Wednesday, September 30, 2009

flower clouds

"the window" odilon redon

dreams represent for me a point of insight.
they articulate the deep clusters of knowing
that escape my literal experiencing and interpretation.

because of that,
i value those mornings when i wake up
and remember them!

they face me . . .
with their kaleidoscopic symbolic
ephemeral presence.

and sometimes stare me down,
and sometimes walk away.

for those dreams that survive the passage
into this strange world,
i spend time
unpacking their symbolism
as storied treasures from a place beyond my self.


through a similar embracing of the dream world,
came closer to articulating the deep mapping of purely creative expression
and its connection to the spiritual
than many of his contemporaries.

redon believed that there is “a divine germ in a little matter.”

how to share this understanding?

"like music", he declared,
"my drawings transport us to the ambiguous world of the indeterminate."

oh my!

redon invoked the ambiguity of the indeterminate
through the use
of symbolic referents
drawn from his dreams,
thereby fulfilling his desire to
"place the visible at the service of the invisible".
however, the viewer was cautioned,
"my drawings inspire, and are not to be defined".

"barque mystique" odilon redon

on a skiff i meet an honoured guest,
slowly, slowly it comes across the lake.
facing at the railing, we drink a cup of wine,
on all sides lotus flowers are in bloom.

"flower clouds" odilon redon

an amazing and insightful article about redon's symbolist thinking is provided here.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

when what hugs stopping earth than silent

i was wandering through
my summer photo folders
hmmmming and oh yeahing
as i saw the skies
and especially all the clouds.

the way-up-there meetings.

i came across some photographs
of two little clouds.
i remember them
because they disappeared shortly afterwards.

which got me thinking
and looking
lo and behold
there were some words.
in a hug of skin
no less complex than that which wraps 'round my own body -
and no less fragile.

i found myself starstruck by
the gossamer threads of knowing
in this incredible poem
e.e. cummings.

)when what hugs stopping earth than silent is
more silent than more than much more is or
total sun oceaning than any this
tear jumping from each most least eye of star

and without was if minus and shall be
immeasurable happenless unnow
shuts more than open could that every tree
or than all life more death begins to grow

end's ending then these dolls of joy and grief
these recent memories of future dream
these perhaps who have lost their shadows if
which did not do the losing spectres mime

until out of merely not nothing comes
only one snowflake (and we speak our names

ee cummings

oh my.

Monday, September 28, 2009

wilhelm the maker

are both super talented artists
who have through some magical coming together of like minds
arrived in a similar place
personally and artistically
and through that melding
have produced an extraordinary short film entitled

"wilhelm the maker".

wilhelm the maker tells the story of a misunderstood giant.
wilhelm enters the village by night,
and steals things.

naturally there are rumours about
what is happening and why.

some of the townsfolk figure he's just a myth,
others just fear him,
assuming he's an evil spirit.

what's really revealing though
is that the only real knowledge of wilhelm the giant
is through hearsay and rumour,
so what's really going on?

Wilhelm The Maker from Adam Hancher & Jack Hudson on Vimeo.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

evening after rain

one of the beauties of the human condition ~

we can have similar experiences.
we can have entirely different perceptions.
for evidence of this . . .
read the comments under a blog
when a painting, a poem, a piece of music,
is shared.

the experiencing of rain
is a place of differing perceptions.

rain to the west . . . seen here in the canadian woods as painted by frederick varley . . .
varley "evening, after rain"

the dampness
of close-packed soil
the glistening branches
and, somewhere,
a steady drip;
and us alone
in a private world.

(excerpted from "after rain" jeremy page)

rain to the east . . . as seen in in this woodblock by hiroshi yoshida . . .
"evening, after rain"

sudden rain this afternoon
saved my thirsty garden.
now sunset steams the grass
and the river softly glistens.
who’ll organize my scattered books?
tonight i’ll fill and fill my glass.
i know they love to talk about me.
but no one faults me for my reclusive life.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

invent the universe

the peace and harmony division here at golden fish world headquarters
has heard your subtle requests for something toe tapping.

at our morning meeting
i asked them to come up with
something revelatory and lovely.

here 'tis.

enjoy the journey!!

a broken consort

i am drawn to artists and musicians whose work describes the almost inexpressible.

one such artist is richard skelton.

richard hails from lancashire.
my birth county.

here's a glowing and fair review:

