- Vol. 07
- Chapter 10
Contrary to the intangible grapevine
They call the pain it takes
to feel who you are
necessary — to exhibit and exude what is wholly you;
with the slip-ups,
to make a ballet of the mistake,
to paint their censorship void,
takes harpooning a slippery ghost,
holding the two edged sword at both ends
and feeling the cut like Thomas,
nursing the wound,
healing and falling in love with the process,
sowing your eyes closed
and Candyman repeating yourself away.
What’s with first or second nature
in grossly tandem we broke the womb
jagged and ogrely
the straight line will beautify and purify us
if only we’d unlearn the jive
quit drunken boxing shadows
for laughter and patterns
To abide. To sit still. To try not to fidget. To wait.
To abide. To inspect. To squint.
To notice the foot is a plinth for the earth.
To lean back. To like the socks.
To tune into ambient sound, to compose a fugue of rustling leaves.
To gulp a glass of lukewarm water, coughing out a mouthful over your laptop.
To swing between them, sneezing.
To frame. To spin a yarn.
To decide they are here. To know they are always here: a mole’s eye view.
At his potter’s wheel/Fancying himself a mythic hero/He throws a clay shield, palms smoothing damp, flattening the dull curve/Spinning a disc/Behind which he will try to hide/From the blind hold of a distant god/like hapless Jonah bellied in a whale
Like the devil, like death
Impossible to evade forever
Dogged like all gods must
And like him most of us will try and try
For the wild joy
That reckless fling, lift and fancy
Splayed limbs, rushing
Muscles coiled massed propelling
Bunched squirming against the
Eternal vigilance of force
Like a toddler repulsed by the milky coddle of their mother’s clutch
And the attempt to navigate the bind together
In messy flocks
Forgetting the private relation between the body and the half drag, half embrace that will favour and quicken one over another and yet treat both the same in the end
Will fall anyway,
Will always fall
sometimes when you look
do you think it strange
the way the sky drapes
its body round a hill
a hill along a river and
the river counts the toes
on two lovers
pressed at the waist
lips and tongues like
fingers around a lens
oh to be young
there is so much life
in being lifeless in water
don’t you think it strange
how involved they become
the whole world falls
I shall speak the language
of the aerobics of the air
in exercise of bodily liberty
I shall dance
to the rhythms of silver lining
and the green field
adorned with flexibility as a cloak
devoid of palisade
for there are no ceilings in art
I shall dance and dance
till I can dance no more
Freedom is a State of Mind
I'm enclosed in this place
I feel safe in this space
There's life in cyber space
But still I'm protected
Stay socially distant
Still me, still here – present
Free to speak out – create
Document and narrate
Impart ideas and debate
Between four walls, boxed in
But freedom reigns within
Comfort in my own skin
I grow and adapt here
Space and time make things clear
Embrace myself – self-care
Focus my energy
Helping others I see
Struggling to survive
Willing them to revive
Resilient, I strive
For justice, equality
For respect and dignity
For love and humanity
Read more >
Puffed clouds call me to dance
across cerulean and white ballrooms
Tchaikovsky breaking the spring heat
from my playlist
twirling faster and faster,
the sky and Tchaikovsky
in clarinets and strings
I dance with space and air
I think I can fly
clarinets and strings
until the strings snap
Freedom tastes of warm blueberry pie and slowed-cooked brisket. Seasoned with pepper, salt. Garlic, too. Carved, sliced, and plated in heaping portions on sagging paper plates. Sides of slaw, crudite, and salads of many lands. Vinegar, oils. Secrets, too. Shared shoulder to shoulder. Patrons of all ages, zip codes, and country IDs rub spices, spark flames, and inhale life. Prepare for flight of individual paths. Safe crossings. Plenty for all. All with plenty.
Freedom smells of freshly cut grass, denim cut offs, and cotton T’s. Unlaced canvas sneakers and calf high crews. High-waisted linen skirts and low-waisted spandex leggings. Silk coverings. String bikinis. Bright floral patterns. Formal plaids. Leather sandals and faux suede loafers. Crimson painted toes. Fabric covered arms. Shoulder to shoulder. Plenty for all. All with plenty.
Freedom rings of cardinals, blue jays, and soaring eagles. Passenger planes, children’s songs, and whispers of wind. Radio tunes of classic, jazz, and hip hop origins. Voices chanting prayer, plays – one, two, three, go – peaceful protests, and playful pursuits. Plenty for all. All with plenty.
Freedom is a vision hand painted in watercolor – rows of tiny circular pots, hand written in ink – red, blue, black – and hand drawn in charcoal – pastels and brights. Reflections that read lips, run without fear, and bow only when bending over calm waters. Plenty for all. All with plenty.
What can one do when tides
turn and skies turn gray other
than find both solace and
Strength in shared whimsy.
Breathe new life into tired
souls as dreams take form
and prepare for flight Read more >
When we fell from the sky
we lost our wings, forgot
stardust and clouds.
When we took our first breath
afloat on wind, we recalled
the pleasure of touch
the savory sweetness of life.
Now between sky and earth, we
trampoline to the pulse
of air and rushing blood.
Bounding over clouds, we
ricochet off fields of loam
redolent with all things alive
rebound from mountainous bluffs
somersault over streams
and dry sun-drenched paving stones.
We dance with gravity and light.
Bodies rising on warm currents, we
vaporize, drift away
only to return
sated, heavy with yearning
as cosmic dust
falling again from the sky.
Leap Of Faith
We make it look easy,
dancers always do.
Even out here
on the heath
performance is all.
The rest is hidden
behind the scenes
usually in the sweaty studio.
It took a leap of faith to carry on
working alone month after month
with no prospect of performance,
But we’re out now
out in the sun
jumping for joy
leaping with faith
ready to go again.
GOING WHERE THE WIND BLOWS
They own this piece of land, this soil—rich and deep near the river—thankful to the Earth that gives them gravity and crops. They ask us to lay on the ground with them, flutter like the leaves, staring up at the sky.
Last time we wanted to fly, they said, “The wind is so strong you can hardly stand.”
They listened to the howling all day long—like the wailing of lost souls—and shivered, afraid the wind will lift the roof off the house, afraid they might lose their balance and fall.
You and I stayed with the wind, swayed in the wind. Let it uproot us like trees and take us high, higher than the kites, hoping someday it buries us so deep in its pockets no one will ever be able to find us.
La dance joyeuse de voyage
So that’s what it’s like
to spring from terra firma,
defeat the pull of gravity,
dance with abandonment?
Who’d have thought
that departing the soil,
shuffling off this mortal coil
could be such fun?
My only hope is that,
when the reaper
comes a rapping,
I’ll be as bloody happy.
EARTHLY and HEAVENLY
Met at a coffee shop. Talked for hours.
“Shall we have another?”
All eyed them. Some in amazement whispered
“Oh! But they are so different, aren’t they?”
She is so EARTHLY and he HEAVENLY.
Almost mimicking that grass and those clouds.
The last drop sipped, bills paid, chairs moved
Faces turned and looked for their separate ways.
Another meeting, same place, someday.
When they will dance their hearts away.
In the theater as a child I sat immobilized,
knew that I would never be taken again
if I misbehaved, disgraced my grandmother.
When the orchestra’s first notes emerged,
I was hooked—this was my initiation, my own
overture. My body wanted to move, but it could
not. Exuberance flooded every pore, every cell
seemed to dance. Still as I was, still as the child
I had always been, I was whirling—across
the stage with dancers who had just emerged,
across verdant fields fired with Black-eyed Susans,
themselves buoyant in the breeze. There was heat
and cool wind, movement and suspension,
there in that seat, in the St. James Theater,
in 1964, in that still child, unstilled, fully alive.
