Diary: Llangorse Lake & The Wyche Of The Reservoir


King Kieron generously takes us on a short tour through The Brecon Beacons so my girlfriend can get a better impression of Wales’s scenery. First stop – Llangorse Lake. Mallards interspersed with barnyard ducks, Black Indian Runners, and a rare sighting of a mandarin. It looks too beautiful to live – the markings on its chest like an oriental bib. A reconstructed Iron Age Hut on stilts looks out onto The Crannog – an ancient, man-made island.
I pluck a wild mint leaf and feed it to Stebba. Purple-haired reeds conceal the motions of miniscule creatures. Chevron pathways are momentarily etched in the lake by water fleas. Mayflies, with eccentric curved antennae like arched eyebrows, mill about us. Their presence betokens the cleanliness of South Wales’ most ancient lake.
Rain comes without warning. The previously motionless water becomes a harvest of ripples, the visual equivalent of criss-crossing telegrams. How I would’ve loved to live here as an ancient prince, fish-fed, time unsped, living in verse to the languor of The Llyn, my nose a bedchamber for algae scents, forget-me-nots quilting me to sleep. Too soon we leave behind its willow pollards, and pied wagtail conspiracies at noon.
Back now, past conical mounts, hills that grows into witch’s breasts, over Llangynidr’s one-cart bridge, for tea at The Walnut Tree, to taste my first cup of green tea for months. Stebba samples her first Welsh Cake, yet happily, remains Swiss. She can leave the Celtic Melancholy to me! We ferry on past non-conformist chapels of corrugated tin to the tune of lovers jumping naked out of windows.
Talybont-On-Usk Reservoir. A chaffinch perches undaunted on the railing. The Reservoir reflects the sky and outlines of the valley that encircle it. Kieron reflects on the military exercises he used to do here, caustic runs through conifer plantations. A railway once ran over these hills, peopled with forts, Celtic and Roman.
While looking at tree-stump disguised as a standing stone through my binoculars, we are interrupted by The Wyche of The Reservoir – (abetted by her little dog) – who taps us on our collective shoulder, to relay us messages from the spirit world:
“The Poles are reversing – the seasons are out of order – the imprisonment of the enlightened is imminent – two-thirds of The World’s population will be slaughtered in a cataclysmic disaster – redwood roots sink as deep as their boughs – red kites are the sky’s implosion.”
She hands us all vivid blue stones, donations from the hills, and invites us all to receive her healing. Predictably, I am singled out as the one with the most latent spiritual power. We part ways, bundle back into the car, to sink into an evening of soup.


Poem: Beaulieu Wood


Scampering away from silent sunlight unseen,
Through pathways of darkness, holloways of green,
Where starved, straggly birches, and wind-whipped beeches,
Conceal mysterious nothings in bird-broken niches,
In this orchestra of silence, playthings of the weather,
All the seeds of life are concealed in a crow’s feather,
Relaxed, alert, hearing raven’s call in soft, muted tones,
Bells of uncertainty hung on the wind’s gravid groans

Poem: Limestone Dreams


The limestone here seeps into your dreams,
Pebbles embedded in quartz-stricken seams,
You can fall into empty air where the peregrine flies,
And coppice your own thoughts until a new forest does rise

Then out of the enchantment of swarming gloom,
A bat creeps out of the netting and circles your room,
With omens and prophecies, relinquishing strange jewels,
Singing to you, oneirically, in inaudible mewls

But to her, you are as a thousand shards of a mirror,
A rookery of sounds – the netherest of nevers –
There is no spite – only a refreshment of feeling,
The parishioner plants kisses that are ripe for the stealing

These flowerbeds are not earthly, their colours betray
Tones that are not possible to see in the day,
Creeping slowly through them disguised as shimmering petals,
Green fingers of bracken – teeth of precious metals

With sapphire smiles, turquoise, magenta, and gold,
The most luxurious things to be so wretchedly old,
But the soil is their pardon, the only Bible they read
Is written in the language of wildflowers and weeds

With Green Men in pews, thoughts eroding to silver,
Nothing is as enigmatic as The Wye River,
And with weepers of autumn bringing their evensong chants,
I will reap of the kisses The Parishioner plants

