We build things- built things-
like shower rails and kitchen lights,
Keto dishes that died in the oven,
theories on converting Korea into forever
and not just a 3-week diversion from dysphoria.
Kisses, we built kisses out of thin air
and laughter, laughter we built as if
it was all we needed to feed our day.
I was the funny one and you laughed
at times like you’d never laughed before.
Sometimes we built bridges
to cross divides we didn’t always understand,
sometimes we built boats but forgot the oars.
Sometimes we built temporary positions
around sofas and shallow shows to balance
the shit we didn’t have the correct tools
to deal with.
Once, we built a language
to lock ourselves into while on the outside
where it could be cold and cutting and callous.
Sometimes we built walls
for the other to climb over-
sometimes we liked to test the other-
to tease, to taunt, to attract, to test
the recoil of the elastic.
We build things- we built things-
like shower rails and silly meals and signs
and languages and kisses to complete
and sometimes we built walls
though, in the end,
one was too high to get back over.


All words and photographs by Damien B Donnelly.

Photo from an art installation in Jeju, South Korea



  1. There is a price for safety and security–walls protect you, but others can’t get in–and I am painfully aware of that reality. I thought this was a poem about happy memories, until I was hit in the face by the final two lines, which tinged the entire poem with sadness and a hint of regret when I re-read it. (On a side note, Damien, I had no idea that you had a Korea connection. I did two one-year stints in South Korea when I was in the army and, in fact, have also visited Jeju Island.)

    • Sorry about en final slap, it was not intended and it came as a surprise to me too 🙀
      I laws so in awe of South Korea, three weeks to spend travelling from Seoul to Jeju via Andong, Busan and Gyeongju. I will stay with me forever. And one day I will return

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