Saturday, December 31, 2011

and i knew

i was walking through nearby woods when i came across this branch.
it had been lifted and moved slightly, revealing a shadow of fallen leaves.
a memory.
an echo.

a sense of uplifting.
a passage across a great open space.
and i knew.

"i feel my boots
trying to leave the ground,
i feel my heart
pumping hard. i want

to think again of dangerous and noble things.
i want to be light and frolicsome.
i want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,
as though i had wings."

mary oliver

words by mary oliver excerpted from starlings in winter

Friday, December 30, 2011

stone eye

i went to the sea
in search of my father
and came
to this place
where a single stone eye
stared skyward
through all the small details
of coloured pebbles
and meltwater

Thursday, December 29, 2011

winter sea

i walk in the winds
brightness and darkness

santoka taneda

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

its terrible beauty

you'd need
to know the very real
gap between what is
and what you wish for
to know the truth
of the word

and then also
you would need
to spend some time
living inside that word
to come to know
and value
its terrible beauty

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


i can
breathe the breath you just breathed
and feel it pass through
my bloodstream
as surely
and as fully
as if it were my own

Monday, December 26, 2011


the sure
and certain
- like a well-lit corridor -
holds no surprises for me

it is entirely laid bare
and there's a sort of comfort in its familiar barrenness
that somewhat softens the edge of the discomfort
that attends my living as and who i am
in this iteration of the world

perhaps this explains why
hold such charm
and distraction for me
with their furtive
and unexpected
comings and goings

windows and doors
suddenly opening and closing

the soft uncertain rustle of angels
in the shadows
holding onto the ever-expanding moment
they are intent on creating
as they draw their bodies away from the here-and-now
and dance into the nothing-and-everythingness
of each other

i was listening to nicholas jaar and nina simone when it wrote these words

Sunday, December 25, 2011

christmas day 2011

hey!!!!! it's christmas day!!!!!!
so a big happy christmas to all of my readers no matter where you are.

i remember one christmas holiday
travelling around with a group of my friends to sing christmas carols.
our goal - fun - pure and simple.
i recall that we had sucked back more than our fair share of riesling
before heading out to share the results
which only served to enhance the joy
for the singers
if not the listeners.

singing isn't one of my strong points.
so rather than share something
personal but capable of ruining this morning's magic,
i'd like to share with you
three carols sung by people who know what they're doing.

starting with my favourite . . .

next up will be good king wenceslas

the lyrics for this carol are rich with images in my mind
connected to my last christmas in england.

i was eight years old
and staying at a holiday home
in saltburn up on the yorkshire coast.

at the time, my dad was three thousand miles away
carving out a life for himself and his shortly to be arriving family.

it snowed while we there
and i recall one journey out into the countryside
that filled my mind with
(what have become)
archetypal images of a magical christmas.

i wish i could put the sensations of that particular day into writing for you,
but the effect of seeing snow,
moorland, waterfalls, rivers,
and the pennines
filled my head and heart
and to this day i can recall and feel
the very same childlike wonder at it all inside me.

and so i'll indulge myself further
by sharing the lyrics of good king wenceslas
with you here .

good king wenceslas looked out, on the feast of stephen,
when the snow lay round about, deep and crisp and even;
brightly shone the moon that night, tho' the frost was cruel,
when a poor man came in sight, gath'ring winter fuel.

"hither, page, and stand by me, if thou know'st it, telling,
yonder peasant, who is he? where and what his dwelling?"
"sire, he lives a good league hence, underneath the mountain;
right against the forest fence, by saint agnes' fountain."

"bring me flesh, and bring me wine, bring me pine logs hither:
thou and I will see him dine, when we bear them thither."
page and monarch, forth they went, forth they went together;
through the rude wind's wild lament and the bitter weather.

"sire, the night is darker now, and the wind blows stronger;
fails my heart, i know not how; i can go no longer."
"mark my footsteps, good my page. tread thou in them boldly
thou shalt find the winter's rage freeze thy blood less coldly."

in his master's steps he trod, where the snow lay dinted;
heat was in the very sod which the saint had printed.
therefore, christian men, be sure, wealth or rank possessing,
ye who now will bless the poor, shall yourselves find blessing.

to learn more about this carol then you can give one of my old posts a read!

and of course last but not least, the holly and the ivy . . .

a very happy christmas to each and every one of you!


