Voice Poems


By Tony Page

October - November 2001






Take a Wish Walk



Take a wish walk

Today. Right now

Through the tall


Empire you work in



Take a left fork

At reception

Past the smile talk


Through the back of house



Wear your spectacles

To see close up

All the obstacles


We all endure



Sense pent-up feelings

Heavy silence..

.. masked, concealing..


Covering what we want



Start to wish for

Something lifting

Feel it, believe it more

Not resisting

The idea we can have it



Approach someone and ask

What are you feeling now?

Penetrate the vast

Concealing shroud

To find their pulse



Notice the rising force

Melting isolation

Sexual metaphor

Potential creation

That makes sense out of work



Take a wish walk

And you'll find

People want talk





Purpose gripping

Fear diffusing

Right now concocting

The taste of an organisation

We want to work in




Change in a nutshell


Could we more happily address

The whole painful process

Of change?


Our minds

Re-"cognise" the signs


Maybe like this…


Once disturbed

Emotions push us head first

Into blinding fuss

Change changing us

Slogging together through hell

In a nutshell


If you deeply, deeply yearn

Then the flames don't burn

It's only lonely change until

You've voiced your firm farewell

After that it’s natural force

Shared ambition gushing from infinite energy source





There is in every airport

A line where that country ends

Cross it and you enter open sky


There are in every building

Walls where one room ends

And the next room begins


There is in every garden

A fence where one home ends

And Nextdoor begins


There are in every meeting

Invisible lines where each person ends

And other people begin


There is round every person

A skin where public-me ends

And another private-me begins


Lines and lines and lines


Is a line a barrier, never to be crossed?

Or the edge of an adventure promising gains as well as loss?

For leader learning is noticing lines

Our work entails exploring, getting lost and redefined




The Free-Will Game


Design a game

Thousands play

Within a frame

That you create


Condition A

Free-will low

People wait

Nothing flows


Until you drive

They loll around

Useless lives

On rotting ground


Condition B

More structure, rules

Organisation tree

Directing fools


Slowly grinding

Cranking through

People finding

What to do


Hypnotic habit

Blind to drift

Smash and grab it

Market shifts… to precipice


Forces crisis

Change of pace

No one likes it

Feeling fazed


Passive foot drag

Lack of faith

Costly time lags

Work not play


Leader voicing

Message clear

Mines the feelings

Finds the fear


Condition C

Hard level to reach

Free-will released

Provided you teach


Find sense of purpose

Walk thin line

Work within "musts"

And autonomy high



Truths out of sync



You speak what's true

And I react, missing you

You try again

To give me what's real

The earth shattering injustice you feel


But you've set me off

Now I'm excited about

A different earth shattering injustice I feel


And you are frustrated because I can't receive

But I am frustrated because you can't hear me

Silence again


Let's recap



You said A to me

I heard B

You repeat A to me

I repeat B

Silence again




The boundary between us


The whole world outside me

An infinite universe of potential


A vast world inside me

Of memories, current relationships and sense of potential


You are outside me

But as my friend I let you peek into my world

And you let me peek into your world

For brief moments


Voice is the channel


When you speak heartfelt truth to me

Fireworks inside ignite in a chain reaction

And just a little part of this shows

In the reacting truth I Voice thinly back to you


My life-work is at the boundary of me and you

To Voice more of my reaction

Make it larger, more truth laden

For a brief moment


My life-work is at the boundary of you and me

To draw your reaction through your Voice

Let my fireworks ignite yours ignite mine…

In an infinite chain

For a brief moment


Until it is time to close

Which being the way I am

I do more easily than opening

Re-establishing what's mine and yours


Be careful with throwing me your anger

On a bad day I'll stay closed

On a good day

I'll show you it's yours not mine




Seeing the larger pattern


Bolt your back door

Hide away

Fear to walk the street

Imagine a suicide bomber round every corner


Since the Pope against the Infidels

History stained with Crusades and Jihads

Crazy religious wars

Atrocity, then outrage and hitting back


An eye for an eye

Across the world

Two world wars then

Ireland, Bosnia, Kosovo, Vietnam, Chechnya


In every war, the same pattern

Copied in corporate wars

Fear turned into righteous bloody quest for dominance

Not comprehending one-ness


Can we now assemble a different army?