Nature Notes 17/9/2017


A new tangle of fumitory lacing itself around wooden fence-posts; mostly just leaves and stem, with a few, pink, fantasy flowers curving out here and there. Pink cones of amphibious bistort poke up through the rain-moistened grasses. Spidered gossamer rests in brambles – its chaotic, yet fine silk strands reminds me of the tangled neurofibrils in the brains of dementia patients. A crow eating chips from the sidewalk – food festival flotsam.
Grey wagtail, yellow-bottomed, leaping from twig to twig on The River Gavenny. Maple leaves sporadically scattered – the pioneer species of decay. A moorhen creeps through a floating island of herbage on a rain-glutted river. Call of long-tailed tits so ubiquitous as to go unnoticed. A robin lands on a molehill and then flies away.
The forlorn hope of a dog waiting at a back door. Three magpies in a row search the mown grass for grubs. The way-marking ash tree between the 2nd and 3rd field is suffering from ash flower galls. They look like clusters of rotten cereal glued to the branches. The clouds are solid bodies of rock, infused with seams of gold.


Poem: Near-Death At Sea


Harebells still grow from gravestones,
The loss of your body is the meat of flowers,
Lime trees scald out of the perimeters of a church –
The Dragon Tree doesn’t roar, but listens,

And what does it hear, frosting out rooks from that
Sacred enclosure? The rhythm of European accents,
And the thunder-call of waterfalls – the incoming
Tides of turbid waters

Marooned on this melancholic ocean,
I lose sight of land, but the see sky blush
The colour of dog rose and the organic candy-cane
Of bindweed from the sea, my raft waxing orange
To the tune of lost islands, and the spying-out of a
Peninsula where I might rediscover my lost treasure

But at the entrance to that cave lie the bones of many men,
Pick-pocketed by waves with wet-fingered license,
Sapphires burn hot into their grimacing skull caverns,
And I can hear the sea-notes of someone singing through that cove,
Luring and urging me on

Limpets amplify in their thousands of unthroated choirs,
As I damp-foot through rock pools, the snares of seaweed,
Mermaids emblazoned unseen on water’s merciless tabernacles

The song I hear is like a candle,
And the candle illuminates a hand-written letter,
The last writings of a nobleman from a slave-glutted

The skulls grin harder now, evaporating into sapphire,
Dripping into the space where the strange crawling things
Go, portals of darkness housing ever-sleeping lives that only
Fill their lungs with salt water once every thousand years

How could that song come from here?
Can rainbow melodies spawn in such abysses?
But all the world was sung out of silence,
Though I’m not sure I believe it:

Before there was silence, there was an endless cluster of notes,
Free from the responsibilities of either space or silence;
Only the chaos of reality could whip them into obedience,
Only the labour of digging into the earth could harden their
Undisciplined richness into the pain of beauty

We begin to go deeper now,
We walk so far into the darkness
That our rock-bottom feet bleed out to become
One with the waters; as we are too far below the earth
To even hallucinate a seabird, spates of whooshing fire
Fire-dance into stars; a galaxy of mere moments flash-gusts
Before us, like a tiny corner of colour caught in your eye’s retinas,
That soon stew your whole iris into that colour

The light bends and warps into electric dragons,
Saddling up on their back of sparks, dorsal ridges from
Which lightning sluices from the skulls of senselessness
Paroxysmically giving birth to sight in excelsis

Its voice alone is powerful enough to powder-crumble every cave,
A world-creating mouth burning planets and comets like blisters
And ulcers into the cold belly of empty space knowing only the
Hunger to paint everything into impossible colour

The search for the song has long-since been abandoned,
Your life a dementia – a happy amnesia – and you have
Forgotten the wind, the ocean, even entering a cave
Altogether – you no longer seek out your own treasure
Because you have been electrified by the stirrings of
Something far higher – a single flare that glisters with
More jewels than have ever been recorded, and in
Comparison to which The Domesday Book seems
A woefully incomplete ledger

