Posts tagged ‘birds’

07/08/2013

The Summit of Pen-y-Ghent (Walk No. 7) – video poem

 

Pen-y-Ghent and Language

 

A video poem for Walk Number 7 from thecheesewolf’s series Ten Walks. This piece was filmed on Pen-y-Ghent (The Hill of the Winds) in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, northern England. One of the main themes of this poem is language and naming – in this case the names of hills. Pen-y-Ghent is believed to be the Brythonic name for the hill – it is very similar to the Welsh for “Hill of the Wind”. Clearly there is a Celtic resonance in the name, and there are many remnants of the pre-“English” cultures of the Dales. Indeed, on nearby Ingleborough there are the clear outlines of ancient round houses, and just up the dale from Pen-y-Ghent itself are the remains of a small Roman outpost. If you are ever in this neck of the woods, do try to check out Pen-y-Ghent, and the other hills around (Ingleborough, Whernside, Buckden Pike etc). It is a special place, and the food, wildlife and walking are all wonderful.

if you would like to read the poem, go to www.thecheesewolf.wordpress.com, it’s down below… Alternatively, click on the captions button on the video for a “sub-titled” version. this may not work on Kindles, for some reason.

14/07/2013

Weight

 

There is a weight to being alive,

A density of songs and claws,

A flock of beaks and broken barbs:

It clings to flight, it grips it tight.

 

The earth will take the sycamore.

The sky will take the sycamore.

Its bark and leaves will feed and fall,

And life will take the sycamore.

 

This gravity of slowing blood;

The pressure buzz within the ears;

The dissipating breath and twitch:

It gives its all, it takes its toll.

 

The weight will keep the moon in tow.

The weight will hold us in its flow.

 

 

14/07/2013

6am, Sunday

 

A flickering of morning wings;

A wire buzz of starling flocks;

A distant dog which echoes hills:

Vibrations of another day.

 

A tyre drone and clunking gears;

A martin pulling songs from mist;

Allotment cockerels blaring dust:

My eyes are shut, I feel the sounds.

 

The Sunday papers brought by van;

The jackdaws of a hundred eaves;

The voices raised some streets away:

Each sound has found its space in me.

 

The air is shimmering with life:

Despairing, yearning, joyous life.

 

 

14/07/2013

Stone Curlew

 

The scrape, like hare, of pebble bird:

As fawn and cream as flint in church.

The jaundiced, yellow eye will blink

As mirage dews pour through the fen.

 

The field was first, the bird was first,

The sky reflected breck was first:

The yellow eye had snapped them shut.

The clouds of dawn turned iris bright.

 

The lines of earth, of dyke, of hedge,

Formed islands, merged and took the sea.

It watched it all, the yellow eye:

It watched it from its field of stone.

 

Beneath the dust which birthed its calls,

A wary bird ducks low to earth.

 

 

04/07/2013

Pipit – Lapwing – Swallow – Chaffinch

 

Up on the moor tops, fields are cut,

And soon the berries will be ripe.

Amongst the heather, pipit rich,

The tewits fake their broken wings.

 

I think too hard about the words.

The sun is low and burns the eyes.

The dry stone walls form broken lines.

I hear the words, but cannot write.

 

And down below, the dale is dark,

Its words are carved on whispered stones.

Around the empty chapel hall

The swallows coax unwilling young.

 

So this is summer in the north:

A chaffinch calls at mottled skies.

 

 

16/06/2013

The Revelation of the King of the Talking Birds

 

The dream let loose its chirm of birds,

Each one had words to call the world:

The verbs of night, the howling nouns,

All clichés bursting from their beaks.

 

And in their flock, right at its heart,

The silent bird, the mystery bird,

Swept all the others round the wood.

It led them, though it never spoke.

 

The birds had followed through a storm:

Bedraggled, fuddled, half alive,

For news had spread that HE would speak

And tell them all how they should be.

 

He opened up his awful beak

And to their horror, softly squeaked.

 

 

inspired by prompt #5 – Cliche from

http://mindlovemisery.wordpress.com/

 

 

15/06/2013

Three Storytellers

 

He hears his name in robin’s songs,

The cadence calls him from the scrub.

He answers in his shaky voice:

They understand but don’t respond.

 

She sees the heron spell her name

In semaphore with arching wings.

She signals back, she jumps and flaps,

They catch her drift, but on they pass.

 

I see the clouds, I hear the trees,

I feel the rumbling through my feet.

The world is here, and I am here,

With robins, herons, clouds and breeze.

 

They speak to us, they know our names,

And nothing here will ever change.

 

 

09/06/2013

Night Birds Calling

 

In other times, on darker nights,

The ones who carved the stones would quake

At forest howls, at spirit streams,

At shadows flitting through the trees.

