Humble Practice

Humble practice trumps all,
The razor snicks up and down at dawn,
A hundred kicks fly at dusk.
They chase perfection
Not to catch it, but to become it,
If only for an instant.
In every simple moment we find spirit,
When movement becomes more than movement,
And words become more than words,
The simplest mystery is the deepest –
Action is repeated,
Until the doer becomes inseparable
From what is done.

New Shoots

In the darkness of the earth
None shall see the sun,
And yet it is there:
Waiting, wondering when growth will come.
In the pitch of night,
Nothing is more certain
Than light will crack the dark,
A pendulum that must swing up
As surely as down,
A child that must grow
As surely as we must die,
And if the seed of death is carried by life,
Then death must usher in new life;
A potential bursting into being,
Rocks tumbling down a hill.
Let us not rejoice in the hidden acorn,
Nor the mighty oak we may one day be,
But the first green shoots of morning,
The dew not yet trampled,
By the Kingdom of the dawn.

The Sword

There are many parts of a life,
That make up the whole,
And many components of a man
That forge his character.
Chill winds and winter snow,
Or sun and sea,
Each can test a man and temper his steel,
The mix of the iron the bough
That breaks or bends,
In the storm of his making
 

I am completely overwhelmed to have won the perfect poet award for week 48. More than anything it wonderful to be read and have so many great comments. Here’s to all you readers and writers out there, and all the inspiration you pass around, like torches burning in the depths of night.

 
I would like to nominate: Braga

Words…

Words can hint at depths too deep to swim,
Gulfs too wide for fragile man,
Lives too numerous for this heart
To beat them all;
Winter’s breath of sorrow,
Spring’s new born youth,
The juice of life freshly pressed
On the page for easy reading.
And yet…the void of our incomprehension calls;
Tears for that so far beyond us,
Like a child’s first glimpse of love
In the eyes of passing strangers.

No more does the bell toll

And now for something a little different…

I’ve been inspired once more into storytelling by Sonia at Doing the Write Thing. June’s challenge: a flash fiction piece about ‘mythical’ creatures. Here’s my take on a favorite creature of hers…

Newsflash:

‘It’s Sunday 26th June and I’m Jenny Beaker with this breaking news. Police patrols have clashed with large groups of people roaming the streets. Our science correspondent Robert Raiman reports from central London. ‘

‘Thanks Jenny. Since the advent of fully immersive VR life chambers the sight of large crowds on the streets has become a rarity. But now, with a new condition scientists are calling ‘vacant life syndrome’ crowds of apparently mindless people have begun to congregate into roving packs. I have with me Dr Rubecker. Doctor what is causing this?’

‘Well Robert it seems that in advanced cases of mental detachment, such as when a subject is plugged into an immersive reality for long periods, the unconscious begins to reassert control of the body, following the basic of urges: to establish territory, to seek out a mate and to eat…’

Screaming interrupts the interview.

‘Does this explain the violence we have seen?’

The Doctor glances nervously over his shoulder. ‘Well yes Robert. You have to understand that in the absence of conscious control the laws and conventions of society cease to have meaning.’

‘You can see it in their eyes! Oh god you can see it in their eyes.’

‘Excuse me young lady, I am trying to conduct an interview here.’

‘They bit me, they bit me!’ the girl frantically waves her bloodied arm and missing fingers.

‘Back to you in the studio Jenny…Jenny?’

‘They’re coming for us!’ screams the girl as an animal roar builds and crashes down the street.

‘Where’s your car Robert?’ asks the Doctor.

‘Robert!’

The good doctor spins just in time to see the empty eyes of the horde, all clutching hands and bloody, broken teeth, before the wave of what was once humanity sweeps over them.

In the houses and living rooms across the country there is no-one to see the television stations falling one by one into fizzing chaos, only doors banging in the wind and in the distance, the occasional sound of screaming. Solemn Big Ben rings out once, twice, three times as if this were any other Sunday. Then no more does the bell toll.

Memories

Memories brighter than the sun,

A drive-in movie we watch alone,

Of way back when we sucked on corn,

Before the flood washed it all away…

More days behind than I can count,

But up ahead…

The sea!

