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 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.