Thursday, June 30, 2011

the bell

moving through the qualifiers and details of time and space i find myself consumed by the forethought and afterthought of an experience as much as by the processing of the experience itself. to know that it is almost entirely comprised of the superficial and that the real work is carefully tucked away inside that experience is humbling and reminding of the importance of maintaining an integrity of presence.

i first saw this clip during an evening some fifteen years ago spent watching the documentary "baraka". i was stunned afterwards and unable to articulate the enormity of what is contained within this film. over time, details emerged that not only stuck with me but called out to be re-experienced. whenever that happens, i know that something essential and powerful is hovering waiting to be unpacked and ingested as a feature of my learning. this very brief and sadly truncated clip stands out in that respect.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

variation on a theme by rilke

i recently shared a poem here by denise levertov entitled “sojourns in the parallel world”.
i was so taken by her writing, i thought that it might be interesting to dig a little deeper.
it's a great story of course.

levertov was born in england on october 24, 1923 to a welsh mum and to a dad who was a russian hasidic jew who converted to christianity and became an anglican parson.

with a heritage like that, it follows that you might have the opportunity to be extraordinary!
worlds are being welcomed into your life that bear a little attention.
maybe even some care.

levertov claims that she announced at the age of five that she was going to become a writer and in fact at the age of twelve she sent her writing to no less than t.s. eliot who
wrote her a two page letter of encouragement in reply!
so how cool is that?!

later levertov married an american and moved to america where she became an american citizen.
here she came under the influence of (among others) the black mountain poets who worked out of the extremely cool and forward thinking black mountain college.
(just for interest’s sake, you should read the list of faculty who at one time worked at this college!)

it is in her reflective and thoughtful writing that i find the greatest value and resonance.
if you read this poem out loud to yourself,
not in shame or awkwardness
but full in the knowledge
that these words are your own
you'll hear yourself saying something
so incredibly beautiful and true
that you'll find the moment it describes
calling to you from so very long ago,
this present moment,
or most exciting of all -
the future that you are creating
and bringing to be.

variation on a theme by rilke

a certain day became a presence to me;
there it was, confronting me--a sky, air, light:
a being. and before it started to descend
from the height of noon, it leaned over
and struck my shoulder as if with
the flat of a sword, granting me
honor and a task. the day's blow
rang out, metallic--or it was i, a bell awakened,
and what I heard was my whole self
saying and singing what it knew: i can.

in the course of her writing life, she received many awards, scholarships and fellowships, a sort of testimony to one part of the world that was affected by the power and beauty of her poetry.
denise levertov flew away in 1997 at the age of 74.
a beautiful tribute to denise was written by fellow poet robert creeley.

if you would like to read more of her work, a collection of denise’s poetry is maintained by chris corrigan. google books has several of her works including selected poems, a door in the hive, breathing the water, this great unknowing, and several others.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


when i was a teenager, my parents bought their first house. located very close to the edge of the city, it was a simple matter to hop on my bike, ride for ten minutes and be surrounded by fields. i liked that i could see farms, there's a magic about farms that i can trace back to my childhood tagging along with my grandfather who as a methodist minister, occasionally had circuits that took him into the countryside.

not very far from where i sit, an event has taken place ... well, more of an unfolding actually,
for these things take a year or so to fully materialize.

a field, the edge of a woodland and a marsh, have all been altered, drained and reconfigured to make way for a senior's recreation centre. it's the nature of living in a city that this is a necessary feature of the growth in the numbers of its inhabitants, and in the changes of the needs of those people.

indeed i expect most people passing by, perhaps not having contained so many of the sensory and contextual experiences of the field, the woodland, and the marsh, might instead see the benefit to so many seniors living nearby in having a place where they can congregate and engage in healthy pursuits in the company
of similarly aged and possibly like-minded people.

the part i can't reconcile is the reconfiguring of the experiential map that connects my mind to that
little part of the world now changed.

it almost hurts.

so many parts of our experiencing are grounded in the fulfillment of expectation.
expectation sometimes comes to life as a picture, framed with hope or desire and then
sealed behind the glass of reality.

change is inevitable.
and strangely, despite the disconcerting off-balance out-of-kilter feelings that accompany change
i am grateful for that inevitability.

i could wish that it felt better.

