He is forward flying,
A novice to noise
And nuances
Of staggering streets
Unknown and numerous,
Honed to the humming
From the surge and speed
Of manoeuvres he can
Meddle through
Mingle through
Move through

He is a nubile note,
A minor chord
In a major movement,
Braced for a rebirth
By foreign fingers
Forging him finally
Into a signature
Of sonic structure,
A rhythm and rhyme,
A tune to tingle
And temper him
And a chorus to call
And encourage him

He is a leaning leaf
Balanced on the brow
Of a branch, braced
For worthy winds
Of foreign fields
To find him, float him,
Carry him to clouds
And dive down deep
Forever after
Into the chaos
And cacophony
Of life and it’s longing
And the lust among the living

He is made of math,
The sum of every smile,
The addition and attrition
Of a world of worries,
The multiplication
Of a multitude of thoughts
Mixed and mumbled
And the subtraction
Of scars and fears,
He is the solution in full
The joy and the tears

He is the beating body
Of festering flesh,
Tasting and tasted,
Touched and taken,
He is the brittle bone
Stretched over skin
And the shroud of skin
Bound to the bone,
He is whole,
And hungry,
Growing, groaning, gaining,
Rotting, renewing reigning

He is the devil
In the darkness,
He is luminous
In the light,
He is the form
Finding features
In the forces
In between
The growing greys
And the shifting shades,
He is the something still unshaped,
He is the someone still unseen

He is forged of fire,
Flames flickering
In front of him
Fierce and unfailing
As the particled past
Blazes behind him
The life already lived
Echoing all that will finally fall
A hundred years from now
A forgetful fading
Of all he wanted to become
And all he managed to be,
Everything remembered
At once as the light descends
On the rise and fall of he.


All words and pictures by Damien B. Donnelly


On the doorstep
On the threshold
The corner turns itself on me and I stand ready

Waiting for the opening
Waiting for the light
Waiting for the release.

On the doorstep
At the line
The path diverges on front of me, asking me to choose

Waiting for the decision
Waiting for the answer
Waiting for the follow on.

On the doorstep
Of a new life
The past never more present and the future unfolding

Waiting to be revealed
Waiting to be taken
Waiting to be felt

I take a breath and…


Subdued by circumstance,
Sitting soulfully
In the shadow
Of uncertainty
As situations
Settle themselves
Into scenes played out
Beyond reach of understanding
Or certitude,
I succumb
To the subtle shifts
In atmospherical changes,
Accept the silences
As essential escapism
And shake
In the fallouts from storms
Rained down only
In the calmest corners of the day
As if to test me
And my corroding composure
And question my ability
To remain neutral
As trying themes
Surround me
Directly involving me.

I am the shadow dancer,
Tip toeing over egg shells,
Fighting with a past
That won’t break
With the present
And a present
Too preoccupied
To see the future.

Subdued by circumstance,
Sitting somberly
In the shadow
Of insecurity
As untended wounds
Rise up before me
To cut and criticize me,
Judging me
From a position
Of misperceived perfection.

I have seen,
The light
And glow
Of a smile
And recognise it now,
Off in the distance,
Lost to the moment,
And worry
How to tempt it home,
To a home that is both
Too new
To be recognisable
And too soon made
To prove enough.

The dust,
Previously formed,
Has not settled
And yet we busy ourselves
Shifting the furniture
Of our current lives,
Sometimes aligned,
Sometimes bumping,
Trying to fit
The clumsiest of cupboards
Into the smallest of spaces.

Only time will tell
What fits where,
What will survive
And what will be
Along the wayside.



Do you remember Paris on occasions when Spring winds

Wash in from the east and the sound of drinks on terraces

Sweep over the city, recalling those lazy days- a lifetime ago,

Before we knew London together or what it would be like to part?

Do you, do you remember Paris, my room, our love

And all those carefree dreams we shared and found

As we lay at night in that single bed, in the corner, wrapped-

Not just due to lack of space- so tightly in one another,

Long before I lost myself and you lost me?

Do you dare to look back on those weekend meanders

Through the cobbled streets that I thrilled to show you

And you longed to see through my eyes, as well as yours?

Those early days of bloom that fell so timely to nights

Back at the water castle, a name-deceptive metro stop,

Where kisses would take us through to the dawn.

