If you find poetic expression adds meaning, this page may interest you. If you would like to see more of this from a number of writers, look into Dhamma Moon.
Light is not kind, but it’s a given.
Music too, inner music;
not the constructed but the felt:
when there is meeting in presence
and ‘not me not you’ is sounding
the resonances that blood and nerve were born for.
No retake, no da capo, no refrain.
This is not about a woman with lovely eyes.
And when my dwindling tribe gather,
we smile and squeeze, but, like grafted fingers,
we don’t snap out a beat.
Our theme is in the slow nods,
and in a voice going throaty as it stumbles
at the place where heart lost its flight.
Lived-in skies are not clear blue.
And the cloudy mottle is no less true
than the brassy summer
we camped under trees and talked with the stars;
or the gusts of our lifetime
with its crescendoes and encores
sucking us in, and blowing us out.
Now we share echoes; with their listening
And the need for deep night.
This darkness too is a given;
it is the colour of the private life.
The colour beneath a folding wing.
Dance-master to the days,
it keeps them trim,
gives us tempo,
cues ‘hold your breath’ swoops —
then throws its cloak over the tracks.
I’m not seeking a thing among things.
The journey East, my fiftieth year,
the tide’s tremble and turn towards sunrise
opens – into the mandala of light.
My passage is like a flung stone’s skimming –
out of my hand, across wave after wave,
snatching ripples from the sea’s lips.
Galaxies sparkle in the water’s parting;
the wake’s merge nods a recognition.
No advice; just a weightless reminder
that every shore I’ve left, and what I say I am,
are rainbows – on fire with light’s falling.
After the words moved on
They recognised their failure
crept away amid murmurs of respect
the fluid spaces open
trailing warm moments through my skin
a cluster of dislocated ampersands pause
look up and settle into a parenthesis
that frames the heads of tall grasses
nodding in the August meadow
a ragwort exclaims in its yellow
Earth’s ineluctable call
to descend into the broad field of sanity
where soul is a shared journey
dream it in the windy leaf-dance
cry it in buzzard be a listening circle
keep walking through my foggy aloneness
I am human
climb through my snotty opinions
o selfing world
if this body is not deafened
and this voice now unbidden
it’s because I’ve come to the edge
of how I can grow on this Earth
where all that has been given
is moving beyond me
and I am just a questioning mark
after which there is one deep indent
in beauty, this passing
in beauty, this passing
and a line break
Blind Men’s Story
We began with a look
We built up a picture, we knocked out some space
We built in dimensions and a place for nothing
We built a truth in the nothing, it was stark, it was lonely
We built another, they fought
We built another and another and another
We built so many they made a world in the nothing, going this way and that
So we built an it for the coming and going to play with
We built a name for it, with a mast, rudder and sail, it sank
We built it a hand, we asked for a loan, it clenched
We built it an eye, it looked at us
We built it a reason to be
It grew an appetite and horns
We built on previous knowledge
It grew dark, it grew twisted and yawned
We built it a telescope, a laser, a cyclotron
It grew like the sun and swallowed its traces
We built a word to sum it up
It grew a doubt with a body like a snake, it wriggled through
We built a sigh to soothe it
It grew five feet and danced
We built an ideology to lift it off the ground
It grew inside-out, pulled out its entrails, plucked a tune and
roared its battle cry
It grew like the rumour that nothing was wrong
It grew out of the nothing with feelers of joy
We built a brick to hold it all down
It grew like the dawn in the docks when the fishing boats return
We built it all that we knew
We built it as best as we could
It grew a voice that’s murmuring under our ribs
It grew an ear like the night
It grows very close, closer by the hour
We have to keep running and running
The Whiteness of Buddha
The no-point where momentum stops
in the time
when our tides run into white
not snow-blanket white
but the white
that colours fall back from
searing reds sobbing blues
the way the sea falls back
the shore gets drier
in earshot of water
dry knowing of tide-lunge and suck
the gnash hiss
and sea-mumbled mantras
no fog no rolling on
the air is so clear
it draws me upright
to walk in the promise
and I could fashion the moonrise smile
the arms that frame
the world-meeting chest
thumb-tips in touch palms opening
as love ought to
does sometimes for a moment
in its moment
we could talk about that
it’s this white
that can’t be proclaimed
not the white of pigment
supremacy and flaming crosses
could as well be black
or the half-open gate
or your face rightly seen
We live at the prism’s edge
where light breaks into a language
of glowing forms
that belong to yesterday
Behind the Thunder
Hot and grumbling, the sky had to crack;
empty its belly into the cool.
