At mind's length.

Hills and valleys,
White snow and black walls:
Small walls of lichen, sheep and stiles;
Ruined terraced walls,
Wings of crippled feathers,
The broken shells of empty pit-houses.

Three days on a long empty beach
Lay the shell, turning and rolling
With each wave of the storm,
Till a windblown daughter of the gael
Picked the flower of the sea
And gave it to her lover.

And who knows where the tides go
When moons flower
In lovers' eyes?
Only the larks
And the silent upland snow.

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August 27th.

Our gull
Floats on its back,
Disguised in the sun's scattered shine.

The flock spins, ominously patient
Round the bowl of the cliffs,
To pick  white meat
From the silver sea.

 Doghead seal, glistening grey,
Reaches up through green water,
Looks around, tastes air,
Dog half in water,
Seal half in sky.

With a fluid, decisive dive,
 Seal in sea returns, and vanishes.

Strange you say
How small you feel
Perched here on the curve of the sea's horizon,
But that vast view
Leaves me less stirred
Than you do yourself.

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I tell you there are startlings abroad,
alive in hedge and current,
firefly miracle mischief beyond normal sight, beyond omen -

Engaged in every cell, with chiselbite, 
       with smoothsliding spokeshave,
       worrying wood to a living,
 - but still sudden buzzardwhistle scatters thought,
       usurps design, siezes a mind in talons of sky

 ........ in birdbrain being, easy and clear,
listening, connecting, skyhigh.

Or here, cars herd to cross a sandstone bridge,
       anxiously fording wildebeest,
 - then tiny gemstone kingfisher
       ringing like steel, a sapphire ghost,
       jumps the lights,
       vanishes under dark arches,
        a dawnstolen dream

......... birdbrain being is vital and welcome,
surprise joy wrapped in spark.

Then, head rooted, feet clouded,
       slave of seasons' foursquare clod,
 - but a white throat rips out
       one ancient mariner of a cry,
       echoed throughout the flock:
       a ripple of gulls illuminates twilight blue

........ stormriding thirty foot swell,
birdbrain being is selfsufficient,
life from foam.

 - alert, they bide their time,
shapeshifting through altogether other laws,
altogether other seasons,
to pounce and startle the life into us.

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Black blue and silver.

Through the black blue and silver
We walk across the sleepward world,
A candle of contentment guiding our way.

The moon
Silversoft curled up skycat,
Purrs, comfortable with our walking together:
So far above, through melting shades of blue,
And ebony trees robed still as sleep,
But  our heart tides are full with it.

Through the black blue and silver,
As through a clean wind over dark sea foam,
We walk, watching our attached shadows merge and entwine,
Feeling the tide,
Setting sail.

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Black heat.

Lift your eyes from smoke and burning,
Ride the curls till smoke is gone.
High and clear the sky is waiting,
New heart follows the mourner's song.

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Carolyn has gone to sea.

Carolyn has gone to sea,
like a fisherman,
but casting her net,
Birth of hope,
or redemption beyond wedlock,
the waters broke her.

What jangled jewels
glittered in what key,
when the time came?
Was it a white horse you mounted,
or just threshing madness,
black flood,
that spun,
sucked you down,
gushed you open,
and, at last,
released you?

Cold cobbles,
ring a rattling headstone lament
for the tossing sleepers
of this stormbeach.

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Caught in the catching.


Where the world gathers itself,

In the power places,


 Where tideline bladder wrack sparkleset

shoals together,

skylines away, becomes a long gleam

Crowning the curls of a cloud


Where only village and  fields, lights and treedark are below,

Only sky and one star above,

Only so much more,

The world gathers, in this power place,

Where the web of life is anchored.

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Chez Suzanne.

A fine cold dew
Gifted with light.
Still trees, so full, so rich.
The down of dawn stirs
Deeply warm,
And a still watercolour sky
Changes, from blue-black
To swept grey-blue,
Washed with orange.

All sleepy eyes, drowsing stll,
Suzanne watches too.
Cafe noir, pain 'beurre,
On est bien.

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Child in a cathedral.

Into a great silence
Wanders a child
From the rattling streets.

Through the grey gladestone light
Between pale pillars
And  dark pews,
Her wondering blonde outshines the stained glass.

In this great space,
In this wide cave in a hill of light,
Awe stills play.
Then, caught
By the trickling spell
Welling from the organ,
She is a leveret,
Taken gently by a giant's hand,
To downs far beyond hard streets,

She is a star in a forest,
Beaming Grace
Beyond the reach of Time.