Saturday, December 24, 2011

i know this long open place

i know this
long open place

so like a field
without fences

unconcerned with the urgencies of artifice

and that long open place holds
the imperative of life
as it is meant to be lived

holds it
as gently
as it holds
the certitude of death
so very like a found feather
brought to ground
after rising sunward
on a soft warm thermal
and then settling unexpectedly
onto the soft loam
of a ploughed and fertile field

Friday, December 23, 2011

all we want

we want and wish
then we hope and dream

at first we hold our own hands
kiss our own reflections
run our fingers across our lips
hold ourselves closer than almost anyone might

then we put on clothes that say more than we could ever say

are seen in circumstances
of our own design

and still

we aren't recognized
for who we are

because we haven't given ourselves the opportunity
to recognize ourselves

it's the letting go
the leaving behind
the willingness to drop all pretense
that opens the door
to the fullness of our presence

to ourselves

and to each other

Thursday, December 22, 2011


the sounds - fragmented and then closed . . . drawn together so like the details of life . . . somehow connected and then also hovering, independent of each other . . . hope? it's embedded but requires some sourcing out with no guaranteees . . . . this boy's 21. he know far too much about life and music. and then i love his intuition and serendipity. it so mirrors the many stretched thin and torn little pieces...........

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

this unfurling

the very big
and the very small
the unknowing
and the knowing
the oblivious
and the entirely aware
are all meeting
side-by-side -
sometimes wrapped around each other
in a dance
of consonance and dissonance

each finding its place
in the turning of this great place


you wonder
as you look about you

you wonder about choices

who was i then
and why am i me now?

who holds the purse strings on the expense account of my soul

is there reason
to all of this
or am i perhaps
asking too much of a process
that is so clearly so much larger than the life one man
can describe in words or pictures?

letting what will be

a request
that asks more than i might be capable of
and yet there it is
in the form of an unfurling sky

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

enough of words, come to me without a sound

i stopped my bicycle and stepped off to see this beautiful place where the autumn leaves were held
with all that was left of them beneath the ice
and the pine needles held their place above the ice
as if they were looking into each other . . .
as if they were speaking without words

so much passes inside our words, and then beneath our words, and then especially without words


i am so deeply grateful to the angel who is looking over me

Monday, December 19, 2011

we see the leaves beneath the ice

snowflakes star the icy skin
of a leaf-lined pool

Sunday, December 18, 2011

come and go

the layering of winter over autumn is so gradual.
the morning arrives rendered as tiny frozen islands that hold their form ever so briefly
until softening and returning to the puddles and pools they emerge from

each night these little spaces breathe in and hold the moment of winter
each day they breathe out and hold the moment of autumn

ebb and flow
swell and deliquesce

it's so much like knowing
and understanding
so much like wishing
and doing

the arrival and the return
braided one into the other

Saturday, December 17, 2011

soft heated sky

this sky's skin
brushed against the face of my heart
and then
drew its fingers
across my soul
drawing out the essence
of my wholeness
challenging me
to tell the story
of our encounter

Friday, December 16, 2011

this day ends gently

the soft tongues
of the end-of-this-day's sunlight
brush their tangerine paint against
the river's steel-blue mouth

Thursday, December 15, 2011

deep autumn

the nights are now chill and thin
filled with the rustlings of
dry-veined leafy bodies
tumbling and colliding
across the thin skin of snow

the music of their puckered mouths
a hollow
into my sleep
and draws its notes
across the page of me

i reach for your warmth

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

the old coat

i wrap her
in the old coat of myself
and she says
"where are we going then?"


"which is where?"

"where ever we are"

music by underworld "witness" from "lovely broken thing"

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

out and across

image by mostafa habibi courtesy of tess at magpie tales

secure inside the finest softest sand imagineable
my body washed by the memories of waves
i stood entirely still
my heart beating purely out of obligation

i was capable of being and doing
nothing more than was necessary


until one night

the moon
drew her body tight about the ocean
and running her fingers across it's liquid body
with greater conviction
and effect than usual
she caused the water to pull back layer upon layer of sand
until finally
by chance and happenstance
my eyes
were exposed
and an entire world
of sky and ocean expanded before me

i felt its fullness
in my own becoming self

and even now
as i gradually withdraw my body and my self
from the comforting clasp of the somnolent sand
i feel my heart beating
a rhythm it hasn't played for decades
and wish for nothing more than to feel
the simplicity of the sand between my toes.

Monday, December 12, 2011

the small voice

in a small corner of this world ...

left behind
through some oversight

i found a voice

a small voice


and that voice

(which sings a song each of us knows
but that for some strange reason
we don't sing very often)


"there's nothing to be left unspoken . . .

there's no reason to be silent,
especially when it has to do with
the truth of your existence.
because as long as you hide your true voice,
you will suffer unnecessarily.
and all those
who love you truly,
will also suffer unnecessarily.

and so,
as an act of kindness and contrition
i beg you, to open your mouth
to shape your breath
and to form the words ...

i am not perfect, i have no wish to be.
i could gain nothing by trying.
i am entirely my self
as i am intended to be.
and i am grateful
for the allness
of who i am
and for being who and what
i am loved for."

