I am posting a link to Dancing in the Current, a new blog from Exploring Colour‘s Liz Cowburn. Her husband Nigel took this photograph and afterwards both Liz and I wrote poems based on our interpretations. I originally posted mine last week but wanted to show you the three pieces together, Nigel’s photograph along with Liz’s poem and mine. I am so pleased how our work has intertwined despite the distance between France and New Zealand. I wasn’t able to reblog the post directly so I have copied it here but you can click on the link below to be brought to the original post…


Liz’s post:

Drawn To The Light. Dunedin, Otago, New Zealand

The St Clair’s Piles, St Clair Beach. Taken by Nigel Cowburn 31 January 2019

My husband Nigel took this fabulous photo when he was on the beach at sunset, at St Clair. I love the view of the piles seen against the esplanade lights reflected in the wet sand. In fact, I was moved to write a poem and also invited Damien B. Donnelly to do the same. Damien lives far away, in Paris, and yet he wrote a remarkably perceptive poem. Here both poems are published together, with Nigel’s photo.

Nigel works as a Landscape Architect and blogs at  Growplan


— Poem by Liz Cowburn

[piles’ perspective]

Sentinals of the sand,
we stand

Driven deep to defend
this beach

Regimental relics – we resist,

Fight for footing! Look to the land,
the sand!


[my perspective]

Battered, beaten by tidal terrors ‘the breakers’
— bowed but not cowed

Centred in a century’s swirling currents,
St Clair’s piles sink, subside…


You can see Liz’s original poem post here:


Her new blog is: https://dancinginthecurrent.wordpress.com/


— Poem by Damien B. Donnelly

And in the tide
tight with time and its turning
they left their posts,
impaled upon the sand,
impressed upon the land.

And there they stood
ten in heart and ten in tide
for time to tend,
impaled upon mind,
impressed upon mankind.

And on they marched
up the land and on from shore
for evermore
impaled upon their wain,
impressed upon the flame.

And out with wave
woe on water and touch from time,
tormented years
impaled upon the crest,
impressed upon the chest.

And on they went
refugees in search of root
swept along the shore
impaled upon with tears,
impressed upon with fears.

And on it goes
those who run and those who can stay
and those who are lost,
impaled upon the wars,
impressed upon the waves.

All words by Damien B. Donnelly
Link to view the poem on Damien’s blog:  The Weight Upon The Waves

Notes on Damien’s poem

The reference to refugees made a big impression on me. In April 2016 Dunedin accepted their first group of Syrian refugees. Damien wouldn’t have been aware of this when he wrote the poem; I told him later via Comments at his site – the following was his response:

“When I saw the piles and the lights heading off inland in the distance a journey immediately came to mind, the struggle of those who survived, who carry the flames of the hope and the souls of the past; those who were left behind or lost on the journey, the hills we all have to climb and the oceans too many have to cross to seek refuge, I am so glad to hear how Dunedin opened its gates to welcome in a new hope. I think our global commonality is that we are all refugees looking for our place in the world, just some of us have it much easier and a more comfortable journey than others.”
— Damien B. Donnelly (conversation via Comments)

Originally Posted by Liz; Dancing In The Current (2019)


Reprinted by Damien with permission



We are born

through barriers that break,

water carriers through canals 

into comfort and concerns 

were borders are built

to nurture nature

while we are compartmentalised,

still, more silent, less severe;

fortunate, less so, white, less so,

gay, straight, one gender, 

less gender, clever, less so, 

a part of peace 

or placed into parts 

where peace falls apart.

We cross borders 

not all, not everyone, 

not the fortunate, not those

who can do so comfortably 

but the others, the less so,

running from rage, rape, ruin, less,

running to refuge, reprieve, relief, more. 

We build barriers to keep us safe,

to keep the flowers in focus

and not the fragility 

beneath their bloom.

We build barriers, bigger, higher,

sharper, not to shelter but to shield 

all we don’t understand, all we fear

until we are left inside with fear itself.

We are born

through broken barriers 

but fall too quickly to forgetful.

All words and drawings by Damien B. Donnelly


Screen Shot 2016-01-24 at 17.06.58

Oh country, my country,

once born in your troubled times
and raised by the banks where your Liffey lies,
I followed the paths of generations moved on
to see what they’d built, to see where they’d gone,
but returned to a home now seriously lacking
a nation of consumers complaining and attacking.
Where are your parishioners, the pride of your isle,
your Emerald’s glory once renowned for its smile?

Oh country, dear country,

now bigger than ever in girth if not majesty,
in greed if not glory, in makeup if not unity.
What has become of those simple smiles,
captured in bar songs of other times?
Is summer gone, have the flowers died
did Danny not return to his father’s side?
A nation once raised on songs and stories,
of people poor but proud of their glories.
Are you better beings in designer labels,
Gucci in hand and louboutin’s under tables?
Maleficent muttons playing innocent lambs
slaughtering histories with blood stained palms.

Oh country, once my country,

there’s no truth to your hunger or depth to your drunkenness,
no moral in your manners or reason for your forgetfulness.
Who’ll be your heroes in the years still to come,
who’ll hear your cries and who’ll beat your drum?
Collins was martyred and there’s no more de Valera
the last of your greats were the end of an era,
now it’s fools fickle to the latest fashion fads
tarted-up teenagers and under aged dads.

Oh country, fallen country,

once a force of marching freedom
while looking to other lands for asylum,
now turned and twisted into narrow opinions
while others seek help and die in their millions.
How has racism risen so loud
in a place once paraded as peaceful and proud,
where its people filled ships that sailed on the seas
in the hope that other lands would hear their pleas,
can you rise again from your Holy Ground
adding names to the list of your heroes renowned?

Oh country, lost country,

where Mary’s cries still ring out to the sea
for Michael who told her nothing matter’s when you’re free,
have you washed down too much of your own importance
and forgotten the fight for your own independence?
Can it be that the tiger, in departing, took your best;
your heart and your soul and just spat out the rest.

Oh country, what country,

how can I find my way back to before
when all I once loved has slipped from your shore?


All Words and Photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

Photograph taken at across the fields at sunset in Lusk, Co. Dublin , Ireland



Taken by the sea
And buried in the sands
As man could not claim him
Hold him, place him,
Lost to the world
A loss before life began,
He crossed the waters
Of hurt, in hope.
We may cry for him
We may mourn for him
But we are the makers
Of this wicked world
And in our failing hands
We sealed his fragile fate

They come with only hope
But drown in our own denial.

Words and Pictures by Damien B. Donnelly