Unlike Me

April 11, 2017

A kind of poem, memoir and statement of an evolving feminism and poetic activism rolled into one. And today… there are some unseen peacemakers in the world who, like the artist or the healer, drink the poison (the shadow, the unlike, the toxic waste) of a place, country or culture to hopefully open our eyes, wake us up to play our part; this is for them too.

It is
Only
With
Mine
Very
Small
Eye
That
I sees
I am
Another
Statistic
Of women
And Ye men
Who will
Be (I do)
Forever
Replaceable
By an
Eternally
Younger
(Like me
Tho I do
Too) newer
Bomb
Shell
Model

 

It is the bigger broader all-seeing eye of the vast landscape of the world that likes us each in it so truthfully and sees You too just as you are greatly singled out and Me as small as the two-cells-meeting seed I began as yet as wide and free as the life I am ready to birth where we all stand to see each other just as we are held by love and with the banner of

No
More
War
Peace
Justice
Freedom
And hope
For a
Better
World
Waving in
Our hand
Hearing
Heard
At last

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poem of La Gomera

February 3, 2017

man-la-gomeraMy poem of this trip in January 2017 ended up as solid rock-like verses, attempts to convey the feeling of meeting this volcanic frontier, in the landscape and in me. From the meaning of Islas Canarias (island of the dogs), there are little echoes of poets that spirited the experience of finding my own ‘black dog’ met by the vast movement, silence, intimacy and music of nature: Manley-Hopkins, Emily Dickinson, TS Eliot, Rilke & Jung. Interestingly 8-line poems are called Octaves; resonant of order but also scale, reach and expanse. And find today the late David Bowie wrote a song called Eight Line Poem too…

 

mountain-la-gomeraPoem of La Gomera

First the rock, then the dog,
Then the sweetened bird of gold.
An evolving face of pressed ascent;
Lava and ash, song and bark,
Light on dark and wave on crag,
Frowning forehead of memory,
Copper, black; dark then pink,
Bisected skin of haunch and wing.

me-in-truck-la-gomeraI wouldn’t say my dog is mine,
Not half as fully as my tongue,
It’s looted from my tribal chest;
It’s teeth and weight against my rib,
Was passed to me one day in time,
When milky blind spot opened up
It’s retinal cave, just long enough,
For black hound to run through.

 

boat-la-gomeraOur boat is now a shrunken raft
Before the La Gomerian shore,
This small wild Islas Canarias;
Hardened jaw of trodden fire,
Stroked by the wind, lit by the sun,
Lapped by the constant broken wave,
Whispering, sucking, salted purge,
Birds eye tears melt our approach.

i-want-to-see-you-la-gomeraIt said lie down, animal and you,
Bow before my towering growl,
I want to see you, and your pride,
Lift you to rock that’s higher than ‘I’,
Engulf you in gliding mantle blue,
Vast moving mirror at my feet;
Who is this on the other side of you?
Lift your eye, see it fluttering free.

art-la-gomeraNature, enraptured by this dance,
That carries on ‘tween shore and sea,
Meets her own lover every time
We bring our burden, our black dog,
Our unachievable task of praise,
To her heel, and humbled thus,
Our heartache can bear fruit for us,
And pour translucent light through us.

 

black-dog-la-gomeraThus so the beast will meet the bird,
Sweet music scaled by the deep,
And ah! Bright wings from bristling fur,
Will rise with freshness from the earth.

Because We Are Already Root

December 8, 2016

falling-up-into-treesThis poem is about darkness and light. The language we attach to these polarities. Actually, in the journey of the soul, to the divine, they are the same. It is the naming that divides them. The poem questions, why do we see light as ‘up’, darkness as ‘down’? And what might evolve when these ‘opposites’ come together?

 

 

 

 

 

Because We Are Already Root*

Hidden in dead leaf though we may be,
We are lifting down, down
Into the deepest of days.

A big red moon has fallen,
Through the window, tumbled
Into the blanket of blackness,
Sounding of the constant breath,
Known only in the bone-deep folds
Of the night, its bountiful skin.

Here, through doors of no evidence,
We reach into the traceless;
The travel-empty, no-bag-or-stick journey,
The you-must-rise-and-leave scent
We all must follow, come Spring, come death;
For darkness is as the light to You.

So, refugee of the turning world,
Take comfort, take thy divining rod,
And plunge into the winter waters
Of your soul, its swimming body.
For as She Was Already Root,
So you, in love, are already root.

Drowning in the river though we may be,
We are falling up, up
Into the deepest of nights.

We have lifted, burning red suns,
Into the blanket of brightness,
Sounding echoes of this constancy,
Hidden only in our skin-deep reach,
As the light slowly turns, returns
Its dear face towards us, again.

*(based on a line from Rainer Maria Rilke’s poem of Orpheus and Eurydice)

Poem of Evia II

October 14, 2016

dscn8732_master_216a5db5-f28b-471f-a3fd-2b0da551cce2Walking today, a swathe of shoreline
Sprung at me, its stalks giant tall,
And still swaying; the feathery grass
That we had watched dancing,
Brushing against the curve
Of July’s pregnant full moon.

