junk detox

“We shape clay into a pot, but it is the emptiness inside which holds whatever we want” Lao Tzu

“We shape clay into a pot, but it is the emptiness inside which holds whatever we want” Lao Tzu

To the friend who sent me these words today, being in the same boat:
the first step to getting what you want is having the courage to get rid of what you don’t

You said it reminded you of some advice I’d given and I want to say I’m sorry.
About the advice I mean. It was a glib show;
dressed up in the satin-slippery glamour of poetic quotes
it got in the way of nakedly saying I don’t know.

For the state I’m in right now lends itself to purging
In between bouts of nausea I’m prowling madly through the house, making a mess
as I dig like a dangerous animal searching for prey
killing anything that doesn’t give me beauty, joy or usefulness.

All these corpses. It’s not just objects past their goodbye date I’m hunting down;
I’ve unhooked myself from every online magazine self-help program and blog
business or otherwise I’ve collected over the years
sick of their reproachful unread status cluttering up my inbox

I want surfaces. Space. Emptiness.
Sell up. Sweep out all the stuff inside my head I think I know
and start all over again. Beginner’s Mind.
It’s all marked down. Like those huge sales where everything must go.

Being empty I’ll have no more advice to give
nor can it come regurgitated from the mouth of social media, a thousand-fold said
I’m blocking those channels; trading aphorisms seems a poor exchange
when something risky, still unspoken, intoxicating could be said instead

So it’s quite uncanny you sent me what you did
for it’s only from this newly spacious mind that I can say
how much I like it that someone on the other side of night
thinks of me in the emerging light of day

Making me wonder
what I want to make all this space for

the eloquence of elephants

Living in a country where wild animals can still be experienced up close in their natural habitat allows them to enter our psyches and imaginations in a way very different from just seeing reproduced images of them.  This is the first of three poems:

Photo: Cian Small

Photo: Cian Small

Her trunk is an eye
a feeling intelligence
a far-seeing limb
of elegant eloquence
that somehow translates
into mysteriousness

For I can no more
think of her trunk’s curling grace
without feeling my
own phantom limb reaching
into my life its
unfolding – strange –  from my face.

One sees things anew
from an elephant’s trunk point of view.

song: the way to lindisfarne

Uncertain of the future we make our way to Lindisfarne
Where the sea conceals the road and the way becomes a mystery
pilgrims on a journey we have come to find our history
in our dereliction, in the ruins of all our wrongs
paying homage to our losses, the reason we have come

Will you meet me on the island, the island Lindisfarne
You will find me in the ruins where the arches frame the sky
laying bare the naked skeleton  of what could not survive
It’s there among the fallen, we‘ll undress what we’ve become
retrieving all we should’ve saved, and all we left undone

If you meet me on the island, the island Lindisfarne
We could start at the beginning as if we still had time
as if we could recover what was never yours or mine
You’ll undo all your longing and I’ll empty myself of you
Then we’ll return to lives unshadowed by the love we chose to lose

And once we’ve left the island, when we’re far from Lindisfarne
we’ll pretend this was a dream and that we always knew
you’ll never have me in this lifetime and I must burn each thought of you
it’s just the last thing I remember, where the sea draws over stone
There were still two travellers waiting for the sea to free the road

They are the ghosts of our surrender to another history
and they will take the road not taken, the road we couldn’t see.

acknowledgements:  Robert Frost & dear friends MG and CG who took me there