The Arts

Camera Machete: Rwanda 2006

The church at Nyamata is now a Rwandan Genocide Memorial, commemorating the deaths of
the 50,000 people laid to rest in its grounds.
Tinder dry, the marram road uncoils,
clings to his skin, stains his hands red.
He walks through swarm dust clouds to Nyamata,
where a church lies flat, symmetrical, its geometry exact.
The brickwork still has holes in it.
Inside he watches stale blood weave its path
through walls and floorboards,
carve alter cloth to patchwork.
He feels the crypt’s hollow like an impostor.
Touches skulls, arms, feet, a single broken tooth.
Smells death close, but tempered, papered into crevices,
ingrained beneath a socket, a strand of hair,
tiny fingers divorced from a hand, like blades.
Twelve years on he has bought cows,
tilled the hillside into rows,
which crack to rivulets in the dry season,
plucked mangoes, oranges, ground coffee beans,
smoked bees from hives to make his honey.
He greets his neighbours ‘Amarkuru, nemeize’
we are all Rwandan.
Placid as Lake Kivu, before the rains come.
When they arrive, they take him by surprise.
A woman, white and blonde, a man with a beard,
glasses perched on a beaked nose,
a girl, about twenty, with a notebook.
They stake him out like an exhibit.
Swing cameras against the shelves of bones
and flattened by light, he raises his arms,
surrenders to them, head lowered, hands splayed wide.
I am Alphonse.
And one dry season, I went back,
to watch blood drain from red to brown,
the Interahamwe come, with cameras.
I lay in the marram road outside,
flat, face down, chewing dust,
grinding earth between my teeth like maize and waited
for photographs to colour into flesh, features,
curves, lines of cheeks and eyes and lips
and even names of all the dead,
in marshland, river beds and hollow crypts.
Giving me the faces I remembered.
This poem was Long Listed for the National Poetry Competition 2020
I worked in Romania, then qualified as a social worker and have worked in China, Outer Mongolia, Canada, Afghanistan, Rwanda, Nepal and briefly in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Papua New Guinea. That was with VSO, the French organisation Humanity and Inclusion, Relief International and the Red Cross. 


A Prayer Poem for You




A Life Enrichment Journal

In the sky of my soul, there is a blossoming…

APRIL 12, 2020


Hope is an heirloom passed down the generations of souls in morning / mourning. A treasure shared between those on the simultaneous shores of pain and paradise. Hope whispers a secret of how living things remain alive. Hope sings. Sings in notes tuned to the range of human despair and defiance. Hope is rope you swing over the canyon chasm of fear, swinging above the murky sediment of doubt settled at the bottom of the polluted river of pessimism. When you release your tears to flow down your cheeks, those tears are hope messengers on their way to your heart. They have something fresh and fragrant to deliver.

Hope is a resurrected Light. Behold as it reanimates what has surrendered to thoughts of doom. It is that impossible breeze through the wide window that puts to sleep the candle flame, then returns to bring the burning back to life. Hope is a reunion with the surreal peace ever inside your divine nature. It brings you to that palace, opens the door, hosts your visit, serves you nourishment, grants you a soft bed and fresh sheets for supernatural rest. Hope is a home. Hope is a dawn, a dusk, a turning. Hope lives in your yearning.

Hope speaks in the dialect of Promise. The stories it tells are of legends and mystical happenings that reason says could not have happened. Hope is not reasonable. Not seasonable. Hope is an everlasting atmosphere. Hope is untamed, incorrigible, feral, and free. Hope cannot be discouraged. It is a titanic waterfall that drowns your discouragement, sweeps you to the ocean where breeds of hopeful things migrate in the deep decadence of being. Hope bleeds. Its sanguine outflow expels from you the accumulated toxins from your lifetime. Hope expunges the long record of your personal harms. Hope is not a judge or jury but a trail guide pointing you toward the place of your reckoning. Hope places your duty in your hands and sets you off to shape that clay.

