A cold, dark, wintery night

Posted on January 12, 2020

It’s a cold, dark, wintery night.

The wind tears furiously around my isolated, ancient, wooden cabin. Rain spatters staccato on the roof. Somewhere in the distance, a poor dog, tied up cruelly outside, howls his abandoned loneliness. My old pooch, by comparison, is snoring peacefully (and rather loudly) beside me on the carpet. Cozy-comfortable, and secure, trusting in my affection. We are best buds.
My thoughts, simple as they are, roam free.
The Universe is my playground.

I’m rather partial to old poets. I often feel that these thousand year gone bards have much to teach me. If only, I, the dull one, would open my tiny, rather ‘dugged’, obstinate, mule mind.
Take Han-Shan, or ‘Cold Mountain’. He may have passed (doubtless, cheerfully so) on to the Universe more than a millennium ago, and he may not have been the most erudite, refined, bells-and-whistles, rhyming man that ever scribbled on a rock. Or a wall. Or a tree. As he was fond of doing. But he radiates something I enjoy. Mischief, for sure. Dry wit. And a very honest insight into the human condition. How often has he left me thinking:
“Ha! Nothing changes!”
When he tells us how he feels, it’s as if he is sitting beside us. Enjoying my modern recliner, perhaps, fresh from marveling at my toaster. (and using up a whole sliced loaf, just for fun, to see the toast reliably pop up every time).

Sitting alone, I keep slipping away
far off with the cares of my heart
clouds wander by the mountainside
wind rushes out the valley
gibbons swing from the trees
birds call through the forest
time slips past my temples
year end finds me old with regrets.

Han-Shan, carefully read, gives us an insight into the human condition. He is funny, witty, dry, wistful, and longing. And well aware of the foibles of his race. Along with the poems of  ‘Stonehouse’, born in 1272 in China, we receive a mental image of an oft repeated Absurdity, that Man, generationally, insists on slavishly following.

In a dry five minutes, I once wrote, tongue-in-cheek, the following:

I am the pin ball
In the machine
Paddled by forces
Seldom seen
Invisible fingers
Plot my way
At their mercy
I ricochet.


My Editor, much to my astonishment, included it in “Moggy’s Musings”. On reflection, I suspect Han-Shan, once shown a pinball machine, would approve of that imagery. (That would be, unfortunately, when he’s done and finished experimenting -dangerously- with my now smoking microwave).
In their quiet mockery of purple robes, and court intrigues, their wonder at people who labor incessantly for unreliable riches, only to be reliably buried every time, we see echoes of our consumerist, short-viewed, mass grab society. At times they poke gentle fun. At other times, you sense they grow weary. And are happy to retreat away from the world of the Red Dust, to the Quiet and Comfort of Nature.
Trees, as we know, filter out stupidity. Any man who has heard the ephemeral music of the wind through pines, and not been arrested in his tracks, is much in need of Han-Shan and Stonehouse.

Some times poets, or pestiferous scribblers, touch, with few words, on something that resonates. Perhaps. A weariness, with the incessant fighting?

I’ll come around, from time to time
Fill the slot with my worn dime
Play the juke box with some zeal
Pretend it’s all a pukka deal.        

But somewhere in my tiny mind
And I don’t mean to be unkind,
             I crave a refuge, hidden, still                    
           Away from Man and all his ill.                 

If I could travel past our Sun    
beating Light and having fun

Would I turn around a lot
To ponder, wistful, our Blue Dot?

Or would I be content to stray     
Far beyond the Milky Way
And never wish to hear again
This strange cacophony of Men.


Elsewhere I describe all sorts of my relentless stupid. There’s been so much of it, I have barely written down a fraction. From the accidental super low ripcord pull, after a two man link-up in free fall, to endlessly trying to nail that perfect vertical roll cum hammerhead in a variety of biplanes, to endless hours underneath the steady drumming of rotating blades, to moving furtively with a loaded weapon at night, wondering, breathlessly, heart-in-mouth, which shadow just moved, life has been one long discovery. Of Man, Nature, the Beast. And, often, most terrifying of all, of Self.

But what, were my best moments?
They were not caught in the midst of adrenaline or violence, storm or shipwreck. If I ever came close to some kind of understanding, it was in Quiet Moments. “Starry, starry Night” (Blip on the Radar, #14) is still one of my favorites. It makes zero claim to any literary merit. It was just raw honest.


But excuse me, I have to go urgently attend to my honored, much esteemed guest. Han-Shan.

“Han-Shan, Sir! No! That’s my GUN CABINET!  You don’t understand. It’s loaded. No play! It’s not like the toaster! Don’t TOUCH!


(aw, sh*t)


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