A Very Long Sentence
I saw it first in children as they
broke into the sunlight, scooped
fearless holes in the air, their
small bare feet swiftly padding
on snow-white shingle beaches,
running toward the sea—their
toes foraged in the seaweed,
furrowed through the sand,
and I press against the window,
and hide myself in a cloud,
my will and fortitude stolen by
apprehension I dare not stir,
as crowds find hairsbreadth
passage in the sun’s expanse,
and imperceptible breath
washes in every direction.
This is a very long sentence.
I walk my dog through the park where children
lie on yoga mats stretching and sighing
when the instructor calls break and football
shirts whizz past me because the captain times
the boys’ laps whilst a family trundle
over the grass, laughing.
You could almost
believe we are free. Narrow alleyway.
Ears flung back in the wind like the white wings
of a plane, my dog races but the lead
pulls taut. Someone is coming. I side-step,
shrink as small as possible, hide and wait.
I watch a party of ants by my feet.
Two butterflies tango. Pink roses poke
their heads out, yearning for warm, yellow touch.
those days we walked on waterstarted with good coffee and a kiss and always one of those skies of blues and lighter than air unravelling balls of cotton wool clouds – and warmth – that type that mellows the bones and blushes the skin without drying lips or eyes – and fresh dustings of snow that you can see all the edges of snowflakes in and watch your breath describe love – and hoarfrost on interestingly pruned bushes and trees in the park – sounds of thunder stirring – a night of Persaid shooting stars – scents of cut grass and honeysuckle and ice-cream and toast and toast and toast – our shoes never chaffed – muscle and bone took us far and kept us near – fens – mountains – canal tow paths – a road between fields of wheat and barley at Sunk Island and those seals on Stone Creek Channel sandbank - what noises – and when we meet x, y or z and hugged and hugged – those days of smiles in shop aisles – and dance – disco – ballet – hip hop – and music – and the thought that strangers can meet and work out what bodies can do together and apart but mainly together – we did that – those days
And it’s true we unlearned gravity
unhooked our atoms
from the binding earth
(because even the clouds fly
when they aren’t weeping).
But look how
we are neither fish nor fowl
but something in between.
And truly I am made of water
longing to swim
but it’s too late
You’re reaching for the stars
and I’m spewing out ozone.
And it looked like fun to lose the ground
but it isn’t
– fun, I mean –
Tip me upside down
and see if my yearning falls out.
Walking mid-air, flying rooted on grass,
let rip at home, dance away restrictions
in moments of social-distanced bliss.
Back gardens, fields behind houses
lure hearts as much as long-haul travel
to picture book destinations.
Bodies curve, swerve, jump and dare,
inhale, exhale, life's all here at home.
Can we centre, be satisfied with local living,
energy fired by juggled conjugations...
surrender contrails in favour of fresh air.
She's a bow -
all strength and tension -
give her an arrow
and she'll shoot it
straight as a die
she's direct, she's punchy
he's a deer
all movement, all delight,
skittering in the margins,
first with a joke, a drink,
falling in love with his own shadow
yes, it's inevitable
Feel the thrill
the miracle of water
how you love to splash
paddle into the coolness
feel it slip between toes
the tinkling rhythms of river and stream
the chimes from waterfalls
you leap for joy
dance out up
gravity falls away
you could walk on water
fly like a bird
you are suspended
free of care
and a rickety gate,
boats nod on a sparkling river,
no longer anchored.
That’s me. I am no longer
anchored to a silent house.
My unsteady enchainment de pas
takes me to the water,
an ugly duckling,
weighty and blinking.
I try to leap,
throw my pandemic body at the sky
in a grand Jeté,
hoping to take off and fly
like a graceful swan.
But Covid has clipped my wings;
I limp back to the garden,
tumbling and croakily cawing,
I Found Form
From the reeds of imagination I found form
And water flows on point.
Twist, turn, form and jump into a new reality of this morning.
The contours of movement found in the corridors of confinement
And Music notes oh how they float like fireflies and set them alight.
We shall burn these corridors to the ground
And Water flows on point.
Cool and clear like memories of stage floors creaking under foot.
Freedom of movement within the endless horizon of the mind.
The coolness of grass underfoot.
From the reeds of imagination
I found form
And water flows on point.
How to soar above the static
All shut down
in freeze frame
the image of movement
of nothing doing.
And all around ripples
fixed, flows stilled
trees held their leaves close
It would be like this now
when everything stopped
and the only way to soar
lay in our heads
a place where anything
Giselle & Albrecht Reborn
Liberated from lockdowns, self-doubt’s
shackles, caution’s curiosity, psychic’s
premonitions, & certainty’s restrictions,
we crawled through pussy willows on
our bellies, indirectly snaking our way
in serpentine fashion to the Bolshoi river.
Damp, nitrogen-rich soil smelled of
decomposing vegetation, a holy fragrance
that permeated the enchanted embankment
like invisible, ghostly incense—yet stimulated
our soft muscles, once puffy as under-eye bags,
precipitously taunt, firm, toned, pumped, primed.
Nature transformed my love into a prima ballerina
in street clothes & PF Flyers—Margot Fonteyn
to my flamboyant Rudolf Nureyev maneuvers—
after I spread my legs, began to jump, performed
double tours, cabrioles, & attitude turns, she
effortlessly countered with picturesque pirouettes.
Along the waterfront, our two free souls defied gravity
& gravitas alike, no longer searching for a quayside,
we just relished the countryside Royal Ballet; uplifted by
auspicious, enigmatic dance steps, an impromptu
tour de force—light, airy, elegant, & buoyant—we
froze time’s trepidation amid moments of endless levity.
She dreams of expansive blue skies
He dreams of fields with grasses waving
She dreams of days of fresh crispy air
He dreams of unrestricted motion
She dreams of space to fully stretch
He dreams of wildly leaping, yet
They are together in this place
This flat with four little rooms
They have to share the bathroom space
They have to share the kitchen
They want to share the bedroom space
This leaves just one room, yet
They can’t imagine not being together
They can’t imagine being apart
They can’t imagine staying in forever
They can’t imagine going out
They can’t imagine how this will end, yet
He dreams of splashing in rivers with her
She dreams of walking miles with him
He dreams of leaping boulders with her
She dreams of skipping stones with him
They dream of days when this is over, yet
The fire of life
Someone put you there, and maybe it makes you happy that you don't belong there. That there is sun and water you're about to fall splashing into. That you “not belonging there” might be a metaphor for being born, but what the hell, right?
It's not like anyone can do a thing about it. Here we all are. We're all smiling and about to be subject to gravity. At least we have something warm and soft to catch us.
Here we are with a fire in our eyes, but why should it be a fire to revenge ourselves against something so unchanging as what's waiting, not what's down there... but what's waiting for us all.
No, it's nothing arch and nothing awful. We live in the short space between being lifted and crashing below. We live and we have no choice in this, but why be angry when we have the time and the space to be whatever it is we are meant to become. We unfold in the moment, we are mysteries to ourselves, we are wrong over and over and over again and this is the way of life and of being alive.
There is no “business” in living, only the attempt at understanding. So why not smile and take what's being given? It's the fire of life that demands the smile. The fall is just an artifact that has nothing to do with living.
