Month: September 2014

Shadow Music

I am a craftsman. My hands are made of clay.
They’re soft and wet and mould silhouette.
The last I made were without shadow,
The next will be more musical.
They will be spin around me –
Chimes in a western wind. Chimes of a different figuring
perhaps to hang in branches, simply as decoration.

If I rest, there will be no forming.
I fear this.
I fear the unmaking and forever sleep.
The chimes will awaken me with their shadow-music.

Squalls and storm clouds move inside me.
I hear thunder. Some say
they see change coming.
I see constant weather. There
is purpose in their forecast,
no in-decision and in a precise moment
the exact snap of thin ice.

I awaken before a bridge – reaching far across a rocky canyon.
Going to the edge and leaning over I see
the darkness of endless sleep. I hope to hear
water song and the expanse of rain-dreaming.
I wait at the bridge for a traveller like me to pass –
I will ask him to describe his journey and
The way ahead which I have not yet seen.

MChallis © 2014

He Counts the Fish at his Toes

Weather’s coming up soon lad, talk is, three days,seafarer
no catch for a week then

Connors’ folk slough to the Arms
in the shape of four or five,
a tawny pint floats the hour,
and by seven the place is alive.

My father now by the edge of the groyne
is a gaze half mast at the sea,
as he sails himself to the brink of an isle
and turns a yard-arm to the lee.

He sets on his oars the cataclysm of waves
he casts the wind at his hair,
swears salt is the sword in the taste of this life
and not what falls with a tear.

He’ll treble a note in harmonica muse
and rustily suck a bone pipe,
spit saliva colder than frost on the grease
and never complain of the gripe.

Running the wind or roaring the cape
or rounding the sound of the wire
his name is the take of all seafarer kin;
the hearth, my heart and the fire.

My father the salt, the seafaring man
a wave in the seas as they glide
now found to the ocean,
a son to the sea
the son to the father; my guide


MChallis © 2014

Dark Rain

wet gutter stone

submerged in the rill

blackheavy and round

and the weight beneath me:

a smooth cold killer of light


night is a forest

wet banquet of noise

small epiphany’s happening at street lights

and wild-life electric


far off are the radios

the occasional violence

hits at the melancholy,

hangs with urban drifters

patches up a night sky


night is a forest, a jungle of audible character

damp activity

light and shape struggle to hold meaning,

yet momentary glimpses

glistening with hope

and capture an uncertain semaphore

MChallis © 2005

To the Regiment

Night’s armaments
tethered by a lone street light
wait as a patient carnivore
watchful and certain

A cigarette glows
in one man’s mouth
as others blow fog, puff into their hands
and shuffle – they’re shipping out tonight

Arguing up the hill
a truck in the middle distance
comes to take them to the rally point

Whistling in this town
will be left to young fresh faced boys
when they think on their fathers
the soldiers

Tenements in formation stare unblinking
each window an eye transfixed
Rubbish bins, curbside, seem to anticipate
instruction or disturbance

A gathering mist pads the rooftops
as the townsmen heave aboard,
with one last glance – slightly checked
each man searches for the loved ones
who are
or at prayer

Reach to the Child

Reach toward her
the little one
there in your hurts and fears
Look toward her, not away

You take your soldier to war
guardian at the perimeter
with the rationale of defence
yet she is bereft

Look toward him
the little one
tucked underneath the carapace
hidden from your tender heart

You are discourteous in attack
blind to empathy
righteous in argument and in thesis
yet none are healed or reassured

Look inward soldier
to the little one
his fear has become your fear

Look inward soldier
to the little one
her fear has become your fear

The child within is not yet comforted



MChallis © 2014

Upon Awakening

In the dim light of the forest’s heart
That is my own heart
“. John Pass


Looking back
Long into many memories
Are seeds and tender shoots
Upon my awakening

Looking sidelong
Into many happenings
Are flowers and reaching branches
Upon my flourishing

Looking headlong
Into many eventualities
Are husks and drying leaves
Upon my returning

Looking forward
Long into many possibilities
Are seeds and tender shoots
Upon awakening



MChallis @ 2014



Thought for the Day #2

When we find fear
has contracted us
know that courage
and love
will expand us


MChallis © 2014


Thought for the day #1

Your power lies within you. Life endowed you eons ago.
Your work today begins with knowing this deeply.
Your power does not lie in the minds of others,
you do not need their approval for what you already posses.
As you practice today keep your attention on giving,
on being generous without the conditionality of it being reciprocated.
In this moment now and in this breath you are free.

MChallis © 2014

a red wheelbarrow

from Spring and All (1923)

By William Carlos Williams


so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

There is Work to Do

In human history
For the centuries
that can be remembered
Perhaps the most destructive force
That has lived among us
Is the human mind
That does not observe itself
Is human thought
That is unaware

MChallis @ 2014

Japanese Maple

imageBy Clive James


Your death, near now, is of an easy sort.

So slow a fading out brings no real pain.

Breath growing short

Is just uncomfortable. You feel the drain

Of energy, but thought and sight remain:

Enhanced, in fact. When did you ever see

So much sweet beauty as when fine rain falls

On that small tree

And saturates your brick back garden walls,

So many Amber Rooms and mirror halls?

Ever more lavish as the dusk descends

This glistening illuminates the air.

It never ends.

Whenever the rain comes it will be there,

Beyond my time, but now I take my share.

My daughter’s choice, the maple tree is new.

Come autumn and its leaves will turn to flame.

What I must do

Is live to see that. That will end the game

For me, though life continues all the same:

Filling the double doors to bathe my eyes,

A final flood of colours will live on

As my mind dies,

Burned by my vision of a world that shone

So brightly at the last, and then was gone.