Words we don't always think.
Steve Thorp:- poet, therapist & beach-dweller.

Perfect love

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. Sometimes our lover, or grandchild or soul friend makes our life very special indeed (and this has come to me recently with the arrival of Freya, who, for the past ten and half months has forced me to change the way I experience love and commitment) but even then there are other energies bubbling up that I cannot ignore. Not all of these are positive and ‘good’; certainly not all will lead to happiness, but I must follow them nonetheless.

The other day, someone asked the age-old rhetorical question: if your life was over what would you have like to have spent more time doing. The answer for me was instant: writing poetry. And what do you wish you had spent less time doing? Well that’s a harder one, no instant answer, but a deceptively tricky little one: I’d like to spend less time worrying about when I am going to spend more time writing!

So I’d actually like to BE in the moment more (whether that is being with Freya, being on the water - surfing, or being with a poem I am creating). This BEING is really nothing to do with LOVE - it’s not even about ‘loving myself’, that mythical magic injunction of self-help. What it is about is being open to whatever is in my life right now - whether that be an impulse, a person, an environment; and this is a more challenging thing to be than it might seem.

Sometimes being open means being vulnerable to currents and storms of cruelty and indifference. Sometimes being open means being with a sense of flatness and ennui. Sometimes being open means understanding that the important connection, right now, is with something deep in the world and not just the person lying next to me. Sometime being open means allowing what is emerging to emerge without any commentary or judgement.

And all this is so hard. No wonder we sometimes stick to yearning for perfect love! Life can seem so much simpler that way!     

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.

Calm, I told myself, be calm. It is not too late, you have miles on the clock – you have time enough to figure it out before the chugging engine coughs its last. My optimism was misplaced, as it often is, and the acceleration of decay set in: my skin greyed and my hair thinned and my limbs wasted in alarming fashion. Before long, I was not the body I had thought I was.

I crumbled slowly into the air, which took me into its molecular embrace and held me there. I could feel the boundary of my skin and air vibrate and coalesce; I felt more, I felt less, I felt carried, first on a faint breeze, then on a gale. Then, another accelaration, and here I am travelling at the speed of fright on a vortex of myself. And landing, soft landing, into the belly of the earth at the precise spot where one day I will be buried or scattered.

For now, I am reconnected with my fevered self; the red and orange flame that burns me down too quickly for my soul and leaves me pyred in the cold ashes of canting ambition and intent. If only I had known, if only I had seen - I sigh as I prepare to sign off. Then there is tinkling laughter, almost too faint to be heard, and I understand that this ludicrous reawakening of a child was completed on the day I bled brine and burned.

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 practice aimed at helping people live and work authentically, deeply, ecologically and creatively in the context of these challenging times. It is for those who carry great sensitivity, intellectual curiosity, creativity and anger at the state of things.

 21soul is an exploration of practice based on the 21st century soul that we all have to live with and through! It is for poets, artists, thinkers, practitioners; artisans, builders, writers; therapists, teachers, gardeners; musicians, naturalists, designers and visionaries; craftspeople, leaders and entrepeneurs; activists, greens, socialists, progressives, conservatives, integrationists; humanists, agnostics, believers and atheists. It is for anyone who wants to survive, thrive and be part of the change to come!

I’m looking to trial some of the ideas and structures and I’d like to offer you two freebies in return for two favours:

The freebies:

a free lesson and worksheet that will introduce the ideas of 21soul

a free 45 minute coaching session that will start you applying these ideas to your life and work

In return, all I’m asking is a couple of favours:

Some feedback on what value these ideas and practices might have for you and how you think these could be taken further

If you like what you see, then I’d be grateful if you could let anyone you know about the 21soul programme – you could tweet it, forward this email or just have a conversation with them and encourage them to join my mailing list!

Please contact me NOW to set up your free session, and you’ll be sent your free lesson by email in a week or so.Contact or by phone on (0044) 7949553029

*Note: there’s no obligation to take these any further – although I’d love it if you decided to join me on one of these deep, integral 21soul programmes in the future!

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 box, Liquid Skies, (2008), available here from creative thorp

Who in their right mind aspires to “work hard and get on”? This kind of language makes you want to inject heroin into your eyeballs. What you are being told you may aspire to is simple: know your place.

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 dynamic balance between these three, and while some might see human development as an onward and upward civilising process, something is inevitably lost if a culture becomes blind to any of these dimensions. Our own civilisation - and the psychology that has developed to explain its mind - is fixated with the social self to the extent that the other two  - the soul self and ecology of mind - hardly get a look in.  

This might explain why we got into the mess we are in, and why we still find it so hard to create the solutions that may, even at this late stage, be possible. We have a one-track mindset, so to speak,  that is obsessed with the social aspects of  human being, and that finds it almost impossible to locate and access these other two dimensions in meaningful or sustainable ways.

Read the full version of this piece at

Ghosts - collected poems #16

On this beach

the stones

have souls

they live their lives


as the sea

etches memories

of birth and



when they die

they become


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 courting from the poetry box set, Liquid Skies (2008), available here from creative thorp

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 on the other, I want to change a little piece of the world; to write and create something that makes a difference.

The two wishes cancel each other out, so all I am sometimes left with is the frustration of inertia. I forced the hand of the first wish, and have been walking, running, surfing (cold!) - even a bit of meditation - and it has done me good. But I have found it difficult to get the creative juices going again: for the poetic image to emerge, for my voice to be heard.

And so I picked up Neil Gaiman’s book of short fictions and wonders, Fragile Things, and lost myself in it for a couple of days. To be honest, this was a bit of habitual escapism; but as I travelled through his bizarre tales and poems, something started fluttered inside. My own stories were stirring in response to his, and I was reminded that the dark worlds of faery and fakery are always there be written about and re-imagined. 

So I’m going to trudge once more to the foot of the dark mountain, take a deep breath of the clear air, and start climbing.

So thank you Neil Gaiman.

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 Returning from the poetry box set, Liquid Skies (2008), available here from creative thorp