“Te Tapu-nui” (Mountain of Intense Sacredness)

He walked into the woods
to gather up a poem,
drawing rhythm from the
melodies of a gurgling stream
running its ice-cold course
across paths and pine needles
passing beneath his feet;
from the wagtail’s call
chiming through quiet trees –
nature’s bell to mark the passing
of no time at all;
from breathless gasps
steaming out his lungs to the
rhythm of a beating heart,
matching tune of the wilderness;
from the silence of a frozen pool,
solid ice reflecting the view
of dramatic mountains and a
sky-blue lake supplied by snow.

It is a story of the journey
upward to a place within
beautiful enough to match
the white-crowned mountains
and mirror lakes,
a place as wild and unkempt
as the forgotten goat paths
to abandoned cabins
where once we panned for gold,
pulling nuggets out the stream
before descending back to town
bearing riches in our packs,
wrought of hard work and
solitude.

That is his story, his world,
out there in the mystic wilds
of his own heart where
streams of blood flow in time
with the bird call’s of his mind,
and the quiet trees are always green.
There he chooses to walk
wandering hitchhiker,
no phone, no pets, no cigarettes,
looking to unmask the false being within,
the person made to match the
thoughts and feelings and laws
of other men, no better than himself,
nor any worse.

Leave him to it,
aesthetic voyager of the heart.
Let him have his world
and be done with it,
to perish or prosper in lonely grandeur,
far from the company of men
and yet always in sight
if only they’d look up, look harder
at the background of their photos,
to see those silent stony cliffs
which hear the last confessions
of every soul that leaves this life,
ascending for the final time
up the snow-capped alps
and into blue eternity,
far above the clouds.

*I’m so sorry that I haven’t posted in some time. I am travelling around New Zealand’s South Island and having the time of my life away from the internet and anything online. I will return in a few weeks again. Until then, keep smiling!

“Mom, There’s a Dinosaur in the Garden!”

Little children never walk anywhere,

they run here, there and back

and then roar off again

in an ongoing game which leaves

them breathless between shouts

as they jump and fall over

the playground of this world and

take-off into their imaginations

on the paper planes they built yesterday.

 

They barely even notice me

as I walk home everyday

and if they do, they stand stockstill

and look shyly at the ground

embarrassed by the adult invasion

with its steady pace and quiet voice

before they scream again and fly away,

once more into the fray and the

imaginary crusade of the sandpit.

 

It’s the highlight of my day,

walking through that playground

and intruding for a few steps into

a very different world where

everything happens extra fast

and I have to dodge balls flying

into imaginary goals and little boys

chasing each other with hand-guns

and the most terrifying sound-effects.

 

It makes me smile to think I was like them,

all these free beings who run around

as fast as their legs will carry them

because there is literally not a moment

to waste when life has so much on offer.

They’re captivated by unfiltered imagination,

taken with the wonderful exuberance of it all,

those unbounded horizons of childhood

where every day is a discovery and

every discovery something to be shared

with as many people as possible

because surely they’ll be interested too.

 

I found a huge cow bone in the garden once

which my mom had given to the dogs

who had promptly buried it for this

intrepid archaeologist to unearth

a very smelly week later.

I was convinced it was a dinosaur

and could barely contain my excitement

enough to speak as I rushed in to tell my mom

that her precious garden was about to become

a world-famous dig where a six-year-old

had discovered the real Jurassic Park.

 

A little bit of childhood dies with every

imaginary dinosaur that we unearth,

until we forget that there are any treasures

buried beneath the dirt and drudge of daily life

and that there are always unknown places

we can explore, if only because it’s fun.

Everyone has to grow up, I get it,

but it makes me happy

to walk past the playground

each afternoon, if only in the hope

that the ball might roll over to me

so that I can kick it back and the

small boy who was left behind can,

just for a moment, run with his arms extended

and celebrate another goal imagined.

“The Artist”

 

An old artist sits in his cave,

hands shaking as he mixes paint

and picks an ivory frame from

among a million hues waiting

to come alive beneath his brush.

 

He takes two opposing tools,

his pencil and eraser beginning

to form the first image in

silence as he discovers with

twin lines of light and dark.

 

It is a word I cannot read and

soon the background covers it,

legion upon legion of forebears,

fossils filling the page as

the artist begins to paint.

 

In great strokes he strikes

and the faces become formless

against my many-coloured background

of red and black and white

and race and love and death.

 

Then he stops, the tired old man,

and looks at the distant stardust.

“My time has come” he says,

“my work is done. Take this

and paint – yours is just begun.”

“Fairy Tales”

Once upon a time

a little prince ran away

following his love as she left.

Just a boy, he couldn’t find her

in the crowd outside the walls

and was soon lost in the people.

 

When the King and Queen

noticed their son was gone

a search party was

sent immediately to

scour the kingdom

until they found him.

 

Ten long years

they looked for

the lost little prince,

last seen following

his broken heart’s beat

into the dusty sunset.

 

One morning he came

out of the rising dawn,

a man of his own,

but he wept when he saw

the King and Queen

and how they had aged.

 

His mother embraced him,

crying out and not letting go,

touching him here and there

to reassure herself he was.

He looked into her eyes

and a last tear fell from his.

 

‘Can’t I ever be with her?’

He asked softly, looking away.

‘O, sweet boy’ his mother cried

‘I don’t know love’s secrets.

Even if I did, I wouldn’t want

to see them written here.’

 

‘Sometimes love waits

and wonders and watches

distant hilltops for a sign.

You do not have to search

to find that sort of love.

Sometimes it just comes back.’

