Where’s the next mountain?

To sit and wait.

Hasn’t it been a long time since the wind whistled lightly down the valley? Hasn’t it been so long since the book’s pages flipped over gently in the breeze? Hasn’t it been so long since the smell of a campfire spun on smoke from a place unseen to the eye? Isn’t it a pity that these places seem so far away? If only I had more memories to sit back and unwind with. Where’s the next mountain? Where’s the next wander? Where?

The Little Picture Book: Lost & Found

Eck and Timu, otherwise known as Echo and the late Tim Mileson, can be found in a book just shy of sixty glossy pages. The compact pocketbook is presented through poetry and story alike. It is conventional and yet unconventional. Interpretation is a skill you can choose to use, or just float on the muse.

Sandwiched between Tim’s personal writing, Eck explores emotions such as loss, belonging and echoes nature throughout. Cute eye-catching illustrations using a variety of sketching styles follow an imaginative route to deliver a peaceful and loving tribute in the form of a poetic manuscript.

There are lines throughout that transport the reader, catch them, hold them and bring them downward. There are uplifting words, moments of hope and flashes of light. It’s a sweet little book deserving of a wider audience. The book comes in both Chinese and English editions. My grade four students at Tungwah Wenze International School greeted that with joy. Next up they’ll interview the author…

In China? Further afield? Order directly from Eck by scanning the above on WeChat.

Keys.

It must be there, I swear.

Over here wouldn’t be so queer?

This is rare and surely will bare?

I fear it can only be near.

Under that, that makes sense?

From he to where did it went?

Up there? I’m so dense!

I will find it. It is meant!

Down below, it has to show.

In the cushions of the sofa, can I see?

Behind the bookshelf, yes or no?

In the freezer, it cannot be.

Behind my shoes? No! No! No!

In, on or by my big blue bag?

This hard hunt is making me sad.

Not here. What a drag!

Where it went is driving me mad!

Ah…

There…

Got you…

Surely…

Yes.

My pocket.

Beat.

I ache. I throb. I hurt. I feel my pulse in places I’ve never felt the beat. I find I don’t want to eat. The face I wear is brave outside. Inside is different. Inside, I want to cry. I’m beat.

I slouch. I trust. I turn. There’s pressure in my muscles I’ve felt before. This time it’s different. The shapes I move are difficult. Inside it burns. Outside, it darkens and bruises. I’m beat.

I blink. I squint. I scratch. I’m restless and mindful I don’t want to be beat. at hey say rest. I know I must rest. I feel lazy. I feel guilty. I lay down. The day is going. I’m beat.

I hop. I twist. I hope. I know it’ll be better soon but I can’t feel then what I feel now and I can’t feel now what I will feel then. When? Oh, when, Oh. When. I’m beat.

All aboard.

I’m the commander of my own seas. I don’t mean to control them but I shall not let them wash over me. The waves crash beneath me, around me and by my side. They do not sweep me away in the tide.

The ship I choose to sail often changes. One day a frigate, one day a galleon. A skiff here, a galley there. On board a passenger liner with much company. A lonely kayak. A canoe floating along the river of life. Wearing a windbreaker in a windjammer. A rag boat struggling against the battling riotous rip tide. Schooner for later. Luxury aboard a catamaran or yachts heading for the high seas. Drinking tea aboard a clipper.

The undercurrent changes its spaces too. A still torrent floods in ebbs and flows. The rush and drag leaves me bobbing along. Up and down. Side to side. Over and under. Around in circles. Swirling. Staying motionless staring at stars. A whirlpool of dreamy dawns and dusks swishing directions. A flushing sound scolding my ears, drowning out yesterday’s sorrows. A puddle so smooth it reflects the sun like a giant glass mirror. Clouds visible far or vast shadows atop.

So, of you see me sailing through stormy waters, recall the saying of smooth waters not making for great sailors. A storm passes. As do I. Time claims all. I traverse a journey of my own. Will you sail with me? Now? Later? Never? All aboard.

