What’s Happening…?

silhouette photo of woman holding lights

Photo by Matheus Bertelli on Pexels.com

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The withdrawn has become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

Photo by Sindre Strøm on Pexels.com

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.

Journeys

photo of woman standing inside train holding on metal rail while looking outside

Photo by mentatdgt on Pexels.com

You wake on the train to see a seagull
hover in and out of view, a decaying boat
floundering in the estuary, upturned
like the curve of a rib cage, prehistoric bones
submerging beneath the tide.
You feel a fleeting moment of regret,
a tang of bitterness at a past barrelling
relentlessly through time and space,
into a future of what could have been,
of what might be, glimpses of reality
that push and break in waves against the heart.
You look across to a family sitting opposite,
to a mother cradling her sleeping son
close to her chest, a life so tiny, so fragile,
his body falling, rising again in harmony
with her breath. The steel tracks pass underneath
and through the window the world pours in,
the sea, that reflected turquoise glare,
wide, endless, deep.

 
I wrote this poem a few years ago now, when I was going through a personal experience of existential terror. I got through it with a renewed sense that life was precious and that we have to live every drop of it we can. The other message was to appreciate people – for all their problems, idiosyncrasies and weaknesses. We’re all vulnerable in the face of an often scary, frightening world and we need to support each other the best we can. Be kind and take care out there.