Monday, June 27, 2011

it is, as it is

these delicate little flowers
are attached to an insidious and pervasive plant

it wants to be everywhere
it wishes to contain
it knows to control

and yet it's gentle blue flowers
and pale yellow sex

compromise me
in my wish to be rid of it

for in its most inviolable
soft and violet heart
beats the soft refrain that
is the simple understanding
that everything belongs here
for some purpose
some reason
some goodness

that may be beyond my capacity
to understand
and so how could it be right
that i


the merit
or the value
of the life
of anything else

Sunday, June 26, 2011

my ambition

living can be like this

a richly detailed and connected entirety
pierced by the soft glow of insight and understanding

more often
i can know the entirety of a single leaf

my ambition

to know the tree
through the leaf

it seems more reasonable

Saturday, June 25, 2011


when i first read this poem, i felt as if i was reading myself.
i feel sure that you will see something of yourself in this also.

the edge of the sea at palavas gustave courbet

sojourns in the parallel world

we live our lives of human passions,
cruelties, dreams, concepts,
crimes and the exercise of virtue
in and beside a world devoid
of our preoccupations, free
from apprehension--though affected,
certainly, by our actions. a world
parallel to our own though overlapping.
we call it "nature"; only reluctantly
admitting ourselves to be "nature" too.
whenever we lose track of our own obsessions,
our self-concerns, because we drift for a minute,
an hour even, of pure (almost pure)
response to that insouciant life:
cloud, bird, fox, the flow of light, the dancing
pilgrimage of water, vast stillness
of spellbound ephemerae on a lit windowpane,
animal voices, mineral hum, wind
conversing with rain, ocean with rock, stuttering
of fire to coal - then something tethered
in us, hobbled like a donkey on its patch
of gnawed grass and thistles, breaks free.
no one discovers
just where we've been, when we're caught up again
into our own sphere (where we must
return, indeed, to evolve our destinies)
--but we have changed, a little.

denise levertov

Friday, June 24, 2011

the little breeze

the very softness of the skies held wonder and i sensed some sort of divine hesitation - a pause for thought as if the sky was not wishing to hold my attention as much as it was reaching for something far greater and more meaningful - an undefinable significance - and so when the mother bird (silhouetted against the sky ... wings flung back as she approached the home of her hungry babies) descended - i saw an angel and welcomed the new arrival as one of my own and knew that the long pause was meant to hold the sky so very still that i could feel the little breeze that crossed my face with her passage to earth

Thursday, June 23, 2011

the air of heaven

why, if the soul can fling the dust aside,
and naked on the air of heaven ride,
is't not a shame -- is't not a shame for him
so long in this clay suburb to abide?

omar khayam

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

me and my shadow

moritz von schwind a player with a hermit

while listening
to the songs of life

cleverness throws down shadows
and protects me
from the possibility
that i might tell you
that are very true
and so very real

stories about the dark gems
that make their home
in those shadows

dark gems
that are as much who i am
as the star-crossed jewels that i share so freely

my fear is that
they might
reveal that i
am made of things
you could not bear
to see inside yourself
or someone that you loved

that my flaws would become your only sight of me
and you might let me go

this is a learned process

in order to be
gradually unlearned

i am the product
of my self

sullied in part and places
by the life i've led

i am the dream of all that
i could have been
and done
and said
and left behind
and all that i am

i am a box containing moments
you could hold
before your eyes

and you could
(as i sometimes do)
each and every one
as if it were
a jewel
in its crystalline perfection
the colours of life

but in my cleverness
i hide

of my intentions

the key to the corridor of shadows

the map
to its hiding place
left out in the rain
has mouldered soft
and gone to earth

