Skip to content

Posts from the ‘journeys’ Category

Pompeii

Sun warming fresh ground after rain
Scent of cypress, earth and ancient stone
Above the old city the volcano steams divertedly
While tourists wielding selfie sticks
Search for a piece of the past to place in the present
I am in my head, not feeling
Only the grooves of cartwheels on huge cobbles
The oddly familiar frescoes
Mosaic floors
Tiled counters and gardens made for beauty and refreshment
Theatres inviting grand gestures
The smell of Autumn fires
And the wind in the tall trees
Tell me that I am human like so many before me
Trying to lead a good life
Making mistakes
Enjoying the simple pleasures of light and cool water
Bathing in public
Food, friends, noise, geometry,
Silence
Reclining away from the crowds with a lover
In red rooms with painted birds
So soon to grow old
Searching for meaning
Or its absence
In the body of another
Shadowed by green mountains
Temples honour the unseen magic of gods
Pillars piercing sky
Breeding acorns, marble, ivy
And always the faint taste of the sea

If This Were A Film

If this were a film
You would show up at my door
Sweating slightly, awkward and humble
Love in your eyes like a big panther that doesn’t know where to put its paws
You would stutter slightly and ask to come in
I would look surprised and somewhat preoccupied, with an air of suspicion
Aloof and yet totally open, like a glass lake
You would say something funny, not that funny, but funny enough to make me smile
And on seeing me smile your face would break out into its glorious grin and I would have no choice
But to just dive in
We would take a walk in Regent’s Park
No matter that it’s 40 minutes away by train with 2 changes
In films you can get from A to B without really travelling there
And so it would be with us
Talking and strolling I would soften
As it became clear how far you’d come
The trials you had endured just to be there
You would listen with curiosity and a grace that comes with almost losing everything
I would see the whole person for once, no longer blinded by fantasy
And the audience would feel gently reassured that we had earned each other
Despite our differences they could see it working out
(Whatever that means)
The film would close on a subtle shot of you looking at me
The way you sometimes do, with a kind of blissful bafflement
Content not to know
Eyes half-closed in complete surrender
The credits would roll
The crowds would leave the theatre with cheer and humour –
‘Did you see his face?’ and ‘She was mighty strange’
‘I wouldn’t have put up with that, would you?’
But deep down feeling some common glow
That for some people, somewhere, scenarios like this
Really do play out, it’s not all completely hopeless
And maybe they too could see the better parts of themselves
Unfettered by the grinds of what is considered to be reality,
Learn to forgive in public, buy oranges, tip waiters, make implausible journeys,
Love wholeheartedly
If this were a film

 

 

Image by Bruce McAdam from Reykjavik, Iceland 

A Beautiful Dream

Grit flying in my face and the wind in my hair
I went to dismantle the illusion that held you here
A castle on top of a hill overlooking a lake
I climbed the stairs to the place where you must have been
Only hours before
Just to feel you a little longer
Together we hauled planks of wood
Packed up condiments and cake
Stacked the remains of a beautiful dream
Until later
Dirty hot and riding in the back of a tractor
Wedged between fridges and weights and shelves
My body aching from longing and heavy lifting
I returned to my van for a lie down
To find your scent still hanging in the air
Dressing my hair
And the sheets of the bed we broke together
I lay down with you in mind
The memory of your shape against mine
The laughter and luminous joy of our last night’s play
I thought of the way you conjure words that weave magic and mystery around my mermaid smile
While mine are blunt and crude as my fear of losing you
When I awoke chilly and alone
And saw that Berlin is big and you are far
I felt disheartened and bewildered
Until I remembered
That this desolate spinning star
Revolves on the fuel of the fire we breathe
In and out of each other
Somewhat revived
I put on my oceanic beads and went out to join the dancing and goodbyes
Later as the sun failed to rise
I packed up my own illusion
Burning with the sadness of not being held
Grabbed my guitar and headed for the slippery train
So hard to hold onto anything
As the remains of summer kiss the bright sky
I watch the past unfold into the present at alarming speed
And wonder what will become of us
Now the damage is done

safe

she is falling, falling through space
in the darkness
the stars, pin points of light
she is safe
her long hair billows in waves
like a parachute
white silk wings capture the air
she is safe
faster and faster she falls and her shoes
are pulled from her feet by fairies
the moon looks on, majestic and chipper
the night sky waits, waits
for her ribcage to open
the palms of her hands to relax and receive
the love she is craving
but fall she must, and the cliffs
look on in kind sympathy
as the chilly gusts let her feet know
she is alive
and her arms slowly rise
she is dancing
the darkness holds her as she falls
into the abyss of safety
‘go deeper’
say the trees, ancient, wise, forgiving
‘fear is your friend
and the forest awaits your soft heart’
she is smiling, as the moon smiles
she is safe
the stars wink on
and the icy wind sings on her skin
as she falls through space in the darkness
the ends of her fingers outstretched
release beams of light
and the birds of the lake
take her skirts in their tiny beaks
as the cold becomes warm
and she glides weightless, a white feather
towards the downward glade
to land on the forest floor
and here she lies on a carpet of leaves
and frost and earth and moonlight
looking up at the skies
surrounded by all the creatures of darkness
although she is still
and the night is quiet
in her heart she is always falling
she is safe

