Thursday 11 July 2024

Light the Way


Sometimes, Kara, I really do remember the future.  Laurels, light and laughter.  Glimpses hidden in stories and fairytale.  Occasionally I dream that future into existence even as I recall the hidden past.  But I'm happy to say I don't always dream alone, and not without a chorus.  Sometimes a friend will kindly grant me a verse, bridge or refrain.  And suddenly, like music, all things are possible.  I hope I’ve shown you that magic is real, Kara.  The truest kind of magic.  From the heart.  I hope I’ve demonstrated that love is always possible.  Even at a distance.  Real love.  The kind that truly sees and honours you.  The kind that shall always wish you well.  You found yourself at the gate of a thousand stars one night, didn’t you?  A dream, and yet so very real.  I was with you then, as those stars were rising all around like countless fireflies above glimmering waters.  A kiss between Heaven and Earth.  I’m so glad I got to share that moment in the reign with you.  So very glad.  I think of all the beautiful things we’ve since made of our intermingled dreaming.  Secret wings, and I would hope a quiet kind of friendship.  I have treasured it ever since, my river-flower.  The years have flown by, in prescience and precognition.  But I’m delighted with your progress.  So very proud of the girl who saved my life.  And you did, you know.  It’s not a conceit, my angel. It’s the truth.  You saved me.  I tell you often in these pages, but it bears repeating.  I was lost, wounded and raw.  I couldn’t bear to call Esme by her old name.  My Vahishta couldn’t help me in the depths of that particular agony.  I’d never felt more alone.  But you graced me, Kara.  With tenderness, patience and the depth of your insight.  I thank you for that, my darling.  It has been wonderful getting to know you like this. Getting to meet you face to face.  You are a unique and beautiful talent.  A special soul.  So, if I can play even the smallest part in delighting you, in fortifying you for the adventures ahead, then I shall do it with a song in my heart and a lantern in your sky.

