my style is informal, irregular and free form. i favour the 14 lines of the sonnet, and the 5-7-5 syllable rhythms of the haiku. the words seem to find their own relationships. hope some of this speaks to you.
jock franz mctavish of calgary, canada
i am (was) a pot virgin, and it was rather funny - what happened. you see, i’ve got ms and my feet always hurt. get’s annoying. limits things. sometimes stops things.
and from time to time I heard about how pot got rid of pain for folks with ms. but i’ve no idea how to get some. so naturally i ask my kid to get me some. he does. brings me 3 wilted looking cigarettes in a plastic container. i stick ‘em in the freezer.
then one saturday afternoon, i’m alone and all caught up and i think - ok, let’s give that weed a try. so i take one and light it up. a bit tricky in itself. keeps going out. well i just keep re-lighting it and sucking hard on it.
for i knew what to do. i’d seen how in movies. just suck in the smoke and pretend you’re under water as long as you can. so that’s what i did. over and over. lighting it up again and again. 20 minutes goes by. by now i thought i’d be feeling “high”. nope. just dizzy and getting a sore throat. and then the little cigarette was gone.
so i walked into the kitchen for something to drink. rather annoyed. my feet still hurt dammit. then the world spun around 20 or so times and i couldn’t move my head a millimeter in any direction or it would spin again.
oops. this is awkward. so i take half an hour to get to the phone. phone my other kid and explain how i’m stuck in this one little spot in space-time and can’t move. and i don’t know what to do - does she have any advice?
she laughs and comes over and laughs some more. what did you do? well i smoked one of those marijuana cigarettes your brother gave me. and it didn’t help - my feet still hurt! and i can’t move my head! just my eyeballs!
a whole one yourself? all at once? well, yeah. and she gives me the orientation training i’d neglected earlier. so i crawled into bed and slept it off like any good drunk.
the other 2 are still in their plastic container in the freezer. the container without any instructions. and without warnings. been there a few years now. not too sure i want to try again. kind of reminds me how silly life is sometimes.
i miss you
and find myself wondering
where and how and if you are
you are because we are
and you are part of we
but are you free?
i remember how you just hate anything
the least bit tainted by the supernatural
yet you believe in the good
and work for the peace
you are relentless
about the consequence of a thought.
perhaps that's why peaceful buddhists
beckoned you across the sea
and why you were happy in their place
i see you now again in their midst
in their bardo - awakening
where the sun is always setting
and souls are recycled
these folk gave you a great gift
for bardo is the proper in-between
to finally unwrap your sadness
and be pleased with all you are
but you were christian first and still
and have chased jesus all your life
you've met him often in his varying disguise
and so encouraged, uplifted us
i remember your lessons
your direct manner
the joy above your sorrow
the hope above your hurt
you always left a warm space after
you have left it again with us.
be managing programs
be working wonders
our new consensus confidently directed
our new perspective discovering excellence
i came to you and you welcomed me.
i was with you only for a while and you understood.
i gave you all i had and you loved me more.
when i was happy you laughed with me.
when i was sad you encouraged me.
when i was curious you delighted me.
then came cancer and you were astounded.
then came doctors and you interceded for me.
then came knives and needles and you stayed with me.
i loved the water and you brought me dolphins.
i loved the blue sky and you coloured it with butterflies.
i loved you and you filled my final days with joy.
always remember our days together.
and, i really liked the balloons and bagpipes.
in the voice of the child, who is an "old soul"
you wonder if your days were well spent
you now challenge your own decisions
you regret what seems in retrospect, too little
you have helped make the world grow kinder
you have taught tolerance, compassion and duty
you have shown that faith requires integrity
i learned from your teaching, and your example
i see your attentions in each of my intentions
i am steady because of your ever present love
ever we live between yesterday and tomorrow
ever do the generations send forth their dreams
ever will kith and kin, extend those gifts in turn
may your many past days bring you satisfaction
may your many future days bring you challenge
not aware of her wonderful contributions
celtic mystics found "thin places"
between the worlds
where insight and rescue live
each of us pass near such places
when hearts hurt, when needs are great
when that thin place opens a wee while
then we remember we are not alone
are given life again, are healed
are overflowingly filled with light
sometimes it is the air that is thin
in such thin air others reach to touch us
again with love
so promises are kept
so hope is shared
and whose joy is to fly - "to touch the face of god", as did magee.
