Monday, 31 January 2011

A River of Stones

A River of Stones’ was a writing project conceived and curated by Fiona Robyn, a writer & coach, and her fiancé Kaspalita, who is a Buddhist priest. It encouraged people to write a daily small stone - ‘a polished moment of paying proper attention’ - throughout the month of January.

More than 300 people joined in the project and the river shows no sign of abating, as many of the contributors have committed themselves to continue creating small stones for the remainder of the year.

‘Choosing something to write about every day,’ they explained on their , ‘will help you to engage with yourselves, with others, and with the world. It will help you to love everything within and without you a little bit more – the dark and the light, the joyful and the melancholy, the ugly and the beautiful.’

Intrigued and excited, I decided to join the project and submitted one small stone for each day of the month. On certain days they were easy to find, glinting in sunlight on the edge of the riverbank. Yet on other days I struggled to see them, having to plunge my hand deeply into the river and rummage around before I found a stone to lift from the water.

Reflecting back, I realise how little time I was spending just simply ‘being’. It was on those days that I found it difficult to find some space to connect with myself & the world around me.

Now that I’m back in the flow I intend to make space at some point during each day to sit and experience the ‘otherness’ that we fail to recognise when we are busy ‘doing’.

Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Fiona & Kaspa for creating the project and for inviting me on what has been a most enjoyable & enlightening journey. Namaste.

Here are the small stones that I submitted, one for each day of the month of January:

Saturday 1 January 2011

After the whizz-bang
crackle and spark of midnight
emptiness fills me

Sunday 2 January 2011

Having gathered up the eggs I step outside and see the chickens strutting and pecking. How do you thank them? I scatter extra corn.

Monday 3 January 2011

Waking in darkness / your odour / arouses me / I  brush my lips against / your invisible skin

Tuesday 4 January 2011

Alone in a lift I thought 'what if?' as I dared to imagine dying without you.

Wednesday 5 January 2011

Candleflame / a soft yellow teardrop / swaying / in a mihrab / of shadows

Thursday 6 January 2011

Dung heap / shit and straw / still steaming / the reek of malt / filling my lungs

Friday 7 January 2011

Fire-gazing / licks of orange / blue-green flickers of burning gas / deep inside the flames a cavern / where a dragon hides.

Saturday 8 January 2011

Spontaneously / we dance / the four of us / as Sting sings / Shape of my heart

Sunday 9 January 2011

An amber lamp / glowing / in the coal-black night / so far away / a stranger's place

Monday 10 January 2011

Standing / in pouring rain / echoes of Creation / boom silently / in my tears

Tuesday 11 January 2011

Holding him close / I catch / my foreverness / brimming inside / his cloudless eyes

Wednesday 12 January 2011

Staring / into a violet / cathedral of quartz / intoxicated / by its lustre

Thursday 13 January 2011

Hush (raindrops: splish splosh). Brook purls cantabile over smooth stones (churgle, babble, blooop). My soul squelches like soft moss.

Friday 14 January 2011

Street light / flickers / in amber spasms / i wonder / is it going to die?

Saturday 15 January 2011

In the backwash / of cyber-conversations /a sunbow / dancing / in spindrift

Sunday 16 January 2011

Windows lashed by storms
my galleon dips, rises
in the ocean's swell

Monday 17 January 2011

I gaze up at the firmament / to all the stars and galaxies / I cannot see / and ask myself / why am I writing this?

