Yule bLog2016#12: above my desk

It’s been another busy day and I don’t have the energy to write a full post so I will give you another glimpse into the world that hovers around the desk where I write.

I have always surrounded myself with inspiring bits and bobs. Talismans that set up a positive energy field around my place of work. Most people do, given half a chance. It might be photographs: of family, loved ones, places you love. It might be a team scarf, trophies, posters, funny postcards.

For the past few years, my talismans have been pretty constant. I have already shared two: Chief Seattle’s Letter and Wendell Berry’s Mad Farmer poem – both pleas for a different world-view: more holistic, environmental, Nature focused.

The third one is different. It is the one I’ve had the longest. Some words written by hand on a scrap of paper:


I am rowing/

I am rowing against your life/

I am rowing/

I split into countless rowers/

To row more strongly against you/

I am rowing against your days.

Henri Michaux (1899-1984)

raw acts of psychic ill will


I am not sure where this piece of paper came from but I have kept hold of it for over a decade, nearer two.

So, I did some research. Turns out it is a fragment of a much longer poem. It is a very good poem but it is a very scary poem. It is powerful and I am wary of releasing its power by posting it in its entirety. But I encourage you to search it out for yourself. Just put Henri Michaux I am rowing into a search engine. It is a remarkable piece of work – a relentless outpouring of what seems to be cold hatred and bile. Michaux called it a hex poem. It is conceived as a spell, an incantation. It certainly reads like one. But, chillingly venomous as it is, it was not written to cause harm to another. Michaux said that its function was to take the energy held by an enemy against you and turn it into energy that you could use yourself – to make something positive out of something negative.

Which was precisely how I have used the fragment. As a spell to give me the strength to push on under adversity.

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