Thursday, December 31, 2009

my new year's wish

to the many extraordinary people
who share this existence with me
with such love
and with
such joyous
and unconditional
of the tremendous fortune
we experience
in the privilege
of simply
being here

i wish
the blessings
of love
and peace

and the fulfillment
that those states bring.


the eve of the new year

i saw the sun

its rays
flying upwards
in a rose-coloured plume

so i ran
to the edge of the fields
where the last petals of light
kissed the sky

the air was thin and cold
the trees
tall and silent

the fence line
in the wind

and from
across the fields
i heard
"i promise i'll return"

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


the night is darkening round me,
the wild winds coldly blow;
but a tyrant spell has bound me
and i cannot, cannot go.

the giant trees are bending
their bare boughs weighed with snow.
and the storm is fast descending,
and yet i cannot go.

clouds beyond clouds above me,
wastes beyond wastes below;
but nothing dear can move me;
i will not, cannot go.

emily brontë

the wise trees
stand sleeping in the cold

william carlos williams

and fragile folk might be here
that white winds bid depart;

thomas hardy

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

the sun

that i exist is a perpetual surprise,
which is life.
rabindranath tagore


at this time of year
is a gift.
i look for it
tucked away in the flare
of a sunset.
in the tangerine wash
of a glowing snowdrift.


the sun gives without condition
its gift is received and used
in every way imaginable . . .
imagine what can be learned from such benevolence!

a stone which has become a ruby is filled with the qualities of the sun.
no stoniness remains in it.
if it loves itself, it is loving the sun.
and if it loves the sun, it is loving itself.
there is no difference between these two loves.

Monday, December 28, 2009

across the fields at dusk

across the fields
at dusk

the air
painted blue
to grey

like breath

the rustling
of a thousand
winter grasses

breathed out
the thin dark words
of a crow:

a story
wrapped like a scarf
the crimson filigree
of dogwood.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

my little buddies

long time visitors to the golden fish
will recall
that for the last couple of winters
i have maintained
a fairly large community of rabbits
who favour the little carrot sticks
and vegetable tasties
that i chuck out the back door.

i am usually held in high regard by these little bunnies
until late spring at which point they seem
to disappear.

well a few days ago i happened to notice
a burly brown rabbit hopping across the snow banks
and sure enough

- after i set out some tasty baby carrots -
here is the evidence i needed
that one or more
of my little furry buddies is back!!!!

so i went out
and said
"welcome back little buddies!
i'll take care of you!"

i hope they were listening.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

moving on

the day after christmas day
there's a deeper quiet about my home.

people are fast asleep even now.
the lights are all off.
wrapping paper has been
carefully gathered.
gifts organized or put away.

not quite as if it hadn't
all happened.
but not quite as if it had!

we visit my mum and my aunt.

so a journey
down the highway

and then
back again

helps make this day special!

now the new year
can present itself!

Friday, December 25, 2009

christmas day!

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 imbibed our fair share of riesling
before we headed out on our noble journey
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 possibly off-putting
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 "christian endeavour 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!


Thursday, December 24, 2009

christmas eve day

henry john yeend king 'twas the night before christmas

there's a hushed expectancy
about this day
that echoes back through my life
to days
when waking
with one day to go
was almost too much to bear!

the hope.
the anticipation.
all wrapped and carefully placed
under the tree.

there to be seen.
there not to be touched!

still fresh in my mind
the memory of
the sound of reindeer paws on the roof -
i heard them once -

the shadow of father christmas
- i saw him tiptoe past the foot of my bed
as i lay in half-sleep

the glory of food
to outshine feasts on any other day of the year

and even the forgotten memories
conspire to draw this day deeper
into that magical land
where it is possible to imagine
vast christmas stockings
arriving at the foot of your bed
bulging with chocolates
and little toys

the feet of the christmas tree
surrounded by brightly wrapped presents
all tumbling
one over the other
in their abundance.

pure joy!
but for now, one more sleep

one more sleep!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

my favourite christmas card

some time ago i came across a short film
that i eventually bought.

i shared it with my class last week.
it's my favourite christmas card!

it is a simple story of a snowman who comes to life.
it might sound familiar
but it has a
deeper beauty
than "frosty".

much deeper.

here's a brief clip from the film
accompanied by an exquisite piece of music
sung by the incomparable peter auty.

