The Turning

 

astronomy cloud clouds cosmos

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Hurrying home in this darkness, in this rain,
there is a sound that’s easily missed, a still point
before a turning where the tug of the moon
holds the world in place, the house on this street
just like any other, dim under an urban twilight,
grey in the orange glow, and I’m walking blind

amid the shadowed shapes; the child’s broken toy,
the debris littered along the underpass, the emptiness
of the night. Just ahead the sharp cry of a cat
in some alleyway, piercing skin and bone,
the dark washing inside out, a figure etched
onto the wall pointing towards the blackness of a void…

“It’s all in your mind,” whispers a voice I cannot place,
as if I didn’t know, as if I wouldn’t escape this bind,
this gun at my head if I could, those yesterday’s,
and all those days before hanging around my neck
like tokens of betrayal left soaked and sodden
in the unmanned outpost of this heavy half-light.

Meanwhile, the shadow leads me further on, zig-zags
along the ground, running on ahead like a hound
that won’t stray from its scent, disappearing
into the murk. This is it then; the long haul, the be all
and end all of it, not knowing in which direction
to begin, to have some hope of distance covered,

some moments of release, the rising wind at my back,
the keys in my hand, my foot at the door. In my veins
lies the lure of another country whose sky resembles
a smudge of indigo shimmering in the distant heat,
where the guru holds satsang by the ancient temples
for the workers of the sweatshops and factories.

What is life for you, a heaven or a hell?
Both turn on the same wheel, he says – an awakened sage
who talks with a candour searing to the deeper parts –
only you get to decide which it is. And there my thoughts fall
to the patterns of starlight and shadow, murmurs
in the slipstream, the hush in the dark which brings me back

as the night deepens and the moon hangs low and full,
in this world within a world, this dream within a dream
that has no end, its walls paper thin, where I might
stand or fall or begin again. In this I’ve chosen, no going
back, just the blood-rush, the unspoken wish as I hesitate
by the splash of rainbow pooling on this sliding slick of road.

 

 

A poem from a good few years ago now, but one that came back to me recently. All things seem to go around in cycles, but bringing ever greater insight and knowledge each time. I like to think there’d be an end at some point or perhaps a different story, but I guess the moral is to slow down a bit and enjoy the journey, putting things to rights if possible and learning as much as we can. That’s my take anyway. One day I’ll get this life thing right. 🙂

What’s Happening…?

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What’s happening to you, once happened to me

a long time ago in the receding past –

a past I forgot and left out to decay

being so awful and hideous to recall.

 

But one day I woke up and decided to look

and found a whole heap of trouble and bones

ground down in the dust, suffering the pain

and the time to unearth,

digging it up until finding the treasure

so hard to attain – a wonderous thing

that brought me around and mended my life,

even now that I feel I’ve lost it in part,

still with me forever

and never anything I’d ever give up  –

 

my soul and my guide, my love and my life

who listens to everything and forgives me it all –

those rants and those rages, those tantrums and words

I don’t always mean, that carry me away

on the tides from the shore, and when I remember

and think it all through,

then everything comes back and once again I am cured.

 

So if I am to advise you about your decision,

I would say go on and find what you’re seeking

and never let go. It will change your life

and you’ll never be the same, bringing others

to join you in this magnificent game.

 

 

This is a poem I’ve written for my YA novel ‘The Forgotten Element’ where my protagonist Tallie suffers a fall into chaos and despair and as a consequence suffers much doubt and isolation. She’s helped by someone who gives her the fortitude and courage to go on, something we all need from time to time. I’ll be forever grateful to my own mentor.

I-Thou

You’ve split me off from God

because I projected onto you

that which was in me

rising tall and noble,

beautiful, powerful and wise –

all that I wished to be 

and knew to be my potential.

Where are you now?

The withdrawn has become

an energy moving inside me,

a powerful rushing force

like a tidal wave barrelling through an ocean,

or the crash of thunder rolling across the sea –

the rising notes of a song

or the stars whirling through galaxies,

an action in motion

through the bloodstream to my heart

bound within this physical form –

 

and yet I cannot see the flame

and have no access.

How can I reach my potential

if all you’ve done is cut me off?

Where is Truth & Beauty now?

You call this love?

I call it something else –

control & power & abuse.

You’re no friend of mine.

Who am I?

 

 

A very abstract poem possibly, but its hard to talk about the reality of the living dynamic that moves within all of us without projecting it out onto an object. Most of my poetry has done that. This time I haven’t. 

Walking the Trail

Through the forest
the path beckons,
widening into a glade
where an ancient oak
rises to the sunlight
like a cathedral –
nature’s priest
mediating between
earth and sky.

I feel I’m drawing close
to royalty,
as if I should bow
beneath its wingspan,
listening to the secrets
in the quiet hush
amid the birdsong,
my thoughts an echo
of a memory, ending
where life itself begins.

Perhaps the heart
could be compared
to an oak tree,
opening up and out
into this glade
and this forest,
out into the universe
which speaks to you and me.

Photos taken by me in the Savernake Forest, Wiltshire

Savage Gods

aerial photography of water beside forest during golden hour

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Like a body the river breathes,
mirrors the cold spread of sky;

this whole revealing loneliness
arching back on itself
and un-scrolling from the dark.

And sometimes it comes over me
like the gleam of an eye –

the look that kills,
that shatters like a nosebleed,
like piano keys, splintered and out of tune.