Here nothing waits and nothing hurries.
Behind the weather it’s always blue.
I keep planning a journey that I know won’t happen.
Dates and places: lines in raw space,
along with what I ought to be:
smoke from the mind’s slow fire.
I could try to hold ground, but nothing does that.
May’s mouth spills flowers straight out of Botticelli,
dogwood blossoms offer up their cream –
their rise can roll on into fall.
And love and loss swing, slam and gape again;
even death’s threshold won’t lock.
This is our season. The one we can’t manage.
Storm tells a story, sunburst another.
And no one trusts the blue
that peers through our eyes and cups each breath,
that thread of rich flame.
It opens wherever I fade.
But the heat works us up while it lasts —
talking fast, spinning time –
to get blown into shape, like bowls of glass
that sing in the slippery air.
Travelling, the location gets smaller:
a lodge, a room, a train, a car.
At the airport, it had come down
to my worn immediacy and zip-up bag –
and that lighter and less important now
with the‘return’label dangling down
like a notification of terminal disease.
And how much, then, does anything weigh?
Half my world goes down the belt…
…and in exchange, a right to passage,
a gate and seat are granted.And so it’s time
to cram with fellow dislocated cells
inside the hull…get comforted…get made secure…
The ground withdraws – and our lives suspend
like verbs become nouns, abstract, common:
inflexions sealed under a pressure
through which remote stewards flitter
bearing consolations wrapped in plastic.
I turn down the lot; let senses float
and pivot around a centring pulse
that, under the glass of my name and number,
resounds: this homeless tribe; this stretched-out,
unloved night; this journeying on,
strapped down in space, onwards, nowhere…
And I am dropping open – six miles up,
above the skin of restless nations.
Destination: the shared lost planet.
Shine on, our planet, under a pilgrim star.
Homewards is the farthest journey;
orbiting, off track, letting go;
the lurch, then the lift, snug into vastness.
South Island Refuge
Back groans to the wall;
bashed feet crawl out of my boots –
hut in the mountains,
north of Starvation Ridge.
Beanstew steams out clouds
warming my hands on the bowl.
One day’s supply burns:
I melt around its glowing.
White light sluicing down
through beech bearded with lichen.
Then the rain returns:
the soft rain, the wild rain.
Here past the storm’s gates
this cloud-world is unshaping
all green within green.
Joy goes no further than this.
Falling like a Mountain
The moon-eye opens.
Mount Cook, splintered and sharp,
summons cosmos to witness.
The sky-bell is ringing.
I’m alone on the ridge.
From a distant hut, voices.
Crumbling, an avalanche roars.
Dies. Then slowly – another.
In the tense hold of mountains
my body goes foetal:
pink blob in a down bag,
under the stars’stare.
while a mind like a glacier
carves through purpose and being
as it grinds towards melt-down.
And a silence pregnant with falling.
At night, it’s a wild thing,
a raw shivering thing.
It wind-rants the revelation
beneath which my cottage recoils,
stiff and closed up tight,
roof numb to an engulfing cosmos
of vulnerable canopies:
shifting leaves, knowledge…space…
I know nothing fits this world
more truly. Nothing else
meets the wrestling and coupling
of earth and sky, squirming
and gnarled in their gristly grip;
twisting as they are twisted;
wholly burning in green;
opened, perfectly: tree.
A heartwood with no resignation.
Tree: rooted, utterly.
Downfaring the path of the fallen
through its own dead matter and seeds;
fed on human breakage, and animal remains.
The earth-quest, the descending;
the fine rootlets that probe past defeat.
Nothing delves into the underlife spring
so purely, and draws up its radiance.
There is no testament so crowned by April.
A sap-swollen joy! Every fibre,
work-hardened, defends the resurgence:
a summer spread out, leafing and easy.
Winter’s witness, limbs an accusation;
stripped bare, gale-kicked and shattered.
Curse, song or prayer can’t reach this far.
Nothing has worn out so much language
yet still holds its own ground:
upright, hammering and weeping.
His Monster’s Voice
Take your needle out of my heart.
Your eye might grow pleased and dull.
Shadows don’t need fixing.
You’re a man of some substance –
an actor in and out of work
and no audience stays as loyal as me,
content to mutter from the basement
above which you stir from endangered dreams,
find a body, dress up and feed,
get into function, inhale the news,
reach for an upright with half-formed hands…
You try; you frown through the smoke
at the leather girls and the granite judge,
and cheer all your gold-foil heroes –
but you never cleaned your mirror.
Now you can’t find your own face.