An army of experience

That defeats the reflex to retaliate

That stems the flow of hatred


Gandhi and Mandela saw a larger pattern

Today plunging into a black hole

Destroying economy, jobs, income, lives

Can you make the difference?


Can you unlock your back door

Walk the street, stand tall

Face your enemy

Without hatred, fear, threats or violence


Armed only with Voice?




The pressure to split


When you said that's pathetic

I filled up with anger

When you said get on with your job

I shrunk to an angry child


And with each remark

Without either of us knowing

An invisible cloak

Hid what was happening


Me hurting, you moving on to other business

The me in me, was split from you

So if you had said (and of course you didn't)

Are you feeling OK? I would have said yes


But the truth would be an unspeakable no

Since you have the power

Over my project, my job

My money and my life


I don't know

That you know

Or care about

The damage you could do


So you see the pressure

To split

Hiding my truth from you

Is huge


And no matter how open

We say we will be

I just can't trust

It's OK to be me




I'll check for you…


Hanging on

Long pause

Splendid tune

Reduced to thin wallpaper musak

Pause again

Yes we can do that for you


Customer service script.


You can fly back

One day earlier

At the airport

Revalidate ticket

They'll tell you

If there is an extra charge

Can't you tell me?



Mildly irritated

I forget

Probably OK

Just a small change


At the airport

Smart blue uniform.

Can I help you sir?

Formal, creepy mouthful.


Non-endorsable sir

Upgrade to business

Sounds good

Or is it?

Do I have to pay more?

I'll check the fare rules sir

Pause. Calm.

Deep breath. Chill.


Yes. Business outward sir

Economy return

Unless you want

Business return sir

Both braced for the moment

I have no choice

We both know

She coldly does her job


This is ridiculous!

Yes I understand

You're not changing outward sir

But there are the (fare) rules

All you have to do

Is sign here

For the extra payment





Not getting through


It's horrible not getting through

On the phone

Or in the conversation come to that

Getting through is what we want


Through to who?

From me to you and back to me

Or the other way

Through to each other


Blocked by what?


Holding back

Holding down

Holding in. What?


Through to each other's what?







Or something

Close enough

Alive enough

To trust is truth


Instead separated


From each other

Polite conforming

Playing the role

Pompous, correct, serious

Not easy

Not laughing


Until I muster courage

I ask

I try

I challenge

Myself and you

To tell me, show me

What is true




Have you been on your holidays?


Feeling OK

Taking time out of the day

Sitting down, unprepared

How would you like it?


Suddenly anxious


My life in their hands

Well my head anyway

Do they care?

Or understand?

A gulf between us

Do I know how to cross it?


Give me the words

I'm one of those

Who can't say it out

Do you know how you want it?

Sadly no

Help me find out


Don’t decide for me

Yes, now I know what - something real

Me: I want a conversation

You want me to talk to you. OK. Lovely

Oh no!

Now I'm not sure about this


Here we go.

Ding ding!

Hold tight

What do you do?

Look at me reflected over there

Impassive. Stony face


Dumb at the simplest question

Go on. Say something

What do I do?

You don't seem very talkative!

Oh God, I suppose I talk

For a living


Sounds daft here

For God's sake

Wake up

Horrible day isn't it?

Typical, we're on the weather

Oi! Get out of that arrogant, superior place


Look again

This is unusually fine

There's no clever game

No hidden agenda

No politics

No selling ploy


Ah, curiosity

A real question to a person

Me: Do you like cutting hair?

