Stories from the Book of Sunset

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Stories from the Book of Sunset

Post by stuartryder » Sat Feb 22, 2020 9:43 pm

Stories from the Book of Sunset - a Qi Gong reflection

Qi – life-force, breath, energy
Gong – work, effort, exercise


Opening Stance
Drawing The Bow
Stretching The Back
Wild Duck Swimming
Dragon Flying
Bird Spreading Its Wings
Stretching The Abdomen
Hawk Glaring
Stretching The Waist
Wild Goose Flying
Crane Dancing
Exhale With Head Raised
Body Bending
Ending Stance

A Meditation


Opening Stance

After falling into the volcano,
I stand apart from myself
And raise my hands out
In front of my rattling ribs,

Palms upward. Then slowly
I turn them down, and push the qi
Back into my waist. Sweeping
My wrists, I do this three times.

In the brothel the cocks crowed,
The jocks jostled, and I couldn't
Get a conversation flowing.
Burning rubble is glowing

On the mountainside. I come back
To a resting stance. To start the dance
Which is all I have left, my fluidity
And rigidity, in equal measure.

Drawing The Bow

I know with certainty
Where the arrow will plant.
Nonetheless I place my feet apart
And flex my wrists, fingers pointed

Upwards, then leaning towards the target
I focus, then I draw my bow, legs straight, hips.
I release the fletched dart; come back to centre,
To draw again and fire the other way.

In these poised, interstitial frozen moments
Is a conflict, of presence - Present things alone but
Bruised with unchangeable Past and with Future,
Who tickles the feet with promise, but is blind...

No – I must focus, for if my leading arm
Isn't locked on-target, then no matter
How perfectly I hold my equipment,
The arrow will be uncertain.

Stretching The Back

It feels completely logical
To hunch the back and fold the hands inward
While standing on our toes.
That is the way life goes.

I reach out then I pull back,
Brushing my ribs like a xylophone
Played with the lightest touch.
I unfurl again, pushing gradually forward,

Then like a crane in prayer
I hold a shrinking, penitent pose,
Silently saying “I submit myself
And I'm ready to push forward.”

We push forward and our hands
Press all these reflections away,
Into the earth before us, with all its
Compacted strata and wriggling soils.

Wild Duck Swimming

I am leaving the raft. I push away
With my left, webbed foot, sweeping
Wet wings across the surface film,
Iridescent in the dawn sun.

Yet something is drawing me back –
Holding my hips and pulling me
In a way I can’t go any more.
I jerk away to escape their grip,

And I am free! I beat my wings
As high and yearning as possible,
Waddling my fluffy behind
Just out of the water. As I

Prepare to pirouette further
And further away from you,
I shake golden sparkles of water
In all directions but yours.

Dragon Flying

Breathe. Breathe.
I lift my scaly wingtips to my ribs
Then plunge down to the water's edge
And gather up a lotus flower,

Gently, teasing out its shimmering petals.
Hold it there a moment, then I rise up,
Releasing the flower to the skies.
I stretch my wings up, out, my body

Then the downbeat, knees bent,
Attentively folding my limbs to the life force.
I roll my scaly wingtips to my ribs.

In this way I make my steady progress -
A lotus flower; a gift to Heaven; a rebalancing.
The sky turns many shades of blue: cool blue of thin air;
Rich thermal blues; and my dusky flames.

Bird Spreading Its Wings

After the frost I was still frozen,
After the frost, I was still frozen,
After the frost I was still, frozen.
I was still frozen after the frost.

But slowly I stretched my crystallised
Wings, rotated their tips, warming them
In the early Spring sunshine.
After the frost, are we still frozen?

No – I puffed out my chest and drew
My scintillating feathers, then I bent low
And looked forward onto my runway.
I tested the ground and the air

That hung like a veil in front of me.
Then somebody lifted the veil.
And now I lift myself and go.
Leave a white feather for someone.

Stretching The Abdomen

Now I am a mannequin
Trapped in a high street window.
I bend my knees to prove I can,
Drawing my arms in and changing my hands:

One faces to the rear, the other looks upwards,
Reassured, I change them back and straighten,
Then seeking further comfort
I repeat the movement the other way.

And now I am a mime artist, sweeping
My arms past my face, erasing the look
I held so dear and the touch of nose to
Cheekbone. Simultaneously I

Hold up the sky, press down the earth,
Pushing them both away from me. And now
I am a training dummy, rolling
With the punches, coming back to centre.

Hawk Glaring

Fresh from soaring high above the hills
I prepare to land, bringing food
For my two chicks in their white eiderdowns.
I am a hawk, glaring.

I take a deep breath as I come in to land, carefully
So as not to disturb the cliff-side nest,
Placing one talon, balancing it, settling my
Broad wings, like a hawk glaring.

