Who can say where poetic pieces come from? I don’t know where they come from, or when they’re likely to come – but I can only let myself be open to them and trust that they will come. Sometimes it’s a fragment which comes, a phrase or a couple of lines, or sometimes an idea or a framework for a whole piece – and then when I sit down and start writing it’s partly a process of ‘crafting’ the raw material into a finished, structured whole, and partly a process of remaining open, to allow other material to flow through and become part of the whole. If from anywhere, these poems come from my highest, deepest self – and it’s wonderful that they seem to have the power to reach other people’s highest, deepest selves too. There is a small selection of pieces below.
Forget the PastIt's just a dream you keep alive by dreaming
A balloon that wants to hit the ground and burst
But which you keep afloat by thinking.
The past is only a tail
You keep dragging behind you
Collecting dust and dirt
Until it's so heavy with bitterness and regret
It stops you moving forward.
You don't have to sit there and watch
While the scenes of your past play back
The tragi-comedy of your life
Simmering with hurt and envy
Shuddering with embarrassment
Stabbing yourself with pangs of regret.
There is no past
There are only memories of events
And every memory is refracted through
A hall of mental mirrors
Until whatever once was true
Dissipates and disappears
Like vapour trails fading in the sky.
So cut the tail, and cut the tale
Turn the mental projector off
Don't strain your eyes trying to see through the fog
When the panorama of the present stretches
Clear and bright around you.
The TrickThe trick is to trust yourself
not to try to trap your prey
or seduce your lover
If you feel frustrated
the animal will scent your anxiety
and veer away
your lover will sense your desperation
and spurn you
Your soul is delicate
you can't shake and squeeze her
or scrape her sides
for a few last crumbs of insight
She needs time to collect herself
to gather her dissipated power
Too much force will break the mould
of invisible patterns and potentials
which give birth to beauty.
She may seem barren now
but she's not dead, only sleeping
New life is slowly seeping through
from that deep underground source
making her moist and rich again
until she's ready to release
strange new joys
Your soul has never you let you down
and never will
as long as you are patient
as long as you are still
The MeaningYou can't explain the meaning
Reduce it to thought or confine it to words
Break it down to basic building blocks
Or trace it back to an origin.
But when you see the meaning, you know it.
Just when you've forgotten it existed
You're driving along the motorway and turn your head to the side
As if someone's tapped your shoulder
And it's there, stretched across the evening sky
Filling the spaces between the clouds.
You open the door to empty the bin
And it's there, rustling with the wind through the trees
Stroking your face softly like a lover.
You tilt your head back to catch the rain
And it's there, falling with the infinite silver points
Bringing down benevolence from the sky.
Your eyes spring open in the middle of the night
As if there's an intruder, an unfamiliar noise
And it's there - in the dense, rich darkness that fills the room
And the glow of unconscious communion
Around you and your partners' bodies.
The most familiar forgotten place
Your home from a previous lifetime
A mother's soothing presence
And her warm enfolding arms.
The SecretsYou can't grasp at the secrets
Prise them from the earth
Or pluck them from the air.
The harder you try to hold them
The more they lose their form
Until they leak away.
You can grind matter down to the tiniest grains
Until it collapses into nothing
But its essence will always elude you.
You can pin nature down and torture her
But she'll never tell you what she knows.
You can't use force, or even effort
You can only create the right conditions
Reverse the beam of your attention
And make a sacred space inside.
Let your mind become as empty as a cloudless sky
And as calm as the surface of a lake
Until your depths are rich with stillness
And the channel is wide and clear enough.
For the secrets to flow through
And reveal themselves to you.
Whenever You ThinkWhenever you think you're something
Remember that you are nothing.
Whenever you're full of your own success
And people applaud and compliment you
And you're proud of your achievements
Remember that you are nothing.
Whenever you think that you've arrived
Remember that this is a journey
With no destination, or even stations.
Whenever you think you're the centre of the world
Remember this is only the circumference
And the world will turn without you.
Whenever you think you have the answers
Remember that questions are never fixed
But always flowing and reforming.
Whenever you think you're going somewhere
Remember there is never anywhere but here.
When you know that you are nothing
When you know that you are nowhere
Remember that you are everything
Remember that you are everywhere
Remember that you are