Tales from the Woods

My children had an uncle.
He took them all out hunting,
they never did say what they sought,
out in the woods, for hours and hours
playing amongst the tall trees.
I stayed home tendling the fire,
baking the bread
and stirring the soup
in the endlessly bubbling pot
I had set to warm with the dawn.
They came back at dusk,
happy and tired
with mud on their shoes
and big sparkling eyes
and when i bathed them at night
and combed out their tangled hair,
sparkling dust fell to the floor,
twinkled and disappeared.
We saw him less and less,
but strange gifts
still arrived at the door
when a wind blew in from the west
(the time i always like best).
As they grew up, he faded,
or maybe he just went away.
The world was never the same after that,
their focus had shifted and torn,
until they had their own children
and told the old stories again.

When the blackbird sings

You tell me of bad weather news
And how the price of food went up.
You quote the words of politicians,
I agree they’re open lies.
You worry there will be a drought.
I think about the falling rivers
And how the willows give it shade.
My mind begins to drift.

I know my eyes are far away.
I try to hold on to your words
Like broken branches floating by.
I sense a sigh you’re holding in.
Yes,
I’m doing it again.
I smile and look in your eyes,
Signifying my return.

You speak about the greater issues,
How your life is troubling you.
I nod.
You know I understand.
It’s true that life is problematic.
It’s true I’m tired of being strong.
I wish to tightly grasp your hand
And take you through another door,
The door that’s slowly opening now,
That leads into another land.
I hear your words,
I hear a song,
That echoes in the depth of pools.

There’s only one place left to hide.
The leaves are growing up our walls,
There’s mud and ash across the floor.
The wind that’s blown the window wide
Brings a scent of woodland paths
And bluebells by the flowing stream.
I can hear the blackbird now,
It signals that it’s time to leave.
My heart is very far away.
I dream of other worlds.
I’ve seen.

Escaping Jaipur

a rickshaw boy
with torn trousers
stops for rapid repairs
I am surrounded by monkeys
one jumps clear over a goat
another tugs at my hair
a guide tells me follow
begging hands reach out
a bell softly rings
beside the temple gates
around spiraling corners
each one leading in
we enter a bustling square
the stalls are piled with olives
oranges, spices and dates
marigolds piled on tables
garlands strung in the air
the tea-wallah cries out his wares
a radio blares in the distance
clanging, clanging, clanging,
ringing the sun, beating down
it’s madness and radiant sound
the heat is stifling, whirling
pigeons fly up in the air
against the blue sky above
kites are spinning and diving
hidden in gathering crowds
I catch glimpses of gentler eyes
fixing me with a stare
two brown dogs lay in the shade
beneath a flowering neem
I no longer want to be there
I close my eyes,
i vanish,
into a starlit pool
and slowly float away

Written in Faith

from the dark the sunshine comes
and fades again to dark
in hope and loving trust we sleep
to greet the kindling spark

time brings change
i do not fear
i accept the hidden path
love is always here

and that is all we need right now,
high upon the bough,
to sit amongst your singing trees
in harmony and peace

Beloved World, take note of us,
thought we are fleeting in your eyes
we have fought to reach this place
the travelling made us wise

In my eyes

I may not deserve to be loved
but I have served my time
in the hard knocks school
maybe breaking some rules
but trying to learn

Too long I have felt as if nobody feels me,
wrapped in a bubble that touch doesn’t pierce
locked in a transparent vacuum,
surrounded by screens,
trying to silence my head

‘I see nothing but love in your eyes,” she said
Her words raised me up from the dead.

Calling My Sister (or, Women Observed in a Chat Room)

I saw the word
Sister,
full of light,
inscribed on an empty white page,
roundly formed and concise.
Such a lovely word.
It illuminated my night.

If I had a sister what would she say?
I would ask her to come beside me and stay.
I would see the world through her different eyes
and I’d hope that her words would be wise.
I would listen to her advice.

The world is full of ‘Sisters’
That’s what I hear them saying
“Sisters doing it for themselves”
Sisters, Goddesses, Earth Mothers
That’s what I heard them say.

They are better than you or I, little brother.
Little brother, we’re lost.

Yet I can’t help noticing something else.
I see them betray each other,
telling each other lies,
as they warmly embrace and smile.
I see their ambitions writ large
as they stab each others backs
and argue the details of facts,
dividing in feminist factions.
This is sure to be controversial,
But I’d hoped they’d be better than that.

If I had a sister I’d ask her to visit.
I’d hope she was kind,
I’d hope she was honest,
I’d hope she knew how to keep her own promise.
I’d hope she knew the right way, to be strong,
nor precisely the same perhaps,
but the same general direction
as you and I, my brother.

“The sisters of virtue they are not departed or gone.”
Those are some words from an old song.
Perhaps they will cease to subvert each other
the day we all stand up together,
the day we are all clear and strong,
clear, strong and united
with one word writ large on that page
People
against oppression.
People
who love one another.

The Masqued Ball

 

she is dressed like an angel
she is so perfect
he thinks
she may sprout wings
flying away in a moment

a heart is embroidered on the cuff
of his well-worn sleeve
it’s enough that she sees it
examines the finely made stitches
and smiles

he sees her eyes
clear, gentle, kind
as she flutters her swan feathered fan
across her lovely face,
a beating wing
allowing a glimpse of her mind

he wears a masque
his eyes, not well hidden,
bewitch her, and keep her there

the music is enchanting
they dance in a dream
tentative touching
they begin to open their hearts
in this harmonious dance
all is agreement
that this trance is worth keeping
preserving, defending, completing
even for life

in the morning
the music has stopped
the masques are removed
he bows, revealing his face,
he sees all that shows
beneath her smile
she curtsies with grace
they move away slowly
one unwilling step at a time

 

 

People Passing By

sitting in a summer street beneath a sunlit tree
people passing by
fleeting thoughts showing in their eyes,
eyes that hold delight, dismay, disbelief
this moment, in this day,
memories flooding in, fading, flying, dying
the growing gravitas of this ones frown
shuffling feet, passing through the shadows
children running, laughing, shouting
a shoal of flashing fish, sparkling,
crowds parting,
flowing and repeating

i see her passing
she is thinking
can i buy that dress today,
what will I wear tonight
is my hair alright,
she sighs
i see her sorrow
does all love fade and die

a man stands alone an hour
gravity weighs him down
his feet deep rooted
i could go and greet him
a simple walk across the street
a meeting
the moment passes

i stay beneath my sunlit tree
watching how a leaf falls
the summer hours are fleeting