Shinkansen: a poem for Charles

In fond memory of Charles Ramsden

Now, as you board your train
may you be met by
all the ghosts we have known,
those that follow us,
those that give us hope in our weary nights,
those that keep us together,
those who follow us, silent,
into the darkest reaches of our souls,
those who keep our forgotten memories warm

close to them,
may you be met by fellow travellers,
may you speed through the fields of England,
the heartland of Holland
 – which is not about
clichés like windmills and flowers
but a never-ending
fight to keep the devastating
sea of drowning
at bay –
the long rolling hills of Provence,
the forests of fall in New England,
the plains of Japan.
Fellow wanderer,

find your way home,
in the comfort of the Orient Express
at the speed of the Shinkansen,
find peace,
find the light,
while those who wait at the station,
queuing up to buy our own tickets
for that one inescapable journey
look forward,
with confidence,

as we bless that cross,
piercing forward,
into the starry night.



“May the troubled wanderers who have lost their way
Meet with fellow travellers”

Shantideva (Bodhicaryavatara)

Philae, my love,
fall with grace
into silence
while I wait,

Ride on the surface
of the comet
and look back –
we are but dust,
reflected by the Sun:
see that blue speck?
we are there
where what has happened
will. Over and over;

some wait in the cities
some wait in the factories
some wait in the classrooms
some wait in the fields
some wait locked in their
endless regrets
where forgotten dreams
sleep – nothing new under
the Sun

the computers blip,
the coffee cups grow
faces tense
what are they thinking?
What will they gain from the toil,
but the journey?

Some think of the data,
some of the food they
left out this morning
by mistake
some of their mothers,
their fathers or brothers,
their lovers
or the book they left
in the bus – by mistake

as you fall, my love.
I wait.


So long, Mister Leonard

“It is no surprise
that danger and suffering surround us.
What astonishes is the singing.”

Jack Gilbert “Horses at Midnight Without a Moon”

What will astonish you first is the singing,

the singing – no less than a Godsend, a seed,
a remedy or a boat,

a flood of crossings, a sacrifice
first hand
like a dusty garbage-bin:

an emptiness so hollow
the very fabric of it –
dead to the world.

I guess this is what is called

being blissfully lost.

Like when the morning rises
and still sleepy,
we feel the tinge of joy
at the possibilities;

our nightly quarters receding
into the spaces
where memories sleep,

the unrequited prayers,
sedated for a while.

The moment,
the here,
the now.


You are not God

You are not God,
you are the English I dare not use –
the humble whisper,
my frustration of the limits

I find in the fading light
of the afternoon,
just before secret words
are spoken:

You are not God,
you don’t speak.
You take it.

Published in Eunoia Review