BEFORE WE SAY I LOVE YOU
If the clouds felt lower, it was only an illusion. Inside I felt I was leaping toward them, my hair grazing the underbelly of suspended rain. It was because I was with you. You were spread out on the grass, looking at me through dark sunglasses. On your lip, an unlit cigarette. You tried, hard, to emit the same nonchalance as the stars you pressed to your walls with gum—a sombre Marlon Brando, a pouting Elvis, a proud Jimi Hendrix, inhabiting their own images so definitively, each picture as conclusive as a death mask.
Your own image was striking. I wanted to photograph you, post you to social media, tag you, own you, but you didn't like 'the networks' as you called them. This rebellion made me love you more. You were something I had discovered, like a remote island. My private retreat.
"I'm going to be famous," I said.
“You, want to be famous?”
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"Nothing. I just don’t see why you need the validation of strangers."
You said it as though you were unaware of the meticulous way you assembled your appearance, the boots you hunted down on eBay, the vintage finds you trawled charity shops for. The nipple ring you said you forgot you had, unless I happened to kiss you there, my stubble sanding your shaved chest.
"Why do you care what people think of you?" you asked me, a hint of accusation in your voice.Read more >
Finding the Horizon
‘This, Daniel,’ I yell, ‘is the best day of my life!’
We bound up a hill, bouncing over boulders, sprung-soled, as groundless as astronauts. Where we end and air begins is a sunlit blur. At the peak, we soar into the streaked blue, gulping mouthfuls of cloud, specks in the chalk dust,
as we drift like paper cut-outs
and alight in a meadow of buttercups, drinking the sun.
We are suspended in the now. Every thread which tethered us to before and after has wafted into the grass. Lost.
And then I am deep in the darkness of my body, feeling pressure on my skin, feeling the weight of presence in my space.
The sparkle of the river catches my eye. It is made of the scales of a thousand fish, each a tiny mirror. The long grass whispers at the periphery, and the water flicks and peaks as it laughs.
‘Come on, Daniel!’
As dizzy as drunks, we leap and somersault above it, never once breaking its skin, and it breathes and swallows beneath us.
And then I am deep in the darkness of my body. There is no breeze tickling my skin, no slather of sunshine bathing my limbs, or warming my face. A voice hyphenates, broken into Morse. My own words are buried.Read more >
Reports to Mission Control
Craft has been cloaked for two of their days
and we are making observations
of promising subjects.
They appear to have at least two genders.
We will select prime specimens
for our breeding experiments.
After their sunrise is the optimum time.
Healthy exemplars adopt an accelerated mode
outside their hutches at that hour.
Planet Day Three…commencing.
Two of the organic softbodies
have emerged and are clear on-screen.
Our belly hatch is open.
Leaping Over Unknown Waters
Humans long to fly,
suspended over the earth,
unfettered by its strong pull of gravity.
The artist’s mind propels itself
above cloud cover,
around jagged rocks,
and through narrow pathways.
To paint, to write, to make music
on a blank canvas
is to fashion new worlds
out of the thinnest air.
The dancer’s body
is a clever instrument.
Muscled limbs become a scissor kick in the wind,
an open-angled warrior pose,
the leaping over unknown waters
with a wide-open heart.
Unnatural feats live inside the
arms and legs of the dancer.
She sees beyond the confines of body.
He knows the freedom
that only movement brings—
movement out of the old ways of seeing
Point to where you need to be
and make the grand jeté.
to the other side.
Like a Poem Read Aloud
The verdant hue of the cut grass
porous skin of the blue skies
stretched like an endless tarpaulin
pitted with shimmering stars in our bleary eyes
fluffy cumulus morphing
birthing a dream every single moment
molding new shapes with every single blink
The pale crimson tinge of blooming lilies
an outward growing expression of love,
Spring came tiptoed in my backyard
unabashed wildflowers blossoming
flourishing with complete abandon
Growing in the monsoon infused soil
breaking through the pain,
petrichor seeping in our porous souls
grass blades pierce this loneliness
gives it a surreal name
The patch of the wildflowers
soaking the apricity of the sun
This fecundity of emotion
the serenade of the rustling leaves,
is spilling in every possible direction
My childhood dreams,
plagued by monsters,
re-gendered my nights
and pushed me to take flight.
It took effort and will
to release myself from girl-hood,
from earthly pull, to push air
between the ground and me.
I remember the physicality
of it. I remember the rushing,
the concentration, sheer force
of mind elevating body.
A memory so palpable
that my ribs ache, loins tense
with the certainty that yes,
I flew, I was the dream boy.
I soared to telegraph poles
to perch above the solid
unpredictability of worldliness,
to escape the demons of constraint.
I took flight and the sky
was my benevolent sponsor,
tilting the world, just so, accepting
I might land, being who I am.
The lake doesn't exist. The clouds are all fake, the wind stirred trees and green grass artificial constructs drawn from the unit memory banks. Look closely enough and you'll will see a bumblebee perched unmoving but watchful on a leaf and a moorhen skulking in the reeds. Silver monitor fish dart in the shallows—all part of the triple-locked system fail safe mechanism. Outside is not safe anymore so we bring it into the VR chamber and dream our socially distanced thoughts. Plugged into a better reality, if only for a little while, to dance our cares away.
Freedom is expensive but we glide over the ripple haunted water, bathed in sunlight. We can do anything we please, somersault tumbles or make strange shapes with bodies light as the herb and honey scented air. Weightless, unfettered by the laws of gravity, lost in the moment. We both remember a lake, or one very like it—in the time before the world changed for the worse and being part of a crowd might be a death sentence. Death stalks the city now but he will just have to wait his turn—we paid for the full hour.
My son learned to fly
with his own momentum.
His younger sister is almost there,
but remains rooted
by one last limb—
There is no doubt
she will do it,
the downcast male gaze;
and ballerina pigeon holes.
No flights-of-fancy faerie wings—
a genuine jet, supercooled
expectations far behind.
Know your beat
Stretch, find a rhythm, know your beat.
I threw a shape, I fell in love.
Moving our bodies makes us complete,
so stretch, find a rhythm, know your beat.
Fingertips, eyes, lips almost meet;
each others’ groove fits like a glove.
Stretch, find a rhythm, know your beat.
I threw a shape, I fell in love.
Sunshine After Rain
When we were born we were unknown.
We die flamenco dancers, poets, cranky old men with dark
porches and no delight in Halloween.
I am I.
The dead Nineteen Fifties left
a hairslick. Yesterday it docked by a nameless atoll
and frightened the Skipper away.
ARABESQUES TO THE AIR
without wax on feathers to make wings
on a good day when there is not
with a freshening breeze
to stay cool is ideal
especially over water won't help
yet will provide a soft landing
if you happen to drift
too high in the sky
in a loose choreography
impossible on the ground
unaided flight a new dimension
not needing sanction from anyone
the only question must be
whether such an unusual dance
can travel a long distance
or remain strictly for migratory birds -
we'll have to wait and see
What are those figures, symbols, sky,
and what might they portend without -
mosquitoes pulsing others’ blood,
a squadron from the darker side,
spread vampire aliens, tarmac bred,
each launched or landing, angle poise,
flit lamps, yet black, from cumulus?
Some wayward drones, gnats oversized,
as scene, snake, insects in the grass,
moon-walking pose, limbs Manx about,
flung rotaries, air louts on scout,
or look-out gad flies peeling back?
Or is that track a lake, in fact,
grey ripples, dotted duckweed float,
these hover, walking-water steps,
an overrule of gravity?
Meniscus sheen too thin for me,
trout pond though dragged as lunar site -
no tide would pull that surface dance?
Confused as hog, roll hedge, night out,
the pricking of my thumbs, no doubt,
a numbness, glisten in my eyes -
slug slime must have been laced with draught,
film psychotrope, weed-killer snout,
that mandrake root, pulled fork-tongued shout.
