My advice to myself: sit down with a blank page. Write whatever comes: write about the swallows swooping and clicking around the barn write about the first joyful Spring that we have spent here write of the meadow that we have planted, and of the first bold, pink flower that shot up shouting ‘hey!’ in the midst of tentative green-fuzz growth write about the peaceful desert and the...
An endless storm
“There’s a storm coming, when the bird you are becoming is eventually weightless and the earth no longer holds you.” This is the storm. This is the love. This is the end that everyone comes to. This is the flight that everyone makes. We all come back home, eventually. Where is home? Where does the storm return to? I am the wind within me. Is this an answer that will satisfy the...
The creaturely, the wild, the soulful animality of live being – how we lost it...– John Burnside in the Guardian, 20th January 2012.
When did I realise that love was overrated? Probably at the times when I was loving most cleanly; seeing most clearly how wonderful this intensely human, emotional connectivity can be. Yet it is precisely at these moments that I realise that it is not nearly enough. The one thing that we yearn for, cry over, hope for, reminisce about - love, attachment, relationship - is only ONE strand of life....
Brine and burn
I became sick at this new consciousness as it bled into me - flu sick, proper sick, like with a high temperature and tight, pounding head and everything! It wasn’t until days later when this red storm subsided that my body told me a new story, and the sickness became more like regret or yearning or that deep hollowed out feeling that comes with the ultimate realisation of the irreversible. ...
21soul - it begins here
As a therapist and coach I often find myself working with people whose deep awareness of the damage that human beings are doing to ourselves and to the planet makes them deeply unhappy. It is a rational and appropriate response; but sometimes we haven’t been able to develop the resources and responses to deal with this as well as we would like. 21soul is a new coaching and teaching...
The cottage garden - collected poems #17
I chopped wood in the rain. The damp chippings had aromas of resin, the flaking bark perfumes of mildew. I piled logs, promised them to weekend fires. Smoke and coal. Stone and clay. My hands scrabbled and dug, I pulled out stones, cursed. The clay was blue and grey like winter skies: wood, stone, smoke and clay. Lightly retouched from The cottage garden, in the poetry...
Who in their right mind aspires to “work hard and get on”? This kind...– Suzanne Moore in the Guardian 20.3.2013 - on George Osborne’s cynical budget.
Three selves and an ecology of mind
Let’s say for the sake of simplicity that human beings - all of us throughout our history - are born to operate in the realms and constellations of three different selves - the soul self or essence, the social self and the ecological self that is sometimes not a self at all, but a constellation of ever-changing experience of a shape-shifting earth. Each human culture has had its own...
Ghosts - collected poems #16
On this beach the stones have souls they live their lives as the sea etches memories of birth and beyond when they die they become ghosts hard and ethereal waiting once more for the savage ocean to crush to carry them home Lightly retouched from Ghosts from the poetry box set, Liquid Skies (2008), available here from creative thorp
Kestrels courting - collected poems #15
Two kestrels courting over a valley, deep, deep and far from here, carve silent poems in a silent sky, their killy, klee killy cries and timeless, unuttered words circling above the crags and trees. As they fly, catching the sun, they are golden (whisper it, whisper it, whisper it), their marriage forged in a liquid sky - deep, deep and far from here. Reworked from Kestrels...
Thank you Neil Gaiman!
I’ve had a bit of a barren couple of months, if truth be told. A lot of travelling, loads of ‘admin’ and then a lot of feeling tired, and a tooth abscess that flared up, not once, but twice. And on one hand I want to enjoy the moment - to live in our new barn near the sea, and walk and run on the beach, and sit in this peaceful, wonderful space that has been created for me. And...
Returning - collected poems #14
Have you ever stroked the dune grass. felt its sharpness, while the wind stings? This is the beach where I was born and where I return; becoming the sand. Each grain is a cell of my body, spiralling down the crescent of the bay, dragged out by winter storms washed up again someday. Oh, to live as the breakers do! Crashing, curling, deadly hollows. Reworked from...
