Artists gathering in Dordrecht summer 2021


A wild bouquet 
The exotic and the plain
Loosely grouped 
Watered and refreshed
In a huge glass jar
Catching the light

Timeless words cascade 
On shelves as we dine
Join the stream of conversation 
Human and divine
Over flatbread and wine 

Unassuming church bells
Skip tones on the water 
Melt in the air
As bridges rise 
Releasing boats to the sea
We sit, tasting time together

How we have missed all of this

In our Sunday glass house 
Stones are not thrown
Cloudy panes are transparent 
The wilderness looks in
As we see out
Dialogue flows back and forth
Through permeable walls 

A chandelier mirrors our faces
Algae and dirt 
Silver paths traced to the sky
A yellow-toothed piano 
Sits retired in the corner 
Slugs doze on the floor
Rainfall rhythms our song

The flowers and branches
We bring to the table
Leave shadow and light on blue cloth
The natural beauty
Of dust and of glory
Within one another 
Laid bare 

How we have missed all of this



Tu as brisé le silence 
Par la bouche de gens 
Peu fréquentables, de langue barbare
Que nous ne cernons pas
Or, on finit par comprendre
Qu’il faut larguer
Le Dieu qu’on s’est formé
Enfermé par nos mots. 
Alors même
Que l’on entrevoit l’éternité
On comprend 
L’autre, et ce qui l’anime

Oserons-nous abandonner
Nos jeux de pouvoir, nos calculs 
Le chiffrage de nos comptes à rendre
Pointés par nos doigt accusateurs ?
Il nous faudra ouvrir le poing
Lâcher nos acquis.

Tu danses avec le vent
Embrases la surface de nos eaux bien tranquilles 
Pénètres les fissures
De nos incohérences
Fais ressurgir
Le laid, le beau
Pour les placer sous les projecteurs 
De l’amour
Tu portes nos soupirs dans ton souffle
Recouvres nos épaules 
D’un manteau de consolation
Et nous mets en marche


You broke silence to speak 
Through people
From the wrong side of the tracks
Using foreign words we can’t make out
And we somehow apprehend 
That we must quit
The God in our head 
Wrapped in talk
And as we glimpse eternity
We understand 
Where these ‘others’ are coming from

Dare we drop our power-games
Our settling of accounts
Sizing up and finger-pointing
Spreadsheets of checks and balances
Release our grasp on what we have attained?

You dance on the back of the wind
Set fire to our too-calm waters
Plunge into the fissures
Of our inconsistencies
Dredge up the ugly and the beautiful
To place them under
The searchlight 
Of love
Carry our sighs on your breath
Cover us in your coat of consolation
Set us on our feet again



Today this is
A barbed and wounding word
Seated angular and cold
On a shelf way out of reach
However tall the ladder

A comparative word 
Commanding from the heights 
With lists that rule out hope or desire
But that we still conspire to use
Against each other

We brush dirt from our shoulder
Onto the next soul’s arm		
Knowing that we cannot rise
Beyond our definitions
We sit within them

Who will convert this word of ours 
Restore its heart?		
Turn it around, burnish its corners
Until it finds itself again?

The thing of beauty
That bends to mend wounds
Irrigate dry bones 
Blow the dust
From inner houses
And sanctimony
From our souls


Started in the autumn, tweaked in the spring...


Leaves with brown paper veins 
Have succumbed to dry earth 
And the neglect of the sad
For months touched only 
By the movement of dust 
In the rays of an improbable sun

Hope hung heavy
When the world closed down
And the few who were out 
Never looked up
Fear having no time 
For flowers

People drift past again
Eyes fixed on feet
Lest they fall through the cracks
In the ground
Towards the unknown
No star but the present
To guide them

Heather and ferns
Persistent in growth
That thrive on the hills when alone 
And unwatched in the cold
Will sit out these times 
Unconcerned by neglect
Self-contained and serene
As the earth turns
And renews



Roadworks and the anxious
Shout of inner voices
Fills all headroom
With concrete 

Absence of noise 
Dissolves the mortar
Pours back the oxygen
Of liquid air 

Thank God
For the negative space
Where thought
Can be born again

The void between
Elbow and torso sculpting the body
The musical rest bearing sound
On its breath

When the pause lasts

Too long

We fidget in fear, yearn for the note 
That signals the next act

Can the negative space
Of a barren confinement
With no end in view
Give us wings?



There is the silence of air and space 
In which breathing is a momentous act 
And contemplation stretches like a long beach in the sun
Of limitless horizons

There is the muffled deadness which descends
like the padded ceiling of a too-small room 
left windowless to the imagination
which can no longer sing

This is a desperate desert pilgrimage
No stones mark the exit from the valley
Where music is dumb and words fall limp
From the trees: will we ever touch meaning again?

When freedom comes, will we be capable
Of walking out to face beyond ourselves
The sun that burns and dazzles the presumption 
And the poverty of all we thought we knew 

Listen as harmony and dissonance
Converse and rampage in our souls 
Play havoc with our ritual comfort certainties
And call us to the terror of new freedoms 

Or will we turn away and stumble blind
Among the ruins of our childhood building blocks
Forever numb, imagining we can contain
The voice of silence



Your name weighs heavy on the tongue, some days
It has been taken hostage by a foreign power
And rendered unpronounceable
Light years away from those simple lines
Traced in Aramaic on red sand
That say, without pretension, ‘I am here’
Melting the heart of violence 
With forgiveness

Buried under layers of gold leaf
Or dazzling with the neon Vegas touch 
Moulded to fit the fashion of the times
Your name is traded, branded, owned
Nailed to the edifice of certainty
To ward off those you do not love, at all,
As knees bend fast 
To pick up the first stone

Dragged through the mud of our self-interest
The pasted overlay of our imaginings 
Is peeled away by time from all its lettering
Restoring it to barefaced nudity
Which calls out in the core of darkness 
To the poor, defiled and dispossessed

The letters of your name
Sketched out in seeds
Deep-rooted in our soil
Slow-growing into trees with healing leaves
Breathe life into our tired skies
And the windows of our souls.