Sunday, December 11, 2011

falling behind the horizon

my heart

i ask it to be so strong and so brave
i ask it to give so very much
and especially i ask it to be patient and understanding

ever since i was a child,
my heart has always been so very open
always letting everything and everyone in

the wind, the sky, the trees, the little animals
running in and out alongside those who gathered and gather to know its love
- honest and without condition -

this evening as i write
i find the eyes of my heart caught in the spaces between these branches
letting in the faint distant loving light of the sun

i miss its fullness
so thoroughly

Saturday, December 10, 2011

i watched the stars

i watched this afternoon's snow
fall like so many little stars

the sun scattered
and all its light was hidden behind the hills

then there was nothing left
but the rich echoes of you
flowering across the emptiness
of your absence

Friday, December 9, 2011


there's a little yellow flower
beside the river

hugging the ground so closely to itself -
a hope fulfilled
in the dance of its subtle body

the slender fingers of a breeze
draw across its flowered lips

my words and eyes
drift across its tenderness

we are lost to each other
in so many different ways

Thursday, December 8, 2011

there are small lines

there are small lines ...
wires running through
and out of my hands and my feet
my eyes and my mouth

filaments that tether me
to the ground

i know this
because i've seen them
twice in my life:
once when the earth wished to swallow me up
and take me back
and once when i saw in your face that the earth
wished me to be more than i am

and i bet you know the small ways
in which those filaments can be brought to make music
much as the sun knows the snow
that settles around the tip
of a dried goldenrod
and teases its tongue around that
crystal circle
of containment

i hear the music of you in the rushed whispering
of the thin bodies
of the young trees
as we pass

i feel the songs of you in the small melt
of an ice-clouded puddle

somehow your words hold the whole
of the pieces together
and the formless scatter of my passage
melds with the flawless calligraphy of your voice
into a dance that brings the trees closer
each bowing in to see and to hear

what will be?
what will become?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

looking back, i saw my path

i'm wrapping my self
in the soft pale clothes of late autumn

this morning, i came across this beautiful piece of writing by the eighth century chinese poet li bai.

"down zhongan mountain to the kind pillow and bowl of husi"

down the blue mountain in the evening,
moonlight was my homeward escort.
looking back, i saw my path
lie in levels of deep shadow....
i was passing the farm-house of a friend,
when his children called from a gate of thorn
and led me twining through jade bamboos
where green vines caught and held my clothes.
and i was glad of a chance to rest
and glad of a chance to drink with my friend....
we sang to the tune of the wind in the pines;
and we finished our songs as the stars went down,
when, i being drunk and my friend more than happy,
between us we forgot the world.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

three years

what i can remember

is the fullness of presence

in my mother’s voice

caught in the unreality of a phone call

so subtly enunciating the words


the flying away of my father

the man

who first dragged me into this world

lost me in the process of his own becoming

and then thrust me forcefully

into the mire and glory

of all that he knew and had subsumed

into his becoming self

later, our trajectories

separated sufficiently

that we could see each other

through the fog of our histories

so clearly

that respect

and an acknowledgement of all that had passed

and all that might be

entered into the hugs

we bracketed our meetings with

perhaps most painful

and most daunting -

were my mother’s words

(and later her eyes)

full of the empty wonder and ripe sorrow

of the loss of all that she had known

all that she had worked for and with

despite and against


my mother and my father -

so very like the most unlikely dance partners

seeing each other across a crowded dance-floor

and drawing together to bring concordance

to the music of two orchestras

and in the worlds i had collected to that point . . .

well, with his flying away

a world ended

in the slow dying

of the knowing of him

contained in my own children

whose lives lost all at once

an open doorway

and a containment

in my father’s flying away

Monday, December 5, 2011


scenes from margaret's garden (iii)

i am
no longer
tidily wrapped and ribboned
parcelled and delivered

i am now
entirely unravelled
and blowing in the wind

Sunday, December 4, 2011

the golden fire

i hold her slender body close enough
to my own

to feel her pulsing self rising and settling
in the golden fire of her allness

Saturday, December 3, 2011

so like silence

this entire feeling moment
across an open sky so cold and then so bright
stands so like silence


i bet you've already figured out that there is so little of us left behind when we leave -
not much more than small pale emotive jewels contained within the dried husks of memory
each holding the water of tears that fell so very long ago
and somehow containing the softness of kisses that closed the shortness of a night

but right now in this moment that steps so very far outside the skin of this place
to an otherness where tears and words have no substance
we are here
and we know
that we are merely signposts
for something far greater
and so i dig beneath your sweet soft skin
for the soft welcome of soil and roots
and embrace it as something other
that holds the little strings of me and pulls them tighter
offering love and an understanding
that all of this is more sign than place

Friday, December 2, 2011

so like so many little wings, so like clouds

there's a place in each one of us -
a small and hushed place
so like the forest floor
where all the pieces
of the sky and the trees
gather and sing
their songs of return

i bet you can feel that place
in your body
as it flutters
like so many little wings
as we pass so much like clouds
through the each of our otherness

and when you rise
from that place
scattering dust
and sunlight
every which way
your body sings
the wordless song that is
the slender echo
of its own becoming
in the small cry
that escapes your mouth

Thursday, December 1, 2011

in place

i'm thinking and feeling the great fullness of walking
beside someone else
in their entirety