Shoals - collected poems #13
The beached moment when I tasted salt sweetness evoked golden languid shoals turning in a twist at the approach of the gilded ray into a million anxious darting shards Shoals from the poetry box set, Liquid Skies (2008), available here from creative thorp
Storms - collected poems # 12
It is still and blue and the storms have blown away something beautiful and needed. In the stillness that remains loveliness is present, yet I look into the drowning sky, into the dreaming evergreen of my winter garden and feel sadness. I know this of the world: that something that we yearn for is always lost in the aftermath. Storms from the poetry box...
Exposure - collected poems #11
The storm stamps around me. I stand protected only by this roof and walls. Remove them, I am exposed, opened up, saturated. The thunder enters shouting; sheets of liquid glass smash to the ground leaving shards in which I drown, pierced and clean-washed, a deafening lover lost in the blue. On the horizon, clouds rise as fire meets the sea. Reworked from Exposure in the poetry box...
To the southlands - collected poems #10
There’s a grain in the wood that runs south towards a warmer way of seeing. In this branch is a memory of life preserved; a reminder of the days when this tree was majestic, before it dried, in the sun, before it was taken: in memoriam. It is, like us, written through with life; death too. Bones and wood are brittle; they crumble. Dust is blown to the southlands...
Collected poems project
Over the next few weeks I’m planning to re-publish, re-imagine and re-touch all the poems I have published through creative thorp over the past seven years. I’ve already posted my first poetry box collection - Pembrokeshire Poems - which, as it says on the box, are all based on the landscapes and seascapes of Pembrokeshire in West Wales. If you’ve never been here, then its unlike...
Admiring our children may temporarily lift our sense of self-esteem but it isn’t...– Stephen Grosz - http://www.stephengrosz.com/praise-her-and-see-her-fail/?lang=en -
Eye and I
The significance of the stupid word, ‘I’, is never lost on me. Each time I utter it, I am thrown back to a version of myself that is singular and uninteresting. The word ‘I’ is so ubiquitous that we do not even notice the change that comes over us each time we mouth its stubby, narcissistic little sound. ‘I think’ - who cares? ‘I feel’ - poor you. ...
Neil Gaiman: I was reading a book (about... →
neil-gaiman: I was reading a book (about interjections, oddly enough) yesterday which included the phrase “In these days of political correctness…” talking about no longer making jokes that denigrated people for their culture or for the colour of their skin. And I thought, “That’s not actually anything to do…
The question & the reply - collected poems #9
The question: Have you ever seen such a world as this one? In the giant chaos of a sky a spring sun thaws the hills, coaxes birdsong. Cloud-shadows bring quickness to the world, like animated gods on their way to something. There’s new pink blossom, trees green-whispering, the whistle and rustle of a land awakening. There’s life! Have you ever seen it so? The reply: Your...
The stones - collected poems #8
Look at this stone, and this one. They are as they are: Flawed. Ridged. Mottled. Pitted. They belong together; they belong. And so everything we ever need to know is carried within these two tiny, loving worlds that I hold; warm and smooth in the palm of my hand. There is no requirement, not even an expectation; yet the soul will have its way, one way or another; its purpose,...
Druidston - collected poems #7
The tide was high last night; the sea grew large in the storm and on the beach, two trees had been washed up; water-logged , lying high amongst the plastic detritus of twenty-first century beach life. The first was smooth, slender, One branch still intact. The second pared down and pockmarked; battered into a single log, too heavy to carry. Druidston Haven is a place swept...
New year on Newgale - collected poems #6
An old year poured all its molten living into a sunset that turned the final horizon orange, intense, inviting me to stare, unblinking, deep into the sun. Standing on the stones at Newgale, it felt fitting. Out of this fire will be born a new dream. It will have something of the universal about it; intimacy too. You turned to me and the fates aligned themselves, ...
coast path - collected poems #5
We drove to Abercastle that evening as the sea-fret laid a blanket on the sky and the sunset glowed pink through the mist, then died as if snuffed. Later, as we walked on the coast path, the gorse and speedwell glimmered in the dusk - primroses too – then lost their light and returned their colours to the morning. Walking back as darkness seeped into the contours of coast and cliff, we...
