Archives‎ > ‎Issue Ten‎ > ‎

Wendy Stern



Every breath

An opportunity

For wakefulness,

Every moment

An opportunity

For stillness,

For kindness,

For change.


Just for a while,

Just for a day or two,

An hour or two,

I was lost to you,

Turned my back on you.


Just for a while,

Just for a time or two,

A moment or two,

Life held

Too many threatening consequences,

Too many to bear.


And as the feeling heightened

And the darkness intensified

I saw a sight

So hellish

As to make me shudder,

As to make me cover my eyes:


Life without you.



Empty meaningless function

After empty meaningless function,

Every day,

Empty function after empty function

Tied to

Condition, existence,

Bound to mundanity,

So tightly, so tightly

As to make my wrists and ankles burn,

Make them bleed.


And in that moment of seeing,

And in that moment of knowing,

As I raised my hands

To protect my eyes,

And as I shook my head

In cold aversion

And disbelief

At the world I had glimpsed,

You came to me,

As if to hold my very being,

And you turned me around,

Turned me around,

And I was returned to you...


All in a moment or two.


Every breath

An opportunity

For wakefulness,

Every moment

An opportunity

For learning,

For deepening,

For gratitude.



To the Buddha


May I devote my life to learning from you.

I may be slow, I will stumble,

But if I use my breath to move closer to you,

And if I use my mind to glimpse you,

And if I use my heart to

Soften to you,

Then perhaps I will achieve

Some moments

Free from, and beyond,

These ever-turning realms

In which we are embedded,

And some change,

At least,

To this being, this form,

That lies here.



Wendy is a Buddhist and poet living in Bristol, in the west of England. For many years she has been completely bedridden, and her poetry therefore comes from an unusual perspective.

Writing poetry is Wendy’s passion and her only form of creativity and self-expression. Her work is produced without the capacity to look at text, to write or to use a laptop. Dictating the poems and then editing them aurally takes an immense amount of energy and concentration.