River sun

H cast his mind to all the bumps and rushes on the white water. He was sitting with a wide vista of the river life.

The point about the tube ride was that once launched, the tube riders instantly limited the number of choices they could make. They must go with the pull and push of the river.

H thought, ‘Just you, on the river, rushing past the shoreline, the sweet capture. Every ride, every wave, every current different. That’s the point.’

J had joined him by then. They were drinking a mug of tea. ‘This is the opposite of Ground Hog Day no matter how many goes you have. The simple pleasure of just being. As it is in the moment. Feeling it,’ J remarked.

Just then they heard laughter on the water. River boat cruises paddled lightly. A puppy on a maiden voyage floated past. ‘Look at the butterflies.’ Harry had never seen so many and camping by this river, he was now in full butterfly consciousness. A dragon fly landed lightly on J’s book.

‘I’ve never seen blue like that,’ she said, smiling.

The river sun hovered overhead, heating up the early afternoon tubers. Some children splashed on the bank below them.

‘Let’s have another go.’

J agreed. ‘Remember to live in the moment. If you want to get to the better moment, you are more dead than alive because you are missing this moment.’

‘Yes, when you drop into the moment, it is on that tube you fall awake,’ Harry replied.


© 2021 Copyright Rick Frame

Early drafting of the fiction piece I am writing. Working title: Upended

White water

J and H eventually found something on which to sail down the river and the freedom to handle the rapids. The first time they sat on the shiney new Lilos, they sank within minutes.

‘Far too flimsy!’ H had said the obvious. Some youngsters, watching, laughed loudly. The sailors were far too old to care as they splashed back to the river beach.

Another trek into Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne and they returned triumphant with sailing apparatus that would do the job.

The pebbled beach made access to the middle of the river difficult. ‘You could easily break your ankle,’ J warned.

The water was freezing so they braced themselves as they gingerly negotiated, skin on water. There was no full emersion and, with great excitement, they launched their bodies onto the rubber tubes.

A short paddle out and they caught the current. White water tubing with some bumps and rushes and it was all over in minutes.


(No one was injured in the making of this story, thank goodness.)

© 2021 Copyright Rick Frame

Early drafting of the fiction piece I am writing. Working title: Upended

Embarkation

Off balance.

A line arrives
from cold sunlight.

A no particular anything.

Signposted doubt,
something to trust
on this path.

Feeling the directions
of open possibilities.
A place of no limits.
No need to wrestle
the gorgeous emptiness.

The breath
that is yours.

Where there is
no attachment
to outcome.

Where you can listen
to the questions, an embarkation.

Not a dragging. Rather
a bringing of the beauty of
the force behind the question.


I was moved to write this on hearing a podcast in which John Tarrant was being interviewed. He was talking of his Zen practice, particularly around koans. Further investigations of his work, ‘Bring me the Rhinoceros’ reminded me of the time when in questioning a point of faith, a church elder did not trust my doubt and punished me for the questions I asked. Tarrant’s words ‘Trust doubt, reward questions’ made me think of that conversation nearly 44 years ago.

© 2021 Copyright Rick Frame


Deep

I woke from deep within.
A place of completeness.
Restfully out of this world.

Like I had seen a light,
an awareness,
coming through

that space.

Emerging, it drifted off
on that liminal shore,

a dream.


I had been meditating and then had drifted off to sleep. In that moment before waking I had felt an incredible sense of being rested. On that shore, a lightness.


© 2021 Copyright Rick Frame

Witness

Sit with the here, the what is.
Not in a past, now only living
in a memory. Nor an
imaginary future where eating
a pastel de nata is an obsession.

All of this takes you away.

Here, witness
whatever arises.

The unusual, the unpredictable.
Yes, I know it comes on a wave,
even the horrific.

Another shooting, women being
handcuffed to the ground.
The nagging hip pain.

Being here you no longer need to be
confined to what should be.

Staying in the present
a lot is happening under the skin.
Get to listen to the conversation.
Not the should have beens.

Imagine being
in a room with
no doors or windows,
looking for an exit.

Start with feeling, listen to your body.
What’s it like to be you?