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Frosted shadow,                                                                            Across the bitter mountain
Fine silver-blue touch on grasses.                                                  Of unlove and brilliance
Falling from a stark tree                                                                Beautiful crispness between blizzards,
By the stone stolid gable of a barn.                                                A shadow wandered
Cloaked in the winter warmth                                                       Silent as saskwatch.
is she, Eyes chisel-thin                                                                 He picked a coronet
With the nothing but                                                                    From the crescent beaks
Bright wight light and sky                                                             Of the driven snow on the lee face of every rock,
Stretching, ghostgrey across blue                                                  And snapped glass grass
From hill to hill.                                                                             That frostflowered above the snow.

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Dark Deed.

'Ask the Mooncheese'  says god,
         'follow to the source'.
So, sparking steel clutched tight,
         in man  stumbles,
         losing balance in the no up no down dark.

Spark -
The roof is animal skin, hard-haired,
         and he crawls in like a tick.
Sweat, tears, flowstone, which is which?
It all smells like snow on the wind,
         clean, cold, spiced with clay and fear.

Spark -
Crabshell metronome,
         mobile, timelessly asleep,
         marking driptime,
For bruises, broken nails, blood, bones.

Spark -
Through yawning throat complete with clacker
         water rushes from endless acid gut,
         bruises, broken nails, blood, bones
         now washed in the floundering
         in, and again, through.

Spark -
Christ almighty! Votive penises of the impotent,
         erect in failure's terror, begging healing
         from monstrous witness.
How dark can this get?

He is
         neolithic now, neanderthal, lemur, cave rat, salamander,
         burrowing with  nameless instinct
         back beyond premonition of first breath.

Spark - at last, the Mooncheese,
         frosted utterwondering  otherworldliness,
         holed up here since hurtling from the sky
         back before god was born.

'Go on,' says god again, 'ask the Mooncheese'.

Man hushed his spark,
         and sat in silent reverence.

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Desert Omen.

 two coloured fish on the desert's edge,
In a net of vision cast wide
To catch this broad red land
And vast blue sky.

Soulfisher already gone,
Melted into the mirage,
Seeker's thirst enriched with each new move;
While surecrab deliberates
Between unparalysing the onward step
Or turning tail.

Neither forwards nor backwards,
While lifetimes pivot on the omen's moment,
On the bolt of bright spirit,
The silver fish that leads the dash
Out of the net

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Divorce and Rebirth

Just a photograph ....
On a bank: a lane, wooded one side,
The other rut into the grey fields slopes.
The man, the woman, the child,
On their way

Now the track has run to the wide open shore,
Of things to be decided.
They found themselves, there, seas apart,
And turned separate ways,
And the child was left
Facing the sea.

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Eye my world

The tiniest of empty seashells,
Pebbles and hollow crab claws,
Rock ranges with lichen tundra.
A giant snake-skin
Twigstripe tide-line
Patched with autumn leaves.
One green bottle, rolling in the tide,
Are we as near the end as that?

Rippled blue straits.
Sun's dazzling reflection
Cleaves the world,
Pierces the shore,
A sword in a stone.
A morse of white gulls swims,
A script flies
Over water's further wooded edge
Which lies dark, back to back
against  blue water.

Between blues of water and sky,
Houses slot in,
Then field and mountain
Rise in folds of velvet.

Launching from distant peaks
In a final, overhead arc
Of gull-bearing turquoise,
The circle returns,
Reconnecting  to my backrest rock,
My spine.

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Facing the Snow

Across ancient hills
Rooted in numb dream of midwinter,
A stinging wind wolfs from the white lands.
Snowen and leaping,
Grey falls come,
Whittled through clutches of  tilted trees.

Warm on old ways walk I
Because winter is my time.
Gone the false flare of dragged-out summer
The truth stands bare,
I tell so many
Becalmed in dying August.

A chimney over a rise,
A good roof, a twine door-latch.
Warm smell of hay
And a hearth as cold as  seedbed.
Barn owl swoops
From an attic of raven-nest.

A wanderer's trove,
In the snow and bitter wind,
I tell so many
Becalmed in dying August.

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Feet on the road.


Feet on the road,

                   A sense of vastness,

High snows and blue islands,

                   Rushing streams and strangers' fire.


Plod of monotony,

Babble of discord,

And in each moment of it,

                            A vision of elsewhere.