 

But us: we see the lights of planes,

We hear the distant hum of roads,

We search the nightjar – tick that box –

We walk straight lines of forest tracks.

 

Oblique we stand – their world breaks through –

There’s distance here that we can’t know.

We hear the birds, we sense the fear:

Religion, science, mean little here.

 

Our pride and indolence are new,

These creatures scream from something true.

 

 

05/06/2013

A Week in Slovenia (Part 6 – With the Swallows of the Sky)

 

1. A Mountain Pass

 

The poetry is closing in

And trapping words in limestone blue.

In mountain forests, catching clouds,

Words lose meanings, clouds lose rain.

 

The air is pulled through lips and teeth:

It bites the throat, it takes a road

Of sunlit snow through mountain tops.

The sounds may form, the thoughts will not.

 

How will I find a voice for this,

This pass which crosses through the peaks?

It used to be the only way,

Now purposeless its tracks are still.

 

As evening gathers clouds and flow

We hear the night birds call the snow.

 

 

2. The Impossible Swallows of Mount Razor

 

Against the backdrop of these cliffs

The swallows seem impossible.

As morning lights the highest peaks,

The swallows swirl and dance the more.

 

Because we know all this will end

We breathe the pollen scent of trees,

Make crystal memories of streams:

We try to find the solid ground.

 

Too soon the wings will fold and furl.

We’re living in the past again:

The passing through, the sleepless dreams.

We’ll stare at walls and hear the calls.

 

I close my eyes, there’s nothing there

But mountain birds in mountain air.

 

 

3. Ljubljana Airport

 

So this is where it all begins

(And for all that, it’s where it ends).

The spirit drifters check on through

To other times, to brand new lives.

 

The Forest Man is watching planes:

He has his papers and his pass.

You see the girl who shifts and frets?

She can’t believe she won’t be back.

 

You see the woman dressed in grey?

Her mysteries mean so little now.

She longs for shadows, hugs the wall.

The angel at her shoulder weeps.

 

A palimpsest of all who pass:

This stone and steel is first and last.

 

 

 

4. Sky Layers

 

The edge of air lays curved and dark:

An empty hell of frozen lungs.

Above the highest birds and planes:

A point where science fiction ends.

 

Beneath the earth-rim, filters fade

The black of space – a lighter grey.

It sucks the clouds up from below:

Their hazing emptiness is filled.

 

Then further down through mists, the clouds

Begin congealing, blowing knots,

And twist themselves in rain and storms:

There, where light and silence stops.

 

And last – inconsequential – lies

The thinnest layer, the layer of lives.

 

 

03/06/2013

A Week in Slovenia (Part 4 – From the Adriatic to the Alps)

 

1. On Piran Seafront

 

Ten thousand years of people stare

Off out to sea and feel its breath.

Ten thousand years of questioned souls

Who turn, and shrug, and build their worlds,

 

Those years are here within this point.

Entranced, we watch the fish and boats:

That silver dart, that bobbing float.

We are those generations now.

 

Then Trieste fades and Piran falls,

The bells un-ring and we are back.

The fish all hide, the sun is bright,

I hold your hand, we are alone.

 

The Adriatic Sea is blue:

It always is – is ever new.

 

 

2. When the Birds Fly Low

 

You see the point in being close:

An avalanche destroyed that house,

An earthquake took the town that day,

You closed your heart as war raged on,

 

You see the way the birds fly low.

You buy the cheese and share the bread.

A flock of alpine choughs descend:

They work as one, they fly as one.

 

As snow is creeping through the trees,

A dusting through Arolla Pine,

It brings its memories of times.

The birds fly down amongst the town.

 

You turn your back upon the cold.

You feed the birds and drink your fill.

 

 

3. Rainfall in the Julian Alps

 

The sun won’t break the clouds today.

The mountain crags have gathered rain,

The sparrows hide beneath the eaves,

The church bells echo hidden peaks.

 

The peace of circle patterned slates:

The point before the rivers form.

Within a pine a blackbird preens.

The air is still, the rain is clean.

 

A miracle has formed the sky.

Here in the sky, we are the sky.

The snowmelt cycles up, then through:

We breathe the ice of years gone by.

 

Within the clouds I see the sun.

Amidst the rainfall there is song.

 

 

4. Night in the Julian Alps

 

We do our best to kill the still

With street light, owl hoots, cow bells, cars.

We build and burn, we run and hide,

But up here nothing comes our way.

 

The mountain’s cold and silent depths,

The forest’s growth on rotten roots,

The haze which twinkles dying stars:

They are the silence we can’t dodge.

 

We think we are unique in this –

Us falcons, martens, humans, frogs –

Not caught in headlights: we freeze at night,

And stare into the mountain depths.