Tuesday 18 January 2011

Up in the sky / ashes and pearls / smoking and cinerous / stifling / a lemon-drop sun

Wednesday 19 January 2011

A tree: a trilogy

one)    shingles of bark / corky fibres / blue-grey / gilded with silver
two)    sapwood / creamy and smooth / ivory / tinged with amber
three)  huge gnarl / like a troll's eye / staring at me /pitifully

Thursday 20 January 2011

Oh irony of fox-brown feathers / floppy bonnet / bright as bacon / ancient amber eyes / lay me a speckled egg

Friday 21 January 2011

Coy moon / streaked with gunsmoke / clouds tinged / with old gold / in a navy sky 

Saturday 22 January 2011

Shavings / beneath a lathe / pine-scented curls / of heartwood / aesthetic casualties

Sunday 23 January 2011

Sighs of contentment
listening to flowing stream
full bladder empties

Monday 24 January 2011

Wind turbines / rising like shock troops / over the wold / spinning /symbols of peace

Tuesday 25 January 2011

Vaulted / altar of trees / blackbird sings / in the silence / of a  rainstop

Wednesday 26 January 2011

Your breath ~ an opaline mist ~ on my ordinary day 

Thursday 27 January 2011

Blue police domes / flash silently / a woman sits / by the roadside / weeping

Friday 28 January 2011

Goldfinch sings / in Rowan tree / its home / a moss cup / hidden in the hedgerow

Saturday 29 January 2011

Stone walls / brooding / splitting green / ancient thresholds / keepers of space

Sunday 30 January 2011

Sheep plucks grass / from wintered fields / inside her body / heartbeats of Spring / ticking softly

Monday 31 January 2011

Dip your hand in the water ~ pull out your golden moment

Saturday, 22 January 2011

'Fluxus Interruptus: when renga joined the avant-garde'

Over the past few weeks,@marousia & I have collaborated together & then with @bookwriter222 to produce two poems ‘live’ on Twitter. Given the tremendous enjoyment of those two adventures we decided it might generate even more fun if we were to increase the numbers of our group & embark upon a 36-verse renga.

As on previous occasions we identified a theme for our renga (change) and created a hashtag of #rengachange so we could all easily identify each other’s individual lines the moment they were posted. A hashtag also enabled non-participating people on Twitter to follow our progress & comment/RT if they wished.

This particular venture was spread over two successive mornings to accommodate the huge time differences between those people who were participating. Once we had all stepped into the Twitter stream I volunteered to contribute the opening verse of our renga & we worked out a running order from there. To begin with there were four of us: @marousia @bookwriter222 @amoz1939 & myself, each of us submitting a verse in turn & then starting again in the same order. @remittancegirl joined us a little later and the five of us continued to contribute individual verses until our time ran out (some people desperately needed to go to bed).

The following day we were due to be joined by @MissyPoem but, just as were ready to begin, she mysteriously disappeared from our Twitter timeline. So, the same five people who were working on the poem the day before picked up the thread &, after a small bout of confusion, off we went again.

After a few more verses @amoz1939 was summoned by the crickets & had to leave. After another few rounds, @remittancegirl needed to respond to the dinner gong, leaving @marousia@bookwriter222 & myself to complete the renga

Just as we approached the final verse @amoz1939 suddenly reappeared & nipped in with a rogue verse seconds before @bookwriter222 contributed the official ending lines. That was funny enough but @amoz1939's explanatory tweet had me falling about with laughter: drat it. I thought we were supposed to go through the whole night since it is a weekend. O well.

At that point we all heard an inexplicable rumbling noise followed by a noticeable judder beneath our feet. It was, of course, Basho turning uncomfortably in his grave.

Despite our moments of confusion the predominant feeling that ran the whole way through this exercise was one of great fun. It did not seem to matter to any of us if we strayed from accepted procedure or if our verses lacked continuity. On the contrary, we were poetic rebels & celebrated the fact that a degree of Dadaism had crept into our work as we ‘laughed in the face of order & convention.’