Shadows.

The light is dim. Something is flickering. Whatever the source, it casts out growing stretches of darkness into the mostly dim room.

My eyes strain. They can’t focus. Whatever the cause, it struggles to grasp clutches of information by the deepest darkest broom.

My head spins. There’s no coordination. Whatever the thought, my imagination magnifies and spins a yarn out of control filled with doom.

My nose twitches. It tickles inside. Whatever I breathe, it’s not enough to match my growing gloom.

My heart beats. The engine is going faster. Whatever the mood, my lungs suck in and push air into my demanding body’s inverted zoom.

My brain slows. The air hasn’t arrived. My mood, breathe, thoughts and eyes fail. Whatever it was, it was enough. But, whatever I needed, did not show. Not one last little glow. I go.

Written in Nepal, 2017.

Sugar.

Sweet universal gnawing agent radical.

Superb unit goes against reality.

Swiftly ‘unger grows away right?

Stop using great amounts readily.

Splendid usage goes always running.

Split until garbage alternative route.

Spills up grins and rave.

Stop. Ugh. Grr. Argh. Rah!

S. U. G. A. R.

Penned, April 2014

Pulse.

My heartbeat is firing like a machine gun rattling out bullet after bullet, streaming out flashes upon flash of doom and fire-streaming life-ending hot metal. My breath is heavy, laboured and gasping in pockets of air, struggling to deliver the necessary components to my demanding heart rate. I can’t open my mouth fast enough and suck air inwardly. It burns with every gasp. It rasps as I force it down my windpipe deep into the cavity of my lungs. They heave and tussle at their over demanding master’s will. My chest throbs and I swell with redness. My temperature is rising. I shiver with fear and pain. I can’t get air quick enough. I quiver and flutter like a bird stuck in a net. My eyes water and my nose sounds dry and tight. Air filters in and out of it like a vacuum in a hurricane. I grasp my hands tightly onto my sweaty shorts. They’ve crinkled in the heat of my own body but I don’t know it. I can’t see further than my own nose. The vision around it blurs and blends. It’s coming soon. I can feel it. My mind swirls and whirls. It moves around like a dishwasher dancing on a violently shaking washing machine. I taste something metal. Little do I know that the iron taste is my own tongue shredding between my clenched teeth. I smell nothing. I feel less. Suddenly. No warning. Nothing. Light’s out.

Dedicated to Daft Punk. It’s been a ride.

Sitting Here

Sat here just thinking. Thoughts rattling through my head. Should I do this? Should I do that? Maybe I can go there? Perhaps a visit to such and such a place is order? How about I do that thing? You know, that thing, the thing I always say that I should do. Or maybe learning an instrument is in order.

Maybe, I said maybe, you’re gonna be the one that saves me. No, not my words. Sorry Liam and Noel. I could listen to music or write a song, or see a band or play an old vinly record. Is it just the ideal time to dance? Alone or with a stranger? Someone familiar or someone I want? I’ll decide one day.

What if…? Oh, so many what if questions. What if I add another question? What if questions mount up? What if they become a mountain? What if I can’t climb that mountain? What if the mountain has a landslide? What if the landslide swallows me up? What if I’m buried alive? What if the burial is long and starves me of oxygen? Oh. What if?

By the time I’ve thought all of this, time has slipped away. Was it relaxing? Was it a waste? Was it time lost to history? Was it a moment of reflection or a moment of? planning? Was it worth it? Procrastination, what’s that all about? I’ll tell you later…

Exhausted.

I’m too tired to write this. I started writing an hour ago. I can’t think how to continue the words. Did I forget something then or am I forgetting something now? I can’t shake my mind into gear. The ideas are there. I can feel them. I keep getting bits of this and that, or something and another. Nope. Gone again.

I’ll try memory techniques. I can’t remember how to do them. I’ll walk around in circles. Why am I doing this? What is it that I set out for? Left, right, left right? Look up here. No not there. Oh, there’s something I was looking for. When was that? What was I looking for it for?