 

‘That is all I know,

so come inside now,

out of this cold weather,

and sit with me and

tell me all your stories,

all the things you’ve done.’

“Coppélia”

There is a story told

by a twirling ballerina

pirouetting to the music

of a forgotten age with

not a single word.

 

A whole world painted

by graceful movement,

emotion in motion as

she spins over and over,

her skirt stretching out

 

over my imagination

as she leaps and is lifted

to fly beyond the scripted

characters scribbled by

my stilted pen strokes.

 

Words do not match

the flow of her hand,

the pain in her face,

the hint of joy whispered

by her high-flying dress.

 

But look closer and

you will see the toll

telling her story takes;

the bowed legs and

carefully bound feet.

 

We must both squeeze

a whole life through

a single spinning point

and it wears us down,

this search for beauty.

 

Hers is a story told by

the sculpted body and you

can see the marks it leaves,

mine is told by the mind;

it is my sanity it cleaves.

 

But the woods are

lovely, dark and deep,

the dance is mesmerising

and though I weep,

the ballerina leaps on:

 

for there is yet beauty

and we must keep on,

my ballerina and I, to find it

lose it and find it again

before we sleep.

“Puddles”

My poems are darker than me.

Sometimes it’s imperfection,

inexperience.

But sometimes it’s because

the world is sad.

 

There’s a story of a singing clown

who doesn’t speak,

traversing this world with

only a lantern and a briefcase,

spreading sadness and beauty.

 

Like his name, his life

is a gathering of broken glimpses,

interrupted reflections

pooling randomly on the ground

after the downpour.

 

I like that

he makes no attempt

to join the dots or

paint a smile

on his lined face.

 

That he makes no effort

to assure others, simply

finding his own song of sadness,

making it beautiful,

then leaving the stage

 

with only a box of tissues

left behind to remind us

to embrace sad beauty.

That muddy puddles

are part of our song, too.

 

http://grantland.com/features/puddles-the-clown-royals-searching/

“Shout Back”

I stumbled over inspiration

on a blog called hotdogstandpoetry,

shouting through the

deafening silence of a million voices

chattering life away.

 

Like me, she thinks that

no-one gives a damn,

no-one sees,

but I do.

I may not hear her words,

but I react to the scream:

 

A primal knee-jerk

generated by similarity

across age, gender, continents.

I may not hear her words,

but I sympathise with her voice,

how human her silence sounds.

 

I think this is the best

we can hope for;

not to change the world,

but to empathise with another,

live their world for a moment and

lift their head for them, quietly smiling.

 

http://hotdogstandpoetry.wordpress.com/2014/03/09/shout/

“Science Class”

I help a year seven science class

and today we did some practicals.

The one was a soldering iron;

just letting them explore

how metal turns to liquid

with the right amount of heat.

 

It’s quite a dangerous experiment

to let twelve-year-olds loose on,

but all they wanted to do

was burn down little blobs,

roll them across the board

and join them all together.

 

The result wasn’t very pretty –

just a mangled clump of silver,

but I wonder when I forgot

the childish joy of joining,

bringing bits together instead of

breaking them into bites.

 

They didn’t care that it wasn’t perfect,

only that it was one.

Now I remember that innovation

does not happen in isolation,

but by bringing together spare parts

left lying on the table.

 

It’s not about big thoughts

or really grand discoveries.

It’s about trusting the dangerous iron

to the child within us all

so she can see that solid metal

is just one state of matter.

“Poems Like Waves”

I heard of a poet once

who said that her poems

rolled in like a crack of thunder

over the vast prairies of the land

and she would have to run home

to write them immediately before

they stormed off into the distance.

 

I feel mine are more like waves

formed by distant winds

which roll over my mind’s ocean

building momentum

before a reef causes them to curl,

pitch to perfection,

then crash onto the rocky shore.

 

It’s not that different really:

I still try to catch them at their peak,

perhaps in a single line,

leaving the rest of the words

like flotsam in swirling eddies

which recede swiftly

into the indigo bay of my dreams.

 

Waves sound like muted thunder

for there is no difference in the truth,

only that I am sitting in Stingray Bay,

she in the American Midwest.

I feel her now in the rhythmic rumble

and know that thoughts create experience

as much as experience makes us think.

 

Life is poetry for those who write,

music for those who play,

artwork for those who draw,

equations for those who question,

a symphony for those who listen.

It exists now, in my rockstrewn bay,

waiting for those who will,

while the waves roll in, roll out, roll in.

“Spider Webs”

There is a path where I live

that leads to the beach

and every morning when I go to swim

with my dad and grandpa

there are spider webs spun across it.

Tentative tendrils weaved across space

which stick to my face as I rub

the sleep out my eyes.

 

I always wonder how they do it,

how these small beings spin

their thread from tree to tree

across the vast chasm between,

far bigger than them.

How do they bridge the gaps

without getting their silk stuck

during the dark and lonely night?

 

Is it possible to spin words

like spiders spin webs?

Words joining beauty and expression,

creating impossible,

dazzlingly intricate designs

with a hundred times the tensile

strength of man-made steel

that only sleeping giants break?

 

Is it possible to rebuild my thoughts

every time night descends

so that only those with starlight cameras

could ever know how it’s done?

How this spider web of words is spun

until just the right place is found

so that it survives the harsh reality of day

and lives on, unbreakable.

 

Beautiful expression is as strong

and fragile as those silk creations.

Perhaps that’s why my dad tries

to move them gently out the way,

smiling at the spider’s efforts.

It’s just a thought, not a poem,

but move it with care and

it may survive the morning swim.