Not today. It's too stressy

Sunday's OK. Much calmer

Oh! Contact! That felt good


We escaped

From role

Into something real


A gift to each other

Maybe that's enough


I did go away

On my holidays

But now I'm back

Do you want to look?

Me: It's fine!

How would you like to pay?





Outside - inside


Outside me is the plane cabin

Outside that clouds and sky

Inside me thinking this

Inside that wondering if we'll arrive


Outside is a crisis meeting

Outside that is a struggling firm

Inside me rebasing expectations

Inside that is stomach churn


Outside is a person

Outside that is a setting

Inside is me thinking, doing

Inside me thinking, doing, is me fretting



Our armour plating


Defending myself


Protecting family and health

Without trying

Almost unaware, getting by

I'm on autopilot


Fighting manfully


Proud and skilfully

Polishing image now

Both covert and out

It's unending




When it suits, not affecting

My cosy mind set

Rock solid. Get

My admirable determination


Projecting my weaker stuff


Onto victims, while I puff

Myself up, rough there

Pretend fair

To appear invincible


Introjecting too


Swallowing with attitude

Not questioning that

Just do, go at

Whatever the company expects




Dividing myself, bisecting

Into good, angry person fed up

With person two: bad chap

Hopeless making me fail


Losing identity


Blurring the boundary

Between me and you

Which keeps me true

To who I am


Coming out of this

What for?

Tired of heavy metal-ness

Seeking comfort

Possibility of more

Just to know from you that I exist


And you doing this to me

Lets our team be

Happy and productive

Our company alive

And our shared world a place

I'm enjoying.



Voice Arising


Pause. Breathe

Count to 10

Feel your toes, gut, chest, head

From the inside

What is bubbling there?


Pause again. Breathe

Count to 10

Look around the room

Where are you?

Who are you with?

What reaction do you feel?


Pause again. Breathe

Put it together

You inside. The room outside. The people with you

What happens?

What are you aware of?

What do you feel moved to voice?


Three possibilities

1.        Nothing. Response: OK. Sit with it

2.       Babble. Response. Stop until you can voice the feeling behind the words

3.       A message. Felt. Important to convey. Response: Deliver and draw the reaction


Voice your reaction to the reaction

Now their voice has entered your voice.




First find your wound


Take a brave and honest journey

Back to where you formed

The child in family early

Feel the homely norms


Not forgetting joy and fun

Riffle through to key complaint

Find a deep hurt you had done

Alive still as personal pain


This character flaw that’s dogged you

Denying what you crave

Arising from first feeling fog

Will be with you to the grave


Unless you learn to love it

And in making friends explore

How the raw emotion crusted

Covers up your energy source


Crowded out in noisy household

I kept my voice inside

Instead of telling, being told

Seeking something but denied


Striving quietly to earn attention

A perfect little slave

I never learned to mention

The thing I really craved…


… even to know what it was

Lacking this left me lost

Cut-off inside from goings on

Playing along but feeling bossed


Sadness is my surface feeling

Behind this an anger fuel

Kept away from fire revealing

A fear of getting ridicule


As I confront what life gives out

I'm happy all the way

But noticing I want to shout

And extend the role I play


Unravel the knot inside me

Struggle to release the part

That’s been imprisoned feel

The powerful upstart


Who entertains and laughs aloud

No worrying about loss of face

Who feels and plays the crowd

Who shares and claims the space


Violent eruption releasing

My shocking primitive voice

Scattering listeners fleeing

It grates but I've no choice


I seem quiet and conforming

But that's just one side of me

I'm also feeling, loud, reforming

Powerful, knowing I am free


(That's my primitive, needy voice)


Reclaiming my side that feels

Brings a new calm and power

Doing this the wound can heal

A new bud begins to flower


Go back

Start to unravel the knot at your centre

Tap into the raw energy

Enjoy your primitive voice

Feel the joy




Four Infectious Human Conditions




Slight prickly sickly doubt

Cuts? Takeover? Skirmish? Rout?

