Towards clarity

There is a clarity about this morning
sunning in mid September. The type of day
you take for granted in Africa. It’s been rare
in these parts in a washed out
summer of pinged lazy lies.
There is also a perfect stillness
in the air, whilst all around
darkness, something capricious.

You’d be right to ask. We are hurtling
towards something. The blood is up
watching from this distance
the rearrangement of the tawdry
gene pool that fools the chattering classes.

The World King is in the counting house
counting the cost of the gold rolls*;
the Queen is in the parlour reshuffling.
Four minutes away on foot
pigeons do their business
in Parliament Square. Even poor old
Churchill is not left alone.

The search is on. You may well ask:
To find a container to see
what we can’t control. To connect
with what is so we can let go, to hold
the red hot rage against the hollowed out
men and women fully stuffed
with carelessness.

*Reference to the wallpaper to refurb Downing Street flat. The 4th footnote of the 208th page of the Cabinet Office’s annual report indicates that this was paid for by a Tory donor something that the pee em denied, saying he had paid for it all along. When the game was up, he quickly paid for the redecoration something allegedly he was hoping to avoid.


© 2021 Copyright Rick Frame

On the road to East Dean

I was missing
the butterflies
of La Champagne,
there by the Dordogne.
Holiday plans cancelled:
the universe, as if
to compensate, on the way
to East Dean on the
South Downs,
had heard me, produced them
in their tens of hundreds. The sky
was full of them, stirring mystery,
butterfly flights
of glory.


© 2021 Copyright Rick Frame

The incident near the Million Bells

‘Do the manly thing,’ she said,
almost in a command. ‘And bury
the poor old dead bird.’

The hated magpie had,
a few days earlier, attacked
an injured baby bird, pecking
it to death. Its carcass lay near the
Million Bells, the scavenger ants
already marching in. Wild life
has its own rhythm. Funny how
in a household of feminists
it’s the man (and a wuss when it
comes to such matters)
who is given instructions
to remove the remains.

To do the priestly thing:
carry it carefully to its
final resting place and deliver
last rites to the poor dead bird.


© 2021 Copyright Rick Frame

Crowding in

It was the three o’clock
body clock. The rain had gone.
In that small moment
a whole country came to me.
I kid you not. A visitor
of a feeling, a look and scent of
a place long left. I stood
in the awareness of
the moment. Only ghosts
remained, the countryside silent
leaving crowds of shadows
in the dust and wind.


© 2021 Copyright Rick Frame

Occasionally the country of part of my childhood catches me in a moment – like this morning at 3am.

For the birds

The golden glow of an Indian Summer
warms the scene. After a wishy washy season
it’s one of those things you hold onto.
The hard-to-like magpie returns: there is
nothing to commend him. The feathered bully
pushes, shoves at the birdbath, dives in,
then flicks water like a show off.
He casts around in a look-at-me
kind of way. You know the type.

Even the unimpressed pigeons
nearby defer. They dare not venture
but sit patiently in the tree waiting.
They have seen it all before – their life
on statues has taught them a thing or too:
nothing is permanent.

They are naturally unsurprised when
a large, young, awkward (maybe gangling)
seagull, holidaying inland, very thirstily
lands perfectly on the birdbath lip – superbly
directed by air traffic control for gulls –
and scatters the wild life, even the
philosophers amongst them.


© 2021 Copyright Rick Frame

Rising

The deepest of mattresses lies
beneath. The early light at the window.
Listening to the breath, the idea of mystery
is almost too big. Stillness and wonder
between thoughts drawn in
a line of colours. Even those
unwanted touched warmly losing
their power. The ancestor’s thoughts
call across the grassland swaying
in the lighter wind of star dust.


© 2021 Copyright Rick Frame

Everything but the elephant

It was a bump into. A chance conversation. Maybe at
the Campo de’ Fiori. Somewhere close anyway.

He recognised him immediately. He had heard about
the new work and simply just had to ask.

How will you carve the elephant?

Hardly any surprise caught on his face. He turned, paused.

I will get a big block of marble.

Then he thought for a moment. The hot Roman sun
danced on his skin. He was almost lost in thought.
Then, he said,

I will let go everything that is not the elephant.


© 2021 Copyright Rick Frame

This was inspired by a conversation between Sharon Salzberg and Dan Harris on Ten Percent Happier. The artist was Michelangelo although there is no direct evidence that he had actually said it.

The returning

The journey back, emerging from
the lostness, stumbling on
knees in a dry land.

Arriving (you could call it home),
feel the warmth, open-armed.
Returning – learning that it is in
the letting go, how to start over.

Here we can hold everything.
The light and the dark. Right here
we see emptiness is not the absence
of something. Darkness is not
the absence of light.

Now we see the visitors in
a different light. That awareness
is stronger, wider, deeper.
Feel the stillness, the change – you are
already what you want to become.


© 2021 Copyright Rick Frame

None of these ideas are my own. A conversation between Sharon Salzberg and Krista Tippett heavily influenced this piece as did a talk by Kaira Jewel Lingo. Mary Oliver is there somewhere too. Oh, and also Thich Nhat Hanh.

Visitors

The dropping out into a different kind of silence.
Still the body clock alarms stirs at similar hours
every morning, mostly dead on three thirty.

I sit in the front room with a big mug of Yorkshire,
the old friend, the taste a comfort. The wind has not let up,
stuck in its own strange energy.

I re-read thoughts of a time four decades ago,
the narrow awareness strikes back
but I let go of the disgrace and only feel the pain.
That it was all about what happened on the surface,
that Jesus would rescue me, the inner life
not quite yet in the light.

Now grateful, eventually arriving here. Even
the momentary surfacing of what took you so long
a kind of rebuke. In sitting clarity –
I have options, remembering to breathe,
visiting forces no longer only bring suffering.


© 2021 Copyright Rick Frame

The secret life of porches

I sit looking out, bees ever
chasing nectar in the red and yellow
fabulousness of the porch planted
with love and green fingers.

I count myself lucky, greeted daily
with colour, the summer light can’t help
but be cheered up from its half-heartedness,
struggling – like all of us.

Further afield, decisions taken.
A washing of hands like Pontius Pilate
can be seen from space.


© 2021 Copyright Rick Frame

I sat down without an idea in my head but chose to write. I love it when I surprise myself. You, dear reader, may not agree.