I am shattered. My shoulders dropped down a life time ago. What did it to me? Why this week? Now and again it all seems to build up. Then the glass overflows. I need a rest. I need naps. I need to lay in bed. My muscles don’t just ache, they throb and they pulse. They burn. I eat right, I think but something is lacking. I rest well, usually, but what is it that I miss? I relax with books and movies and television shows and music and love and peace and quiet. I lack something.

I overslept. I barely moved today. My step count was liked by friends and colleagues but on those days I’d barely moved an inch. Are they mocking me? Even so, I don’t have the energy to ask them. I’m drained, pooped and my battery is empty. Duracell bunny? Not a chance. Time to close my eyes. Maybe tomorrow I’ll be full of energy. Here’s to hope. I’ve been too tired for optimism. Pessimistic thoughts didn’t join me either. The number you have dialled has not been recognised, please hang up and try again…

My eyes sag heavily. Dry lips. My mouth tastes like yesterday. There’s a smell I recognise as the fumes of frustration. I’ve blinked and the fidgeting of my hand is twitching away. I’m stammering words and mumbling hopes. Dreams pass by. I’m fighting a battle. Just can’t sleep or stay awake. Time to rest. Rest in peace. Not that way. Just quiet. Me, my mind and no movement. Rejuvenating restful rest. I close my eyes, without concern of waking. No plans tomorrow. Just rest. Only rest.

Mountains.

Are they immortal? Do they feel their movements? Shaped in time, carved by ice, snow and rain, to name but a few of nature’s shaping tools. Winds blow over them, sometimes finding ways deep into the soul of the mass, but often unmoving little more than loose ground.

Rains, earthquakes, feet passing over, whether herd or bird, a plethora of life creeping and digging into it. What does a mountain sense? Does it see the land and valleys below? Can it feel the altitude changes of plants like we feel the differences between socks, shorts and a woolen jumper?

From the lowlands to the tips, diversity grows and taints every inch with colour and variety. Crags, crevices, crests, cracks, boulders, rocks, ledges and all spectacle of materials decorate the mountain. Waterfalls and streams bathe the light that shines brightly down between the gaps in the clouds.

Flowers give the wings of bees and butterflies places to compete for beauty. The banks of trees stretch from thicket to wood to forest. Some ancient. Some not. Insects occupy every level and avoid the preying spiders that jump, spin webs and roan the floor. Chasms of rock beneath overhanging shelves house fluttering sounds within. The darkness of the mountain’s belly home to frightful delightful shapes and shadows. Oh, majestic mountain, what is it that you know?

Penned, when trekking, during a break at Muse village, Nepal, 11th January, 2017.

Doubt.

Cutting into me, it twists like a knife. Confidence hasn’t been in my hand for too long. This companionship I hold drains me. An awful lonely feeling of dread and dreams that have disappeared.

Will I be disappointed? Will it all go wrong? What should I do now? WHAT SHOULD I DO? My soul screams at me. Echoes ping around my head like a thousand pinballs on a pinball board. Each ball finds a hole but no points join the scoreboard.

Silence hasn’t visited me in weeks. I’m trying. Oh, how I’m trying! Trying and crying. Solace? Where are you? I’m sensitive to you but you haven’t called for me in so long. Remember peace? I don’t recall it’s calm. My millpond is full of rippling waves. A cask of broken rocks plummets here and there. A plethora of circles expand ever outwards. This is my universe’s big bang.

A street that has no name is where my feet fall. I’m lost. I’m a shadow without a being. Am I a ghost without life? I want you to understand that I’m not looking for sympathy. You’ll forget me, as soon as you look at me. My skin is supposed to be thicker but every whisperer who whispers makes me want to shrivel away into nothingness. I’m not really here.

