Inside out

Some poems and reflections on life


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Matariki 2016

Matariki is the Māori name for the cluster of stars also known as the Pleiades. It rises in mid-winter – late May or early June. For many Māori, it heralds the start of a new year. Matariki literally means the ‘eyes of god’ (mata ariki) or ‘little eyes’ (mata riki).”  http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/matariki-maori-new-year

“Don’t the overwhelming majority believe that mankind is the crowning achievement of Creation, that man is better than everything, even things we haven’t yet investigated? And don’t those people who aren’t able to escape the bonds of their own ego think that the entire Universe, even the countless worlds of outer space, is just a backdrop for this ego? And yet it might be quite different.”
Adalbert Stifter (1805 – 1868), Indian Summer  – quoted on Views from the Edge

 

A star rises in the pre-dawn sky
A marker for new beginnings

Against this majestic backdrop
We argue and fight for glory

Who will win? and
Who will lose this time?

The world hangs on a thread
waiting for the outcome of a vote

While millions wander homeless
Cast out by war not of their making

Justice alludes us again
As guns fire and knives stab

Tirohia atu nei, ka wheturangitia te pō
Akuanei, ka pūao te ata

Engari, i te tino wā nei …
titiro  … whakarongo … whakamiharo …

 

[Look – the night sky is adorned with stars
Very soon, dawn will break

But in this very moment …
Look … listen … wonder …]


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Jaipur 1991

Recollection of a conversation at a backpacker’s hotel in Jaipur in 1991.  Delhi to Agra to Jaipur is ‘tourist central’ in India, which bring with it large numbers of people constantly approaching and selling to tourists. This can be an overwhelming experience for the traveler (to say the least). It is where the clash between tourist and local can be felt the hardest. It wasn’t just being confronted by the poor and the lame begging on the streets. The really frustrated part were well educated young men seeking to make an easy living from scamming tourists.

I have traveled twice to India and developed a huge respect for the people and country. This poem gives voice to just one view of the experience of being a traveler in one part of the country.

“I am prey to be taken …
I am bait in a trap …
A wallet to be scammed.

“I thought I knew
this place I can’t stay
I thought I knew
these people don’t make sense
I thought I knew
but nothing is right”

“I am prey to be taken …
I am bait in a trap …
A wallet to be scammed.

“Every time I
walk out the door they call me
Every time I
go down the street they sell me
Every time I
see a face I second guess

“I am prey to be taken …
I am bait in a trap …
A wallet to be scammed.

“I no longer
trust
I want
to be safe
I want
a holiday”


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Cotton wool break down

Wriggling, squirming, waiting to escape
to see the outside once more
locked in a life that traps
and dulls the senses
blunts the vision
dims the touch
darkens the taste
like cotton-wool bandages
prevents me from seeing the
rough ugly truth of the world
wherein lies beauty.

I take it on myself to stand
to make a stand on behalf of myself
to shake off my own oppression
of self-limiting thoughts
and beliefs
To reach out beyond my limits of time and space
to be what I had never once imagined.

Don’t limit me to the nonfunctional existence
Locked up in the nicety of life without true feeling
Hiding the depths of my anger
with words
of
nothingness.

We shout and rave and raise our voices
Insults fly like knives cutting
across the arms and face
But stop when first blood is drawn
A hug and handshake
Cleaned and purged – renewed

One random moment in time
Stretches to eternity as every
detail is examined
again and again

Wondering “why?”

 

(I found this one in my note book left untouched after some time. I think I may have meant it to be two separate poems. But I think they flow well together).


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Burying the dead

Memories of how it was
Are just memories of how it was
Floating in time and not in space
In mind and not in place

Shaping me here and now
Connected and real

I am still
That frightened boy
Cowering before the bully

I am still
That triumphant hero
Conquering my first mountain

I am still
That wondering student
Learning my first lesson

All these things
Weave and create
The tapestry
Marvellous multicoloured
Chaotic interplay of knots
That is me and my life

But there is nothing but
Here and now

Memories of how it was
Are just memories of how it was
Floating in time in and not in space
In mind and not in place

It is time to bury the dead
And move on


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It takes one

Sitting on the porch
In the evening sun
First day back in Hong Kong

Discussing news with Father Murray
On the hill overlooking the New City
At the house of St Francis
Up the road from Tao Fung Shan

“tell me” he asks “how did it start?”
“it started” I say “with one”
“one kitchen, one hall, one church, one school”

“gradually it grew
“the ones joined
“they joined up and linked
“we started to see suburbs and then towns
then a few cities and regions”

“eventually more than half the country

“it was only a matter of time
“before the government had to say “no”

“but it started with “one”

“one kitchen – no nuclear weapons in my kitchen
“thank you very much

“I know that sounds strange and futile
“but if enough people say it and
“say it together
“things happen
“and they did

“That is how NZ became nuclear free.”

And thinking back now,
As I fly over Hong Kong again
Maybe, just maybe, that is why
We don’t live in a
Nuclear winter.

What one will you change in your kitchen today?


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I swallowed a grain of sand

(best read out loud)

Breathe in; breathe out

Breathe out hold relax pause

Gently breathe in and let

The air pass through you …

I swallowed a grain

A grain of sand

A sand of grain

That caused a pain

I hid it down deep

Deep inside

Inside down deep

A secret to keep

Breathe in; breathe out

Breathe out hold relax pause

Gently breathe in and let

The air pass through you …

A hurt that swelled

Swelled and grew

Grew and swelled

Noone to tell

I built a wall

A wall around

Around a wall

Safe and sound

 Breathe in; breathe out

Breathe out hold relax pause

Gently breathe in and let

The air pass through you …

Until

One small tiny, tender shoot of a root

Crept quietly

Wrigglingly squirming worming

Through the cracky gap

Rested

Waited

Watched

Touched

Embraced

Cared

Breathe in; breathe out

Breathe out hold relax pause

Gently breathe in and let

The air pass through you …

You named that pain

That pain of shame

That shame of pain

And whence it came

You held me tight

Switched the light

Lighted the switch

And made me fight

Cold hard foolish truth

Crumbled to dust

Leaving only scars behind

 Breathe in; breathe out

Breathe out hold relax pause

Gently breathe in and let

The air pass through you …


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getting home

Jesus Joseph John finished work for the day
and wandered back home in his usual way;
He searched for some answer,
trying to understand,
why his life was flowing
through his fingers like sand.

Jesus Joseph John sat in the bar
drinking his beer and hadn’t got far;
Watching  the news
on the big screen TV,
sitting in his corner,
huddled reclusively.

Jesus Joseph John rose with a heave,
no-one there noticed him leave;
He staggered down the road
all on his own,
A fist hit his gut
and he fell with a moan.

Jesus Joseph John got up in a daze
and sung to himself, his mind in a haze;
The kids hanging out
followed him right down the street,
dancing and chanting
and tripping his feet.

Jesus Joseph John fell in the drain
threw up his lunch, his head full of pain;
A woman stopped by,
and came to his aid:
wiping his brow and
to home he was bade.

Jesus Joseph John staggered on up the road
and gradually in his tiredness slowed;
He collapsed in a doorway
and fell there asleep,
in his dreams he was shaken
which troubled him deep.

In the growing dawn light
He awoke to the day;
A new chance to see
If he could find his own way.