Back into the furnace you go –
Back into the source-book of colour,
The throbbing paradise moans of the imagined and unimaginable,
Because paradise does moan –
It can hardly stand how excited it is to be itself,
Over-filling itself with the silver-sparking grit of sand,
Forgetting this over-abundance of ever-spawning majesty
Began life as a near-death at sea

Instead of our treasure,
We found this retinal stain cast-off from heaven’s choir book,
And hopped along the many-petalled cascade of flowering notes,
To returned to lovers, unfrozen, from lagoons unthawed since the
Last Ice Age

And I can’t say for certain if this is truly happiness,
Or just God getting carried away with his own colours


Poem: The History of Spring

The Greenhouse: Cyclamen and Tomatoes 1935 by Eric Ravilious 1903-1942

When you hear the sound of a bird call you do not know,
And all your manuscripts are trapped inside an old snow globe,
And the violence of frost must be avoided at all costs,
When the flowers ring wedding bells in the woods

Then you must trace your finger along an old dusty map,
And deliberately stick your hand in a rusty bear trap,
And walk through Wales with a cat o’ nine tails,
Lecturing the tongues of the dead

Then the riddler on the roof will stick out his tongue,
And we’ll return to the wood from which the wedding bells rung,
And to the melody of lost time, we’ll end this queer rhyme,
And rewrite the history of spring


Poem: Barefoot Up The Sugarloaf


It all started with a pair of feet.

Wishing to explore themselves, they explored

The world, walking hill and holloway, flirting with

Brooks, and immersing themselves in bogs, as the

Thistles and bracken rose up over their heads,

And beetles became the best of friends


I could kiss your face the way my feet kiss the ground,

Wrapping around the earth like a monkey’s fable, and

Skipping down The Sugarloaf like a wind-trodden satyr,

Getting stuck in places even the sheep do not roam,

And painting myself into the waste patches left by

Ancient UFOs


You can re-imagine the land up here,

Hedgerows the seams in a patchwork quilt,

Lumpy where the land has been well-slept in,

Waiting to be smoothed out by a lazy hand,

All the towns just a bad case of Athlete’s foot

Time will soon find a way to cure


Yellowhammers pound nails of song into my skull,

Bleeding melodies back into the land,

Stonechats speak the language of stones –

Their song is the lilting of reborn limestone,

Wheatears wiping their white arses with the purity

Of the Welsh sky


And if you can’t find a better place to die,

Sweep through St. Mary’s Vale on sheets

Of Green silk, and roll your tomb into the


Poem: Kali Makes Good

Kali has put away all her severed heads
And skulls – “No longer,” says she, “will
I be a lady of gore, but a lady of love!”

“I scarcely see how you can do that!”
Interposed her pet crow, whose sole
Livelihood depended upon her ability
To combine carrion with courtship

“No, I am done with all that!” she declares,
“No more will I thrust and frug until skin is
Worn away to bone and hoof,

“I will serenade the sun, and awaken to the day
In pleated skirts – I shall ice ski across frozen wastes,
And nibble on the nipple of every nunnery –
Not in the gnawing, blood-thirsty way in which I used,
But dainty and pretty, like a new-born kitten, that has not
Yet distinguished right from wrong –
Accepting one and deploring the other!”

“I’ll believe it when I see it,” scoffed The Crow,
“You were made to fuck the dust of the world.
You may work towards innocence and purity,
But you will do so with such impossible lust
And cruelty, that many would have refrained
From leaping into the grave, had you just remained
The war-hungry whore you are.”

But Kali was not the one to heed such words.
She put on her nun’s habit,
Assumed the form of a lamb,
And dawdled sweetly into the world.

