Traffic

The sound of traffic
unremitting roar upon the A roads,
incessant rumble over the M roads,
hurtling at speed
east going west returning,
north outgoing south incoming,
long weekends far from the city
taking the noise and crowdedness
trying to convince themselves
travel truly is a respite
a retreat an escape,
from the daily grind of the commute
dawn and dusk
daylight and darkness
into and out of the self-same
urban nightmare
homing to the suburban dream.

The unremitting roar
reminiscent of the sea surrounding,
rumble like incessant rolling thunder,
assaulting the senses,
engines never ceasing
bellowing with more speed
howling for more fuel
have replaced the dinosaurs’
reverberating boom no longer heard,
though for decades now renewed
resounding once again in engines
gulping down the liquid remains
of what once nourished reptilian monsters
to satisfy their insatiable hunger,
which in truth is ours alone
to go farther
get there faster
arrive in greater comfort.

Guzzling the interred remains
of the land titans’ food,
those once great
crushers of primeval forests
and each other under foot,
to sate modernity’s thirst
striping out the forests
making room for yet more
roads to accommodate
the multi-wheeled carriers,
once they the servants
now we the slaves,
roaring unremittingly as the restless sea,
rumbling incessantly as ongoing thunder
constant motion
never silent
always sound and movement,
upon the A roads,
over the M roads,
crisscrossing the land
gobbling up the landscape.
awaiting their inevitable extinction.

Advertisements

Awen and Creativity

Always the challenges for me as a creative person:

Not to resist the Awen’s insistent bidding.
Not to let the inspired thought slip away.
Not to assume if I wait a few moments, hours or days it will still be there.

The Awen’s spark of inspiration is just that, a spark, an ember of an idea flying through the air. If I’m not the tinder waiting, if I’m not the patch of ground so long dry, ready to explode with the intensity of the vision or idea and be engulfed by its wild ferocity then what might have been will never be. I will never know where the journey through the flame of creation would have led. I would have denied the git of Awen its due.

That is what I find hardest in dealing with the Awen, with the flow and fire of creative inspiration. It is a sacred moment and a sacred process. A moment and process I yearn for, one I seek and at times shy away from; but, it is what offers me the opportunity to be my truest self, most fulfilled and most at one with all creation and every creature, all Knowing and the Knowers.

I have too often in the past let the ember die. Not allowed the winds of desire to create something fan the tiny flame into an all consuming, passionate expression of what I felt in the heat of dancing embers all around me. This has left me frustrated and separated from the Divine Energy of Being. I try now harder not to let the ember die, though it is not always easy to do despite my best intentions.

When I wait too long I am left with a burn mark in my being where the ember landed and faded. It feels like the way a fleecy top looks if a spark from a campfire lands on it – a hole with a melted edge. Sometimes if I just stop long enough to make a note, jot the gist, draw a quick sketch, then I can come back and tend the low burning fire in the hearth of my being.

This morning walking to the bus and watching the sky, as I do, the ember flew and caught the tinder. Fanning the words gently to keep them alive until I got where the bus would arrive in its time I hurried on, still gazing at the sky. Rehearsing the words as I walked, getting to the bus stop I tore out the notebook I am never without. And I wrote. What I wrote is not great poetry; it will win no prizes. What it is though is taking something I saw, that I experienced and was able to record to share. The image was clear, the words flashing quickly, no slow burning fire this one. Flaring, searing the mind, and once recorded the fire burns on through the words and images, but it no longer burns me. It was made of the tinder, the small twigs not the giant logs great halls require for warmth and feeding — those are the fires required for longer works, prolonged explorations and creative projects. This small fire has burned and warmed me and here I offer it that it might warm you a bit as well. Even if not, in this poem, as in every creative work, the fire still burns and will never cease.

Sky scrawled oghams
vapour trail gibberish
ephemeral glossolalia
undecipherable
even as the clouds approach.

To discern such is not possible,
lines hither and thither
crisscrossing the pale sky
a bit of Phagos,
perhaps that was Furze
or maybe Ailim,
surely Duir.

There was no real way
to hold the atmospherically drawn
messages whose messengers
do not realise
they send and carry
forth mysterious meanings
thrust before the clouds.

Frustration at insufficient clarity
through my intuitive senses,
or perhaps because the sharing
and the wisdom is meant for another –
straight lines traced
back and forth crisply
only to diffuse,
scattering upon the currents
the earthbound cannot feel,
do not perceive.

Quickly the dispersal begins
lines smudge smearing into patterns
reminiscent of pictures
a child’s chubby crayon
draws but unlike
those images this one
cannot be saved and cherished.