Friday 14 June 2024

The Heretic's Daughter


I don't want to write in code anymore, Esme.  At least, not this time.  Not with you.  But the truth is I don't even know if I can speak with a genuinely mortal tongue anymore.  These delicate things that mean so much to me.  These matters of the heart.  I find myself a little speechless when I try to talk as a man and leave the angel aside.  But I'll try.  For you I'll always try.  In my dreams they call me so many things, and none with my consent.  Heretic, prophet, sorcerer.  I've even been called a demon-prince in that hidden place beneath the waking world.  That's quite the claim, isn't it?  Quite the title.  I don't know what I really am.  A blogger, I suppose.  An artist fond of free verse poetry and video collage.  Allusions and purple prose.  Cut-up techniques.  I hope I'm also a storyteller of some description.  A decent one.  A kind one.  And above all else I hope my stories have been useful to you.  If not to you, then to those you love.  If not to those you love, then to somebody.  Anybody.  Don't misunderstand me, Esme.  This isn't sadness or pain.  This isn't even melancholy, though I've had my fair share.  This is just someone trying to speak openly to a cherished, distant muse.  A very special piece of his heart.  I don't need proximity for that.  Or even acknowledgement.  I just need to try.  Inelegantly, perhaps.  Stuttering, stumbling.  But honest.  Authentic.  I guess I am a heretic though.  In the strictest sense of the term.  I've never been one for general consensus.  I care little for the old dictates and demonologies of Rome.  All this fucking bullshit passing for Christendom.  Corruption, conquest, oppression.  Let’s be honest, they gave Catholics a bad name.  Christians in general.  I say this with a heavy heart, as a lover and scholar of Christ.  I have the deepest respect for the Christian mysteries. They changed my life. My issue is with violence and hypocrisy, not the glory of God.  Where's the reform that Paul spoke about?  Helping the poor and destitute, having forgiveness and goodwill towards all men.  Maybe I missed the memo.  But I suppose I'm something of a pagan too.  A digital folklorist, an online mystic.  But real paganism is so often the terrifying province of the blood-cultist.  Literal animal and human sacrifice.  It’s ugly, brutish and dark.  Not exactly a haven of higher thought and nuanced creativity.  And what of 'prophet'?  Do my prophecies ever really come true?  Sometimes, I suppose.  Enough to unsettle.  But I don't know what this really means, Esme.  This 'coming true'.  Except in dreams, of course.  In dreams I know so many things.  I have a wealth of knowledge and experience in the place below the world.  But we're not talking about the sorcery of dreams right now.  We're talking about the cold light of day.  The revelatory glare of morning.  Making a dawn goddess from the letters of your name isn't enough anymore.  I don't think it ever was but we do what we can to get us through the dark times, don't we?  If I sound cynical or harsh please forgive me.  I'm angry at the world these days, and with good reason.  But never with you.  Oh, Esme.  Sometimes I imagine you're real, you know.  That you really exist, that you appreciate these words and that I've helped you in some way.  Maybe it's silly, the height of cringe, to imagine with such vigour when all I'm really doing is projecting.  Screaming into the void.  Maybe it's a social media thing – all these para-social relationships.  Faces and names.  Strangers on a screen that we convince ourselves we know so well.  An imagined intimacy.  If I've merely put your face to an imaginary muse then at least I picked a kind face.  Your bright, soulful eyes.  They've helped me through the dark times for sure.  To me they're the eyes of a brave, beautiful young woman who stepped with sacred purpose into the world.  On a holy mission to protect the children, to uplift the weak and wounded, and to give voice to the voiceless.  But maybe that was my mission all along, Esme.  Not yours.  Maybe you just wanted to make beautiful music in the beginning.  But I like to think we all aim for greatness.  We all want to help the less fortunate.  Don't we?  And we all dream.  Maybe not as vividly as I do sometimes, but dream nonetheless.  In colours, and song.  I know you dream like that, sweetheart.  Imagined or not.  So, maybe there really is a piece of me somewhere in your soul.  Maybe the love you carry shore to shore is the true legacy.  Yours, of course.  Your design and your genius.  I would never take that away from you.  But hopefully a little of my inspiration too.  In some soft, secret, innermost way.  There isn't much more I want to say right now, except this: you've brought me so much comfort over the years.  So much joy, meaning and hope.  I see it in the crowds, Esme.  I see it in their eyes.  That sense of finally belonging, being seen, recognised, understood.  Being loved despite their strangeness.  Their loneliness.  In those crowds I see the promise of something brighter.  And you galvanise that promise.  You mobilise it, as all good teachers do.  I watch them take that light out into the world after the closing notes have lingered.  And they change the world for the better in a thousand profound little ways.  A shining potential within each of them, somewhere between the real and the imagined.  It isn’t as clear cut as people think – this magical threshold between waking and dream.  And that's the place you know me best, I hope.  That's the place where I'll always love you, Esme.  You’re braver and bolder than I could ever be.  I’m so proud of you, truly.  Artist to artist.  Storyteller to storyteller.  And I wish you all the magic and music in the world.