If only I was slim, could flout,
not simply snuffle, gadabout.
It is not impossible
to take flight even
when you are looking
the other way. Determination
to stay rooted to this earth
all that stops us from flight.
We need to harness
the exuberance of trees,
quiet purpose of grass,
fields, meadow; fill the air
with the joy of youth,
the elasticity; bodies made
to flex, mould, throw new shapes ;
meet ourselves coming back ;
launch into future realities:
creating a new world and this time
we will work with its curvature
to form a perfect whole.
Jog by the Lake
I inhale the crisp spring air and listen to the ducks quacking in the nearby lake. Birds are chirping and flying from tree to tree as squirrels search for food. The park is filled with children’s laughter and adults walking along the path. After stretching, I begin my morning jog.
I start off slow and pick up the pace. The wind whips against my face and strands of hair fall in front of my eyes. I push them out of the way. Feeling energetic, I leap in the air once, twice and the third time stumble. Using my hands as a guide, I push up and start again.
Life is pleasant.
Asbiom was always the flyer, as soon as he donned the silver shoes his bounding would have no end. The way he would soar, creating an imprint on every cloud he fashioned. Of course, the Social wanted him. He was a divine spectacle. Nimbly navigating a path to Mars, and Mars was in. No doubt about it.
Then the mania began. You had tried before of course, using the tube of a periscope, but it would always narrow and inevitably snap. The chat was that the probability of a photo linked to you and Asbiom was as likely as summoning interest from an out of work pin.
Then, spun from the obtuse angles of balletic proportion, there came a cloud just for you. Mesmerised it was by your grounded strength and glowing skin. You did not wear silver and you did not fly to Mars. But, you were the perfect antidote to the noise, to the fear, to the mania surrounding the Social. So they snapped you, as sure and balanced as you are. And it is you, Bodil, who dominates the foreground. Let Asbiom fly with all his will, he will be heralded, which is his due. But you, Bodil, you will become the foundation on which Anew will stand. And we will all breathe easy again.
The road outside my house has never been what you would call busy
But there are cars that pass by from time to time
Families going to their grandparents house down the road
Trucks bringing goods on the shortest route from one town to the next
Men and women taking in the country air on a lazy afternoon
But these days, families aren’t going to grandma’s house
The trucks have stopped bringing their goods
And for too many folks, every day is a lazy one, so the joy of taking a drive is gone
Now, instead of cars, the pavement is pounded only by my two little feet
The hills have turned from scenery into a studio,
The panorama into a pulpit of pirouettes and pas de couru
The air has never felt so fresh
The grass never looked so green,
Nature never allowed to be its natural self
So we dance, we frolic, we bound through the fields
We make the most out of the worst
So this abandoned asphalt does not become forgotten
Happily dancing because the road outside my house will never be busy
But one day, cars will pass by from time to time again
MUSIC IN WIND, MUSIC IN MIND
Shadow girl loses herself in the shade of clouds.
Oftentimes she hears the moon, the tail of a comet, tidal lock
and she can dance, her arms, her hands, her long fingernails,
a rhythm of the bonfire, its blisters and strength, its wind Sekhmet
and the furies of fire, Shu, Amun Ra and Tefnut.
She stretches her long legs, shifts her waist, lets nature in,
high steps and gallops, twists and lunges, scoots and thunder,
laughter gripping the current of air surrounding her
waking the gods of Nubia, Egypt, a small place in Sudan.
Listen to the drums in the forest. Listen to the flame of color in clothing.
Everywhere everyone gathers in the center. Dance.
languid air reeks of moss, canopies tinker with clouds,
windless spirits blend to submerge, gravity diminishes;
levitates through a warped sense of freedom; of liberation
chalked on gravels of road, and grasses (like solidified brush
strokes) worship slowness: loud slowness, thunderous slowness,
meaningful morphemic slowness. somewhere beneath thick
follicles; thick blood is stridulating, bugs begin to clot in
their placid abodes.
time cracked a joke or smoked pot
then stiffened its jaws
to resemble a fossil,
My brother and I,
after being shoehorned into a lock-down
for fifty-six days, step out for the first time
from the safety of our red roofed sanitized home.
The air is still, the hillock silent,
no birdsong trills in the air,
no leaves susurrate in the heat.
Weeds sprout as counters of missing
footfalls on the wilting grass.
I stretch my arm numbed with ennui,
twist my body and raise my eyes skyward,
like a yogi pegged on a single leg,
at the edge of the slate-water road
Piggybacking on endorphins
air rushes into my lungs
as the hillocks take a deep breath
My brother in the middle of a calisthenics routine
launches from the springboard of a browning Earth.
White piping on his black sneakers and matching socks
gleam against cottony clouds.
He shakes free, for two seconds,
the shackles of breathless gravity
as he reaches for the cerulean freedom of the sky—
A sky, no virus can cloud
A sky, rustling and alive
A sky, filled with our songs of hope and life
My kinesphere has been contained,
Confined. Two metres square
Has been my limit, everywhere.
Now, but now
My spring can be squeezed no more,
I need to stretch, I need to explore,
To dig, to jump, to stretch and dance,
I need a release from this trance,
Freed from socially distanced traps,
We raced to parks to spin, jump, and twirl
Leaping, shouting great whoops of joy,
To nature, who
Nurtures our bodies and our souls,
Who gives us our rhythms, who gives us goals,
Exploring, we turned to our inner child,
Digging for worms carpets just can’t sustain,
Fascinated, we watched ants fly, swallows feed,
While mesmerising butterflies danced for us, a polonaise
And bees, and bees
Busy working, no rest for them,
Essential, all together and all alone,
Doggedly determined, to pollinate
We went down
smooth as an egg
in the maw
of the great snake
We lost our footing
of days and hours
in an endless
by the sounds
of rough coughs
and ragged breath
pushed to extremity
our focus grew
to the struggle
for one more
Read more >
The observer captures
but I've already woken from my bed.
And even in that,
our mind was syncing dreams with feet.
It's pixie dust,
in the way where it comes quite naturally
in the way where you couldn't quite trap me by remaining
in a world where it's strange.
No, it's not quite ecstasy,
for I trade blind happiness to be free.
Capturing essence on side streets,
what else have we?
Jiving and twisting the night away,
Kirkwall's Royal Hotel ballroom;
Trout fishing at Loch of Harray,
Storm watching with curious puffins,
Colliding Pentland Fish currents
At sheer cliffs of Birsay, skuas circling...
Leaving free living 1940s youth behind,
Moving from Orkney to Leicestershire,
Home of the pork pies, Melton Mowbray,
Knowledgeable NHS medical receptionist;
Vivacious, positive, humorous, public-spirited.
Tempestuous marriage, tragic death of her son,
Trials and tribulations, second marriage celebrations;
Foreign holidays, stylish fashions, finer things in life.
Retirement, advancing years, widowed, undaunted;
Unbowed, learning to walk again after a broken back
Injury – resilient, resourceful, dazzling smile all through.
Then, an arduous house move to Loughborough
Preceding COVID-19 anxieties; blood disorder treated
With palliative care, alas no cure. RIP Margaret –
My inspirational, young at heart great-aunt;
Orkney's and Leicestershire's loss a heavenly gain.