Lasting only moments,
a moving message
written in shifting vapour
upon the sky.

Not Good at Waiting

All right, I admit it, I’m not good at waiting.

Not good at waiting around for news, to hear back from someone, for something to happen that is in the air so to speak. I get edgy. I need to move around. I pace like a caged tiger. I fidget and can’t concentrate very well unless I force myself.

As I write this I am waiting to hear the outcome of a job interview. I don’t think I’ll get it as there are not only the external candidates, but the internal ones as well. I’ve lost out in that scenario before, ‘pipped at the post’ they said. But I have not choice but to wait. And the longer the wait the less confident I am of a good outcome.

My mind races, it goes over little things again and again. It runs back over big things as well.

It it is prime example of not being in control. I’ve never given birth, so I don’t know what that waiting is like, but I have waited for death. I have waited for things I’ve seen to happen. Waited for days of supreme importance to dawn and unfold. I have waited for buses, planes and trains. I have waited for nights that are too long to end and days that are too long to come to a close. I have waited for something I’ve counted on happening or doing  only to find out at the last moment it might not and the disappointment is proportional to the length of the wait.

I am not good at waiting. Most of the things I have waited for are completely out of my hands. They are in the hands of the gods or in the hands of others.

Sometimes I wish I was more comfortable or competent at waiting. Of knowing how to use the time between what I am experiencing in the present to what will be revealed in the future coincide. But, alas . . .

I do know that in certain instances when I am in control of the waiting that to do so risks never. Put off something indefinitely and it becomes forever. I have had that happen often enough that I try not to be caught in that situation, or at least as seldom as possible.

In the throes of waiting I find doing almost impossible; I’m pushing hard to write this post. Each time I pause I have to yank hard on the reins of my thoughts to bring them around again to the task at hand.

So I am waiting still. Holding on and hanging in until the phone rings and then I carry on with a different level and intensity of waiting and doing until the next time. I do wish I was better at waiting.

The Challenges of Heavy Summer

July and August are the hard part of summer for me. Summer and I have never gotten on well, not even as a child, but that was partly because we lived in a flat over a shop in a medium sized town in east central Indiana. Because my father was an artist, and this was the late 50s and early 60s, classmates weren’t allowed to come and play with me and I was never invited to their homes to play either.

Consequently, I spent lots of time in my father’s studio, which was another flat across the roof and one floor up from where we lived. It was some consolation and compensation for the lack of peers to engage with. I engaged instead with colour and form, and watched art being created. What I could imagine in my mind I could at least attempt to manifest with my hands. I did my first wood block print at age five. I soaked up creative energy like a sponge, but not the energies of land and earth and I had never see the sea at an age I could remember it.

Yes, there were two parks in the town. There were the occasional adventure walk with my father and year younger brother. But I lived pretty much an indoor life, most time outdoors spent walking to school and we also walked home for lunch. Always in a hurry, never really any time to look at things. The most engagement I had with nature was squeezing ‘gushy berries’, as I called yew berries, between my fingers.

I read the dictionary from the time I was nine or ten. It was my favourite book.

I missed school in the summer holidays, which were pretty much two and a half months long.

I never really accommodated myself to the season of heavy shade and oppressive humidity and with my severe mosquito allergy, well . . .

I never lived where crops were grown, except when visiting my mother’s people in Iowa, which we did every couple of years, my mother, brother and I. In Iowa it was maize, acres and acres of it ripening in the July sun. I remember the air conditioner in my Aunt Alberta’s beauty salon and the smell. It was icy in there and a relief from the worst of the heat. She and Uncle Fletcher lived in a rambling two storey house with a full basement and wrap around porch. There was a cherry tree one the side and rhubarb that I used to eat raw with salt. I can still see and smell it all clearly.

But, summer never felt right to me, an alien season. Summer is the season about the land and its productivity. I never had any real sense of that driving by or seeing it slip past outside the window of the Zephyr heading west from Chicago on the way to Iowa. I was an observer of the land and the landscape. I was never a participant in its energies. I never heard it call to me. Never was invited to meet its guardians, those I now understand to be the ancestors. And certainly had no notion of the gods.

When I was older and I lived in different places and had gardens to be in I tried hard to connect. I still was not able to do so. And, of course, summer was the hardest. Still plagued by reactions to mosquito bites and not keen on sunshine, finding its glare hard to take, summer was still not my best time of year.

