A Week in Reflection

bb-wirThere was a time, when I was much younger, when I was afraid to fly.

No more.

I’m not sure why the change, but since a few decades ago, no longer do I sit white-knuckled in the belly of those big mechanical birds as they defy gravity. Perhaps it’s something to do with my attitude to death. I’m no nihilist, but I don’t necessarily view death in a negative light. My death, that is. The death of others is quite another matter.

The morning after MH17 was shot down, I flew long-haul. I thought not of plane crashes but of the shocking consequences of war, its terrible futility and the immense trauma and devastation that it invariably causes to human lives; of those people left behind, forever suffering the reality of the obliteration of their loved ones. And how this suffering so often leads to an ongoing cycle of violence.

In my hotel room, on the BBC News channel, night after night, images of the crash site alternated with sickening images of Gaza. How to make sense of the human that strolls casually amongst the mutilated dead, picking through aircraft wreckage and strewn personal belongings as if he were evaluating fruit at the local market. And of the human that bombs sleeping children as if crop-spraying pests. How do we get to this?

A week later, on my way to Tân Sơn Nhất International Airport for my flight home, my hosts, who insisted on accompanying me in the taxi to the airport, chatted with the taxi-driver in Vietnamese. I heard the word “Malaysia” and asked if they were talking about plane crashes. They were. And they expressed their alarm that there had been three in one week. I thanked them for their tact, and we all laughed.

Once boarded, I started reading The Sorrow of War by Bao Ninh, and thoughts of the taxi conversation were forgotten as the book caused me to reflect on how human memory and the subconscious mind work both for and against us in life: the need for revenge versus the need for peace; how we dehumanize “the other side” to make ourselves feel better about what we do and about humanity as a whole; and how memories play a role in our undoing.

Eventually I slept but was bedeviled by catastrophic dreams – we ditched in the South China Sea, a flotilla of boats waiting to rescue us; we made an emergency landing in a busy city street, the fuel-laden left wing barely missing an advertising bollard; I rescued long-dead loved ones from a burning wreckage in a field of sunflowers..
.. the subconscious mind doing its best to exert control over that over which we have little.

Despite our best efforts, accidents happen; death happens.

But war does not just happen; it is made by humans, the likes of you and me.

bb-wir2

 

 

WPC: Family

You’ve probably heard about elephants mourning their dead, but what about cockatoos?

I often pass this family of cockies on my way to work. They’re usually feeding on seeds on the verge, playfully whirling and wheeling, and creating general cacophonous havoc.

bb-fm0But yesterday, they were crowded around on the road; I drove back to see what they were up to: it was a heartbreaking scene.

bb-fm1They were very quiet except for a few plaintive squeaks and squawks.bb-fm3aOne kept on nudging the lifeless form on the road.

bb-fm4aI wonder if they feel grief.

1For more entries to this week’s challenge, see The Daily Post.

Previous WPC Family theme

Creosote

Is the scent

of an ancestor’s skull kicked
down a bush runway -
an elephant remembers

bones and dust,

the echo of hyena
comedy nights, jaws
on buffalo bones

chalk and dust,

a tall silhouette beyond the runway -
a blind man – inhales the dusk
for ghost-lions
before crossing to light
the camp fire

blood and dust

in the dark, leopards
gaze at embers
of an ancient story

fate throws the bones,
a plane flies

into a hillside

flesh and blood,
bones and dust,

and creosote.

Divine Dementia

So many days
we are beyond bereft

at some ancient
god’s puzzled mumbles
beneath the night lamp,

his tremulous finger-fumbles
with jigsaw fragments
of our lives,

his fearful look of surprise
at the countless missing pieces
of his Master Plan,

unaware of the devil dog
chewing at his feet.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/16/nyregion/gunman-kills-20-children-at-school-in-connecticut-28-dead-in-all.html?hp&_r=0

http://jmgoyder.com/2012/12/15/children/

http://nrhatch.wordpress.com/2012/12/14/an-unblossomed-bloom/

http://thelaughinghousewife.wordpress.com/2012/12/15/no-humour-today/

http://susandanielspoetry.com/2012/12/14/body-bags/

Don Ritchie – R.I.P.

