SOMETIMES ITS DANGEROUS TO CONSIDER HOW TO BREATHE

 

There are clear patches in the sacred soil
at the far end of the side garden where life
is expected to return. We planted it last week.

There are clear patches in the soft sky
behind clever clouds that carry the condensation
I covet for those bald patches in the tilled soil
where there will be grass. We planted it last week.

There are sometimes clear patches in these caged ribs
that house the lungs that shoot me with shock waves
at irregular intervals when I fall too concerned
with how to breathe. I panicked last week.

Or when I’m too forgetful to distract myself
with painting the panic into poetry at the far end
of the side garden with its selected soil all curious
for the cunning clouds to carry forth its condensation
across that sweet sky. I planned this last week.

There’s a peace when I potter beyond the panic.
I know this. I planted it last week in my head
when I sowed the seeds that will soon be grass.
I planted them both, deep inside.

   

All words and photographs by Damien B Donnelly

ART ISN’T EASY

 

Colour
catches on canvas as we lean towards light,
a beam to break the boredom like a breath
above the water after diving up from darkness,
ripples run across the current,
ink spreads out like veins upon this page;

art isn’t easy, breathing isn’t any better-

both come up from down below,
rise through risk into life, into looking lively.
The texture of the wave is as temperamental
as the tone that sets itself out upon the page.
I dab the brush, horse hair taps connections
and colour comes at a gallop. It is clear-

control is not concerned with the creator.

This body needs air, runs broken, breathless-
breath and then less and less and less
and sometimes, sometimes I need to turn back

and teach the lungs how to draw. In.

Ink dries and petals stand, enchanting time
with their dismission of the word wilt.
Colour catches on canvas, clear and captured
and I lean in with the hope of drawing fresh
breath before the dive recalls me to paint
panic.

   

All words and paintings by Damien B. Donnelly

HUMBLE AT THE HEART

 

Humble at the heart of this landscape,
this dreamscape I’m training through,
I’m taken by its blossoming breast;
forests firing like volcanos that have shun their rest,
luscious leaves of lava sweep through cities
for man has no control over the mountain
just as nature has no defence against the molten flame
as fiery as the kimchi I’m trying to comprehend.

This one’s a little more digestible, you tell me
but I know you’re teasing as you toss with your own truth.

Beyond our feasting over meals
bigger than bellies but smaller than budgets,
skyscrapers shoot up over mammoth mountains,
a competition that man has no time to master
while in homes, humble, calmness is harboured
to the shore instead of clutter to sink beneath.

Humble resides in the heart of this Republic
once ravaged, often raped, now a melting pot of mystery;
many foreign feet of soldiers stamping
have dug their shadow into all that still somehow shines.

Museums have wings for Japan and China
and those Mongols who molested these mountains
still standing, still growing, still calling us to come
and climb and see the world from another side.

We come to the call of the mountains,
all sweaty chested and dosed in awe,
my heart is held at this height,
it trembles beneath this fragile flesh
and I hold on tighter to each grip of grandeur
and wonder how long my footprints will be cemented in this soil.

From here, high above the crow’s nest,
where Buddha rests with all that remains,
where fortresses have been forged and since forgotten,
these cities sweep away from who they were
and show themselves as who they are becoming.

We are not who we were
but what we have made
out of what has been,
in dusted days,
done to us. 

  

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly. This week’s theme was South Korea which I travelled through last year when everything was being questioned; my relationship, my former partner’s dysphoria, our own identity, my strength, literally and emotionally, my breath, the first introduction to a panic attack on top of a volcano at 5am while waiting for a sunrise that was not as exceptional as the attack which I thought at the time was a heart attack (yes, I can occasionally be dramatic; you should have seen me in the hospital entrance area when they were trying to tell me it might be very expensive to come in and be treated as a foreigner while I was telling them it might be worse if I died in the middle of their corridor) . All in all, the country, its peace and people and proximity to me at the time, left it a beautiful mark. It was the toughest time and the most precious. Buddhas, blossom, beauty and an understand of breath.

LIVING

I am angry,
Tired, sleepless, restless,
Bitter, torn
And twisted.

I am tearful,
Frightened, silenced, muted,
Mixed up, maddened
And pestered.

I am bloody
Boiling, brooding, blushing,
Bending over
Backwards.

But I’m alive
Surviving, breathing, breaking,
Living, learning,
Evolving.

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FLYING IN AIR

I am airborne,
Life is being lived
Beneath me
Amid the flickering lights,
In the daunting darkness,
Like festive fairies twinkling-
All myth and mystery,
Miles away
Amid mountains
That look like molehills,
Meandering mechanically
In moving motors.

I am now living
In the breath held,
Passing through time,
Pausing,
Passive,
Patient,
Pondering possibilities,
Playing ability
Against probability
Wondering where I will rest
One day, that day
When wings ring out
With weariness
And my feet find their land again
And path to plod along.
I know
What lies beneath,
Have seen the suction
Of the cites
And their seduction,
Have seen the wonder
In the wilderness
Where wolves are wild
And winds are free,
But I am ignorant
Of what rests above,
Up there,
Out of reach,
Far from sight
In the darkening deafness,
Beyond the burnt out stars
And all understanding of existence.

I am airborne,
Live is being
Lived out
Beneath me,
Without me,
And I wonder
Are the souls
Who left me
Long ago
Flying above me?

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THE STRUGGLE

To be a poet of
The heart and mind
Is to step away
From all that is close
And to look back
From afar.
To struggle
With the truth
Of what we are told
And to search for
What we believe.
To fall on the road
And document the struggle
To stand again.
To be torn from
The heart of your dearest
By the changing hand
Of that very heart
And find a place again,
In your own, alone.

To breath again
And remind yourself
To do this daily,
To look into the dark
And, in blindness,
Search for the light.

To dream at night
While accepting
The reality
Of the coming dawn.

To open your eyes
To an unknown world
When you were safe
In the one you’d accepted.
To wander
The lonely road
That you must take,
Alone.
To cry,
To shed your pain,
To cleanse your body,
To clear out
So as to move on.
To sob
In the face of beauty
And smile
In the midst of horror
So as to live.

To travel
The mind’s horizons
And discover the bounties
Hidden in its depths
So as to release the poet
Inside lays within us all.

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