SUCH MOVEMENT BEHIND A SETTING SO STILL

Silver sky settles over sun-soaked sea
where we watch the future ripple reflections;
cranes in the corner of Korea coming closer
to a mountain once central to the frame.
Silence and simplicity have never shaken
with such an uncertain stillness.

 

 

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly. This week’s ideas come from last year’s travels through South Korea. I took this photo on Jeju Island in South Korea.

COLOUR DANCES LIKE A FLAME OVER CONCRETE

 

Colours catch fire over concrete, catch life, catch the laughter
that will not linger for as long as this concrete. Measure moments
not in length but in weight, weight, don’t wait to catch life;
it is cold to be concrete and watch the flames flicker out,
to be caressed but never considered consumable.

We tried to catch the fire that burnt through our time, tried to clamber up
and over the volcanoes tearing terrifying tracks into all that grounded us.
But there were cracks in our concrete, sparks of colour, yes, but specks
of weight too, too much weight, too little breath. Fire steals oxygen,
colour cannot cover over all the chaos, makeup is something we use
to cover a bruise, colours catch fire even when never considered consumable.

Catch the colours before the fire captures all in concrete.

 

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

This weeks ideas come from last year’s travels through South Korea.

I took this photo at the Changdeokgung Palace in Seoul.

 

TO COME CURIOUS

 

We take slow steps into the sweet water, watch the current
caress the dark rock, the volcanic roar no longer rupturing,
its rage now rocked to slumber by this single shore. I lose
my shirt to time’s tide and this shimmering sand, I lift it up
and feel the weight that washed over it as you turn to face
the vast ocean and wonder what the next wave will bring
upon us. We have crossed currents, trained through towns
and cut across mountains, we have laughed at sadness
and cried over cocktails, we have come so far to wade out
into these waters as locals watch us with questions of how
and why. We have come curious to this country, we creep
along its coast like this tide, rummaging over these rocks,
wondering what happened to the heat it once ran with
when man was more forgiving and the mountain more daunting.
We climb the dormant mount, once maker of molten menace,
to watch the sun swim up from the sea and we count minutes
till the darkness will be disregarded as if time is all that’s needed
to destroy depression, decay, dysphoria. This mountain, once
a monster the sea could not settle and land could not control,
this country, once more than a division of north and south,
of emperors and conquers, Confucians and Catholics, devout
and deserted. We were once more than single souls searching
for the way back. We are tides, coming and going along
these beds we find shelter in, arms wrapped around us
like seaweed we equally fight off and hold down, we are lava,
trailing tunnels through our own thoughts, destroying
what we think to be too much but never quite knowing
how to fill the hollowness that’s left behind. We take steps
down into the open earth, adding sweaters to our short sleeves
and I wonder why it grows colder the closer we get to the core.
Isn’t the inferno on fire anymore? Dante will be disappointed.
We look like ants crawling over cobbled rock as we curve
through these corridors created in centuries now cemented
into time and caress these walls and catch our breath
under cathedral ceilings created by no creature but by nature’s
creation. Deeper and deeper still and the silliness is replaced
by a silence in this place where the waters drip from porous rock
and we look smaller, less special, not so strong in this cave
carved by once molten rock, by lines of luscious lava
that laughed as its lungs opened and its power poured. Later,
back at the beach, the tide again tickles our feet as we stand
upon the rock that once before roared. We are equal parts
creator and equal parts responsible for all that we corrupt.
We have come curious to this country but find ourselves
asking more questions about who we are than of this coast
that will still be counted long after we have been smashed
upon our own current. We take slower steps through
the sweetness and my heart beats louder, longer, lighter.

  

All words and photographs of Jeju Island in South Korea by Damien B Donnelly

This is a repost of a week considering Creation and our position within it.

TO COME CURIOUS

 

