Meditation

The horse snorts and bucks and pulls at the reins
But I am not the horse

I’m not his rider either
jouncing her brain up and down
trying to recite calm words

I am the trees and posts
beside the path, the stones, the earth
beneath the hooves, the sky within
which he moves

Not the magpies and skydivers spooking him
Not rain, rainbow, sun, drenching and drying him
I am sky itself
all the way to space

And when he has had his run
I am the stable,
the frame, the six walls
and half-door view
to which at last
he returns

Calculus

We proposed in the mid 1990s that consciousness depends on biologically ‘orchestrated’ coherent quantum processes in collections of microtubules within brain neurons. — Stuart Hameroff and Roger Penrose, “Consciousness in the Universe: A Review of the ‘Orch OR’ Theory.” Physics of Life Reviews 11(1), March 2014, pp. 39–78.

We look for it
in some tiny place
A structure in the brain
A microtubule in a cell
A curled 11-dimensional string

We imagine it
a field, laid out
on spacetime, a matrix
of infinitesimal
points

We try to find it
by going back in time
or collapsing in,
shrinking towards
a singularity

But infinitesimal and singularity
are concepts from calculus,
limits of infinite journeys
We find ourselves caught
in Zeno’s paradox

trying to touch the hub
between the spokes, the doorway
between the jambs, the pause

between the breaths, the ma
between the fragment
and the phrase

From A coat of ashes.
First published in Meniscus 5(1), June 2017.

What is Tao?

Erasure from the Zhuangzi translated by Thomas Merton

out     a hand
down     a foot
a knee
like a dance     what
is Tao?

when I first began
I would see me
all in one mass

after three years I saw

but now I see
with the eye free to work
space finds its own way
I cut no joint chop no bone

a year I have used this
it has cut
its edge
keen
when this finds space
there is all the room

I feel     slow down     watch
hold back     move
and whump the part falls away
like a clod of earth

then I the blade
stand still
clean     and put it away

From A coat of ashes. First published in The Authorised Theft: Writing,
Scholarship, Collaboration Papers
, the proceedings of the 21st Conference
of the Australasian Association of Writing Programs.

her wings

The monster is tres cool, uber beautiful
in moist black leather, as large as an
elephant, with four legs, firm flesh,
a dragon’s tail and grace. I do not know

whether to be afraid. It does not seem vicious
or vile. There is no stench of stagnant drains
or carrion. It smells of haemoglobin. Cambium.
Of still air among leaves.

I am standing at its left side.
Its broad wings are raised.
Upon its thorax, behind its forelegs,
level with my eyes,

I lay my right palm, fingers
pointing at the tremendous
shoulder, feeling the insistence
of a big bass heart.

The monster’s blood is warm,
but cooler than mine. Her name
is Creativity. She holds her wings
high, tenting me while I touch.

From A coat of ashes