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Flies in Amber

We are on ice,
You and I;
Caught in glass,
Seeing, speaking, thinking,
But between us,
Stretches an endless inch
Of impenetrable clarity.

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 You are
Nearer than ever,
Now that you have to go:
A candle burning brighter
The blacker the night.
And now you go
Out into the crowds,
Barely seen,
Now hidden,
A drop of colour losing itself
In a clear pool,
Now gone.

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Ghosts of light and darkness

Ghosts of light and darkness
Dance wild invitations at the end of my reach.

A power in me wants to go,
The will of man says stay.

Leaves, leaving, lifting and gone,
Throwing me through the doorway
To taste grief's joys
And weep full spate for real.

Clad in flesh,
I burst.

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Gulls are flying

Gulls are flying
Over the foam,
The wind weighing their ways,
And leaving them
In a westward flock
On the shuddering sand.
Life's shoals stream away
But the hindering wind blows grey,
Sunlit poise
Sleeps for survival
And warmth hides
Under the white of their dampened down
And grey.

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Wincing and winding taut knots
In your  mind's wires.
Temples' cram burned,
Saw-edged biting glass
And shatters shot spineward.

Through hands' scarving
Fixing all I know
Onto the giving, and the taking away;

But too much dancing drowns the music.

Then you take my hand, relieving me of thought,
And spread it like a flannel
From side to side, now framing pain,
Now caging it,

And an openness,
A clean air,
Through me,
The tangled wires are straightened, you say,
(I doubt not you, but amaze myself.)

Your wholeness wonders me
To gladdening.

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I am not a poet

The craft and legend that father gives to his son;
Playing of free music  glistening in the night;
The song of still blue dew in lochans at halflight,
And the proud hand's satisfaction, the work new-done;
Cold greywater murder, the storm breaking the sun;
Lonely and frozen mountaintops, desolate white;
Stinging broadsiding gale, curt bitter winter-rite,
And warm blood's pleasure, squall-beaten, through weather won:
All these things the poet now chooses to ignore,
And surely, he is a most honourable man.
Why should words do the seeing that eyes alone can?
His words walk human talk, not that of living lore.
Able or not, he must put worlds right, forgetting
The ancient truths of life: dawn, day, the sun's setting.

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It could be missed


It could be missed,

Just for want of an outstretched hand,

Separate death on every island

Because no-one dared the sea.


But from such a scattering, here's a thing:

A navajo frame, threads of unsung mystics;

There, aborigine weft, tibetan warp;

In us all, colour and strength,

Spirit and science.


From every island hands dare the sea,

A new tribe is weaving

To warm mother earth.

It can be done.

It could be missed.

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1. Rhymespin

So, here and now we meet, you and I,
          eying each other warily, circumspect,
Ferryman Fox and Gingerbread Man.

Meanwhile from a rhymespin beyond,
          urgent figures insist:
                   ''Tell them the story, give them HOPE. Sing them the tale, so what has come to pass will cut                           through the years, shining in the voice like a blade''.
And thus it begins, if you will ..........
          me here before you and you before me ..........

..... Before me, like knots on lines,
          came all those others:
          father's furthest fathers,
          grandmother's grandmothers.
One bloodline to a green island,
          to beer-black bog-oak
          drowning under black potatoes and  red dragoons.
Another line beyond sunset
          to hunters of beaver and turquoise
          walking poised on tribal earth:
                   Cheyenne, Sioux, Oglala, Minneconjou:
      'The People'.

Names to put flames in the games of children,
          one little two little three little Indians.
Americans before  Yanks,
Gaelic before American.
          Grandmothers beyond Granma.

2.  Emigrant

'You're James Casey now,'
          a new name, jammed on without thought:
                   remnant  tenantry exported for a distant landlord,
          ignorance stripping well-won stripes
off a clan name as old as Ireland.


One choice  remained like a bad taste.
Cornered between gibbet, starvation,
          workhouse  and hard road labour,
          meek as Mary
          James Casey bit the bitterest pill
          till beyond sight of land,
          then gnawed wood for days in a heaving hold
with a hundred other fallen heroes.

Such fierce fire, can you believe,
          tangled smoking in this shawl
          woven by the Dagda,
          embroidered by CuChullain,
          preserved by endurance and curious vitality?
Centuries' rage at families' unravelling,
          dispelled not even by cold disbelief
          at the prophecies' awful truth.
Such heat in the emigrant heart,
          it  warms the tale
after five generations.

''James Casey, is it?''
America greets the survivor,
          this aged boy,
this name  with no ancestor.

