Beat. Break. Beat. Break.

Is there a monitor of these movements

                that shift beneath the skin? A rummaging

within the ribs. I hear a broken bird

                beating against the bars of its cage,


All organs and organisms need oxygen and optimism.

Panic. Breathe. Panic. Breathe.

I shift within skin whose movements

                I cannot monitor. I have mounded

matters into metal I cannot master. Alchemist

                is not altruist. I can be an organ

of oxygen

but cannot count on optimism.

Breathe and so fill my lungs, air entering,

                blood flowing through arteries, the rising

and falling, the beating and beating

                and for every beat; a break, for each breath of air;

a drowning.

A bird was not born to fly under water.

Beat. Break. Beat. Break.

Medical is not the same as mental but mental

is now being measured out by medicinal.

Run. Rest. Run. Rest.

Running from the nest, the rest, the rest of me,

                    the mess that has been left in place

of all the rest that has left.

What has been left?

I stop in the park and watch the rest, watch a bird

                break from perch, bold and brave, unfold

against the force, feathers in flight, feathers in fight,

                winded in the chest. Pushed back. Pushing forward.

Pushed back.

Beat. Back. Beat. Back.

I cannot handle heights, I have felt too much

                the fall, my feathers are for fancy now.

I am done with flying. I am digging, deep

                within the ground, deep within the body.

I will pull out every root

till I pluck the panic

and catch a breath again that I can breathe.

Pull. Panic. Pull. Harder.

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly


12 thoughts on “A PANICKED PULL

    • Well I feel like I am going back and forwards, 4 osteopaths, cracking, realigning, relaxing, tensing, two kines, a guru who told me I was ‘next to my body rather than within it’ and to give up dairy. Heart check ups, tests, lung scans and all normal and healthy. Pills to calm me down, running to remind me I am fine and healthy and these are panic attacks, my mind adjusting to the events of this year, everything that broke and needs time to find its beat again, but when the breath comes easy it is indeed a relief.

    • Thank you Liz. I think the biggest part of writing for me is cathartic; a release, finding an order within the internal mess, a way to manage the madness. Slow steps and lots of weeding at the moment. Pain is so often not visual so its hard to find where to apply the soothing lotion. xx

    • Amazing! If only we could slip from one skin to another. I watched Altered Carbon on Netflix, they have new sleeves, which means new bodies to move into. I like that idea. it seems much less complicated than identifying little problems within the old body.

    • Thanks Nigel, there is certainly a lot of stopping and starting at the moment, unfortunately not just in the park but the park does add much needed distraction. Sometimes a simple morning run is not just to get somewhere but to get away from anywhere.

      • I’ve read through all these comments and your last line to Nigel leads me to suggest you take a look at the first chapter of Jake’s new book. We’re all very different individuals but there are aspects of Jake’s background that have similarities to us (complex!). If you decide to have a look, here’s the url to the page where you can download the free chapter (8 or 9 Mb) – its about halfway down the page under “Read Chapter One”. Link:

      • Thank you Liz, I am just noticing your reply now, sorry I missed this earlier, I will indeed go and have a read, Thank you my dear

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