 

The long collective mass of life

Is just a tiny flick of light.

 

 

27/04/2013

Dawn Chorus

 

1.

The first of day, the last of night,

The woodcock and the lapwings meet

Beneath the blood-horn moon of spring:

A fold of wings in praise of bats.

 

The oystercatchers warn and reach

Inside the panicked twitch of deer.

They join the curlew’s howl of lust,

The curlew’s voice of bidden loss.

 

And soon the forest joins the moor

With wrens subsumed in bursts of wing,

Exhilaration on a feather’s barb,

The light which greets the point of flight.

 

An hour in life and all is raised:

The night time’s deaths, the morning’s birth.

 

2.

Avoiding death we sidestep life.

We miss the warbler’s beacon song,

The melodies of clouds on fire,

And trees which birth the passing days.

 

We cling to nights and hide in hopes,

Constructing tales of other worlds

Where fixities will fold our fears.

And shut away the shifting light,

 

And live these distant, searching lives.

The premonition sun will rise

Unseen. Unheard, the birds become

That larger world which we hide from.

 

Within us all is life and death,

A universe, a blackbird’s breath.

 

3.

The song is all, the forest one,

The neurones, pollen, twilight rings.

The trees connect, the eyes forget,

Ten thousand evanescent springs.

 

A chord beyond the reach of one,

Becomes the mantra of the one,

A unity to shed the night,

An ecstasy to greet the light.

 

A force as pure as air vibrates,

From blood, to throat, to bursting tongues,

Each song annihilates itself.

The forest sings, the birds succumb,

 

And I have ceased to cling to me:

The light is all there’ll ever be.

 

4.

And all this means the world to me,

But where are words to give it voice?

A ringing in the ears I shake,

The feet on leaves in dawning light.

 

The river glows with moons within,

The trout forget the bridge of day.

I walk and hear the passing dead:

The crumbling bank and martin’s nests.

 

A tree has lost its way this night.

Its branches bowed by sorrow’s time,

They point to earth, they brush the dust,

A chaffinch spills its mystery there.

 

I watch a redstart lose its mind:

Our eyes have met the pains of night.

 

 

For Steffen and Jo

11/04/2013

The Halcyon Beasts

 

Above are creatures born of flies

Which stab and spike and reek of blood.

The tales all speak of nests they make

From neatly piled up bones and scales.

 

It’s said their wings are sky made flesh,

And dry as drought their awful skin.

It’s said they scream beyond all sound,

And move so high they breathe the clouds.

 

And if these creatures mark you out

There’s nothing you can do to hide.

No reedbed thick, no lily-pad

Will keep you safe, will save your life.

 

The creatures of the deathly air

Form rainbows from our world’s despair.

 

 

10/03/2013

Leighton Moss

 

1. The Ghosts

 

So nothing dies, it lingers on,

It sinks beneath the matted reeds,

It hovers on the winter air,

It wraps its roots around the oak.

 

A bear has whispered through the woods,

Its tundra paws are soft as moss.

We see it in our open hearts,

We call it from its long lost path.

 

A lynx is in the reed bed’s edge.

Its stories deep as morning mist,

We summon memories from its shade,

Its whiskers taste of vanished dawn.

 

The sedge and forest, lake and burn,

All echo with the drifts of death.

 

 

2. The Wood Well Oak

 

The time zones buckled, seasons bent,

The rings lay thick, then thin, then lost,

As moisture, snows and distant droughts,

Were channeled through its heart of wood.

 

It stood beside a woodland well,

With leaves of cloth and dreams of love.

The people circled round like rings,

They merged their hopes with form and place.

 

A hundred years it took to rot:

From deep within the fungus grew.

It fell, one April, in a storm:

But even then its Spring leaves bloomed,

 

The wood well oak became the land.

The circles stopped, the cycle rolled.

 

3. Reed Bed

 

The waters teem with life and death,

Electric fevers of the Spring,

They’ve waited for their time to come:

In sun and light they burst and fade.

 

The land is crawling, grasping air,

It gasps for rain and captures birds,

It lifts and folds its crystal tears.

The land is dust and rock and grave.

 

The reeds are caught between these worlds.

They play the air and call to land,

Their echo-verse is ages old,

They breathe the water’s swirling song.

 

Fragility – it marks this place –

Where life wells up, but leaves no trace.

 

 

4. Bittern Fire

 

The light explodes in neural fires,

And life – intense and candle bright –

Reflects its spark from reed to reed,

And smokeless burns from eye to eye.

 

Invisible, the bittern blends.

Within the reeds it bleeds its form,

Through willow stumps, to deepest sedge,

Where only beak and eye are sharp –

 

Are photon sharp, are stark as stars.

