Day 5: National Poetry Writing Month #NaPoWriMo

Amid the misty moods of jazz,
strings starring
the elegance of Ellington,
shadows caress
the couples kissing,
the barman swaying
and the affected
on the cello
playing softly on seduction
sentimental moods

as the smell of him
sways still
over my skin
like fingers on the piano,
like the tune
he has played
on other bones,
(and softly sounds the sax)
on other bodies
(and the percussion pipes up)
while he moves
through the crowd;
my man of the moment,

oh my man,
I’ll miss him so…

mood moving from indigo
to let it go.

I watch him
slipping through
mouths sipping wine,
lips licking lyrics,
hands finding heat
below the table,
across the strings.

I’ve wandered down Bleaker
and tasted
the brown brick air,
I saw the sun
set down
high on the Hudson
and felt the wind
whisper the distant song
of solitude
that is never far
from my fold.

I’ve flown so far
to get here,
to this home,
his home,
amid the horns
and harmonies
(I’m already setting free)
it’s the strangest feeling
to know I am here
but will soon be gone,
for the A-train will be calling

as the band plays on…

Al Words and Photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

Audio version available on SoundCloud:



I The waiting

And one fine day I will see you there
Where our bench waits by the bend
And the trees will thrill at our tenderness
When my lips find yours to amend

For the distance that’s divided us
And the years that slipped between
When this soldier returns to take your hand
A proven servant fit for queen

II The beginning

Two summers now past she found him there
Perfect prince with pen and prose
Bequeathing his lines to a love unknown
Where the paths bend and courtship grows

While she painted him beds of roses
He sent sonnets to her dreams
The pauper prince and the newly crowned queen
Whose love wrecked rules and rocked regimes

III The Promise

And one fine day I will kiss you there
When the stars return to skies
When the cloaks and daggers have disappeared
As darkness fades and love survives

But your heart I hold by my armour
and your ribbon wraps my chest
while I fight off your foes on foreign shores
till I come home to you to rest

IV The Turning

But today gives way to tomorrow
And no man is made of stone
and wars can be won but love can be lost
When ashes burn from what was bone

V The Ending

And so one fine day she wandered there
To their bench beneath the trees
When the kingdom no longer fought with fire
Although the Queen felt no reprise

And in the wind she heard him whisper
The promise he once had made
But cold is the touch of a dead loves hand
For warmth withers from what has been slayed.


All Words and Photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

Audio version available on Soundcloud:


Michael was 18 and wore yellow trainers.
He had dark curly hair which he hated.
He had his whole life planned out.

Kathy was 17 and was happy to be in his plans.
She wore skirts in winter and pants in summer.
She liked gum, strawberry gum and Michael.

He’d kissed her at Becky’s birthday party, three years ago.
On the back porch.
On the cheek.
She’d blushed.

He was her hero, first.
He wanted to protect her from everything.

But when Michael discovered the army, Kathy broke it off.
She hadn’t realised his plans could make her a widow.

All Words and Photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

From Myth to Man on Valentines

Reworking an old piece for Saint Valentine…


When I was a boy I dreamt of you daily, when I was 20 I thought I knew you,
as I fall into 40 I fear we’ve never met, but I’ve loved you, you know,
since childhood, since I saw what it meant to hold someone’s hand
and since I came to understand what that touch could bring.
I’ve spoken to you, daily, not sure if you ever heard,
but I’ve told you, over and over, all the plans 
I’ve made for us in my head, all alone,
sometimes I spoke to you silently
as I lay in the wrong arms,
in the wrong bed, fallen
on the wrong path.
I have married you,
again and again, in fairy tales
and formal attire, in far off castles
and sun kissed shores. I’ve made love to you,
moved in with you, moved the world for you and yet,
although we’ve never met, you’ve changed a lot over time,
with each day, along each year, through the ages that I’ve dreamt you in.
You are no more the God I once dreamt you to be with chiseled jaw and perfect pose.
No, you are now to me, at last, more man than myth; more meaningful than mystical, more substance than surface. I too am now man, having grown older and wiser and learned to distinguish
all that is necessary from all that is just noise. When I was but a boy I dreamt of you daily,
one bounteous bodily being of beauty, but now, all is different, I have seen the world
beyond dreams, and have felt all that life pulsing through my waking hands.
I have seen how dreams can deceive you, how gods can grieve you,
and so now, with eyes open, I see part of you in many
and none of you in some and I’ve accepted
that I’ll never find all of you in one.


Words and Photographs by Damien B. Donnelly


If you missed Part 1 or Part 2 you can click on the links here:

The Things That Leave Us Cold


Part 3 of 4 (Audio version available to listen to; link at the end of page)

          It rained the first night I walked back to our apartment with him, just as it had rained that first night when you persuaded me to take you home, ever the flirt you were. We had our jackets over our heads to keep us dry, do you remember? One of those tropical rainstorms that graces Paris in August, as if to wash away the dust and heat, though it’s always hot rain, of course, not the full relief the stifling city longs for, mourns for. You can almost see the steam rising from the ground as it falls straight down from the sky. Straight, that’s what I told you that night, which you laughed at, as if I was pointing out the most mundane, the most obvious. But it’s true, and still is. The rain here falls straight from the sky, like water from a shower, not to the left or to the right, not at all slanted, it just drops straight down. You can leave the window open and it never comes in.