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

the sides of you

the sides
of inside
and outside
of this side
and that side
are you more reflective of your mother's side
or your father's side?
not that i'm
taking sides
i mean,
whose side
are you or i on anyway?

perhaps this is your good side
and that is your bad side

maybe you walk on
the dark side
the wild side

perhaps you live on
the other side . . .

or maybe it's as simple as
you live on
the other side of the tracks . . .

no matter
because i'm on your side
and i will stand by your side
(keeping my side of the bargain)
as i learn about sides of you
i didn't know existed

visual prompt provided by tess of willow manor

Monday, June 20, 2011


when the pink trumpets
sing their petalled song

what walls come down
as the bee
in its downy prize

Sunday, June 19, 2011

i'm a dad

back in 1966, i left england and an entire world to join my father in canada.
he had left a year earlier to establish a life for his wife and two children.
i learned more about the process of that much later when, as an adult,
my parents saw that i could better understand
the terms of the trials and tribulations of their own relationship and how they impacted on life-changing decisions that affected not only their own lives but the lives of countless generations to come.

one day i'll write about how that process affected me
and how its echoes are still echoing.

for now though,
it is extraordinary to me to sit here as a pre-mature adult and think on the course of my life
and the emerging lives of my children.
in fact, it's overwhelming and so i think i'll let that settle in its place.

i love to see, to hold, to know, to be with, and to wonder at my children.

i have been gifted with three.

my oldest boy is alan. he's the boy on the left of the picture above.
he emerged from my first marriage.
alan is so clever, so insightful, so creative, so articulate, and so very much himself.
watching him become himself is an extraordinary privilege and a special joy.

dawson arrived as the first child of my second marriage. he's the boy on the right of the image above.
dawson has so much of me wrapped up inside him wrestling to get out. as soon as he lets that all settle where it will, he'll find himself. i can hardly wait to see the look of astonishment on his face when he finally sees who he is for himself. and only for himself.

in the meantime, it's amazing to watch him learn about the world. the processes are so transparent and so convoluted, sometimes so painfully real and sometimes so beautiful.

alexia (lexie) arrived as the second child of my second marriage.
she is entirely herself and then also her mother.
it's extremely cool to have a daughter.

she provides a necessary balance.
vertically, horizontally, inside and outwards.
for her brothers and for me.

the small and large processes of becoming that a girl passes through are so distinct to those of a boy - and i'm using gender to distinguish but not define who they are - and yet dawson and lexie are very very close.
i love that as much as anything in my life.

it must drive them nuts but i feel a flood of pure love when i see them making their way
through the murk and muzz of their lives
they have reached the point in their lives where they are like cats in their "i need you not" relational pieces but they are also so like puppies in their need for attention and adoration.

i could never have imagined the glorious entirety of being a parent in its all-consuming, all-fulfilling totality.

i'm just glad i get to live it.

happy father's day to all you dads out there!

Saturday, June 18, 2011


william merrett chase mrs. chase in prospect park

we usually find
what we're looking for:

an idea that has its basis
in some far-flung moment
some substance
of the most insubstantial nature
corroborated and then held in place
by the most insidious
and unlikely
of all forces -

sustained over time
and through space
and experience
and wisdom
and perspective

it leads to this moment
of resignation . . .

it is what it isn't.

Friday, June 17, 2011

the crumbling tower

arch of nero thomas cole

i could wish to live in
the crumbling tower
of evermore -
my days filled
with its unparalleled perspectives,
the wonderings
of passersby,
the music of shepherd's flutes,
kisses on my eyelids
from sun and cloud.

and each morning
at the base of the tower
a basket filled with the small
wonders of bakers
and gardeners
and candlemakers.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

ride for africycle 5.0

forty-six years ago today i left england and landed in canada.
my life hasn't been the same since.
has it mum? ha!!!

as a feature of my life, i like to help raise money for worthy causes.

three causes draw my attention - pediatric cancer, huntingtons, and malawi.
each gets my attention in a different way,but the one i wish to draw your attention to here
is the piece with malawi.