Fear rising. Frown. Find out.


Is it the big fierce bogey spirit?

Eyes scan warily. Could be s***!

Gut churning grips and twists


Knees wobble. Hands shake

Grabbing support, unbalanced state

Paralysed. Helpless. Suffocate.


Anticipate horrible end

Poised on the brink, rend

Piercing scream at the next dark bend


Panic. Run. Must hide

Find a safer place inside

A person to shelter beside


Pain etched momentarily in your face

Flashes danger signal, lightening races

Round the entire workplace


The fear persists, drifting unbound

Still no specific enemy found

Becomes normal, toxic background


Work from the assumption of attack

Corroding insecurity. Lack.

Always ready to fight back




Turf burglar.

You dare invade

Steal my oxygen.

Trash my space

Don't diss

You're in my face!


Child fool.

Irritating me


Cruel tease

I snap

Inhibition free


Sucking leech.

Clinging tight

See me fierce

Alert, alight

Aerobic rage

Evict you right


Ignorant colleague.

You cut me out


I fight and shout


You by the throat


Once I'm dissed

Rage insists

I tell you

It and I both exist

You'll calm me only

When you acknowledge this




Missing a train

Is a failure

Against plan

Disappointing mess

Easy to forget


Losing a friend

Is a deeper


Into darkness

And regret


Unspeakable loss



Waves of sadness breaking

Over heart broken aching


Nostalgia persists



Between sobbing and ease

Fails to release


Changes at work

Deep unnecessary


Because feelings buried. Tension.

Silence, not safe to mention


Brave faces are set

Immune to


Hearts numbed to pain

Hidden energy drain


Don't talk about that

It makes us feel


Wait. Feel new light tone

And the gap start to close





Bask in

Sumptuous glowing


Beam forth

Inner warmth


Contract won

Workshop done



At fire hearth


Happy face

Gives team grace


Tribal bond

Sing song


Fills us up

Together with love



Boundless new possibilities


Spring in step



Creative Eruptions


An eruption, like a volcano

Producing unformed, raw

Molten lava

Of ideas


When I try to voice

To describe the eruption

Words fail me

But I persevere knowing

This is creation


Only when voiced do I gain

A reaction from you

Through naming, connecting


We create truth and discernment


The creation forms

Into a practical, tangible

Clear idea

Almost like an object

Easier to react to


From here it gets easier

The idea finds its way

Through more conversations

Contracting and enacting its way

To practical impact in the world




The fight to "we"










Locked on



Each other

Fierce opponents

But brothers





Hold with passion draining









Harms me




My family

To fight




You and me

Belong to




Chill Pill


Bus diverted round a bomb

Passengers locked on

Chill pill


Interrupted by my daughter in mid flow

Don't disturb me no

Chill pill


Rottweiler bounding up

Pull it back I've had enough

Chill pill


New virus on the hard disk

Precious files at risk

Chill pill


Flight home delayed

Stuck abroad late

Chill pill


Client cancels workshop

Revenue drop

Chill pill


Wife shows her rage

Husband badly fazed

Chill pill


Stuck in traffic jam

Cut up by white van

Chill pill


Passion taken as attack

Opponents hitting back

Chill pill


100 times each day

Threatened and afraid

Chill pill




Fighting and forgiving


Your scalding

Acid words

Burn through

My flesh


Deep into

My vulnerable




To me


Ear splitting


Jackboots thudding


My heart



To collude

In my own


I protest

"You got

Me Wrong!"


Both now


On our knees

Slugging it out


I say

"No more"…


… and close

The shutters

On this dark night


Put off indefinitely

To next fresh

Bright dawn



For what?