As for a title – well, the remaining three of us had to scoot off pretty quickly once our poem was complete so, in the hope that my fellow (sic) poets will forgive me, I have chosen to call it ‘Fluxus interruptus':

Fluxus Interruptus

Under a cool moon/ the earth slumbers, breathes softly/ stillness and shadows

A gentle western breeze lifts / petals from a cherry tree

Blue cat very still/ watches butterflies/ admid the petals

Dragonflies smiling ~ butterlies preen in colors ~having my sake

Silver ripples on green pond/ shades of orange, Koi resting

All is quiet here / pondering the coming day / nothing stirs, I sit

Ginko trees stand silent guard/ maples bowing to the moon

Bamboo house clean and ready / sake bowls fill to the brim

Distant thunderstorm/ heron glides down mountainside/ soft patter of rain

A stranger arrives from town / the thunderstorm is nearing

horizonal rain / steals the stranger's hat and laughs / gifts it to the wind

The hat staggers drunkenly/ spins wildly on the pond's brink

Frog jumps out of pond ~ and landing on floating hat ~a nice lily pad

Stranger kneels beside the pond/ Koi feeding upon his smile

As dawn breaks cover / wrathful angry storm abates / I wait patiently

Air fresh and dense with thunder / dew-trapped sparks of lightning passed

Fire gives out warmth ~ all guests seated by crickets ~ thunder storm ceases

 Feast of eels and saki/ appears for the dinner guests

Crickets one sake ~ waiting for a guest to come ~ eels are delicious

Violet mist drifting down/ spreading blanket over guests

As frogs leap and sing / spoken tales of woven dreams / synchronicity

No leaping frogs, no grilled eels / stops the slow drip - spilt sake

Old man sings a song/ of brave warriors, their swords/ and lovely geishas

Sun climbs high, the morning burns/ sweat trickles down guests' faces

The mist clears away / a breeze that whispers secrets / cools the troubled mind

Breath upon a dusty glass / the ghostly geisha's kiss print

Ghostly foot falls tap/ across the sun light terrace/ mosquitoes buzzing

Sated guests lie on futons/ soothed by ghostly lullabies

An exchange, a glance / a frisson of excitement / quivers up the spine

In the corner the koto / sounds one dark abandoned note

Kimonos rustle/ the sound of slapping rhythms/ paper screen snaps shut

Far away, behind mountains/ black ships in turquoise ocean

Surging through the waves / a promise of a future / ships that speak of change

A floating island sitting / atop a giant turtle

A demon appears/ head flaming, eyes fiery/ the gods are smiling

With lightening speed, he strikes / the gods of change start dancing

NB. For those of you who may be worried about @MissyPoem's disappearance, I can confirm that she had not been abducted by aliens as we first feared. She appeared in our timeline towards the end of our exercise looking extremely chic: Missy's snapshot of the day

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Blackstone Edge

Down in the towns
the future slumbers -
dark churches, invisible mills
purled with sodium stars.
Here, yawning moors stretch out
their early colours,
night rains ditched
in bone-cold puddles of skylight.

By the roadside a ewe grazes.
Numbskulled, she glances upwards,
no light inside her brassy eye
as her young lamb
dallies in front of me,
holding me in a glorious dangling
beyond the curb
of a temporal 'is'.

Lit by shadows I drive on
past swards of cotton grass,
smell the gummy oils from fires
set by moiling farmers -
blessed to feed upon
this yeastless bread
and quick to rumble the pylons
thrumming their strings with joy.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Unus Mundus

Following our poetry duet ‘Flames of Creation’, @marousia & I decided it would be good fun to invite other people to take part in a further collaboration. Our friend @bookwriter222 spotted our twittered intentions and volunteered immediately. Being spontaneous individuals we thought: ‘Why not? Let’s do it – now! So, on a Saturday mid-morning in the UK & a late Australian evening, we began our renga.

We agreed that @bookwriter222 would set us off and @marousia and myself would follow her in that order, contributing alternately until we had 18 lines of poetry.

As previously, we also decided that we needed a theme for our renga. @bookwriter222 came up with the excellent idea of a unicorn. Working with a hashtag of #unicornrenga, we were on our way.

