Wondering how to move now
after such torpidity,
wondering how to recognise now
the trenches as we take slow steps
across the battle fields of playgrounds,
bus stops and aisles packed
with questions of contagion carried
in other people’s trollies.
Wondering how to move again
after such paralysis-
limbs lurching as thoughts shift
forward and then back
as if it were a dance.

There’s a couple dancing, always,
in a field of folly in the 8th,
in Paris, in faraway France.
She wears a red hat of nonsense
upon coiffed hair and he-
a blue suit, a little worn,
a little withered like himself
but they dance, always,
next to a bridge where a fountain
once moved to the melody.

They dance in a moment,
a single solid moment, a moment
that has past, like they have
and the hand too that turned this stone
into a study of a couple
who hold each other tightly.
But they are statue.
Stone. Still.

They’ve been caught
on a note that a band once played,
for a moment
before they packed up and left.
We are now careful dancers,
stepping out bravely
to catch that next note
before the band moves on.


All words and photos by Damien B. Donnelly.

Parc Monceau Paris 



I climbed you today in downpours
and falling snows, no snowflake
ever the same, no footstep ever similar,
I climbed you today in sunlight
and stealing shadows, in strokes of paint
splattered in your memory by artists
as foreign as they are familiar,
I paused upon your steps, your streets
of steps, the steep steps others have taken,
others have trodden on, to take possession,
to take pictures, to take part, to be a part
of all that once was and has fallen to dust
through depression and recession,
no sails blow any longer to the wind’s wills,
the winds upon your hills no longer home
to the mills, no more the spirits linger
green to the fairy’s touch, spirits are in bottles
now, corked and capped and cost too much
and the artists now are but a shadow
of what once was, shadows for sale
on the site of what once held cause,
on this martyred mountain in Montmartre.
I climbed you today in wind and rain,
the past and future present, in a reverie
of what can no longer be, I climbed you
and stood above you and marked out
the steps I had taken along you,
along your lines and lanes that lead me
here, to this day, to this moment,
to this place as this snowflake fell,
this unique particle never to be repeated,
falling through the delicacy of creation.

I climbed you today and could hear
the train beginning to pull out of the station.


All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

For a week of considering creation.



I whisper into wakefulness,
the body stirs before the brain,
the blood before belief,
I curl into colder corners of the covers
to encourage skin to come round
as sound slips in just before the sight,
light pours into eyelids slowly opening,
toes slip out to inspect the season
but the soul knows the truth;
I bear every season in a single day,
a snowstorm in the stench of summer,
in moments overlapping;
burning flesh on ice cold streets
(Paris can perish you
behind its postcard perfection),
springs of hopeful holds
that fall to less likely,
there is an unbreakable blossom
in this heart that covers
the precious particles
like once perfect snowflakes
that have since been shattered,
strings that have been strung;
strung out, strung up,
turned to taunt,
I recall the harmony
but am a stranger to the words
we wound into songs,
stretched into surrenders.
Your calls now drown us both
from the far end of another ocean
I thought to be tempered with tepid time,
phone floods forage
where even distance cannot dissipate
the despair that settles
on the floor beside me,
a shallow pool of strangulation
after the hang-up that always feels
somehow lighter at your end.
So much falls away,
so much falls to the ground;
shattered shards no longer capturing
its distant promise.
I watch the snowflakes
catch the wind carefully,
glisten for a moment
before it’s beauty losses breath
on the trodden tracks
of these treadmills
that take us to nowhere
and back again
as the bluebird sings her song
and the moon, even in the bright sky,
still retains its shadow,
ever watchful, ever wondering
when we too will find our time
in this fall, to fall.

All words and photography by Damien B. Donnelly

Audio version available at Soundcloud: 



Only shadow remains
as I slip away from myself,
carving new forms
out of old bones,
eager for other arousals
to press through the restless.

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

Based on a Twitter poetry prompt from #WrittenRiver


In days now distant we were back side, one-up,
apartment dwellers whose viewless windows
enabled us to see more through the darkness
than the light that might have deceived us.

Tambourine Therese tapped her tunes of truths
not yet tasted, sweet tumble leaves freshly fallen
from the trees in the apple orchard with the pink
ladies and golden greens begging to be bitten into,
we were innocence eased into a micro mini
of voluptuous velvet and the brown eyed boy
already broken on blue, we were scavengers
seeking the scent of salvation on the shiny streets,
saving up to buy into beginnings we could cut
cords on, we were lyrics yet to be licked
looking to Mitchell as muse; we were wild
in the old days and covering Carey and cases
of whoever might come calling on the Casio
in our little corner as we careered through
the no longer muddy marshland in search
of suggestions to rise in us seductions, thirsty
for tattoos to plot paths along our pale pinkness
so we could track our trajectory. Gone
from the garden we were growing into city,
held up at first in a hotel, hostages of homelessness
were we sang songs in the ignorance of our sorrow,
sweet birds of youth busy building nests
in the confines of concrete, blind to the battery,
we were born for the bloom but forging
that famed forever on a friendship
that failed us like the lie of a lead balloon.

