SPOTLIGHT: The Mountain Where Nothing Happens by Thomas Helm


Oak trees.
Clang of bell.
Sculpting light.
And forest everywhere,
A blue-smoked sea of green.

The Mountain hums with breeze.
With cliffs of gold and grey,
Their barest faces shining in the sinking sun.

And then the silver cup of moon
Whose cup is never big enough
For solitude.

Old tomes emerge.
Dogs barking in the mind.
Knowing them means
Knowing the ways of confusion.

Confusion, you spin such endless threads.
How can we love your work without misgiving?


The morning sleek with emptiness.
To rise and praise the day and sing
With eggs
And thistled suns and pale flowers.
The names are never learnt.
Why should they have a name?
Does affirmation need precision?

Crown shyness is
Two trees growing into one another.
Never completely merging,
They leave some space
For light to reach
The lower branches.

The pink flowers look like waterwheels.
The tortoiseshell cows are slowly moving boulders.
They swish their tails.

Behind those glassy eyes
The life-force gleams.
They chew their cuds.

The pain of walking twenty miles
Over wooded hills
Is mostly felt in
The back and legs.

A body is
A suffering machine.
Every hiss of hunger, chill, and thirst,
And fear.

Satiation lasts a second.
The skybound wave must fall.
A voice of wanting things remains.
A voice that draws the life-force in
To things that crumble.
The pulse is hot with bleeding.


The Mountain’s psychological.
Climbing the slopes of fear and craving
Requires a discipline.

The summit leads to higher summits.
The work’s continual.

Life is not a question of doing but knowing.
Doing is just a tool for knowing.

Sometimes going up means going down.
Up and down: projections of the mind.
A fall can launch the rise of something great.
A rise can end with disappointment.
In all things, whether up or down,
Left or right,
We cannot avoid ourselves.

The heavy presence drinks the page.

If there are no destinations,
There are no false turns,
No slow or fast,
No right or wrong:
Only peace or conflict.

The moss-encircled eyes of beech
Have ivy on their brows.
Centuries old,
Their roots amaze beneath the soil.
Their slowness is a font of youth
Their hands are held by wind.
These beings creak, but never move.
Perhaps motion is just another
Burden to endure.

Their branches, swaying in the gale,
Wait for storms to pass.

Thoughts are quick but life is slow,
The universe infinitely so.

Why run when you can walk?
Why walk when you can crawl?
Why crawl when you can stop?

Even as you start to doubt
The wind has blown the old world on.

One day a wormhole will devour the earth.
Deadliness will triumph.

As a young man, one labours in silence.
As an old man, one rests in silence.
As a dead man, one lives in silence.

Two white birds fly by
The rocky path
And sing among the unseen boughs,
The curling leaves,
The sniffling animals.
They fly where no-one flies.
Praise them, who live to sing,
Unfurling timeless wing
In shadows thick and green.

The hardest part of hiking’s not the cold
Or wet or never-ending Mountain but
The mind.

Loneliness is grief.
In the city, distractions everywhere,
One buries grief
In books and dreams.
In the Mountain,
Silence can be harsh.

Words, books, operas,
Works of art, philosophy:
A luscious forest
At the foot of a balding Mountain.
It’s pleasant roaming through this forest.
But when you climb,
You always climb alone.
Too many books will hold you back.
The paintings ruin in the snow.

Contrary to popular belief,
Austerity is not about renunciation
But satisfaction with less.

What is the cause of agitation?
Obsession with either a pleasing
Or a displeasing object.

Each of us possess a perfect centre,
Untouched by love, by hate, by time,
By earth, by joy, by sorrow.

Life improves when we
This perfect centre
As ultimate reality.


A single drop can save a life.
Water is everywhere
And yet people are thirsty.

Birdsong in the morning.
Rumble of traffic behind the hill.
The hissing pot of tea.
The coals of last night’s fire.
Mind alert.

Solitude is both a luxury and a challenge,
An invitation to a Mountain climb.

The magic sound of water bursting through
The driest slope.
Hidden among the beech,
You share your life with everything.

When you stop, restlessness occurs.
You were so busy lusting after destinations,
The nothing’s overwhelming.

On this Mountain where nothing (and everything) happens,
The mantras of nothing (and everything)
Weave the everyday.
Movement is just the surface-play of emptiness.
Speech, a circling back to silence.

The bugs buzz round the stream.
Where silver rocks were thrown, many eons ago,
By reckless gods.
They landed here, serene.

Back pains don’t subside.
The Mountain takes the toll.

The steps to peace are never separate.
They flow together, bring you dreaming with them.

Tranquillity is putting on a jumper
When you’re cold.
Insight is building shelter.

Fear can happen unexpectedly.
Hearing the clang of bells near the tent.
What if the farmer’s driving his herd?
What if the farmer sees the tent?
What are the penalties for camping?
Will the world attempt to crush this happiness?
Is the farmer of a generous or pedantic disposition?
Will he turf me off this land?
Will he call the police?
Will they imprison me?
Perhaps he’ll fire his gun.
How much money do I need to pay them off?

So many questions spiral from the simple act
Of hearing cowbells in the darkness.
The cows themselves are harmless.

Night has come. The bells continue ringing.
Sometimes the best things happen when you stop.

White moths circle the tent.

There is no-one.


A foggy dawn.
Time spreading through the world
Like misted waves of light.

Old fears return.
Why are you here?
What are you doing with this life?
There’s only one.

The paths are complicated.
Why not turn back?
What if you missed something important?
But there’s no destination.
The river sings.
The clouds have gone.
Cerulean sky.

Preparing for disappointment is
The wrong approach.
Satisfaction with less
Precludes disappointment.
No café, no shop, no restaurant,
In the only village for miles.
It did not matter.

This path feels less like evolution than
Though maybe clarification
Is a form of evolution.

Dry slopes are hard to climb,
Without natural support for life.

Definition of despair:
An ancient forest where you
Intended to camp no longer exists:
Sadness and tire tracks everywhere.

Excitable natures precipitate disaster by themselves.

No-one, not even himself,
Could see the pied piper was mad.
His rules were passed
From dream to dream,
A socially acceptable form of blindness.

These flies in your eyes
Are more peaceful than
The secret abattoirs
That city folk have hidden from themselves.


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