I can’t help but feel grateful for those massively wiser than myself who, because of technology, have opened me to a wider vista of understandings, of light. In the commonplace, we reach awareness. Their observations and meditations have shaped this piece. This is entirely inspired outside of myself. Thanks to Gautam Sachdeva and John Tarrant Roshi.


© 2021 Copyright Rick Frame

Wintering

I have been wintering
in radio silence,
unable to bear
the grimmer news
these darker mornings.

Instead, waiting for the light.
Breathing through,
curious.

We arrive at one destination.

We are all in our bodies,
activated, dysregulated.
Trying to control
the uncontrollable, the unbelievable.

The irony that our breath
can kill.


For a news junkie like me, not following the news obsessively has given some kind of break. On hearing Krista Tippett talk with Christina Runyan on the podcast On Being, I was inspired to write this.

© 2021 Copyright Rick Frame


Lookout

This morning
I wanted to
crawl out from
under my skin.

Become disembodied.
Get over myself.

Slaves to our emotions
played easy on the radio.

Step aside, seek the better part by
standing on top of the hill.
From this lookout,
see the world with quiet eyes.

Know the mind. How it
runs into the future,
runs into the past. How everything
is just passing.

Drop in lighter.

Here, open the space
around the tightness,
knowing freedom.
The only power
we have is
with ourselves.

Know the resting place,
where there will never be
ground either.

Only boundlessness.


During this pandemic we find ways to keep sane. Naming the uncertainty, that there is no ground, quickly sends a message to our nervous system that we are OK. It is when we seek to avoid saying it, that it festers.

I had been waiting in the car. The radio was on. Bryan Ferry’s ‘Slave to love’ was playing.

© 2021 Copyright Rick Frame


What was the day

What was the day
you learned loving poetry

was enough, he asked.

What was the day
you learned when the dog ran at you,

you whistle for it?

What was the day that you learned
butterflies come to tell you their secrets.
Special visitors
to touch your soul.

What was the day when you learned
your edge was your edge and that no one can judge you for it.
That you are OK.

Today is the day to invite
all of your experience that has made you.

The elastoplasted you,
the-picked-yourself-up you,
the foolish you, the adorable you,
the you made-of-stardust.

The you to fully inhabit
where there is pain and loss,
grief, joy and sorrow, love and laughter.
You just being

warm.


I am more and more a believer in using writing as a therapy. This was originally a prose-poetry piece that I used in a talk a year ago to young people. I have gone back to it to re-work it, meditated on it. Hope you get something from it. Padraig O’Tuama was the writer-poet who inspired me to think in a different way. The first part is largely his idea in reality.

© 2021 Copyright Rick Frame


Fire dance

Eagle sky landing, a blue forever.
Dust thorn scrub. From this distance,
pop dots.

Dry river beds baked, the parched
wait for the rains. It was after
the star dust came. We were
wild life.

Now domesticated.
Babies cry, grandmothers soothe.
Starry night messengers reminding
how breathing is the home base.

Wall paintings, the life of artists curate
an exhibition of a hunt.

Because of them,
rhyming limbs,
we fire dance
drum beat.

They are the ancestors,
their cells inhabit mine,
thousands of years old.

Their breathing,
their voices, ours.

Their suffering, listening
to our own when we
slow down enough
to know how
we are feeling*.

* Joseph Goldstein (adapted)


© 2021 Copyright Rick Frame

Matobo Hills

Dropping into the body is not all that easy.
Here, all the squelchy messiness,
the uptightness, often snagged.
Here, we run into the future and
the past’s brick wall.

I want to be on the road that travels
into the Matobo Hills, that narrows
into the tarmac strip,

to find a place to be
present.

To sit with the boulders, unmoved forever,
only weathered. Trees resting in the sun,
listening, curious.

A place where we can ride discomfort,
finding balance, like the granite rocks squatting,

and ever so exquisitely be at ease.

(Slightly amended 15.03.21)


The Matobo Hills lie to the south of Bulawayo. It teems with balancing rocks that have been there since before the ancestors roamed. As children we often visited and whilst, at the time, I appreciated the place enormously, my older self is drawn back to its beauty and the chance to meditate on how the wildness brings alive things arising, passing away.


© 2021 Copyright Rick Frame