Poetry

Coronahaiku Sequence

 

 

wiping handles & surfaces

to protect myself

from myself

* * *

a pair of magpies

a pair of collared doves

in separate trees

* * *

empty city street

they walk hand in gloved hand

two young men

* * *

daffodils pulled up

by kids in the local park –

I rescue the strongest

* * *

 virtual singing session –

we’ll meet again

don’t know where, don’t know when

Maeve O’Sullivan’s poetry and haiku have been widely published, awarded, translated and anthologised. She is the author of four collections from Alba Publishing, the most recent of which is Elsewhere (2017). Maeve is a member of the British Haiku Society and performs with The Poetry Divas. (Twitter: @writefromwithin).

 

 

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

 

 

SOUL BLOSSOM

A Life Enrichment Journal

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

APRIL 12, 2020

A PRAYER POEM FOR YOU

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.
Jaiya
 

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Fear

                Eye by Mia Evans

 

Toronto Canada

Fear

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. 

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,

D-I-Y-ers,

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.

 

BETWEEN TWO UNKNOWNS by Ianthe

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

Callithumpian!

…………………………………………..

Thrown harem scarem to fuddy duddies,

We strive to

Make our own sound…

“Puddysticks!” A hootenanny!

Shouting, laughing, strutting,

Deedy!

……………………………………………

 

Exhilaration!

Orchestration!

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’)

 

Glossary

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

Umbiferous……….…………………………………….……………..shady

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

Bombilating……….…………………………………………………buzzing

Bumfuzzled…………..…………………………………………..confused

 

MORNING PRACTICE

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.
From
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

MEMORIES

 

               E. H. Shepard

MEMORIES
[LEST WE FORGET]

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.
W. D. COCKER
From Poems Scots and English 1932, (Brown, Son & Ferguson, Ltd. Glasgow)

COMPASSION

image

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

DRINK YOUR TEA

Drink your tea slowly and reverently,
as if it is the axis 
on which the world earth revolves 
– slowly, evenly, without 
rushing toward the future;
Live the actual moment.
Only this moment is life.

Thich Nhat Hahn

Elsewhere

 

Japan

Shinbazu Pond –
even these withered lotuses
can lift my heart

 

heated toilet seat –
memories of growing up
in a large family

 

deep-fried pork:
I await instructions
on how to eat it

 

we look through the dark
to the place where Mount Fuji
is supposed to be

 

arrival in Kyoto…
I buy flowers for myself
flowers for the Buddha

 

the clunk of wooden sandals
on stone paving –
Mount Otowa

 

thatched with water reeds
topped with acer leaves –
Basho-an the poet’s hut

 

further uphill
autumn birdsong leads the way –
Buson’s grave

 

wandering poet’s well               its stone collar lotus

 

dusk over the city           two small girls in flowery kimono

Japan has been extracted from Maeve O’Sullivan’s latest publication Elsewhere
available from 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

ODE TO MANCHESTER

The blood of Irish, Catholic immigrants
And Russian, Jewish refugees
Flows through the veins of this Buddhist nun,
A seeker of wisdom, compassion and peace,

Whose path has encircled the world and alights
Now in Edinburgh, where it has stayed.
But my heart cries out for Manchester,
For Manchester where I was made.

And I weep to see your suffering,
Caused by minds deluded by hate,
Yet tears of sadness are mixed with pride,
Seeing what makes my hometown so great.

Strength and kindness in adversity,
That brave, indomitable spirit,
Bred by love that welcomes diversity,
All embellished with pithy, street wit.

Mancunia, Mancunia!
That fortress of northern souls,
Your red brick streets and fields of dreams,
Bear witness to impossible goals.

In grief we stand united,
United we’ll rise from the ruins,
Like so many who’ve gone before us,
For in Manchester, that’s how we do things.

by Ani Rinchen Khandro, AKA Jackie Glass, Mancunian.

