The Lonely Sea Came

The lonely sea came

Carried by the wind

To the warm red center

1000 leagues from shore

Dust blowing on the crests of her cold waves

I sat, super still

Watching ice tipped fingers searching 

Through the branches and leaves of my treehouse

Inside, I was afraid

But ready

To be enclosed and swept away

My treehouse becoming boat

The leaves a billowing sail

The branches steady oars

Rustle rustle

Tap tap

Sail away

And don’t look back

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Structures of Meaning

Head arches

Inflating balloon-style

As if I

Were

About to

Lift off

Propelled by:

Righteous anger,

And Hot Air.

There in the stratosphere

Contemplation of

The Structure of Meaning

Embodied in Me

At this time

In this place

Once I reach Outer Space

I will let genetic legacies fly

Joyously admixing

Till no traces

Are left

To harden 

When I land on earth

Swallowed by the ocean

I will be soft hewn

Malleable and porous

I will be True Love

Dispersing into foam on the waves

I will break on the shore

Droplets of salt water

Percolating into sand

Nothing left to hold

Nothing left to be

Evil is a Facebrick Church in a Modernist Style.

I am no one

A thin spirit

Wandering the Land at its source

Shape-shifting to become 

The peaks and valleys 

Of the everyday

The banality of Evil

All around me

Sits, hideous

Contemplating the world from a park bench 

Evil is a face brick church built 

In a modernist style

Signalling its permanence

As a landmark on the highway, heading home

I struggle to keep pace

Wraith-child match girl

Lighting flames in the wind

The terrible book of the past

Written around, and on, and through me

Jaws of bone and stone

Open to offer a route 

Elsewhere

Standing at the gate

Pink light of dawn

Cold hands of morning

Slipping into the folds 

Of a warmer place, 

A language learnt

A past unravelled 

Commentary

I wrote this poem in response to Jane Alexander’s sculpture ‘The Butcher Boys’, currently part of the permanent collection at the South African National Gallery.  It depicts the brutal and dehumanising forces of apartheid.  It is unsettling and haunting.  It is also the subject of the tourist’s gaze.  A work to be photographed with by visitors to the gallery pulling amusing poses.  This is the way of things.  Alexander made the work in the 1980’s, a time when the violence of the state, and the response of the people was exploding in South Africa.  I remember this time as my childhood years in Johannesburg.  Sun-lit and ordinary.  Lying on hot bricks, wet from the pool.  The tanks rolling down the quiet suburban streets to quell uprisings in the neighbouring township.  The barbed wire going up around our primary school.  Bombing my bike as fast at it could go around the twisted pedestrian bridge that spanned the highway.  Horror on the outskirts of an insulated suburbia that was participating either through active collusion or a studied refusal to notice.  Being in South Africa over the last few weeks, the visceral sense of a great evil that made the present is something that I feel everywhere.  Life goes on, as it should, but this poem bubbled up in response to the insidious ways in which evil sits with us.  In my practice I think about what it means to live with the after-effects of evil.  What the balance is between knowing the evil of the past, seeing how it operates in the present, and also being sufficiently free of it to be able to respond to what is right now.  It is the tension between knowing what made us, and releasing its stranglehold without the denial and amnesia that can characterise a too-hasty release of the pain story.  Working through identifying and releasing pain stories in the West of the Wheel, I am aware that these stories are woven into the fabric of national narratives, kaleidoscopically.  Poems bubble up in dawn meditation.  The cacophony of the dawn chorus.  My tired eyes snap open.

 Briefly, I am awake.     

Image

Hungry Ghosts

Hungry ghosts are all around.

in the hunger for perfection,

a greedy one,

makes me go back and

correct endlessly,

the one that stops the flow and thinks thinks thinks till my ears explode.

this one wants the right spelling and gramar

now,

it won’t permit key stroke errors.

that hungry ghost eats me everyday.

It wants to eat my whole entire life,

seasoned with inanity and the details, purposeless without the sweetly flawed flow of a genuine canvas to express its artful corrections on.

Yes, hungry ghosts are everywhere.

they are pushing delicately thoughts of past times over and over into now

remembering when she did this?  And i did that?

enveloped in those soft grey places, quicksand pulling us life-less through years and years and years

My grandfather was swallowed by the hungry mud in Lancashire, early last century

pulled out by a passing man and his walking stick.

without whom

there would be no I to ponder being alive

in this body; this time

Pulled out, he was given the chance to live.

So too I, and We

sinking, connected, calling out

For the stick that saves us is

Within

and

Without.