We take slow steps into the sweet water, watch the current
caress the dark rock, the volcanic roar no longer rupturing,
its rage now rocked to slumber by this single shore. I lose
my shirt to time’s tide and this shimmering sand, I lift it up
and feel the weight that washed over it as you turn to face
the vast ocean and wonder what the next wave will bring
upon us. We have crossed currents, trained through towns
and cut across mountains, we have laughed at sadness
and cried over cocktails, we have come so far to wade out
into these waters as locals watch us with questions of how
and why. We have come curious to this country, we creep
along its coast like this tide, rummaging over these rocks,
wondering what happened to the heat it once ran with
when man was more forgiving and the mountain more daunting.
We climb the dormant mount, once maker of molten menace,
to watch the sun swim up from the sea and we count minutes
till the darkness will be disregarded as if time is all that’s needed
to destroy depression, decay, dysphoria. This mountain, once
a monster the sea could not settle and land could not control,
this country, once more than a division of north and south,
of emperors and conquers, Confucians and Catholics, devout
and deserted. We were once more than single souls searching
for the way back. We are tides, coming and going along
these beds we find shelter in, arms wrapped around us
like seaweed we equally fight off and hold down, we are lava,
trailing tunnels through our own thoughts, destroying
what we think to be too much but never quite knowing
how to fill the hollowness that’s left behind. We take steps
down into the open earth, adding sweaters to our short sleeves
and I wonder why it grows colder the closer we get to the core.
Isn’t the inferno on fire any more? Dante will be disappointed.
We look like ants crawling over cobbled rock as we curve
through these corridors created in centuries now cemented
into time and caress these walls and catch our breath
under cathedral ceilings created by no creature but by nature’s
creation. Deeper and deeper still and the silliness is replaced
by a silence, a stillness in this place where the waters drip
from porous rock and we look smaller, less special, not so strong
in this cave carved by once molten rock, lines of luscious lava
that laughed as its lungs opened and its power poured. Later,
back at the beach, the tide again tickles our feet as we stand
upon the rock that once before roared. We are equal parts
creator and equal parts responsible for all that we corrupt.
We have come curious to this country but find ourselves
asking more questions about ourselves than of this coast
that will still be counted long after we have been smashed
upon our own current. We take slower steps through
the sweetness and my heart beats louder, longer, lighter.

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At the end of our holiday in South Korea we crossed over onto the Island of Jeju, UNESCO world heritage site and walked down into the Manjanggul lava tubes, underground caves dug out by lava while Trump and Kim had their summit. We waded out into blue waters lined with the remains of volcanic rock as the locals wondered how we’d gotten there and then climbed Seongsan (now dormant) volcano to watch the sun rise at 4.30am. The sun rose at 5.22am although the clouds arrived at 5.10am. This is why I offer a picture I took of the sunset the night before. You can’t have a sunset like this and still expect more, even if you hiked in the darkness.

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

Audio version available on Soundcloud:

https://soundcloud.com/damien-donnelly-2/to-come-curious

 

SCENES FROM SOUTH KOREA, JEJU, PART 5,000

 

And finally we fly to Jeju Island, home to blue seas, lava tubes, volcanos, sunsets and tangerines…

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A fisherman at the beach

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Blue sea, white sand and volcanic rock

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Seongsan Volcano, World Heritage Site

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Seongsan Volcano, World Heritage Site

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Seongsan Volcano, World Heritage Site

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Seongsan Volcano, we climbed at 4.30am to watch the sunrise

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Cloudy sunrise!

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Drying shallots along the road

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Manjanggul Lava Tube caves, UNSECO World Heritage Site

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Manjanggul Lava Tube caves

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Manjanggul Lava Tube caves

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Along the Olle Trail, Jeju has 26 hiking trails

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In the frame, Hallasan Mountain in the background

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Carved from volcanic rock

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Fruit Market and Tangerines

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The Mother of mushrooms

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Tangerines and strange shaped lemon coloured melons

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Seowipo 

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Seowipo

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Me, braced with braces!

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Tribute to the women divers of Seowipo, some of whom are in their 80’s

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Breakfast with garden views, a childfree garden. Seriously! There was a sign!

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Ferry to Gaopdo, an island as flat as a pancake

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The little village on Gapodo island

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I want to go to this school!

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Ferry Terminus

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Lunch in a shell.

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Stone Guards of Jeju City

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Colorful transport

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Hotel corridor, Seowipo, Sumorum Hotel

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Balacony with a view, Sumorum Hotel

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Arario Museum of modern art, also one in Seoul

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Arario Museum

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Arario Museum

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Arario Museum

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Arario Museum 

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And the sunset begins on the holiday

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And goodnight South Korea

All photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

HALF OF THE WHOLE

 

