Monday, 12 December 2011

First frost, late

First frost, late

The winter when it
comes brings frozen flames
and glow borrowed from the needle
strewn floor

The sloes have gone
bruised, lost,
chalky skin darkening at a rubbing thumb
and before them the blackberries
and the hairy hips and the hawthorn

It will be months now
before I can find things in hedges

The other day there were mushrooms
but they weren’t quite right

Nothing happens

Trees still have
their leaves and the air
its fug

But the frost crunches in the morning
and the sky is huge and slate grey
or else bright
bright blue

at night there are
some stars

Thursday, 1 December 2011

What is nice / To the distant shore

What is nice

I took the wood off the compost heap.
It was too big so I cut it up with the good saw.

It was wet,
some bits frozen a few
rings in

So I split some of the smaller bits and
laid them on the hot coals, glowing orange
and translucent

so that they would burn and
the bigger logs could dry on top.

With the waiting logs I made a pile,
watched them whistle and spit, snap

like home,
where my hair and my
skin smell of smoke.

He had drunk too much to walk straight.

It doesn’t matter
all his life he has walked me straight.

The axe sparked where it hit the stone ground.
What is nice is when you don’t have to understand. 

Winter 2010

To the distant shore

To the distant shore there was a light flooding it came on ships with bright green sails
I saw you up in the mountains where the wild pigs snuffle and
ruck up the dawn’s damp mud
and the streams swell with rain water
I had been in those places before
they swum up like slow grey fish from the back of my brain, rippling the surface so gently I
could barely tell, but could see the colour ring out like a drunk radio wave
It flickered my eyelid
To see the clouds shadows on the scrub mountains
To see the shafts that break through them, and mirror the emeralds in the grass.
The smoke from those houses dwindled upwards from the bottom of the valley to the top,
fingers raised to the sky, which raised back, shrugged off by the mountains like a scarf, so
that there was a gap between them, which gave the mountains a dark glow,
thudding like a headache on the skyline.

I was in the oven of the earth, trembling as a plague for lack of sleep

I can see the lines they are sediment on a hill's side
They are the hillside, millions of years
"this one is the dream of the rocks” 
Teach me the times I have missed 
staggering through blank faces and screwed tight nighttimes, desperate with silence

One day I will make you a thing it will bring tears to the eyes of the world and swell like a tumour in the brain of time.

It was an old country, the roads wouldn’t take you anywhere
no matter how many times you tried
they just led round in smaller and wider loops.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Badger / The Green Bird


He’s there, by the side of the road,

head facing away from it, in
the direction he was going

His chin rests on the edge of the ditch
nestled in nettles,
just covering his right eye
but I can see it’s closed
the closest thing we have
to a bear
muscular, low to the ground,
neck lost in powerful shoulders
feet smaller than you would expect

No sign of any major injury
little blood,
which means
he probably died from a broken leg,
a glancing blow
to the side of his solemn head,
which gradually the flies
came and buzzed around,
sensing the end
sensing death, his eye
swirling in mute panic, or maybe 
and black back breathing
up and down, calm and resigned.

Around, the houses
sit smugly at the end of
long white fenced gravel paths, splayed
on the fields like crusted cow shit.

The thick fluttering of a flag
and a bright white face
at a narrow window.   

October 2011

The Green Bird 

There was a small bird, green,
and the apple tree was his favourite.
He sat all chest and feet
on the branch like a tear in a page.

The apples changed and grew,
they fell and moulded
And we gathered the elderflower
to make you a potion to lift your heart

I don’t know if the green bird watched us
but once we had skeletoned
the tree of its flower he flew,
and it was beginning to get dark.

Late Summer 2009

Monday, 17 October 2011

The Kill / Hiding / A stage

The Kill

Black teeth and wires
dead wood ripped from grey scrabbling earth
the thighs and the root ends
sprawling veins still damp
and humming.

He cut a path through the field, dragging
the beast behind him,
its open eye white
and unseen in the dark save by the scatting arc
of the dangled torch
breathless and nervy in my sweaty
cold palm.

Limbs stiff and bouncing,
hopping over rivets and ploughscars
whooping and bleeding no stars
came to us, tripping on pebbles
and pumpkin creepers.

