Archive for April, 2011

First I Dreamt the Journey – Part 12 – Battlefield 5

Posted in First I Dreamt the Journey with tags , , on April 29, 2011 by belfastdavid

And then there are the four horsemen. Circling in the distance – tall, straight figures mounted on different coloured horses they are an imposing, threatening presence.

The harridan on my right shoulder will draw on their presence. Attiring herself in a dress to match the colour of a particular horse she will feed me with untruths.

Dressed in white she tells me that the world is a frightening place, that other people are out to get me, to do me down, that the unknown is populated by strange monsters and frightening creatures who are all out to destroy me. She conjures up demons and green dragons with horns on their heads and sharp pointed teeth, making me terrified even to exist. She persuades me that the only safe option is to bury myself, hide away, refuse to enter into unknown territory because to go there is far too dangerous. If I believe her I feel isolated, frightened, alone but

She lies!

Dressed in red she baffles and confuses me. Creating fabricated images which would persuade me wrong is right, black is white. Using my history and twisting it to persuade me that what I thought I knew I did not, that lack of knowledge is constant and that I will never understand. If I believe her I feel fearful, uncertain, frozen but

She lies!

Dressed in black she creates the illusion of blockages, barriers at every turn, hurdles and obstacles, roads that lead to nowhere and are not worth following, mazes from which it is impossible to escape. She persuades me that the difficulties are too great for me ever to overcome. If I believe her I feel blocked, at an impasse, unable to move but

She lies!

Dressed in grey she persuades me that the torch of hope has been extinguished, that I am in the dark, that there will never be light and that when all is black there are no edges. That I might as well give in because I am worthless and that therefore the only option is self-destruction. If I believe her I sink deep within a pool of self pity with no hope of rescue but

She lies!

She always lies; she is a practised and accomplished liar and although, in the four horsemen, she has powerful allies, I must always be aware that she lies. I have the tools to accomplish this, I merely need the courage and fortitude to use them.

I must recognise, and keep being aware, that fear is not absence of courage, that anxiety is not the same as fear, that facing the fear is an act of love and that the antidote to fear is love. I need to consider my actions, my behaviour – for if I am operating out of fear I will always finish up in the wrong place, whereas if I am operating out of love the destination will be okay.

I must recognise that the journey towards knowledge is via confusion, that confusion is a necessary staging post on the way. Sometimes, in fact, I must seek that particular place because often, in order to learn, I must first unlearn.

And I need to learn that she will use my impatience to go forward as an enemy against me. Instead of pressing myself harder and harder against the brick wall while she creates presences behind me trying to harm me, I need to step sideward, seek a secluded place under a tree and reflect on the bigger picture.

And I must remember too, when she would persuade me that I am bereft of hope, that the torch of hope never goes out. The beautiful fairy promised me that, and the beautiful fairy never lies.


 Audio version available at


People Watching

Posted in Poetry with tags , on April 24, 2011 by belfastdavid

I see two elderly gentlemen
play up the fairway through the mist;
more ritual than enjoyment perhaps.
Then wonder why I think of them
as elderly; they may not be
much older than myself.

I pass a middle-aged couple
on a bench, faces close,
his arm behind her shoulders,
she looks into his eyes,
they talk and talk and talk.

On the next bench,
a young couple
sit side by side,
each communicating
with an electronic device.

Older couples pass by,
they have clearly
been together for a long time.
They are doing things together
but they are not together;
one of them is in charge,
usually she, but sometimes he.

Other couples of a similar age,
presumably in a second relationship;
they walk hand in hand, slowly,
savouring each moment of their time.

Couples, young and not so young,
arms around each other
who do not care
that the glow in her eyes,
the smirk on his face
betray their activity just before
they set out to walk the pier.

And others, like myself,
sit quietly, smiling,
enjoying the stories
which people-watching tell.

First I Dreamt the Journey – Part 11 – Signposts

Posted in First I Dreamt the Journey with tags , , on April 21, 2011 by belfastdavid

The product, however, of winning these battles is that the light of their winning will illuminate the signposts I need for direction on the journey.

The signposts are often hidden from immediate view. We need first to find them, then to decipher the words of each direction. The words may have faded, the signposts themselves perhaps tattered, scarred by the passage of time.

But the signposts are there; they are to be discovered; and if the light is shining on them from the correct angle their wording will become clear.

Valid signposts have certain specific characteristics. For me the image which arises in my mind is a wooden post with nailed-on wooden direction pointers, the destinations burnt into the wood. The sort of signpost that could be seen in parts of the west of Ireland during my youth.

Even then it is possible to misread or misinterpret the wording or to erect signposts which are not actually present. I recall a new job, a career move – the ultimate job, my destiny. I followed it through, I moved house, I moved to a new city, I threw myself into the job with enthusiasm. It was only in that process I realized I had erected the signpost to justify the decision instead of the other way round.

It is possible too for the enemy to erect a signpost which appears clear and unequivocal. I need to be aware of this possibility. On occasion I will follow directions which take me up blind alleys. But for sure it is better to be up a blind alley than to be blind.

What is important in making a decision to follow a particular direction is to do it with full conviction. It seems to me impossible, without being able to see into the future, to make a “right” decision – the variables are too manifold and mostly unknown. The option open to me is to try to make the decision right. If, having done that, I find myself up another blind alley, I can always make another decision.

A valid signpost will not only point in a particular direction, but highlight the action required to go in that direction. That is the purpose of the signpost – it defines the choices, the options, the decisions we must make.

The question -Will it nourish me? – in regard to that activity will make sense of the direction. If the activity is not nourishing then why am I following that direction?

In considering whether or not it would be possible for my son to respect me the direction on the signpost read “Behaviour such that if he knew me it would be possible for him to respect me.”

