Wellspring Parau Retreat

The land with stand of kauri, crown of copper leaves
(That rests on brow of Parau headland), weaves
From understory and undergrowth, a cloak
Of green that drapes on shoulders, gentle slopes
(The cloth of rimu, kahikatea, miro, and ponga grows,
Harakeke flax and grasses fall like fringe below,
Nearly touching where rocky toes reach into the sea,
Mighty Manukau’s tidal waters keep soles of the feet clean).
And in the soft cloak’s embrace is warmed the heart – those
Drawn to take a part in (what the future only knows
Will be achieved) – the path of Wellspring Parau Retreat.


Yesterday we sat on cushions
Underneath a tree.
Cake and chocolate muffins we ate
And conversed with cups of tea.

Today I looked at an illustrated book of poems
By the mystic Rumi.
Almost every Islamic image was of figures
Bent at the knee.

In apple orchards or garden courtyards these lovers
Met in beauty.
Adorations in every gesture whether serving
Food or poetry.

Their garments flowed into the earth via
The cloth at their feet.
Bowls and pots and cups and plates were rocks
In an embroidered stream.

In the undergrowth of plants around might crouch
A hare unseen.
Or peer behind a distant bough a deer
As though paying heed.

For still were the minds in such sunlit glades
In such a ceremony.

Good Men At Large

(in the spirit of Leonard Cohen)


You see them in conversation,
With open gestures and open hearts.
They’re generous with their attention.
The talking flows: it’s no fits and starts.

The defences are done,
It’s a heartfelt sound,
This dialogue has no camouflage. Watch out –

There’s good men at large.

They’re standing in their power,
Steady eyes and feet on the ground.
Their bodies are like a watchtower.
And their hearts they shine all around.

They’re sovereign kings
But they don’t need to bring
A bunch of followers or no entourage. Watch out –

There’s good men at large.

They’re speaking their truth in relationship,
Their voices gentle, kind and strong.
In their loving, it’s not a dictatorship.
They like to listen; they don’t speak too long.

They’re honest and open,
It’s what their women were hopin’
Was the truth – there’s no need for espionage. Watch out –

There’s good men at large.

These men are generous lovers.
They like to touch, be tender, and smile.
They’re sensitive when under the covers.
And they’re straight-up; there’s no need for guile.

But they’re not P.C.
When they see a sexy
Woman, they like to look at her decolletage. Watch out –

There’s good men at large.

These men are fierce, with clear boundaries.
They’re warriors and not a walk-over.
With a fiery spirit, they defend with ease/
With a spark, a flame, or supernova.

Like a spitfire plane,
They’re true with their aim.
There’s a tally of scores on the fuselage. Watch out –

There’s good men at large.

These pioneering men are changing the times.
You wouldn’t know it if you watched the T.V.
But if you’re out on the land, you would see the signs,
At the gathering: GOTC

Get Off The Concrete!
Don’t be a donkey!
If you’re thirsty, try it, it’s not a mirage. Watch out –

There’s good men at large.

Feb 2012

The Holy Masculine

Bagpiper stands at the top of a hill,
And he’s calling to his clan:
I’ll find my art and perfect this craft,
Til I know the holy masculine.

And a poet prays til he falls silent,
And trusts his words again.
Then writes of things that touch his heart,
Til he knows the holy masculine.

And both alone they travel home,
To communities of other men.
To play their songs and share their words,
And embrace the holy masculine.

16 Favourite Moments of the 1998 Summer Gathering

Leading three sweatlodges then being part of one by Danyo.
His spiritual name in English is White Mountain which I saw he is.
He’s a pipe carrier for his people. He’s been a sundancer for twelve years.
They pierce their chests with hooks and dance hung from the world tree.
He says it takes some of the suffering away from the women who give birth.
In the lodge he called the women the life-givers, men the protectors.

Rochelle doing Huna Bodywork Healing on me on her table in the tipi.
The grief and wounding that surfaced stimulated a visionary experience.
Releasing Catholicism, Jesus / martyrdom mythology, I was in the dream.
On a cross so lonely so realistically yet aware of her on the ‘outside’.
Sensing how I was trapped and moving warm energy against my skin.
Taking me by quiet storm til I was so warm and safe within.

Jason coming out in his wheelchair all the way in the mobility taxi.
Being carried by four people in his chair up to the chicken shed longdrop.
The longdrop was the highest point of the Gathering land.
Lots of joking and cheering about carrying the king to his throne.
Later in the big tipi with the drummers and dancers around the fire.
Jason’s request: Cody and I took turns holding him up so he could dance.

Down at the stream at dusk, some people standing ankle deep in the water.
My torch joins theirs as we hold them like cups upright shining from below.
In watery shadows slides an eel lazily tracing a line sideways.
Embarrassed at my ignorance of such matters, I turn caution into bravery.
With an ‘O’ of finger and thumb, I let the eel slide forwards like a condom.
Sometimes I held it forward of halfway, and we both backed up in fright.