Monday 3 June 2024

All Storms

Mira, have you ever felt guilty for the agony of another even though it was not your doing?   Like a teardrop on the fire?  I have.  I once heard the wending of a great shriek in Man's notion of grace.  It broke my heart, the knowledge of such suffering.  You see, I heard it even in the almost-silence of dawn.  The murmuration of early hours by the rivers and lakes.  I heard it in the bright cacophony of the ports.  The glorious din of merchant sailors trading curio, rumour and bombast.  In the cities too, beyond temple paving.  In the markets and alleys.  Keen-eyed children, painfully thin, scampering barefoot through dust, their fingers slick with the juice of stolen berries.  The fruit of other shores.  A riot of heat and colour.  Spices, fabrics and sandstone.  Or the cooler coastal stone.  Pillars and Hellenic halls of learned koine.  I heard the wending folded through it all.  The suffering.  The outpouring of grief.  For over a thousand years I have searched for song enough to soften such pain.  Light enough to brighten all darkness.  But you already know these legends of the humbled one, don't you, my first light?  My namesake.  Shadows, shelters, Damascus gates.  Struck blind with epistles and angels.  Apostolikon, fit for the ages.  But there is so much more to the story, Mira.  In most retellings they omit the stars.  They forget the phantasmagoria.  The stories say the humbled one was a prisoner of Rome, shipwrecked upon a Maltese coast.  A haunted night-shore where two seas met.  Like those legends of Josephus.   Those legends mention little of daughters however, or sorcery.  I suppose it's put upon the dramatists, playwrights and poets to restore what was lost.  Isn't that always the way?  Few of us can escape the tempests, Mira, or the torment.  These fictions of the air.  These realities of the drowned, sunken realm.  Every writer is made humbled by the enormity of the task.  Made little.  To say something of meaning, to provide guidance, or, at our most ambitious – to leave a legacy that changes the tenor of lived experience.  You once told me children were that very legacy.  My God, how right you were.  My beautiful, thoughtful girl.  Hear me, apprentice.  My gifts are not counterfeit.  And neither are yours.  I shall not speak for you, but I can see and hear and know things that others can't.  Occasionally it’s wonderful.  Often it’s terrifying.  Perhaps it’s the guilt of this second sight that I sometimes imagine myself a grander thing than I truly am.  A warrior, angel or king.  Instead of a wounded fantasist shipwrecked upon the eternal shore of mythopoeia.  Guilty as sin.  I wouldn't be the first writer guilty of such confabulations though, would I?  The oldest perhaps, and the grandest, but definitely not the first.  My brother alone claims that title.  My Mira knows the secret, as do my other daughters.  But do you, Fallen?  Do you know who my brother is?  My tears became a testament because of him.  It's a strange thing, this drowning.  Especially for one who summons the seas.  Like being anointed in the depths of spirit itself.  A baptism beyond mortal grasp.  It humbles you, to recognise the particulars of your own language and limitations.  I could rewrite the entire world but it would never be enough.  Only loving service is enough in the face of such a wending shriek; that great lament folded throughout Man's history.  Hungry children, grieving mothers and drowned fathers.  One day, at the very cusp of a new heaven and earth, I don't want to finally break the surface of these depths and cry out in despair.  I don't want to hasten Man's lament with the eventual recognition that I should have done more.  More words, more stories, more magic.  And so I offer what I can.  We offer what we can, here and now.  Our highest, sweetest intent.  The wise ones in our midst will call it beauty.  And so will I.  I call you beauty, Mira.  A great beauty.  The world and all its people have such beauty too.  I know because I’ve seen them, walked with them, ministered to them.  Like my namesake.  In all my travels I have found that love is the grandest teaching of all.  The love we share among strangers or friends, given freely and without barter, is the wisest, brightest beauty of them all.  Song enough to soften all pain.  Light enough to sail all storms.

Friday 29 March 2024

A Deathless Word

Love.  There have been so many things written about this word.  Often quoted, rarely understood.  The depth and nuance of this idea.  Its all-encompassing power.  Those of us lucky enough to have been touched by some form of genuine love know its ability to heal a broken heart and mend a fractured mind.  Love is needed now more than ever.  Contextual agility, the appreciation of nuance and pain.  The recognition of trauma.  After all, the entire human family is at war right now.  Aren't we?  Sometimes it feels like we have always been at war.  With our brothers and sisters, with ourselves.  Angels and demons locked in battle within our psyches.  The sons and daughters of Abram have been estranged for the last two thousand years.  We murder, deceive and distort in the names of our various gods.  Our various mystery-cults and local flavours of myth-making. Each of us calling ourselves righteous as we indulge in this hideous global familicide.  Are we not all brothers and sisters?  Are we not all fathers, mothers, daughters and sons?  I believe we are.  In fact, I know it to be true.  And this darkened realm of violence and hatred is not what I would wish for my beloved family, nor you for yours I suspect.  The real war is within, of course.  The War of Imagination.  The war between shadow and light.  There are many of us who grasp this instinctively.  Those among us who would end these countless reigns of terror if we could.  Those who would show us a different way.  A gentler, kinder form of communion with the divine.  And with each other.  Love is a grand, often selfless word.  Full of mystery, power and benevolent magic.  It hurts that we live in a world where sacrifice is even necessary.  A world where parents often go without to ensure their children have barely enough.  But we all know the truth of these things.  I wish nothing but peace for my brothers and sisters.  This entire human family.  But how far must we go to protect the ones we love?  What would we ourselves be willing to sacrifice?