Free to the sway of the wind
Gravity defying contortions
Stretching your sinew to meander into desired forms
The aches that must have formed that arc
Delusional mind blunders
Birth to awe defining views
Nurturing your body to fit nature’s scenes
Must be the forms that babes come into being
Each form a curl and an arc that mother nature directed
To feel each fiber form into muscle into limb into form
To feel synchronicity with the peaceful wild
And still breath and hold your pace
Hear that rhythmic beat you’ve trained
The silence your feet have mastered
Feather landing in picturesque applause
Like two forces you blend in-between
To keep from repulsive likes
In that space your you and yours morphs into you
we’re not falling out of the sky
Saunter up the ridge, monkey
climb the oak trees, spiderfolk
on the upsides of copses
of birch and conifer down
into nothingness & whispers
the rising scent of meadowsweet.
Loop & bank, float & dive.
I’m swallow, fritillary, Apollo.
without the wax.
No flight in cloudland’s ever
the same for a wild white wingless
ride in playful air, pirouette
on poplars, en pointe on a tip-top twig
pluck the topmost plum. Weightless
we’re violet eyed, miraculous
leave golden glow trails across
your toytown, sparkle-fire, flash
finger lasers, cabbage white & crow
we salute you. Free from
commute, congestion, queue
& coercion. Exuberant
in body-turn, limb-twist, salsa
through cumulus, gravity’s a giggle.
Heel flick & upside down hug, slow glide
Given To Be Stolen
Not even the sharp pain of my mother’s elbow digging into my ribs made me look away.
“Don’t look directly at them,” she hissed. “They’ll charm and trick you. They’ll steal you away.”
So dramatic, as usual. We’d been strolling through Fehin Field as we always did on Tuesdays, home towards our village after a thankless day spent cleaning the big houses on the other side. So far, so boring. But today was different.
The lush green expanse was not empty of people like usual. There was a group of them. Dancing. All dressed in black, they moved in time together, so graceful and fluid. Occasionally one would leap through the air, as if it would be nothing to suddenly take flight. Nobody danced like that in our village. Nobody looked like them either, with their long, willowy limbs and skin that shimmered in the sunlight.
How could I help but look?
Mam grabbed my arm roughly, attempting to drag me away.
“What’s the problem?” I moaned. “Can’t I look a little longer? They move so beautifully…”
“That’s exactly the problem.”
Her mouth was pressed in a firm line, her gaze steely as she refused to look anywhere but the direction of the village. She only made that face when she was scared or upset, but didn’t want to show it. It brought me back to reality. Even if she was being dramatic, I didn’t want to upset her. Shaking free of her grip, I gave in and followed, struggling to keep up with her speedy strides. Read more >
Vaulting the country
The bulrushes stand proud
As the two leap and spring
Gymnastically over the water
A small row of trees
Frame them as their backdrop
Amongst the vibrant heathers
The countryside embraces the two
The blue sky weather
INVITATION TO THE DANCE
Into the air with you with lilting legs.
Spindle them willy nilly,
wave in digression...pass time
forward – be explorers.
Tales of the river bank deepen
understanding where the unexpected
believed for being present.
Incorrectness should be dismissed
as time-wasting; dress it in red
let it hover its warning.
We’ll know how to live with it.
Freedom is a casual wrist-flick.
Choose your step, crack
a bone or two...snap to it, tappity tap
down into the board-game.
Summer's blue sky never failed,
To coax us out to play.
I would knock on your door,
On every day in May.
You would hide and I would count.
When found, you'd run away.
Countless summers passed,
Before we had chance to even say,
I'll treasure these memories for life,
I'd give anything to stay.
Embrace the bustling sky
Sod it, there’s chewing gum on my new Nikes!
Get a life, Rudolf. Forget your feet, embrace the bustling sky, the impatient clouds, the rustling trees...
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Oh, I see you’ve landed, Olga. Are your weightless pills wearing off?
No, I am absorbing Mother Earth’s energy. Mmm, I feel the delicious power of her gift pouring into me.
Any idea where we are, Olg?
Does it matter? We are free to fly to all corners of the globe, to where our fancies take us, to where our destinies beckon us...
Well, I’m starving. Is there a McDonald's near here?
For The Hope Of It All
I’m conspicuously alone, the itch of parched grass against the backs of my knees. Hunched over a peach, juice dripping down my chin and between my fingers. Slipping away like this blurred, strange summer holiday.
They can’t see me watching them. Most days, I quietly follow them as they walk down to the park. They always set up in the patch of gravel at the base of the park. They’re dressed in matching black sports gear, and I’m their shuffling pastel shadow.
She sets up the speaker, he leads the warm-up stretches. When the beat starts to ripple through the afternoon heat, they start to move.
I have watched for so many afternoons.
The way they move is so effortlessly perfect. They speak silently, instinctively agreeing on when and where to land. On when to seize the sky, when to float back down to earth. They orbit around one another with so much grace. When I watch them, I feel hope balloon somewhere under my ribs.
I never say anything to them.
I feel sticky and sad, staring down at my scabby knees. I lie down and stare at the clouds and let their music float overhead. But it doesn’t work, so I pull myself to my feet and head home.
Mum and Dad don’t say much at dinner, but they look at each other a lot. I have to force myself to swallow every bite of stew. I want to tell them it’s too hot to eat this kind of food, but I swallow those words down too. The back of my neck prickles with sweat. The whole flat smells like onions and thyme.Read more >
Do you remember how
you railed against the loss of freedom,
the holiday postponed, the idle jets and cruise ships,
the difficulties of learning to cope with yourself,
your partner, your children, without the safety valves
of gym and football and music classes, the car, to turn
an afternoon of boredom into a hustle of activity,
how you delved deep into the you, the ego, even the id,
discovered treasures of who you are, how you learned
to love yourself, learned tolerance, how to bake banana bread?
and when you opened the door again to step outside, how
you were the first, the only one to understand the nature
of blue, the freedom of bird flight, the beauty of birdsong?
The hell was over, you rejoiced, the plague
vanquished, you could breathe deeply
without fear, the hugging could begin again.
but from the other side of history, the planet,
from worlds you never knew and never will, voices,
ancient and modern, raise in reproachful question
do you remember the fear of the sidelong glance,
more than curiosity, the hiding in cellars, attics,
living with blinds drawn against prying eyes,
shutters closed against bomb blasts,
the holding of loved ones through the din of the dark,
the tramping of boots, the knock on the door?
we didn’t belong, and yet we did.
humans always paste themselves back into the narrative –
we vowed: for better, for worse and meant it –
cuz here we are in august blue, you scrap-booked on the sky
and me boundary-lined on what could be road or river,
though you can’t sink in a picture. i no longer remember
if we tripped into all this green, or whether the world
shaped around us, embarrassed / exhilarated to be seen.
my upstretched hand mimics the tree, the tree grew
to chase my hand – and i’m foreground, baby,
the grass is an after-thought, although it matters more.
without us, they would call this scene “erasure”, with us
it becomes a dance, one that is somewhat peculiar
and lovely; the cloud fills the room like a chance
encounter. and this is it – the hills, the sky and us –
you’re looking right and i’m looking to the viewer
who isn’t there yet, waiting for them to look away.
Leap of Faith
when we took ourselves out into the open something made us
some avowal we made to ourselves to follow on into the unknown
that arousal of ideas we felt inside deep and gutted as well as light
and spiritual so we urged quick quick up through the high rise the blue
brilliance of what we wished for and took every chance for the wind
to catch hold of our wings and found ourselves several times
looking for remedies even then taking risks asking to be taken
out of our bodies wind wind catch our wings separate our loneliness
from the far reaches though by then we were getting on
we were thirty years into the future imagine what we were thinking
our breath blood bones splayed out with longing and sometimes
would say look at us what are we doing and even now
at ground level forty years on my heart stays wild
Across a Divide of Water, I Twirled
In a town between creeks
that drained into the bay,
shellfish grew in estuaries to a size
until they could be on their own
like I did on the corners of New Jersey,
Millman and Columbia Avenues.