In classical renga it is expected that both the ‘moon’ and ‘flowers’ are referred to as the poem is created. Consequently, we all managed to include several lunar & flora references in our individual verses.

Whilst we tried to adhere to the traditional pattern of beginning with a haiku (three lines of verse with a syllable count of 5-7-5) & following it with two 7-syllable lines of verse (so the poem would be comprised of alternating lines of 5-7-5 & 7-7 syllable counts) a break in the process necessitated by the time difference between our countries caused us to break the tempo slightly. It was at this point that a rogue gogyohka crept into our sequence, which we integrated into our poem. Format was far less important to us than keeping such a wonderful conversation going.

Once re-united, we clambered back onto the renga path and skipped towards our final verse. After some deliberation, the title Unus Mundus was chosen, as it seemed to link in with the Latin roots of Unicorn: unus 'one' and cornu 'horn'.

Unus Mundus

 A forgotten time / two moons collide together / a unicorn breathes

Sparks from the moons collision / kiss unicorn's velvet horn

Drops of rain glisten / like pearls on flower petals / round unicorn's hooves

Flowing silver mane whips back / unicorn races the moon

Violets spring up / wherever unicorn's hooves touch / trees whisper secrets

Unicorn hears plaintive cry / bluebird with a broken wing

A bird from heaven /as blue as the sky is old /secrets bind them both

Unicorn lowers his horn / a single touch heals the wing

Bluebird sings his song / unicorn rears high, his eyes / like pools of moonshine

Black witch readies her poison / a unicorn of beauty

Ground unicorn horn / prized aphrodisiac / temptation was great

Unicorn sees moon shadows / of black witch in bluebird's eyes

A hazy dawn ~ brings black witch ~ back into the fray ~ our unicorn is in grave danger ~ we race towards the moon

Bluebird's sweet song fills the air / Black witch's spell returns to her

Black witch clutches throat / dissolves in putrid green steam / hail the unicorn

An eternal flame shines bright / in unicorns moonkissed eyes

Unicorn breathes/ on the putrid slime/ turning it to gold

Sunlight and shadows merging / death becomes life. Alchemy

@marousia posting on our collaboration can be found here: Unus Mundus
@bookwriter222 posting on our collaboration can be found here: Unus Mundus

Monday, 17 January 2011


My poem 'McHappiness' was recently commended in a poetry competition organised by Leaf Books. It is due to appear in an anthology with the winning poem, the two-runners-up & the other commended poems.

I have just been informed by Leaf Books that the title of the book will be Balancing Act and Other Poems. As soon as I have a publishing date I will let you know - just in case there is a teeny-weeny chance you might want to buy the book. I have had a sneak preview of all the other poems & feel privileged to be in such esteemed company. There are some truly wonderful poems in this collection.


Daily administration of the prescribed oxalate
has caused the electric juice of happiness

to pool within your synaptic clefts. Re-uptake
is now minimal and your recipient cells

have been flash-flooded with 5-HT. Soon –
one more week perhaps – your darkness

will lift. The words treacle, futile and pit will slip
from your consciousness. Ligatures will manifest

as rafters and black dogs will slumber
in their kennels. Your mornings will be cock-crowed

in soft summer yellows, your nights sparkled
with argentine. Winters will be gladdened

with lux, tragedies will become comedies,
slums palaces as you rise up from the valley

of Baca. Fully loaded, you will be lifted by dancers
and flung heavenwards. You will shrug off traumas,

laugh at funerals and, when you no longer need me,
I shall wait for you, sealed inside my silver clip.

Should you get messed by the world again
simply press my bubble and push me out.

Feel the slick of my curves, the drag of my glaze
in the tube of your tongue (remember –

nausea and diarrhoea are common at first
but beware of rashes and fits).

Soothing as a sugar tit, sweet as Hoffman’s
drops, I am your saviour: salvation-to-go,

your Elysian torpedo fashioned to rattle
selectively in the pillbox of your soul.