Longing in Berlin

Longing in Berlin
In some strange way, belonging
to my longing
In Berlin
Ich verliere mich
auf den Strassen, am Ufer,
durch Baustelle
Hey miss, one kiss! Kennst du
was ist bisou?
Yes I know, und ich warte
auf den Kuss eines anderen
Bis dann I am
Running in Berlin
Half an hour, cross the Treptower
Into the Plantenwald
Peace, says the guru,
Cannot be found but through love
Und bei dir hatt’ich beide
Deswegen bin ich hier
Diving in Berlin
Into the deep blue green unknown
of the present moment
Dirty and profound
That’s where I make my home
just now
Thrown out of my own story
Strung out by the search for
paper glory
Suddenly am Fluss
Wide, wet, open, growing
to the sound of my overflowing
heart, I am singing in Berlin
That’s my thing after all
We are creating, he says,
This world we are living in
Breath by breath by word by step
by look by text by laugh, my love
I am dancing in Berlin
I’ve found a place
I can be myself
Broken open genuine
Living breathing laughing
Crying waking loving dying
Losing bruising
Choosing to be here
with everything that brings
The joyful sad belonging
To this endless crazy
Longing in Berlin

Gatwick

Lost at sea in a bright cavern

Preparing to be airborne

Along with fellow members of my species

We wander confused in a desert of gaudy shops

Eat tasteless food and look at screens, endlessly

It’s not so bad

When I think of you I am a queen of unknowing

When where how if – all out of reach like the clouds

I will dive through to get to you

Ground is unnecessary in the sky

And the space inside and out is filled with tender heart

Soft sad joyful brave strong lonely

Released from its chains of command

Permitted to fly

Man on Train

sea

He is watching me watching the sea
Drinking Strongbow from a can
While I write erotic poetry
Across the table
And try not to judge him
For the same things I despise in myself
His phone rings
It’s a silly tone
And we get talking
He’s nice
Of course he’s nice, I judge myself
For judging him, my shiny
Blade of aggression
Always closest to hand
Well worn and bloody
Well not this time
I’m done with hacking bits off myself
And the nice man on his way to Aberdeen
Is just the beginning

Groundless

things come together and fall apart

heart full, heart empty

sad longing pierces the dawn of open space

dawn

Snakes and spiders

A spider crawled out of my bag this morning. I let out the kind of involuntary girlish yelp that I reserve for spiders and mice. It was the same spider that I had seen on the ceiling two days prior while vacuuming.

I remember observing at the time, that whilst it might have been highly convenient to hoover the spider up, thus removing any real or imagined threat, I wasn’t able to do it. This evoked a feeling of curiosity with a tinge of self-satisfaction. Had the Buddhist teachings started to penetrate at last? Had I finally begun to feel compassion for all living things?

Another thought accompanied these musings: hoovering it up wouldn’t actually get rid of it. It would still be there, inside the hoover bag. Dead or alive, it would sit there, in the bottom of that bag, as a consequence of my action.

Perhaps this was about responsibility. When I throw something away, I want to imagine that the responsibility for that rubbish leaves me the moment the rubbish leaves my hand. But somehow these days that story doesn’t sit quite so comfortably with me.

Every thing we throw away goes somewhere. Nothing is completely eradicated out of existence – it just changes into something else. This is the case with things, but also thoughts, emotions, they’re all energies – they have to go somewhere. I wonder if in some way this is what karma is all about.

The next day I saw the spider again in a different corner. A shorthand version of the previous days musings played over in my mind, along with the thought: ‘ah, there’s that spider again. still there. hmmm.’

This spider gave me two warnings that an intimate invasion might be forthcoming, and yet I did nothing.

I wonder how this translates to my behaviour in other areas of my life. Do I push away unwanted thoughts like unwanted rubbish, only to find them manifesting later more vividly in physical or emotional ways that I can’t control?

Quite possibly.

I think about Robert the Bruce, who also famously learnt something from a spider. The moral of that story was, we were taught, ‘If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.’ You can’t really argue with that. How many people succeed by giving up first time?

It inspired me to construct my own proverb:

‘Ignore a spider on your ceiling and the next day you’ll find it climbing behind your eyeball.’

OK I dressed it up a bit for the sake of the drama, but you get the idea. I wonder if it’ll catch on.

On a related topic, I released an EP this week. Not about spiders, but snakes. Water Snakes, to be precise. It’s about not ignoring what’s there – rather embracing it. It’s about a journey – the kind of journey that starts by letting go of your baggage. If you’ve ever travelled with Ryanair you’ll probably have experienced this kind of thing already.

Looking at what’s actually there is really, really uncomfortable a lot of the time. But in my humble experience, ignoring what’s there and trying to work with something that’s not there, only to find the taut facade of your own fantasy come crashing down at the most inopportune moment, usually in public, is marginally worse.

If that doesn’t tempt you to have a listen to the EP, I don’t know what will.

I could also add that it’s got some nice songs on it, possibly some of my best work so far. And there’s more to come.

Incidentally there are a few particular doses of inspiration to which I am indebted, and which I shall note here, for those who may be interested: The teachings of Chögyam Trungpa, Coleridge’s The Rime of The Ancient Mariner, and TS Eliot’s Four Quartets, in particular, Little Gidding. I’ll end with a quote from that as it says it all as eloquently and succinctly as I could ever wish to do.

‘We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.’

And now the music.