Remember our first Spring and how it warmed into Summer

As we sailed through the city like no one else existed

And no time could have been more suited to such a pair

Who fell in love with dogs in pet shop windows as we strolled

To Pont Neuf, to sip on wine, wave farewell to the sun and sleep

Under the shade of a tiny park, at the bottom of the bridge

On the first site of the city, by the walls of its Musee du Louvre.

Remember that rainstorm, that marvelous Sunday; we woke up

As the lightening struck and birds flapped wildly to find reason

Amid the mornings madness why their feathery wings failed

To find flight. Funny how I missed any warning in their fluttering.

I remember your first night in my city- deep in The Banana

In Les Halles, with Yasmine’s infectious grin, boys in towels

On table tops, the piano, the dancing and the DJ who sang

And the morning that found us before we had stopped.

Remember La Grande Jatte, in the shadow of Seurat,

On a sleepy Sunday morning when we stopped

To make connections beyond what the eye could see-

To remember what the painter had seen? You sang

Of the colors between the water and the sky, ignorant

To all but us and the music that filled our minds on that ordinary day,

In a simple Summer, during a Sunday stroll, on an isolated island,

Where everything seemed more and more extraordinary.

On Hugo’s trail, we searched out the ghosts of a Paris long fallen to history-

Stench filled sewers, Luxembourg gardens and finally, and above all,

By a tree in the far reaches of LaChaise where Val Jean had laid

His miseries to rest. Was it later that night I confessed to be falling

While in your arms and your eyes replied that you were already there?

Do you remember that time at Disney? You, the one with the Mickey ears and I,

The one with the childlike fears till the valium kicked in- your treasured

And unused stash- an airplane’s roar enough to set your hairs on end.

Do you still remember those endless nights in the Tropic; sipping on Gin Fizzes,

Fresh from the cinema, sandwich grec’s on the way home along rue saint Denis-

It’s ladies only then awaking to their nocturnal life?

Remember that single bed in the corner; I always woke up stuck to the wall

Or wedged somehow between bed and brick. The sofa, the table

And the sunflowers of plastic- so not what you’d imagined at all.

Remember those early wake-up calls as Monday morning broke our spirits

And sounded a parting- a rush to the station and tears as you left me

Wondering, always, when you’d return.

Do you dare to venture to the times we shared

In what seems like a lifetime ago when not a minute suggested

What time would design and we’d one day have to let go?

Remember Paris,

Remember you,

Remember me,

Remember us.


Compatible Blends

We found each other,

For a while

As we searched separately

For a new life

Amid the ashes of a life already lived

With bruised edges,

Fractured hearts

And losses to great to forget.

We stopped for each other,

All but briefly

And, in delighted ignorance,

Planned out a future

As inseparable

As water from land

And sky from sea

But proved to be less


Than we knew.

We shadowed each other,

At the start,

Sailing in separate shifts

On Chevelaret’s Street

In district 13

With Celtic music,

And pints of the black stuff

While a riotous racket of Turkish overtones

And Irish stupidity,

Parading as management,

Carved comedy into

Every inch of our jobs.

You were night and I the day

As we passed each other without

Sensing a connection

And yet I was already aware-

Intrigued by the mysterious air

You’d arrived on.

I had sat in the corner of the bar

And watched you being interviewed.

You polished off a glass of Guinness

On that unaccustomedly sun-lit day

In spring

Like it was the first drink ever

On a Friday evening

With not an ounce of fear or uncertainty

As Niall questioned you

With roaming eyes

That longed for more salacious information

Than you were willing to provide.

Your age was not to be a factor

Nor your flight from home

That had somehow lead you here,

To this place,

That must have rung out-

With first impression-

Like it was the end of the earth

Or the final stop for last chances.

You had shadowed the steps

I had made months earlier.

Were you as shocked as I

When you climbed down the metro’s stairs

And saw that lifeless street stretching out before you

With the Guinness sign in the distance

Like a beacon to call you home?

A dishevelled man-

Washed over in alcohol

And lost out in life

And two dead rats along the side walk

Had been my greeting

To this quarter

Lurking anonymously

Behind the chaos of Chinatown

And it sank into me-

As the train raced away,

That this was the one place were they would say


And my empty wallet would be

The one thing about me that

Could not say


But somehow we made it home

And as the sun grew stronger

We looked at each other more closely

And made connections-

Blind to what lay beyond the glare

Of those rays that hypnotised us.