Hope purifies your persona. Weaves peace through your dense jungle of worries. Hope is a medicine wheel. It offers you the four directions, four teachers, four elements, and the ancestral assignment: Care for each other no matter what. Hope is dreamcatcher. It snares your skepticism, burns it in the blinding brightness of Grace. Hope delivers to you the sacred dreams that hold your valleys of tall grass, clear water, and circles of ceremony between living things.

Hope rises. It is lighter than your lightest ideas. Just when you believe Hope has died, Hope rises again. Even in the crevasses of your pain and loneliness, Hope rises. In your private self-disgust and disbelief in this life, Hope lives there, too. Lifting as a mist, spreading its gospel until that scripture becomes the entire sky. Hope burns your sacred plants. Hope is the plant, the flame, the burning, the smoke, the fragrance, the spirit, the clearing. Hope is a cathedral, glistening through the stained glass, vibrating in the bellows, reaching for the arches, polishing the wood for prayer.

Hope is in the silence you suffer and savor. Hope laces your laughter with a friend. Hope musters your courage to touch what in this world you feel dearly needs to change. Hope scatters fertile seeds in its wind. Hope’s long fingers plant in the soil. Hope is a water feeding the sprout. Hope is the sunlight to greet what breaks through from the crust of ground. Hope is what rises and fattens and blooms into fruit. Hope is in your biting, your eating, your robust renewal.

Hope is your awakening when you pause long enough, are hit hard enough, are awed deeply enough, lose enough, are emptied enough, rendered and shuddered to the bone. Hope opens your eyes. Dilates your heart. Suffuses your breath and body with the oxygen of determination.

Hope is the gift Grace offers you today. A flower that will not wilt. All that is Love is Loving you in this present breath. All that you are feeling is medicine for our great healing. And though you may feel that your ordered life has fallen, be comforted in this ascendant Truth: Hope is a Miracle. Already risen. In you.

I send you Love. May it reach you in the Holiness of your day.

Continue reading


                Eye by Mia Evans


Toronto Canada


What is fear?

Fear can be many different things

You may be worried of what comes in the future

Scared of something in the present 

Or haunted by something from your past

When you are faced with fear what do you do 

Do they Fight or flight

Do they Panic or cry

Fear might Traumatize you for the rest of your life

What is fear?

Fear is like being in the basement

Alone and in the dark

Fear is like going to bed

Knowing there’s someone in the window watching your every move

Fear is like having a stomach full of butterflies 

But those butterflies are stabbing your insides whenever you try to speak

Your head is just overflowing with pain and thoughts of terror

When I was seven

I flew to Italy with my family

Then I wandered off one day

Not knowing what to do I panicked and cried

Looking for the slightest bit of hope 

Hours past and eventually I found my family

What is fear?

Truth is you’ll never forget what the fear felt like

But those feelings and memories is what makes you Who you are

Without pain there is no relief 

Without anxiety there is no serenity

Without fear, there is no hope

But in the end fear is as common as needing

water to live

What is fear?

Fear, can be many, different things


Mia Evans is a 13 year old 
Toronto High School Student
Interested in art, music, math, writing, science and environmental issues. Mia also loves playing on her ice hockey team and aspires to one day be a doctor. 

Here’s the Thing About Fear



JAIYA JOHN BIOGRAPHY. Dr. Jaiya John was born into foster care in New Mexico, and is an internationally recognized freedom worker, author, speaker, poet, and youth mentor. Jaiya is the founder of Soul Water Rising, a global rehumanizing mission that has donated thousands of Jaiya’s books in support of social healing, and offers scholarships to displaced and vulnerable youth. Jaiya is also the founder of Freedom Project, a global initiative reviving traditional gathering and storytelling practices to fertilize social healing and liberation. He is a former professor of social psychology at Howard University, has authored numerous books, and has spoken to over a million people worldwide and audiences as large as several thousand, including national and international conferences, schools, Indigenous reservations and communities, prisons and detention centers, shelters, and colleges. Jaiya is a National Science Foundation fellow, and holds doctorate and master’s degrees in social psychology from the University of California, Santa Cruz, with a focus on intergroup relations and identity development. As an undergraduate, he attended Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon, and lived in Kathmandu, Nepal, where he studied Tibetan Holistic Medicine through independent research with Tibetan doctors.