it's a little country, very far away.

of course it's very poor.
but. there are people there.
people with spirit and ambition that doesn't easily compare to that of their western counterparts because the model on which their scope and expectations are based is much different.

my work to support their work is very simple and in my own view very lovely.
because it involves bikes.
visitors to the golden fish may not know that i have never owned a car driver's licence.
a strange and yet irrefutable fact that becomes more incredible when you learn that my family used to own and race vintage jaguars and has always had a taste for nice cars.

i own two bicycles.
one is a road bike.
a really good road bike that propels me around the countryside at great speed and in comfort.
that's the one i'm using to get me around lake ontario in august of this year.
the plan is to complete the 1120 km journey in nine days.
eight days of riding and one day of rest.
oh boy!

the ride for africycle is in its fifth year.

i blogged last year's ride
if you'd like to read and see that ride then you can start right here.
the ride for africycle supports africycle who in turn support the zomba shop, and grace orphan care.

my goal is to raise money, so i am posting this as a shameless request for you to consider supporting my ride and the work of africycle by heading over to my fundraising page which is right here.

if that one plays hard to get then try here.

because i choose to place no expectations on your financial support,
given that i know nothing of your circumstances,
i would ask in all humility that if you cannot or choose not to support the ride,
and would rather provide blessings and prayers
that you feel comfortable in doing so
knowing that they will be received with equal gratitude!!!


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

the leading edge

and down the valley through the crying trees
the body of the darker storm flies; brings
with its new air the breath of sunken seas
and slender tenuous thunder . . .

but i wait . . .
wait for the mists and for the blacker rain--
heavier winds that stir the veil of fate . . .

the images are from the leading edge of a storm that passed through here a few days ago.
the words are excerpted from "a poem amory sent to eleanor and which he called "summer storm""
f. scott fitzgerald

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

the golden horn

the golden horn sanford robinson gifford

the murmur of evening water
holding and shaping
the soft edges

the slow moving air

cinnamon speckled
whisperings of cloth and wood

Monday, June 13, 2011

that was the wall

yes i remember,
that was the wall
where all thoughts of ever after fell

evening was colder
than the season might suggest was fair

the flowers had closed their mouths
for night was dark and unrelenting

my thoughts kept to themselves
as lone birds flew overhead

later i puzzled over the untimeliness
what had seemed complete
yet so unlikely
unravelled like
so much ribbon
caught in the wind of my imagining

now woven into the hair of my remembering

Sunday, June 12, 2011

i should not dare

i should not dare to leave my friend,
because ... because if he should die
while i was gone ... and i ... too late
should reach the heart that wanted me ...

if i should disappoint the eyes
that hunted ... hunted so ... to see ...
and could not bear to shut until
they "noticed" me ... they noticed me ...

if i should stab the patient faith
so sure i'd come ... so sure i'd come ...
it listening ... listening ... went to sleep ...
telling my tardy name ...

my heart would wish it broke before ...
since breaking then ... since breaking then ...
we're useless as next morning's sun ...
where midnight frosts ... had lain!

words emily dickinson

i should not dare (david sylvian) available from samadhisound

Saturday, June 11, 2011

inside a riddle (ii)

hope so wishes to enter this world
that it will stand
at the doorway
of the little house of possibility
until someone
makes their way
through the woods
and knocks on the door

no matter
that there may not be an answer
they must open the door
and step inside
wide open

no matter that they will see an empty room
lit by a wedge of light
passing through a small window

no matter that they will look around
in bewilderment
for some thing

hope has no form

until it leaves the little house
in the form of you

Friday, June 10, 2011

inside a riddle (i)

by the terms of this world
hope is placed inside all things

to give it life
to help it pass
through and overcome
the darkened days of sighs
and the lonely whispering nights


in a world
that has hope staring into the mirror-filled
face of itself
each and every moment
why are
the maps to its location
so often missing?
why are the paths often overgrown and shy?


