Posts tagged ‘breath’


The Breath of Ghosts

Across cultures, the equating of ghosts and breath is a constant, apparent in language, in ritual and in belief systems. In a number of the stories which make up “Ghosts and Other Tales”, breath plays an important role.  But why breath, when a ghost is – surely – beyond breathing?

Breath in normal circumstances is invisible. It takes cold and damp conditions to render it visible. And yet this barely extant phenomenon is the vital force of a living being. In that breath are the memories, the fears, the loves and – literally – aspirations of a human being.

In meditation one focusses on the breathing. It is the force which signifies living in its most visceral sense. The meditator concentrates on the mechanics of breathing, to center their being, to become aware (in a higher sense) of their life and living. As an act, it encapsulates what it means to be alive. It focusses and calms the mind. Such a powerful, and yet simple, force keeps every one of us alive. It is not too surprising therefore that of all elements of the living being, breath should be viewed as an essential component in so many understandings of spirit.

Nonetheless, it is curious that something so obvious, so real and so human as breath could find itself paired with an aspect of life considered “esoteric”, “mysterious” and “unknown”. This may be down to how people have difficulty comprehending blurred and hazy boundaries. Liminal states – for example, marshes, the shoreline, evening/dawn, ruined buildings, mist and fog – don’t sit neatly into one category or another. They elicit feelings of confusion, rejection and fear. They remind us of our own dissolution. And so it is with breath. It is neither of us, nor “out there”. It is our intermediate self. It inhabits us, and we project it. It both belongs to us and to the world. Breath is therefore the perfect locus for our spirit selves, both real and metaphorical.

We are breathing creatures in life. Is it so outlandish to imagine we might continue so afterwards?


A Breath (A Stream) – video poem



A video poem of the piece A Breath (A Stream). This video poem was filmed in the summer of 2013, and is of the upper reaches of the River Wharfe (Yorkshire Dales National Park, England).

It is one of a series of video poems made to accompany my 14 line poetry.


The words for the poem can be found in this collection (below).


A Breath (A Stream)


The simple contact of the stream,

A touch of ice which fell as rain

And soaked the paws of hunting wolves.

A mix of mists condensed on ferns.


The breath of trees through ancient leaves

Which hid a thousand goshawk nests,

And oaks on oaks have hidden more,

And added streams to other streams.


Around the fish the waters flow,

And through the water spectrum’s bend,

And in those prisms histories meld,

And through those pasts the fish still breathe.


I run my fingers through the stream,

And all is now, and always was.




In the Air


You lead me through the lives of stars,

Encircle all who wish to see.

You slip through time, you link and bind.

You light the deep and endless blue.


Your revelations never cease:

On moonless nights you show the way;

In caves your luminescence shines;

On forest floors you mark the trails.


You hold me as I fall apart,

And cradle all my fading sparks.

You gather up the thoughts of me,

And place them on the tops of trees.


Your light, which flows through every point,

Connects me to the flux of life.


linked up to the great:  Poets United



A Last Rose


The circling point of dark distils

Around a single opening flower.

Its petals touch the edge of night,

A fragile archway through the stars.


This moment in its simple pain:

A pointless mark, a questioned breath,

A finger tracing ‘round a rose,

Then pointing off towards the skies.


And in the mind the scent of springs:

From way before the start of time,

The buds unfurled before the words,

The roses bloomed before the end.


Around the hand the petals fall,

As memories lose their ties to Earth.


Our Time


We let these moments pass us by:

The simple gust, the breeze of dust.

As if the air were empty space,

A different and inhuman place.


Inhale like every other time:

That breath was once in Sappho’s lungs,

In fibres rolled in ancient scrolls,

And mixed with Dreamtime songs and chants.


And Lorca’s final, sand-filled gasp

Is falling now as Autumn rain.

And Rosa’s blood from Landwehr ditch,

Is in the beat of every heart.


We miss the air, as air flows by.

The drops of Lethe have filled our sighs.