Then we stood, two standing spoons,
Wide silvered faces upturned,
With the sea grazing at our backs,
It’s rhyming ripples mirroring
The cat and fiddle, cow-jumping
Strangeness of a fireside dream.

f-new-moon-2-40-x-34-oil-painting

 

It is the newness new moon now,
Three months on, early October
Dishing out its harvest light,
From just a slit of sickled mouth,
Whispering and licking a fulfilment
That, earth smiles, is yet to come.

 

turner-new-moonRight then, thinking fun sets only over summer,
A copper-shining dog ran, laughing, along the autumn beach.

All was saying,

Ear to Ear,
I am here.

Poem of the Pelion

August 18, 2016

Me shadow PelionIn gratitude for the friendship & beauty, and inspiration of The Moving Archetype, Anilio Centre, June-July 2016

I crossed lands to climb this mountain,
And the mountain climbed into me.
First, it’s fern shadows flickered at my forehead,
Second, it’s pines started their moan-song in my mouth,
A breath further, it’s springs were pooling silver in my chest,
It’s shoreline nudging through my hips, legs, hair,
Mountain foot wetting first my feet, then everywhere.

The mountain climbed inside me!
When it’s tune catches me and lumps rise in my throat,
Volcano fires go tunnelling for escape in my rib cage,
When belly starts echoing, dark abandoned cave,
Gut pulsing as stream gushes into gorge,
I know it is in there saying, in moon’s glisten,
“The nights are a fullness here, stay awake and listen!”

 

Natalia Anilio Chapel 2016It’s message clear as daylight spilling crystal from the cliff;
On this mountain there are places for human passage,
But there are also areas you must not trespass;
And you know full well it is time to wait,
To rest in safety, in complete and even stillness,
When Clio*, muse and gatekeeper, is hoisting up her sign,
And Calliope* holds his palms out, like an icon in a shrine.

In the emptiness, the silence, another voice circles:
“I am This and you are That.
You are This and I am That.
We are defined as we are united.
The centaur and the manifold of gathered gods has made it so.”

 

 

 

 

Martino, Sue Claire, me Pelion beach 16Between the split legs of the valley,
Where the restless water wrestles and breaks free,
The song of Echo* bounces from it’s distraction,
Bringing myriads of this-and-that together in her singing,
Saying, “I have held you here for a reason,
This mountain is your body,
and as you hide within it’s precious fold,
A world is being born anew, it’s name ’til now untold.”

Don’t only trust the mountain’s peak, it’s tablets of stone,
But also Terpsichore’s* shifting body, her dance alongside trees;
Learn faith in how light quivers
against the shade, veiled lovers,
The gurgling child, the re-beginning of sound;
Know that this This-That has re-joined, made a whole,
The mountain both the path beneath, and breathing in your soul.

 

*Clio, one of the nine muses of greek mythology, protectors of art. Clio is the protector of history and scrolls.
*Calliope, protector of poetry and writing tablets.
*Echo, rejected by Narciss, creates distraction so Zeus can evade his wife Hera and make love to the mountain nymphs, so creating new life.
*Terpsichore is protector of dance and the lyre.

Poem Of Evia

August 18, 2016

 

Evia rhodadendrons July 2016There was too much for-giving
For me to write a poem today
The sound of the lute
Is ringing in my ears
And I cannot strike a note
Of the old song I know.

What is the new love chord
That is longing to be plucked
From this tip of tongue
From my inner anger of ear?
To strum it’s footprints-in-the-sand
Along the shoreline of a soul?

Spirit, quite suddenly flocking
Seagulls, a whole circling crowd
Lifting from beach into the wind
Moving across the open sky
Landing; the soil of instinct
Lapping up its persistent waters.

Sunset & feet EviaAnd in this union, a soul is born.
It is the child that has been waiting
Limbs now freed, aloft the crevice
The mother of her innards.

I feel life, before Me
Giving birth to something
Whose mystery is enfolded
Still, in God.

Evia, Greece, July 2016

 

The Irreplaceable

June 8, 2016

Mum poem June 2016 IIMum, is it because
You have been so
Not-counting happy
To swallow your pride
And wing out of your way
For so many long long miles
That the doctor now says:
‘Your hip needs replacing’
And: ‘Your heart is too big
It’s oversized for your body’?

Mum poem June 2016 I

Mum poem June 2016 IV

Mum poem June 2016 IIIMaybe. And also to show us
There are some things
That can never be replaced
Like a mother’s courage
And, though bird-like now
Your heart is bathed
Like an English summer garden
In the light it is facing.
Lost ones flew towards its murmur
And it just kept on growing.

