the fallen

the ground beneath is hard and dry
not a place to rest, not a place to lie
this far down was only ever for foraging
wind-rivers here can not carry
but blow dust flurries into eyes
dust rose and settled, glossy black coat undone
reaching into air but finding no purchase
eyes opened blind to the sun
this far down
all horizontal, all solid, all still
body cooling under sun
hard nest of stones and dust
bones and black
sight gone, shine gone

walking home she saw the contrast
black against the blonde ground
small lost body in the dust
she sensed fragility
approached cautiously
blew gently revealing the dull eyes
fingers nested, lifted
warm hands enclosed
one finger stroked away the dust
revealing the shine
compassion carried him away
her quiet voice shared secrets
whispered into tiny ears

she found a box and a doll’s blanket
and made a bed
she lay her black prince to rest
she knew this sleep was forever
there would be no wakening kiss
she tucked the blanket around him
to comfort and protect
a final nest
and blessed him in silence
a small child’s sacrament
a small child’s attempt
to honour the wild world
to care for the fallen

to an only child
anything could become animate
anything could become the voice of her imagination
he was her pet, he was beloved
he was a sleeping prince
a treasure, a secret
a gift from the world she walked in
at one with the raw pure energy of childhood
not yet disconnected

she felt the need to share
this treasure felt too much for one so small to hold
she showed her mother
expecting softness and awe and sensitive respect for her care

the mother snatched the box
threw it in the bin
half-filled with ashes from the coal-range
clouds of grey ash rushed up on impact
then settled slowly over the small black body
this last wind
this last nest
a desecration
a child’s heart broken

looking down
the blackbird thanked her, blessed her, kissed her tears
she would remain known to the birdworld, the greenworld
the elemental consciousness of nature
granted access
and held the thin door open


© Claire Griffin 2016


the earth shifts

The earth shifts –
she stirs to wake me.

This air I breathe –
is your breath.

This land I walk –
is your body.

All that time away,
the image of this land burned
on the back of my eyes.
I saw nothing –
but through the after-image
of mountain, lake, forest, river, sea.

Here now, whole again,
to read the map of my land
to walk my own path.

                 I would be one with you.

© Claire Griffin 2016

We had an earthquake last night –
and I remembered this poem,
written after the first earthquake I felt
after my return to NZ from the UK.



is all I can offer

I hold my hands out
and lying in them
my fallen children
my crafted acts of love
my gifts to you
my words lie crumpled
orphans of war
you forgot them when
you turned to confront me

your words have desecrated
the space between us
I cannot offer mine
I cannot risk losing them
in your wasteland

any words I offered now
would be seeking
your understanding
you cannot give me that

is my only offering
while I am
trying to keep the peace
trying to be peaceful
trying to piece together
the fragments of memory
that I can hold with love

you turned to confront me
I turn away

all I can offer
is silence


© Claire Griffin 2016

This is a companion piece to “screen“.
I wish I didn’t need to keep writing these sad, dark poems
(don’t worry – I won’t be putting them all here).
But for now – they are still helping me to process and understand
a significant relationship, myself, my past.

a list of truths and lies – revealed

A list of truths and lies – I’m wondering now about the information I chose to share, and the lies I chose to tell – one is definitely an unfulfilled wish.


a list of posts

I tried this list with a couple of friends as well – people who haven’t known me for long – so they don’t know all my history. So interesting to discover what others think might be my truths, my lies – how the person they know now influences their ideas about the person I used to be – that in itself is material for a whole lot of thinking 🙂

This is an effective process for reflecting on the past, bringing back memories, recalling wishes – part nostalgia, part self-discovery – realisation of just how far I’ve come.

Thanks to those who shared their guesses. Now – time to reveal my lies.