A Muslim comforts an elderly Jewish woman (Independent News)

TO A POET A THOUSAND YEARS HENCE

I who am dead a thousand years,
    And wrote this sweet archaic song,
Send you my words for messengers
    The way I shall not pass along.

I care not if you bridge the seas,
    Or ride secure the cruel sky,
Or build consummate palaces
    Of metal or of masonry.

But have you wine and music still,
    And statues and a bright-eyed love,
And foolish thoughts of good and ill,
    And prayers to them who sit above?

How shall we conquer? Like a wind
    That falls at eve our fancies blow,
And old Moeonides the blind
    Said it three thousand years ago.

O friend unseen, unborn, unknown,
    Student of our sweet English tongue,
Read out my words at night, alone:
    I was a poet, I was young.

Since I can never see your face,
    And never shake you by the hand,
I send my soul through time and space
    To greet you. You will understand.

James Elroy Flecker was educated at Dean Close School, Cheltenham, where his father was headmaster, and at Uppingham and Trinity College, Oxford.

After university he joined the Diplomatic Service, spending time in Constantinople and Beirut. In 1913 he went to Switzerland to seek a cure for his tuberculosis but died there two years later at the age of 31.

 

Remember

Remember me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the silent land;
When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.
Remember me when no more day by day
You tell me of our future that you planned:
Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.
Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.

Christina Rossetti1830 – 1894

Maeve O’Sullivan.

Morning Silence, haiku from Dónal Creedon’s Tullow Retreat, August 2018

discarded crisp bag:

a faded Mr. Tayto

still smiling

***

talk about listening    I zone out for a bit

***

walking meditation:

you are moving slowly too

little ladybird

***

morning silence    the brewing coffee gurgles

***

early drizzle

creating a round stain

in this concrete pantheon

***

August afternoon

a sunburst spotlights

the weeping willow

***

disturbed picture frame:

the window & horse-chestnut

nodding yes, yes, yes

***

last morning   more    distance    between    sitters

White Heat

(for Lama Tsering)

Just like the moon which shines upon us all,

enlightened beings’ blessings are on tap;

says our dear teacher who has us in thrall

this week in Braga, resting hands on lap.

 

In forty-two degrees we soon will melt

into our mats and cushions, from the heat;

though we imagine that we’re not in hell

but in the realm with Amitaba’s seat.

 

White Tara deity we will invoke

as long as many mantras are said;

Chenrezig figure’s also white light soaked

compassion dominating both their heads.

 

With wisdom and a twinkle in his eye

our Rinpoche instructs us how to die.

 

Maeve O’Sullivan

August 2018

Bodhicharya Summercamp, Braga, Portugal

 

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

She 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.  A review will follow in the next edition of Many Roads

Existence

 

It is night.
Rain pelts the roof.
The soul awakens
to a flooded Earth –
a sea of storm 
roaring,
then passing.

In that short moment,
shirting lines and shapes,
fleetingl
barely seen.

Before the passing moment tilts
and falls to melancholy,
laughter sojnds
in quiet raindrops.

                                                               Thich Nhat Hanh

Reasons to Meditate

 

to practice noticing
to understand simple things
to give myself clarity
to face inevitable difficulties
to make a conscious choice
to welcome my feelings
to know pain
to experience the bliss of effort
to take gentle possession of my mind
to free my mind
to be aware of my sinsitivity
to dip below superficiality
to brighten my eyes
to forget how i look
to stop moving
to let myself be how i am
to love deeply
to risk being myself
to sit upright like a pyramid
to stay still
to breathe in the air
to encourage a positive habit
t o behave in the manner of one who woke up
to pursue freedom
to touch the ground
to learn without words
to unlock my heart
to go beyond

Lisa Cullen

Lisa Cullen writes:  Two women are waiting on a packed train platform in Calcutta.  One of the moment is hunched over reading The Spiral Dance.  The other is absorbed in biting her fingernails.  A cow ambles by.  A rickshaw driver is arguing with a naked sadhu.  A Tibetan woman is selling bone malas.
                                                          “Which character am I?”