30 January 2011


with enough heat
the wax turns clear

without the flame
it returns to its natural state


29 January 2011

saturday morning

nature's unfamiliar alarm clock wakes me from my slumber
what's that?
knuckles that crack in the cold
turn angry red in the hot bath

26 January 2011


sleepless nights
hang heavy under his eyes
i want to ask
but we play our roles
...too well...

25 January 2011

the sunrise reflects off the church windows, turning them into sheets of rose quartz.

24 January 2011


my hands work in blind, trusting tandem
rough scratch of match on box
a feeble blue light sparks and dies


the wooden tip flares to life in a hiss of sulfur
touched to wick, the darkness is dispelled
and the day begins

23 January 2011

sunday morning

church bells ring out over the village
the gong sounds outside the shrine room
"let those with ears now show their faith"

just noticing

the softness of black fur under my hand as the cat seeks my affection.

20 January 2011

unseasonal chorus

frosty asphalt
diamonds embedded in the black
my breath haloes around me

another wintry start to the day
yet the air is as alive with birdsong
as a soft spring morning

17 January 2011


I'm fine, she says
in a voice that says she's not

at the bus stop

dressed in business black, wearing matching careful masks of no expression, the woman and I wait, our thoughts anywhere but here. across the road, a construction crane springs to life and performs an unexpected aerial pirouette over our heads. I am taken by the complexities of the machine and thoughts of balance, of mechanical precision and progress, of building and tearing down crowd my mind. But then I see the woman and watch as her mask slips. For the rest of the day, nothing delights me quite as much as that moment of her unguarded smile.
woodsmoke hangs in the air
the incense of hearth and home
the night smells almost holy

gratitude collection

They didn't have to do that....

the shop assistant carefully selects for me the best piece of fruit available from the meagre offerings on the counter

I bite into my sandwich in the waiting lounge at the train station. a man sees me and wishes me "bon appetit!" as he leaves the room

the young man in tracksuit bottoms says "after you darlin" as we get off the bus

I arrive home late. My flatmate does all the washing up for the third night in a row


I see your lips moving
buzzing in my ears
all sound
no meaning

Don't you know he's dead?
after the rain, glistening in the sun,
a second shower falls from the tree leaves

Collecting Stones

I've been away. And I've been busy preparing to be away and then coming back. Of course, I managed to find some time in there to beat myself up about not posting to my blog in those days. I had promised myself that I would be disciplined enough to post something everyday, even if it wasn't any good. But then I remembered, the point of small stones is not to blog something every day, but to notice something everyday and capture it. So while I've been away, I've been observing and collecting stones on modern scraps of paper (my iTouch notepad). And now I'm back to share my collection of travel stones with you.

As an aside, one thing I've noticed is how much I am aware yet not aware when I'm out of my routine. We talk about seeing things anew in the midst of our daily routine, but I noticed how much I get caught up in the busy-ness of being away, of catching trains, reading timetables, and going to "see" things. Caught up so much that I don't actually see the world around me any more than I normally do. My expectations, excitement and the storylines in my head get in the way, just as they do every day. So I found it interesting to notice how new place vs old place, old routine vs no routine made very little difference sometimes to my attention on the world around me.

I've done my best to collect a few stones while I've been away. I hope you enjoy them and now I'm off to do what else I realised that I've missed whilst being disconnected: reading other people's stones!

09 January 2011

"People always want to change their lives instead of using their lives to wake up."
- Chögyam Trungpa via whiskey river (as usual)


in the flickering candlelight
the Buddha maintains his posture
so effortlessly

08 January 2011

dream stone

in the wandering dreamscape of faded edges and muted gray
i wore yellow socks
upon waking my hands rummaged the jumbled drawer of cotton pairs with sleepy certainty
knowing only that my feet must go forth today
clad in magnificent yellow

06 January 2011


rosary bead

05 January 2011

lazy sunday drive in wednesday evening traffic

the bus driver whistles
a care-free tune

white cables
trail from passenger ears
to their itunes

responsive stone

Three small stone lines.
And I am left to wonder,
did he shower with his clothes on?
you pour my tea
and i realise
your eyes are not blue

03 January 2011

East Clock

every morning
on foot
i descend into town

the church tower welcomes me with the correct time


he staggers through the busy shopping streets wrapped in a surprisingly white duvet
treetop branches brush the sky and paint the sunset
(colours available only in heaven)

Happy New Year, Life Gardens, and a River of Stones

Happy new year. Well, a belated one, but no less sincerely wished for.

Just looking at the phrase "happy new year" derails my original train of thought for this post and makes me wonder: what makes this year new? The end of the old year was full of a flurry of parties and entertainments as we tried to keep the cold winter's night at bay. Yesterday, to rest my tired body, I submerged myself in a bath of warm water. The light from the window refracted on the luridly pink wall, just like it has any number of times whilst I bathed and I realised that, really, the day was no different than any other day that had come before it. The new year and the old are separated only by ink on a piece of paper that hangs on our walls to mark the days. The sun rises and sets on December 31st and January 1st, on birth and death, love and loss, beginnings and endings with no distinctions made. It is as though the stage is constantly set and the lights will be switched on and off regardless of the performance that is to be given.

For a moment, I was adrift in an uncaring universe which had become simply a place in which things occurred. No direction, no point, no purpose. Every day like the last. When I entered the bath, I was happy from a several evenings spent with a good friend and generally hopeful about the year ahead. I was energetic and motivated. Now I was saddened, listless and not terribly motivated. I reflected on this sudden change of mood which was triggered by nothing but the workings of my own mind and I saw how within me I carry seeds of love, of laughter, of sadness, of hope, of anger, of joy. And each day they have the chance to flourish or die under the impartial and fair sun. Under this sun I am tending my own imperfect garden and I’ve got to do my own digging to get anything accomplished.

It’s a disjointed set of analogies but it helped me realise that pondering Big Questions and trying to figure out What To Do With My Life shouldn’t demotivate me and distract me from the beauty of a single rose sprung from a laughter seed and shouldn’t allow me to plant an entire packet of anger seeds in carelessness.

To return to my original question: what makes this year new? I can say that 2010 was one hell of a year: losing a brother, moving house, starting a new job, etc. It’s been a lot to take in. But there’s been a lot of beauty too and sometimes, absorbed as I am in the whirlwind of my mind, I forget to take these things in as well. So what makes this year new is my wish to step onto the unmarked snow in the meadow of 2011 that stretches before me and be there for every step of it. It’s not so much a fresh start as a fresh mindfulness Maybe 2011 will bring better things, maybe it will bring worse things, I can’t know. But every day I’d like to try to drag myself out of my own preoccupied head a bit more and, in doing so, be a bit more engaged with the people around me, love a bit better, forgive a bit more.

So it seems like the perfect time to introduce A River Of Stones, a clever project cooked up by my friends Fiona and Kaspa to encourage us to slow down and notice things. I’ll be posting a small stone every day for the month of January here on this blog. You can read more about small stones here but briefly “a small stone is a very short piece of writing that precisely captures a fully-engaged moment.” A good idea, good practice and good exercise. For all the reasons above, I’ll be doing this for January. And for one other reason as well: it will also force me to write a little something every day. I think about writing every day, and I used to be do it regularly, but not any more. Why? I don’t know but it’s time that I got on with it.

So here’s to 2011, to 2010, to unmarked meadows, to the meadows we’ve trampled to mud and to just getting off my ass and getting things done. Now if you’ll excuse me....I’ve got 3 stones to post.

P.S Do join in! It's not just a project for's for everyone!