I danced on Friday nights
at St. Barnabas by the Bay,
same place I learned to pray, no pews,
only chairs with kneelers pushed back
against the wall when the record player
spun Philadelphia soul and rock and roll.
No formal training until Mona Sessions
in Mount Holly not far from Rancocas Woods,
the tap shoe clicks and swing of hips
came naturally but not much more.
It was as if unless it blew in on the twist
of a Nor’easter, I could not decipher the moves.
I danced well on Atlantic City’s Steel Pier
that extended 2,000 feet into the ocean
with circus performers, diving horses,
By Inner Leaps and Bounds
The shamrock plants need watering, as do the baby
barrels. Mama cactus appears content,
for a dozen of her infants have been transplanted.
Together, her cacti family brighten the sunroom
in ceramic pot. Their dirt nursery holds an array
of feathers: blue jay, sparrow, and dove quills
stand in circular alignment. As if protective cradle,
I’ve taken them under my wing, feathered the nest.
Twelve feathers for twelve babies, my feather-fence
acts as a dreamcatcher—only good dreams
will do for this spiny brood. What we nurture,
nurtures us. The shamrock plants need watering,
as do the baby barrels. As if protective cradle,
I’ve taken them under my wing, feathered the nest.
There’s euphoria in flight, watching the rise
of fledglings. New growth prompts recollection.
Here, I envision, picture my body in motion—
bend my legs, lift my arms, take an inner leap—fly.
i.m. Chuck Taylor
Gravity Chuck in the air.
Turn the handle Chuck.
Chuck a bit slowly, then deeply
and rhythmically. Leg down.
Chuck my black heels, jump.
Spinning. Ball, Chuck in the air.
Tiny, scrubby island Chuck.
Chuck my one legged back pocket.
Chuck under one of the shoes with
one Chuck on the ground, leg up.
Hide the Chuck, show the Chuck.
Chuck in a box at home, in the air.
Glass bottles Chuck in cement.
Nose Chuck, in the can.
All in all Chuck on the ground.
Girl in front of boy in the air,
Rolling Chuck. Rolling Chuck.
After the Credits
After the credits I guess I would go on
to run down a long, spare road
eventually end up of course
confused between two towns
out of breath & money,
tugging a disconnected payphone
kicking a half pint of semiskimmed
over the side of the road
England is one big set
all ugly, weird, historical
it looks like pennies &
tiredness grows in the
pavement with the moss
even on TV
there’s just a cloudy
zebra crossing & a
Fresh air is
mired in peat here
& you sprint so
it tastes a bit
The Only Way
Things are tough these days up at the Ministry. Talk of curve balls. Never saw this one coming – Love in the Times of COVID.
They think everything can happen online, the pulse of the world, its great, booming heart injected into broadband, and diffused. Hah! Mockery, I say. Sheer witchery, from what I’ve seen of those travesties of lessons on Zoom.
But love? What about love?
How can our work be condensed into a capsule, and made to flow through the sorcery of circuits, pixelated, zipped, compressed, transmuted, formatted into binary code, (code-switch yourself into it, code-switch yourself out)? (These lazy buggers down there haven’t even taken the trouble to upgrade my avatar from chubby-cheeked cherubim with bow and arrow, such is their bureaucracy…)
My work will never be aided, accelerated or taken over by AI or any of these villainous, newfangled concoctions. It will always require the beat of a real heart, the heat of skin, the pulse of the moment that races in its grip, the welding of a dimension into another, a dent in the axis of time itself. You can’t smart-ass or zoom your way around this one.
My formula is simple but sure. Unfailing. It won’t flex to meet your targets, to satisfy the numbers of your pre-ordained projections.
If there’s got to be love in these times, it’s got to be old school, face-to-face.
Two hearts that skip a beat.
can no longer hold them.
where and while they can,
swoop and hover
like damsel flies in summer.
She is pliant, elastic,
all rounded curves,
floating above water,
lost in her reflection.
larger and more dazzling,
skips and soars high over land,
He is as spiky as the virus they flee.
To meet is to die.
trickle through grass,
are whisked away by wind.
float upon dreams,
count down the hours.
The music plays on.
They have no choice.
It troubled those old theologians
the weight of a soul,
how much real
estate a dancing angel takes.
X and Y
disguised their desire
to understand the dripping
sweet and ripe peach flesh, and the warm stir
of God's unvoiced whisper
on their receptive ears.
A Rock and That Hard Place
If the breeze could float two ways
maybe once or twice in a while,
which way would be right,
and which would be wrong?
We could all just be dancing in the wind,
like paper kites zipping through the night.
Or a Chinese lantern, lost for eternity
in the grace of a mid-March mellow flick of air.
Or is it the despair, mostly,
we feel after nights of glee?
Sat half glum, half free;
stuck between two directions
of a zephyr in transit.
Ballet Through The Pandemic
In the darkest days of lockdown our
“Swan Lake” in the theatre was bolted, shut
after months of intense practice needing
an outlet for our limbs with our minds.
Couldn’t redirect to football stadia as
precious players were kissing and hugging
or outside malls and supermarkets for
the long lines hadn’t yet evaporated
though we considered pebble beaches but
they’re overrun by day trippers, and booze.
So we decided to go al fresco all
the company performing at a farm, at once.
No pink tutus or painted scenery just
black ppe under sirius and sun
practising social distancing strictly
pirouetting at two metres apart, or more
observed by seven sheep and a tractor but
ignored by horses, pigs and brown cows.
There we danced in concentric circles to
the silence of lambs, and all others.
Our Stay Safe
coddled by home away from the infection
of strangers, freedom is a guarded walk.
Furloughed you never expected loss
of your job, your salary that paid
your mortgage, a roof over your family,
food for your kids. You expected to leap
back into employment once the difficult time
had been overcome by your keen obeisance
to the official advice to keep you and yours safe.
Allowed out you wait in queues, obey the notices.
Count your pennies, have words with the bank,
tell your children what they cannot have.
Feel like a bad parent, feel you let your kids down,
but you did your bit without complaint. Stay safe is unsafe.
When the town’s street
Was filled with colors of joy
We danced and danced with
Every bone in our body
No one to judge
No one to stare
Of our art for the world
Our endless moving feet
Twirling and spinning
Over the swaying grass
The clouds would watch
Our leaps and bounds
And start to dance with us
The wind would join
Our non-stop ballad
And the Earth itself
Would join this dancing festival
after folding our muscles the shape lockdown
the breeze coiling around my neck
gliding between the buttons of my shirt
stretching our legs blue grey clouds a backdrop
for the year of longing for familiar anythings
instead of crowding shores, to hike
walking the family dog up isle hills
visiting abbeys and castles, dancing over decades
of breadcrumbs you left behind, like a map
drawn for the memories alone.
making trees paths and ruins
little landmarks to go find, unraveling the knots made
folding our muscles the shape of quarantine.
taking turns jumping off the ground
raising our heartbeats in cages of caution and newsreels,
posing for all the things we could & couldn't do this year:
a star shape for getting married weeks shy of lockdown
a tree pose for keeping the peace
in an oxfordshire stone home sized matchbox
a boat pose for the stress eating and spontaneous drag race
(afternoon and evening) prosecco
Read more >
In ancient times,
artisans wove stories and images into
They etched and painted cooking pots and urns with
The practical and profound merged
Now, hand knit socks are listed under
crafts on Etsy.
