Tuesday, 8 August 2017

the day

the day is almost done
and nothing
seems to have been achieved

hence this poem

a mark of creation

if poor, it's still there
solid
real
out of nothing
a poem

if good
so what?
still just a creation

now the day has been fulfilled
this poem
something achieved
out of nothing

Thursday, 3 August 2017

in the absence

in the absence of danger
the human world seems confused
what to do if not to panic
what to do if there's nothing
to be anxious about

in the event of peace
we need agitation
let it build
hold its place

sometimes explode into war

when we've had enough
of war

we mistrustfully sniff about
for a ceasefire
which becomes a reluctant
peace

but only peace in the sense
of an absence of war

peace
real peace
is far from in our hearts

and after too long a period of this annoying quietness
lack of agitation
we need to let roll again
after all you can only
rebuild cities
and bury your dead
for so long
before the process starts to become
unbearably tortuous
and dull

Monday, 31 July 2017

I don't have late nights

I don't have late nights
You hear about in songs
No raves or parties in my world

You'll find me in my bed at 10
book in hand
Notebook and pen at my side
In case I get any great
World-saving ideas
Before I go to sleep
Or through the night

If you want a good time
come into my head
a heapful of bizarre stuff
going on in there

I offer you Dada, absurdism
nostalgia
and sentimentality
all carefully enveloped
In a soft wall called mindfulness

there is a world
a planet in there
and you're welcome to orbit it
any time.

The sweep of rain

The sweep of rain
Falls lightly on my head
And the memory lapses
Into a dream state
As I step back over
The buckled body
Which has one arm missing

I see it in three curious pieces
Just ahead of me
And the dust turns into a light mud
In a gentle process of much artistic merit

When the children's broken bodies
We're collected
And the clean up began
There was a soft quietness
Like a hymn had just finished

The shadows of a death song
Had gathered together now
Like a choir
Too painful to retain in a heart
That still held some residue of faith in beauty and colour

The following morning
I stepped over the strewn puddles
Nothing remained of the carnage
Just an archipelago of muck
And in my dreamlike state
I moved in slow motion
as the light rain
soaked through my skin

and I sensed that the sight of what I witnessed that day
Had drowned me
and that my bones had disintegrated
like sand castles do
when the waves come in.

and I wished my memory would collapse
and over a forgetful cliff
Tumble 
tumble till the day I die
As I disintegrate like sand
on a despairing shore

the unfinished

the unfinished
is the unrecognised
finished

the finished
is the unrecognised
unfinished

finished is just where it stops
unfinished is just where it continues

stop and we call it finished
continue and we call it unfinished

Sunday, 30 July 2017

bitter sweet

I like the bitterness
in my green tea
the bag stays in all the time
mellow taste becomes harsh

my mouth dries
like sandpaper

the jasmine's sweet aroma
starts dominant
but disappears
under the momentous
grit of raw rough tea

nothing to say

I have nothing to say
so I say it time after time
relentlessly repeating
nothing
nothing
nothing
nothing

Swiss Travel Moments

I had to change seats
now am sitting in direct sunlight
it hurts my eyes
damages the quality of my day
but the way the clouds light up,
like a gift
from the God
that we imagine exists
precisely because of moments
like this.


the hay coloured grasses grow high
in the waste areas between streets
they're pretty sure of themselves
flourish in the warm rain
as city becomes suburb


on the tram
everyone avoids eye contact
while trying to observe everyone else


I check my phone battery
97%
anxiety assuaged
for now


on a tram in Geneva
people off to busy work
standing room only.

A man types at his laptop
the woman beside me
head buried in her phone.

Umbrellas up outside
raindrops patterned vertically
on the window.

The trees in a slim neat line
contrast with the cream buildings behind them
we pass a Palais des Nations sign.