Rhymes and Ramblings, March 1st 2020, St David’s Day

I felt the sun’s ‘warm touch’ on my left shoulder

Outside, whilst working…was a bonus now I’m older!

It served to remind me of jewels, still to unfold,

The longer days, the relief from the cold…

And, yet, daffodils nodded their yellow ‘Hello’

Mauve crocuses nestled beneath branches below.

I beamed, as I walked on this rain-sodden earth

Revealing its bounty, declaring its worth.

Harvesting leeks and rhubarb, and broccoli and sorrel

Stooping down, saw blackbird scutter round by the laurel.

Red robin perched above on a twig, stretched out his wing,

Long-tailed tits gathered and flitted, enjoying their sing,

On turning, to glance down amongst parsley and sage,

Saw frogspawn clear-glistening behind the wire cage,

And seeing the pond, Iris and Marsh Marigold mingled

Brought a flush to my face, my gloved-fingers fair tingled!

I smiled, as I heard the ‘wreckers’ break glass,

As this patch of land maintained its own Class,

Undisturbed, full of life, just pure Heaven…

Counted spent summers here, at least ten years, plus seven!

All this planning and building, the soil and its treasure…

The hours of watching and listening, the joys and the pleasure,

The fruitfulness and harvest, delight and surprise,

Were all there unfolding, in front of my eyes.


Silent Horror, April 9th Leading up to Easter 2020

Doorstep sitting,

Mint tea sipping,


Buzzing wires,

Children playing,

Indoor staying,

Sunshine loving,

Bellflower budding,

Jack and Jill?

World stood still,

Neighbours chatting,

No dog patting,

Wise words saging,

Distance gauging,

Wary glances,

No advances,

Stray tunes,

Full moon’s

Energy rises,

Brewing crisis,

All bad news,

Much to lose…

Young child screams,

Delight, it seems!

Each day same,

Waiting game.

Another dies,

Baby cries.

Grandad gone,

Life?… must go on.


Times of Tribulation – April 1st – All Fools’ Day, 2020     

‘Fool’ ventured down to the Prom that day

Took chosen, odd path, chanced route, least trod,

Vain trampling, awry, o’er matted green sod,

Clambered high bluff, breathless; traversed bleak tops,

Below, vast-spreading river…above, lean lonely copse,

‘Tis “Thirty-two days syn March began”,

Familiar, stark words for a Chaucer-fuelled fan?

More than a month, of sly, creeping terror,

Unrushed in response, sprayed droplets in error.

“We should have distanced ourselves, from the start!”

Instead, we are only just learning ‘our part’…

Frail Earth breathed still, strange, quiet, so unreal,

Beyond, “Mother Mountain”, her dark gifts conceal?

Warm zephyrs connecting ‘like souls’, to far lands,

Sending songs of condolement, ‘cross gasping, cracked sands.

Now, cocooned in our spaces, with birdsong for clocks,

We network with loved ones…receive food in a box!!!

‘Nil hugs’ and no kisses, no quests…for a while,

Clan connect, knowing glances, solo stranger’s scared smile,

Bright rainbow as symbol, for lives held in treasure

Propped-up ‘Teddies’ in windows, augmenting our pleasure,

Lark thought, that this April was “Surely no joke?”

Blind ‘Hope’ channeled daily, uniting, safe-calling-together, strayed folk.

