04 Dec 2017

Jet contrails, Marcus. You see the sky was never meant to be scarred by them. And yet, we think of them now as normal or even beautiful. Surreal vapour calligraphy. It’s the same thing with relationships. No one remembers what the unblemished perfection was supposed to be like.

The primal mandate was the infinite progression of life. The complexity of the new paradigm comes from the inevitable synthetic permutations introduced into the human interface.

Introduced because we need validation of our existential dilemma, endorsement of our sense of happiness. So we barter need for want, purpose for possession, poetry for fine print, sunsets for illusion, love for security and eternity for exhilaration. How will the perfect relationship survive that trade?

By becoming normal. Even beautiful.

neither sun nor moon
neither light nor dark
the unopened bud holds her secrets

27 Nov 2017

In the end we are just pilgrims, Marcus, on circuitous, arduous journeys, seeking something, larger than ourselves, something we do not fully comprehend but are still convinced waits at the sunlit end with all the answers.

The path is circular, you know, always leading back to where you started.

Isn’t that the only way we can make sense of the world- if we are both question and answer. Beginning and end. If we are little skies that peel back greys or blues or speckled silver to find the constant nothing.

But what would nothingness mean, unless the sky is constantly changing.

As the pilgrim walks, Marcus, maybe it isn’t the sky that changes, just the way he learns to look at it.

by an incanting bee
a soft rose ripples the dawn

12 Jul 2017

There is a tiny pause, Marcus, a fraction of time, when all the moving parts in your life stand still.

When you dare to move contrary to the anticipated direction.

Yes, they stop to take stock and turn, before some stall, some cancel each other out, some wonder if it is worth it, the whole becomes a fraction, the illusion morphs, reality faces the sun once more as it spins, a grotesque phantasm looking in the mirror, shielding its eyes…

And in that moment of static incomprehension, you move ahead of life.

It catches up, but by then it’s different.

And so are you.

sliding back into the ocean
a reluctant wave
remembers the sweet taste of land

21 Jun 2017

Do you write out of necessity, Marcus, as Rilke asks? Would you die if you couldn’t write? I am quite certain I won’t die of not writing, but the process of creating never stops, does it, just because you don’t commit words to paper? The little squiggles continue to form in the black void like chalky hieroglyphic mobiles swinging in gusts of perpetual thought.

Well, turn it around then, what is the question inside your head to which writing is the answer.

That’s trickier! But surely one writes, as George Mallory was inclined to say, “because it’s there”. You can or at least you think you have a shot, so you do it. You might die doing it, but the opposite may not necessarily be true.

Perhaps you should examine the positive effects. What happens if you write? What can happen if you write? What transforms you from consequence to cause?

So by writing you become the first flutter of the butterfly’s wing, stirring a new chaos, ensuring you live on in some form… and never die.

Conversely, if you don’t write, you die.

here they lie
the beginning of the beginning
and the end of the end, together

11 Jun 2017

But there are people who can see a poem inside a word, an ocean within a raindrop and the entire universe in one act of kindness. Are these the people, Marcus, who drag our world, kicking and screaming, forward?

There are also those who see the poem as only the beginning of a sentence, the ocean as the benign crucible of intelligent life and the universe as a mere prop in the drama of the eternal soul.

You think what we see is merely a function of where we are and how far we have walked to get there.

Of where we are and where we think we ought to be.

and then it was over
and there was nowhere left to go
still we kept walking

29 May 2017

Who could have guessed, Marcus? He was like an old crumpled railway timetable with a black and white routine. Bathing in the river at four, dripping all over the polished mosaic, prayers rumbling in his throat, the ash smeared on his forehead white as the midsummer sun, he had gods scrambling out of their beds, so they would be ready to receive his prostrations.

And the day she arrived?

The men sitting on the porch dropped their cups of steaming filter coffee, the newspaper immediately turning stale. Around the house, children, women, maids, all trapped in the most inopportune freeze frame, playing, pushing, scrubbing, pouring, walking…only the television talking to no one in particular.

Enough embarrassment to pass around?

None! He brought her in like a monsoon cloud leading the rain, his wrinkled hand on her fragile arm, beaming like a full moon night, their slow shuffling steps walking straight into eleven open mouths. Then he asked for tea, in English. His wife, who could barely hear in any language, frowned at him incomprehensibly before a strange composure kicked in. The accusations started in the evening. The lady moved into the guest room that night.

And the wife?

She shrugged. She smiled. Then one day, she brought out the little blue trunk from her cupboard and showed the children pictures of a strange young man. With a pipe in his mouth. Stars in his eyes. Beaming like the full moon.

What did the children do?

Lit up cigarettes and asked for tea. In English.

all that smoke, all those mirrors
a fading ember
pretends to be a forest fire

23 May 2017

If I must pick one, Marcus, then the white tuberose is nature’s only hedonistic indulgence, just so she can revel each night in the decadent magnificence of her own creation.

Her soft spot then…her weakness?

The only one! Take away that flower and you have immeasurable beauty maybe, even a certain delicacy, maybe unimaginable fragrance, but no magic. That one creation is a delicious melancholy that picks at a single string in the moonlight, explaining in soft iambic rhyme why you exist in that moment, in that fragment of space, how you two-step perfectly with eternity.

Like a poem. The poem. Maybe we all have a poem like that. The one we are secretly proud of.

Even if it hasn’t been written yet.

that was it, that loud flap of wings,
the mynahs arguing again
with the wind

17 May 2017

There are so many poems now, Marcus, blooming everywhere, like wildflowers on the spring slopes, everyone is writing. There is the exquisite and the banal, the big ones creating revolutions, the little ones coaxing resolutions, the euphoric ones, the ones declaring clichéd love over and over again but mostly the soft ones coloured in the deep yellow of unknowable angst.

A most delectable sight, I’m sure. Anguish translates well, even into unseemly words.

I feel like I’m riding uphill on a little bicycle, unable to stop, unable to read, definitely unable to write or rhyme one more wildflower out of its weeping misery. I must throw my notebook away so I can ride like so many, just letting the undulating scent and colour pervade my senses. Feeling the hills, kissing the wind, ignoring poetry.

Will there still be flowers?

ask the cuckoo
if she has learnt to build a nest
there she is in the plum tree watching the badgers

11 May 2017

It’s what we do, Marcus. Read a poem and presume to know everything about the poet. A few drops of blood in the sink and suddenly every reader is Sherlock Holmes, pipe, hat and all.

Isn’t that the poet’s calling, to let his soul bleed on paper.

A poem is a dragonfly, you see it flash by, a blur of colour and hum and impending rain. There’s a story in it, a grimace, a sigh, a mirror. But it is not garden or the sky and surely not the poet.

That’s what the reader sees, not the ink stained hand that held out the mirror that captured the dragonfly that dropped out of the sky but the other hand shielding the mirror from the first raindrop.

Elementary, I suppose?

leaf by leaf
autumn paints the scene
bare branch and frozen water

03 May 2017

In a digital world ruled by algorithms that feed us the news we want to read, or they think we ought to read, our view of the world ends up so skewed, Marcus, I think mine is just resting on its side.

Those are the synthetic absolutes we respond to in so many different ways, the reality we wear, our straight horizon, our green sky, our renunciation of discernment.

Think of poems them, so slanted, their words are sliding out as they are written. We need upright poetry, Marcus, that creates harsh angles between stubborn voices and pre-conceived truths.

Try writing from oblique spaces, in blunt diagonals, lines that find their own direction, that cross out others. Try lying on your side.

you take off from the sigh of the mountain
brother eagle
those clouds never see you coming