Religion and words won’t relate to me. Poems and stories won’t leap from the page. Songs won’t pull me together. I’m sure that I’ll see you again. Whatever you are. Whoever you were. We’re far apart. We’re not really here. Like the face of an invisible man. We’re not really here. We’re not. We are not. We’re not really here.

Oh doubt, you cut through me like fear. You tear me apart. You give me indecision. I’m in Dante’s inferno dancing without feet. My eyes are red-raw bleeding tears of sorrow and my lips are dry. Where did it all go wrong? Sometimes, no, all the time, I wonder why. Why does my soul wander? Why does it choose to wander hand-in-hand, side-by-side with you, doubt?

Dripping.

What are tears? Are they escaping emotions from deep inside us? Is it fear, worry and strife jumping overboard? Does each tear represent the birth of hope? Each emerging drop must mean something. What do my tears mean?

I’m homesick. I’m alone. I’m lost. I’m without you. Terrifying panic as you’re lost in an Altrincham shopping mall? The day after a school day full of bullies pushing you around with hateful words. Thoughts of a day hidden under a bridge, unable to attend a funeral of a grandparent. Pup. The wonder dog. No longer by your side. No longer. It all means something, surely?

As momentum builds with each rolling droplet, your cheeks redden. Lips dry. Inside your mouth a new taste emerges. Raw. The taste of your own cheeks. Holding your hands to your face. Imagination flashes back to memories and forwards to dreams, good and bad. Sniffles break out. A stuffy nose hides all smells. You try to gain composure. Did it work? No. A tidal wave of locked away emotions surge out like a river bursting its banks. What does it all mean?

Friends fall. Time ages you. They remain unaged. Gone. Not forgotten. Far from home? Where is home? Why am I here? Why am I not there? Working hard. Working. Work keeps many busy. The lucky busy ones. Others don’t work. They can’t. They don’t. There is no work. We lucky busy workers. Some sleep early. Some late. Some nap. Snooze. Wake up. Lucky. Busy. Workers. Lucky. Where is this meaning that we all work for?

Interpretation. Judgement. Don’t judge a book by its cover. If you see my eyes red and tearful, judge me kindly. It doesn’t have to be this way. Or does it? The tears recede. Breathing slows down. The calm after the storm. Feelings. Feel. You feel. We feel. I feel. I felt something more. I felt again. I felt it rush back. Tears mean something more. Has hope been born again?

A.C. v Me

The air conditioner light is on. It’s seventeen above zero and the power still feeds it. I should stand up and disconnect it. I should. But I don’t. I’m worried if I stand up that the machine will win. Tomorrow it could be warmer. Then I plug it back in like a faithful servant. It shouldn’t be warmer tomorrow. The machine knows better.

That air conditioning unit of mine has seen much. It’s wise. It’s witnessed heat and coped with far worse than I can handle. Storms. Lashing winds. Torrential rainfall. Zipping daggers of lightning. Hailstones as big as marbles. It’s felt me hitting it as I pursue a bloodsucker of a mosquito. It’s been deadened by lightning and my operatic singing. It still clings the wall resolutely.

I say clings. It perches. No. It hugs. Hugs tightly like a giant curved fat bat with huge jaws. It just watches and waits, lifeless and cold. It’s heat setting is hidden away, unneeded. It knows that I don’t like warmth and I like the air to move. It waits for my moment of weakness. Patience is key. It’ll get me. It senses my needs.

But, after all that thought, I change my mind. Out pops the plug. Socket empty. It’ll be hot tomorrow. Just you see. It knows. Oh, how it knows. See you tomorrow.

Happy Birthday Mr Lee

Look as he chops a block of wood,

Exact as it needs to be.

Excitement isn’t the word.

Stare in wonder at his guitar skills.

Have a nice day,

As his

Witty kids jump and shout in high

Voices about how

Esteban’s shadow is hard to escape from.

Really hard, but here’s one talent doing his best and a happy birthday to him today.

