Category Archives: spirit

Cup and ring

cup and ring illustration

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Cup and ring marks are a kind of carved rock art or petroglyph. They are found widely in both Mediterranean Europe and across north western Europe, including Scotland. As with so many prehistoric artworks, their intention and meaning are far from clear. They consist of a central indentation surrounded by concentric grooves of carved circles. Like a tiny map, or a labyrinth for the hand, they seem to invite touch.

The place where I was when I had the idea for this poem does not have such a mark (that I know of), but the poem is connected with thoughts about their meaning.

 

Cup and ring

(a benediction)

Turning at this middle stone mark
Driesh and Mayar, Dun Hillock,
Tom Buidhe, Tomount, Monega, Maols, and Claise,
Fafernie, t-Sagairt Mòr, and Bannock,
Broad Cairn, Lochnagar, Meikle Pap,
and Broadlands
back again.
 
While the wind spits grey break rumours,
this little top lees a cup of sun:
be warm and happit here a sitting moment,
brim hill-flask full,
short sweet napped, 
rest still as quiet ground
in a place well met.

 


Lockdown meeting

For several years I’ve often worked from home, but of course this year most of my colleagues at work have had little choice but to begin to do the same. As a consequence of the coronavirus lockdown, like so many others, I suddenly found I was taking part in a lot more online meetings, both for work, and with friends.

It’s great that these technologies allow us see each other when we are talking. The experience is not as good as being with, but there does seem to be a stronger feeling of presence than is the case with just a phone call. Of course the shiny newness of this sensation soon wears off as the technology quickly grows more familiar. It already seems quite odd to imagine now, that meeting people using remote video was for a long time an idea largely in the realm of science fiction, or James Bond movies, something with a glamour that bordered almost on thrilling …

Lockdown meeting

Is anybody there?
Can you hear me?
UN-MUTE! They are shouting,
a small informal ensemble pew,
like a University Challenge choir,
feedback buzzers primed.

It’s right there, just CLICK IT!
My mouse-palmed ouija
sweeps and taps the table,
rendering both more and less remote
the possibility of presence.

And what does it mean
in Microsoft Teams,
if only one has camera off?
Is their webcam broken?
Did they forget to shave?
Are they still undressed?

Or is the house just too much mess
for morning discretion.
A late-night party gone just too far
to find absolution in the gaussian
caress of background blur.

Those present gaze down,
or top-left, or anywhere else,
speaking to an invisible presence,
a congregation unsure
of the exact location in the room,
of an obscure lurking god.

Absent Charlie on intercom,
commissioning the Angels,
while – who knows? –
observing in sight unseen,
that this episode seems
far less glamorous,
than once-upon-a-time.
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the singing ringing pole

The Singing Ringing Tree‘ (Das singende, klingende Bäumchen) was a strange East German fairy-tale film shown by the BBC in the 1960s. It is also the title of a sound sculpture in Lancashire on a hill called Crown Point above Burnley.

It’s not just the simple rhyme of the title that sticks in the imagination, especially for those who saw the uncanny film as small children, something about its odd atmosphere seemed to resonate. Apparently in a 2004 Radio Times poll it was voted “20th spookiest show ever”, even though it was a story for children.

This visual poem is about an encounter with a kind of life after death. The title is a small homage to the strangeness of that children’s film.

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the singing ringing pole

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Breaking the mould

Breaking the mould

In the box-van back a mirror cabinet
trembles leafy outer worlds under
a roller-back gate of steel, half open,
like the cloth-bound shell of my father’s desk,
a sticking portal to cryptic drawers, tiny shelves,
to faint unsmoked tobaccos of before.

Ahead, and through my windscreen,
outside inside, green shimmers framed
by the mover strapped hardwood mouldings,
whisper hints of a remote Narnian spring.

Breaking the Mould grins in lean sans-serif,
strap-line wry beneath the tailgate logo.
I pray granny’s paper-lined display case
will pass Dens Road’s potholes un-cracked,
that still somewhere seven more years’ luck,
or even fair Cair Paravel, might be found intact.

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En route

En route

I tripped on some kindly light,
where fallen cones eroded by birds
echoed the labyrinth.

From site A to building B
busy at work passing directly
through Kinburn Park.

Light prefers straight line shadows,
though 
indirect paths, still and  cool,
might enlighten more.

Hand scored benches keep the goal:

George Fox 1658
‘Be still and cool in thy own mind and spirit’

In spirit my fingers follow the spiral sign,
tracing the miniature way, and
I stop to think that I would like to be that.

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