18 December 2011


her umbrella protected me from the drops that fell from the sky
but not from her eyes

13 December 2011

come on in, the water is fine!

If you have spent even 5 seconds on this blog, you'll know that a lot of it is dedicated to writing small stones.*  This all started earlier this year when I took the challenge to participate in Fiona and Kaspa's River of Stones in January.  I got the email from them sometime in the Autumn last year and read it, thought "hmm, that's interesting", and then starred it in my inbox but hadn't really thought to follow through and participate.  Then for the next few weeks (or however long it was) a little voice popped up in my mind everytime I opened my inbox: "you should sign up for this"  Me: "shush you, I'm too busy".  The battle went on in my head until eventually, I'm not actually sure why, I emailed them and told them to put me on the list, that I was taking the plunge and participating in the January River of Stones.  

Even so, I was still pretty sure that I was going to A) suck and B) not have the discipline to follow through with this.

Whatever.  I was committed now!

January came and, I have to say, I was so surprised by what participating in the River of Stones brought into my life.  I didn't have to write anything "good", I just had to pay attention and write about that.  I didn't travel to some sort of exotic place.  I didn't have to make witty observations about my surroundings.  I didn't have to make some sort of cultural commentary.  In fact, I didn't do anything differently than before and absolutely nothing changed in my day to day life except that I was paying closer attention to it than before.  And then trying to capture it.  And as I tried to capture it, I saw myself looking at everything more closely, in more detail.  It seemed to me that I heard more, felt more, saw more.  Somewhere, hidden under all the mundane, everyday, I've-seen-and-heard-it-before-sameness, was a rich world that I had never appreciated before.  Birdsong, sunrise, matchlight, a stranger's smile, my walk to work, grief, all came to life in a new way.

And if all that wasn't enough, there was a bonus that I had never even thought of: reading other small stones and connecting with their writers!  (and being inspired by them and trying not to be jealous of their gorgeous pebbles!)

So with all that said, I'm very excited to see that Fiona and Kaspa will be lifting the floodgates again this January and the River of Stones will soon be overflowing its banks and splashing out of a blog near you (this one, in fact).

Now the question is: will you be joining me?

Learn all about writing small stones here and then come on in, really, the water is fine.  More than fine, in fact. 

*(writing experience not required)

07 December 2011

sometimes the sleeping breath of a loved one
the gentle rise and fall of their chest
is the most sincere prayer I can offer

06 December 2011

favourite shirt

it's not cold, but i'm shivering.
i button up my autumn-hued, checked flannel shirt
closing my eyes, i feel the warmth of home embrace me

05 December 2011


not too moist
not too dry
a bowl of perfect
white grains.

such a basic food
that I've eaten
seen prepared
in so many kitchens
in so many countries.

but today
for the first time
I feel I can say:
I'm nearly 30 years old
and I've finally learned
how to prepare
a perfect rice.

more kindness

I posted the poem Kindness on my blog early last year.  At the time, my marriage had just started going through the rough patch that would finally end it sometime later and I felt that the future that I had dreamt was slowly crumbling.  When I heard this poem read aloud during Sunday Service at the Buddhist House, it brought tears to my eyes.

There is a truth in this poem that reveals itself to me just a little bit more each time I read it.  It has helped me understand that true kindness is an instinctive reaction from the heart.  It is not something that can be acted or faked.  Only once our barriers have been brought down and our ego reserves depleted, can our hearts be laid bare enough for the skin to be scraped back just that bit more and allow for the true seeds of kindness to be planted within us.  Once planted, it's up to us to cultivate these seeds, but I think that the planting of them is something that life must do to us.

The journey goes on, and the poem continues to teach me.


Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you every where
like a shadow or a friend.

~ Naomi Shihab Nye ~

(Words From Under the Words: Selected Poems)


04 December 2011

I eat my porridge more carefully here
exploring each spoonful to find bits of oat husk with my teeth.
they sit in a little pile
on a scrap of paper
next to my bowl.

03 December 2011

what is poetry?

Not too long ago, I said that "I'll never be a poet because I'm too impatient".  I love to capture moments, thoughts, feelings and play with the words until I'm happy with them.  But I seem to lack the discipline to turn my hobby into an Art.  I've deliberately named the category for my writing on this blog (and the folders on my computer) "scribblings" as I don't see them as poems.  Maybe others do, I'm not sure.  When I was younger, I was obsessed with writing poems that were metred and rhymed.  Because that's what poems do, isn't it?  At least, that's what I understood then as poetry.  Now I've swung the other way entirely and amuse myself with writing scribblings that "sound right" regardless of metre and rhyme.  Sometimes I also want it to "look right", and focus more on the layout and the flow of the lines as the words themselves.  I suppose there's a balance to be struck.  Maybe from the discipline that I pursued when I was younger, to the freedom I need now, to something else in the future.

Ever onwards, ever changing.  What matters to me is that it is something that speaks to me.

But what prompted this little reflection was the Guardian's poem of the week from the end of December 2009 (Facebook brings up all sorts of randomness).  It struck a chord with me and I found that its rhyme and rhythm enhanced it all the more.  So I post it here for you to enjoy The Darkling Thrush by Thomas Hardy

The Darkling Thrush
I leant upon a coppice gate
When Frost was spectre-grey,
And Winter's dregs made desolate
    The weakening eye of day.
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
    Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
    Had sought their household fires.

The land's sharp features seemed to be
    The Century's corpse outleant,
His crypt the cloudy canopy,
    The wind his death-lament.
The ancient pulse of germ and birth
    Was shrunken hard and dry,
And every spirit upon earth
    Seemed fervourless as I.

At once a voice arose among
    The bleak twigs overhead
In a full-hearted evensong
    Of joy illimited;
An aged thrush, frail, gaunt and small,
    In blast-beruffled plume,
Had chosen thus to fling his soul
    Upon the growing gloom.

So little cause for carolings
    Of such ecstatic sound
Was written on terrestrial things
    Afar or nigh around,
That I could think there trembled through
    His happy good-night air
Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew
    And I was unaware.