So how did it happen

In that summer-

That glorious summer where we had

Promised each other to make it be the one

That shone the brightest in our memories-

That we ended up

Losing each other?

I sat on someone’s porch steps

Covering them in bitter tears

While two blonde boys watched on

And waited for explanations that I could not know,

For I was still unable then to see

How much we had failed each other.

Had we been no more

And no less

Than oil and water

All that time-

Fooled somehow into thinking us a more

Compatible blend?

But I had seen you and fell for you-

For all that you were

And tried to be

And all that you covered up-

Wounds naked only to me

And wounds that you could not cure

And so I lifted you

And carried you

And feared for you,

And wondered how to get in

And worried how to get away-

I knew the danger signs that lit up

In your eyes

And when to speak

And when to say nothing

But- at the same time-

You carried me

And cared for me

And cured me too.

I was the adopted boy who became

Your adopted brother.

Once, I had been given up

Where you had given up.

I was the follow on that you needed to see

And you- the listener

I needed to confide in,

To say I forgive,

I’m ok,

I have survived.

To your face

I said thank you to a mother never seen

And in my eyes

You cried for all that you had lost

And could never have the chance to be.

Maybe the mix was too explosive

And we shared too much from opposite sides

Of an unused coin

In that bond

We made

And loved

And let break-

Brother and Sister

And sometimes

Mother and Son.

We began to heal together-

Broken hearts that we thought we’d left

Back home,

Memories that came flooding back

Like children we’d forgotten

And left behind-

A part of ourselves that we’d ignored-

Hoping the past would let it slide to


But we found that not to be true

And in each other we found-

For all but a precious moment-

A way of letting go

And moving on.

How little,

In that middle of it all,

Did we know how soon we’d let go of each other.

For, in truth,

It was never enough

And nothing could cure the washed over lines

That lay buried in the memory.

I could not become the lost child

And you were not the shadowed mother for me.

Maybe that was our downfall-

We hoped for too much from each other

And found not even a whole summer

On that street with its temples,

Viewless windows,

Benoits who cried in our laps,

Cards games you thought me

And Lovers who came our way

To divert us more from what lay

Too deep to remove.

Brother and Sister-

Sipping coffees and cokes

And teaching each other French-

We taught each other a lot

But never managed

To teach each other

To hold on.

Where are you now and do you ever

Wander in your mind

Back down that street

And into that bar

Were we talked

And laughed

And cried the night away

Until the morning found us

And we set off home


And lay together

In one room,

In separate single beds

And spoke till one of us fell asleep.

I see you sometimes,

In my minds eye

With fag in hand, as always,

And eyes lit up as we danced through that bar

Which became our bar

On a Saturday night

As we simply entertained the audience

Perhaps just as simply

As we entertained each other.

In my mind we will always be dancing

Like that

Before closing the bar

And finding comfort in a cigarette,

A drink

And each other-

Brother and sister

For almost a summer,

Dancing in the ignorance

Of what autumn

Would have in store for us.


Years Go By

Years go by

And I’m still here-


Years flying by-

Feeling like minutes in my mind;

A decade lost in the passing,

Like I’ve fallen forward through a gap in time.

Years in between

And yet that first morning-

Still so fresh,

Waking up into a home I’d gate crashed-

The Irish abroad;

Jeannie, with the flaming red hair

And welcoming hug,

A son in the shadows of another country

And a daughter to fall in love with were I straight.

Unable to forget

Those heated floors boards,

The note of good morning

In the kitchen,

The crispy toast from a packet,

The tiled green bathroom,

Separate toilet

And back to the bathroom to wash hands.

The plant filled balcony,

Those frosted glass doors

Which echoed through the apartment as you opened them-

So mundane and ordinary

And yet so much more

A part of me now

Than those trivial things

Ever where then-

Long before they became

A memory to cling to,

To cherish.

I hold on to so much more now

Than I ever thought possible

Or considered important-

The feel, the taste, the smell,

Like those disgruntled old madames

Who threw water from their balconies every morning-

Clocked in sombre shades of black

And scowling at passers-by like me

For the demise of their youth and their looks.

I can recall-

As if it were yesterday-

Those precious summer mornings

That soon followed me-

The air filling

With the fragrance of freshly baked croissants

As boulangeries opened their bell-ringing doors

To delighted strains of bonjour and ca’va.

