Curiosity, and other blessings…

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Regular followers will know of my love for the humble acrostic, and recently I decided to write a few to hand out as New Year blessings when we had a celebratory lunch at the place where I work (we hadn’t had time before Christmas). It was such fun to see the joy people got from them, saying how appropriate the word was to them right now, and that they were going to put them up somewhere they could see them each day. Anyway, thought y’all might enjoy reading a few of them too…so here’s a selection:

 

Curiosity

Challenge me to find my own way
Under no circumstances give me the full map
Revealing all in a neat dissection of mystery
Ink in recommended destinations
Or the worst places to be avoided, then
Set me free with my pencil
In faith that I can carve my own path
Trial and error, not tried and tested,
Yields the richer wisdom

 

Stillness

Stop for a heartbeat
Then let the sound of that inner drum
Initiate an in breath that
Lingers, and an out breath that
Lazily lets go into
Now, and now, and now
Empty of expectation
Stare brightly into that peaceful pond and
See yourself undistorted by life’s ripples

 

Equanimity

Emotional eruptions like to be
Questioned, given loving attention, and –
Ultimately, understood
And held with spaciousness
Not judged, or condemned, rather
Invited to bring to the table
Multiple experiences to be digested
Into nourishing insight
That allows the heart and soul to say
Yes, you too are welcome”

 

Acquisition

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Friends admire

the new painting

hanging a little cramped

above my corner desk

 

then fall back

on my bed with laughter

in an erruption

of unswallowed tea,

 

‘Are you insane?’

It’s not a question.

Three months rent.

It only lives

 

in my bedroom

because I have no lounge

or such

to call my own

 

It’s slightly akward

to be honest

this intimacy

for I know enough

 

of creativity to recognise

the artist has parted

with nothing less

than a tangible extraction of his soul

 

for a mere ninety days

of roof over my head,

and so in playful moments

I ask my new acquisition

 

if it too might like

a cup of tea

(which is both foolish

and ironic if you saw it)

 

for I know its aliveness

is not so crudely sated

and so I sing

to it sometimes

 

and deceive myself

into believing

I see the paint sparkle

just a hint brighter

 

while I’ve turned siren

and my song

calls the waves

boldly towards me

 

from a sea that’s wet

only beyond the canvas

 

 

This poem was inspired by a brief visit to http://www.castlegalleries.com/ in Exeter, where I’ve come for some cultural immersion and get away from it all day offness. Hope 2016 has begun well for you all –

 

Blessings,

 

Harula x

 

P.S. And no, I haven’t yet bought a precious painting, but you might be able to tell I kind of like the idea…

 

Death Is Another Country

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The lights were always dim –

When I sprinkled blessed water
(was I doing it right?)
over the face of his dead mother,
on my way to the airport

When I visited my neighbour
and watched
as she flexed the limbs
of her dead baby daughter
to fight the rigor mortis
and I left my gift
of powdered milk and sugar
for the mourners’ tea

When I met my grandmother’s death
in a crowded restaurant
serving without a smile
until my boss decided
I was putting folk off their food
and sent me home

But I wasn’t home
I was never home when death came

So I cried into a public phone box
to hear a voice
that could shrink the miles
because I wanted to be close

Death breaks bonds,
and calls ‘Come, gather –
you need to reweave your web’

I’ve much yet to learn
of death
but I do know its invitation
is mocked by wielding numbers –

Death mourns
when we let its holes become canyons,
watching from the sidelines
the falling

Walking along

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Walking along
I sang to the trees
You’re so wise
Won’t you help me please
x 2
They said;
You gotta feed your roots to know who you are
Be strong but also flexible and you’ll go far
Now open up sweetheart, what ‘ya tryin’ to hide
You have so much, be generous and life will be kind

Walking along
I sang to the sea
You’re so wise
Won’t you help me please
She said;
You gotta know everything you need’s inside
Just dive down deep and treasures you will find
Stop being so scared of what’s outside of you
‘Cos darlin’ I’m telling you that’s not what’s true

Walking along
I sang to the breeze
You’re so wise
Won’t you help me please
She said;
Lighten up honey if you wanna be free
Just spread those pretty wings and come and fly with me
Your dreams should be big enough to fill the skies
Your life is just beginning, come on open your eyes

Walking along
He shined his rays on me
I sang father sun
Won’t you help me please
He said:
Shine the light of truth on all you think you know
Then you might grow some wisdom, not a fat ego
And if the skies darken and you’re scared of the night
Have faith my child and trust in the return of the light

***
Walking along
I sang to the sea
You’re so wise
Won’t you help me please
x 2
She said;
You gotta know everything you need’s inside
Just dive down deep and treasures you will find
Stop being so scared of what’s outside of you
‘Cos darlin’ I’m telling you that’s not what’s true
***
Walking along
I sang to the breeze
You’re so wise
Won’t you help me please
x 2
She said;
Lighten up honey if you wanna be free
Just spread those pretty wings and come and fly with me
Your dreams should be big enough to fill the skies
Your life is just beginning, come on open your eyes
***
Walking along
He shined his rays on me
I sang father sun
Won’t you help me please
x 2
He said:
Shine the light of truth on all you think you know
Then you might grow some wisdom, not a fat ego
And if the skies darken and you’re scared of the night
Have faith my child and trust in the return of the light

This is a song I wrote just now as I walked in awe at the wisdom of nature. My computer won’t record sound/video right now so I hope to sing it for you some time in the future…and hey, if before then you find yourself humming along and finding your own tune – great! – go wild :)

Knocking

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They’re knocking at the door

you glance up

it’s locked

the wood’s solid

they’ll go away

***

They’re still knocking at the door

you pull the chain across

silently

so’s not to give yourself away

they’ll get bored

***

They’re banging on the door

cracks are beginning to appear in the plaster

you cross to the window

but on opening it

see nothing but a sheer drop

***

intense fear

brings clarity

***

leaving by the window

ensures your demise

opening the door

well, you just might survive

***

‘Alright. I’m coming.’

