Category Archives: journal

On a nightingale floor…

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Two people sitting on a nightingale floor.

One is a sinner, the other’s a whore.

Ten candles flicker, flames kissing the wall

Frozen in quiet, dark shadows dancing

one second still and the very next leaping.

in silvered quiet,

tarnished by fear, hate and crescents of wildness .

Polished by black velvet words

Silently spoken

Broken she shudders and judders

retelling the violence

through this, she’s healing

whilst sitting in silence.

Her face tells the story of

years of lost childhood

decades of darkness

splintered nights of full blackouts

where the memory is vanished

furled up in corners

foxed, stained and dog-eared

they shy from the light

the sound of kind voices and

unbidden caring.

Two people sitting on a nightingale floor.

Which one’s the sinner? Which is the whore?

Lines, bruises, tears, scars keeping score.

There a brief sound, the shadows stand silent

Another lonely Londoner, soul torn in quarters

Of moth-eaten cheesecloth, stained by salt tearfall.

Her mouth purses, fights with the silence

It opens, then pauses, lips forming vowels

Her cheeks grimace, forming those valleys

Where rivers run downward,

the spring source her eyelids.

Her shoulders pause, hitch, dip, rise

and then let go.

Is it the floor’s song?

A sigh of intrusion, or a cry from her darkness?

The ghosts, linger and circle and

test, try her patience.

They tease her and taunt her and

deride all her courage.

They hide in the not-light, that space between shadows

The gap between words

The pause before promise

the stop before first step.

She stands, covers mirror,

and kicks out the candles.

And strides out a-singing.

Laughing at shadows.

She’s not what she was, she’s now the lightness of

purpose, sweet self worth and courage.

She faced up the shadows,

And looked in the mirror,

disposed of her future,

the one they did tell her

was all she could hope for.

And laid down her past hurts

with a soft kiss of parting

and a promise to remember

and revisit the painhouse

to retain the power to

tell them to quiet

And let her regain life.

The floor is now silent as she leaves for

whatever may follow…

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Through a cloud…

moor
Stones or people?

 

Into the unknown, high through a cloud we trod

Haze hidden tarn, a secret from one, lost in the fog

Those words, unbidden, unplanned, dear and deep

Taking a path, converging, winding, slippery steep

To the well, to the well where they gathered

Mossed up history, stones old wind blasted statues

Deep carved words, wounds in the stone.

The well, she sings, she’s sung here forever.

Into the unknown, deep in our minds we delve

Hurt hidden turns, a secret from one, lost love solved

Those words, unbidden, unplanned, dear and deep

Talking the path, conversing, listening, pain to sleep.

To the stones, to the stones where they gathered

Propped up mystery, old stones gathered in pairs

Six leaning pairs, deep in the earth.

The stones, they stand, they’ve stood here forever.

Out into the known, back to the world we go

Cloud free, no secrets at all, jump beck’s flow

That view, unbidden, unplanned, clear and crisp

Taking the path, concluding, retracing our steps.

When we walk, I never know where we will go. One of us at least, knows the place, the geography, the way the path curves to the right; the name of the little field, or the old stone. But that’s not why we walk, where we go is important but it’s the stage upon which we extemporise, speak true and open. We go to get lost in the tangles of the tangles of the tangles. One by one, instinct seems to pick a thread and, gently, carefully, with love, respect and understanding, tease it free from the others.

I won’t share the things that we discuss, but it mixes with tales of the past, the origins of words, songs, places, and people to become a cleansing, somehow a theme which we follow to a natural conclusion. We manage to talk. We listen.

And what does this tell me? Respect, trust and kinship, this comes unbidden. It tells me that, within, we instinctively know what we want to, what we need to exorcise. And, as the body is distracted by the joy of exercise, the head distracted by the beauty of the open countryside; then, the heart can weave, gently, the worries and the concerns and find a resolution in the rise and fall of the feet, the ups and downs of the conversational journey. Listening is the way to have a conversation. And, like a cloud lifting, once the thread has been unravelled, it’s time to go home and ground again.

And I know it’s the old stones, the paths trodden for centuries, the heart-piercing beauty of the heather, moss, slippy stone, the peat stained becks, that make the conversation naturally flow and rise. There places hold wisdom, they have been special for centuries. Countless feet have trodden and created the paths. Hands have carved and lifted the stones, lips drank the water. Sun warmed backs and frost-bitten feet. Love found, lost and regained. Lives too. Old ways lost and new ways found.