Years, reaped upon years

But I still smell it as fresh now

As the day was new.

I can hear those familiar sounds

Of kids-

Singing out in ignorant celebrations

Of their youth

But always hidden from view

Behind high walls of stone.

Paris- the city for artists,


And the amourouse,

Where children are heard

But rarely seen.

No tantrums in stores,

No snotty noses in bistros-

No changings of nappies in sight.

Our Lady of magic was

Fully grown,

Fully developed-

No question of who She was

Or where She was going.

This City was born

Dressed in Chanel attire

With precious pearls to match-

Born a proud,

Free speaking,

Free thinking,


Confident adult,

Without question.

Her raison d’etre-

Herself entirely.

And there I stood

In the middle of it all

Trying to find my own trend

And set a route

Amid multitude of pathways

I longed to explore,

Get lost in,

Fall in love in

And find adventure in.

Time slips away

But it somehow leaves a part of me

Still there- somewhere,

Wandering through covered passageways

Packed with marionette theaters

And tiny trinket stores

Watched over by age old glass ceilings,

Discovering underground chambers

Of sewers and tombs-

Lost generations of the past,

Slipping unnoticed through graveyards

Of forgotten faces

Ad heralded names

Decorated with weeping women,

Stones eyes Madonnas

And cast iron wings-

Never to fly,

Remembering those I’d never known

And wondering who’d remember me.

Sitting by Seurat to make connections in his colors

And wondering what Mr. Wilde would make of us now.

Years gone by

And I still go back there-

Left side,

Art style,

Boho chic-

Where Oscar last laughed

And Sartre sighed

And I remember who I was,

Laugh at who I’ve become

And wonder why I’ve fled so far

From the city that never changes

Whilst I never stop.

Saturday afternoons,

After lazy lie-in’s

Rising through the cobbled hills

Of once moulin covered Montmartre

With Abi’s and Vincent’s

And Yasmine’s and Shaun’s,

Where artists ghosts-


By the green fairies potent mix

And the ruffling of high kicking

Can-can skirts-

Would swept though air

That you had only to touch

To feel a part of,

While tourists flocked

To pick up as many copies

And replicas as they could carry

Without so much as breathing in

All that surrounded them

For free.

I was a free man in Paris too,

My dear Joni,

And have wandered down

That Champs Elysees

In search of those I once knew

And cared for

And loved

And lost.

Years outrun years

But I can still close my eyes

And feel the sun on my skin

As we filled Victor’s fine square

With resounding laughter

That soared around the fountains

And columns

And palaces

Fit for queens.

14th of July ’98-

Champ du mars,

Three tenors,


Mary and me

And a thousand others-

We were the luckiest in the world.

I can see myself at 23-

Cast bright in the lamp lights

That I sailed past

On the back of a motorbike-

Tearing through world of Hemingway

On the slumbering market street

Of Rue Mouffetard

Before the bank side approached

And Notre Dame lay reflected

In the sleeping waters.

My arms wrapped tight

Around my leather clad driver

With Spanish blood and gallic looks-

Willing to show me it all.

The years may continue

To build on years,

Time will continue

To tick-tock away,

But there are lifetimes

In moments

Which years can do nothing

To suppress

Or erase

If the heart wills

Not to forget.


To the Days- Present and Past

If I looked back

At you


As who I now am,

Would you still recognize me?

Could you still see in me

The one you hoped,

Back then,

To become?

That shy,


And frightened boy-

So often alone,

A step behind the shadows

And I’m still not sure

If it was where you wanted

To be

Or the only place

To hide.

You built a world

Within those bedroom walls

And seemed to dream up


Before you actually learned

To live,

Where you escaping

The quarreling voices


Or just avoiding the

Feelings inside?

On my knee,

Over grown, over time

With dark brown hairs,

There still lies

The white scar you made there

When you fell at 10

From road to curb-

Do you remember?

On my forehead,

Now higher-

And with less hair than before-

That tiny mark

From the collision

With head and pillar

In the driveway,

Sunday morning,

After Mass,

At 12,

In the rain.

On my right foot,


Just below the ball,

I can still feel the stab

Of the nail

You walked on-

Back garden,

Mid summer,

In the middle of the game,

Unimaginable pain.

Does this help

To remind you

Of who I was

And so recognize

Who I’ve become?

I remember

Your fears

Back then-

Are you there yet?