each signpost
points earthwards and skywards
inwards and outwards

the task of finding and following
the routes they point to
is left entirely
to the chance occurrence
of you

Thursday, June 9, 2011

the tree world

i like to walk through the woods.

the avenue lets me in.

i call it "the avenue", but of course it isn't an avenue.
it's a human-made pathway.

what i like is
it lets the trees know i'm coming in.
it let's me get to know the trees that are there.

waiting. thinking. watching.
i like the feeling of their eyes on me.
i like the leaning in of their tall green-leafed bodies.

i love looking in to their world.
it tells me so much about my own.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

a sudden flurry

the sun
still new to the day
rose soft
and orange
over the river

a breeze passed
in a sudden flurry of movement
like the soft panic of a small bird's wings
catching at my shirt sleeve
causing it to pull
ever so gently

in the eddies and whorls of her passing by
a whispering voice
soft as the falling of petals

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


all my beginnings
pass through eyes
that like green avenues
unfold inwards
so like the sudden
pale light
of a lantern's glowing shafts
across dusk's river

all my beginnings
pass through ears
that feel the world
as the gentle cadence of
songs without words
so like the wavering
of a lantern's glowing shafts
across dusk's river

all my beginnings
pass through my fingers
and my mouth
sweeping the vibrating planes
for the trembling gifts
that are so like the soft quelling
of a lantern's glowing shafts
across dusk's river


our stories tell themselves
all about us

Monday, June 6, 2011

arriving at simplicity

arriving at simplicity is a very complicated process

i find that i have to discover, live, and then leave
all the complexities

can see that in my writing here

(i saw in the mist a little village of a few tiled roofs and joyfully admired it.)

there's a stream, and there's bamboo,
there's mulberry and hemp.
mist-hid, clouded hamlet,
a mild, tranquil place.
just a few tilled acres.
just a few tiled roofs.
how many lives would i
have to live, to get
that simple

Sunday, June 5, 2011

the map

i twist as you turn
with your every thought
with my every thought

we shift the whole

i sense
the subtleties
of a sea-change
as the sparkling cloud
of energy that is
the all
of us
wavers ever so slightly
and adjusts itself

contracting and expanding
with each moment
each choice
each birth
each death


even the simplest and most reasonable wish
is danced out as precisely
as the tiniest cogged wheel
in the finest watch

and you know and i know
that these worlds that we are

in deference
to the whole

to the similarly turning billions

i am not naturally circumspect
i am not inclined towards the deferential

and yet
i turn
my sensitive cog
in the greatly and entirely conjoined whole

as i come to recognize
my becoming self

and in those tiny glories
so very much
becomes nothing and then everything
in a way that the surface of this world
has suggested for so very long

i am

i am


the lovely blossom cloud at the top of this post is courtesy of my bruvver david in vancouver

Saturday, June 4, 2011

forming the air

henryk siemiradzki

just as
there are eyes that cannot see
and mouths that cannot say

there are words that cannot be sung
and sounds
that cannot be played

the music
that passes
through the musician
arrives without expectation

it plays the musician

as in our purest moments
we are all God
opening in joyous humility
goodness and kindness

learning to play

Friday, June 3, 2011


she grows at the entrance to one of the little places

from her pursed mouth
come welcome words -
lip-blown and sure -

"oh come child, come and see what awaits"

and so, i follow the sweetness of her breath

drawn in by her petalled whispery words

along the wind-furrowed leafy channels
i crawl and tunnel

past the soft shiverings
and sweet touches
of moss and lichen
where i am brought to exclaim at each and every
of their small wonders

somehow made large in my eyes -
large enough to make me exclaim out loud

she implores

"let me wonder at your passage
through a world you must come to know.
you are welcome to be present,
but in angelic guise"

Thursday, June 2, 2011

first dance

new red maple leaves catch the first light of day

it's as simple as that



one tiny iteration
of the love that connects

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

trillium woods

entering the trillium woods
i can't help feeling the calm
of the trees

while all around me
i can hear the thrilled whisperings
of the little-mouthed flowers