In days now distanced from all that was once dream,
I have found form as lonely painter on a canvas
of winding words, the connoisseur of cutting cords,
often curt and callous, in the challenge to manage
the malice, trying to be fateful only to the fate
that awaits but caught at times, by cords
that cannot be cut, whose curious concerns
come a calling from cold corners I’d considered
closed. I hear you on the wind sometimes
still tapping those tunes I thought I’d forgotten,
as veins rethread the trajectories already taken
through my skin, no more so pink, no more
so fresh. Fruit fades but we find ourselves
reformed into fractures of what once was,
fragments unfinished, like filigree too fine
to unfold, like a dance as yet undone, a song
we had still to sing in this city I’ve now returned to
while moving on, slipping forward through shadows
now past, still building nests, still seeing better
in the darkness and touched, in that half-light,
by the purity of your sprite, once so fair, one so rare.
We fell so fast to finished and yet, as she sings
of the songs like tattoos, I’m reminded
of that one flight up that can never be diminished.

All words and photo collage by Damien B. Donnelly

Audio version available on Soundcloud:



as the city
slips into slumber,
after last night’s thunder,
as skin slides from winter’s
shawls and shackles and pitches
itself proudly in parks where not even
dogs bark, where shadows have sunk
into sweaty
soil as feverish
fingers smooth skin
with soothing oil. Summer
in the city and temperatures
are oozing over bodies, all tease
and no breeze to appease. Summer
in the city and the music mellows as fellows
fold frowns
into bottom drawers
with winter wishes and curate
concerns toward sunset kisses. Summer
in the city and she unfurls her curls like foliage
finding form over greedy grass, and he goes green
with envy and furrows his frenzy as the fountain flows
with full force, unabashedly, and he grows as greedy as the grass
while her
curves caress
his consciousness
and he wilts in watchful
wantonness while I wait for kisses
caught on Spanish lips that creep along
the current of sweeping storms and sensual
shifts, we are ships crossing under starlight, snakes
slivering over sheets, I am not his, he is not mine, he is not
hers and still not mine, we cast concern into the ripples that sink in ocean
too deep
to remember and
too cold for concern,
ripples that are arousing now
beneath these fountains now flowing,
in the park, in the sunlight, in the summer,
in the city. Summer in the city and babies are sleeping
in buggies buried under bushes while nannies dose and daddies
delight in their sweet blooming rose. Summer shines on the city and
streets slip
from worries
and rushes to brushes
with light and lazy, humming
hazy harmonies like he once strummed
upon my strings a serenade sweet enough
to sweep us to older days, other days, days of revolution
and voices that shone as bright as this burning sun, and on
to simpler days of lemonade and laughter. Remember laughter,
back before the pitter patter of drought and disaster? We are just people
through parks,
looking for stars
in between the sunlight,
looking for fleeting kisses,
treats that are never free, saints
and snakes all hissing across lawns
in summer. Summer in the city but somewhere
out there, beyond the sleeping stars and the deep blue sky,
someone is probably crying and another, senselessly, about to die.

All words and paintings by Damien B. Donnelly

Audio version available on Soundcloud:




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 your thoughts
as someone tickles strings
on cords too distant
to be discovered
and wonder where you sat;
on the orange carpet
caressed by the concerns
of a girl growing through
her own song of sorrow?
Next to the guy with the hat
and harmony, no doubt,
who guards his guitar
from the bright light,
in the as yet starless sky,
as if he knows how celebrity
will one day cripple his creativity.
A blackbird bows before me,
burrowing his burdens into the
road, looking for crumbs cast off,
for a little refuge, like you did,
like we all do, a little distraction
from the circling sun and
shining skins blustering under
bland and blander. Sitting in a park
in Paris, France, as if in a trance
from 22 to 42, when 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 for a single spark
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 the sweltering sun, sometimes
remembered, 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

Audio version available on Soundcloud:






faster than feet can find footing,
forced to face up, catch up,
stand up, turn up. Running

through streets cluttered
with collisions I’ve already
crossed, with bunkers
of bones already broken, with
senses still shackled to skins
already shed, layers lost in
houses I thought were homes
but they were just illusions;
deliciously devious enough
to delude as time turned,
keeps turning, keeps taking
and I keeping running

looking, always,
for the rest,
for the rest of me, for a rest.

backwards now
through a city of shadows
that have shifted in the seasons
I sought out other shores, other
stimuli, other skins to slip beneath.
Back now to before, but more
different, more difficult,
more deceiving,
catching sight of myself
in half lights and side streets,
catching sight of the sides
that I am no longer in this older
render. Running.

is this it? Is this enough?
Is this who I am? Running

towards something
seen once, but now forgotten,
a suggestion in the shadows
of these streets but with a hope,
however fragile, lying between
the bone and the broken,
that these are just augmentations
on the byway to my becoming.

All Words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

Audio version available on SoundCloud:







There’s a lady with a leek,
on the metro, next to me,
a vegetable, vegetating
while she’s reading a book,
and that leek, next to me,
moving through the miles,
like vegetables, on shopping aisles,
vegetating, waiting be cut,
to be cooked, killing time;
twisting, stopping, starting.
There’s a leek, on the lap
of the lady next to me
with the book that holds
no answers in the turned pages
as we move on the metro,
this morning, leek playing dead
so she won’t cut of its head
at home, later on, not here
on the metro, not here
with a knife (that wouldn’t be right)
not a lady with a knife
on the metro moving
cause there are checks now,
at the stations, you know,
so the homeless now
can have a job, don’t you know?
Funny things when you travel
on the metro, when you think
on the metro, next to ladies
with leeks, scouring cook books
for something to eat, something
to get us out of this state,
on metros moving through aisles
and dodging the missiles
that are coming increasingly now
more than just once in a while!

All Words and Photographs by Damien B. Donnelly