Hat on my lap
traveller's bag at my feet
a woman seated, looks close to tears.

not-haiku

haiku has three lines
zen teaches break all the rules
so this haiku has

four lines

Saturday, 29 July 2017

back to the beginning

back to the beginning
after the end

the cycle restarts

all in a muddle
all becomes clear
for a while

two steps forward
then the film rewinds

up to the top of the hill
then... down again

the end begins
again and again

but it's all right

Friday, 28 July 2017

Not Interested

I am not interested in human cruelty or barbarity

I get mouthfuls of it every day
on the news

I see it expressed
without wanting to
on social media

I know the subject well enough
not to receive any more
indications of its existence

I am interested in human kindness

I want to hear examples of it
I want to share stories about it

I want to nurture it
in people
of all ages
all creeds and none
and of all races

I want people to become so kind
that kindness bursts out of them
every time
they open their mouth
and every time they see another living thing

block

something is the way

Nirvana

blockage
as if there's a bag
over my head

and poured tiredness
into my eyes

the breathing practices help
but only to an extent

is it physical, an ailment
mental, psychological

one leads to the other

it's beginning to clear a bit now

funny how writing does that
as if you're writing out
the block

Thursday, 27 July 2017

power attracts

bullies are attracted to power
narcissists are attracted to power
the greedy are attracted to power
messiahs are attracted to power

wise people run a mile from power

unsure

unsure of how the state
might become
in the event of a revolution

or even just
a sharp turn in voting habits
towards significant
social liberalism
and
economic socialism

and fearing
things may be just as bad
if not worse
than they are today

hard though that is to imagine

it happened in Russia and China

I adopt the practice
of withdrawing
as far as possible
from the state
the media
and the economy

it is a shallow protest
an insignificant shift

and it is as much
if not more so,
for my mental wellbeing
than a political gesture

but being unsure of human behaviour
it is the conclusion
of my many decades of deliberation
on this matter

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Perspectives

You can see the world
as dark and cruel

doesn't help you in any way

wears your heart out
wears your soul
wears your body out

You can see the world
as a gift of beauty

heals and nurtures you

protects your heart
lifts your soul
sustains your body

neither perspective is real
one destroys
the other creates

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Stop

and are we to stop
drop dead
just because of an ailment?

are we to march to the government's drum
just because they are armed?

who are we if not free?

consent if you will

if the will is there
and only if it is there
consent

Monday, 10 July 2017

direction of travel

looked at myself in the mirror
unshaven but that's ok
the stubble white under my chin

neck getting a bit scaly
an old person's neck
though I'm not old, at 58
still it's the direction of travel

death is approaching
don't get me wrong, I'm not worried
and I hope it's light years away yet
but it's definitely the direction of travel

Handwritten

She still writes letters
to her brother in Acton

the writing now spidery
hesitant on the envelope
the hand faltering
sensing
the absence of sufficient strength
to make the movement smooth enough

Memories

memories are short stories
that get in the way
of today's new story

memories are blasts
the blow you away from living

memories are forget-me-nots
flowers
that ought to have wilted by now

memories are the made-up stories
of lives
that never quite were

memories are thieves
come to steal your presence

Saturday, 8 July 2017

bucket loads

I have bucket loads of them
gathering virtual dust on the hard drive
and on various memory sticks

They gather dust but remain fresh
orators awaiting their turn to speak
sentinels prepared at their post

the centuries turn into millennia
still they sit unturned
feet thick under the soil
they await their rediscovery

Thursday, 6 July 2017

and the overflow

and the overflow
just keeps pouring

till the world is flooded
and the seas start to move
into outer space

and water floats effortlessly
to every reach of the galaxy

till at last it stops
and starts its long journey

back to the home planet
now drowned

and the only life that survives
is that which lives in the ocean

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Koan

Everything is a koan
Taking the muesli
out of the cupboard
in the morning
without making a noise

watching a Zen priest
arrange flowers
for the tea ceremony

bowing before the flowers
while my wife
calls him a pretentious git

there is no answer
hence the point of the question
is to be the words

there is no question
hence the point is to
not answer

without making a noise
the muesli pours
I observe the flowers
sip my tea

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Before the thought comes to mind

On a tweet
in a response to two friends
both writers
I replied

Writing is the thinking
before the thought comes to mind.

I hadn't thought that thought before
I didn't prepare it
before committing it to Twitterland

It came out
as a response
to others' thought

impregnated by others' words
nurtured in the womb of the brain
and born as new words

words without self-conscious preparation

and this too
these words
are also the thinking
before the thoughts come to mind.