And I know what fear is, its metallic taste,
its shift of words –

the dark silk folding in.

But what type of language disintegrates?
smashing against the window
like a broken bird.

***
The chill fog blinds, sweeps down
cleaving to its fissures in cruel tones.
I see water
pooling like the deepest mirror,
the little egret
motionless at the edge,
waiting for the fatal darting
stab,

but what I did
only increased the tightness
of the wire, moved the speed
of the guillotine, the blade
a swishing fall and rise.

***
Could not call this a gift. Not yet.
Not with your fingers
pressed so tight to my throat,
your tongue a relentless probing
for that wordless place of give –

a seeking for stigmata, hot
breath on my face, a crippling,
wolf-eyed dizziness –

now watch the slide
to the burn of surrender, the chaos
that looked me in the eyes
and kissed my lips.

Skull clamped into a tiger’s mouth.
So far gone the blood spills,
the wound ripped open, un-healed.

***
No matter these trees closing in,
this helpless plunge
into darkness, the first snow falling, falling …

I still seek the depths of this river, its coiling
loops and swells. But who is this
trying to speak?

No one here. No one comes.
Pulled into a vortex of emptiness,
brazen violence in the long starless night.

Thoughts scattered, black
merging into black.
Thoughts idling on in a mind containing no-one.

And I am comprised of your fictions,
your words, your lies, these stories
that start to bend and fracture,
unravel to the scrape of steel on iron.

Leaves a line of stitches to a head wound,
the residue of acid in the gut.

***
A hatchling falls from its nest,
lies exposed on the ground.
If it rains, if the thunder breaks
what becomes of it? Left
there at the centre of its own sound,
its tiny bones, its tiny heart still beating
to a rain-washed landscape,
the blackbird singing from the oak tree,
the bed of grass, acorns, roots, shell.

I pick it up and place it gently in my hand.

It didn’t look much at first,
scrawny, reptilian,
encased in a bloom of amniotic fluid.
But each flawed wing would grow in time,
shaped by wind, by blackening cloud –

a strange kind of falling into life.

Somewhere a leaf swells. A child calls out in the night.
Both echo something
that should have been but never was.

***
Things come back –
like finding a language for breathlessness,
the bang of blood through the brain,

the music playing as it always had
the way the river sings it, a tune
of discord and rhythm in one single clear note,
writhing like burning rain.

And somewhere in these waters,
lake-dark and restless
I once slept and dreamt of this,
this swimming inward to that presence
I can feel, into that drift of weightless silence.

Now I die to it in every moment,
nostalgic for the kiss,
the pupil widened, darkened.

 

 

Despite the dark nature of this poem, written three years ago when I was going through a difficult time, there is hope. Healing isn’t always comforting and can often be very destructive, destroying dysfunctional belief systems and patterns of being. And yet, despite all that, there is truth and beauty at the end of it, a blessing in disguise that transcends all human suffering in its immensity. It’s worth all the pain to discover it and I’d do it all again.

On Entering Another Dimension

                                                                                                        

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Overview
Not the dimensions of outer space but the inner, much the same, swirling with stars and galaxies, new vistas and joys. You already thought you knew yourself but then you realised, became aware of that flicker of something else, a different, more insistent pulse. You’ve let life rush in without knowing and things will never be the same.

Symptoms
• Breathlessness, heart palpitations, panic, similar to the thrill of a fairground ride careening out of control. Confusion and uncertainty, all your presuppositions collapsing into dust. Finally, giving up and letting go.

• Heightened sensitivity and awareness. Everything is now imbued with new meaning and significance, glowing with a fierce, brilliant light.

• Heart break and grief. Grief for the careless way you were living before and paradoxically, its loss. Because now, everything matters and there’s no going back. Your heart has torn from its moorings, expanding and accepting every difficult emotion and ache.

Self-care
• Solitude and long walks alone in nature or under the stars, watching the sunrise and sunset through woods steeped in mist or coastlines whipped up with surf.

• Snuggling under a soft blanket to read poetry (especially the Romantics) and knowledgeable books. Reading history and listening to music. Listening to that new part of you as it leads you out onto a different road, out towards your potential, out towards the unknown.

• Avoid: TV, alcohol, crowds. Take time off work; allow things to shake down.

Tests & Trials
You might think you’ll never forget such an experience and you won’t. But it’ll lessen in time and you’ll find yourself slipping back despite yourself, into the everyday routine and mundane. Remind yourself again and again and again. Find new values. Find the things you love.

Acceptance of opposites, both the black and the white, the night and the day, the ups and the downs, the yes and the no. You get to choose, never forgetting that all opposites together make a whole.

Connecting with others of a similar vein: treat with caution but enjoy the unique relationship you’ll have. No other relationship will ever feel like this, although it might one day, one day far off in the future when the human world has evolved.

Recommended reading:
The Giver by Lois Lowry
The Wisdom of Insecurity by Alan Watts
The Hidden Messages of Water by Masaru Emoto
Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E Frankl
Watership Down by Richard Adams
Ideology by David Hawkes
The Artists Way by Julia Cameron

Now that you know, you will live differently, appreciating far more the world around you and everyone in it. Your former paradigms have undergone a sudden shift and everything has changed. For the first time – even if it appears foolish – you’ll learn to live from your soul.