Lying in a field of enjoyment under the duvet in my tent, gladly exhausted.
In such a high state of consciousness I ‘dreamed myself’ into visions.
Impossible four-dimensional landscapes like continuous fruiting on trees.
And at the bamboo kitchen, some favourite women are singing so juicy.
Impossible to visualize, rolling raunchy with the ‘Funky Chicken’.
The desire of wanting to witness what I am already intimately influencing.

Andy’s in Auckland to do a 10-day Vipassana meditation retreat.
The centre is in Kaukapakapa not far from where the Gathering is held.
Being at the same time, I’m naturally disappointed he’s not here instead.
But my other two brothers bring him out on the Sunday before his starts.
I’m swimming at the time so I’m not tempted to play tourist guide.
Instead we four of us jump off the bank and feel like kids again.

The sweatlodge still wasn’t built after the first week of the Gathering.
The previous year, the site had been left in disrepair; the coverings rotted.
Musing again at its fate, I saw firewood stacked in the old rock pit.
Everyone had agreed the children could have a campfire here, Doug said.
The sacred site was cleansed by kid’s laughter and toasted marshmellows.
The next day a large lodge was built: in darkest night the people entered.

Older men aren’t blessing younger men much anymore, Bly had said.
Elsewhere I’d heard that younger men weren’t apprenticing themselves.
Max asked a circle of ‘good men’ to join he and his son Willow in the tipi.
We honoured Willow for the journey into manhood he was making.
Sharing what it meant to be a man, we spoke of what we recognised late:
The support of men, and how we wished we’d had Willow’s fate.

Finding the power place for the closing ceremony on Saturday.
On the other side of the stream, a clearing between the three largest trees.
Coming together again as a smaller circle: where were all the men?
Each person standing before the group framed by the two big trees.
Being told of their qualities, the growth some had noticed over this time.
The image was of taking the gathering inside to pour ‘out there’ again.

The wonderfully contentious process around drugs and alcohol.
Buttons getting pushed, flare-ups and walk-outs, my meditations on Yin and Yang.
Gerd’s offer at the morning circle after three days of drama and dramas.
He puts a beer bottle on the altar where everyone’s offerings were arranged.
More laughter when Simon opens it to pass round for the alcohol-lovers.
Half-way around Gerd in his turn pours it out on the ground “for the others”.

Getting a sweatlodge together a little belatedly, Skins and Ben agree to help.
They take on Firekeeping with lots of wood to gather, chop, and split.
Later Skins says he has to clear with me about something a few days ago.
We reach an impass so he says he and Ben are no longer available.
I make the fire, crossing a poster of five bikers that’s been placed there.
In the circle next day Skins says he appreciates how I “got it together”.

I do a half-day in silence, an note taped on my tee-shirt.
Later I’m wandering naked as such a joyful innocent, so safe.
Where ‘Steve’s Cafe’ opens out from the Totara grove there’s a tent.
In a dome cubicle of soft bedding sits Corinna who I haven’t met.
All smiles and elfin eyes she lets me come close like a silent pet softly.
She shows me photo albums of her bus parked in different places.

Finding myself an older man among teenagers doing a sweatlodge.
Often in their company I act the suave runaway from responsibility.
Here I tell them of tradition and honouring, people and process.
In the third round the young men are still braving it with their philosophy.
Warm sound and silence resounds when I invite the women to speak.
“We’re a swimming pool”. And another:”a soft penis in a warm vagina”.

The talking stick suffered a variety of applications in the circle.
Gerd and I raced for it once, no, twice I confess, once in the tipi.
In the marquee I handed it to him before he could finish explaining.
In the tipi I held both the male and female, and offered him the male.
He witnessed my love, but took the female, and we jolly-sailored like boys.
Moustache-twirlers, like the counterplay of complements/compliments.

“If I can’t hug you here, I couldn’t hug you anywhere”, I told Henry.
He was sitting at Gerd’s cafe, and I just knew that I must ju-jitsu him.
Sure enough, he was only at the Gathering for five minutes.
I pushed past to his chair while Agnes gave me a wry smile.
Henry and I haven’t had much to say to each other for a while.
Now he thanks me for minding Zowie but tells me to use tongs for the food.

Corrina’s eyes are every colour, but her nose stud’s turquoise-green.
It picks up the eye-green like fishes in two ponds of colourful lilies.
Going gaga enough to tell her something like this I mention iridology.
“An iridologist’s dream, your eyes”, and the bit about the guy down in Golden Bay.
He took close-ups of his eyes and put them on sticks in the garden.
Like seed-packet posts showing what he was growing and guarding.