All under the sky. All on the moors. The beauty, bleak and brutal. This is when I find my voice. This is when my soul finds an answer. This is where I go to be renewed.

That’s why I carved a hare. The symbol of rebirth.

hare

She is fierce…

Where do we go in search of peace and solitude? Where do we go to relax and connect? Where do we go to find answers to the questions we weren’t even sure needed asking?

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Hawnby Hill, North Yorkshire

 

It depends who you are I suppose. Some find solace in noise and bustle. Some find solace in the molecular bonding of a stadium full of like minds.

Some sweat in a gym. Some run, walk, dance, meditate. Some do all of those things. Some medicate.

Some find, through choice,or lack of choice solace in the unfathomable depth of the mind.

I am one of those who heads into the countryside. I know that the meditative step step crunch crunch squelch squelch will free my mind and help me to balance and work my mind in a way that allows me to find peace. I might not find answers to everything. Not all problems can be solved immediately. But, even with those ones, I am able to find perspective and an acceptance of the situation.

Lets say I have a certain problem which is preying on my mind. It’s easy, so easy to think and keep on thinking and get lost in the worry.

The moors save me from this, every time, they save me.

The meditative walking helps a huge amount. And peril. Peril helps me a great deal.

I remember having a walk with a friend last year, and we got to talking about how every walk we had together always ended up with a certain amount of peril. Genuine peril.

Enough to make me think, even for just a second, “oh, this might be painful or, possibly, terminal.” (usually in a more sweary way, if I’m being completely honest).

So in those situations, two things happen. Firstly, I totally forget about the bill or stressful situation. Completely.

Secondly, my mind connects totally to my body and lives in the moment. It’s Zen I guess. I become hyper-aware. Switched on and full of purpose.

And afterwards, well, my mind looks at me, and waits, like a patient parent, waiting for me to come to the realisation all by myself. My problems, while they may, on occasion be very difficult and hard; they aren’t as bad as others have it, nor will worrying about them solve them.

Take away the power that unkind and toxic people have. They won’t occupy my mind, except on a very fleeting basis. Also, and this is vital. Forgive them, even if it is hard. In fact, especially if it is hard.

After that, I take a pretty photograph and enjoy that hot cup of tea from the flask and sit and drink in the sheer beauty of the world.

Now, of late, the North has been given a stark reminder. Peril and disruption, as well as a reminder that, yes, She has teeth. We don’t own the world. We are tolerated but can be evicted at the snap of a finger.

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Glenridding, Lake District

 

We have been reminded, starkly, terrifyingly, viscerally for many, that we have stewardship of our world. No more.

The green valleys. How did they get there? They were carved by water, pounded by rock, boulders and storm-torn trees. The land is scarred by the power of water. The world is shaped by water.

And the world, our Mother Nature, is taking it back. We have failed in our stewardship and we are being reminded about this.

So what can we do? Plant trees, conserve energy, recycle, reduce CO2 emissions, dredge our rivers & stop spending money on exploding orphan-makers.

We are on our final warning.  What are you going to do? If we don’t do something soon, the decision will be out of our hands…

glen
The water reclaiming a tree.

It’s lighter in the dark…

This wizened bough bent and hollownight tree

Willow waving  and whipping

Twisted Haw-

-thorn May bud and holly berry

My footprint is silent

My footsteps are loudly

The church she sings proudly

warmly bell ring

The lane it is

silent yet far in the village

A laugh runs towards me

A laugh lights the darkness

Warms the silence.

Walking in the night. I followed the glisten of the puddles and the sky-pointing arms of the hedges. It is dark. Night. December night. But walking without light from a lamp, well, it doesn’t take the eye long to realise the secret of night.

It’s not dark  at night.

Light makes the night dark.. It pushes and condenses it into a choice. Here is the bubble of light; there is the sea of dark. This makes it a constant struggle as the night leans into the glow. The light makes it harder to see out of the bubble.

No light means that there isn’t a line, there isn’t a state of here or there.

It becomes light enough to see, navigate, walk. And it opens your ears, heightens all the senses. And it gifts you a glimpse of a vole; or a hedge pig. The sounds from afar come and go but, and this is true, the ears work better when they are not lulled into lazing by the vigilant eyes in light. This is much more of a co-operative effort. The body working as it should, with every part doing it’s fair share of work. I sensed a little obstacle, didn’t see it, but, sensed it. So I stepped over it without a thought.