But I’ll be there to sing for you
in the tides that pull you apart.
We’ve been through this so many times:
my need for a body, and to be seen;
your absences and cockeyed facts.
Maybe we could get a life.
Because a few have met me without alibis.
I was the tree that they dwelt under;
and they grew steady and serene
as all their knowing stopped.
Now their visions fade.
And nothing shines as bright through you
as the shadow you’ve made of me.
Tracking the Centre
For a traveller
hanging off the railcar of the year,
arrival means thankfulness.
And an emptying out.
A fistful of dishonesties
into the unglazed bowl of evening.
One tall black pine
bars the horizon.
A star holds the future’s vanishing-point.
Geese on the wing sound
skies where beingness softens,
skies of endless release.
I follow a blue that turns –
and returns each brittle heart-beat
to a dark like the wild deer’s eye.
Spring in the Timeless City
When spring can arise in this tall-walled city,
the winds blow through it a scattering:
ashes from the heartlands, music from the ocean;
and names that flutter like tiny birds.
Then the people without faces wait,
perched on their balconies. Maybe a breeze
will form a nose from their dust…
or, if they hold out a socket, an eye-seed will land…
Meanwhile, those who can run many faces
are parading the streets to display them.
Faces are everywhere, laid out on the pavements
or hung up on walls for passers-by to admire –
or perhaps to make an acquisition:
a strong nose, a slender arched brow,
a set of full lips, a dimple, a smile…
Some take a whole face – or two, or three:
one for work, one for wearing at home,
and something special, for weekends away.
They soon wear out. Then it’s time for another.
An artist can make half a dozen a week
before they dry up. It’s tough work:
promises, small lies, obligations and will;
attempts to meet, or just to be seen –
all interwoven and tinted. Until the skull dies.
Those with only one face, the migrants,
are camped the other side of the river.
They came out of winter; it was all they had.
They fled the ice with just this loose bag of skin
with past, future and dreams stuffed inside it.
The stories! One gave his fine set of ears
to a grandmother; another, her mole
to an orphaned child. These people know who they are.
And no wonder they hold that one face so tight,
even as furies whisper down each nerve’s thread:
‘This is your father’s. This is your mother’s.
This was the accident. This, the disease.’
So they fear any witness. As if from my perch
I could form, deform or destroy.
But I can’t wear that. I’m just a reporter –
and like you, a fool’s wind blew me here.
Where it rests, I sprout ears. They’re listening
like hounds that eagerly snuffle the evening air;
and in the hour of compassion, they’ll find my face –
nestling in a backwater amongst the reeds.
The warm night gives all the time
to speak quarter-truths and quarter-lies
about things that are not here.
Daubenton’s bats flick the lake’s full moon
with sudden dark kisses.
Most of us is madness.
Wintering in the Forest
It must have been the restless stars
shuddering in their nests a thousand years up
that crowed and cast me loose from sleep.
Sandals stuck to the frozen step.
Mind’s sprawl spins under a glaring moon
as the warm dream shatters in the absolute jaws
of winter. Cold, black, it bites off choice –
a wild sense explodes, hacks the cursed logs –
fumbles numb matches – the yes! miracle spurts
…onto girls, last year’s war and sport…
Old newspaper sails, billowing with flame,
bring me back home. The smoky world.
The stove croons, guts full of wood.
I suck a skinned knuckle, chew a handful of thoughts,
letting things melt with the rippling hours.
I must have gone soft wintering here.
A gaunt man dives through me, scouring the depths
for pearls to remind him of a distant sun.
There’s a mountain that stands for everything.
There’s a valley that empties everything.
There’s a sky that blesses everything.
There’s an earth that gives back everything.
There’s a muttering over the maps and charts
that runs calling across the hopeful world;
and ransacks, howling, the jewelled cosmos.
The abyss sucks it whimpering back.
Then where could that focus surrender …?
But there’s the near side of nowhere –
intimate, dangerous, untrodden.
Yours. Mine. Everything’s.
a long nerve leaping out of its sheath
not around or about anything
but held within
the free-fall logic of chaos
the life-blood’s explosion
not just in each flung absolute droplet
but in the fall
infolding its ragged scattering
plunging through the clutch of shape
plummeting through the sphincters
it births at the brink
into the abyss of itself
before flow before rock
boiling into vortices
into the blown-out spray where dragons laugh
as if there’s a thread of freedom
and it’s pouring through an abandonment
that becomes full-bellied
like a round-bottomed pitcher
filling bearing emptying
but mine is the work within the burning dust
to sense that completeness
for a cold clear axis
where the stand is true