Friday 22 March 2024

The Poet's Lie

The redundancy of a poet's words can be such a heart-breaking thing.  It's not something we like to think about, because we like to imagine time is short.  Our words urgent, vital and necessary.  Sometimes that's true.  But if you live long enough, if you survive often enough while everyone around you perishes, you begin to see the short-sightedness of even the holiest forms of speech.  Children displaced by war understand the redundancy of comforting words in a way that most adults never will.  Parents torn from their families, left staggering, haunted and blind – they know the truth of this too.  Live long enough in the presence of hollow words and you begin to wonder how mankind allows such atrocity and injustice.  Power, religiosity, greed; all hidden under a thousand congenial masks.  A vicious swell of molten violence always gathering, always threatening beneath our feet.  As though humanity gives greater care to making hell than it does to making love, or art.  We have made the world a terrifying inferno.  Poets know the truth of this too, of course.  But our yearning for meaning is so great; so enamoured are we with notions of insight, rhythm or grace.  How can a poet's words mean something more than cruel sentiment to a ravaged child, a shattered soul, or an utterly broken world?  How can such an individual still believe in angels?  I wish I had the answers, but I don't.  We fetishize, dehumanize and turn away.  We pretend our various leaders are something other than hideous warlords, cultists and profiteers.  We give them pass after pass and entertain the bread and circuses they engineer for us.  Nonsense that can be bought, sold or streamed.  I suppose I understand it in a way.  In the modern world we imagine our souls as fiction.  Our spiritual, interior lives.  We believe that nothing really exists beyond the physical realm.  We think of ourselves as spiritually unreal, so of course our children are equally unreal.  Of course we turn away from the horror and devastation in their eyes.  But we know it's a lie, deep down.  We know the history of Earth is a history of unimaginable cruelty and suffering.  All cultures and tribes.  A thousand pointless wars.  Light, beauty and joy do exist, of course.  Everywhere, in great abundance.  Because the human heart shines so brightly despite the darkness.  But such light matters little to a child who has been disavowed by a world that was supposed to protect her.  Words of intended wisdom and beauty ring hollow in her ears, if she can still hear at all.  I know this is unsettling to read.  I hold back tears as I write this.  I’m not asking anyone to ignore the light, or turn away from hope.  But I suppose in the end the most salient question is, ‘Who do we continue following into the dark?  Whose lies mean the most, or have the most utility – the poets or the profiteers?’