even the words are beautiful:
we're walking in the air
we're floating in the moonlit sky
the people far below are sleeping as we fly

we're holding very tight
i'm riding in the midnight blue
i'm finding I can fly so high above with you

far across the world
the villages go by like trees
the rivers and the hills
the forest and the streams

children gaze open mouth
taken by surprise
nobody down below believes their eyes

we're surfing in the air
we're swimming in the frozen sky
we're drifting over icy
mountains floating by

suddenly swooping low on an ocean deep
arousing of a mighty monster from its sleep

we're walking in the air
we're dancing in the midnight sky
and everyone who sees us greets us as we fly.

or if you prefer aled jones then this lovely rendering will transport you to magical places also!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

visions of christmas dinner's past

william t. such the frozen heart of winter

james joyce in his gloomily titled work "the dead",
describes a dinner in which the food is organized "just so"
and the restorative beverages are lined up with military precision . . .

you'll see -
it's beautiful all the same!

"a fat brown goose lay at one end of the table and at the other end, on a bed of creased paper strewn with sprigs of parsley, lay a great ham, stripped of its outer skin and peppered over with crust crumbs, a neat paper frill round its shin and beside this was a round of spiced beef.

joseph clark a christmas dole

between these rival ends ran parallel lines of side-dishes: two little minsters of jelly, red and yellow; a shallow dish full of blocks of blancmange and red jam, a large green leaf-shaped dish with a stalk-shaped handle, on which lay bunches of purple raisins and peeled almonds, a companion dish on which lay a solid rectangle of smyrna figs, a dish of custard topped with grated nutmeg, a small bowl full of chocolates and sweets wrapped in gold and silver papers and a glass vase in which stood some tall celery stalks.

in the centre of the table there stood, as sentries to a fruit-stand which upheld a pyramid of oranges and american apples, two squat old-fashioned decanters of cut glass, one containing port and the other dark sherry. on the closed square piano a pudding in a huge yellow dish lay in waiting and behind it were three squads of bottles of stout and ale and minerals, drawn up according to the colours of their uniforms, the first two black, with brown and red labels, the third and smallest squad white, with transverse green sashes."

john sargent noble their christmas eve

Monday, December 21, 2009

letting go of autumn

a walk home
across the otonabee river

along the shoreline
of little lake

which is gradually
developing a skin of ice

to the west
the sun sets
on the last day of autumn

i let go the autumn
at the edge of the broad sky,
among the fleeting clouds.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

colour and light

i love colour and light.

in people and places.

christmas time
is made more magical
by the appearance of strings of coloured lights.

which are so often mirrored
in the spirits of the people i meet.

chasing away the darkness
of the early arriving evenings,
their soft blur
a playful

Saturday, December 19, 2009

winter dusk

my christmas holidays begin today.

a chance to rediscover
the simpler flow
of the contented existence
i'm blessed with.

kawase hasui kiyomizu temple in kyoto

winter dusk at a remote temple
approaching year's end,

east of the river

the weather turns cold.
at the wilderness temple,

dusk spreads

to river and sky.

kawase hasui sacred bridge at nikko

no wine i know

can melt 
this night.
i follow a monk,

who shuts 
the gates early.
lamplit walls


stunted shadows.
roof tiles

bearing snow

creak constantly.
drifting about in the world,

i still have 
a thousand li to travel;
but just now,

i want to lose myself

in the temple's pure chanting of sutras.

jen fan 
trans. mike o'connor

kawase hasui kansau shrine in snow at lake tazawa

Friday, December 18, 2009

the little stream

the little stream
in very late autumn.

a quiet place
that is known to the smaller animals.

in the winter
it is visited less frequently.

its treasure
concealed beneath a film of ice.

like the little stream
making its way
through the mossy crevices
i, too, quietly
turn clear and transparent.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


i love the romance of the winter season.

its many and varied traditions.

i treasure
the chance to know
once more
the associations i have
with the warmth
of family
and friends
both here and gone.

i love the incidental immersion in
the wealth of colours
the decorations,
the lights,
and of course the candles.

then there is the food.

all rich
in my imagining.

richer in my remembering.

but it's the small joys
like sugared figs,
mandarin oranges in a wooden box,
and chocolate covered ginger
that dance across
my most treasured experiences of christmas treats.

strangely the most powerful
symbolic connection i make to christmas
is through holly.

