Leaves and dust

May, this year, has felt like November,
only with more light.

It’s like living in a new place, unsettled,
strangers raging against
something unnamed,
stuck on a theme

of misery bringing damp.

Walking home against the wind
it was all over the place. Leaves and dust
in my mouth.

© 2021 Copyright Rick Frame

I woke this morning hoping to write something lighter and more fun but I could not feel it when I remembered yesterday, walking in the wind.

Tender light

In stopping, the rocks are rolled away.
Wisdom teachers come along
the strewn path see with clarity.

They see us. ‘Ouch. This hurts.’

It’s a recognition. They will not
push you away.

They muse quietly, allowing
the experience to be here, just as it is.
They accompany us, not trying to fix us,
giving room to an intimate experience
of the part of us that is in pain.

What’s it saying?
What most wants attention?

The war in us.

How we are held in
a softening, releasing
the weight.

Disarmed, under the tender light
we make our way home.

© 2021 Copyright Rick Frame

I heard a talk from Kaira Jewel Lingo who found the rocks that had blocked my path and moved them away for me.

Boxed in

The call to direct experience,
to drop thoughts.
It is the way to escape
the boxed in mind.

Finding out is
everywhere. Like music.
It is way beyond the instrument.

How we love our specialness –
the promises, the fantasies –
The next exciting thing
the insulation, forgetting to put
value on living, where the dog comes up
and licks you.

Here sitting you swallow yourself whole.
All the juicy messiness, the goodness,
the beauty, even the mystery.
The mastery is never complete.

Thoughts are just guests,
the intoxicants, the lostness,
the tin pot dictators
like the Past and the Future, tangling.

You are bigger than these stories.

Be the now of the living, the experience
of the breath in the body, even
the aches and pains, daring to not to know,
a clearing out, where thoughts are
little more than nothing.

© 2021 Copyright Rick Frame

I have been reading quite a lot about thought-based stuff and direct experience. The latter is a focus on taking the mind away from the endless thinking and instead focusing on the five senses where vastness and boundlessness are given so much more space. The thought processes box us in. Thinking is a great tool but a lousy master, says Jeff Warren.

The sacred

The more we create a story,
the more we build a cage,
imprisoning us, holding us.

Drop the darn story!
Abandon the imaginary future!

The life of now is sacred. It is
the immediacy and intimacy,
seeing directly into our nature;
everything we have is here.

Daring to do less, be less.

© 2021 Copyright Rick Frame

In training the mind, we are drawn back constantly to the idea that ruminating about the past and the future is utterly futile. The past is dead and we constantly race towards to next thing. Sitting still, being in the now is where there is the sacred. Everything is here.


The thought has been hanging
around me for weeks. I have been
waiting for this. Like shit
happens to people. Being out there
all the stuff of impermanence
– as the Buddha said –
and deep into it and then, when
impermanence arrives, it’s not that
much fun and no longer groovy.

The theory of impermanence
rides headlong into the practice.
It’s like forcing me to come
to the edge of what it all means.

Leaning into it hurts like hell.
The whole apple cart upset
in an instant. And the apples?
They just can’t be put back.

© 2021 Copyright Rick Frame

I wrote this in prose form a year ago. The sentiment and the poetry still apply.

There is nothing good or bad but thinking makes it so*

‘My mind is like a speeding train,’ she said, feeling like a crazy thing. It was awful. Grief has a way of playing itself out. She was on the telephone, explaining what she had been going through.

‘It’s a dreadful thing to go through,’ he replied. ‘Can you see where the emergency stop is?’

‘Yes, but there is a large notice next to it with fines up to £100 if there is not an emergency.’

‘I had forgotten that! Pretty hefty. I suppose they have to do this for the pranksters.’

She nodded across time and space. He was thinking about how thoughts, particularly ones that sped, were particularly nasty. This grade level of thought ended up as a story gaining a momentum that is exhausting.

‘Do you know where you are going in this speeding train?’ He was curious. Maybe it was one of those journeys where you get on board and have no fucking clue where you are headed.

‘I have no idea. It just happened. Like I was taken hostage.’