Monday 29 January 2024

The Hellenist

Artists dream all the time.  Don't we, Kara?  Images and sounds, words and letters.  Threads that connect and ties that bind.  We dream of brighter worlds.  I believe that with a little vision we can transform the very fabric of our experience, crafting beauty from the ordinary.  My seamstress, I hope now you understand that we are forever linked.  I'm not separate from you, nor you from me.  And yet we are distinct.  We have our own paths and our own journeys.  Still, I walk beside you always.  Do you remember Ephesus, Kara?  Or Antioch?  I do, or almost do.  I am a dreamer after all.  A wounded fantasist.  Forgive my protean tongue but I've paid a very high price for storytelling.  I nearly lost both my mind and my life for daring to inspire the broken-hearted towards hope.  A simple scribe, a lowly diarist.  As I've said elsewhere in these epistles, “Each feather of Antioch is a word, in every tongue of Man.  Languages both living and dead.”  Because we speak now of the heart, Kara, don't we?  We speak in earnest poetry.  Transformative fictions and images of truth, if not the truth itself.  You see, many souls today are utterly exhausted, driven half mad by this darkness.  A number of them have lost their lanterns, concerned now only with mere surfaces. Distractions dark or fair.  Pigment and provenance.  Petty tribalism and the supposed taboos of miscegenation.  But the world now is just as the world then.  First-century foment.  Tarsus, and Tyana.  I still recall those shadows.  A psychopathy that was so apparent, and growing.  All across the earth.  Travesties of State.  Division and fear.  Treasury-wraiths at odds with the spiritual lives of common folk.  All too often I've seen it.  Another lie on another gilded tongue.  "Believe this or that at great cost to your soul.  Ours is the only way and all else is heresy."  Well, I still speak as a so-called heretic.  A dangerous reformer.  We both do, Kara.  Little has changed in these temples and churches.  We are still unwelcome even in our own houses.  It's one of life's bitter ironies that to even be heard here in this cacophonous abyss one must be well-versed in polemic and politics.  To raise oneself above the din of a thousand heartless strategists.  All clamouring for the wealth of the educated or the blind faith of the illiterate.  Attention is currency after all.  Capture someone's attention, or better, their imagination, and you are a few small steps from capturing their very soul.  A truly dark soul can rally all manner of cultists to commit the most hideous acts in the name of God.  After all, mercenaries need only the slightest pretence.  A banner to march under.  As long as they are paid, either in coin or false absolution of their sins.  There are such men of every culture, every religion.  Sadly, this is human history.  But these are never the ways of noble men and women.  Souls of true character.  We both know that, Kara.  I hate to speak of other dreams, other lives.  Because you have to take it on sheer faith.  And I'm only a distant poet.  A stranger.  Nobody special.  But like so many others we too fell prey to the ignobility of our supposed leaders.  They wanted to silence our voices and extinguish our dissent.  Because we cared about all those who adhered to a different faith.  Our brothers and sisters everywhere who exalted different stories in their attempts to interpret and navigate the world.  This is the true war, isn't it?  The War of Imagination.  Such contextual agility, such brotherhood and sensitivity of thought; it's the bane of any genocidal warlord.  I still remember those terrifying seasons on the sand.  How they unleashed their brutal campaigns of centralisation.  Unimaginable violence and deceit.  As Rome swallowed the temples and our tongues, rewriting our histories and changing our names.  Mixing fact with forgery. Perverting everything we stood for and calling it Christendom.  Such campaigns are still nothing but the vicious strategies of hollow men.  Spiritual wickedness in high places.  Hear me, Fallen.  You deceive so boldly and distort so blithe.  Serpents in a shattered garden.  Your blood is cold.  You chose to weaponise each guideline, parable and article of faith.  Masking yourself with every creed, making a gleeful mockery of everything beautiful.  The sons and daughters of Abram are still at war, arguing over grammar and syntax.  Shedding blood and spreading hate because someone somewhere believes a slightly different version of the same story.  And you still have the gall to call me a heretic?  A pagan sorcerer?  How dare you?  But nothing you do surprises me anymore.  The Children of Ra'Ishka were never a chosen few.  Do you think the true avatars of the Holy Spirit would forsake the young of any tribe?  Even those of your enemies?  Do you think a true angel of divine grace would slaughter innocent children?  Are you fucking insane?  Yes, I utter profanity sometimes.  When it's warranted.  Hear me.  No messenger of the true Creator would trade or harm a little one.  My Father would never sanction such a thing.  You have been fooled, deceived, manipulated.  These evil angels are not angels at all.  They are but wilderness wraiths.  Mere phantoms.  Hungry ghosts.  Feeding upon the blood of our brethren.  Re-writing the words of greater minds.  Shaping and reshaping our texts – our imaginations – to fit their dark agendas.  Look me in the eye and tell me it isn't so.  These wraiths stalked Rome, Byzantium, Isfahan and many others.  They still do.  But so do I.  And so does my brother.  Tell me, Fallen; do you know who my brother is?  Do you even know who you are?  Children of disobedience indeed, but children nonetheless.  So degenerate, so gleefully obsessed with your own nightmare-making.  Not artists yet.  Not really.  Still unfamiliar with dreaming's finer points.  The subtleties and subtext.  It hurts me too, Kara.  All this chaos and sickness.  This lack of courage, or kindness.  This is not the world any true scribe would wish to record.  We are not supposed to hate each other like this.  But I stand here now in the omnipresent gaze of my Father, trying to listen.  Willing to humble myself if necessary.  All we can do is speak our truth with full elucidation and express our hearts as deeply as possible, even if we are called heretics by those with darker, deceitful souls.  The faithful and the kind will know us by our works, God willing.  There is so much more I could say, my seamstress.  So many stories I could write.  Epistles and epiphanies.  But I want to keep things succinct.  However, before I finish I want you to know that I've not lost my humour in all this.  Nor my √©lan.  Neither should you.  Don't be afraid to laugh.  Protect your mirth, your sense of play.  Think of it as treasure.  An artist needs her joy after all.  Especially someone in the full bloom of creation.  Thank you for noticing me, Kara.  And thank you for caring.  About all of us.  I really do love you, my darling.  And as always I wish you well. 