3.  Seeing Moon

''Don't stare so, boy'', Granma grumbled one day,
          ''I swear, you have my grandmother's eyes ....... Seeing Moon they called her. What do you see when                   you ...........?''
          and she turned back to pickling eggs.
Betrayed in a world without mentor,
          I dared no reply,
          but when, easy as laughing,
          Seeing Moon spilled her visions,
the world listened, intent as cats.

Seeing Moon and America,
          in a voice silent beyond belief,
          held deep conversation.
By womantime she knew
          too true to say,
          the gist of life.
She released clues,
          stepping stones across dangerous water.
She navigated new tides in the Peoples' moving.
She felt the melt of  seasons
          and sang for healings and endings
and for the quicksand present.

She brought forth a daughter.
          She knows James Casey is coming.

4. Balance

This is the way of the waterwheel:
                   the grain is ground,
          the water flows on.

But in the way of wheels, and worlds,
          millstones can be stopped,
          crushing stilled,
water calmed for reflection.

Through bloodshed and trickery,
          at era's frontiers,
          the wheel rises from the race,
          slowly, slower, slow, it can, should, stop.
This dangling moment, the impartial wheel's tease:
                   the balance of red people and white.

Then, overbearing, overturning, overrunning,
          hope is toppled, history heaves through,
grist is ground.

5. Adrift

Honest, and stallion-strong given decent food,
          James Casey enjoyed wages' freedom,
          working the railroads' steel streets,
          shoving civilisation across the prairie
          like a blind horse backing a wagon
through a glazier's yard.

They say he worked well.
But adrift in drink,
          reefs of nightmare unkeeled his ship:
                   goading memories,
          a drowning confusion of redcoats,
          smoking crackle in the thatch,
          children shrieking for impossible protection;
                   all hell scratching his eyes,
          fury beyond bounds
          pounding his hands to hammers,
          the bitten-back spitting out,
          hurling back and threefold
the shame of disempowerment.

Just an ordinary man, what was he to do,
          the fury gone
          and three men with it,
          put to earth in coffins?
They say he makes a good soldier,
          now at least he kills in peace.

6. Scattered

A day of snow blew a stranger in,
          as if guiding his bloodied moccasins
          and soothing his cracked muttering.
In the lodge of Seeing Moon,
          from his random sense
          meaning fell like runes
Into her silent knowing.

At the breaking of winter's crucifixion,
          his scarred feet leapt away to the path
          like a bat to the air.
The tribe rolled slowly with the spring,
          stretched its limbs for summer lands,
          and the knowing shone again,
          glint of a deep fish,
at the parting of bright flowers.

Torn tribes, flocks of startled birds,
          scattered flowers,
          signs from far off swept hard as hail
          through wary summer.
Wounded pride laboured too dearly
          over despair and revenge.

Amongst  disbelief and confusion,
          Seeing Moon watches, still as glass,
the knowing so deep, so heavy.

Autumn returns her people
          to the wintering places,
          but now, hand in hand with a wise child,
          she follows only the seeing,
to a distant pool of confluence.

7.  400 years

The irresistible current of 1492,
          now four hundred years old
          and approaching delinquent maturity,
          eddies to another focus.
In they spin, red world and white,
          to a keyhole of history.
Above, a tornado scatters soul starwards,
          while below a whirlpool drags down the dead.

Frayed Ghost Dancers,
          limping Lakota families worn with war,
          burdened with unanswered prayers,
          stumble starving through midwinter fear
          from wistful past to clenched future.
Their white flag flies,
          a wounded bird in a winter wind,
          and dying blood
freezes in the snow.

Four troops of 7th Cavalry,
          bluecoat pony soldiers,
          search fullfed,
          hungry to avenge  Little Big Horn,
blue ants on the white land.

Evening conspires a meeting,
          a time of surprising compassion:
                   shelter, food, medicine, warmth,
          and the sly current sucks them in together
          to the chosen spot
on the banks of Wounded Knee.

8.  Seeing

James Casey is here, sleeping,
          tented in full uniform,
          as ice swirls in the air
          like the rain of Ireland
and settles all around like light.

Seeing Moon is here,
          eyes reflecting  lodge fires,
          but so full of seeing
          seeing is all:
                   the gathering of shades,
          a soldier chief coming,
          more pony soldiers,
          the tribe all around,
uneasy as hell.