The art of knitting highly gendered and subsumed within
the subcategory of practical craft. Fibre artist not a common
Is it the practicality or the gender which
imbues this bias?
Scientist have found evidence of both
female warriors among both the Vikings and
Mongols. Hairpins, clasps, and weapons all bear
marks of the artist who crafted them.
They also hint at social status and
These finds challenge traditional understanding of historic gender.
Great British estates had ornate vegetable gardens.
Each section planted to provide food and
create a pleasing picture.
A breeze kisses the slow indolence of water, stirs a silver-blue reflected sky;
whispers magic to the hornbeam, sets it trembling, turns green to white;
slithers through sunburnt grasses which creak and grumble at its passing.
Below trees, a kinder, greener grass soughs like silken dresses to its touch.
Bulrushes, impervious to blandishments, stand unmoved at the margins
of the lake. Undeterred, the wind moves on, caresses small insects
industrious in purple heads of long-dead blooms; lends a helping hand
to spiderlings, carries them into invisibility among the clouds. It flirts
with forget-me-nots at the water’s edge; offers me scent of new-mown hay,
songs of unseen cows and sheep, absolute confirmation of my loneliness.
Fish jump, sink, jump again; inscribe their passing on the lake. Swallows
flee to foreign shores. Dragonflies spark rainbows in their search for love.
A whole world with purpose, full of motion, passing me by. I am nothing.
I lie alone in shadows, wrapped in birdsong and hunger; suck comfort
from crimson clover, early goose grass; fantasize on what might have been.
I people the sky with my imagination, exuberant strangers with my face,
unconstrained, dynamic; hopeful and confident; wind-blown. I pin them
against the sky in perpetuity. Two dancers, the son and daughter I never had.
A dragonfly dances, airborne only for a summer,
life not measured in rain, or the bruises of kisses.
Dip your toes at the edges of the pool,
water seeps into your bones and waits there,
to flower in your footsteps, whichever way
you choose to go.
Existence is a geometry of greetings
and goodbyes, of lost and found, a place beyond
absences, which are implied but never certain.
Stand on the road by the edge of the trees,
under fuzzy street lights and the hear the soil
singing you to disappear, the reoccur, later,
back between the sheets; beneath your tongue
the taste of the greenwood. How many ways
are there to come home? Stop moving, wait,
until the leaves turn gold, and life begins again,
ghost written, only moments away
from disappearing, not found or lost,
but emerging, without a shadow on a white
trackway, somewhere in-between
Rest and play, but this feels like work
Dressing like freedom you jump
Reached into the clouds
That fill your heart
Strong in your flight
Your heaviness is disguised as light
Ground level worries remain
Fuelling flames beneath your feet
As the world inside you burns
Practice makes perfect
But perfect isn’t possible
Although no one would know that
Not with this contortionist show
Of acrobatic avoidance
Olympic distraction in full flow
As long as you stay moving
That is all they will need to know
On Tooting Bec Common
Before breakfast, I take a stroll on Tooting Bec Common with my two budgerigars. These birds, Cyril and Lulu, gaze out from a cage which rests in the Silver Cross pram I push. At the end of the Common, we pause and I perform my breathing exercises.
Today, when I was drawing cool air into my lungs, I saw a man in a wax jacket trundling a cart along one of the Common’s paths. To judge by the strain on the man’s face, whatever was on the cart was heavy. I couldn’t see the burden, however, because a crimson cloth covered it.
With a look of relief, the man stopped and grabbed a handful of the cloth. He jerked his arm back and the cloth slipped away from two large cardboard boxes. As I breathed out, I noticed that holes the size of pound coins pierced the boxes’ top halves.
The man in the wax jacket clambered on to the cart and pulled back the cardboard lids. Two figures leapt out from beneath them and landed gracefully on the grass.
The figures—one female, one male—were clad as though they intended to exercise. But actually they were skilled dancers. In the morning chill of the Common, they executed a wonderful routine. It held my attention to such a degree I forgot what I was doing. It was only when I felt a pain in my chest that I realised I needed to breathe in.
Feeling dizzy, I gripped the pram’s handle and gulped in a mouthful of air. The dancers continued their performance. I glanced at the man in the wax jacket. He was leaning against the cart and staring at the sky while he drank the contents of a can of lemonade.
Finishing the can, the man crushed it in his fist. The noise of the collapsing metal startled the dancers. They ran back to the cart and sprang. Twisting and tumbling, they landed perfectly inside their boxes. Read more >
Dawn mist bursts free from its shroud,
starts taunting ocean calm, small waves whimper,
my head feels the sly smile of a black sky.
'Will it be dark – Not this time'
Out there the echo echo,
haunting of an angry tide.
Cold starts its sharp scratch,
scratching, searching for my toes,
sucking, sucking my wet footprints
deep into the sand's grit,
holding fast – mocking.
Father's grip tightens: The knowing, the knowing,
the grey shadow looms,
disappears – back – nearer – back – closer,
lapping the feet of the first in line.
'Not this time – Not this time'
I leap I leap
the sky roars, clouds open: 'Fly – Fly' it shouts
I fling my coats, stretch up naked arms, float free in air.
Free from: hiding – a lorry's rumble – trying – trying again
– tomorrow – tomorrow.
No need for an ocean wash – to cleanse a new identity,
Sheets of white paper carve the sky – dive and dart like angry seagulls, drop their print into the lanes, filling channels,
The next dance
A small crowd has gathered.
They pretend that they are not watching. They want to watch without being watched, to see without being seen.
But they notice the camera, the tripod, the warm up stretches. They notice the something-about-to-happenness.
Warm air is pocketed around the sun-broiled concrete. No council worker has cut the grass since March. This crowd is a city crowd, but their park has grown wilder beneath their feet these last months.
This crowd that is a city crowd has noticed cow parsley and bittercress, dock, daisy and dandelion, springing up where the council strimmers used to fall. More butterflies than last year. A dragonfly or two.
In a way that they had not before, they notice the framing of their view. Green grey green. Blue white blue.
Now me, and you.
The not-watching becomes watching.
It’s time for me and you to do what we came here to. I begin the music. The crowd anticipates. Beady cyclops eyes of a dozen phones watch too.
Me and you give the crowd our bodies, our anatomical geometry. Curves and lines, gravity defied, turning on a pinhead, caught against the clouded skies.
They watch. We watch them back. Read more >
Nihil Obstat Nothing is an Obstacle
From deep within my soul,
I summon mind and muscle to power
my legs, balancing my flight with arms
that, like wings propel my motion then steady it
so I can glide on the breeze as I choose,
surmounting any obstacle,
even leaping over the river
separating me from you.
Nothing is an obstacle
as long as sky holds dreams
that with perseverance,
strong legs, and stronger will
I can pursue
If not now when
If not now when
breathe and hold
lungs and belly
moon balloon full
just let go
arms and heart trusting
the wind the forces the tune
don't heavy think
might/can/did happen in that past
don't heel and toe
melt ease and meld
catch every angle each ravelling angel
who waits for your feet
The Back To Normal Workout
Hey hey! Welcome to The Back To Normal workout! Let's jump to the beat of limitless liberalism! Let's confuse progress with consuming the hell out of this planet, c'mon, c'mon! Buy two for the price of one, three for the price of two, and repeat! Let's fill that existential void with stuff you don't need. And lift that ego, one, two, three, four, lift it! You're not taking anyone's feelings or needs into consideration except your own, that's the way to do it! And stretch the boundaries of human life. Stretch! Stretch! Stretch! Only you are important, only now counts, don't worry about the future, the future is for losers, because it's not there yet! And buy! And buy! Don't think. Don't use your brain to fabricate thoughts and ideas and objections. No, use your body! That's the only thing you know is real. Punch that fist forwards and forget the new normal, punch it, yeah, because you want everything the way it used to be, when you were still on top! Punch, two three, four! And now, for the cooling down, stand with your legs spread, hands on your hips and close your eyes, close your eyes for the simple fact we really don't need more to have a better life and breathe out, let it all out, so it's gone and you're ready for your next workout tomorrow. See ya!