So let the light illuminate the signposts which are there, take a little time to consider their directions, make a decision and then take some action.

And be aware that the experience of following directions is often very different from the expectation!

And the audio version is at




Don’t you just hate it when…..

Posted in Poetry on April 15, 2011 by belfastdavid

the ice cream is finished
before you reach
the bottom of the cone,

the phone rings just after
you have poured milk
onto your Weetabix,

you catch a glimpse
of yourself naked, in profile,
in a full-length mirror,

the person you were going
to ride off into the sunset with
rides off with somebody else,

you turn over in bed for a hug
and only then remember
you are sleeping on your own.


Posted in Poetry with tags on April 11, 2011 by belfastdavid

My good friend David Tait, who I trust implicitly in all matters poetic, has suggested that the poems I have been writing recently have all been written from well within my comfort zone (I can’t argue with that). He has challenged me to take the risk of trying new things with a view to “moving my work on to the next stage”. His encouragement and support have been a big help in getting me to where I am now so I will take on the challenge – after all what have I got to lose other than I might write some not-so-good poems.

I will be very grateful for your feedback


Three bakeries, a butchers, hardware store,
long gone, a path deserted, litter-strewn,
threatening. I imagine tumbleweed.
No, this is not how it was meant to be.

Village pub boarded up since smoking ban,
post office, shop closed too, public transport
going, going, gone; tumbleweed again.
No, this is not how it was meant to be.

Double bed, one side empty; tumbleweed
rolls past a breakfast table set for one
into the corners beneath spiders’ webs.
No, this is not how it was meant to be.

Nor, believe me, what I had intended.


Early Morning Whitby

Posted in Poetry with tags on April 7, 2011 by belfastdavid

Out walking on the cliff top
in a mist, when visibility
does not extend to sea below;
only constant roar
re-assures me of its presence,

I find myself among
the fraternity
of early morning dog walkers
who emerge, merge, separate,
shadowy figures in the grey.

Although polite
they regard me with suspicion,
I am an alien (no dog)
within their landscape,

am interrupting
rituals of friendship
extending back, I guess,
over many years.

I adjourn to the
Battery Parade café,
end of pier not visible
through the mist,
and over a hot milky coffee

ponder the requirements
for joining society
and the difficulties
of capturing movement of waves
using only a stills camera.


First I Dreamt the Journey – Part 10 – Battlefield 4

Posted in First I Dreamt the Journey with tags , on April 3, 2011 by belfastdavid

I needed to be aware too that battles won against a particular enemy do not remove that enemy from the battlefield. However I had the knowledge, in the memory of the battle won, that I had the resource to continue winning it.

In the beginning my former mistress occupied a position on my right shoulder from where she could chirrup in my ear – sometimes vindictively, sometimes seductively, sometimes threateningly. It was necessary to put in the hard work to protect myself.

It is unclear to me whether she is a mastermind – coordinating attacks and sending particular enemies to attack at particular points in time or, whether each enemy represents a separate entity.

Although I favour the view that she is the ultimate enemy, using others to suit her purpose. What is more important is to remain awake, aware of the potential for attack.

Attacks come in many forms and are often unexpected – rarely are they full frontal onslaughts because those can be seen coming and be prepared for. When I stand on the shore on the west coast of Ireland looking out over the Atlantic, the horizon is so vast that rain storms can be seen gathering and approaching from a long way off. And although those attacks may be feared, the safe places of the stepping stones can be sought in advance and will provide shelter.

More often that foresight is not available to us: attacks arise out of the blue, or in combinations which catch us by surprise. And often we feel that we have been ambushed, hit by the sudden shower from an apparently cloudless sky.

Nonetheless, the stepping stones are set in open spaces and high places where the view of the horizon is unencumbered.

Be aware, too, that the passing of time does not diminish the potential for these attacks.

When in thrall to my previous mistress my horizon had become narrower and narrower, it had become restricted to things I could achieve whilst within her grip. It had become a frantic battle to keep things the same in a world which is constantly changing, and the insanity was in believing I could do that. Thus I was drawn further and further into an imaginary place; the imagined had become real and the real had become imaginary.

From time to time she will send me an enemy who tries again to draw me into that restricted place. An enemy who persuades me that demons are gathering round and that I need to withdraw, yet in the process of withdrawal I feel curtains closing, shutting out the light and doors closing behind me – doors which have no handle on my side. The delusion she sells me is that by closing down, shutting out, making the space narrower I become secure.

It is just that, a delusion, and if I believe it malaise will set in. I need to counteract the inertia, reach out, shine the torch, make contact with the beautiful fairy and get back to the stepping stones, for the demons will vanish in the light.

The enemy is a constant too, often waiting for a weakening which may be the product of a different attack.

Perhaps the sort of subtle attack which creates illusions of warm pools – pools in which I can relax, luxuriate, float on the surface or sink up to my armpits. Pools in which gentle bubbles rise stroking me and comforting me, and as they burst they feed me with subtle words – it’s not my fault, it’s all their fault, it’s not fair, why me. But if I stay in the pool too long I am overcome with lethargy; my skin starts to wrinkle and eventually I will sink beneath the surface.

An attack by a seductress who would sell me the benefits of the moral high ground – a plateau where the sun always shines and life is deck chairs and ease and soft drinks and warm glows. But I am human and therefore fallible and I would soon fall off my self-constructed, self-polished shining pedestal.

A different attack by a demon with glowing eyes and boundless energy who would claim to be my friend. He persuades me towards dark red buildings with a constant glow from the windows and inside a fire which is never extinguished. A fire which, as I hold out my hands to it, heats the very core of my being. A fire which I too can feed, and the more I feed it the more intense the heat – a heat which seems to emanate from inside me. And whilst justified anger will mean never feeling cold again, the end result would be self combustion.

Audio version available at