So what can I learn from this? That the world isn’t made to work to extremes. It works in shades, graduations. There is room for people to have different points of view and both people can be right. Or no one can be wrong. And the other point of view- if you create a bright light, you will create darkness.

Take from that what you will.

And let me know what it is.night tree two

After a storm…

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After a storm comes a new sunrise.

After a storm

Comes a pause, a deep breath.

a moment of blissful

Unknowing.

a conscious step

survey  damage, tread boundaries and

take stock,  the next breath.

 

After a storm

Comes applause, a steep path

a moment of mindful

Knowing.

unconscious steps

repair damage, strengthen boundaries and

make stock, a new breath.

 

After a storm

Comes a new you.

After a storm

Comes renewal.

 

Life, like a storm, can be unpredictable. We can be bumbling along, blissfully unaware that, all of a sudden, a storm is going to hit. Then life can change, on a penny. I started considering this after the horrendous slew of events that have happened in the world recently.

Those people, innocently living. Unconsicously only breaths away from their time of dying. It’s the randomness that strikes home. And it strikes hard. What if they had missed a bus, lost their keys, gone to the toilet?

And then I started thinking about aftermath. That’s when the mettle shows. What do we do after a storm?

Sit and wonder what on earth the first step is going to be? Take a deep breath and just start?

Over the years, I have weathered many storms. I won’t go into them, but I will say that they have taken me right down to the bedrock of who I am. I have been broken. Shattered. Excoriated and ravaged.

I kept on breathing and took the little steps. Because those are the hardest ones. I heard a song, many years ago. It is called ‘Keep Breathing’ by Ingrid Michaelson. I suspect it may have been on a TV programme, but I heard it during a wander through You Tube. Please listen to it:

“Keep Breathing” by Ingrid Michaelson

I then came across the Japanese art form called Kintsugi. This amazingly beautiful process takes broken items and repairs them. But the wonderful thing is that it doesn’t try to hide the repairs. It highlights them by using gold to make the repairs.  It’s breathtakingly beautiful. And it’s a superb metaphor for how we act after a storm. Don’t hide the scars, the stretch marks, the wonky bits. Polish them and be proud. They show that you survived…

kink2

Patience is a…

Patience is a natural human state. This is something which I have realised of late. We have been inculcated since the Industrial Revolution into thinking that we aren’t, and that patience is some lofty virtue, almost unattainable in the modern world.

This is the view from inside my village bus stop.
This is the view from inside my village bus stop.

Patient people are portrayed as being highly spiritual, wise, often mature in years and wrinkled of countenance. ThinkMother Theresa, The Dali Lama et al.

There is a lot to think about here, and, here I sit, the words are unformed as yet. I have to explore this and I’d appreciate feedback and discussion.

So what is patience? Patience is freedom, Patience comes with freedom and it makes you freer.

It makes you appreciate the things which you have. I currently am hungry, so I have started cooking some food. I know that I will have to wait for longer than would perhaps be usual because I am cooking, as is my wont, over the fire. This takes longer, but, with patience, I am free to sit and write this, look out the window at the swaying trees, smell the onions and chilli wafting from the fire place.

So I am hungry but happy knowing that this is the best seasoning. When it is cooked (an hour? Two? I honestly don’t know how long it will take), I will enjoy every last mouthful and be thankful that I have food.

I am just brewing my second cup of tea. I had to wait until the kettle boiled before I could start cooking my break fast meal. But I have time and time is patience.kettle whistling

And I think thats the trick of it. Time. We are so constrained by time in this modern world. We judge people by their ability to be on time. And we have broken it down to time units. A minute. “He’s five minutes late.”

Are birds late? Do snails berate each other for tardiness?

Consider dogs. Dogs have patience in spades. They can sit and sit and sit. And when the time comes, or the owner comes back from where they have been, what does the dog do? Act cross because he’s been waiting? No. the dog is rewarded and happy and this joy is seasoned by the anticipation.

“You’re late.”

We all have heard this in the workplace. Yet somehow, it’s ok to stay late. If being on time was such a valuable skill, surely managers and bosses would value leaving on time too. Other wise, staying longer at work means that you are late somewhere else.

So whats it about? Control. Plain and simple.

Patience then is power and generosity. It gives pleasure and takes away other people’s worries. If you are late, I don’t mind. why should I? I have no right to control you, no desire. If I’m late, maybe I stopped to look at a pretty scene, or help someone who was lost. Maybe I forgot my bag and went home to get it. If you’re waiting for me, look up or look inwards and look forward. It’ll be worth it.

What do you think?