‘OK. Have a look out of the window. Look at the countryside. Look into the distance. Can you do that?’

‘Yeah. I will give it a go.’

She began to focus on the hills that sat under the morning sun. Some clouds drifted into view.

‘Now feel the sensation of the train speeding. It has a certain rhythm.’

She settled into her seat and began to experience the train journey. She looked around. Just a few rows down she noticed the largest teddy bear that money could buy. It almost looked human but its button eyes and teddy bear skin were a giveaway.

The muse came to them. She often visited. ‘Drop in on ourselves. The speed comes from the stillness.’

‘Don’t you wish you had thought of saying it the same way,’ he wondered to himself.

The muse continued. ‘You can think about things endlessly. They tend to push you along to try to work out the world rather than experience the present. That’s when they hook you. So you have a thought, with it comes an emotion and then there is the physical sensation. What powers the thought into feeling awful is the story.’

It is clear that the musing landed on them at the same time. ‘Gosh!’ they chorused.

‘Thought can be a wonderful thing but an over-reliance on it can lead you to all sorts of places. Go rather to experience.’

‘Easier said than done!’ Again in unison.

She knew what they were thinking. This is what muses do. They know everything.

‘Give yourself space so there are other things beside thinking. Become intimate with the direct experience and you allow your body and mind to come to the same place. Don’t look at where you will end up. Start practising now. Remember thought can’t breathe for you.

* William Shakespeare

© 2021 Copyright Rick Frame

Charles Tenshin Fletcher was the muse inspiration behind some of this.

First half of life

Needle on vinyl, sound swelled. Headphoned
turntable rpms. I got an emptiness deep inside
pulled me back to a corner in a room. It won’t let me hide.

Heat-baked sun-scratched, tracked to another country.
The preacher talked to me drenching the walls.
He did not smile. ‘Turn it down!’ drowning out a shout
above another message helloing darkness.
Deep inside boundaries now feeling lonely.
Still. My new friend, I will see you in the second half.

© 2021 Copyright Rick Frame

This was very much inspired by a conversation I heard. Serendipity seems to be everywhere because just prior to listening to the podcast, I had had an idea of integrating music from my youth into poetry.

rpms – revs per minute, the speed for a seven single and LP, a long playing record.

The three songs are from Neil Diamond, the Bee Gees and Simon and Garfunkel. In recent history, it was not cool to admit you listened to Diamond and the Bee Gees. I love my readers but I don’t give a shit about what you think of my taste.

The visit

‘How did you get into this place?’ she asked. The visit did not go well from the start. I only worked that out some time in. I only had an hour.

Arriving in this strange place, unexpectedly, the nurse said that I could see her. She recognised me immediately, but there was no smile. Her face showed deadpanned pain.

‘How did you get into this place?’ she asked.

‘Through the front reception.’

‘How was that?’ she continued with a look that suggested she did not believe me.

‘I just asked for you and they told me where I could find you.’ I thought it best to fill her in. ‘I am in Joburg on a history tour. We arrived from Mafikeng* this afternoon and the boss said I could take a hour off to visit you.’

‘How did you get into this place?’ she asked again. I had little idea then that this would be the defining theme.

‘The front receptionist said I could visit.’ I looked around the room and there were people in all different states of disrepair. All of them in emotional agony. The night had closed in and looking out I could only see the outline of the trees, dark and brooding.

‘How did you get into this place?’ she asked again. It was like a loop of a conversation in a strange, empty fair ground of costumed people, painted faces.

How was I going to answer this question in a different way so she could believe I was there with permission, I wondered, almost aloud. I had only been there ten minutes and could already feel worn down.

She persisted but seemed more curious than desperate. ‘How did you get into this place?’

By the time I left forty minutes later, she remained convinced that my appearance there had not possible. I saw her once again after that and she seemed slightly better but the old spirit that I had grown up with was lost in illness.

This visit popped into my head last night and wouldn’t go away until I had finally written it down. It took place thirty-seven years ago. I almost felt numb in the telling of this pain. The truth was that I had no answers for any of it at the time. I wonder how I would handle it now?

* Now known as Mahikeng. We had visited the Anglo Boer War battle sites.