i have no explanation for this
as holly is not a part of my family tradition
but it sits in the centre of my associations.

the holly.

deep green leaves.
rich red berries,
blood red
and ripe.

in olden times,
holly was gathered on carts
and brought to the village or town market.

holly has a natural history,
and most especially,
it holds a place
in between worlds:

"the holly king reigns over the dark half of the year when the days grow shorter.
he ascends the throne after the ritual sacrifice of the oak king on the midsummer fires.
in a neverending cycle of life, death, and rebirth, the holly king is himself sacrificed at the winter solstice, to make way once more for the king of the light half of the year.
the oak and holly kings are dual aspects of the guardian god of nature,
who in some traditions is also known as the corn god.
their combined role is to protect, court, and make love with the earth goddess,
thus ensuring the fruitfulness of the land.
together they are responsible for carrying the green life force of nature through the year."

from "the wisdom of trees: mysteries, magic, and medicine" by jane gifford

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

dusk's golden light

it's well below zero.
the sun is low on the horizon.

leaves long dried to a pale brown
cling loosely to trees gone quiet for the winter.

then suddenly
a stillness.

i lean out of my window.

the air is cold but moist - snow's on the way.

the sun is just kissing the tops of the hills to the west.

i'll be walking up those hills soon on my way home.

but not until i've savoured
this moment.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

every love is a shield

as a child
i had a really undefined sense
of the purpose of the lives
of the people around me.

each lived . . .
and that was that.

this morning
as i reflected on my family and friends,
and bloggy chums,
i considered their
extrordinary contributions
towards making their
small part of this world
a better place
through whatever means are available
and in whatever form that might take.

as a place to begin
i believe that
part of repaying the debt of our existence is
to bring goodness into the world.

if that looks like beauty
or wisdom
or even
the faintest
of a stairway
in the gloom,
it gives a worthy purpose to our existence.

to sing our songs
for all who can hear . . . or as my old subheading used to read:
"go up on the roof at night
in this city of the soul.

let everyone climb on their roofs
and sing their notes!

sing loud!"

jelaluddin rumi
louis welden hawkins girls singing music by gabriel fabry

every love is a shield against sadness,
a silent stair in the gloom,

stir me, sweet friend,
to raise myself to the sky from the rock,
for those who do not know
what deep wind has searched me.

excerpted from “wind at tindari” by salvatore quasimodo

Monday, December 14, 2009

the well of dreams

some days
i wake
in the dream world.

bathe in the water
put on the clothes
drink the coffee
eat the food.

walk the white crystal path
through the dream world.

tsuchiya koitsu
suijin woods in the snow along the sumida river, tokyo

in the middle of the night,

i suddenly rise,
draw water

from the deep well.
white dew

covers the woods;
morning stars

dot the clear sky.

jia dao
 trans. mike o'connor

Sunday, December 13, 2009

i have two ways of loving you

i love the very different
facial expressions
on these women
as the triremes return below.

three stories.
three moments.

three points in space and time
from which inferences blossom.

he returned.
he was lost.
is that him?

sir lawrence alma-tadema a coign of vantage

i have two ways of loving you:
a selfish one
and another way that is worthy of you.

in my selfish love, i remember you and you alone.
in that other love, you lift the veil
and let me feast my eyes on your living face.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


on this day
fifteen years ago
- dawson -
from the way beyond
and began to create
a world
known only to himself
but generously shared
with so many others
(to my deep delight)

i saw
and see
myself in him

which affords me
an unlikely
and treasured opportunity
to learn

about him and about myself,
and to reflect
on who, what and why we are
in each other's lives.

because dawson is entirely himself.
as am i.
but we're very much together.

my dawsonboy.
gentle. kind. loving.
generous in his joy.
simple in his expectations of life.
slothful when it suits him!

at fifteen
this very day,
my dawsonboy
has so much
inside himself
that reflects
all that he has come from
and very much
where he will take himself.

so thankyou to whatever brought him into my life!
thankyou! thankyou!
i so very love you my dawsonboy!

Friday, December 11, 2009

reaching from the earth

today, you confront me
and break into my heart.

following the wind,
and the crowd of them,
lightly accompanying me,
fly off into the air.

wave of love and sound,

and you take me to you,
it is unknown to you, that country
where each day I go down deep
to nourish secret syllables.

excerpted from “wind at tindari” by salvatore quasimodo