Tugged fur came off in clumps at the rasp
of clutching hands

And his head
shaved and drawn,
faced forward, brow breaking the air’s
waves to the fire

that burned up hooves and hairs
and drew in the night around it.  


Sleep soundly like a
crab, all in a space
of rocks
and a drip of water
all spiny shell safe and
egg shell white, wet sand.

Only the calls catch the wind
The towers, the lighthouses.

A stage

Everything seems cut out,
in layers, falling neatly behind
the last,
slotted into the earth

Here is where the house
Here is where the trees
Here is where the trees

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Truffle hunting / He wrote his name / I remember when the lake froze / The Black Bear

Truffle hunting

they had tied bells to the dogs' necks
they ran like a grotto over the slope, flicked in and out of the tall pines
that are misted in the morning
sometimes you could swear the mountain was a cloud and that the cloud could be breathed away
but no. the hounds chased through the trunks
determined against the cold, although spindly.

I could not see the man.

in that place the boars dig with their noses and the people are lost
and you are.  

Winter 2008/9

He wrote his name

In the dust, he wrote his name
but water could not hold it
so he took the bark from an old oak tree
that was cracked and carved
as rocks by magma
or an old man's tongue
and slept the night in the dust
where names were finger traced
in the safe place, where only
the cuckoo spit that fell on his face 
in the morning could bother him

I remember when the lake froze

I remember when the lake froze
and we rushed
to skid around on the
we jumped and jumped on it
to make it
but it never did
that lake must have been
frozen deep deep down
probably for miles
and miles
I remember the bits
of things stuck
in the ice
leaves, twigs
half in
half out

The Black Bear

The idea of the Bear unnerves me
silent and huge, ash and fur and
red eyeball looking.

Upright, like a man standing
paws leather and ready, hung
shadows on padding gloom
over the floorboards.

Hollow bone, echoing
like a horses gurn
waiting at the top of the stairs.
It is wrapped in the sheets and breathing
waiting unmoving and unbending is the Black Bear

Not like the stars
not flicking between the trees, not hiding

not concealed
a speckle on an oak leaf.

It is in the clearing
unheard, felt like a lift in your stomach, a stone
on the nape of your neck
waiting in the kitchen with the peelers and the forks.

Behind you, on all fours
slit shaped nostrils
looking up.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Frost / Almighty glow-worm / We came back


There was frost on the ground this morning
when first  I woke
and was confronted by the day
Everywhere was clothed
in a layer of white
that clung to the fibres
of the earth
cloaking, suffocating
it was clean
and the grass shivered.
Then I slept again
and dreamt
And when I woke the frost was gone

Winter 2006/7

Almighty glow-worm

Almighty glow-worm,
I have seen soft trod
soles rippling grass on the hillside

and tank tracks
in the frozen mud filled
with sewage

Almighty glow-worm
I have seen bomb blasted
buildings like stacks of wafer

and all the while
the prayer song of
a hundred million minds abounds

Almighty glow-worm
I have felt time like spiders
claws on my shoulders, bristling
my neck

men moving mountains
in and out of market archways

and phantom housed cavities
of faces at every turn

I have seen a city
with death in its every step
and I have felt far from them

for they are nothing but walking
inevitabilities that shift themselves
around like sand in nothing
but an impression of what it is
to be alive, all mighty glow worm

I have seen above the walls
around my forest and I have
climbed up high in the cedars
and the story trees
and tasted the chill air
and there has been a wake in front
of me a gentle sea beast breathing
up and down 

and I have walked out
across the hills to meet it,
across the humming grass,
but when I reached it
it was not there
and from the tress the loudspeakers
sang out one and a half thousand years
of nothing but an impression
of what it is
to be alive 

Cairo? Early 2008

We came back

Then we came back
And it was as if we were never gone
We met up like lines on an etch-a sketch

and it flowed like a river

There were all the same old things
the same sounds and smells
and silences
it was like the whole thing had never happened

but I still find sand in my pockets
and in my eyes in the morning

you woke me
held me in your arms and
carried me through the darkness of the garden

swaddled me in the warmth
of the night-time sky
in the daylight places when they are
left to themselves

At first I wouldn’t come
but you picked me up and brothe
the dreams from my brow
lifted the midnight sack from my small face

and showed me
the sky torn apart
like orange peel,
like cracking paint
like icy puddles

behind it there were war colours
dawn colours

When we came back, like pieces of string.