Lanterns are tied around hope like we twist naivety
around the truth, like we twist around arms as if
we can strangle more comfort out of complacent,
the need to hold onto something regardless if fragility
is tied to a breeze we cannot keep at bay. Winds
are blowing in the northern skies while the breath
is held on these southern sands where freedom
is more reachable. This half has not forgotten
what it was to be a whole. Plato said we were split
in two, cast off towards a constant search
for the other half of that whole that is now a hole.
We curve around carvings time will not release,
we twist and turn through roots the soil has long
shown the light, we rise and fall to rise again
where treetops bow towards a beauty, untampered,
where tiny birds breathe life into wings at the will
of the wind, fragile creatures who know our fragility.
We sit and share food and smile at this simplicity
bowing under tended wood on mountain sloops
time has taught to be tender. We are reflections,
fleeting through finite flickers, we court each spark
hoping for a chance to be brighter than before,
hoping to be carved into something as lasting
as these rocks. We still dig despite the doubt,
lighting lanterns tethered to a half hope, half held,
ignoring how light the light that remains. We smile
when asked our opinion, a unity of north and south,
there is no answer, this is only a circus of showmen
blowing out their balls and so we bow out and tie
our own hopes to the bark of a branch of a tree
that has seen the whole and stood strong over the time
that dug out the hole. We are circles struck in two,
massaging our fractured diameter in case it will one day
be the position of a joint. And another lantern is lit.

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All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

Lanterns from the Bulkuk Temple, Gyeongju, South Korea

300 year old tree with paper wishes from the Hahoe Folk Village, Angdong, South Korea

Audio version available on Soundcloud:

https://soundcloud.com/damien-donnelly-2/half-of-the-whole

 

THE CARETAKER

 

High on a hilltop you rise above your age
and you offer your wisdom of the ancients
(hush, I say, to hear the humble) to ears new
to these old whispers that are now as woven
to the earth as the tress rooted below it, as you
are driven now to plod along this mountain path,
a former teacher and now caretaker of the history
time might have let slide but your mind will not
let fade while I wonder where I was a year ago,
a month ago, a day ago? High on a hilltop
we lean in and listen as you describe what we
have recently found indecipherable. And again
we follow footsteps imprinted into the soil.
We take the right side and bow, thrice, as memory
recalls the emperor taking the central path
while the guards, armed with their faith in the form
of the dragon, harmony in the form of their music
and strength in the size of their sword, ward off
the demons and welcome in the inner light.
There is light here, gentle light, a subtle light
to caress the skin, to sink within as we mount
and meditate on how we got here, to this hill,
to this land, to this life, to this breath. High
on the hilltop we take in the scent of incense
as the chimes ring out to remind us we are not
one, alone, but one single part of the whole
and we bow again thrice and follow the flow
of the stream that knows more about its route
than we ever be able to know about our own.

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All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

Photographs from Beomeosa Temple, Busan, South Korea and special thanks to this wonderful man who was on the bus with us and then gave us a private tour

Audio version available on Soundcloud:

https://soundcloud.com/damien-donnelly-2/the-caretaker

 

SCENES FROM SOUTH KOREA, BUSAN, PART 4

And so we move along the coast, Busan, the beach version of Seoul…

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Of course we arrived to a rather wet beach and not just from the tide

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A major city in the making 

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And everywhere there are mountains, even in the city

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Nightlife taking shape on Saturday, the only night the kids have off from study

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The harbour bridge

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The bridge from our wet hotel rooftop

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The port and the fish market (with the winged roof)

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Gamcheon Culture Village, a city slum getting a facelift

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Gamcheon Culture Village and La Petit Prince dropped in to have a look

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Gamcheon Culture Village

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Traditional Hanbok in Gamcheon Culture Village

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Gamcheon Culture Village where even the bikes are colourful 

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Gamcheon Culture Village

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Gamcheon Culture Village and the steps to the stars

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Gamcheon Culture Village and daily life captured 

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The pound in Gamcheon Culture Village

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Gamcheon Culture Village

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Dolls house in Gamcheon Culture Village

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Gamcheon Culture Village

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Jagalchi Fish Market, shame you can’t smell it

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Jagalchi Fish Market

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Jagalchi Fish Market and giant crabs

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Jagalchi Fish Market

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Jagalchi Fish Market

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Jagalchi Fish Market

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Jagalchi Fish Market

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Jagalchi Fish Market

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A little Louis at Shinsegae Centrum Shopping mall

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The city growing up

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Green onion pancakes, mackerel & somewhere, out of frame, there is, of course, kimchi

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Bus to Beomeosa Temple and this man lovely became our tour guide

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Beomeosa Temple entrance, there are three gates in total

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Beomeosa Temple

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Beomeosa Temple

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Beomeosa Temple

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Beomeosa Temple

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Beomeosa Temple

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Beomeosa Temple Tiles

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Beomeosa Temple

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Beomeosa Temple

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Beomeosa Temple

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Beomeosa Temple and one of the Buddhas 

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Beomeosa Temple

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Beomeosa Temple

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Beomeosa Temple guard

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Beomeosa Temple and the boys (men)

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Stream in the Beomeosa Temple grounds.

Next stop Jeju Island for the last port of call… 

All photographs by Damien B. Donnelly