Archive for November, 2012


The Ancient Beech


The ancient beech was born in fire,

And married twice to priestly kings.

Its bark was burnt and deeply scarred.

Its leaves poured light and raised the earth.


The mast around was stained with blood,

And matted thick with offered hair.

A thousand years the beech had grown,

It touched the sun and stroked the moon.


Its roots had spread beyond the wood,

Beneath the charcoal burner’s house,

Beneath the gardens, streets and towns,

And out beneath the mythless world.


The ancient beech was lost to truth:

Was married twice, and twice forgot.




We walked across the gap of time,

And swapped our myths of broken words.

Our bodies moved within one space:

This void between these walls we shared.


We held a century in our grasp:

The wars and births and distant dreams.

We shared a common pause for thought,

And watched the skies turn gold and grey.


We wasted hours and waited years,

And breathed Atlantic weather fronts.

The tree – which rattled Autumn’s last –

Was yours and mine, but never ours.


Between the sands which marked our lives,

The binding roots of blood and breath.



Coins for the Crossing


My fingertips have sensed the space

Between the rocks, beneath the grass,

And there the roots have taken sky,

And oceans push the dreams aside.


And in my heart I know you’re here.

Whoever: you have left your trace,

Its joy and peace around my home:

I feel your warmth and know your fear.


The aura floods with flashing words.

I hold the pen, it moves itself.

The paper pulls, it flows with song,

The gentle glow has found its voice.


At times like these I lose my mind.

At times like these I’m glad I’m blind.


Death and the Alder Grove


In hollow times I cease to be,

And seek the caves of others’ thoughts.

I cease to write and cease to speak,

I close my mind and haul within.


And there their echoes fill my mouth.

And there their doubts cascade around

In empty soothings, empty charms,

In shallow, whirling myths and lies.


So further into death I climb,

Until at last I find my peace

In ancient groves of alder trees,

In silence deep as pain is long.


Where mysteries breathe and lives are sought:

Where self has ended, selves are caught.


In the Garden of the Melancholic Angels


Despite the joys and birth of days

It’s in the shadows lives are formed.

And emptiness has taken grip

With hollow hold and weighted wings.


In dreamless sleeps and deathlike states

These creatures, raised in setting suns,

Have soaked my life’s imperfect truths

With bile as bleak as printer’s ink.


Their tools of resurrection rust

Beneath the darkening Autumn skies.

I’ll wear their wreath of drowning hopes,

No matter how the lights might spark.


As comets trail their dust of tears,

My hopeless questions cling to fears.




The buzzards stand on blistered rock

Where once defeated vessels burnt,

Two thousand summers’ storms and dust

Have left the empire’s vainest crushed.


Parades of egrets pass this way,

Their standing plumes like Ptolemy’s.

Where victors strut the herons halt,

And dart to pick the crusted salt.


The shallows of the gulf spread east

Where silver shoals entrap the sun,

And let it slip in golden shame,

As Cleopatra’s final flame.


The ochre soil and crumbled walls:

Once palace, temples, victory halls.


A Last Rose


The circling point of dark distils

Around a single opening flower.

Its petals touch the edge of night,

A fragile archway through the stars.


This moment in its simple pain:

A pointless mark, a questioned breath,

A finger tracing ‘round a rose,

Then pointing off towards the skies.


And in the mind the scent of springs:

From way before the start of time,

The buds unfurled before the words,

The roses bloomed before the end.


Around the hand the petals fall,

As memories lose their ties to Earth.


The Garden of the House of Pindar


Within the wall a redstart crouched.

It cocked its head, it stretched its wing.

This place would do: it settled in

To pass the night alone and cold.


Around the garden torches spat,

At moths unused to earthly moons.

To lunar flames they offered gifts.

The goddess, grateful, took their wings.


The garden bloomed as every year.

Its evening peace and perfumes seeped,

Beyond the walls with sleeping birds,

Across the jumbled piles of rock,


And on it spread above the bones,

And through the wrecks and shells of homes.


Cairngorm Garden (Abernethy Forest)


The pines are silent, weighed with snows,

All needle black and evening rose.

The days mere stars between the nights

Beneath the trees it’s rarely light.


