Archives for posts with tag: poetry

Gazing at Buddha

A small Buddha

sitting calmly

in the morning gloom;

taking shape in early light.

The black resin idol,

composed and serene,

stares past me

to where I cannot see

and cannot go.

Sitting impervious,

untouchable, inanimate.

Its atoms no more or less exceptional

than the miracles dancing

in my bones.

We share that at least.

I look through Christian eyes

and see in you nothing to recoil from.

You are not the risen Christ

but you point me to him.

I think of people you inspire

and warm to them;

if not brothers and sisters; my friends.

A model of contentment.

Untouched, transcendent,

you exist in harmony with all things

just as I do not.

You don’t manipulate, obligate,

retaliate, pontificate or desecrate.

You simply are;

take you or leave you.

Many kinds of Hell

Tell and retell

the tired tales that serve us well.

Grievance, grief, remorse, regret.

The mind recasts, renews

pasts more wisely left;

that stunt and choke a soul.

Private little hells,

factory fitted,

home delivered.

Deep thought pits

with vertical walls

and slippery bits.

Everyday hells;

returned to habitually,

invoked mindlessly.

Repeated insanity,

drifting endlessly,

clung to hopelessly.

No images from Dante;

mostly less heroic;

not the least bit romantic.

Hells up close and personal.

Tawdry, tragic, ordinary

hells right here and now.

Many kinds of hell

in the stories we tell.

Real, imagined,

accepted, denied.

Each resonating

with the shriek of a shackled soul.

(Inside the Thousand Buddha Cave, near Luang Prabang, Laos)


Where are thoughts we no longer think?

Forgotten fragments of an earlier us

who breathed

and knew differently.

Links to an earlier self;

tumbled in memory, frayed, misplaced,

saved by random connection

of an unexpected smell, or taste.

Is there a place where old thoughts go?

A graveyard somewhere out of mind?

Is there an archive for them,

uncatalogued, unsigned?

Do past thoughts persist?

Where do they stay

when they’re unremembered;

with passing days?

Off the radar and out of mind,

unsummoned, bypassed,

do they wither and die

like cut flowers on glass?

Those ghostly constructs

that earlier selves spun,

elude us and withdraw,

leaving the question:

Just who are we after all?