The final sight the frog will see:

A dart of light, a blade, an eye,

Then gone and gulped and nothing more.

 

The bittern merges with the sun.

The life is one, the reed bed home.

 

5. The Last of Winter (A Northern Song)

 

The winter-scattered waxwings pause

For breath in rowans, twilight peached,

And dusted with the northern lights,

Vermillion and yellow chrome.

 

A Kalevala dance of wings,

Of brambling orange, white and black,

Of fieldfare stories, flighting seas,

At night with redwings, sharp as snows.

 

And on the lake the goldeneye,

Which fledged the earth, now dives for ice.

It pulls the songs out of the pike,

Then pops and bobs and shivers wings.

 

The tundra sun is turning round.

The arctic calls: its losts are found.

 

 

6. Saplings at the Margins

 

Embraced by roots and twisted truths,

With molten magic coursing through,

The bursting stems and latent forms

Are whole and fragments, buds and bark.

 

Conducting sun and seeping earth,

The branches whip the sky and marsh.

The sap they suck from distant stars

Is swirled in centuries of growth.

 

A universe is wrapped in reeds:

A fecund, replicating world,

A place of bird song, frog song, birth,

An immanence of creaks and leaves.

 

The sedge and willow bend and bow:

A pen and flute within the flow.

 

 

18/02/2013

Magpie

 

If only there was nothing left

To take – I’d free my shimmered voice:

Released to sing as thrushes sing,

At dawn, at sunset, call the earth.

 

If only I could hide away,

The fields would know my tranquil heart.

A peace which only plovers know:

I’d be – and nothing more than that.

 

But then you’d lose the glittered back,

The gleaming iridescent wings,

The gathered glory of my nest,

The golden rings and silver silk.

 

I wonder if you’d miss the “chack”

And chattered questions I shout back?

10/02/2013

The Barn Owl

 

Defying earth and air and moon.

An essence made of sky and flight:

Your every silent bob and feint

Will stop a heart, or still the dew.

 

Defy mechanics, vault the clouds,

And shatter every shackled thought.

You see through roots, through night, through time,

And fly on questions, drift on mist.

 

Defy the senses, hide in sight,

You hear the elements combine.

You are the opposite of weight,

You are the miracle they missed.

 

Defying life’s fragility,

You scream impossibility.

 

 

26/01/2013

On a Northumbrian Beach (Walk No. 4)

 

Along the beach the seals lay lost,

And screaming terns are chasing foam.

Kids scan the sands for glinting gold,

A garnet carved, or inlaid bronze.

 

I watch the skies for signs of change,

For winds to switch from west to east,

And air to fill the marram grass

With falls of redstarts, warblers, shrikes.

 

But still the westerlies keep strong,

And all the sands can offer up

Are crystals ground from broken glass,

And gannets choked on fishing nets.

 

And whispered tales of monks who slept

On eider’s nests and faith alone.

 

 

13/01/2013

As a Flock of Waxwings in the Beech

 

These leaves of beech first breathed in spring,

And trembled, touched by summer rains,

Turned copper crisp through autumn frosts,

And with our coming, shiver on.

 

We flick our wings against the thorns

Of sloe and brittle bramble shrub,

We take our pick of haws and hips.

Amongst the beech we hide from hawks.

 

On winter nights the starlight calls

Of redwing heading further south:

The finest needle points of fear.

We huddle then behind the leaves.

 

We wait together in the beech.

We fly together in the snow.

 

 

04/01/2013

Shearwater (Sylph of Trolleval)

 

The voices echo through the isles:

An invocation from the skies,

A ceaseless chant around the hills,

A manic chattering of spells.

 

We are interpreters who hear

These mystery songs and forge our tales,

Our ocean rhymes, our waves of light,

Our words of human fear and flight.

 

The wisdom in the speech of birds

Is knowledge from a different world.

Our mountain stories magnify

The hubris in the things we know.

 

The shearwater spoke no words:

We missed the truth in what was heard.

 

 

shared with Poetry Pantry

Trolleval (Trollebhal)

 

 

14/11/2012

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.

31/10/2012

The Ritual of Autumn (The Gathering)

 

The bank beneath the shedding larch

Was studied gold with chanterelle.

A basket twice the size of this

Would hold a half the mushrooms in.

 

Above, a goldcrest flicked at webs,

Its call so high I’d miss it soon:

Too old to reach its pitch of life.

The needle fevered goldcrest picked.

 

A year of rain had swollen leaves.

A hawthorn hedge was rich with birds:

A chirm of finches, families grouped,

Were gorging through the glut of fruit.

 

The rites of gleaning, rites of growth,

With chants of birds and scent of earth.