The yoga and dialogue workshop I’m leading with Sue Claire Morris in the beautiful Pelion region of Greece still has spaces. Below are some reflections on what we will be exploring through movement and archetypes. For information and booking see http://www.kalikalos.org/movingarchetypes.

edward_burne_jones_45_the_pilgrim_at_the_gate_of_idlenessA prevailing ‘moving archetype’ of this era is that of the immigrant, the homeless person. We now have these images sealed in our minds and psyche. In spiritual cultures through history the stranger was someone to welcome to your home as you would a king. In the West it was the pilgrim, in Asia the wandering sadhu, or in Latin America the El Mendica.

kos-greece-island-refugees-migrantsHow many of us have felt the impacts of forces beyond our control in recent weeks, months, years?

How do we ourselves deal with the sense of destitution, helplessness, injustice this can bring?

 

11travel-maheshwar-sadhuDo we find we are able to welcome the stranger in ourselves or in others, or do we reject it in preference of something more comfortable, familiar?

 

 

 

DSC_2576What is the archetype we have been manifesting, and how might an identity with archetype help us into a more creative relationship with our experience?

How can we do this without getting overwhelmed, or collapsing into catastrophic thinking, whilst allowing ourselves to that edge where we let go of false securities and feel more alive? Apparently most of us fear change not because we don’t see the advantage of newness, a potentially brighter future, but because our terror of what we might have to let go of outweighs all the benefits we see in doing so. So we stay stuck.

 

image spaces of the body april 2016How can we explore these thresholds safely through the vessel of the body, through yoga, movement, dialogue and the natural environment?

 

 

These are some of the things we’ll be exploring, appropriately in the land of Greece which has been so much at the centre of the current flow of moving people. Through yoga, movement and dialogue we will be exploring our theme of The Moving Archetype, nestled in the hills of the Pelion, the most stunning region of mainland Greece. See Facebook page or here for details http://www.kalikalos.org/movingarchetypes

 

 

Why I Like Buttercups

May 21, 2016

Buttercups Wiltshire May 2016Jewels of the grass,
They are the crowning yellow of yellows.
They are not flakey flowers –
Cowardice does not lurk in their belly,
But a call to dance, to come and knees-up,
And a give us your chin up.
A shepherdly song saying,
‘Chin and mirror our buttery glow,’
And, hands altogether-now,
Re-love-love the fat of the land.

 

 

Written in May 2016 after walking with friends in Wiltshire fields and hills near Pewsey, before sleeping in the back cabin of their narrow boat, rocked by the ebb of canal, soft sound of Spring rain.

Nature and the Body

April 4, 2016

DSC_2341 (2)It has long been understood that the natural world, connection with wild spaces and engagement with what lives and grows in the soil beneath our feet, is good for the human soul. Much has been written about how such activity can alleviate and re-balance the stressful impacts of modern living; can penetrate through the depression and anxiety that has almost become endemic in societies built on the expectations of a capitalist framework.

All of this fits with Western psychology, including the multi-layered ways that eastern spirituality have been integrated into its model; to understand and rebalance the workings of the mind, so that the body can continue to function in the ways that are expected, and accepted as normal and, therefore, productive. There is a science to this. For the framework we are living in, it is useful, essential even. And thanks be for those who pedal its machine where for millions a better life becomes possible.

However, for the artist-mystic mentality, we know this science to be necessarily limited. And a new type of thinking emerges from the questions the unconscious edges of the body, and the wild spaces towards which we are drawn, literally and metaphorically, are asking. These are the questions of the poet, where fixing or normalising the mind according to cultural requirements is no longer paramount. What is being called upon here is an entry point, where the nature of the wild can actually be given space, time, permission, to re-shape the nature of the mind and how we understand the body; ie what it is to be human.

Look at these words from the poet Rilke:

I would describe myself

like a landscape I’ve studied

at length, in detail;

like a word I’m coming to understand;

like a pitcher I pour from at mealtime;

like my mother’s face;

like a ship that carried me

when the waters raged.

From Love Poems to God – translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy

DSC_2338 (2)

The poem points towards a contemplation of nature that has little or nothing to do with how useful it might be for our psychology or physical wellbeing. It illuminates something more like an embodiment of what we are encountering, an invasion of nature into our very sinews, therefore changing dramatically the way we see ourselves. A solitude and radical change of perspective.

The poem begins:

I’m too alone in the world, yet not alone enough

to make each hour holy.

I’m too small in the world, yet not small enough

to be simply in your presence, like a thing –

just as it is.

DSC_2343 (2)In this territory of awakening, we no longer lean solely on scientific evidence, but on the truths hidden in metaphor, or, in the words of a ancient mystic of the desert fathers, the Cloud of Unknowing. In other words, this is a movement of descent, an unlearning of the ego, which in time meets us in the earth’s, or the divine’s own knowledge of itself. This knowledge rises up to meet us; our own descent and unlearning is received by the nature of everything that is connected to life, and sends back a force towards us, one that reveals our true self and supports us beyond our own efforts, imagination and methods of control. Here an image is mirrored back to us that we may not at first recognise, but it becomes the skin through which we journey forward to touch the world and the people around us.