  1. I am an only child (true)
  2. I have three tattoos (its a lie – but I’m thinking about it)
  3. I’ve worked as a graphic designer (true – when I took off from NZ and landed in London I was lucky to quickly “fall into” a job with a wonderful classic designer – I learnt such a lot working with him)
  4. I’ve read “Ulysses” cover to cover (its a lie – Ulysses is one of those books I thought I ought to read – tried the first few pages – but just couldn’t stick with it – maybe its time to try again)
  5. I didn’t go to university until my 30s (true – I hated high school/college – and wanted to get as far away from schooling as possible – I left knowing I was intelligent – but no way of “proving” it since I failed nearly every exam in sight – I had become cynical and disillusioned by the “system” – the irony of what I’ve ended up doing the last few years isn’t lost on me)
  6. I’ve only ever been to one rugby game (true – and it was possibly the most boring experience of my life – I made the mistake of going along with something a guy wanted to do instead of saying “hmm – no”)
  7. I used to drive a big Toyota Landcruiser (true – so great for making other drivers get out the way – and for surprising people when I jumped out of my old truck in my gorgeous girly prime)
  8. I got my drivers licence on the first attempt (its a lie – from memory it took three attempts to pass the practical – I was too young, too nervous)
  9. I wanted to be a psychologist or a vet when I was a teenager (true – but this was before I discovered how much maths was involved, and how my brains turned to porridge when faced with exams – see number 5)
  10. I’ve seen “Stalker” by Tarkovsky three times, and enjoyed it (true – what more can I say – this film is very slow – and friends I persuaded to watch it with me have been less than impressed – but it has some of the most beautiful scenes I’ve ever seen – it keeps drawing me back)
  11. I can bake bread without a bread-maker machine, and you would want to eat it (true – my first few attempts were more like bricks – good for door stops – but I couldn’t really cook anything back then – I tried again a few years ago and now I can bring these rounded, crispy crusted golden loaves out of the oven and into the world – to be sliced and slathered with butter)
  12. I used to develop my own black and white photographs back in the days of film (true – I would take over the kitchen – black curtain over the window – working in the dark using touch to feed the film from camera to light-proof tank, and then working in red-light exploring enlargement and cropping and focus and exposure – and getting lost in the magic watching a print develop.


Perhaps you would like to try this… I’d be happy to guess your lies 🙂



a list of truths and lies

So – I’ve been looking at some of the posts where people have been making lists – such a variety of possibilities. I’m fascinated with just how interesting a list can be.


a list of posts

I remembered the icebreaker game “Two Truths and a Lie” and thought this might be fun to try. Though I think we might need more than two truths to make it interesting, so I’m going to push this out to 9 truths and 3 lies – just because.

I’ll be interested to see which of the following you think are my truths and which are my lies.

  1. I am an only child
  2. I have three tattoos
  3. I’ve worked as a graphic designer
  4. I’ve read “Ulysses” cover to cover
  5. I didn’t go to university until my 30s
  6. I’ve only ever been to one rugby game
  7. I used to drive a big Toyota Landcruiser
  8. I got my drivers licence on the first attempt
  9. I wanted to be a psychologist or a vet when I was a teenager
  10. I’ve seen “Stalker” by Tarkovsky three times, and enjoyed it
  11. I can bake bread without a breadmaker machine, and you would want to eat it
  12. I used to develop my own black and white photographs back in the days of film


I’ll reveal all in a week or two.

the listener

Version 2
she listens
sitting quietly
feet floored
being present
giving space
giving time
waiting for the words to circle
find their place
tell their story

she listens
she waits
sees through the confusion
and the pain
asks questions
offers thoughts
that draw me forward
and bring me home

she listens
and I am heard
every word she allows
to float around her
gives me strength
every word she hears
rebuilds me

by being heard
these words
are given weight and value
and as they settle
they are reformed
and rearranged

a story told
a new understanding

she listens
and I hear myself
in her silence

© Claire Griffin 2016

reflection on 3 day quote challenge

Re-reading these three quotes – I notice they have something in common – the theme of “entering”.

Light enters through the crack, in the words of the songwriter, revealing beauty in imperfection.

Fox enters the dream and mind of the poet, a visceral metaphor representing the imaginative, creative process.

Colour and love enter the painter’s room, bringing memory and inspiration.


Interesting… I wonder what I would discover if I chose three more quotes – but I’d need to put the idea of a common theme out of mind. It could easily influence my choices.