Words without meaning
          struggle from somewhere in her head,
          take breath,
And James Casey starts as if shot.
Redcoats crash in,
          the thatch is ablaze,
          his children clutch his legs.
Yet through the flames .........
          ''Seamas O'Cathasaigh'', she breathes, in blanket and buckskin,
''Seamas O'Cathasaigh'', with a sound like the sea.

9.  Dream

Seamas O'Cathasaigh, inside out,
          from within a name with no ancestor,
          watches from premonition's outer dark
          a wake in a lit window:
                   where now there are fiddles,
          every dancer an Irish memory,
          rhythm rising in spirited delirium.
But a wider circle closes them round,
          redcoats, bluecoats, menacing nearer.
A wake within a wake.
Seamas O'Cathasaigh's screamed warning
          chokes in his throat,
          drowned by gunshot.
Dancers fall and vanish.
Soldiers lean in, red and blue round a pool of lead,
          but recoil riflekicked from their own reflections:
                   among them James Casey,
          bloodied to the hairline.

''Seamas O'Cathasaigh,'' the whisper again,
          and James Casey shudders awake, listening.
The dream fades, a gift withheld,
          leaving his old name rattling in his brain,
a butterfly at some forgotten window .

10. Power

Waking, eating,
          arming, preparing,
          saddling, mounting,
          positioning, watching:
                   James Casey at work, taking orders.

''Why are we so many?''
          asks Seamas O'Cathasaigh from within.
''Why crack a nut with a rifle?''

Tepees, shelters,
          women, children,
          families, babies,
          sick, exhausted,
          old men, crones.
Tired warriors.

Surrendered rifles  stack up in council centre,
          soldiers still take tools, axes, knives:
                   power transfers.

''Why four Hotchkiss cannons?''

Medicine man, dancing,
          ghost-shirted woman, staring,
          young brave, resisting,
fumbles an accidental shot.

That's why.
Quick as traps, triggers trip.
Red people  scream on the run,
          blue soldiers leap to the chase,
          shrapnel kicks children skywards,
          bullets shred the white flag.
The possessed pursue the terrified,
          terrorists pursue the dispossessed.

11.  Ice

By nightfall,
          of three hundred,
          half lie hard as ice.
Some crawl  to freezing freedom,
          others break and fall.

Captives by the wagonload
          await a church key,
          but penned in white church's cold comfort,
          mangled sheep in shepherd's fold,
          few can read the decorations:
                   Peace on Earth, Goodwill to Men.

Four days past Christmas,
          four centuries since Columbus,
          Seeing Moon reads the knowing:
                   here at Wounded Knee lies the dream of The People.

12.  Lifelines

Winter thawed,
          the snow's bloodstory blackened
and returned to the soil of a new America.

James Casey, as guilty in the blue coat
          as any in the red
          and half-blinded by friendly fire,
          thenceforth shielded his flinty tempers,
          and continued west.

The buckskin woman and her child,
          half-seen by lantern-light,
          half-recognised in a whisper,
disappeared, a dream in the dawn.

          even from such final divorce and estrangement,
          here I am,
          the seed of generations leading back:
                   mother line to that red,
          father line to that white.

And casting back, turning this like a tidegift
          in the wondering mind, this way and that .........
          could Seeing Moon in wide-eyed knowing,
          or James Casey in the black of his blind eye,
          ever have foreseen,
          through the needs for justice or redemption,
          through the love of one for another,
          in the twinkle in the eye,
          in family,
the re-lacing of such sundered lifelines?

Their hope,
          begotten in rage,
          bloodfostered, dreamshifted,
          maybe at last hauled these lines together in this storyteller's bundle:
                   to heal  Wounded Knee
          in the here and now of you and me,
          to still the mindless millwheel
for Seeing Moon's reflection.

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Once, when the world was young, came pride before a fall.
I invited disguised vandals into my house:
Friends they came, but all of us underwrote their rout
Dearly, in suspicious trust and embattled walls,
Five cold years of closed curtains and bolted never
And retreating colder still from misguided grace.
Then a bird, flung on warm storm, crashed through the locked panes,
Melting mindseige, decreeing it banned for ever.
Phoenix flew, but  doors remain open still, waiting,
Sea and mountain winds cleaning out the dust, filling
The home with scents of wild herbs and readying
The hearth for the visitor. When you come calling,
Or if you should happen along, walk in singing,
Be at home, we'll share it all and call it living.

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Big man Michael,
Has brought out  flowers
From behind his back.