"skelton creates powerful, instrumental music out of densely-layered acoustic guitar,
bowed strings, piano, mandolin and accordion, often laced with delicate, shimmering
percussion. the result is something utterly unique - a music which is both life-affirming
and yet etched with memory and loss, evoking equal parts aarvo pärt and ry cooder,
nick drake and henryk górecki.

it is with a broken consort, perhaps, that skelton most-assuredly draws these elements
together, creating an ever-changing drift of rich textures and interleaved melody that
effortlessly evokes the landscapes which inspired it. box Of birch, his second album in
this guise, was originally published in a boxed edition that contained, among other
things, birch twigs collected from the west pennine moors. for skelton these things
act as a synecdoche for the landscape itself, a physical connection to the places in
which much of his music is recorded."

here's some of richard's music.
(as a kindness to yourself - because this is very beautiful music - when the music begins to play, stop it and allow the little red bar that tells you how much of it has loaded to get a good "headstart". it can be a slow loading piece of music for some strange reason and it can only damage the listening experience to have it stop and start - thanks for your understanding!)

Friday, September 25, 2009

sacred fish

sometimes i paint.

(click on the image to enlarge it)

i painted this in 1993.

it is a combination of water colour, pencil, and acrylic paint.

i gave the fish
the colour of my eyes
because i felt as i painted that
it was like a self-portrait.
"self" in the use of the word that i prefer
which doesn't refer to my body
but rather to what it is
that i carry within my body
and through my bodies'
and personalities'

i love the way the scales are carved into little sections -
all different in shape and colour -
much like the manner
in which we gather together bits and pieces of experiences
from an infinite number of sources,
and reassemble them all
into something that is symmetrical
or synchronous
or resonant
with our perception of ourselves........

and call it our "self".

when i think about placing myself back in the marketplace,
returning to creating and selling art,
glass is moving from the back of my mind.

i've heard it's voice for almost ten years now.

i have to wait - but really,
it's a colourful translucent voice.

soon i'll post work from a few years after this piece.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

praying for rain

it rained briefly - twice yesterday -

my class ran to the windows both times.

they know i get that whole thing.
like snow.
birds that fly into the glass.
a cool bug.
or just because it's lovely and important.
we talked about how we'd get home.
some of us bike.
some of us walk.

it was hard rain.
and then
gone just as quickly.
i love the grey-blue closeness.
the soft clatter of the rain's silverblue fingers.

i treasure the leaving . . .
quicksilver pools
in which the mother
cloud sky home
can find its own resonant self.

ono no komachi praying for rain

i love the sun as much as i love the rain.
i live with people who don't share my acceptance!

this poem describes their experiencing of rainy days.
days that i sometimes long for.

colour of the flower
has already faded away,
while in idle thoughts
my life passes vainly by,
as i watch the long rains fall.

you see i know that rain . . .

like life . . .
kawase hasui hiejinja shrine in rain

eventually ends . . .
and its memory becomes a sensation
stored within the soul . . .
which, like a river,
flows ever onwards . . .
kawase hasui evening at beppu

and wisdom,
when married to a love for all things,
leads to real peace and real understanding . . .
ono no komachi as an old woman

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

how clear and bright

the first evening of autumn.
a soft rain.
not the clear skies of kawase's print.
but soft all the same.

in the softness a welcome.

the smell of soil and leaves.

as if the earth said
"kiss my hand,
and taste the work of my day."

this evening.
the spattering of gold light on the roadway.
the first gift of autumn.

this gift,
settles first in my eyes
as soft shards.

in my heart,
the rain flows to the river,
the river flows
lantern lit
under the north star
to the sea.

night at sengakuji hasui kawase

in my soul . . .

see how clear and bright
is the moonlight finding ways
through the riven clouds
that, with drifting autumn wind,
gracefully float in the sky.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

dot allison "sunset" revisited

i hope you don't mind,
but as i was wandering through my little stacks of music,
i came across this lovely song which i posted way back in february.

it's one that's worn well because i still think it's beautiful.

words that dance inside themselves
and act as vehicles for the imagination
of the reader
or listener
are friends to this man
who has known moments of true beauty
in the work of dot allison.

the words:

among the birth and bud

of each new smile

that said without a word

"i have lost once or twice"

with the knowledge of decline

but only

in the sense of sunsets

dipping full blush
like girlish eyes

again to rise

again to rise

sunsets fail and roses grow
some where a legend i’ll not know

step by palsied step

the days they deliver us new bread

kneaded by worthy hands

aged by a billion life-times

to age a billion more

the sunsets fail and roses grow
somewhere a legend i’ll not know

there was something

among the birth and bud

of each new smile

that said without a word

"i have lost once or twice"

the music

the song is from her disc exaltation of larks.
if you scroll down you can hear a streamed version of each song
from this album including this stunning song!!

dot's new disc "seven and a half" should be out anytime soon.

i'm really looking forward to hearing where she goes with it.

to find out more about her new disc and about all things dot allison,
here's dot's blog.


here's what dot said when i posted this song back in february. . .