In the translucent valley below me
The jagged silver river continues
Into the mist. After stepping back I take off
Again. I am the hawk glaring,

Blazing a trail through uncharted tracts
With no map save instinct – I will turn
This way then that way, a hawk,
Glaring while farmers call in the rain.

Stretching The Waist

For the first time in years
I am flexible again, able
To push my stomach forward
Using my hands, and then

To drop forward, caressing
My legs down their back-line,
Then softly sweep my arms
To the front, hanging there

For a short eternity… now
I look to the left and now
I collect my fingers from the floor,
Rising slowly back to be me.

I stretch the waist four times,
Left, right, and left, and right.
And now I am standing tall,
Upright. A man again.

Wild Goose Flying

We often, as now, flee
Across the Tyrrhenian Sea
Escaping the boiling plumes
Of Vesuvius, and we form a V.

I'm leading for today,
I tilt my wings and “Look!” I say,
Don't look back yet at the mountain's fumes.
Bring my legs together, tucked away

And then I lead my flock
In tilting our heads towards the shore
Where only minutes before
We first heard the volcano's roar.

It's nearly eight o'clock.
Kicking out again, we drive
Our formation tightly to stay alive.
We cut through the ash like a scythe.

Crane Dancing

We turn away from each other
While our feet face together -
I to your right, you to your left.
Not wanting to look, or

Scared lest our sacred beaks cross.
I lift my wings. Then lower them
Down - intentional hesitation.
Then I lift them back in withdrawal

And, looking behind me,
Push away in each possible
Direction. I hold this for some time
Then I come back to life, but

With feathers flattened in submission
To myself, and eyes coquettishly
Closed. I can only imagine
You are doing the same.

Exhale With Head Raised

But what is Love,
If not a sigh towards the heavens?
Let us take a deep breath,
And lift our arms to the sky.

As we do, we look up at our hands,
Adjust them out like ribbons, shoulders rolling,
And bring them down to our sides.
I cup my ribs then relax, drop my arms

Then we must all straighten everything out,
Take a deep breath, and lift our arms
Like we did before, like we must again
Until the last apple falls from the naked tree.

Later in the evening, green tea burns,
And we inhale, exhale and lift our
Heads towards the heavens.
I let out a little sigh.

Body Bending

The fluidity I sought finally comes:
Left foot forward and raising
The opposite hand, bringing it all back
To the centre, arms up to shoulder

Height then bending the body
Forward to brush the toes,
Then I gather up my qi and
Lift it with my soft palms,

Then release it to its eternal freedom.
Swapping sides we do this again,
All flowing, all soft, all smooth
Like molten lava.

And this is how to survive an erupting volcano:
Body bending, I scull in the boat-shed, waiting for the clouds
To pass by Herculaneum; and we tell each other
Stories from the Book of Sunset.

Ending Stance

This is the ending stance:
Inhale, exhale, raising arms
To bring them back together,
Maybe forever.

This is the ending stance.
We move as one.
The dance goes on,
A deliberate advance.

This is the ending stance:
Feet close in, knees touching,
Fingers clutching at warmed air,
Energy filling everywhere.

This is the ending stance, but
It is the beginning
Of something: an infinitesimal
Qi moment; a freeze of time.


A Meditation

(After each line, closing the eyes, breathing deeply, noticing the thoughts that come and go, then just gently opening the eyes and reading onwards)

Let us remove all our worldly clothing and relax
Head to toe let the tension and movement go
Now visualise a wooden boat on a lake
A small old wooden boat on the edge of a vast lake
The lake so large that no one knows where it flows
The boat just the right size for one person
Just you lying relaxed inside that old small wooden boat
And just starting to notice the colour of the paintwork
And now remembering the name of the old wooden boat
And being aware of the shallows at the edge of the lake
The shallows where the boat is floating and softly rocking
Softly rocking and swaying with the wash of the endless lake's waters
And now just being aware of the passage of other vessels
Some vessels bright and new and noisy and others silent
And just allowing them all to drift on by without a lasting effect
And just come back to yourself in the little old swaying boat
And the nearby shore and the shallow water
And now relaxing away from all the movements
Away from the stepping and stretching and bird postures
And just feeling still and calm with whatever goes on around you
And remembering how some days a distant city buzzes with life
And how some days it is silent and buried in ash
And now just coming slowly back inside your little boat
The old wooden boat that keeps on floating
Even in the face of the erupting Earth it keeps on floating
And now just shrinking the vast lake so it's nothing more than a small pond
And just coming back inside your body with its worldly clothes
And now becoming aware of the everyday things
As you awaken and return to the room


And when you're ready
You can open your eyes, keep them open

Rub your hands together
then run them like a flannel
Over your face

We lift our hands in unison three times
Three times in unison we lower them

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Re: Stories from the Book of Sunset

Post by Poet » Sun Feb 23, 2020 1:18 am

Wow! This was a unique poem, about meditation and stances. Wow I'm impressed.

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