Aurora haunted foxes cross

The lichens crisp and sphagnum moss,

They scent the age-old meeting sights:

Another generation fights.


It’s been a heavy day up high,

And buntings flitter from the sky:

A scattered dance of fawn and white,

Their misting calls of mountain heights.


This shadow garden deep in frost:

Its ancient ways and tracks are lost.


On Hedges and Lawns


I’ve struggled through this thicket hedge,

Its brambles bleed my grasping fists.

Then once again I’m looking round

And facing yet another lawn.


A thousand houses all the same:

I’ve lost the dream to see them all,

For what they once held out for me.

I see them all as dust and loss.


The lawns are free of weeds and moss

Those hours of hope and joy they took.

Their mystery stands: what led to this?

How empty had that world become?


I push on through the next thick hedge,

Abandoned up to prayers and fears.


The Garden and the Grave


Descend again, subduct and sink.

Those final fingertips above:

An instant recalled and then let slip,

A moment more of autumn sun.


Then dragged beyond sensation’s grip

Through hollowed, lithospheric worlds –

A numbed and empty being lost –

Alone, chthonic, left to lust.


The deeper days have taken you.

Through shadowed halls of hanging trees

Your heart’s tectonics shift and drag.

You grow accustomed to your bed.


The crystals glint their soulless stars.

The Earth will give, the Earth will wait.


The New House


The corridors were made of speech,

So loud you could not hear their words,

But everything they said made sense:

They’d heard this life and spoke of death.


The grandest hall revealed its gifts:

It filled its floor with corn and gold;

Its mirrors split and reeled its light;

Its tables full; its serpents sleek.


The garden took you to its core.

It played its role, it played its year,

It sang its birds and wheeled its moths,

Then in its torchlight danced its night.


And when at last you ate and drank,

You were renewed, you gave up thanks.




One day the driest desert asked

A poet for a simple verse,

A poem he could understand:

And so she wrote a song of seas.


The second day the skies and clouds

Asked for an easy piece to read,

A poem light and full of air:

And so she wrote a song of caves.


The trees requested forest words:

She wrote a desert song for them.

The night demanded darker thoughts:

The song she sang was made of sun.


She sang the moments of her soul,

The saddest joy that was her own.


The Tides of the Severn (1982 – 2012 – 2042)

(“Look deep into nature and you will understand everything better”:  A. Einstein)


When free I cycled past Llanwern

Where all about was coated bronze,

And warblers chattered in the reeds,

And sang away the thumps of steel.


Then past the railway, orchard, church,

And out on to the flat and green,

Where grey was liberated earth,

And land was sea and sea was sky.


My bike had kicked the salt and mud

Until my legs were driftwood black.

As oystercatchers yelped and fled

I flew the bike to scatter more.


Then out as far as land would hold,

I stopped to place myself in life:

How distant Newport seemed and small,

Out here where worlds dissolved and flowed.


In thirty years I might return

To where that marshland used to be,

To find how even memories

Are washed away by rising tides.


In thirty years I’d look around

And note how cities fought the sea,

And blamed the sea, and blamed the sky,

And built their barricades so high,


And there I’d stand, a crooked man.

A mile inland from where I rode,

I’d watch the Severn lap the church

And wash away the graveyard walls.


The Garden


The garden stretched out in the dark,

To olive groves as old as air,

To pines in which the nightjars whirled,

And clapped their wings attracting mates.


The garden kept its boundaries vague:

It ended, but it never ceased.

The smell of earth and growth the same,

No matter how the planet turned.


The garden had an ancient name,

And older still its crumbling walls.

The nightingales could tell its tales,

Instead they chose to lure the moon.


The garden drew us back to muse

On how we’d lived, and how we’d tried.


The Man Who Knew Too Much


Withdrawn again into his words,

His empty casket carved with tales:

“The Legend of His Years at Sea”;

“The Mystery of His Broken Heart”.


The Golden Fleece he washed and shrank.

His deities were less than frank.

He knows there’s nowhere left to run,

Yet still his need to flee this place.


“An island paradise”, they said.

To him it stinks of rich men’s debts,

And saps like him who pick the tab,

Or pass it on to orphaned kids.


So off his little stylus runs.

In fourteen lines: a fake escape.