Posts tagged ‘North’

02/04/2013

The Harrowing

 

1.

From sky to sky the furrows blew

Away untended in the wind,

And scattered, like the absent birds,

Accusing hoards of shattered bones.

 

And from those salted furrows spread

A desolation thick with ash,

Which cursed the earth and sun and stars:

It settled on the crops like rain.

 

The memories stopped, the histories stopped,

In lines of charred remains they stopped,

The furrows piled with families stopped,

The lines of generations cut.

 

The sky above was blue and cold,

As empty as this land was old.

 

2.

The breeze has blown the needles clean.

Along the ridgeways, through the parks,

Across the waste ground and the plains:

For some the stories never end.

 

The needles clean, the branches blown,

The avenues of memory quake.

The yew and cypress tremble through

The death of air, the fear of rain.

 

They bow before the emptiness,

They shiver with each final breath.

Each tale is one more silenced year.

The scars are needle sharp and old.

 

The echoes shake these moors and dales.

The trees are rattling day and might.

 

3.

To cleanse and wash away the stain

To put an end to all the pain

To purify and nullify

To simplify the tales to tell

 

To wipe the village, burn the land,

Erase the stories, strip the bones,

To hack and waste and salt the earth,

To foul the water, flame the corn.

 

To nail the poor inside their graves,

To open graves and hang the poor,

To starve and strip and flay the poor,

To throw the cannibals the poor.

 

The harrowing has turned the breeze,

The harrowing is shaking leaves .

 

 

27/03/2013

Exhibit

 

 

They dragged me from the peat at night.

Untied my hands, my feet, my soul.

They washed me, cleaned me, dried my eyes.

They took my braiding, took my sword.

 

I’d lain between the worlds untouched,

I’d spoken with the dead and proud,

I’d walked the path and swum the lake,

I’d soaked my blood in veins of earth.

 

They wrenched my body from its ghost,

They stripped it, left it hanging on,

Awoke it from its spirit sleep,

Displayed it as a trophy scalp.

 

I reach to try to catch your mind.

You stare, repulsed, but don’t respond.

 

 

26/03/2013

Fox on Pendle

 

How far? The shadows on the sea:

The pools of Irish light and rain,

The Dales, the Fells, the Lakes, the sky,

And heaven burning through those eyes.

 

The sodden feet where dotterel land,

The pounding heart where plover call,

The simple path, the vision scraped,

The buzzard circling overhead.

 

How far? From Israel to the mill,

From handloom to the broken hand,

And further still, the trees and hills:

He saw them, feared them, felled them, climbed.

 

How far? Beyond the passions’ reach:

As far as words and mysteries teach.

 

 

26/03/2013

A Half-Forgotten Hymn

 

Beyond our acid moors and smoke,

Where crags and limestone tooth the sky,

An empty hearted oak grew old

In downland forest, inward grown.

 

We stalk our moors and cough and choke,

Parade our bitterness and pride.

Puffed up with scars and open sores,

We gather all our people round.

 

We hear the oak may topple soon,

Its rotten roots are losing grip.

Its age once countless now counts down.

It stands alone, it stands forlorn.

 

Together we begin to sing

Our tuneless, half-forgotten hymn.

 

 

26/03/2013

Roman Fort (Mastiles Lane)

 

The winter nights had scarred the grass,

So daylight owls could scatter voles

By drifting up before the sun

And lazing on the barrack poles.

 

They came from many different worlds:

We saw them, heard them, speak in tongues.

They walked the land on rigid lines.

They sacrificed to moonless gods.

 

They came and raised their camp in view:

We’d smell the roasting fires at night.

They washed and burned the heavy rocks,

They drew their water from the spring.

 

The owl brings panic with its flight,

The Romans keep their torches bright.

 

 

24/03/2013

Rylstone

 

Up on the moor, beneath the crag,

A ruin rots its walls in rain,

The bracken shoots break through the rust

Of last years’ growth and crumbling rock.

 

The curlew’s call, reclaim the sky,

Await the screams of summer’s swifts.

This point round which disaster whirls,

Is still and calm and sorrow deep

 

They left the shell and took the heart.

From hanging hopes the stories drip,

From dropping ropes and sheering axe.

A ruin stands its speechless ground.

 

And every spring those curlews call,

There’s freedom here to question all.

 

 

24/03/2013

Second Hand Clothes

 

Across the car park cobbles shone,

Inverted haloes, drizzle formed,

Before I crossed the road I’d smell

The resin smoke and naptha rags.

 

Cravats and faded patterned shirts,

Cut off from history, cast adrift:

The gladioli, hearing aids,

The ancient fabrics, damp and cold.

 

Above a tape of Mark E. Smith,

Of Morrissey, The Doors and Cud,

The doorbell rang, the clothes rails scratched,

The northern rain kept up its beat.

 

It could have been a thousand years:

How many hands, how many tears?

 

 

(Blackburn, 1987)

 

24/03/2013

Degrees North

 

Beyond the north: a second north.

Beyond that north the memories fade,

And tales take hold of dark and ice,

Of endless nights, of swans in flight,

 

Of dead who walk with mirror step,

Of land where rock will crack and burn,

Of skies that burn, of snows that burn,

Of seas that swell with monster’s bones.

 

Beyond that north, there’s nothing more,

There are no dead, there’s nothing born:

The formless still, the waveless sea,

A void as deep as space is cold.

 

It’s in us all, that silent space.

It’s in our blood, it’s in our graves.

 

 

26/10/2012

The Mystery of the North Wind

 

The skies of ice have scoured the fields

And scarified the dormant Earth.

A flock of fieldfare crackle south

And scatter tales from Arctic wastes.

 

The planet tips the silver sun,

And pours the hungered hoars of god,

Forgotten herds and stranger’s words,

Ephemeral mists of tundra swans.

 

The settling stillness hangs as haze,

Too fine for sight, it taunts the light.

A winter pale, the merest veil,

Impossible the crystal threads.

 

Who now translates the polar songs?

The stars? The birds? The voiceless ones?

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16/07/2012

The Song of Ondine (Northlands)

 

From life to life they shift and change

These generations of the land.

But in her song they stay the same:

Their faces, passions, fears and dreams.

 

She heard them in the Northern lands.

They sang an echo to her song:

A stone that skimmed across a lake

Becomes a pike that took the bait.

 

And further on, within the song,

Their stories told of ancient days:

Of when the pike itself could sing,

Of when the Earth became a lake.

 

She heard them try to sing her song:

Each generation one verse on.