Archive for ‘The Garden’





through grass




of stories



by day


are called

from deep within

from grass

in breeze

a town

is told



of life



speckled blade

of life


– a calling –


which seem to mean






senses click


and out


then soft


chestnut stream


summer bees


out of reach


there because



                to speak




gather speech



a sun

full of rain


of absence


crow talks


its tales


other tongue


on through

the town


on gentle breeze

on grass stalks



barely heard





on the wooden screen


on the wooden screen

the shadows

of a sycamore


in the breeze


A rose was lost amongst the trees.

I hear your voice above the street:

It’s been so long, but still you speak.

The shadows move and hide the rose.


The clouds are made of hills and you wait beneath the hills, above the snow line, up where the words begin to lose their worth.


And now I feel the stillness flow,

And radiate, then settle down.

The fight against this life was lost.

This life, this moving stillness cast.


In photographs

you are never still. You took a pose and shifted weight, and smiled as if the smile meant more than being


The weight we carry on these feet,

That plank of wood on which we lye:

Can emptiness be hard to bear?

These shadows on a wooden screen.

Deep in a valley –

so deep you wouldn’t know it was there from above

–          the spring flowers came just a little later than elsewhere.


The rose grew taller in the dark.

A blackbird sang, a robin sang:

A calling for a distant sun.

The rose would reach it, inch by inch.


This is not about forgetting, nor resting, nor putting by. This living here is never done, amongst the hills, amongst the trees. The snows of late spring never last more than a day or two.


The shadows of a sycamore

Are patterns of a gentle breeze,

Are patterns of a distant sun,

Are here, are now, and always so.


The Faerie Fears of Next Door’s Dogs


The dogs next door are watching bats.

Their pirouetting eyes are fazed,

By moon-dark nightlights glowing sparks,

By flickering wings and siren songs.


Beyond their reach the myths are spun,

From bats, to moths, to lunar casts.

Entrancing echoes bounce around.

The violet shades dragged from their dreams.


The tendrils of that other world,

Come curling from the undergrowth.

And by the nightlights dogs are turned:

They’re lantern eyed and garish hounds.


The faerie demons bite the howls:

And off they run, and how they run.





Those eyes, which take the souls and run

From hedge to far and vanished hedge,

Can pierce right through the skin of time,

And see its luminescent depths.


With unmatched speed and dancing heart,

A spirit dreamer, cast from minds,

Runs out across the plains and moors.

It runs not “to”, it runs “because”.


They watch us with our weighted gait:

Our feet, our arms, our thoughts in clay.

So slow, we live within a day:

A single, monstrous, leaden day.


They watch us with those eyes of light,

Those eyes which see beyond our sight.




Secret Hiding Place


Amongst the lime-sun barley spikes,

A conch-curled shell of azure hides:

A field of summer, field of spring,

A field that Demeter would sing


Where lovers run through trails of stems

And trace their broken tracks through life,

To where the underworld begins,

To where the sun and night are streams.


It’s there amongst the twisted grass,

There they hang from grains and grasp

At rains which come as echo seas:

The hidden ones who cast their shells


For now their light of life will glow,

And deep within their mysteries flow.



Poem inspired by the rather wonderful photograph, taken by Silentwonderland,

and found here:






The Bud


Do not delay, don’t wait for word,

The spring will burst the tightest buds

Without you. Summer dries the stream

Without you. Autumn takes the breath


Of swallows – late to leave. And death

Will strike with winter ice and waste

The final throes of sun, and then

You’ll miss your time to effervesce.


Do not be caught in thoughts of lives

Which could have meant much more than this,

Which could have been, but passed you by.

The buds are leaves, are mould, are gone,


And you are watching as they dry.

Become the leaf, return to bud.




Under the Tree


So let’s not say that time will end,

Instead let’s watch the summer light

Come pouring through the valley leaves,

As if there were no other place.


And let’s not say it passed us by.

The earth beneath our feet is firm:

It stays the same – it doesn’t change –

We touch it, know it, share its pull.


So yes, we’ll simply linger on,

And take our shelter from the rain.

We’ll wait until the wind has calmed.

We’ll wait until the sun returns.


These moments, here beneath this tree,

Mean everything to you and me.




The Island Girl


Across the water on your eyes,

The depths and glimmer glint of soul,

Of shoals on reefs on island shore,

And there to swim and dive and dream.


The light where times converge as spark,

And from which point the point begins.

Beyond the stillness comes the breeze,

Of headland holding back the seas.


The strength of you, the space of you,

The moments and the life of you,

There are no distances from you,

This beat, this pulse, this isle of you.


And there we fly with gulls and sighs:

I kiss the sea light of your eyes.



To Maria.



The Carpenter’s Oak


Beneath the patina of oak,

The sap of ages weighs the worth

Of prayers and hopes, of rights and wrongs,

Without the curse of falling leaves.


The carver and the carved are found

United in this judge’s bench.

In every cut are questions marked:

Belief and doubt are scratched the same.


And where the rational preaches calm

The oak will stretch a hanging rope.

Its shadow falls on certainty:

The measured minds will lose their voice,


Beneath the words the oak spreads roots.

Behind the incantations: fear.



(poem inspired by various stories of M.R. James)


Free Trade (Lothersdale Lead Mine)


The scar remains, two centuries on:

A sterile field, a poisoned rock.

The dust in summer, streams in spring,

Still thick with arsenic, lead and zinc.


A hundred families mined the ore,

They scraped their living coughing blood.

Salvation came in crusts of bread

And praying for the skylark’s song.


But far away the freedom flowed,

And wealth and light and flowers bloomed.

In silk and satin, trade and faith,

The spirit of the age was writ.


So hollow are those words of joy

When carved in stone on children’s graves.


Jekyll’s Garden (Lindisfarne)


The sea has cast its books as spray,

Its prayers are fresh with western words.

The sea – the circling sunrise sea –

Has sealed the island’s lips and lives


For here the world can wash and wait,

Can hurl its gales and comets crash,

For here the world means nothing more

Than mysteries from a distant age.


Upon the wall the wheatear flicks

Its tail and picks at thistle threads

From interlocking beds and dips

Away towards the castle rock.


It seems that time has lost its way,

For here the sea turns all to spray.



A Simple Song of Silence


This emptiness we fill with song,

And flowers, birds and loving words.

But in our night the void returns,

And even tears are simply spent.


The days and weeks each add their lines

Which call the cold to take its toll,

And silence haunts the smiles we form,

Our tears won’t slow the passing time.


I cannot bear the joy you missed.

So here we sit and watch the glow,

Of embers slipping into ash.

The music dies and we are left


With nothing but tranquility,

And tears which well but never fall.


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.