But once a Goddess,
Always a Goddess

Kali travelled over dusty mountains,
Through endless fields of gold,
She tickled her cunt in old stone farmhouses,
And searched in the vastness to find the clitoris
Of the world

She travelled for so long that she forgot
Who she was and became a maid on a poor
Peasant’s farm

She sucked on the tits of cattle,
And so inflamed the appetites of the she-bovines,
They would go rampaging after the bulls, and leave
Them trembling, traumatized in silage barns

But then Kali forgot she was a milkmaid,
She tore off her clothes, danced across space,
Spontaneously, violently, and landed, uninvited,
On a madman’s star – and fucked him so violently,
He became sane, and afraid of his own sanity,
Doing everything he could to try and drive himself
Mad once again, like a chef trying to repeat a drunken
Recipe he knows he’ll never repeat

But Kali grew disinterested and drove herself elsewhere,
Landing on a sacred star, where sex and gender did not exist,
And peace and serenity reigned secure – within a week,
The planet was a forest of cunts and cocks – all the
Androgynous Ones were put to death, and the only
Thing more central than lust was eternal conflict and

Eventually the gods grew tired of this
And determined they must intervene,
And so, intercepting her as she hitched
A ride on a passing comet, they whisked
Her up to The Brahma Heaven that overlooks
The Earth

“Don’t you think you’ve done enough?”
Questioned Krishna, not knowing whether
To look amused or stern

“I don’t know who I am!” she cried
Triumphantly as a little girl, and such

Was the merriment of her ejaculated amnesia,
The whole heaven split in two, and went tumbling
Back to Earth.

When she awoke, she found herself beneath
A lime tree in a German park, with a sweet,
Dirty blonde woman sat beside her, stroking
Her false tresses and curls

“How can I do it, Stephanie?” she asked her,
“I try to be pure and innocent, and yet all I
Leave behind me is carnage and war –
How can I be as sweet and as kind as you are?”

Stephanie smiled and lowered her sweet blue
Eyes to meet those of the Goddess-bound girl:

“You are not designed to be sweet,” she said,
“And you can be sweeter by far by just being
Who you are. Listen to the words of your faithful
Crow – he will not lead you wrong,”

Then night fell, and the sky was as black
As a raven’s beard, and everything shimmered
With the dense foliage of his feathers, hypnotized
By his guttural squawk
She cuddled into his plumage, and,
In the softness of that sleep, she slowly
Returned to her original form, and the
Bandolier of severed heads regrew
As she nuzzled into his fur

And, closing her eyes as peacefully
As a little girl, she dreamed happily
Of violence and war


Poem: Sweetness On A Rainy Night

Paint peeling off an old door
Milks the memories of wood beneath,
Bereft of twig and leaf, chaotic hieroglyphs
Are gently thrummed by stochastic fingers,
Written by the pouring rain

The rain gives us all new means of passage,
Improvising pools, puddles and ad hoc brooks,
For blackbird juveniles to use as water slides,
With no more summer song to be sung for us,
The rain sings its song instead

I have prayed for this moment for a long time.
With the slippers of sleep tiptoeing on my peripheries,
I climbed into bed with the rhythms of a ghost,
And stretched out my arms until whole continents
Were warm and safe in the circumference of my
Not yet rainy embrace

Into the larval shell of your ear,
I whispered of reassurances,
And the shapes of faces that appear
In the contortions of clouds

I felt wounds – wounds that ran deeper than my own,
And I wanted to heal them – to pour honey into them –
To resurrect you from the touchlessness you feel has
Become your tomb

But with compassion so warm and cuddly,
I couldn’t help but feel perfectly sleepy,
And as I drifted off into your arms,
The rain peeled the paint away


Poem: Spider and Sprite


The spider sends out thoughts from her web,
And receives thread-like messages from the web of the night,
Feeling a tug – a yearning tremor of her matrix – she calls out:

“Who goes there?
Who are you?
What do you want with me?”

But the web becomes motionless and dull,
And she wondered if her predatorial instincts
Were beginning to trick her in her old age

And somewhere, on the other side of the world,
Where night has forgotten to be itself,
And all is enwombed in perpetual light,
A little bird shifts in its nest and sighs,
The ensemble of twigs groaning against
The yearning tug of the wind,
Which slowly whispers:

“Who are you?
What do you want with me?”

And in the minds and brains of animals,
Questions are always being sallied back and forth,
And the switchboard dilates with the impersonation
Of light, and sleeping crows hardly lift their wings to
The blow of far-off musket balls

Yes, things come together,
Even as we sleep,
And spiders and owls can regain their happiness
In the suspicion of a whimper

Learning to let the heart open up,
As we are cuddled by the questions
Carried on the wind