For over fifteen years he has been in loco parentis (or Poetry Father) for the Poetry Society's Young Poets Award writing week at one of the Arvon Foundation's writing centres.

Zen and the Art of Peeling an Orange

For the first two years of your apprenticeship
you will study and practice eighteen hours a day, 
steeping yourself in shade, texture and scent. 

Weigh the fruit in your hand. Acknowledge
its excellence, forgive it its blemishes. Meditate
upon its prior manifestations: cockroach, emperor,
grain of sand. Enter its spirit. Pray for its soul.

With your front teeth make an incision either side
of the five-pointed disc where it was torn
from its mother-tree. Relish the zest. 
Insert your thumbnail, trimmed
to a chisel point. Execute a spiral peeling.

At first, your crude mudras may either puncture
a protective membrane, spilling the lifeblood
of its segment of flesh, or detach
a sliver of peel the size of a small coin, leaving
the rest in place. Possibly, they will do both. 

After a further five years of endeavour
you will be able to remove the skin intact
with a single sweep of either thumb, creating
a crude replica of the Bodhnath stupa
at Bhadgaon, festooned in streamers of pith.

Finally, as a Maharapurusa, you will, in the space
of the beat of a humming bird's wing, create
a living orange Buddha, complete with urna, 
toenails and genitalia, umbilical cord pulsing.

You will place the shorn globe in your palm.
As you tug on a single strand of pith
the remainder will unravel like an old sweater. 
One tap and the segments will topple, 
naked as babies, to form the Dharmachakra.


Tending His Memory