was caught
by colour in the corner
of the castle where curtains
collected carnations,
was captured
courting curious
on the canvas of a castle
in a kingdom condemned,
was caught
by the kiss of a courter
in the courtyard where calla lilies
were cut,
missed the caution
in the cut of the calla
while her courter crept away
with her coin,
forever captive
on that canvas in colour
in that corner too curt
with the kiss of that courter
now a cancer
on her complexion
that no carnation covered
curtain could ever conceal.

All words and photograph by Damien B. Donnelly

Audio version available on Soundcloud:


I thought it lonely
To be together
With so much standing
In between,
But now,
In this solitude,
These moments tick
Like echoes
Of what’s been lost,
Like laughter
Now fading,
Like love
Now separating,
Like the time shared
Now a fragment of another life,
Another hold we let go of,
Another force to fragile to fight.

I though it lonely
To be together
But this solitary life
Is not the picture
I wanted to paint,
There is too much still life,
All but lines and lessons,
No rhythm,
No reason,
Only a melancholy
In its lack of movement.

Black page,
Blank canvas,



November rains in the park-
Trying to be an artist,
Attempting to capture it all
In a quiet corner
Behind the trees,
Away from the winds,
Beyond eyeshot from anything daring,
Sheltered in a huddle instead of in the midst of adventure.

I thought I had found myself
But it was safe fake lies;
Pacifying the ego,
Trying to paint a Picasso
With colourless pencils.
Frozen by mid-afternoon,
Not suffering for art
But merely suffocating
In all that surrounded me
That I wanted to be part of but knew not where to begin.

I sat in your garden
And sketched you
Devoid of feeling and life,
I failed that day to capture
Or even comprehend you
But hung you on my wall
Nonetheless, as if to remind myself
Of all I still had to do-
I needed to paint you from within
And not just with colours sketched from the tips of my fingers.

Your multi-layered canvas
Was a daunting place to start
For my amateur attempts
At early adventure,
I was only dabbling
In shadow and shade;
Lightless and lifeless,
Playing with untapped possibilities
And dreamed-of doings
Instead of head-on,
Opened-up, fearless, dive-into, unknown experiences.

One million options beneath my feet
Waiting to be walked
And I picked the solitary seat,
On a Saturday afternoon,
In a secluded setting of your park
That stretched for miles
And bloomed with life all around me-
But not beside me,
But not for me, not with me.
I was as lifeless
As the painting I had sketched-
Fast movement needed
Least winter winds would wipe me forgotten before begun.

All words and drawings by Damien B. Donnelly

Retouching the Canvas

I am not sure what it was-

A calling, a desire, a need

To start afresh; reborn-

Washed down to white,

A bare canvas to be painted on,

Once more, without mark or tint

Of what had been or came before

And yet, in this new rendering,

Each selected stroke

And technique of life and love

That had gone before

Shone out as if I’d laid

One too few undercoats

To cover up the replication

Of the previous interpretation.

But they were merely tones-

Hints of what had led me here,

To this city as old as time,

That so reveled in its own past

That it proved impossible

For anyone or anything to look

Directly in front of them

Without being aware of all

That lay in its shadowed history;

The heartless father- no longer

As ice stone in the memory,

Melting slightly with every sunset

Witnessed by the Pont des Arts.

How you tortured us,

I once thought, and yet,

With distance to enlighten me,

I see it was you who was tortured

By your own fumbling hands,

Unable to hold on to what you had,

But fighting to make it bleed as it fell

From your frightened clutch.

I’d cast you in my child-thinking mind

As impenetrable rock, and yet,

You were no more than base-empty,

Fool-hearted, stubborn image

Of lost boy, plunking manly grunts

Onto foolish quarrels that festered

Within you, as we pulled away,

Long before your slow path

To fated finish line- the end.

A line that I no longer saw

From the sanctuary of my own

Tiny life, all carved out

In new directions, opposite

To all of yours until my feet rested

On that fine day, in summer,

On the ground under which

I hoped you lay at peace, at last.

And so I turned from you,

With a nod of final forgiveness

To our past and flew back

To my future where firm footing

Claimed my title as accepted dweller

Instead of foreigner within.

I became an inhabitant

In my own right and a witness

To this city that stretched out

Before me as each new dawn

Rose to tempt me

With further offerings before

Wrapping itself around me

Once more as the sun set

On those journeys home-

Always bank side and lamp lit-

When this once walled city

Leant in and shielded me

From the loneliness of that run

From home; the free-falling flight

Of the frenzied Irishman to France.

Was youth my only excuse

For the naivety and lack

Of processions I’d arrived with;

A wallet not so bulging, a tongue

That had barely tickled the language

And a boy without a home,

Or friend or job to do?

And yet that was the desire

That bought me that once-off,

One-way, discounted, newspaper

Cut-out, couponed ticket.

My greatest folly and yet,

So too, my greatest joy.

My canvas may not have been

As blank as I thought but,

By the end, it had been

Uncompromisingly retouched,

The edges softened, the frame

Selected and, in my own reflection,

I saw colors I had never before

Imagined to be a part of me.

pont des arts