Ianthe Pickles
Lives in Liverpool
Worked for 37 years as a full-time Primary and later Secondary/Special School teacher and college tutor.
Writing (especially poetry) was often a release during emotional and turbulent times in the 1980s working in an area of severe deprivation and unemployment in Liverpool. 
When life gets out of control, writing can often help it make sense.


Photographs by Yeshe Dorje

I can’t remember where in India I took this photograph of the butterfly. I was in a photographic shop in Agartala, the capital city of Tripura state in North East India and saw a photo on the wall which was uncannily similar to this one. When I was checking my photo against the one on the wall, the shopkeeper told me that no photos were allowed in his shop and he told me to erase my photo. I had a hard time explaining that the photo on my camera was mine and was almost exactly the same as the one on the wall. He didn’t believe me and I kept my photo.

I was in a sidewalk restaurant with friends with this dance taking place on the street. Great time and great food.  Toronto.

Liked the effect of the spring sunshine freezing the house, trees and garden which metamorphose into a winter’s scene.


An old photo of the burn at Hermiston of Braid. This was early spring and the weather was cool which is reflected in the monochromatic tints of the stones, water and trees.

Storm clouds over the Indian Ocean from Kalbarri south of Shark Bay, Austalia. I like the merging of the different shades of blue and the cumulonimbus storm clouds fronted by the mid level alto cumulus in the foreground. The beaches along the shoreline are generally empty and bare.

This is the Kumari or Living Goddess in the City of Patan. I had seen the Living Goddess in Kathmandu and didn’t realise there was another in this ancient capital. She didn’t look too pleased, but then she became the Goddess through her attribute of being emotionally detached from the world around her. Why she was out on display I don’t know. Beyond the wildest dreams of Kew are the facts of Kathmandu  …

South India and this surreal sunset. I’m on the roof of a Tibetan Monastery in the town of Mundgod where we were staying. This was taken on the day that the 100th monk had self-immolated.

A perfect balance looking into a garden containing a school and community centre. We had just missed the cherry blossom time in a town about 2 hours out of Tokyo. Such care and cleanliness is the hallmark of the gardens in Japan.

Many rivers run over and under Tokyo. I wanted to capture the light pollution thrown up by the bridge and buildings. The little boat provided perspective.

Again, a garden in Japan. This time in a distillery that produced all kinds of saki. The scene depicts serenity and purity and a continual movement of time passing.

Lotus in a pond in Singapore Botanic Garden. A place we literally got lost in every time we visited.

Could have been taken at a faster speed which may have compromised the texture of the water surface. Looks like a couple of cobs.

The Cloud Appreciation Society: Photos

The following photos were published on The Cloud Appreciation Society web pages.  Their intention is to promote the value of clouds in our lives and to make us aware of the infinite variety of forms in which they appear in the sky.  For a more concise description of the value of clouds, see their Manifesto.

COMPANIONS OF THE MOUNTAINS:  APRIL CLOUD OF THE MONTHYou’d think that an ephemeral and etherial cloud would be an unlikely friend to something as massive and immutable as a mountain. But they say opposites attract, and it turns out that clouds and mountains get on particularly well. Take these orographic Cumulus clouds spotted by Alexandre Bernardoni in the Atacama Desert of Chile. Each one has found its own special volcanic peak to befriend.

Cumulis humilis spotted by Alexandre Bernardoni over volcanoes in the Atacama Desert, Chile.



When a region of a cloud takes the form of chaotic, turbulent undulations, it is known as ‘asperitas’. The name for this dramatic, wavy cloud formation comes from the Latin for ‘roughness’. The idea for it becoming an official classification comes from members of the Cloud Appreciation Society.

Altocumulus asperitas spotted over by Kathleen Bubenheim over Stallion Springs, California, US.

[Text extracted from the website.]

A turbulent weather of asperitas clouds over Devon, UK.