          I’d fumbled nervously with the keys to the gate when we got to my building, the building that became our building, the home that so quickly became our home, the one that adapted to you and your sounds, leaned in, to your customs, your scent which still haunts the air on random days. As I persevered with the key, you came behind me, kissed the back of my neck and gently ran your tongue along my skin as if to soak up the rain that fell from the back of my hair but I knew it was just to test me and perhaps in part to taste me. It worked. You had half my clothes off before we’d even reached my first floor apartment and I scurried with the final lock before the neighbours would hear us, or even worse, come out to find us in such a state of undress and desire. I was not that out, I was not that daring, that provocative, but you managed to bring something out in me, something that had been utterly dormant, a certain appreciation of the unexpected, a fondness for excitement, spontaneity, a carefreeness that was infectious. We made love on the living room floor that first night beneath only the lights of the street lamps and the comfort of our shadows entwined on the wall. Made love, was it that, I said it was that afterwards, actually I think I thanked you for it in some rather embarrassing, teenage way and you joked that I was merely a good shag which you overly pronounced in your heavy french accent which was all the more erotic. There I was, immediately trying to make it all proper and above board, nothing sordid, nothing naughty, ignoring the silly fact that you’d just picked me up in a bar, taken me home to where we’d stripped each other naked and shaken the leaves on the wisteria outside with our sweaty, salty, sensuous explorations of the other.
          He didn’t kiss me on the neck when we finally arrived, wet through, to our gate. He didn’t rip my clothes off as we climbed our staircase. He didn’t know that each step I took, I felt more and more guilty, that I was bringing him back here, to our place, to our home and possibly into our bed, or maybe even onto our floor. He didn’t pounce on me when I closed our door, didn’t press his body tightly against mine and steal the breath from my mouth with his own lips because he wasn’t you. He stood by the window instead, looking out across the small garden and over the wall into the empty street, just as I had done for the past year.


          He thanked me as I took his wet coat and hung it in the bathroom next to mine and then took a seat on my armchair while I made tea in the kitchen. I didn’t even have the customary coffee in the apartment. You were the coffee drinker, the true Parisian, while I sipped herbal, fruity teas which you referred to as piss, continuously. When I turned the lights on, he noticed the candles and asked if I could light them instead. I shivered again. That was always your preference. Not the silly scented ones, of course, too prissy for you, just simply so you could watch the shadow of the light flickering on the wall and make up scenes, monologues to connect with their movements. When he said he liked to watch the light flickering I closed my eyes and imagined it was you.
          Was that cruel? Was that too much, too wrong? To be with someone and imagine he was someone else. I held his hand in a taxi while thinking of someone else from long ago, someone said that to me once, years ago, before you, before us, before the emptiness and I thought it to be so horribly unkind. And yet it had become my truth. I didn’t tell him, of course, I would never, I couldn’t hurt someone in such a way, no. But it was how I felt. I was happy to have someone, to hear someone breathing, other than myself again, within our walls, within all that had become our sanctuary and somewhat angry at the same time that who it was in reality was not who it was in my head.

          He had a name, of course, what a stupid statement to make. I don’t really mean it like that, it’s more that I didn’t realise at first that I never used it, never referred to him by his given name. I called him boy, pet, hot stuff when necessary, moody occasionally, but I think that was more me. To use his name would have sounded far too real, far too impolite to you, not like I ever mentioned that to him. I’m not that mindless.
          He called me Monsieur, at the start, which turned into a continuing joke, then a nickname and then my name, as if my own given name became lost and I didn’t mind that, not at all. I’d given you everything I had, including my name so it seemed appropriate that I became just a pronoun and nothing more.
          And so it went, with the boy and the monsieur, a little story, a little tale unfolding amid all the other daily distractions and, of course, the waiting, well, my waiting.

To be continued…

All Words and Photographs of Paris by Damien B. Donnelly 



Dance with me for a while you asked
And how could I refuse?
The belle of the ball at a soiree of cities
You are lady and goddess, the muse.

Deep in your heart I walked through you
To see you for what you are,
The product of passion and maker of magic
Like the light from a glorious star.

Home in your arms I was in you
And welcomed in from the cold,
You shone out your soul as you filled me with music
While your palaces shimmered with gold.

Comme La Petit Prince I came to you
Questioning life and romance,
Well I learned how to live ‘neath your city of light
And found real love in a solo dance.

In Père Lachaise I wept for you,
For the heroes you have lost,
The sparrow of Piaf, the spirit of Bernhardt
Seurat and Balzac and Proust.

Canvas of white, a child again
At play in the fields of you,
You opened the doors to your present and past
From the Palais Royal to the Pompidou.

You kept a watch both night and day
Lit a light for me to glide
From your cafes of jazz to your muscles of men
I inhaled every smoky dark side.

By Sacré-Cœur I looked on you
Till my eyes were pools of tears,
From La Tour Eiffel to your grand Musée du Louvre
I’d surrendered in you all my fears.