Somehow, however,
Flowers are not wanted,
And petals fall,

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New brook

Late of an autumn evening
After a day of torrential rain,
Across the green, dew-bright fields,
A wintry sun sets white
Into a bank of pale blue, silver and grey.

A new brook flows through the grass,
Out to the sea
Where Lleyn and Bardsey lie,
Across a mottled plate
Of snow leopard water.

Autumn birdsong in the sloes,
And blackberries,
And a new brook is silver.

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Nov 5th

Like a foaming skiwave, snowcresting, airbattered,
The autumn clouds, diamantine drifting,
Prehistorically slow, are drifting
Past the dyke's high chestnuts where sunlight is shattered
By the wrensheart fluttering of the proud trees' leaves.
The lofty blue, the flung snow's fine flightway,
Red-carpets steady, stately gulls by day;
By night it is a fabric starvoice redwings weave.

But tonight the redwings see grounded stars spread out
Below: in crazy, shouted circles fires
Glint, celebrating human firework rout
And making their own clouds. But still the mooned mist seeps
Grey across these fields, flows in like instinct,
Fire's call, autumn clouds, or flocks in fired deeps.

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Of Silent Symphonies

'There are trees',
Said the dawn-bright apple flames to the alien poet.
But the social commentator, long contracted
To new wave industrial lust,
Had no time for that quiet whisper.

The pregnant one laughed with the wayward wind
And touched the poet's arm, bright-eyed.
The man of words, however, lost in his own ego,
Found art for love's sake too real
For one only weekending in a second home.

On the evening hill sits a silent countryman,
His golden poem glowing, unfound, a hidden hazel.
'You asked me to explain my work?' he said at last
To the one called poet,

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Flat Fenland fields,
a wide spread of solitaire under torn-open tumbling clouds:
crops in rotation, spades, hearts, diamonds.
Safe as concrete, a whisker from flood and high water,
dry earth with stormsurge nightmares.

Thrown inland by gales at sea,
a shoal of weathervane waterbirds: a seated audience
to a concerto for cloud and wind,
waiting for what played here once, to resound again,
the whole works,

tossed from eviction to storm and back,
re-occupying the footprints of uncounted short generations,
refugees on home soil, changed soil, spades, diamonds,

waiting without knowing or expectation,
for water's return, the turning of the times,
the tide to end games.

Under the fen, dormant lifeseed,
Patient as bitterns, ancient as pike,
fragile as life,
tough as old stumps,
real as landscape:
to endure is to be alive.

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The hill is an oval mound,
Covering bygone gold, they say;
A womb of goodness,
A lovetrove.

The lip of the hill fort
Borders a tumulus,
But high and almighty,
Piercing the peace,
A monumental english hero's cannon
Subtle as rape.

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Poole’s Cavern

funnelwhirling  chamber of stone, inverting
up out to sky, down in to core

veering, spinning, dance in rock
with curtained audience of crustacean memory

man stands, feet planted,
spine aligning,
drinking wonder,
spirit stretching between heaven and earth,

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Red and Blue

Take a blue horizon,
To wrap  around you.
Take a red sun
And have it inside you,
Glowing warm in misty fields.

Choose only the best,
Nothing less.
Come up screaming for the spark of your life.

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San Ciprian

Straddling a milestone on the edge of Spain,
A song in my throat,
A head full of distant people - and questions - questions:
Thoughts make choice harder,
First impulses were easy:

Yet another choice.

Wind shoulders past,
As if to get indoors
Before the snow comes.

Dog bark,
Snow on the wind,
Faces in the chestnuts.
Woodaxe clack,
Cock crowing,
Shiver in the shoulders.
Smell of woodsmoke,
Sounding  cowbells:

No answer.

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Lift me from this stormbeach,
cherish me in the womb of your hand,
sit me there, a sun-warmed world-egg
pouring ancient thought through your skin.

Throw light from me against the soft sky,
an eyespell in flying crystal
trickling flickering vision.

Falling, my cracking bounce
is the break of your bonesong,
your whole life passing
in one of my inbreaths.

Hold me again,
smell saltstars and shipwreck
as I drift on your tongue.

Ask at the Masons',
try me at the Philosophers',
hurl me against the Rock of Ages,

look me in my granite eye
and tell me I have no enduring quality.

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Stray Dog

i)       Have you ever seen
         Through the eyes of Stray Dog?
         Ever been lost, then found Friend,
         A street-level mutual saviour?
         Then, street-cornering,
         Found Friend gone?
         I met Stray Dog last night,
         And we picked a bone with humankind.

ii)      Goaded, baited, flea-bitten to frustration,
         Stray Dog, spinning like a Mad World,
         Ran beneath the wheels of Fate,
         And a million parasites were left homeless.