#collected poems 2013
For the next few weeks, I’m posting re-imagined, re-edited and sometimes just re-tweaked versions of my published poetry from 2007 until now. Part of this is about seeing for myself whether these pieces still stand up. I’m not taking any out - I want it to be a full catalogue - poetic warts and all. The other reason for doing it is to just to see if anyone enjoys them. If you want to...
Fresh water - collected poem #4
No jeweller crafting rings and bands with diamonds and white gold at hand can match the priceless beauty of washed-up stones, inlaid in pristine sand. Three dogs dancing, racing, prancing, the tug and snag of rock and tide, a sky as clean as an azure ocean, stones with worlds etched through inside, stories whispered ‘neath curling breakers of how this beach lived, loved and cried: ...
Transience - collected poems #3
On the moor the blue-white snow, captured in a photograph, lies in perpetuity, reminds us of impermanence. The scene is different today when the glass falls below minus two, from the balmy May days when the flowers in the banks play glory with our senses. Then, on the headlands and moors the colours trumpet the arrival of another god, who travels here unnoticed each year, ...
The source - collected poems #2
We stood where the sea begins, where water pours from stones like a miracle, from the stories when God touches a place and leaves it sanctified. This beach, is our place too, where the world meets the ocean - feeding it with its own creation - It is only as ancient as we are - only as holy. That day, the waves were blown and ragged, yet beneath these dark flurries lay ...
The green cathedral - collected poems #1
In a shop there was a photograph - a picture called ‘the green cathedral’. I want you to imagine this wave; and to do this, you must see the picture as I did, hanging there, colours on the edge of breaking. You will understand then that like me, the photographer (the man who owns the shop) has waited for this wave for decades. So in the holy curl of its prayer we worship and wait to...
psycho-bubble: Collected poems →
psycho-bubble: Sometimes it also helps to revisit old stuff - to re-fashion it and perhaps remind myself of previous points of insight and inspiration. On my psycho-bubble blog, over the next few weeks I’m going to be posting new versions of my ‘collected poems’ - pieces published in my early pamphlets…
Inside I am still and collected. The sky was clean blue. The ocean too. Swell bouncing off stones and the day is an oasis. My inertia is catching; I must swim right through and out the other side. Where the blue wave is waiting.
A fortunate, grey morning and, in the fullness, the light tumbled. People never stay. Their leaving takes place in layers of time. You leave, then she leaves, then they leave, then I leave; all that is left is the tumbling light and the clouds that we live within. Colour dissipates and is gone till springtime dances in, and the music chugs to a crescendo and the dancers return.
Sun and stone
Sun and stone reawakens. A new year takes a pause and blows again into the shore. Sand and silver sea; the glister of tides. A fishing boat nestles close into the harbour wall, waiting - waiting for a new opportunity. Water slaps against the hull and seals squeal into shelter. Rock and hewn face tumbles. Winter responds to our questions with a stone promise. Salt cakes my face. I hide from the...
The winter butterfly
Around me the cloud of winter butterflies are rising. There is ice crackling in their wings, and the wind blows them from the hills to the sea. It is a dreaming; a stream of static consciousness unfolding and coordinating like a murmuration of white starlings settling on the trees outside my door. In the real world the relentless wind pours around this house. It is well crafted, warm,...
For the past part of the last two years we’ve been renovating an old granary in west Wales. And we moved in this weekend and I’m sitting here typing this in a new house masquerading inside old walls. It is a mix of gloriously, simple contemporary design and rural, weather-beaten, mud-surrounded reality. It is chic and authentic, and I look down its long lines and feel instantly at...
A human responds
Frankly there were not many of us listening to your apology, so I doubt very much that the mess will be cleared in the very near future. By which time - well, who knows what species will have disappeared and how many of us will be desperately clamouring for you to send us a saviour? For myself, I never believed in you anyway, which is ironic, since I seem to be one of the few that has heard your...