"Hi -
I found your blog when scooting around looking for something else...
I am glad Sunset touched you..
I'll forward your link to Kramer who wrote the chords with me in my flat in Hackney.
I had a poem I had written which morphed into these lyrics.
Take care, D x

Monday, September 21, 2009

the east wind blows over the water

a red sky this morning - humidity is rolling in from out west
and so it'll be a cold morning, warm afternoon
and a rainy evening.
happy-making for all!!
at some point in the day
you'll get the weather you like!!!

i was thinking that summer's passing
feels like
a woman
who thinks she is "past her prime"
(whatever "prime" is).

the east wind blows over the water, the sun sits by the hill . . .

fallen blossom is scattered amid wine and tinkling pendants by the rail,
she listens to playing and singing in a drunken daze.

the pendants are now silent, her evening wear undone,
for what man's sake is she to dress her hair?

her fair appearance too will pass as time slips by,
at dusk, she leans alone upon the railing.

all words li yu

Sunday, September 20, 2009

time flies



and there are measures of time.

the note of anxiety in my daughter's voice when she sees the very obvious effects that time is having on me -
i am not staying the same.
there are wrinkles appearing on my face.
there are more and more grey hairs on my head.
there are fewer hairs on my head than there used to be.
all observed and noted by her!

what's nice about time is that it allows me to place events.

with its passage,
life becomes a longer moment experienced -
a longer moment that gives meaning and context to experiences
that would have once been daunting
but which now are matter-of-fact.

"it'll pass", i can say with conviction.

i have also noticed that as i get older i'm more sensitized to the small moments.
i appreciate tiny details that are fleeting,
even negligible
and yet extraordinary in their richness
once my attention is turned to them.

for that reason i love time-lapse photographs and films.
they allow me to experience what occurs over a period of time
and in that experiencing is revealed a sort of loveliness
that is otherwise lost in its slow unfolding.

a really fine example of this was recently shared by the citizen watch company at the baselworld show.

i hope that you enjoy this as much as i did . . .

Saturday, September 19, 2009

i want to be with those who are wise

krishna with the lion. manjit bawa

a feature of my life that is somewhat tucked away but probably evident is my wish to understand.

my self, my place and my purpose in this world.

this world . . .

and then those worlds i am aware of but cannot describe.

finding the tools to open up the knowledge,
finding the tools to shut down the background noise.
knowing which tools,
which route,
which path allows for the process to emerge and continue.


it's like playing music to help a lion find peace.

john bennett wrote: "we must wish to learn, and not to expect to know without having learned.
we may imagine that there is nothing we want more than to know the truth about ourselves and the world, but we show again and agin by our behaviours that we simply close our mind to knowledge that does not suit us.

some part of learning must come from ourselves. we must be willing to be sincere in our observation of our inner state and hidden impulses as well as our outside behaviour."

the poet rainer rilke
saw this as surely as any
when he himself
had such a moment of insight -
of such clarity -
that you can feel the force of his inner voice through these words . . .

i am too alone in the world, and yet not alone enough
to make every hour holy.
i am too small in the world, and yet not tiny enough
just to stand before you like a thing,
dark and shrewd.
i want my will, and i want to be with my will
as it moves towards deed;
and in those quiet, somehow hesitating times,
when something is approaching,
i want to be with those who are wise
or else alone.
i want always to be a mirror that reflects your whole being,
and never to be too blind or too old
to hold your heavy, swaying image.
i want to unfold.
nowhere do i want to remain folded,
because where i am bent and folded, there i am lie.
and i want my meaning
true for you. i want to describe myself
like a painting that i studied
closely for a long, long time,
like a word i finally understood,
like the pitcher of water i use every day ,
like the face of my mother,
like a ship
that carried me
through the deadliest storm of all.

it brings to mind some of robert fripp's recent writing from his diary . . . "one way we recognize the presence of consciousness is that we see connections – immediately. before, we knew all the parts. then, we see the whole, the relationship between the parts, and the relationship of the parts to the whole. there is a directness and immediacy in seeing the connections. in a sense, consciousness is the energy of understanding. awareness is local; understanding is global."

rumi said:

o God, help me against this self of mine
that is seeking help from you;
i seek justice from no one but from
this justice-seeking self.
i shall not get justice from any one except from
him who is nearer to me than myself;
for this i-ness comes moment by moment from him."