A DREAM OF HEAVEN
This must be a dream.
I won’t fight it nor
argue that it’s impossible
to leap at my age,
to bend and stretch
like a wheat stalk in wind,
full of warm sun and nourishment.
The dream’s angelic hands
have massaged decades away,
plucked the pain
like browned petals
from my bones.
It’s hard to believe in
the sudden youth of these
in this summer freedom
of green trees and grass.
I must move slowly and smoothly
in this fragile dance,
make no abrupt movements
lest I wake myself
and fall back hard
onto my life’s waiting concrete.
The moon is crystal clear marble,
woven into the fabric that constitutes
my soul with the origin of ways
where you are as you’ve always been;
my rescue, my refuge.
My brain activates the light as it blazes
down in the darkness. The edges are
electric, sharing an intimate life with
another; an insurance that a second chance
at love is not a second chance at all,
but the initial gift of transcendental joy,
free spirited and independent. I eagerly
ride the linger of memories, crying softly
at the simultaneous communication of
moments that continued
waving to one another through the spans
of time. There are crumpled up pages, a
box full of journals where we wrote our
hurt again and again, whispering to each
other between the probe
at the look of unfamiliarity, confused at the
lack of depth and understanding, but knowing
full well we’d one day reunite; saved from
the insanity of being physically apart. Read more >
Mind Over Matter
Stretch bend jump and soar
Above the ground
And so much more
Forget your earthly mortal woes
Blue-sky clean lake
Where green grass grows
Time and virus both suspended
A fanfare of hope
Fly through the air feel the fun
Belief in skill
Dream try till won
Escape where no fear
Distract achieve twist and inspire
Never give up
Feet to the fire
Skill secure energy abounds
Our youth have found
Excel surpass succeed
We ran and jumped
Thought that we could fly
Above the clouds
You and I
And cutting capers
Wild and wilder
Our feet barely touching the ground
At speeds to take your breath away
Through the night
Till break of day
After day after day
Where now those days of splendour
Where now those crazy
Our bodies turned to husks
Devoid of grace
We shuffle holding on
Not in the passion of our former selves
If we let go
We fall and fall and fall
Dancing in the sky
Arms akimbo eyes alert
hair swinging in the breeze
legs ready to take the weight
of a return to earth
Above us a cloudy sky
below us water waits
surface wavelets rippling
a different world beneath
Gravity will end this
sooner than expected
the plummeting to earth
an ascent upended
If only we could fly
lift up above all troubles
clear the trees and hills
go dancing in the sky
We can't be pinned on any map not with a mother whose first love was a pair of red shoes She stole the cobbler's heart ran with it, and never looked back She taught us to chew up meadow and skim stream High kick clouds til they bolt like sheep.
You’ll know if she’s the one, his father said.
Every time you see her your heart will leap.
You’ll know if he’s the one, her mother said.
You’ll feel as if your whole life is in the balance.
Both kept on searching, listening to each heartbeat,
both feeling for that point of perfect equilibrium.
When they met, there was simply a sensation of falling,
of reaching out to catch one another, of holding firm.
Let’s fly high
Let's fly high this time!
So that mundane threat of death—
Can not terrify us.
Let's fly high this time!
With wings of hidden courage,
Fire will not touch us.
Let's fly high this time!
To celebrate our passion,
It will be overwhelmed.
Let's fly high this time
Together with trust and love,
We can change the world.
BOUND FOR GLORY
To be truthful, I never paid much attention in Physics lessons. But I did clock on to the story about that Newton guy and the apple falling on his head. How there’s this invisible force pulling everything towards the ground. Made sense to me. Not to Dylan though. He’s all like, “How can you believe in that what goes up must come down crap? What about birds? And planes? And balloons, yeah?”
I pointed out that all of those things do come down eventually but he wasn’t having it. It’s amazing he got through childhood alive, given the number of times he hurled himself off some place of elevation frantically flapping a set of home-made wings or even just clinging to a golfing umbrella. So when then those nutjob websites that he subscribes to started peddling tales about how this secret laboratory in some remote Chinese province had developed a kind of anti-gravity gel out of nanoparticles or quantum bits or whatever, he was all over it.
“The Chinese government have been using it to get rid of dissidents," he tells me. “They smother them in this stuff and they just float away into space.”
“But you don’t believe in gravity.“
“I never said that,” he replies. “I just don’t believe it’s a law.”
So next thing you know there are reports that a large batch of this gel has somehow been appropriated from that Chinese lab and found its way onto the open market. And then of course the emails start circulating offering this stuff for sale at loony tune prices. And my brother is wetting himself with excitement. So he sells his X-Box, his electric scooter and half his collection of limited edition trainers. There’s no reasoning with him.Read more >
Love and Joy
some are leaping about for sheer joy
others just for the exercise
these are the ones who took precautions
avidly washing their hands
and wearing their masks
they limited their activities
for they loved and honoured their elders
full of respect, love and kind concern
knowing others lives were dependent
upon them fulfilling these basic requirements
this kindness has given them added buoyancy
they feel so much lighter and full of love
those elders in return are now sharing
their resources and their homes
for community is what it’s all about
interdependence crucial without a doubt
when we care for others kindness is repaid
so let’s each step up and improve the grade
for when we open our hearts
only goodness will impart
and life becomes so much brighter!
The Art of Loneliness
You can dance in a field
Of poppies burned from the sun
And still not be free.
You can waltz in a hall
With one end at the mountains
The other touching the sea
And not be caged.
You can migrate with zebras
Lose your stripes at mile fifty-three
And still be part of the herd.
You can fly with one foot
Tied to the ground by
You can fall from the clouds
With wings married to the sky.
You can look and not see.
When you were six,
You held my hands
And shared your dreams.
You talked of seas
And oceans of stars.
A lot was lost
Between little we shared
And much we concealed.
I remember last
As I drove past,
Perched on bellowing clouds,
Far, far from your house.
Hinged on precarious ground
Perfecting her own art,
And your father –
Ever so estranged –
You defied more than gravity
With gnawing loss
And growing tumult.
A time before: of reality to come
by fields of Spring daffodils
boys leaped with the ease of a stotting Gazelle
and girls pirouetted with the grace, of a Flamingo at rest
at least our memories think they did
instead, we – of a generation that spent a year
locked up and masked-up – suffocating, in our bewildered state
watching, from our windowsill of trepidation
Pigeon-like flinching at every sneeze
as leaves breathed, freedom’s forgotten scenes – unperturbed
by that plague of interference: we named ourselves
soon, our daily refreshed screens promise
it will all be over and we too, can bravely conquer
that untamed pavement
and preen, all that overgrown nature
wading deep into its unruffled centre
to once more tattoo our legacy
as mother nature’s: unconquerable virus
Leap and Grow
Freedom is to twist myself
Make like the trees,
Holding, swaying, growing old.
I put my head where my stomach should be
And smile from the trunk,
Crack my foot through the back of my skull,
Here I am a totem, a petrified sapling
Roots through dead concrete,
Waiting for grass to curl from soil,
For clouds to roll blue,
And a leaping future,
(That watches where it came from),
To land on my branches.