the clamouring noise of our times
hides the holy - disables our noticing
yet there are off-beats of time we can attend
the clamouring noise of our minds
consumes our attention - distracts our soul
yet systolic beats of thought name our noticings
between the memes of our times
are counter balancing sensibilities
to pause our conviction - to open our hearts
between the memes of our minds
are roots of tradition and wisdom
to complete and challenge our understanding
so to extend our fervent hopes to good purpose
so to embrace the silence - and find blessing
this exploration notices that holy silence is discovered not away from noise and memes
but in the counterphase of our beating hearts.
free and wild he roamed the city
ears wide open he relished the din
eyes wide open he enjoyed the choice
home again he refined his appetites
yesterday he looked to tomorrow
not then considering consequence
today he looks to yesterday
not yet considering price
free and mild he settles now
ears plugged he misses the cacophany
eyes closed he dreams of dancing light
home in turmoil he builds his tomorrow.
full of hope he worries
full of energy he waits
trying to sort out the eternal questions of relationship.
encouraged by the opportunities
but puzzled by general discord
he is newly confused each day
from a place very near
that yet seems far away
he strives for understanding
he fears his own freedom
perhaps to stay caged is to be fed
perhaps to escape is to be hungry
he considers and worries
caught inside his own dreaming
he waits the arrival soon of his intention
between the earth and the sky
between the world and the abyss
he endures the necessity
always understanding, always between
always bearing difficult matters
he endures the unreasonableness
unable to falter, unable to complain
unable to release without disaster
he endures the unendingness
ever supporting, ever upholding
ever expecting, ever hoping
he endures til the morrow
and enduring, he enables our tomorrow
and enduring, he enables our surviving
he was a titan and so he did it.
like atlas, an associate endured.
a middle manager - a chieftain
pogo thought they is we -
when the picnic ends in confusion -
and the lemonade is spoiled by ashes.
aristotle thought courage a great virtue -
death a great adventure -
and teaching the highest understanding.
siddhartha thought life is all illusion -
and that we must practice dying -
until we finally understand.
rumi thought death is awakening -
and with his thought turning turning turning -
he danced into the light of understanding.
jesus thought death is new life abundant -
and that he would make us welcome.
after considering what is not. this exploration considers death as avatars advise us.
when a dying friend whispered encouragements, i heard these voices.
rumi the eloquent sufi, who understood the mystery of common things as a dizzy turning.
siddhartha, whose turning from comfort to suffering to understanding, made him the buddha.
aristotle, who made western understanding a turning learning
pogo, the pragmatic alter ego of our generation, whose wit describes our own turning turning.
jesus, whose turning turning things as they were, helped us better understand compassion.
we are pals because we love the same poets.
we are strong people - full and sure
our purposes are not in conflict - just out of phase
we share the need to achieve
and to find new solutions
we are intense people - busy and needed
our hours are overfull - our agendas undone
we share the delight of discovery
and endure our learnings
we are expectant people - determined and convinced,
respectful and cantankerous
we share an expectation of excellence - of success
though unprepared and unbelieving
we share the need for trust and commitment
we share the dream of excellence
stumbling in slow motion - not committed to its vision
but very much wanting to achieve excellence
we are old now - you and i
and have papers that declare it
with much written in life's journal
and abundant memories of our journey
one memory i hold precious - still fresh
though we were young then
is you smiling brightly - in a red bow tie
incredibly shy, skinny, and beautiful
being old includes being young
and all the experiences with friends and kin
you are now a wise woman - a matriarch
i am grown by you into gentler knowing
we are as we had hoped to be
and as we promised - still in love
we had forgotten the ancestors, whose hope yet reached us
we had forgotten the generations, that invented our traditions
and, we had thought them simple, not understanding their wisdom
not appreciating their achievement, their gifts to us.