Rant at philosophers/Philosopher’s rant

Fine toothcomb through a desert of sand,
A microscope focused in all the wrong places,
Its owner stumbling over rocky ground,
Myopic vision missing the glory undivided,
The creature of deep meaning immune to the blade,
So many writers, so much wisdom,
Heavy tomes weigh down the mystery of age,
And spawning yet more,
Such as the question; was it worth it?
To use such long words to capture meanings,
Better expressed by old eyes in a young face,
A smile quick in sadness as in joy,
Shall I add my two pennies, I’d rather not-
Times a wasting and waves are bobbing far from shore,
Life is sweet and I’m not afraid of death,
Nor mistakes, they’re my friends every one,
When I’m depressed I ask why,
And look for the breaking of the storm to come,
New life’s born from every end,
Dash these stones to build stronger tower,
To better see my future flaws,
And aren’t they wonderful in a funny kind of way?
Without this road we’d have nowhere to go,
No boots to wear out on the travelling
Over next hill to wonders yet unseen,
I know I have nowhere I need go,
But I won’t turn my back on all that’s arriving fast,
Not when it’s happening right here,
So write on philosophers if you dare,
The world is full of great plans and planners,
Skilled architects convinced they made this so,
But plan me this:
A life of adventure where no day’s the same,
And I’ll never know – good or bad,
What’s coming next…?
Oh look, it’s already done,
I’m a man, a planner too
The deal is done and I accept it,
But richer journey it has become,
Control evading control,
I’ll breathe out and you breathe in,
And let’s greet her together,
Here she comes, dainty Future’s step,
And isn’t she a lady all aglow?

Paper Towns

In a break from my usual poetry, here’s an attempt at Flash Fiction inspired by the generous prompt ‘Paper towns’ from Stephanie’s blog, be kind rewrite. Stay with me on this one, its heavily dream influenced, but I’m hoping it slides off the paper as easily as poetry…We’ll see!

Paper Towns

William is playing with his toys on the landing again. The room drove me out here he thinks, it’s so full of books. Books with covers as lifelike as a movie set. Books full of worlds that could suck you in. Reading just one could leave you an old man. And the painting on the wall: houses with twisted faces peering down at the street far below, and the boy huddled in his bed, throwing off the covers and scampering for the landing. The painted yellow moon follows him with its crushed witch’s face and its beady eyes.

‘I’ll put your dinner in your room,’ says mum coming up the stairs, but she can’t be here she’s dead. Mum places the tray down just inside the threshold. ‘Have you spilt something in here?’ she asks suspiciously but her tone is soft, like she’s feeling guilty. Maybe she’s just been away a long time and is feeling bad.

William splashes cold water in his face but sleep is still holding tight. Last night’s dreams still overlay the morning sky, dim behind the steamy kitchen windows. His coffee has no potency today. He kisses his girlfriend absently, ‘I’m all right’ he says, waving her away. I wonder what’s up with William, she thinks, it could be the flu, lots of people at the office have it.

Like a wraith William’s coat settles on his shoulders as he tiptoes down the path, encroaching lawn wet with last night’s rain. His car key misses the lock as he spots the low, yellow moon, slow to yield the sky to the bloated sun. He shivers. Roads sail by with the hum of the engine rocking William’s head softly as he takes the corners. As the car chugs into town the little buildings seem far away, their walls thin and brittle.

‘Morning William,’ says his boss, all bulk beneath straining white shirt and black moustache ready to pounce off his face. William nods back weakly. ‘You look like shit!’ his boss exclaims as he takes a closer look. William shakes his head. I’m fine, I’m fine. But suddenly he’s looking up at a circle of faces gathered round, empty eyes all looking down at him like polished windows.

‘You’re not fine, get home at once!’ The words are far away. ‘Better still I’ll take you myself, where’s your car?’

William’s head lolls to and fro as the car chugs out of the car park, the office block folding up behind them in the car’s exhaust, the buildings of the town blowing away in the rear view mirror like paper houses. The sun has beaten the moon and is busy bleaching out the sky.

‘That’s right son, you close your eyes’, says his boss. ‘Mum will be back soon and she’ll bring you something to eat in bed.’

‘What?’

There’s a terrible noise in his ears. William’s girlfriend reaches out of the blinding sunlight to turn off the alarm clock.

‘Its morning time, sweetie,’ she says fastening the curtains back. ‘You look a little pale today. Are you sure you want to go in?’

‘I’ll go in,’ William says dizzily, and more forcefully than he had intended, and throws the blanket to one side.

Through the window everything is sharp and crisp with strong lines defining light from dark, real from dream. He kisses his girlfriend and her lips feel soft and warm. She looks at him quizzically. Its solid, my life is solid, William thinks as he takes a deep breath. His heels clip something wrapped beneath the bed. In the gathering dust is an old painting with faces for houses, and sailing above them all a grinning yellow moon.

I must throw that out, he thinks retrieving a snatch of poetry written on the back.

Paper houses are the first to fall,

When flood is rising, deep and cold,

And the yellow moon looks on laughing,

‘Nothing is real, nothing at all!’