The following photos were taken by members of Photography 4 of University of the Third Age, Edinburgh. Every month the members decide on a subject and submit a few photographs on dropbox followed by a viewing in a local library.  Our group leader, Geoff Gardner, encourages us to comment on the pros and cons of the photography which is helpful in allowing us to judge different aspects of the activity like lighting, framing, cropping, and all other aspects of in-camera decisions and post editing processing using our chosen software.  
A.H. Editor

Albert Harris: 1/80sec at f/4, ISO 3200

Benyapha Gardner: 1/85 sec at f28, ISO 400

Bill Grosart: 1/16 sec at f/7.1, ISO 100

Caroline Cruikshank:  1/640 sec at f/4, ISO 125

Geoff Gardner:  1/80 sec at f/4, ISO 400

John Ferguson:  1/2 sec at f/7.1, ISO 400

Rognvald Smith:  1/100 sec at f/5.6, ISO 125

Birgitta Debenham:  1/50 sec at f11, ISO 12800


David Edwards:  1/6 sec at f/4.5, ISO 200

David Russell:  1/125 sec at f/4, ISO 1600

Stephen Balmer:  1/50 sec at f/4, ISO 500














The Road, Beams, Path, Forest, Nature

PLAY Morning Song by Bernie Hartley

Morning light come touch my hand

and wake me soft and gentle

with your one command

and lift me in the morning

with a smile and song


River flow come wash my sins

and make me whole again

on your swirling stones

and lift me in the night

on the wings of time


Rolling clouds come clear my mind

and take me changing form

to the horizon’s end

and lift me in the morning

with a smile and song


Ocean wide catch me in your arms

and weave your turning waves

ocean wide catch me in your arms

your crystal bright cascades


Sunlight rays through forest leaves

open my eyes again

for time unchanged

and lift me in the morning

on the wings of time


Roaring flame of roses red

come set my eyes alight

burning in my head

and lift me in the night

on the wings of time


Morning sound of temple bells

open my ears again

to the dawn’s first rays

and lift me in the morning

with a smile and song


Mother earth hold me to your breast

and let me suckle softly

‘till the parting veil

is lifted in the night

on the wings of time

Published with kind permission from  Bernie Hartley
Copyright: Bernie Hartley
I wrote ‘Morning Song’ many years ago and it came to me in a dream, I woke up with it in my head. I offered it to Rinpoche and performed it at Summer Camp 2011 in France. It’s from the first CD of my own songs ‘Touch The Sky’ which is available via my website: I have another CD available of my own songs: ‘Changing Light’.
I’m happy for people to download ‘Morning Song’ for a small (or large!) donation to Rigul Paul Whitwam played bass on ‘Morning Song’ and Gavin Stewart played keyboard. 
I’ve been a musician since the age of 13, playing acoustic and electric guitar, flute, banjo, singing, writing songs. A pro musician for several years then teaching as well, I’ve played in several bands, duos, and solo all over UK and Europe. Recorded several albums two of which are 100% my own songs. I have a Masters in Music Education from Trinity College of Music in London. I was Music Teacher in a school for autistic spectrum disorders for 15 yrs.

Please make a contribution to Ringu Tulku Rinpoche’s Rigul Trust :






Slooped from the slow hiss,

Bombadee, bomp,

Slip, shine, whine and chuckle.

Tinkle, rattle, buzz and winkle,

Slurp, burp, fart and stomp,

With xylophone and whoopee whistle.


Emerging, raging,

Question, riddle,

Dance and rhythm,

Snake and wriggle,

Dodge and mark, hark and fumble,

Into life’s loud world we rumble.


Stamping, marching,

 Drums and cymbals,

Bangs and trumpets,

No eurhythmics,

Argle-bargle of hoddy-noddies



Thrown harem scarem to fuddy duddies,

We strive to

Make our own sound…

“Puddysticks!” A hootenanny!

Shouting, laughing, strutting,






Marvellous works and adoration

Years of strife and hours of duty,

A chance to see the grand finale,

Behold, the lollygag and woopie!