we shall greet the morning with a blessing
we shall enter into the opportunities of the day
and, we shall wonder at the synchronicities in our lives
neither believing or not believing, but open and noticing.
we shall consider in the quiet twilight who we have become
we shall consider the spiritual insights rooted in these places
and we shall anchor here, the silver threads of our understanding
not in their paradigms, but in our very own particular stories.
in these thin places we find many small sparks of the holy
in these thin places we regain some small part of ancient memories.
day by day, slowly and steadily,
we fill up our life -
with joy and with sorrow,
with success and with failure.
day by day, slowly and steadily,
we burrow our way to the middle -
there to be close and comfortable
with our responsibilities.
day by day, slowly and steadily,
we give more than we have -
reach further than we did before,
understand more than we did before.
it is by following our heart,
we find our soul refilled with love and hope.
my reach now often fails my grasp -
confusion replaces regret,
obligation taunts me from tomorrow -
to do again what was done before.
how then might i notice and do -
with ambition so withered?
how might hope be gently held -
to better keep promises?
difficult and grateful days go by -
what more than these stories am i?
pervasive fatigue now my companion.
i awake, underfull of thought,
and overfull of sadness, i remember -
a bird singing.
Eh? the whole seems to fall into a shape
As if I saw alike my work and self
And all that I was born to be and do,
A twilight-piece... ...Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp,
Or what's a heaven for?..
...i am grown peaceful as old age to-night.
I regret little, I would change still less..
..In this world, who can do a thing, will not;
And who would do it, cannot, I perceive:
Yet the will's somewhat--somewhat, too, the power--
And thus we half-men struggle..
excerpts from "Andrea del Sarto" by Robert Browning"
an ennui of age not unlike that of del Sarto is gripping me.
though i too feel "a man's reach should exceed his grasp"
and that having "grown peaceful as old age" also feels very "half-men" like.
long time sometime, kwan-yin woke from her dreaming
she had dreamed a dream of energy universes
a silent dancing of beautiful equations
incredible invisible breathing ideas
but without mass in space-time
truth was all alone in the heavens
long time sometime, kwan-yin paused in her yearning
and brought forth beauty with its arrow of time
to light the passions and reward the spirit
with impossibly many flavours
but without souls struggling to understand
truth and beauty were without perspective
long time sometime, kwan-yin felt compassion
and life began to see, to hear - and to feel kindness
the cern large hadron collider team has twice now seen the higgs boson - the last of the sub-atomic particles in the physics pantheon. it is the particle that assigns the property of mass to the energy that fills space-time. the "god particle". and i wondered what if the creator also took a long time to see the need for this last particle? first to conceive the world of beautiful mathematics, then to create matter so convoluted and messy that compassion and mercy would be not only necessary but the most interesting part of the whole dream/illusion.
there is a hindu myth of creation i like and can't re-source, so here i've reassigned the myth to kwan yin, the female aspect of buddha energy and the goddess of compassion and mercy. for surely the creator is female. and clearly inventing matter required inventing compassion too. the story was something like this: there came one particular moment when the goddess woke up and was aware. and what she was aware of was herself being bored. so she created the universe. stars and constellations. planets and moons. that was fun. but after a bit, she was again bored. so she created life. flowers and ginkgo biloba trees. angel fish and hummingbirds. that was lots of fun too. but again it got boring. so she thought about it a few billion years. and what she thought was she'd make humans. and into each human she'd put just a little bit of godness into the human. just enough so the human would a few times during their life be fleetingly aware they were gods too. that game was so much fun she still plays it
and i am so a fan of plato (truth beauty goodness) as einstein corrected him (truth beauty kindness).