Only since I’ve been living in the UK, nearly thirteen years now, have I been able to come to terms with summer and its excesses, as I always saw them. Here the summers are not as predictable as where I lived in the US. It can be hot and dry one year and the next chilly and sodden. And, I’ve not lived in a city. I lived on an Orcadian island, and in Devon and Somerset, where I still live, visited parts of Wales and spent time in the Highlands of Scotland and the far end of Cornwall. Always close to the land. Always welcomed by the ancestors. Always aware that the gods here are my gods.

From an Encounter with a Four-leaf Clover

I have not done a great deal of truly deep thinking lately, but I have done quite a bit of broad sensing. By that I mean extending myself, reaching out the energies around me farther from me. I was aware about not doing the thinking bit, but only realised in the past couple of days about the sensing part. Or at least how the extending part seems to be working for me, with me, in me.

Extending my energy is a way of pushing my boundaries and in moving them incrementally farther beyond my normal edges I have expanded my awareness. This I realised on my walk the other morning. For almost a week I had the sense that I would find a four-leafed clover. It’s not really a big deal, but the sense was quite strong. There is one embankment along a lane I walk down that is covered in clover leaves, many more leaves than clover flowers. I have been walking past and along this section of lane for months now. Only in the past week did I feel that there was a four-leaved clover hiding somewhere in the mass of its three-leaved companions.

Since becoming aware of the treasure hiding in the bank of green I have been scanning as I walked along. For a week I saw nothing. Then a few mornings ago I hardly had to look at all and my eye went right to it. Yes, I did take it with me. It had been there for some time, because its stem was about ten inches long. I was delighted. It is only the second one I’ve found, ever.

It was a reminder to me that I do know things, am aware of them before they happen. This is not a new awareness for me. I’ve seen snatches of the yet, whilst in the now for years. I was delighted with the gift of the clover, but also did not gloat, because it was a sobering reminder for me. There are things I have ‘seen’ upcoming that are not happy things. At a time when I was doubting whether my seeing is ‘true’ or not an experience, seemingly insignificant happens. In the insignificant experience comes the realisation that only in its time will any event unfold, be revealed, occur.

A little over a month ago I was standing with one of the trees I know and heard: It is easy to remember the past; it is not so easy to remember the future.

As those words, a bit enigmatic and certainly profound echoed inside me, I thought about the fact that I am a rememberer, one who lives increasingly in a state of anamnesis, an unforgetter. Unforgetting  works two ways for me, in my experience, forward no less than backward. It has made me more aware that time is not one way ever going ahead. Time as I experience it, curves around on itself, it is more of a spiral journey. Time as I use the word here is not about clocks or marking day and night. It is more mysterious than that and maybe time is not the proper word, but it is the one I am used to using when I ponder these phenomena and live into the reality of them.

From where I am now I can perceive then as well as yet, provided I am granted the window or portal to see/sense, at any given place or position I am experiencing/perceiving  existence. At some points on my journey what was at a discrete moment is clear, depending on where I am the quality of the memory is stronger or weaker, full or less full of detail, context or conversation. The same is true for what will be. There are moments where I can feel and perceive the context and event more or less vividly, depending on where I am in relation to that fragment of future.

Remembering the future means that in some sense it has already happened in some mysterious way and I am simply on a journey to meet it. It is not deja vu, although I have that experience as well. Remembering the future is when I experience an event I have seen before, in a dream, in a showing, in a vision and often for months or longer before I am in the place where I meet the event. Sometimes I get a sensation or know going past somewhere that the space has a history in the future, and I know the difference between knowing that and that it had a history in the past. My body reacts. My stomach tightens in a certain way. I get nauseous sometimes at the place, or around the people. I will get anxious or feel distressed or sad, if it is a bad thing. If it is not a bad thing I get a deeply settled feeling. For the past and the future these sensations are subtly different and from experience I can discern the difference.

All this becomes more and more refined as I seem to be learning to extend my boundaries. All this more and more as I learn to listen and trust what I see. All this more and more as I come to realise what I know is real, in the yet and the then, as I journey in the now.

All of this from a four-leaved clover found on a morning walk on a late summer morning.

Avian Pinnacles

The avian pinnacles
stand tall and watch.

Surmounting
church spires and roof peaks,

BB on roof 3
gargoyles and chimney pots,

two on cloudy day 2
antennae and hunkypunks,

Crow  hunkeypunk
reaching beaks upwards
calling and scrawking,

Surley starling
singing and chattering,
songbirds and corvids,

Finch antennae 1   Different two. 2JPG
and those we call nuisance birds,

gull   MOckingbird
large feathered ones and small.

White pigeon on roof peak  Lone sparrow staring

The avian pinnacles
stand tall and watch.

