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 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 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.

The Breakthrough

April 4, 2016

12744693_1099951756714900_8148642794600693891_n

 

New birth hurts
It cuts through
You, discards
The old leaf
For the new.

You life gives
That draws out
New, displays
Colours hidden and
Fresh view lives.

 

Achilles Heels

March 16, 2016

You’re sitting, legs askew

On the deck of a boat.

Is it the bobbing water beneath your gunnel

That is making your cling

With hands, skirt, lips,

That slightly forced smile?

And your feet,

Jammed into tight, white, backless sandals,

Like the cigarette jammed between your fingers,

Portray a woman unsure, unseen,

                                                   Grasping desperately,

                                                   Longing for dry land.

                                                   Vessel of a man?

                                                   Capture of a portrait?

                                                   A place to belong?

                                                  Not in this same boat…

                                                  Its unsettled sway finding its way

                                                  Into your knees, hips…

                                                  And the coat flung aside

                                                  Between you and the cabin below;

                                                  You’re jamming it down

                                                  With an angry heel,

                                                  Achilles fighting against the prevailing wind.

'Towards Columbus, San Francisco' by Sarah Targett

‘Towards Columbus, San Francisco’
by Sarah Targett

Hello, hello, hello
Is there anybody there?
The mobile line goes empty,
Alive, then wincing to a buzz.

There’s a mouth-shaped void
In the gap between
What’s native and what isn’t.
I’m seeing San Francisco,
But it could easily be Kent,
Where, unlikely bright flashes
Against the pencil-grey of England,
A pandemonium of escaped parrots,
Have nested in the oaks and hawthorn…

I speak: Can’t you see
While you’re standing
Static with your mobile
That the dog is missing,
Sniffing with longing his walkabout?
The tethered animal strains,
Beyond the confines of the tableau,
Wishing he was a bird,
And and could migrate, could fly.

The urbanite responds…
Incongruous in his ironed camping shorts,
Spruced, but sporting wild facial hair,
Telling me that a couple of beech-green parakeets
Have just flown past,
Bristling the hairs on his head.
What’s happened to all the birds of the air?
He asks. His voice is strained,
The traffic beyond buzzing to a wince.

I too am straining; I’m all ears,
Trying to get a birds-eye view
Of this modern fusion
Where wild yearning for the native world
We’re fast losing
Is becoming another asset,
Another sketched-out money-spinner,
Transcribed onto the commercially-driven
Landscape that lurks beneath.

I don’t like you. I’m afraid to say this.
He stands still in the street and hails a taxi,
His bags of new clothes
Rustling their plastic against his bare legs.

The parrakeets meanwhile
Whip past his head again,
Squawking across his shoulder,
Red-green flashes like gunfire from a pirate ship,
His crimson shirt suddenly a symbol of mutiny,
Bright against the pencil-lined buildings.
In a far-flung way, perhaps he’s taking a stand;
My heart softens with the blow;
The value of wound.

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