Monthly Archives: February 2009

Mad grin

click to see uncropped image

click to see uncropped image

I’m feeling a bit under pressure at work at present. I start a new job next week. Well, technically I start next week but over the last two days I’ve begun to be hit by some of the new challenges – all complex and requiring to be dealt with urgently from a point of very little knowledge. My predecessor is out of the country, my new boss is on leave, and her boss has only been in the job a fortnight. I have a good team but they’re under lots of pressure and I haven’t quite got straight what each of them does, so it makes it a bit tricky to work out who to ask. At least one of the challenges I’m dealing with happens less frequently than once in a blue moon in my organisation… and yet it comes along in my first week!

But the funny thing is that each time I come across a new problem to deal with, I find the crazy grin on my face has intensified by another degree. I find myself enjoying the absurdity of having to deal with all of this at once. Plus there’s a feeling that if I manage to do anything at all constructive in this situation, it’s surplus to reasonable expectations!

So the photo above taken a few months ago in a wildlife sanctuary, seems to capture the way I’m feeling just now – and possibly my facial expression too! I may wince a bit… but actually I do enjoy a challenge!

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Spring in the air?

I’ve just signed up to contribute to the Spring Haiku 2009 blog, and have a haiku up there… do check out the site as something interesting seems to be stirring in the garden!

cold flame, dry potion

This is a follow-up to alchemy of flame:

coals of the firewalk red with paint
glass empty as the dry pool below the diving board 
labyrinth that’s just a paper set, for a play with no audience

all that remains, is an aching heart, its bravery wasted,
empty of the dreams that blazed
in its heartfelt fever

Hope

head heavy on the soft void of my pillows
I think about hope, as my tired mind
tries to construct pleasant futures
out of the broken fragments of old dreams

yet staring me in the face, (interrupting dreams
with all the subtlety of an alarm clock’s frantic buzz)
is the knowledge that hopes, thwarted, bring pain
my eyes (still gritty from last night’s weeping)
squeeze shut again, looking for sweeter dreams

yet the sweeter the dream, the harder the waking
into a world that knows nothing of my dreams
why hope? why search? when finding nothing hurts so
and yet what point is living without searching or hoping?

with a sigh, I throw back the covers
stand up, begin to face the day

perhaps hope
is not dreaming
but simply taking one step
after another

my heart’s song

I sing the pain
of the heart that yearns
not,
(as endless poets have pleaded)
to be the object of love
but rather to be its subject
the heart that is trying to remember
how to love
how to lose itself in the depths of another’s eyes

I sing of the guilt
of the heart that feels
it is somehow culpable
for not being a beholder of beauty
for not finding, in this infinite world
even one person before whom
it bows down in exultation

I sing of the searching
as much within as without
to match my soul to another’s
wondering if it is some sickness,
some lack, in me
that stops me finding what I seek
not a heart of gold waiting to be brought to light
but a cunning tooth biting in too strict a test

(I sing… yet how can I sing?
for my voice, too, is searching in silence
where the cries of the soul are drowned
by the voices of critics debating
how that pain should be voiced
when each life-giving gulp of air is poisoned
by instructions on how to breathe)

I sing of the loneliness
of a heart that refuses to be deceived
by the flattering haze of romance
of a heart that knows what it wants
and will not settle for less
that cannot look away from the truth
that what it seeks is not here, not now

the heart that suffers
wondering
if what it seeks
will ever
be found

Eyes and heart

There is a deep, strong sweetness in a heart that’s open to all
A heart that loves without reserve, and sees no need for guile
Yet open hearts are easily hurt by those who mock and maul
Or batten on generosity that’s unpractised in tough denial
Until that deep, sweet openness is gone beyond recall
Leaving the sad heart frozen over, as eyes forget to smile

There is a deep, strong wisdom in eyes open to danger
Cautious from the memories of old wounds that have scarred
Like the restless sentinel stare of an always-watchful ranger
Aware of what might happen if she ever dropped her guard
Eyes that dare not look for kindness in the bright face of a stranger
Eyes that see so clearly, but, in fear, look far too hard

There is a middle way, I think, between suspicion and hoping
And that’s the path I seek to walk – with eyes and heart wide open

 

This sonnet takes as its starting point the ending words of Neil Gaiman’s amazing Graveyard Book.

“The midsummer sky was already beginning to lighten in the east. And that was the way that Bod began to walk, down the hill, towards the living people, and the city, and the dawn. There was a passport in his bag, money in his pocket. There was a smile dancing on his lips, although it was a wary smile, for the world is a bigger place than a little graveyard on a hill. And there would be dangers in it, and mysteries, new friends to make, old friends to rediscover. Mistakes to be made and many paths to be walked before he would, finally, return to the graveyard…. But between now and then, there was life, and Bod walked into it with his eyes, and his heart, wide open.”

I love these words – and indeed the whole book – and in reading the readwritepoem prompt to write a “bop” based on a refrain from another poem, I couldn’t resist making use of these lines. In the end it worked better as a normal sonnet rather than a bop, so maybe I’ll have a go at bopping later.

alchemy of flame

lost in a labyrinth of mirrors
the lives I chose not to live
tease me with their gold-red glitter
and against their glazed silence
the cries of long-faded passion echo
suffering and joy indistinguishable

where is the thread to guide me?

I have been seeking that tantric alchemy
that transforms the bitter almond tang
of old love’s pain into rich bright mead
now the drink simmers before me
its scent brims with sweet intoxication
saying wisdom has tempered the poison

does temptation cloud my seeing?

in the crucible metal shivers and curdles
before melting in consummation
to be shaped by the whim of the vessel
into which it once chose to throw itself
the first hot breath of that forging
traces my skin with sensual intent

should I give myself to the fire?

This started with a readwritepoem prompt about other lives… and took off in an unexpected direction.

The photo is Goblet of cognac, originally uploaded by Andrejs Jegorovs.