A deity apologises
I had no idea of where it would lead to, and that was the problem: a failure of foresight. There was a spark. I sent it shimmering down from the heavens and it alighted - gently like a snow flake - onto the dry grass of your potential, and it took hold until it raged out of control like a bush fire, burning all before it. That was then. Now I cast my eyes over the desolation and wish it were...
As things gradually declined he became prone to preaching from the top of the steeple. He felt that this was an appropriate place to speak from, even though nothing at all uplifting ever went on inside. If he wasn’t closer to God, then he was closer to the birds, and closer to their ragged nests and hideaways, stuck to the side of the church roof. Sometimes it wasn’t even worth him...
Today, of all days, we should be thinking of you. You are sometimes gentle and sometimes strong, and the trembling life of you is shrugged into waking. There is only one way to regard you, and that is as an equal. More than. You teach me something from the other side and my task is to be humble in the face of you. And to wait. And then you will enter mind and your wisdom becomes carnal. The...
Sit down and fly
Sit down as I tell you this; you will need to be sitting. The world is not as it seems. It exists only between the cracks of your imagination. It is created at night by the godhead of dreams. This intricate lacing of reality and intelligence can only last as long as your attention does, and then - poof! - it disappears. Did you not know this? Did you think that the ground that you sit upon was a...
Oh for the corporate life!
Most people see corporate life for what it is. At best, it is a tolerable adjunct to modern life - the inevitable result of the balance we all seem to have to make between (so-called) choice and consumption, on the one hand, and (so-called) ethics and humanity on the other. At worst, however, it is cynical, subservient and will do anything for a fast buck. Of course, we all know this, but we...
when modern life goes a bit wrong
Early this morning I came tumbling out of sleep into the waking dusk. It was too early, too much was still shaking around inside, and I needed the grounding of meditation to calm me. And then I was ready to rise - earlier than I usually do - tired still, but surprisingly resilient after the dash and crash of the past few days. It is these times - when modern life goes a bit wrong - when our...
The fifth life is creativity
The creative life emerges unbidden from deep within, For the simple poetic image there is no project, wrote Gaston Bachelard, A flicker of the soul is all that is needed. The creative life is the flicker that turns into a roaring flame, that dies down again to glow gently like embers, then flares again to illuminate and meditate upon our four other lives of calling, experience,...
The fourth life is connection
Here (at best) we work from the inside out and keep on going. Our first connections and attachments are to our family, then wider to our peer group, then out again into our cultures and societies and then out into the human ‘commonwealth’ and beyond. And at the same time as we develop this human connectivity, we also (at best) deepen our connections with the world, with the life forms that share...
The third life is experience
From the moment we are born (some might say, conceived), our experiences of each other, the world and each of our other four ‘soul-lives’ are constantly being recycled back into a constellation of how we experience our ‘self’. Yet here, as elsewhere, we can be drawn into a simplistic making of meaning – in this case, trying to find or make a singular, integrated ‘self’ that we can present to the...
The second life is existence
Here is the second life of existence: a strange realm of reality lying outwith human experience and influence: the vast, unimaginable scale of a universe in which we are simply grains of sand on a beach. These things are inevitable: death, freedom, isolation and meaninglessness. And this is a life in which the contemplation of mortality and meaninglessness is – frankly – very scary indeed, and so...
The first life is character
Here is the first life of character: emerging from our genetic inheritence, the metaphorical acorn of our calling, the crafting of personality through the touch and influence of the other four lives. Character – or calling – is the energy of soulful living – and the place where our fears and shadows are stored! It is a soul life, therefore, with two faces – first of intrinsic strength, virtue,...
Five lives of soul and shadow
If we go back to first principles, a life of soul and shadow is humanly possible. This life is not a pursuit of ‘self’ or ‘spirit’, however, rather a mindful joining together of streams of ‘soul’; a distillation of deep and turbulent waters into five plain measures. Each cup holds enough of us to fill up over a lifetime – hopefully not to overspill. If each of these dimensions of soul is...