Are they slowly

Taking over and tucking in-

Reverting spoken words to

But thinking thoughts?

Has it begun yet

To creep along your skin,

At night,

After the bullying boys

In the day?

Those days that

Tore from you

Everything that school

Should have offered

And replaced it

With the fear

Of the next push or shove,

Spit or jeer.

That time when sick days

Became more common

To the week

Than saturdays,

When bedrooms

Were the sanctuary

And playgrounds

The prison.

There are no scars

On my skin,


Of those milestones

But you know

I am marked

Because of them,


Perhaps you are a little older-

Passed along into

Those teenage years

When prayers

Were piled

Onto fucked-up feelings

And the complexities of

Sexual awakenings.

All those years

Of wanting for myself

To be

Nothing more

Than normal,

Nothing to note me

The Nancy,

Nothing to notice me


Nothing to make me feel alone

In a world

I’d barely experienced,

In a body

Barely developed,

In a mind

Still grasping at straws-

Feeling broken before begun.

How would it feel to know, now

And carry it back to then,

That I’ve loved-

Openly and freely

Exactly as I’ve wanted,

Who I wanted

And when I wanted?

Would it comfort you

To know that when the secret’s


You’ll start to wonder

What the worry was about?

In time-

Awaiting you

On the eve of 18-

Even those you imagined

To be your greatest enemies

Will become your biggest supporters.

Let me shout you aware

That you were the only one

To ever really cast yourself out-

During all those years

When you locked yourself in.

Believe me,


When the shadows

Loose their attraction-

The light shifts

In your favor.

I remember

How old you felt

When you were young-

Smiling outwardly

To hide the secret within.

Dear child,

Brave one-

Would you laugh

At me now

If I told you

How young I feel

Now that I’m old-

Perhaps the final rewards

Of secrets having been told.

Would you recognize me

If we met right now,

Face to face,

Boy to Man?

I think us more now

A united part of each other

Than ever before

And I smile happily at

My integration,

At last,

Of those days-

Present and past.


Courant d’Air


Lost somewhere in love’s language

Between bonjour and au revoir.

How is it I have strayed so far

From what was once so important?

I have travelled land and sea

But with each step

A part of you approaches from the past,

Present and possible future

To remind me of your existence,

To recall how much of you

Is rooted deep within me

And to confirm how much of me

I left behind in you in that time we had

And shared and made;

On your banks, along your cobbled streets,

Within your bars, on the lips of your men

Whom I kissed and your ladies who I danced with

And behind that grey door

And up along that wide wooden staircase

Which spiralled its way to my first home

Nestled in the oldest part of you.

It was here where Joni Mitchell

Rang out in my ears for the first time

Through the angelic tones of the blonde creature

Who lulled me from laughter to chaos

On that old templed street-

A stones throw from my first hotel,

The scene of my first French kiss,

Tucked away behind my favoured park,

Resting under the watchful ghost of Picasso

Where I would soon burn to a crisp

As summer’s sun found Irish skin to roast on.

How we laughed in that living room

With its viewless windows

Letting in only the bare minimum of light

As my musical Nymph rehearsed

Endless Irish dirges that would pay the rent

While the spritely hippy

That hid beneath her voluptuous body,

In green velveteen bell-bottoms

And tasseled honeyed hair,

Begged her to let loose, break free and fly like a bird.

I remember that morning as spring arrived

And I opened the windows to find warm air

Perched on our sills before I read her

My first French penned poem;

The Traveler Lost;

A young man drowns amid foreigners

Without words to express himself.

She laughed till her eyes brimmed with tears

And I, almost unable to finish,

Sobbed in a likewise comic and uncontrollable state,

Indulging in the unconsciously humorous overkill

Of the self-indulgent prose of a 22 year old child

Dancing about in grown up shoes.

And yet, in that very fact;

In the acceptance of our naivety and innocence,

We laughed our way, amid childish ignorance,

Through the best of times and dared each other not to care.

And yet now, so far from that very home,

How close its infamous memory

Ventures to mock me

For the distance I have let slip in between.

In all my dreams of traveling and exploring,

How was I to know that my feet would fall

So fast in love with that first touch

Upon your cobbled streets?

I am the sparrow, lost to its nest,

Forever flying in ascending circles

And catching your scent on every other breeze,

Unsure of why it calls me still,

But hopeful to one day be flown home on your courant d’air.

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly