Gambit 1

Gambit 1

She’d been there.
She’d have walked
those waxed floors,
looked down at her feet
to see her face distorted
in the elbow-grease
of sheen and shine.

Alone, she was, all alone,
abandoned.
Tonight, on her birthday,
I feel the chill hand
of her sorrow
clutch my heart.

Who can reach in,
who can melt the iceberg
rising beneath my ribs?
Who can warm chilled bones,
charm lost feelings
back into throbbing life?

Gone, all gone,
lost, forgotten, forsaken,
abandoned
on those same ice floes,
where she walked on thin ice,
with the darkest depths
calling out to her from far below.

Click here for Roger’s reading on Anchor
Gambit 1

Comment: My mother, had she lived, would have celebrated her 109th birthday. Watching Episode One of The Queen’s Gambit, I was overwhelmed by what my mother must have felt, all those years ago, when she lost another child. Did she actually feel and think in manner portrayed above? I’ll never know now.

Redemption

Redemption

I had no paper with me in the car
and wrote this on a bottle redemption slip.

Redemption:
that’s what I seek
and some days it seeks me.
A double need this need to redeem
and be redeemed. A double need too
this god I need, the god who needs me.

Lonely he will be without me,
and I without him.
Knock and the door will open.
Seek and ye shall find.

I look and, yes, he’s there,
him within me and me within him.

This redemption slip is all I need:
empty bottles on the one hand,
my empty heart on the other,
both now redeemed.

All of this while I sit in the car.
outside Wendy’s or outside Taco Bell,
sitting quite still and ready to wait,
not knowing my upcoming fate.

Listen to Roger’s reading on Anchor.
Redemption.

Floribundia

Floribundia

Words grow like flowers, invasive, cruel, beautiful, cutting, and when cut, they wither and fade, just like flowers. Catch them while you can, I say. Catch them, hold them tight, press them to you heart, for time is voracious and will soon devour them, swallowing them down in the black holes of forgetfulness, carelessness, and memory loss. Shine a light on your words. Underline them, grace them with stars, think about them, carefully. And remember, the word once spoken or written can never, ever be recalled.

Joy of Light

I wait for words to descend, soft, peaceful.
They brush my mind with the soft touch of a grey
jay’s wings. When they refuse to come, I know
that silence is golden. Sunshine spreads its early
morning light, upwards, under the blinds, into
my room and my eyelashes radiate its rainbow.

Light from the rose window in Chartres
once spread its spectrum over my hands,
and I rejoiced in the glory of its speckled glow.
I spread my fingers before my face and marveled
at the suit of lights clothing my body. In such
splendour mortal things like words cease to flow.

Words are inadequate. They cannot express what I feel
when I breathe in color and light and my heart
expands into an everlasting rose, as red as dawn,
as bright as a blushing sunrise over Minister’s Island.
Flowers burst into bloom. A sense of immanent beauty
fills me as light, and warmth, and joy disperse night’s gloom.

Click to hear Roger’s reading on Anchor.
Floribundia & Joy of Light


Cloud of Unknowing

Cloud of Unknowing

Sometimes the yearning heart
wraps itself in a cloud of unknowing.
Then come doubts and fears and a sense
of being alone and abandoned,
adrift on a rising sea, with night
drawing nigh and no horizon in sight.

But, at the centre of that cloud
that aching heart still thirsts
for cool water to soothe and cure
the ills of an internal world
that seeks a lighthouse on a shore
yet finally finds that light within itself,
and then is safe, and lost no more.

Gilt Trip

Gilt Trip

A walking gilt trip
and the woes of the journey
packed into the old kit bag
that bends your back
and weighs down your shoulders.

Take care lest you stumble,
for if you stumble
you will surely fall, and every fall
is a precipice that will never allow you
to get back up again.

Where is the stranger, the faceless one,
the as-yet-unknown one who will care
just because he cares and will help you
stand up once more on your own two feet?

Take root where you stand.
Plant your feet solidly into the ground.
The winds of change will blow,
but they will not topple you.

Raise your eyes to the sunrise.
Strive upwards, ever upwards,
turn towards the light,
that fragile lightness
of everlasting light.

Click on this link for Roger’s reading on Anchor.
G
ilt Trip


Outreach

Outreach

It’s so easy to cast the tiniest
pebble into the tranquil pond.

Sit and watch the ripples spreading,
flowing outwards, touching unknown
shores with a smidgen of warmth,
a lapping of love.

Reaching out, from the center
to the periphery, not knowing
where the outreach is going,
but knowing that the effort is
never in vain if it helps someone’s
suffering, reduces their loneliness,
brings light to their lives,
and relieves their pain.

Bread cast upon the waters,
returned in great store,
three, five, seven, ten times
more than what you cast.

Your spider-web lines
thrown inwards and outwards
in a gesture of faith, hope,
and a charity chest of tenderness
to lighten a burden, to remove
the dark from another’s heart.

It’s so easy to select a pebble,
but who will throw that first stone?

Click here to hear Roger’s reading on Anchor.
Outreach

Dydd Dewi Sant Hapus

Dydd Dewi Sant Hapus

Daffodils
(for my mother)

Light in dark
bright yellow stridence
shrill golden dog’s bark
to warn off death’s wolves
that freeze her blood

she dreaded night’s unease
the devil’s wintry anti-spring
life’s darkest sparks

but loved the daffodils’
sunny March cadence
of brief piercing dance

Click here for Roger’s reading.
Daffodils

Hold Fast

Hold Fast

On days like these,
the center must hold,
but not just hold,
it must writhe and strive
to live longer, be stronger,
to hold together so that the periphery
understands that it too is at the center
of an extended web of life
that contains us all,
you and me,
past and future generations,
in a great chain of being alive
and knowing that yes, we are here,
we are, at heart, really only one,
and totally unique,
is spite of the sameness
that sometimes surrounds us
as time’s spider-web
unravels, oh so fast, so slow,
and yet still we are here,
and still the center holds.

Click here for Roger’s reading.
Hold Fast

Sun Storm

Sun Storm

Some days the clouds roll in.
Your world turns from gray
into fifty shades of black.

These are the days when the sun
seems as lost as you.
But the sun isn’t lost.
It hides behind clouds, maybe,
but it’s there.

That’s where the sun storm comes in.
Clouds have silver linings
and the sun, once seen, will never,
ever be forgotten.

Hold its image in your mind.
Breathe in the sunshine.
Let it flood through your body
and shine out through your heart.

Now, you will never be alone,
and the sun will walk with you,
all your days, and be remembered
even in the darkest night
when paths disappear
and all seems lost.

Click here for Roger’s reading.
Sun Storm

New Year’s Day

Self-portrait with mask

New Year’s Day
What’s in a name?

Only the winners write the history of their conquests, only the winners. Am I a winner, then? Of course I am. I’m writing this aren’t I? Therefore, ipso facto, I am a winner. This means that although they trashed and thrashed me, they never broke me nor was I a loser. I survived. And in that world in which I lived, surviving without surrendering was a victory in itself. But this is no tale of a hero, of bloody deeds, of a great victory. It is a survivor’s tale. So, if I won, then they lost, and who knows now how the losers felt, history’s non-winners, their slates wiped clean now, their names anonymous, erased from my story, not carved in stone nor impressed into steel.
            What’s in a name? The Red Wings, the Black Hawks, the Braves, the Algonquins? Whose heart lies broken and buried at Wounded Knee? Why does the Wolastoq rise in the Notre Dame mountains and flow down through unceded land to the City of Fredericton that noble daughter of the woods, and on to the city of Saint John on Fundy Bay? Why Wolastoq, Notre Dame, Fredericton, Saint John?
            “Sticks and stones will break my bones, yet names will never hurt me.” But what if I am called Nemo and have no other name? No-name man, no-name woman, no-name child, no language to call my own, no culture, no history, except the one that others wrote and forced me to believe or the innocent who causes me to rebel

            “Grandpa,” she says, climbing on my knee. “Tell me a story. Please.”
            “Once upon a time,” I begin. “There was this little girl …” She wriggles and giggles.
            “What was her name?”
            “I don’t know.”
            “Yes, you do.”
            “Don’t.”
            “Do.”  
            “Was it me? Am I that little girl?”
            “You can be if you want.”
            “I want. How does my story end?”
            “I don’t know. You’ve only just started it.”

So, write your poems, write your stories, write your childhood, write your memories, write what you know, invent what you don’t know. You can’t remember your name? Give yourself a new one. You have forgotten your myths? Create new ones. You have forgotten your language? Seek and you will find, and when you have found, learn your language again, a word at a time, phrase by phrase, word-picture by word-picture, until you have renewed your world and your place in it. Let your ancestors stride through your veins again and again to stand in the spotlight that you shine upon them.
            Restriction, extinction, suppression of the weakest and poorest, survival of the fittest … You, you who are reading this, you who have survived, you can count yourself among the strongest and the bravest. Now name yourself for who and what you are.
            Pick up your pen and write. Lazarus I name you: step out from your living tomb, step out from your kennel-cave. Pick up your bed and walk and talk, and write your own story. And remember the words of Oscar Wilde, “Tell your own tale, and be yourself, my friend, because everyone else is taken.”

Click here for Roger’s reading.
New Year’s Day
What’s in a name?

Comment: This is the penultimate chapter from On Being Welsh. I will put the last chapter up tomorrow.