For an end to the numb throbbing pain

For release from the all pervading tension

To refill the empty deafening silence

To stop the war

To transform the terrorism

To recognise my own face in the mirror again

To reclaim my stake in us

For lightening our hearts

For refreshing our souls

Forming the next new thing to happen

To reboot our operating system

To restore communication and community

Energy flow

Love of life




Entrusting my fate to the universe

Prizing my fingers from the tight grip of blame

Vulnerable now

What to do next?

Find an olive branch

A simple gesture


Oh well

A word


A calm look at you

With compassion

Raise eyebrows with a question

Well? Shall we?

Another word

Yes. A nod

Draw a line, but first

Acknowledge you exist

Respect your experience of it

You felt what?


Now at last I've got it

How we got here

You were overwhelmed

Engulfed by a horrible





Deflating your confidence

In me, us

And you

You winded me

I fought for my breath and life

Not noticing

You were half dead too


This pain

Can be proof

Of passion


Proves compassion

Restoring me, you

And us




Dealing with Gods


When my teacher enraged spoke to me

I forgot what I believed

I only knew how to survive

Was to pretend and contrive


I'm sad now because...


This is my pattern around power

I don't fight or cower

I placate you with a trick

A simple little flip


In the moment of my fear

I discover and appear

To know what you expect

And to play for your respect


It happens every time

With bosses, teachers, clients, friends

But it's hurting me now

Because I've realised how..


This is stopping me being me.


Instead I want my voice to sound

State my feeling, hold my ground

Get you to react and include

Me, as a person, with a view


Proving although I'm not a God, I'm still real and equal to you


A closing question to all Gods

When you're dealing with lowly sods

Like me, and we say yes, that's fine

Do you believe us? Then you're blind.


When you rise up your career

With more power year by year

Maybe all seems equal and fair

But it's a feudal world down here.


When was the last time someone disagreed, spoke back or challenged you?

If you don't make this happen, how do you keep your feet on the ground?



Four Fractal Steps in the Critical Encounter


Your unreasonable concern

Confronts my indifference

Ruffles my smooth contentment

"There's nothing to worry about"


As you persist separately, irritatingly

My rising anger explodes

Denying your sanity

"You're out of your mind!"


Later, losing my winning touch

Falling results shake my confidence

Dark night of confusion closing around me

"Oh God" How do I get out of this?"


Voicing to each other our terror

Rejoins us in truth

Renewing souls re-connecting to source

"Now we're getting somewhere again!"



Give me your voice


Instead of holding it in

Give me your voice

Raw as it is

Dismiss your censor


Trust me, your colleague

To show you in my reaction

The meaning and truth that arises

At the boundary where our voices meet


Give me your voice

Then I have a choice

To take in unquestioningly your noise

Or react to it

Creating a truth between us


I give you my voice

Then you have a choice

To take in unquestioningly my noise

Or react to it

Creating a truth between us


And when we each react

To the other

I know I exist

And you exist

At the same time together

And separate

With a binding feeling between us



A Facilitator's Way of Leading


Mike the magnificent MD thinks I'm selling to him

But does he know that as we're talking I'm noticing

His unquestioning self-belief, eroding

My previously strong desire for enrolling?


Fred the feisty FD thinks I'm overcharging

But does he notice that I'm enlarging

The game, penetrating the muddle

Making the work worth the trouble?


They all think I'm starting the meeting

But do they know I'm opening a clearing for speaking?

Do the bossier loud people who jostle and drift

Notice I'm working towards contact and energy shifts?


While petite Martine from Marketing speaks

Do we all notice her ambivalence leaks

Through her polished professional spinning

Unwittingly brand equity slimming?


Surprised to see his words on my flipchart

Jack notices how it uncovers his part

In a drama of power and ways to get back

Provoking frustration and angry attacks


Paying attention but not being heard

Habitually silent not saying a word

Keri tells Mike just how she is feeling

Squashed and afraid, a pattern revealing


Now everyone's voice has produced a reaction

A magic arrives and carries to action

The leader lets go and confidence surges

A new set of rules for success emerges.