The Seven Races of Man

In addition to poetry and other writings on the subject of Zen, I have also been known to dabble in writing fantasy novels. Here in the UK however Fantasy has entered a somewhat serious phase. With the novels of Steven Erikson and others it now seems that fantasy can no longer be about beautiful elves, treacherous goblins and blood thirsty orcs. In this brave new world the forests are burning and the elves are all now in brothels, the goblins have opened casinos and are making a packet, and the bloodthirsty orcs are in fact a muddy reflection of ourselves; sadly out-competed and forced by desperation to pillage. Steven Erikson is probably my favourite fantasy author of the last ten years so this is certainly not a criticism of his or subsequent fantasy, yet part of me thinks something has been lost. The well-worn clichés of fantasy, or tropes as Sonia Medeiros of Doing the Write Thing calls them, have something archetypal about them. There is a stubborn magic in such tales, a magic that talks to our unconscious. We have come so far, this human race, but in our journeying have we left one half of ourselves behind? So in response to Sonia’s May Challenge to give old fantasy tropes new life, and to attempt to reinvent and redirect my own faltering fantasy novel-in-progress, I present the following poem-stories. Imagine a world where not one but seven races of man still walked, each striving for dominance of the earth. Such a place is where my story is told. See if you can spot where my races come from in traditional Tolkien Fantasy, and where they have taken their own, new paths. (Apologies the word count Sonia is 588 – editing was never my strong point!)

Seven races of man were born,
Grown from void filled with earth licked by flame,
Each made in dark to strive,
For the light of lasting dominance,
Each in turn to taste victory and ashes,
As time grinds its hoed furrow on the world,
This is their story.

 *

First came the Camlock,
Lizard skin, bleached eyes unblinking,
Sinuous and cold,
Their mastery long as forgotten eons,
As they are now forgotten,
By those once enslaved.

*

Across the seas they came,
As if the waves could not
Fill them up with cold forgetfulness,
With whip and fire they came amongst us,
As if with heavy brows and strong limbs slow to strike,
We were no more than chickens
Cuckolded to their frigid care,
With our seeds mixed down to nothing,
Held in chains beyond where sea meets sky,
Yet the blood still flows,
Where Burmid eyes rise with fire,
And brutish hands long to strike and tear,
Long forgiven yoke upon his neck,
From then till now rage shall become us,
Until we find ourselves once more in clear meadows,
On the other side of the sea.

*
 
Old ones,
Fast ones,
Childar blood ages like wine
In the deep forests of the world,
We who are of one mind
With nature’s covenant,
The childless-
One born for every lost,
But if we brew for war,
The world brews with us,
And if our coven grows dark,
A most unpleasant broth for the world over
To swallow,
Let them know our peace,
Or let them know our end.

 *

The Runtar run
With fire cupped hands,
The gift of life and blood
To the long legged hunters with seeking spear,
May this plain never end,
Until the lightning laces with fire
The long grasses,
And it is time once more-
To run.

*

Sharp toothed,
Sharp eared,
Fox minded,
Let mine be mine and yours be mine,
Gamster country over,
And if in back stabbing,
I do stab around the world,
To my own back,
So be it-
Let the games go on.

*
 
We the little people,
The tunneling, hiding, laughing people,
Let us be or see us disappear-
Between the blink of an over-large eye,
The grasp of an overreaching hand,
We own the corners of the world,
There are more of us than can be guessed,
But what Dareen build none shall know.
 
*
 
Humanus knows not what he knows,
Orphaned child of disowned parents,
Glistening eyes for future only,
Mind like the edge of a blade,
Blood that wets the world with endless strife,
The possessed people,
Behind the castle walls the darkness growing,
Ambition to topple the gods,
Heedless of the ticking of the clock,
And chapters written by foreign hand.

*

There comes a final reckoning,
As each generation proclaims their feted years,
Yet on these times is placed the weight of centuries,
Drawn from well of worlds yet to come,
When the players of games shall cast their die upon all the lands,
When those slow to anger will be brought to frothing rage,
When the lost coven will burst like a boil in the midst of peaceful nature,
When the tall wanderers will wander no longer and plant their spears in city streets,
When the hidden ones shall have no sanctuary,
When the orphaned ones shall dream the memory of chains,
When the forgotten shall be remembered in the flames of vengeance,
Then in chaos shall reign the perfect storm,
And even the gods shall be as motes of dust,
About the seven crossed roads of destiny.

Rebirth

I was inspired recently by Elli Write’s Monthly Writing Contest , which asks for submissions on the subject of Rebirth. There is something really special about being given a simple brief, without direction, and asked to open your creative wings.  A writer will often have numerous ideas buzzing around his or her head. But in my book, a writer proves their worth only when they have to adapt and flow with the inspiration of the moment, without relying what they have done in the past. So without further ado here is my effort:

Rebirth…
To be everything you dreamt and more,
To have the aching void of what could be,
No longer a painful absence in your chest,
But full with bursting joy,
But then again…
Without the void,
There can be no light, no star of hope or twist of fear,
No human world in a spin,
At this mad game we call a life.
So stay on a while dear emptiness,
Linger on my friend discontent,
To fill my pen with bitter fruits,
Of loves lost upon the wind of this neglect,
That carries stories whispered as if in dream,
Of what was and what could be,
The ever lasting strife for better life:
Rebirth…

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