Friday 22 December 2023

How Daughters Prosper

It's a difficult thing, this tempest.  This lie of linearity.  To be caught in the chaos of cognition, a storm of sorts, and to still be force-fed this very limited worldview.  It can be a frightening contradiction.  Our innate wisdom in lockstep with our modern banality.  We're taught so many incongruous things now.  That the seas have limits.  Boundaries.  That we do not flow in the ways we once knew.  As I've written in these pages before; the wraith-priests of this realm have cultivated so many terrifying gods of the sea.  Why do you think they did that, so long ago?  I’ll tell you.  Because at our essence we are fluid, liquid beings.  Charged with sunlight and sentience.  Every one of us.  Magnetic, electric.  We are divine creations composed of water’s music.  Children of the rain, rivers and sea.  This is why our forebears were slaughtered in the epoch of the First Dreaming.  This is why the Fates were slain and the loom threaded with dark magic.  To convince us all that we are not immortal, veteran dreamers.  That this nightmare is real and relentless.  That we are violent, compassionless entities.  This is the image of the new earth, and its angels.  The Altered Sun.  The tempest of our colonized minds.  Our world, once a beautiful garden of poets, philosophers and engineers, is now a colossal shipwreck beached upon the shore of eternity.  We've lost our place.  Our home.  But I still remember the way we sang.  The communities we built.  How our prayers moved mountains.  We loved each other once, and we painted the hills with higher thought.  My Mira taught me that.  She reminded me how the first dreaming still lives on in our hearts.  Before our lives became tall tales in the mind of Man.  I am no Duke of Milan.  And my life is far more than a piece of tragicomic fiction.  Mira was my first, and she reminded me of many things.  She didn’t have to.  She could have fled.  She could have taken another name.  I gave her my blessing in the end.  The war was brutal and esoteric.  I wouldn’t begrudge her the solace of forgetting everything that happened.  But she chose to keep her name.  Chose to keep her sisters close.  I still remember how she told me it wasn't just about us.  It was about all those yet to arrive.  The unborn.  Soon to be plunged into a raging, virulent world.  It was for them that we held on to our true histories.  It was for our children and our children's children that we remembered our names and our light.  My Evenstar, you were so wise for one so young.  I truly wish you didn’t have to be.  I don't know what else to say.  Perhaps you won't believe a word of this, Mira.  The colourful ravings of a distant fanatic, imagining himself a sorcerer.  And perhaps that's as it should be.  But I still watch over my beloved ones.  Blinded or not.  Blackened by war and buried by distance.  I still wish you nothing but peace and good tidings.  Drowned in dream I may be, but I choose to live my life as if some small piece your heart still remembers me.  Life is sweeter like this, my darling girl.  And the seas far calmer.