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



On blood soaked walls 

he painted his pain 

in shades of scarlet 


on walls worked red

he captured the child

with cries that still 

are drying,

on scarlet walls

he hung his hurt

on hooks too high 

to handle,

in rooms since then

he sees that shade

still kindling 

in the dwindling candle.

All words and drawings by Damien B. Donnelly



For every push,

for every jibe,

for every spit

upon my childhood,

my conditioning,

my inability to conform,

I kept walking onwards 

believing I was better,

never being allowed 

to acknowledge

how I’d been broken,

how I’d carry 

these bullies like bites

to forever sting 

beneath the skin.

All words and drawings by Damien B. Donnelly