And all at once, arriving puzzled,

Stumbled, bent,

Exsanguinous, umbiferous and needy,

Dressed in fuscous coats… and seedy!

Bombilating and bumfuzzled,

 Rum-sozzled and stinky!

(This poem was inspired by a quote ‘The Word itself is a Musical Sound’)



Eurhythmics……………….……………in harmonious proportion.

Argle-bargle……………………………………………meaningless chat

Hoddy-noddies…………………………….……….………..daft people

Calithumpian………………………………..……..……….noisy parade

Puddysticks….childish South African word, meaning ‘easy’.

Deedy………………..………………………..industrious or effective.

Lollygag……………………spending time in an aimless lazy way.

‘Woopie’………….………………………..……Well Off Older Person.

Exsanguinous……..………………………..….bloodless or anaemic


Fuscous…………….…………………….dark and sombre in colour





Morning Practice
(for Dónal C.)

The leaves: I’m sweeping them but still they fall
upon the steps and all along the path –
I wonder if I’ll reach the boundary wall.

The storm last night increased my brush’s haul,
though for this rain they will say dhanyavaad,
I’m sweeping up the leaves and still they fall.

How fine to hear the dark blue song thrush call
while smaller birds enjoy their dusty bath –
they’re sure to reach and pass the boundary wall.

Sometimes I think I’ll never clear them all –
Like Milarepa fearing Marpa’s wrath –
so still I’m sweeping leaves and still they fall.

From here in Sikkim via West Bengal,
my pilgrimage goes on into Sarnath,
I plan to make it inside Deer Park’s wall.

I hope this spell in detail I’ll recall,
once I progress into its aftermath.
Meanwhile I’m sweeping leaves but still they fall,
I don’t know if I’ll reach the boundary wall.

Reprinted with the kind permission of Maeve O’Sullivan.
Elswhere p.85 Alba Publishing

Dubliner Mave O’Sullivan’s poetry and haiku have been widely published, anthologised and translated.
Her four collections are Elsewhere (2017); Initial Response, An A-Z of haiku moments (2011); Vocal Chords (2014); and Double Rainbow (2005) all available at Alba Publishing
Maeve is a winner of the Listowel Writers’ Week poetry competition for a single poem, and conducts haiku workshops with adults and children.
A lecturer in Media Studies, she lives in Dublin
Maeve’s new collection of poetry, Elsewhere is available from Alba Publishing



               E. H. Shepard


At night when all the house is still,
I sometimes take my favourite briar,
And one last pipe ere bedtime fill,
Then fall to dreaming by the fire.

The cosy room, the easy-chair
Are left a hundred leagues behind,
I’m with the old battalion where
The cobbled roads of Flanders wind.

And once again the heavy pack,
And once again the miles of mud,
The old precarious duck-board track,
The cold o’nights that chilled the blood.
.          .          .          .          .           .          .
It’s good to have a house and fire,
And bed to go to.  Midnight chimes;
I knock the ashes from by briar –
Millions of men muse thus at times.
From Poems Scots and English 1932, (Brown, Son & Ferguson, Ltd. Glasgow)



Amongst the flowers I
am alone with my pot of wine
drinking by myself; then lifting
my cup I asked the moon
to drink with me, its reflection
and mine in the wine cup, just
the three of us; then I sigh
for the moon cannot drink,

and my shadow goes emptily along
with me never saying a word;
with no other friends here, I can
but use these two for company;
in the time of happiness, I
too must be happy with all
around me; I sit and sing
and it is as if the moon

accompanies me; then if I
dance, it is my shadow that
dances along with me; while
still not drunk, I am glad
to make the moon and my shadow
into friends, but then when
I have drunk too much, we
all part; yet these are

friends I can always count on
these who have no emotion
whatsoever; I hope that one day
we three will meet again,
deep in the Milky Way.

 Li Po