Art by Féilim James
This Sleeping Heart
I can’t remember the beginning.
No one can.
But all I’ll say
Is that anyone who says the world hasn’t ended
Is a fool.
The thunder-clamour of gas chambers;
The scorched, steaming plains.
Who claims the end hasn’t come and passed?
Who is that idiot smiling, pacing
Purposefully down the street. Street
Thronged with people. Street
Empty as hell.
Does anyone else hear a drum beat?
No. No one can.
The fact of the matter is, if I haven’t lost it entirely,
Is that this body –
Our body, our own pulse –
Has been laid grossly to waste
Again and again and again.
Cyanide, napalm, atomic bomb –
We know them all already,
Know them all
But to feel?
To wake and all amnesia forget,
And wake this sleeping heart?
Artwork Title: ‘This Sleeping Heart’
My poetry deals with themes of mental illness, nature, love, and human dignity. ‘This Sleeping Heart’ is a poem about indifference and inaction in the face of suffering, and the destructiveness of the human condition.
My inspirations are many and wide-ranging. To the fore are James Joyce, Sylvia Plath, John Banville, Marilynne Robinson, Ted Hughes, TS Eliot, Seán Ó Ríordáin, and Radiohead.
About the Artist
Féilim James is an up-and-coming writer from Dublin, Ireland. His poetry and prose, through both English and Irish, have earned a number of awards and publications. In 2020 Féilim was awarded an Arts Council bursary for his first novel.
A short film Féilim wrote, titled The Big No, is produced and presented by Smashing Times and was shortlisted by the IndieX Film Festival. In The Big No, a young man tells the story of his psychological unravelling and subsequent mental health crisis. Told in the form of a voiceover monologue accompanied by compelling imagery, this poetic short film takes us on a journey of despair, introspection, and hope. As he battles against panic attacks and suicidal thoughts, he is forced to face the ‘why’ of his problems head on, learning some essential truths about himself and the world.
Féilim’s play At Summer’s End is on tour with Smashing Times as part of The Woman is Present: Women’s Stories of WWII. At Summer’s End is based on the life-story of Ettie Steinberg, an Irish woman who was murdered, along with her family, at Auschwitz.
Journals in which Féilim has appeared include The Fiction Pool, The Galway Review, Icarus, A New Ulster, Trinity Journal of Literary Translation, and Comhar . His work through Irish (under Féilim Ó Brádaigh) has won seven Oireachtas na Gaeilge literary awards.
Visit his website: www.feilimwrites.com