Shattered light

The human soul is often depicted as a flame. The flickering that creates the light in our eyes and perhaps gives the universe colour. But what happens if the light breaks, distorting the colours and the human?

Life Colours 

Red for the anger 

That burns like fire. 

White for the fear 

You chose to hold dear. 

Orange for the bitterness 

Of wearing hard hits. 

Life's colours waft in and out 

As you weep, push and shout 
And your dreams fall away 

With each passing day. 

Fighting shadows 

Wherever you go. 
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Too worn to smile

I think this poem, written about five days ago is pretty self-explanatory!

A study of my face
The face in the mirror
Is becoming strange to me
Not because of
the lines that come with age
or the wintering of my hair.

I can see it in my eyes
those cataract glazed lenses
seeing less of the
world and more of me.
A quickness to anger
unresolved PTSD
and too little optimism.

I am becoming hardened
more insular
as trust takes loner
and ill deeds register
more accurately, quicker.
I don't think I can 
maintain the ruse: smile,
even if it will make 
you feel better.
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Flow of consciousness

I wrote this poem last night at approx. 9.55pm. I was on the train coming home from MCing a poetry night.

Flows
Tied to words
that flow in
a torrent
a flood of ideas
sparking off each other
sending electrical pulses
in all directions
riding this storm of thought
ebbing and surging
the words keep flowing
keep flowing
pulling me to new knowing
and old forgetting
keep flowing
flowing.
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Part 2: more musings on a museum

Museum Part II 
The museum is closed for renovations. 
Exhibits have been torn apart 
for storage and future reassembly. 

No new ideas are being accepted. 
The notion of dust is rejected. 
Visitors are not welcome to 
muse their way through collections. 

There is to be 
only the lonely 
desolation, 
the emptiness
of forced stillness.

Ink wells have dried to powder 
stored hastily with the Founder,
that unflattering self-portrait
whose paint is beginning 
to crack and fade. 
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Part 1: Musings on a museum

Museum Part I 
My new words are housed in this ancient museum 
Dust softly wafts down to stick to ink 
as it dances across the paper. 
Immediately redundant and tired 
they fade further into irrelevance 
with each passing second. 

This ancient museum is a place where 
ideas come to grow lonely. 
No visitors crowd the corridors 
it is a monument to ego and hubris. 
The janitor's worn out broom barely teases the floor. 
Like him we are all just going through the motions- 
labelling exhibits that no-one will see 
justifying acquisitions with arguments 
of artistic merit that no-one will hear. 

Ringing as hollow as the hallways 
and empty promises made long ago. 
Going through the motions, 
our lives touch but make no impression. 
A beige world caught in neutral 
with an edifice of fake marble veneer 
you see where it has cracked from 
the weight of absent expectations. 

Inertia - a force so great it glues us to this place. 
And still my words spill onto the paper, 
collecting dust particles 
and ideas 
that will live forever undisturbed- 
lonely and forgotten 
in this ancient museum. 
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Moments before a performance

I am MCing an event on Tuesday 31 May at Wellington’s in/famous Fringe Bar. The line up introduces a number of new and emerging poets. I love supporting people on the beginning of their performance journey. The newbies will be supported by some regulars – I love the way the members of our little community embrace and support each other.

This poem was written as I waited in the audience for a show, and I was wondering what was happening behind the thick velvet curtain. It is also the name of one of my favourite Cold Chisel songs.

Showtime 

That one mad moment before the curtain rises 

the electricity is in me. 

I feel it build as the seconds count down to 

Showtime. 

It has all led to this - 
all the knock-backs, break-throughs 

nights of angst, 

moments of wild oblivion when it all came together, 

self doubt, misinformed ego.

I am behind the curtain. 
You are on the other side.. 

The dynamic tension between 

my hopes and your expectation. 

It can never end the same way twice 

you will always be a different person, 

I am ever growing in this thing I call a craft.  

I have learnt to harness the energy of it,
at times abuse it. 

It keeps me sharp for those 60 minutes 
when I will feel actually alive. 

Your applause is not a drug, it is 

more than that:
it is the vital ingredient
I need for my heart to revive. 
To feel as if I should go on 

Keep packing, moving, arriving, delivering, leaving 

My other life on hold for as long 
as you still gasp, laugh, clap.  

It could all fall over    
if I miss my cue   
push you too far   
say too much, not enough. 

You are there. 
I am here.
Lights drop. 
The music changes.
Curtains stir to rise. 

And the last second slips away.
My moment:  

Showtime.
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How do you say goodbye?

I attended a farewell for an industry leader this week, I shall call her Ms X for privacy reasons. Her knowledge is technically accurate and her vision is focused on strategic and systemic change. But it is not for these reasons that she will be missed. Ms X is one of the passionate professionals I’ve ever met – she is one of those people who is genuinely interested in the success and wellbeing of others.

As is the tradition in Aotearoa New Zealand, the floor was opened up to anyone who wanted to share their thoughts and memories in honour of Ms X. I delivered a three stanza poem, below I share the first 2 stanzas as the last one is personal to Ms X and my respect for her.

Forest people
When I walk in the forest
I am a child in the presence of greatness:
ancient tress provide my cloak.
The melody of the birds fills my heart,
trickling water shows me a path
to the valley's mighty river.
The forest if where my spirit is home
where I feel myself regenerate:
connected to the life forces of nature.

When I walk in the city
I am older than my years.
Concrete and glass tower over me
artificial lights provide competing
false directions, confusing my senses
and leading me to empty destinations.
The city is my address, but I am not at home here.
My souls calls out to the hills and the mist
and the spirit guides that dwell in the shadows.
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Career experiences

This poem started as a short piece of prose that was sitting in the archive for quite a while gathering dust. I find myself in a completely different context now, I work in an environment where new ideas are welcomed and initiative rewarded.

My unsolicited career advice for you would be – if you aren’t happy, if your job is not letting you grow, if you aren’t supported to bloom – you owe it to yourself to explore your options.

Latency 

Being in a latent state is perhaps
the most soul destroying of all states. 
Knowing what should be done, 
having the skills to do it, 
but never the opportunity or mandate to act. 
Organisations can enforce latency 
on talented staff either intentionally or unwittingly:
leaders can choose to confine your sphere of influence
to what the narrow Job Description says. 

Being shot down, told to be quiet, 
or sent down exhausting garden paths
that lead to nowhere:
sap energy and distract attention.  
I can recall the moments and faces 
so easily because it’s happened so often
in a career punctuated by false starts, 
faux opportunities and 
wolves dressed in sheep’s clothing.  

And then it happens.
You find yourself with the right
people, at the right time.
Where fear doesn't hold back
good ideas and new energy.
That frustration of your latent potential
fades into memory as each
new day invites you to embrace it
and grow.
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Loneliness

This poem was inspired by my regular commuter trips into Wellington. Wellington Station is quite beautiful, and becomes a hub of activity at peak times when people are filing into the express supermarket, in line for ticket purchases, wanting to register items at the lost and found desk, and generally rushing to get to work on time. If in your own busyness you pause and take a moment to look, really look, you will observe the people who aren’t rushing. They are sitting quietly on benches observing, almost as if they are basking in the lives and energy of the crowd – seeking to absorb some for themselves.

They are the buskers who’s set have ended with only a handful of coins, the people with no particular place to be. The people who need to get out of their small Council flats, or the off the cold concrete of the city’s hidden sleeping places.

Loneliness sits on a bench at the railway station 
Let me have a moment of your time 
We could talk about life, politics, any topic would be fine 
There is so much I want to say 
I've been saving up for today 
I could tell you about Ralph, the dog I used to own 
I had to give him up when I lost my home 
There are so many questions I have for you 
What's your name, what do you do? 
Where are you from? 
Are you staying here long? 

But I sit here quietly 
Keeping my words just to me 
I know the social rules 
The don'ts, some of the 'does' 
People don't smile or make eye contact anymore 
They walk quickly from differences, wishing to ignore 
We are like individual cells in the honeycomb 
Separated by walls, part of the same home. 
Where are you from? 
Are you staying here long? 

The metal bench is starting to become uncomfortable 
You know, they design them that way, it's intentional 
The pigeons are flying around the atrium ceiling 
I am just sitting here, lost in a feeling 
I should leave and go for a walk 
Put headphones on so I can talk 
To an imaginary friend 
Questions I will to ask them: 
Where are you from? 
Are you staying here long?  

 
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Who owns beauty?

I have a number of roses in my garden that flower despite the amateur level of care I provide. They are mostly older varieties that have been here since the sixties. Many are richly perfumed and have the most amazingly full bloom.

But that’s not what this poem is really about.

English rose 
The beauty of the English rose 
is not in her scent of sweetness, 
although it is a welcome relief from the world’s bitterness. 
The beauty of the English rose  
is not the softness of her petals, 
although they bring feeling back to hands of callouses and metal 
The beauty of the English rose 
is not in the way her barren stems survive the cold, 
those winter months when life is on hold. 
No matter how many invaders try to bring her down 
she wears her flowers like a crown. 
A crown not worn for your pleasure 
it is the bees she invites to her hidden treasure. 
The beauty of the English rose 
is not for human poem or prose, 
her beauty is for her alone. 

 
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