Searching
whilst eyeing us,

One a watcher

calling each other
passing the news,
a few acting as sentinels

Jackdaws on spire
silently holding the space
enfolded between the air
and the structures
we build replacing
the great trees once
covering the land.

The avian pinnacles
stand tall and watch.

The day the War began

When I first went outside this morning I could feel something different. A different energy. A false calm, and artificial pausing of the frantic energy in all the life forms around me. My walk was a challenge this morning. Too much was seeping into my awareness, to many images began to flood my interior vision, to many sounds assaulted my internal ears. I seemed to be walking in a daze, walking here and walking somewhere far away, in an alien landscape. My soul ached

Yes, the birds sang – muted songs.

Yes, the butterflies danced, but it was not the same sort of dance they danced yesterday.

Or maybe I perceived them differently . . . for though this morning was glorious, memory makes it harsh. Remembrance makes it terrible.

I watched the clouds tower up, rehearsing, remembering the rising storm clouds of the early morning of this day a century ago, that broke before midnight.

It is not possible for me to think back and not feel, feel things I shouldn’t possibly be able to feel. Not to know things I can’t possibly know. Perhaps because I have touched some to the history, lived and worked in the shadow of the energy of this day for many years, three decades ago. . .

In San Diego I worked for a woman whose stepmother was Helen Hayes Gleason Johnson, whose first husband (who died of typhoid in the 20’s or 30’s) was Arthur Gleason. He was a reporter of Colliers Magazine during the WWI and she was an ambulance driver behind the lines in Belgium. I worked for her step-daughter in the house Helen’s second husband built for them and that was their home in the 30’s to the 60’s by which time both my employer had inherited after the deaths her father and Helen.

Helen drove for the Red Cross. She was decorated by the King of Belgium after the war, being the first woman to be decorated as a Chevalier. I was privileged to have read all of Helen’s letters from the war and was supposed to get them to do something with prime source materials — an historian’s holy grail, but only a week before I had arranged to take them, the water heater blew up in the basement and flooded where the trunk was kept. The whole lot was soaked beyond retrieval.

But, several months before the water ruined everything, I spent a week going through the material. Two things stand out for me to this day, clear and in sharp relief. One was the letter I read that Helen wrote on a train going through France the day the war was declared and second was the piece of shrapnel, a chunk of metal the size of the palm of my hand that nearly killed her. I can’t remember the words Helen wrote, but I remember the feeling I had as I held the letter in my hands. I recall the sense of despair and the fear the leaked through time to me as I read the words — that letter opened a portal for me that has never really closed.

As others have commented there is no such thing as a glorious war, nor glorious warrior. The propaganda used to get young men to sign up and the fury unleashed on those who for conscience sake could not take up arms were both skillfully wielded to manipulate the masses.

I feel all this more keenly here, living in the UK, so much closer to the places where this frightful conflict unfolded and stalled and was pressed on. Trenches and gas and barbed wire and no man’s lands, and mayhem and palpable fear and bitter resentment.

What was lost to the world, to families and the sciences to literature, to medicine, to music — these are also things I think about. Also that without WWI and the misery and loss there might not have been the fictions of Tolkien; a terrible price to pay for Gandalf and Frodo and Aragorn, the Elves and the Orcs, Fangorn and Rivendell, Minas Tirith and Mordor. We might by now have a cure for some dreadful disease that threatens us. Would the Spanish flu have taken so many, wearied by war and weeping, bereft and unable to find hope and a reason to go on.

There is so much we might elect to conjecture and so much more we might wish we never had to consider, including that the so called peace at the end of WWI sowed the seeds for the rise of the Nazis and the Second World War. For, not one bit of this happens or happened in a vacuum. Not one little bit of that could have occurred without lots of other little bits that seemingly might, on the face of it, appear completely disconnected.

What is it then that I remember today? I am a rememberer. I am one who is called to live in a state and in the reality of anamnesis, of unforgetting. Today there is much to process. There are many threads to untangle. There are wide vistas to take in and the small sheet of paper, written with a pencil in a train carriage chugging through the French countryside, as the harvest was about be taken in, which landscape was soon to be altered beyond recognition. The ensuing conflict ruined lives and reshaped the entire social and political structure of Europe. This conflict toppled monarchies. This conflict bequeathed us Fascisms in Germany, Spain and Italy, and the rule of the Proletariat in what was at the time still Russia that in time transmuted into global Communisms.

What do I remember today? The weeping mother and the sobbing wife, the orphaned children and childless parents — on both sides of that War that did not end anything but our innocence.