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Sudden echoes

                                      Sudden echoes:

                                               In faces,






                                      As in dreams, half-seen,

                                               changing and forgotten,


                                                         to no other.

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Tarot on the table shows pictures of my life:
Death, rebirth and balance, the mother and the wife;
Time to use the lessons and travel through the night,
Sacrifice and labour to free the inner light.
Swallows on the wires, pilgrims meeting at a cross,
Dynamic in readiness, gathering no moss.
Generations are fledging, waiting in the wings,
Watching from the nest as the caravan begins.

Over vinyard, snow and desert, instinctive flight
Goes on, exchange no loss, grass for sand in due course.
While under a chattering sky and phone-wires tight
With birds, the cards say ' be bold, be intuitive'.
Excitement and poise, destiny's unravelling:
Tales of Algeciras, a glimpse of Arecife.

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The Beacon

Not so many years ago, in child's time,
I  hunted immortality
Along the spine of Wat's Dyke.
Weatherspells wove around me,
But cloud-tamer I thought myself,
Lifted by Earth and Air,
Drunk with sky.

Who but one who flies
With swifts, stars and eagles, I argued,
Having begun to fathom
The galactic wonderful blue,
And carrying a measure within
Can hope to have light by which to see?

'Fool on the hill,' they said,
Never climbing, for fear of falling,
Never seeking, for fear of finding,
Safe in clouded middle-distance,
Never daring the beacon.

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The Common

There's a romance in the book of the land,
About commons:
Childhood and wildwood,
Earthkind and personkind,
King and commoner,
All equal
To the great leveller,
Here where nature and civilisation overlap,
And community touches its roots:
So the story goes.

Some meet lovers here,
Others find their maker.
Some exercise unfit thought,
Others, thought unfit, exercise.

Human-deep,  this romance is,
With the leveller  pinned down in the lab,
Inconvenient roots  bullied out,
And civilisation's white lava
Overflowing nature's every buttress.
From inside the briar, from underground,
From within the oak
We are the stuff of nightmares.

At every stump stand saddened ancestors,
Curators of fading relics
Cherished since the leveller last played fair,
Since we also were afraid at times
Down among the roots of our community.

There's a blinding truth in the book of the land,
About the commons and the blank pages between,
About childhood, wildwood, king, commoner and  the great leveller:
In the epilogue,
Where themepark
Covered all wilderness.

The end.

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The Forge

It would be easy to sleep under the stars here,
With bright islands of sky
In the red waves of this rusting roof.
Brick walls,  to cowhorn height,
Juggle bleached slats, to hawtip.
Bats cling to crumbling beams,
Shreds of soot
Above the open throated forge hearth.

Nettles reach for low lintels through rusty horseshoes:
There is no luck here
Where shining snailways wind at will over windswept cobbles,
 Wet roads in moonlight.
Sliced through the waving hedge,  the slats,  the empty manger,
The evening brings light and colour from somewhere brighter.
A clanging blackbird mourns in mimicry
A dead blacksmith.

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The Kill

Carpets, chrome and comfort:
Early, (before coffee),
When neanderthal man walks abroad
In the guise of woken intellectual,
I flushed a law-student at his text.

A valleys boy, hung over in perpetual scrum,
How he bated over his paper,
And darted a glare like a startled goshawk.

Of predatory poet:
The kill made,
The prey carried,
Here lie the bones of it.

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                  are places I meet myself
                  face to face,
                  along with the cupboard-bound skeleton
                  and the wearer of empty masks.

                  are places I leave my life at the door,
                  and enter, as a stranger sometimes, into myself.

                  are places to curb and channel
                  into a selfsong of moving beauty.

                  are places where night is clear,
                  and the bold  star shines finer;
                  where  sudden foam
                  glancing rainbows
                  surges from the deep and sparks
                  in one free sweep.

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Opened oyster
Scattered loose the pearl
That rolled and fell,
To be found by dealers.

Haggling the price
Brought down the black lightning,
And Tom is dead.

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See, but not see,
Now, but not now,
Wild gypsy eyes,
A flying clock.

Words that pulse
Like a spring,
Scales of the unpitched,
Freedom's discipline.