Don Ritchie, The Angel of The Gap, has passed away

Repost

Angel of The Gap

He looks out at the sparkling sea

and drinks his morning cup of tea

But there’s a shadow to his left,

the darkness of a soul distressed

He knows now he must move with haste

to stop a life from going to waste

“This time, this one, perhaps,” he thinks,

“maybe, I ‘ll pull back from the brink”

The Angel of  The Gap, at dawn,

heads out once more across his lawn

to offer balm, a light to see

a way out from their misery,

to coax them not to end it all

and save them from that fatal fall

http://www.smh.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-1yoat

Never be afraid to speak to those who you feel are in need.

Always remember the power of the simple smile, a helping hand, a listening ear and a kind word.”

Don Ritchie, OAM

Crystal Fear

Photo by RIP - ©beeblu.wordpress.com

Above the clouds
the raven circles
below

the world turns
us down
to a fleeting kiss
of ground
in capricious wind’s riddle -
How to unstick gravity?

                      Pull up!
Pull up!

Maximum speed
unbraking hearts arrested
by clarity
a stark reality
in the whispering
of slow-motion minds -

Are              we                  unstuck?

And the raven hovers
and the world turns
and fear takes flight

Why?

Do I not care or
like others before
deny it’s the end
of my world turning?

Then the raven flies south
on flouncing wind
to drown brown lands

And so
we land

on a world
turning
without end

Weekly Photo Challenge: Wonder

As is
so often the case,

I took
the photograph
first, then
looked.

Saw the water
messaged fresh across his
name,

and I wondered then

if you were there
in the shade of the oaks
watching me

in distaste.

Old Oaks

Young oaks, fresh-leafed

uniformed
in naive acorn pride
stand tall in single file
guardians in memoriam

of those who died

- in Time -

gnarled with salt of tears
whorled in winds of sorrow
and furrowed with fires of rage
young grow old

in a different
age

toward the light, away from fear

with deferential bow
to a
Callery Pear


Death Cap

iniquity, depravity
crimes against humanity

conflagration, radiation,
man made this abomination

enormity, deformity,
war’s enduring legacy

experimentation, humiliation
who needs victim’s approbation?

cessation, condemnation?
war has no such aspiration

obliteration, extermination,
then,
our final destination

Migrations In Memoriam

Autumn, we lay lines,
unfurling across alpine waters,
to flycatch a trout’s eye

Spring,
we are copper lizards
on rocks trailing
the flowered creases
of Crackenback

Autumns and summers,
we zigzag
to the summit,
always a marking of sorts -
birthdays, deaths, waiting out
open-heart surgery -
from afar

A lifetime of seasons
ago – before I left -
you said
the mountain came down
and swallowed lives,
wanted me to know
that bad things happen elsewhere
too

as if somehow that would make
me see,
stay…

Now, it’s winter -
we’re making virgin
tracks
in snow
when the eye
of a raven catches
mine,
a gelid reminder
of these invisible scars -

the ley lines
that connect this place
to your passing

Throwing the Switch

was it the 500,000th
cigarette
that threw the switch,
sent
your light flickering?

i see you bathed in darkness,
no light, no air,
just the rasping
of short-circuitry

Was the timer on before
you were born?
i don’t know…

Maybe the 500,001st
was the nth
of vice,
lights-out for a pulse

If Leibniz were alive, i would
ask him,
but we wouldn’t
share a smoke

Dad IV

I glimpse

your ghost

in

the sure hands

of a carpenter,

the polished grain

of Oregon pine,

the automatic way I

switch off the light when leaving a room,

the geometric folding of

a newspaper

on the train,

UPPER-CASE EMAILS,

those who talk to

dogs

as if they were human,

to humans

as if they were

joy itself,

the cheerful scatting

of a man in his shed,

brother’s

exasperation when someone goes right

to turn left,

sliced tomato on toast,

and – every morning -

in the shapes

of my

toes

BBC – Horizon – The Ghost in Your Genes

Lost and Found

Deep within caliginous soul,

I lost it, broken-hearted,

 

braced against the winter’s chill

of life’s great joys departed

 

And long remained it out of sight,

I could almost it forget,

 

but for dreamscapes late at night,

its engrams in my head

 

But journeys lit that which I lost,

dispersed its shrouding mists

 

If I were to believe in ghosts,

I’d see your hand in this

 

Eternal mysteries

With the ring back on your finger

you sighed and slipped away

but forever it’s a mystery

where you went that day

Did you see them watching you

and whispering in your ear?

When you took your final journey,

did you know that they were there?

Did you sense that we were not?

No-one can ever know,

yet child-like we still ask ourselves -

that day, where did you go?