Boats

Boats

At night the boats arrive to carry you
away to the lands in which you dream.

Each boat carries a different cargo. Each
boat means a different size and shape.

To find out what they carry, you must climb
on board, raise the hatch cover, and descend
to where the riches rest in the dark below.

Ancient maps, formed by Freud, then redone
in the symbolic imagery of Jung, point out
the perils the traveler may meet as he sails away.

“Here be monsters, here be dragons, here be
anything you wish to configure in your dreams.

And here be the spice lands, emerald isles
embedded with their scents in a turquoise sea.

But steer clear of Scylla and Charybdis,
the pool that whirls, the rocks that close and
crash to crush you with their grinding teeth.”

Click here for Roger’s reading on Anchor.
Boats

Day of the Dead

Day of the Dead

writing by candlelight
the flickering flame
casting shadows
over thought and word

tell me what are shadows
but the false promises
festering in Plato’s Cave
or a fake finger show
projected on an unwilling wall

yellow and red the flames
sweet scented the smoke rising
from melting wax
my mind alive with memories

this night of nights
when family ghosts
drift through the room
and my childhood clutches
the red bag of my heart
with death’s cold fingers

Click here for Roger’s reading on Anchor
Day of the Dead



Hall of Mirrors

Hall of Mirrors

You walk up the wooden stairs
and there you are, staring at yourself
in the fairground’s distorting mirrors.

Fatter, thinner, shorter, taller, a half-
and-half version, thinner at the top,
squat at the bottom, one of those Xmas
dolls you could flick, but never roll over.

What do we see when we look in the mirror?
Do we see our selves as we really are
or do we see the wretched deformations
of our diminishment?

So depressing to think that, back then,
I might have seen myself as I am now:
hair thinning, forehead larger,
shriveled shanks and wasted muscles,
breathless, when I climb the stairs,
and a butterfly heart that sometimes
flutters and stutters as it seeks the sun.

Click here for Roger’s reading on Anchor.
Hall of Mirrors

The Cry

The Cry

I had forgotten the who,
what, when, where, and why.
A t first, I didn’t hear the cry,
despondent, squeaky, like a mouse,
timid until it climbed up higher,
inspired by the grief within.

My own heart, paper thin,
could not confine the sobbing
that assaulted my own stronghold,
the oubliette, where everything
lay hidden, but never forgotten.

A pebble on the pond, the cry
rippled onwards and out,
became a whimper, grew into a shout.
What’s it all about, I asked
and took the cry to task
for rippling my pond’s tranquility.

Click here for Roger’s reading on Anchor.
The Cry







Reunion


Reunion

So sad, the reunion.
Each year, fewer participants,
faces older, hair whiter
(if there’s any left)
grizzled beards,
hands shaking, not just shaken,
memories lost or at odds
with reality, multiple dreams
turning into nightmares.

So much lost, youth,
energy, confidence, contact,
microscopic minds
turned in on themselves,
cognitive cogs
barely functioning.

What really happened
all those years ago?
Nobody remembers.
Nobody cares.
Nobody really wants to know.

Click here for Roger’s reading on Anchor.
Reunion


Clichés

Clichés

I buried myself in an ice-cube.
I dug in so deep that nobody
could find nor touch me.

“Hurt yourself,” I told myself,
“hurt yourself
so badly that nobody
will ever be able to hurt you
again.”

Clichés:
cutting off your nose
to spite your face,
shooting yourself
in the foot, arm, or leg,
self-destructing
in so many ways,
and all clichés.

And me, alone,
everything cut off,
torn down, worn away,
visible, some days,
yet untouchable,
locked away
in this frozen land
where warmth
never flows
and winter
holds sway.

Click here for Roger’s reading on Anchor.
Clichés

Knowledge

Knowledge

“Knowledge: that which passes
from my notes to your notes
without going through anyone’s head.”

aka
Filling empty heads.”

I came here a beggar, begging bowl
in hand, begging for knowledge,
at the seat of all knowledge,
from the hands of those who knew.

They fed me, taught me,
brought me into knowledge,
as they knew it, but I yearned
for more, so much more.

I found it, one morning,
in my morning mirror, shaving.
I looked into my own eyes and asked:
“What are you teaching?”

My answer: words and empty words,
formulae handed down to me
over generations of people
who thought they thought because
they repeated what others had thought.

This was not what I sought.
Then, and only then, did I look
into the eyes of those I taught,
those who sought knowledge from me,
in all my worthlessness,
and I asked them what did they need,
what did they want to know,
and why did they want this knowledge.

Then I asked them how I could help them
to attain that knowledge for themselves
and to use it to construct their own lives,
on their own, without interference and shame
as I had never done.

Then, and only then, did I know
I had become a teacher in the true sense
of the word, and that together with me,
my students had learned to teach themselves
multiple ways in which to grow.

Listen to Roger’s reading on Anchor.
Knowledge

Losing Language

Losing Language

To lose your language
is to lose your dignity and your muse.

It’s to lose the power of self-expression
and to frustrate the longing soul
that flutters like a butterfly
striving to reach for the beauty of light
yet frustrated by the weight
of its now useless wings
unable to rise.

So much the soul sees at night,
wandering in dreams among the stars.
Memories of former rooms
where the old inhabitants still dwell,
shadows among the shadows,
some still gifted with limited
powers of speech,
but others, tongue-tied and silent,
and our chatter reduced
to a net of butterfly buzz words.

Oh for the freedom of flight,
for the liberty of my language found anew
and capable still of shaping and recreating
the world of silence in which I now live.

Based on a Welsh Poem by Harri Webb
Colli iaith a cholli urddas.

Click here for Roger’s reading on Anchor.
Losing Language

Sound of Absence

Sound of Absence

It’s a lonely walk round the animal park,
the petting zoo with its animated young,
goats, sheep, llamas, alpacas, all of them
greedy and alert, ears pricked, eyes open,
munching away, hand-fed by the visitors.

Only the wind moves the swings today.
We walk in silence, but don’t stay long.
That little body that swung the swings,
those little feet that raced from place
to place at such a bewildering pace…

they are not here. We watched them board
the plane, fly up into the sky, head west
and home, and now we, the old folk,
abandoned, hold hands, and walk alone.

Click here for Roger’s reading on Anchor.
Sound of Absence


Portrait of Moo

Moo by Fin

Finley has left. She has left me with a selection of her art and instructions to ‘show it to the world’. S o, here we have the Portrait of Moo by Fin. I guess many of you don’t know who Moo is, but don’t worry about it, neither do I and Fin has been busy for three weeks, trying to work it out for herself. Oh dear – what can the matter be? Finish the song for yourself, if you remember it in any of its many versions.

Meanwhile, I go back to my old friend, Robbie Burns, with whom I spoke only yesterday. He spoke to me through my eyes and, as I sat there talking, I digested his words of wisdom: “Ah would some power the giftie gie us to see ourselves as others see us.” The giftie gie us is, as you well know, the Scottish dialect for what comes out in Standard English as the gift give us.

So that’s how Fin sees Moo. When I next meet him, if he cares to show up chez nous, I will show him Fin’s portrait and ask him what he thinks. Until then, his identity – and I am assuming he is a he not a she – must remain a mystery as mysterous as this mysterious painting that appeared on my desk.