Manic genius, split and perfect,
Soul of the tear in the eye of the storm,
Storm in the eye at the tear of the soul.
Bloodlust, magus,

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Triskel and starfish


Triskel and starfish                                                         Triskel y estrella de mar
Changed hands,                                                             Cambiaron de manos,
Ancient bartering:                                                          Trueque anciano:
A catch of pearls from the Ría,                                        Una redada de perlas de la ría
For a mine of Britonic tin.                                               Para una mina de lata britónica    
With fatted wineskins and ripe hams                              Brindieron al comerciante
The trader was feasted                                                   Que bebiese de las botas engordadas,
Before his flight back to Wales                                        Que comiese de los jamones maduros,
With the eternal gannets                                               Antes que se fuera para Gales
That wing, for ever, it seems,                                         Con los alcatraces eternos
From now to a spindrift horizon                                      Que vuelan, parece que para siempre,
Years yonder.                                                                 Desde ahora a horizontes rociados
                                                                                     Donde el viento del mar moja los años.

She buckles her cloak about her                                     Ella abrocha su capa, embozándose,
And stores wisdom from the slow growing                      Y cosecha la sabiduría que lleva
Of the grape.                                                                 El crecimiento lento de la uva.
He sheathes his sword                                                   El envaina su espada
Between pearled leather                                                En cuero perlado
And watches for boats from the south                            Y busca barcos del sur
In the frozen dew of the dawn.                                      En el rocío helado del alba.                                                                  

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Two friends

He scratches and claws at friends,
Hurts, angers, exasperates them,
Makes himself too much a friend
Ever to be a friend,
In his lonely, unsettled search
For friendship.

She wanders in ambiguity,
Never speaks of love,
Only unlocking her mind
And touching, by chance,
When trees blow together in a wind.

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Unaccustomed Grace

An unnaccustomed grace,
A daydream of dawn
Came into my words,
Music and movement

I am one with my path again
And it is good as laughing.

A barren time has gone,
When I struggled .............
But let it pass.

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Unaccustomed Grace (ii)

A split skull.
Concepts, light through bones
Screaming out into space:
Dispersal and death,
Life and movement,
Fire from flesh.

Inertia, there was before.
Love worn thin, bitten back.
Inner me cut off, fight muffled,
Pillowed face.

Then, lifting hands,
Firm love,
Helping me breathe, smoothing the skull.

Newness so new,
Now is an instant old
And then, so far away,
Seems just before.

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Warm Stone

Old ways deep between hedgebanks,
Ringed hills, eyries of old,
Mills, barns and swallows.
Corn of the wolds,
Apples of the vales,
Brown country people,
Stiller, quieter,
Feet on the earth.

Prehistoric horizons
Under the setting sun,
Or mechanised agriculture
Remorseless through the rain.

Warm stone, still pools.

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Which end the candle?


Still swallow-torn

I make no hoard

But rip roots

And move.



Stab and linger,

I to I,

Of a stranger's sudden

'Are you, have you, will you

My love?'

Trips my running.


You come early.

No vines cling

Where the wanderer smoulders.

Will you burn lady, as well,

Or will you make wine?

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Whisky and Gods (iv)

Celtic music, brimming
With wild western natural life,
Accompanied by  blown clouds
Playing the bodhran of the moon,
Makes me bury my face
In the flowers of the dewy morning machair
And run and fall and laugh
LIke a mad child
On the golden sand;
Makes me  lose myself
In the waters of the wilderness;
Makes me  become as
Nothing, as clear,
As crazy as the first note.

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Travelling past lit homes' kitchens,
Travelling alone, in a crowd,
Waking alone, dreaming alone,
Fields of flowers,
Wild beaches,
Snowy tents,
And Indian heat,
Labour, pruning and planting,
Loving, touch and cherish,
Words of sleep, and wonder,
Moondew and mountains,
Leave me aching
With the longing
To be whole.

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Wiles of the wind

In the midst of life we are in poetry:
Winter trees, simple as inspiration,
Leap or writhe birdward
To people the skyline's marches.
Stickle stubble lies deeply dormant,
Seething with gleaners
That hie to the haws at footstep's fall.

Crows and daws
Meddle and mingle
Marchmad in the
Blown thrown snowed gusting:
Settling to earth they squabble and court,
High they quiver with impulse,
Checking the wiles of the wind
As easy as winging.

A drowsing monk,
The mountain reaches
For a cawl of fine-spun
Tassel-trail snowcloud
Thrown  from the west,
To thicken the thin
Whin and bracken habit.
A cold grey shadow of memory
Reminds me that in the midst
Of life, I am alone.

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