I am not you.
I see what you see,
but I see differently.
Let me be.
(A Garden in the Alhambra Palace, Granada)
I do not need
to think like you,
but I might need to hear
what you have to say.
Don’t exclude me
or demonise me.
My heart beats as yours does
and I breathe as you breathe.
We touch the same air
and live in the same streets,
but you look ascance at me.
You question my sincerity and motives,
as you preen in the righteousness of your own.
(The anger of zealots expressed on a church wall in Granada, Spain)
You float through life in a bubble
self referencing,
self affirming,
convinced of your moral superiority.
I believe
as sincerely as you do
but hold a different truth
in my heart.
Mine is as precious to me
as yours is to you.
We flatter ourselves
that we own the truth.
Maybe if our truths have no room for each other
there is no room for either of them?
If what I value makes me unworthy;
If how I see things excludes me
from your regard;
then so be it.
I will let you be.
(Embossed door of the Sagria Familia Cathedral in Barcelona)
Inside the Red Fort at Agra, India
A good place for reflecting.
The End of Me
Arms folded,
wrinkled chin,
I watch the world
bump and spin.
If only they'd listen . . .
except they don't.
They won't.
Smug, safe
in a careful paradigm,
I tune out opinions
that threaten mine.
In an echo chamber
my of my own ideas
I beam
when I'm validated.
Could it be
I've begun
to worship myself?
. . . . . .
Maybe the end of me
is the beginning of us?
Madness swells and seeps under doors.
The darkness in each of us seeks out its own.
We are like blind mice
feeling for the exit
in a warehouse stalked by cats.
A thousand stolen childhoods rise up in anger,
shaming hypocrisy and demolishing excuses.
Childhood sexual abuse:
The perfume of privilege turns to the stink
of yesterday's household garbage.
Stripped naked of all pretension,
emptied of respectability,
the gatekeepers only now
turn around in confusion and sorrow.
Transitioned into care,
yesterday's people outlive their usefulness.
The boundaries of independence
tightened in stages to a choke hold.
Those who might otherwise have loved them
steal their dignity;
legal sensible, faux compassion.
Unspoken sadness for their children
who consigned them there;
who plan
and confirm their own decline
in turn and in time.
A termination
on the strength of a prenatal scan.
Imperfect parents will try another time
for a perfect child.
This one flawed;
airbrushed out of a family's history.
Binned as biological waste;
the child spared at least,
the obscenity of having parents
like these.
Fragments of a hundred butchered innocents
lie on a hot black road;
litter left by soldiers of Allah.
An unfinished jigsaw of heads and limbs
sorted and ripped by beaks and talons
like the hands of bargain shoppers at a Christmas sale.
Forget love and kindness.
Cruelty and violence are the price
of entry to paradise.
Who'd have thought?
love is not set aside for the greater good,
explained away by self interest,
dishonoured through selfishness,
or perverted by a pustulant ideology.
Love that is not obedient or predictable,
but wild and radical,
risky and frightening;
waits to lead the way
out of darkness
into the light.
Hope you find these interesting. They just sort of tumbled out, without a lot of sweat needing to be expended. The first three are new, while the fourth is an older one that I have revised a bit.
All photographs were taken by me on a recent trip through Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia.
He's not free.
He's known that for some time.
Bars of steel reveal themselves
each and every time
he makes for the exit.
His will crumbles and the wheels fall off
every single last motherless undertaking;
each and every time
he finds himself back at the start,
never having taken a step.
He suspects he is being mocked,
by something or other;
an enemy and malevolent.
Is it spirit? Corporeal?
Is it himself?
It doesn't use words.
It doesn't have to.
It has him pinned,
just like a museum wasp,
except he can still move around.
Toxic People
Toxic people
snatch away your love
and use it on themselves.
They leave you drained and smaller,
wondering if you're the problem.
They smirk
and sell you the lie
that their approval matters.
Using it as a blackmail weapon,
they withhold it at their whim.
Toxic people do not care about you;
only themselves.
To them, you are a mirror to preen in;
nothing more substantial
than their reflected self regard.
They use put downs
aimed at your vulnerable places.
They intimidate and fight dirty.
Perhaps you shrink from confrontation,
living the life of a well behaved pet?
Toxic people hand you contempt,
but the only power they have
is what you allow them.
The thing they should fear most,
is your self belief.
Be kind to them
as you learn you have the power
to repay cruelty with love.
Wish them well
as you walk out of their lives.
(I thought it best not to include a photograph of a toxic person. It would be insensitive, and besides, such people intimidate me.)
(Sorry, no elephant photos either)
The Elephant in the Room
Years of flight from unfaced hurt.
Papered over, smothered,
controlled, coralled by scripted games.
Creeping sullage unresolved;
seeps outwards and upwards
to colonize, inflame, infect
a child sobbing silently.
Be cute, cool, superior.
Wear the mask.
Cling to mode.
Craft the scene.
Surround yourself, a queen,
with props and mirrors.
Avoid the shame, run from pain.
Close the gate and lean on it.
Deeply pierced, and not accepted.
once and serially rejected.
Pain first uncomprehended
grew by years untended.
Pressure rising;
beast writhing within.
Unstoppable, insatiable.
Fed on anger unshowable.
Now cracks appear, unsealable.
Confronting, embarassing.
News flash: The elephant is visible.
Love comes unexpected

The inner child sits cross-legged,
fists clenched;
cries self regarding tears
and casts around
to fill an inner void.
He and she fake love
unworthy of the name;
a toy tossed and turned
with giggles and delight;
but soon mundane, discarded,
out of sight.
The inner child is unattractive;
shoved down, concealed, addictive.
Can't grasp the concept
but stops to wonder
as another looks on
and touches tender.
Pursued as a missing piece
to compensate,
love is featherweight.
Aimed at conquest, it misses the point;
just play acting;
dressed up in big people's clothes.
Love comes unexpected,
outside of games,
A tap of insight
reverses the me-you order
and bids entry to life.
It surprises, and evades our grip.
Simple as today;
mysterious as eternity.
(Photo taken by me in Ueno Park, Tokyo)
She birthed him.
Her world was all he knew.
He stirred and crawled,
made messes,
found wonder everywhere.
He looked to her
and wanted to snuggle,
but she didn't seem
to notice.
He grew as she shaped him:
Careful, fearful, observant, considered.
Someone who would never rock her boat;
create a fuss, have an opinion;
still less a soul.
Normal is as normal is lived.
Clinical, transactional, neat, ordered.
Make sure you don't turn out like your father!
Said in a thousand ways;
each crushing an emerging manhood.
Past abuse?
Her own demons?
They colonised his world,
those unknown demons, barely sensed,
that lurked in hers.
No nonsense; get it done; stop crying; hurry up.
He learned to do what he was told.
His value hung on his obedience.
Dissent was the worst crime
and debate out of the question.
Keeping the peace
didn't earn her love.
So he packed himself away.
A serious, shy, tentative, safe,
non smiling older model replaced him.
A reliable model; fit for purpose.
Years of service outside warranty.
Never needing an upgrade.
Called on when needed
as an interface between mother and son.
There are fewer distractions these days.
Her friends no longer call by so much.
She looks to him to fill the gap;
to meet her needs,
as she's always done.
The errands he can do,
but there's a barren plot
where love could have grown;
matter-of-fact indifference
the inevitable and only crop.
And he does his duty,
as he's always done.
Love, affection, empathy, pity, duty.
The least of these is duty,
which is all that remains.