Thursday, 29 June 2017

New Port

When they had completed the new port
they realised they had forgotten
to fill the sea with water
so no ships came
and no gulls shrieked
or followed fishing boats

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Critic

A poet criticised another poet
on Facebook

a witty but unpleasant remark

unworthy of the poet
who made the remark
a pointless nastiness
attention-seeking
ego-yearning

taste is in the tongue of the taster
there's no accounting for it


Sunday, 25 June 2017

You have to run

you have to run
and beware of the enemy
their snipers
the depth of the state
the hospital in the distance
a wreck of concrete holes

the ruins yellow and crumbled
are flanked by beautiful green-red trees
and the surreal turquoise of the placid lake.


Saturday, 24 June 2017

Is it Cancer?

Is it cancer
these blobs on my thigh
blotchy and there
where they didn't used to be?

Before I saw them
I never thought the word
cancer.

When I noticed them,
but before I thought of that word cancer
I never thought,
cancer.

Now I have thought
cancer.
And a little uncertainty
spreads not on my legs
but up here
where the I I imagine is me
exists.

Not a lot of uncertainty granted
no fear
not yet,
but just a tad less certain
that I had been
before the thought
of that word
cancer.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Grasses

The grasses bend gently the wind

the ripples flow softly the bowl

the lawn sits proudly needing cut

the branches lie beckoning the blackbird


Light fills in the space between the shadows

A cat crosses the road a young boy chased behind

Reflections bounce metallically off the car and lamp post

A car hushes by stopped by silence

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Impulsation

We are driven to do few things.
Have kids, preserve the lineage.
Survive, in order to have kids.

So as far as nature's concerned
Once you've had enough children
you're not needed as a man

And for a woman, once you're past child-bearing
You're on the scrap heap of the genes.

We do of course all die
in the end.

Survival is a relative matter.
Those stillborn in the womb
in retrospect
are not so very different as those who live to a hundred.

They lived.
They died.

Grief is another matter altogether.

The impulse
to survive
to have sex

Both quite petty in the grand scheme of things
aren't they?

Appreciate your life
Love a moment
and then another.
Simple really.
Really simple.

Heading Home


Here at Warsaw Airport the people are tired.
It's not yet 8am and they've been up for hours.

My family, dotted around the world.

To sit with them in Carrigan's,
do the autumn things in Scottish rain
- me, away on work, on my own.

Let the plane take me back
land at homely Glasgow
where the streets know me and my footsteps
and will guide me to my train home.

Nature has a calligraphy of its own


Thursday, 15 June 2017

Flow

The water flows into my body
becomes my guest
I, its host

Becomes a part of me
the ever-changing entity I call I
but which, like the water
is a flow, never still
always moving towards the next moment

all is fleeting
while seeming stable and strong

Existence

I am existence
the alternative is non-existence
but the I is not what it seems

A pulsation of thoughts, reactions, impulses, thirsts, and revulsions

I am the debris caused by the storm
I am also the storm.
The debris continues for some time
after the storm has ceased

The eye of the storm becomes I

A non-existent idea of I
that, nonetheless, is aware of existence

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

No thinker behind the thought

There is no thinker behind the thought

only flow
flux
conditioned cause and effect

See existence in this way
become the happiest of beings

no fears or anxiety
always calm and serene

never upset or dismayed by calamities
or drastic changes of circumstance

because we see things as they are

Never melancholy or gloomy
ever-smiling
we produce an atmosphere of calm
and serene joy

What is needed

What is necessary is not anger
gloom
impatience
hatred
ill-will to anyone

even to the suffering of others

What is needed is understanding the question
of suffering
how it comes about
how to get rid of it
and then to work on it with
patience
intelligence
determination
energy

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

The art and the artist

We are the canvas
on which art is created
Shaped by life's events

We can be artists
who create a lifelong art
that is our own life

There is no artist
there can be therefore no art
only fleeting flux

Yet we are artists
and the canvas to be filled
one thing, joined, not two

Good Enough

I don't believe it is possible
to be completely at peace
if you decide to be active in politics
or in experimental creative life

but you can still achieve
a high level of love of life
and deep contentment

and that's good enough
for a life