Poem: Conversations with Hope


Hope sees me

Lying on the floor

Mind in ashes

Heart in tatters

She gets her broom

And sweeps me up

Not quite intact

But a little closer

To being whole

“It doesn’t have to be

Like this,” she says

Guiding me

To look into


“This is your playpen

None of it is closed to you.

No amount of sorrow or grief

Can keep it from you”

But I may need

A little more time, Hope

To incubate in your mercy

This soul is feeling fragmented

And his heart is more than thirsty

So please forgive

My wayward melancholy

My eternal delusion

And my insistent folly

Once a heart’s

Been let out of its cage

You never can never

Put it back in


POEM: Barren


It is a sorrow beyond grief

That a womb can also be a tomb

To think I’ve carried you around

After all these years

A stillborn foetus

The graveyard in my belly

Though you’ve continued to

Live and live

What a foolish mother I’ve been

To never cease

Cradling this corpse

Just to take after Earth

And be another mother

Was my only ambition

But my womb was closed up

Obstructed by diamonds

My amniotic fluid had congealed

And my umbilical cord

A noose

It was never intended to be

I still feel

The pain in my kidneys

That frozen wellspring of tears

Just beginning to thaw

You felt desolate

As though the forces of the universe

Had let you down

I howled, I screamed, I wailed,

I sang the Shaman’s song

And frantically chanted

All the scripture I could remember

But you were inconsolable

And the pain seems never-ending

An ocean of agonized experience

I must filter through

This fragile being

Until I am finally able

To move on

I don’t know if you can comprehend

What it is that I’m going through

But this shipwreck

Will rise to the surface

Before the aeon is through

Being Present with Pain Part 2: Grief

epa04176741 A grief-fuelled moment for a father of a victim of the Sewol ferry accident,  at a joint incense-burning altar set up at Ansan Olympic Memorial Hall in Ansan, south of Seoul, South Korea. 23 April 2014. Officials say about 200 people are still missing and at least 150 confirmed dead after a passenger ferry carrying hundreds of teenagers sank off the southern coast of South Korea on 16 April. Only 179 of 475 passengers and crew were rescued. Lee Joon-seok, captain of Sewol, the ferry carrying 475 passengers and crew, has reportedly been arrested.  EPA/YANG JI-WOONG

Our ancestors put in place many rituals that were specifically designed to give an outlet to purge lingering, unexpressed emotions. From Confucians to Jews, many systems had specific systems for expressing grief and sadness, which, sadly, we seem to have lost, as the inefficacy of psychotherapy and mass-medication points out. Our present systems are emotionally unhealthy, and we are experiencing the emotional debt of that.

Recently, I attended a funereal for someone I cared for very much – an old lady I had looked after, who had suffered from Alzheimer’s, and who died from a pulmonary embolism. I was asked to speak at her funereal, which I knew would be a challenge, but which I was very keen to do.

As it was one of my first experiences of genuine loss, I was quite disappointed by the disingenuousness of the proceedings. Sure, the funereal service was poignant, and well-put together another enough. But I wanted to see crying – I wanted to see people coming together to express their grief fully in the security of eachother’s compassion. But, in typical British fashion, emotions were kept below the surface, and I only saw a few who had the courage to share their tears. Though both myself and my fellow speaker almost started sobbing during our speeches, we both held together, and were applauded for our fortitude.

This was a far cry from Jews rending their garments, Australian Aborigines cutting their flesh, or a Confucian student mourning the death of his parents for three years. What good is having the strength to carry on through pain, if that pain carries on within us? Their must be some healthy vehicle for exorcising it. Much better a temporary scarring of the flesh than a permanent scar inside.

In the Analects of Confucius, after being criticized for mourning his pupil openly and un-self-consciously, Confucius said that we cannot be excessive in grieving for someone we care about. And he was right. We need to be present with our grief, and squeeze it out, to the very last drop. Being prim and proper is pure cowardice if we cannot be sincere and authentic, in expressing our emotions. Do not be ashamed of how you feel – but neither wear your hurt feelings as a defiant badge of pride. Just let them be for as long as they’ll be, and be ready to heal yourself once you reach the other side.

Poem: Integration and Disintegraton


Integration and disintegration
Hope feels as hard to hold
As a lubed-up squid
I push my disfigured bike home
Like a soldier carrying a corpse
Over his shoulder
Yin has wormed it way
Into the soil
Returning to the Womb
It’s hard not to feel helpless.

Poem: The Mushrooms Under The Rowan Tree

Mush rooms

Consciousness dismantled
Awareness fragmented
It’s hard to cling to the rocks
When the tide of your mind
Is in reverse
Seeking jewels in the dark
You have to undergo
Countless transformations
And countless impalations
Before it’s time
To be torn together anew
The mushrooms that grow under The Rowan Tree
Grow for me
So I’ll gladly accept the poison
As my final remedy

Poem for Marion II

Purple leaf

As a leaf that has fallen
From the Tree of Life
You have withered to
A magnificent tyrian
To add splendor
To your eternal roots
There is a chamber in my heart
Where you used to reside
You demented old hag
Don’t you know that I’m your husband?
So put down your cardiac arrest
And your absurd notions of mortality
And come into my arms forever more

Poem For Marion


Mourning under The Oak Tree
I nuzzle into its bark
And avail myself
Of its warty comfort
Surrounded by seeds
And the rays of the sun
Yet all I can think of
Is your passing away – your transmigration
What I loved of you
Has not been erased
Now you’ve been transformed
Granted a new face
May the Buddha’s lift you up
To the highest heaven
Whilst I ruffle your white hair
One last time
And kiss you into infinity.