The knocking stops

***

You open the door,

and love falls at your feet

Cheek

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I dared tell the sun

to hurry up

couldn’t believe my own cheek

it didn’t listen though of course

thank God

and as I crossed the sand

towards the golden cauldron

simmering beneath the horizon

burning its unmoving audience of clouds purple

it seemed the waves slapped louder,

but perhaps it was just my sleepy hearing

waking up

***

Damn!

Had I passed the point

at which I was meant

to scrabble up

the pebble mounds

and leave the rippled beach?

The cauldron was boiling fiercely now,

it could errupt any moment –

but impatient insecurity turned my back

and I scrabbled

and failed

searching out a likelier spot

I snuck a last look

***

Like loved ones who die

the moment you leave the room for a coffee

or the electricity that comes back

when you’ve returned triumphant with candles

in that scrabbling moment

the sun had snuck its forehead

over perception’s wall –

I deserved that

I Am From…

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I am from Sunday mornings as a child
riding hours into minutes at a gallop
before returning to a weekly treat
of hot baked beans in a bowl
***
I am from macaroni cheese and gado gado,
though I have no holiday snaps
and only very little blood (Indonesian)
from one of their countries of origin
***
I am from thyme fragranced mountains
and gentle seas that called to me ‘come, swim’
before I’d even taken my first steps.
***
I am from good, from people who love and share with ease,
who care for me even when I feel ‘uncareable for’
and I know this because the good has been well spiced
with mistakes and pain, which are sometimes too hot
for me to take in, and yet as I breathe I can see
the integrity of the original ingredients
***
I am from people who sing (loudly) and dance (outrageously)
and laugh as if the very meaning of life
hungers for those movements and that sound
without which whatever gives life life will cease,
or at the very least, go to sleep for a very long time
***
I am from silence, immersing myself in her comfort
yielding myself to her wisdom,
searching the pathways she reveals in all directions
for that peace, that joy, that truth
which I sometimes want to give up on,
but which never seems to be willing
to give up on me
***
I am from creative fearlessness
from invention, imagination, colour and curiosity
the land of ‘anything’s possible’
to which I regularly return with the same question,
‘What, really? Anything?’
***
I am from the strength that comes
from knowing I’m never alone
and yet that which accompanies me
all places at all times
needs no name
it just taps me on the shoulder when I need redirecting
and hugs me safe in invisible arms
when there is no comfort to be found in this world
***
I am from fiery passion, at times clothed in anger,
which sticks capitalised labels shouting
‘THIS IS WRONG!’ on inequality and unkindness
in all their insidious forms
until tears make the labels peel off
and I realise how little I truly understood
what I was so willing to name
***
I am from mystery and timelessness
for though my body will return to the earth
on some unknown, unremarkable day in the future,
that which is remarkable about the being I am
can never leave, for it never arrived
but simply was – always.

I wrote this in response to a chapter in a book I’m re-reading at the moment, ‘Writing to Change the World’ by Mary Pipher. Early in the chapter called ‘Know Thyself’ she writes:

“When I researched The Middle of Everywhere, I asked refugees to write ‘I Am From’ – type poems as they struggled to find themselves in a new country and language. They followed a formula with each line beginning with ‘I am from.’ Writing this kind of poem is a way to experiment with identity issues. The poem must include references to food, places, and religion. You might want to give it a try.’

And so I extend her invitation to you. Where are you from?

Drizzle

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I ate a couple of blackberries

on my way to the bus

sprinkled with a silvery

morning drizzle

that had watered my smile

into full bloom

until I realised

I’d stopped for too many flowers

and saw the bus

leave without me

***

the morning drizzle,

heavier now,

sunk my smile

and weighed down my pack

as I walked away from the stop

watching my destination

float further away

with each wet step

***

the morning drizzle

teased the windscreen wipers

who screeched at the sky

more, more!

as I flung out an apologetic arm

and the bus stopped

where it shouldn’t

and I showered my thanks and sorrys

into the warmth

and the dry

to help the day ripen

Please come again

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I know you’ve been

but I didn’t hear you arrive

and you’d left

before I’d had the chance

to welcome you

***

I found your gifts

but by then it was too late

to ask you more about them

for they didn’t seem to come

with any instructions

***

I’ve laid out a welcome mat

and prepared my questions,

keeping your gifts close to hand,

to be sure I’m ready next time –

please come again

I used to dance

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I used to dance
stamp my feet at great speed
as a child
in our local Greek taverna –
people even threw money apparently

I used to sing
Elton John at the top of my voice
to the copse of trees
in the back field –
and I knew they heard me

But used to returns sometimes
so I dreamt I danced
down a crowded pavement
to a melody of whispered,
‘She knows! She knows!’

They called a meeting, the whisperers,
convened in a caravan that appeared
by the side of the road
(as these things do, sometimes, in dreams)
just they three and me

‘You do realise, young lady,’
said one
‘what watching you
could do to people.’
I blushed and pulled a face

an eloquent look of,
‘And your point is?’
– for my face and eyes dance too,
you see – but I said,
‘I know what you mean.’

We were going to take
the world by storm,
give it a dangerous shot of hope
danced with a joy that’s free
and fearless – but I woke up

and my first thought was to wonder
why they’d called me young,
for I’m not, you see.
I’d forgotten to ask the whisperers
in the dream

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