Friday, September 18, 2009

my first dog

a long time ago, far, far away my family had a dog.
his name was "mush".
there might be a good reason why he was named that but i don't know it.
he was a border collie off a farm.
he came to live with us as a puppy
in our home in altrincham (a suburb of manchester, england).

he lived in the coal shed outside, sleeping on the coal pretty much year-round.
he preferred that to living in the house!
mush took all sorts of childish unkindness from my bruvver and i and never turned on us.
(sorry mush!)

here he is with my not very happy looking mum.

i'm next to my mum.
my little bruvver david is on the right.

so i've always had a special place for border collies.

roving reporter margaret (based about sixty km south of the golden fish world headquarters) recently sent this clever piece of film my way. i hope that you enjoy it!!!!
here's the link.

by the way - there was a tremendous kerfuffle at golden fish world headquarters today as the blog got skermazzled and scrunched through some html glitch.
the result is that my lovely comments are lost.
i apologize for that.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


early evening

a moment of reflection:

laying lilystalks against river pebbles.

little red flowers

i think i was in high school when i first got plants in my room.
english ivy, some cactus,
plants that would thrive on the limited care
that a distracted high school student would almost certainly provide.
since then i have had plants wherever i have gone.

i love their simple complexities.
they need sustenance in the form of water, air, and sunlight.
some like soil, some seem to thrive in water alone.

as with my gardens,
i have very little idea what they are
and i don't really care to know
because i am really more interested in what they look like
and of course that they live long comfortable lives.

our home has plants scattered everywhere.
miraculously, they seem content here
living on drinks of water
and the comments i make to them.

yes i spend time beside my plants.
sometimes i talk to them.
sometimes i touch them.
sometimes i smile when i look at them -
because they are so amazing.

i love the little surprises -
like the christmas cactus that flowered at christmas
and then again in june!
the plant that seemed destined for
the compost heap and yet . . .
it found its form and returned to become
miraculously robust and very present.
i love the little plants
who bravely leaf
and that's all.

there's one plant that flowers periodically.
here 'tis . . .

there is something so perfect
and "there" in a flower
that doesn't leave
when the flower starts to change colour
and then fades
and dries up.

it brings me to think of a beautiful piece of writing by robert aitken . . .

just as it is,
as it is,
as is.
flowers in bloom.
nothing to add.

you nailed it my brother robert . . . there's nothing to add.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

i keep looking back

when i think back to summer
i remember the glorious
realignment of my priorities.
the gradual revibration of myself
in relation to my family.

and most especially,
the opportunity to remember myself.

there's a quality of sacrifice that goes with good teaching.

sacrifice contains internal movement
that recognizes a giving up.
of something.
or somethings.

if you choose it consciously
and without condition.
then my understanding is that good things
come your way.
karma is one name i know this by.

the kicker is that
it is usually
made up of what you need,
and not
(as mick jagger so ruefully explained)
what you want.

so as the summer recedes into my memory experience
i feel a wistful sort of distance.

but i still feel its gifts deep inside myself.

issa knew the sensation of distance.

'till your clothes can barely be
seen in the distance, my love,
I keep looking back at your house.

i love the summer for its letting me be.
so yes.
when it draws to a close
i look back
'till its "clothes can barely be seen in the distance".

and say
thankyou summer.
for everything.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

the center of everything

i've been drawn for a very long time to the mevlevi dervishes.
"the whirling dervishes".

the mevlevi order came into being after the poet rumi flew away.

in their whirling
"the aim is to abandon ego and personal desires,
by listening to God and the music,
thinking about God and whirling."

when something calls to me
i listen
and try to answer the call
with what is available
in me.

this call began over twenty five years ago
embedded in the work of gurdjieff and jg bennett
and hasn't diminished.

i know that despite my own work,
i've progressed far slower than
i would have were i working with a group.

abdel-moneim moawad

when the sufi poet whirled, was he looking
outward, to the mountains so solidly there
in a white-capped ring, or was he looking

to the center of everything: the seed, the egg, the idea
that was also there,
beautiful as a thumb
curved and touching the finger, tenderly,
little love-ring,

as he whirled,
oh jug of breath,
in the garden of dust?

excerpted from "where does the dance begin, where does it end?" mary oliver