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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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… For audio version, see here  https://my.pcloud.com/publink/show?code=XZ8LyAZ9of1vRHmXOynTUKpe8NdmFiplxy7

 

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

 

Painting by Nicola Slattery http://www.nicolaslattery.com/

Sometimes the ground on which we’ve stood for years-
That room, where objects we’ve known rest against its edges,
Containing us like signposts on a pilgrimage-
That place in nature, where spirit drops our feet
So much closer to the grass…
Sometimes the ground that has carried us
Requires us to lean, fall over even,
To trip over our step, step across a threshold,
Where the scent of longing can spill in.

Can you feel this in your body now?
Just the word ‘lean’ and ‘fall’
Evoking a kind of turning from left to right?
And all that you have touched, or been gifted –
The embroidered cushions, the flowers,
The perfumes, the bottles and beings –
Take on a different transparent shape,
A kind of moving imbalance towards the window.

Birthday – Marc Chagall 1915

Shhh…sssshhhh
Is she coming or is she leaving?
Are things moving together or dancing apart?
Does it matter that these arms,
Receiving the bouquet with one hand,
Do not know what the other hand is doing?
And how is it that he who offers the gift,
Like a horse galloping through your red carpet,
Has no arms?

In this moving, questions fade.
In the vast space that surrounds us all,
The leaning trees, the expiring moss,
The ladders beyond the window,
What is left is that hovering kiss.
The lips that twirl together, through the pane.
The feel of velvety hairs, horse’s nuzzle, skin on skin.
The sound of your warm breath as our ears tilt
And hearing pours, riding, astride space and time.
And old feathers turn slowly, from black to red.

This poem was inspired by a reflection on two paintings as part of a workshop run by poet Rosie Jackson (What The Ground Holds), Frome Festival 2015:

  • Woman in red dress with white horse – by Nicola Slattery

  • Birthday – by Marc Chagall

Bones: A short Story

August 29, 2014

picasso1 - pic for bones storyShe came in search of her mother’s bones. By boat, ten days telling tales to the crew about her purpose. This morning she was up at dawn, breakfast bagged, blanketed against the chill, leaving nervously, peacefully the cheap seaside hotel.

By seven she was traversing the cliff path across the headland. She remembered how her childhood knees were badges of her constant falls, changing shape and colour, healing and re-emerging. It was then that the way to the cave cut across her path, as the villagers had described, and she dropped towards the water.

Inroads into family history following her mothers’s disappearance had revealed her Spanish roots. It made sense of her jet black hair and struggle with the English dampness. Her life of giving that masked an ache.

The sea now lapped at her ankles. She climbed towards the cave, waves amplified in their song, white surf washing up to this secret tomb as if to say, “She’s not here, she is gone.”

woman-lying-at-the-seaside - pic for bonesHowever, we are animal, not all spirit – and to see the dead, to touch the emptied skin, is to know how the body is woven into earth and sky. Now she was crouching over he body, making sense of  the story that had gripped her for so long. There was no doubt, the bones must stay. And for who-knows-how-long she lay bare-skinned on the shore where the waves were breaking towards the cave, as though held herself between life and death, gravity and what leads us to seek release.

Breakfast was most ordinary, yet sacred; unspoken moments of knowing she was meeting her mother for the first time. Then, belly full, arms empty, she ascended the cliff and strode back towards the village, into life.

 

Write at Night

April 13, 2014

Back in November last year I was travelling to Greece with my partner and our van was broken into outside a supermarket. It was midday, we were travel-worn and didn’t notice until half an hour down the road. The bags that were snatched contained both of our lap-tops. Symbolic of years of investment as a self-employed teacher, this was devastating. But the bigger loss to me was two silk-covered journals containing at least two year’s worth of notes, sketched thoughts and poetry; basically irreplaceable and ostensibly of no meaning to anyone but myself. Though not a literal comparison, the base experience was like the severing a mother might feel on separation from her child. I felt lost. What I have found since is that I mostly enjoy writing at night, and what I’m drawn to write about is the beauty of darkness. It’s as though the stark reality of being robbed in broad daylight, of my belongings and expressions being scattered on the sunny roads of a strange town, has needed the shade and shadow in order to heal and find a way back into world. This is one of the poems that has emerged.

cavepainting - for night walk poem

Night Walk

The room glows, there’s the warmth of cooking,

And the sweaty tug of a day’s labour on my back,

As my hand draws the door towards me as in a waltz,

And I alight from the house,

Into the embrace of night.

Gasping at that first draw of air,

My eyes tipping up to the tango of stars,

Body expiring the day into the dark velvet,

Touched by the soothing hands of air,

I stride into the street. It is hushed,

And yes there is the silence,

And the windows with their fabric eye-lids

Enclosing pictures of workers turning a gentle foxtrot towards bed.

But I am with the deeper sounds of the breeze,

Moving through leaves on the fingertips of branches,

Fluttering in the gutters as though plumping pillows for sleep.

And this breathing! As though my blindness

Is suddenly a doorway for the spirit to enter,

I am captured, I am breathed;

I am the dancing entrance to the cave

And the prayer that arises within it.

Then, as though making sense

Of all the voices of striving from the screen-lit room,

The domestic hiss,

A small voice flickers, and then flames

Through the walls of the cave, my mouth

And into the night sky…

If you want to hear it,

Step across the threshold tonight,

Peel back the curtain of your searching

And listen into the look of your eyes.

prometheus_cave_painting for night walk poem

March 13, 2012

Only the soul knows we grow best in the shadowlands. We are blinded inside of either total light or total darkness, but…ironically, it is in darkness that we find and ever long for more light. Did you know that even physics is now telling us that what looks like total darkness to the human eye is actually filled with neutrinos, which are light?…the mystics like John of the Cross knew this to be true on the spiritual level too.

Richard Rohr