, brighter. And still we will come
to that lake where language lingers, still we will sink
beneath its depths to slip ourselves from the reflections
we have once worn and now outgrown. Still we will sink
kisses onto our starved lips and still come back for more
after love catches hold of kisses cradled on other lips.
Catch the colour, catch the kisses, catch the life
racing by in taxis, on trains with crimson carriages
connecting moments waiting to be made magical.
The starry night can be a bright light waiting for us
to paint it. Behold how much there is to love, to let go of,
to learn from. Let us be the design and not just the destruction.
Eat the storms, she said, taste the refreshment in the bright
blue rain. Colour is waiting just beyond the clouds.


All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

30th and final poem for National Poetry Writing Month 2019



plant pot
the delicious decay
of decadence
once eyed as ochre
next to dandelions
in the dawn’s dew.
painted picture
of plants
in a porcelain pot
plays with the presence
of past
and present
under the preservation
of pressed paint.
Gold garnered
by the grace
of the sun,
amber’s earthiness
on route
to autumn’s rust,
careful creation
on canvas,
a fragile folly
the fall.


Words and oil painting by Damien B, Donnelly

23rd poem for National Poetry Writing Month




I slipped off to the edge of the city, this morning,

where the stream found a stillness 

and the air a crispness that kept confusion at a distance



I stood beneath the bridge that took the traffic

and its tension far from me

and found the swimming swan

rising higher in the stream, 

the follow on from the floods that now seem so far

with these skies of blue, speaks of colour

in a park, on a Friday, in February,

where an artist once came to paint



A park, in Paris, on a island, by the Seine 

where the waters wash with colour

when you look beyond the shadows

a new rise basking in the glory of what was once regarded

as great, by those who regarded the value of greatness 



Straight and tall,

shiny structures shoot up, like soldiers, by a stream

ever in movement, ever following the route,

today’s design will be tomorrow’s sign of an age 

the river has outrun


I see trees

towering tall in waters, once rising, now falling,

still strong, still weathering the storm, 

still willing to be remembered, like an artist captures beauty,

captured beauty,

in a park, once, on a Sunday

in a time since parted



Nature is not in our control,

nature is willing to withstand all our wilfulness,

will not drown in these days of destruction,

will not worry, as we do, will not bend 

but will let life flow around it,

in hope, in harmony



In a park, on a Friday,

on an island, by the river,

in jogging shoes and sweatpants,

I ran through days already distanced

and tried to make connections

between the road winding onwards

and the trees rising upwards, like the water, rushing onwards

like time, ever at play with its participants,

with all that it connects




With benches for the breathless to recapture breaths

and wheels

to help us follow the stream


And in the windows,

I saw reflections

of those towering trees, never to be forgotten,

blue of sky in the beauty of light, light and harmony,

colour and shade,

captured in what is new, a hint of what knows

the bounty of age


And on the river, by the park, on a Friday, in Paris,

I stopped and saw my reflection

in the gentle waters 

and in the waters saw colour,

colour and light,

by a boat,

in a park,

in a city ever changing,

where an artist came to capture it all

on a Sunday, a simple Sunday. not a Friday but a Sunday,

searching for something between the shadow and light,

between all that will fade and all

that cannot be fazed. 


Over a series of Sundays, in this park, on this island, in Paris, Georges Seurat painted Un Dimanche apres-midi a l’ile de la Grande Jatte. Stephen Sondheim later brought life to the characters within the painting and connections to the artist who died before the world recognised the talent he poured over his canvases in the musical Sunday in the Park with Georges. A few years go I wrote this poem on my first exploration of this little island, less green and more concrete now than in his day, but still with dots of colour and light and harmony…



he saw colour 

in a park, a simple park

on a Sunday, in the summer.


he painted colour 

in that park; clear, considered

untainted, untampered


specs of colour,

rays of light 

in a park 

on a Sunday, in the summer 

in a season of details, in a salon of specifics

under demands to consolidate, co-operate. 


he saw colour,

a canvas of light and colour,

a carnival of colour.


he saw colour 

in a park, on people,

simple people, working people, 

fishing people, fidgeting people

not polished people, not posh people.

They buried him

in a park,

another park, 

a quieter park 

but still with light and colour.

They buried him 

and then they buried his son 

and then another,

life and death, 

father and sons,

children and art,

children or art but only art survived.

He saw colour 

on a Sunday, in a park, on an island, in Paris, 

to the left of it’s center 

and there he made a difference.


All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly