Archive for March, 2011

A Man thing

Posted in Poetry with tags , on March 31, 2011 by belfastdavid

I look across the sands towards the pier,
wonder if I have time to walk the beach
before the tide comes in. Give it a try,
but soon it is apparent I cannot.
I could walk back and round, decide instead
to clamber up the rocks to prom above.
Seems rational to me.

My doctor,
whilst prescribing pain killers, opines
to do stupid things
at an age
when we should know much better
is, without doubt,
a man thing!



I remember

Posted in Poetry with tags , on March 27, 2011 by belfastdavid

going with my mother to the shop,
Patterson’s as I recall,
where she would discuss
her requirements for the week
with the grocer, in particular
which fruit, which veg, which cheese.

Later the delivery boy, a term
rather than descriptive of his age,
would arrive on his black bicycle
with its square basket on the front,
carry the groceries into the house.

Today I go to the supermarket,
pick my own goods, often pre-wrapped,
from the shelves, put them through
an automated check-out, pay
my money to a machine
and carry my shopping home myself.

Explain to me why this is progress.


First I Dreamt the Journey – Part 9 – Battlefield 3

Posted in First I Dreamt the Journey with tags , , on March 24, 2011 by belfastdavid

From that point forward the journey was into the unknown, and I had to be prepared to go there. I had the torch with me. I had access to the cave and I could call on the beautiful fairy whenever I needed her.

It was necessary first to escort her round the cave, into all the hidden corners and dark places. I suspect she already understood the cave better than I, for at that time there were places in the cave that I had yet to discover. Nonetheless it was important that I demonstrated my willingness by taking her there.

She was gentle with me, yet firm: there was no mistaking the message she was giving me, nor any doubt about the importance of following her guidelines.

She gave me words and gave me phrases which, no matter how long ago they were first spoken, will appear in my head with a clarity and immediacy whenever I need them.

At the end of our first meeting she gave me three words. She said ‘Take them with you, they are all that you will need’ Those three words were – Trust, Risk and Share.

At that time I had no idea of her meaning. Yet experience has proven to me that those three words will look after me, will take me where ever I want to go and will provide me with comfort whenever that is a requirement.

In particular I have been able to learn that I can –

Trust the Process

You start with faith
that something will work
without really knowing,

And then just by
doing what you have
to do out of faith,

It leads somewhere
totally different.
And it is OK.

And for the audio version  –

199 Steps

Posted in Poetry with tags on March 21, 2011 by belfastdavid

It is a challenge
I feel the need
to take each time I go;
(perhaps a man thing)

prove to myself
that despite
fifty years of smoking,
thirty years of drinking,
and twenty years of treatment
for high blood pressure,
I can still climb the steps
to Whitby Abbey.

I suspect Count Dracula
led a less than healthy lifestyle;
if he could do it, so can I.

Today, sixteenth March
two thousand and eleven,
I succeed again.

Several stops on the way,
not to rest you understand,
merely to enjoy the view.

There is satisfaction
as I stand at the top
look down over the harbour.

Time now, I think,
for another cigarette.


First I Dreamt the Journey – Part 8 – Battlefield 2

Posted in First I Dreamt the Journey with tags , , on March 11, 2011 by belfastdavid

The benefit of winning that particular battle was to become awake, aware if you like, that the battlefield existed. Aware too that, although I could receive guidance, no map of the territory existed unless I was prepared to draw it myself. And aware that I must go forward, for to go back would be to sink again into the pit from which I had emerged.

And, reflecting on the battle –

Once upon a time,
as I sat on the grass
looking over the lake
a beautiful fairy
sat down beside me.

She held my hand, stroked
the back of it gently
and asked me why I was
crying. I had not known
I was crying.

“I don’t know” I said.
“Perhaps I am happy
or perhaps I am sad”
but whatever I said
the tears would not stop.

I said that the peace,
the surroundings and the
beauty filled me with awe.
Who was I to enjoy
such beautiful things?

She allowed me to cry,
she allowed me to
sob, she allowed me to
feel a despair. She just
kept stroking my hand.

“You are beautiful
too” she said. “You
belong with beautiful
things. Why else would I come
to sit by your side?

That was my first meeting with the beautiful fairy; she has been a constant in my life ever since. She lit a torch for me that day – a torch called Hope. She promised me that it would never be extinguished. I can lock it away in a cupboard; I can deny its existence but it will always remain lit. That torch is available for you too.

If we hold it high enough it will illuminate both the road ahead and the cave inside. And the paradox is that it is more important to illuminate the inside of the cave than the road, for it is in the cave that we will discover the enemies we must overcome.

Stored in the cave too are the attributes, the tools perhaps, that we require for the battlefield. Different enemies, different battles, different tools required.

Yet there are two which are an absolute requirement. The first of these is courage – somehow the one we find easiest to deny we possess. And yet to step onto the battlefield at all requires courage, and if we hold the torch up high enough we will always find it. We will have used it in the past – it is just that we have often called it something else. Use the torch, bring the light – you will find it.

The other is hard work – perseverance, stubbornness, determination – call it what you like. I had that in abundance. It had kept me enthralled for years by that mistress, convinced that she was right when all evidence pointed to the contrary. I could use that attribute. After all the point is that stubbornness, turned round and pointed in a constructive direction, becomes determination.

A battle won will lose its significance without the hard work to consolidate that success. We must overcome the human inclination to inertia and put in the effort.

Audio version and a painting are available at –



Posted in Poetry with tags on March 8, 2011 by belfastdavid

I discovered two seagulls
staring in the window
as I stood naked
drying off after a shower.

I did not think
they were impressed,

they turned up
the next day
for another look.

This poem was written about this time last year when I was in Whitby.

I am going again next week for a few days.

I will take 3 books, a writing pad, some pens and my camera.
My laptop can stay at home.

First I Dreamt the Journey – Part 7 – Battlefield

Posted in First I Dreamt the Journey with tags , , on March 4, 2011 by belfastdavid

In the cave too there are marks, scars on the walls, great chunks of rock missing, smears which could be blood, channels worn smooth by the passage of tears. Reminders of the battlefield.

I do not display these marks with pride; nor do I wish to hide them away. They are the marks of battles eventually won.

And I have had to learn that once a particular battle is won there is no need to go back to fight it again.

Each battle won represents a rock, a foundation stone perhaps, set firmly in the ground, immovable by the turmoil of tide and time. And as I look forward, the road I must travel is constructed of paving stones made from these rocks. Until the paving stones are laid the road will be a treacherous place, but even one foundation rock will provide enough material to produce secure stepping stones.

So accompany me now to the battlefield, for whilst we must fight our own individual battles, our enemies are remarkably similar and we can learn from each other’s experience.

It is a battlefield where the enemy is cunning, elusive, almost ephemeral. Where the enemy, at different times, can be frightening, aggressive, threatening, attractive or seductive.

The longest battle of my life, taking place over nearly thirty years, was with a mistress who persuaded me that she was my mentor, my guide, my source of wisdom, my solace, my comforter, my only true friend. In the process she gradually isolated me from all those who would wish to help. She took me to an insanity that produced voices inside my head and green dragons which after starting out being frightening and threatening turned into companions. On lonely night walks she provided me with paving stones on which cherubs sang and danced to give me company and cheer.

She tried very hard to take me to death, but, although on occasion she got very close, that particular victory was denied her.

Looking back on the moment when I struck out for freedom from her bondage, it is clear to me that arising from the defining moments in my life and from the people in my memory, there had come an upsurge of strength and of courage. Without those, final defeat would have been inevitable.

I am loath however to use the word victory. That particular battle was won and I do not have to fight it again. But that particular mistress is still present on the battlefield. From time to time she will don her most attractive guise, speak in her most seductive voice and attempt to lure me again on to her particular rocks of destruction. I need to remain aware of her presence because, should I fall under her spell again, I am not sure I have the energy and courage to escape.

Nonetheless the winning of that battle was sufficient to provide accessible stepping stones on the road – safe places to stand, or to return to, whilst I considered my way forward.

It is fair to say that if I had known at that point in time the battles I would still have to face then fear would have taken me straight back into her arms. But I did not know, and as each subsequent battle has been won more and more safe stepping places have appeared on the road.

And the spoken word is at