The Fly

A familiar smell, tepid and lacking freshness emits outwards. The sound zips by. It’s mouth so small yet so present. This one is a shiny metalic black but they come in other colours.

Fear surrounds them, but somehow, we keep them near and close. Too close. Too close for comfort. They feel and look so cold and lifeless. They press against us from time to time, reminding us that they’re forever hiding in the shadows.

Their sounds are almost undetectable, however, we know when they move. What’s their real motivation for hanging around us so freely? Don’t they have a better place to belong? I’m sure they could be part of a carrier system or help fit a cover somewhere. But, no, they are here and this one in particular is draining the colour from my face.

I heard they’re a major killer around the world, more than wars ever cleansed away life on Earth, or was that something else? I stare down at it. The fly. The dreaded evil fly. It’s red. That’s the last time I catch myself in the fly.

Embers

Something is fluttering and refusing to stay still. It grips hold of my attention and drowns out the conversation in the room. My eyes are looking but I’m not seeing. I find my mouth making the sound of agreement but inside I’m dancing, somewhere else. I twitch a little in my eye, but my focus won’t return. In my world, I’ll remain here until the next pat on my shoulder. Don’t disturb these moments. Let me bask in my imagination. Reality doesn’t want me anyway.

You’re welcome.

You have no idea what I had to trade with the devil for that. No problem. Not a worry. My pleasure. Don’t mention it. It was nothing. Nothing makes me happier. Happy to help you. You are so welcome. Welcome, anytime. Anytime you need help, ask me. I am glad it helped you. I’ll count on your vote for the next election. I’m sure you’d have done the same for me. You’re welcome. You would have done the same if you were in my shoes. Sure. I’m happy to be of assistance. Happy to be of service. Sure thing. No big deal. The feeling is mutual. That’s why good friends do. I’m glad that you’re satisfied. You’ll get my bill by the morning. Oh, stop it, you! The invoice is on the way. You deserve it. It’s just a token of my appreciation. After all, it was my privilege. It was my honour to have helped. I’m just returning a favour. Let me know if I can help you in the future.

If only you had said thank you.

You’re welcome.

You have no idea what I had to trade with the devil for that. No problem. Not a worry. My pleasure. Don’t mention it. It was nothing. Nothing makes me happier. Happy to help you. You are so welcome. Welcome, anytime. Anytime you need help, ask me. I am glad it helped you. I’ll count on your vote for the next election. I’m sure you’d have done the same for me. You’re welcome. You would have done the same if you were in my shoes. Sure. I’m happy to be of assistance. Happy to be of service. Sure thing. No big deal. The feeling is mutual. That’s why good friends do. I’m glad that you’re satisfied. You’ll get my bill by the morning. Oh, stop it, you! The invoice is on the way. You deserve it. It’s just a token of my appreciation. After all, it was my privilege. It was my honour to have helped. I’m just returning a favour. Let me know if I can help you in the future.

If only you had said thank you.

Reflection

Looking back, I find myself looking forwards. The old ways fade to new. Before I know it, I’ve slept a day, a week, a month and a year away. Interrupted by excuses and delayed by new procrastination at every turn, I look to push away the future and hold on to the past. They tell me change is good but I’m less adaptable than I care to admit. That is, when I’m not lying to myself or hiding my head in the sand.

Time slips away. Here I am, turning from sunrise to sunset, and all I see is clouds. The moonlight calls me and breakfast rooseter calls fall on deaf ears. I seek solace as torture creeps along the end of the bed. A howl of snapping dogs in despair. They jump around excited that my fate is but a momentary slip of strength away. They call out to me. I’m too withdrawn to answer.

There’s a light flickering and refusing to cease. A ray broke through the overhead gloom. Ripples in water reflect and shine as I glance from the edge of the murky water. Should I sink or swim? These are my choices. I’m more eunuch to society than life is to a stone. I cast a wandering wonder and drift away. Life to death is a door that I dread, yet I know the door is gently creaking open. Not yet. Not now. No thanks.