Poem: The Murder of Morrisons

cattle markets

A skeleton of steel looms in the dark,
In the old Cattle Market opposite Bailey Park,
From Market Place Rise, ‘tis a cancerous cathedral,
Not yet malignant, but still germinating evil

Oh, monster of homogeneity – cannot you remain
A jumble of ruins of which we cannot complain?
I look forward to when all our supermarkets, shabby,
Are as derelict and ivy-covered as our monasteries and abbeys

When aisles no longer peal with barcodes being scanned,
Those acres of tin-canned fecundity, sterile and bland,
Grow no more – unwanted Morrisons – superstore of the abyss,
Spread no more cells of your cancer’s metastasis!

But crawl back to the corporate cesspit from whence you came,
No more a blot upon Abergavenny’s humble fame,
Along with Subways and MacDonald’s – it’s enough to make you pop
At the endless proliferation of needless coffee shops!

And if The Sugarloaf were the volcano it was always meant to be,
I would pray for it to pour its lava all over thee,
And all those godforsaken, identity-robbing shops,
Would be imprisoned forever within gorgeous igneous rocks

The Rebekah Rioters will give each other high-fives,
And our small market town will as a market town thrive,
And Morrisons will be another dodo – another fossilized trilobite,
To help our archaeology professors get to sleep at night!


Poem: My Twin Brother


It is true I died a long time ago,
But discontented with death, I found a way to renew,
Leaping out of the grave, I inscribed my own tomb,
Painted with the ink from a shaggy inkcap mushroom

As an imposter in this world, from churchyards I seldom strayed,
Without tombstones to bolster me, I affeared to be waylaid,
By life much too lively – not as sweet to me
As a flock of long-tailed tits in a dying Rowan tree

But when twilight deliquesces, I still sometimes creep,
To the grave where my twin brother does disingenuously sleep,
Kissing cheeks, and shaking hands, we take eachother’s places,
To test who can tell apart our living and dying faces

Poem: Skeletons In The Chapel


Sipping wine in the back of the chapel,
The organ booms with apocalyptic rattle,
Blistering stained glass into people’s limbs,
And infecting our hearts with the strangest of whims

The clergy now are skeletons all,
Caught up in the organ’s thrall,
Raising hands, they jump up higher
To ascend the murky spire

And from this pulpit – seat of sky,
They embrace one other – say goodbye,
For theirs is not the time or place
To be anywhere but outer space

With Bach or stranger tunes undemurred,
They assault the galaxy as a herd,
Cattle grazing on the stars,
Filching lost moons in milkshake bars

Oh, Lord of Skeletons – Skeletons behold!
It is time for you to break the mould –
I have no use for bomb or abysm-
No impending earthly cataclysm

My name is tattooed inside a flower,
There is no antidote to love’s power,
Kiss me, hold me, sing out my praise,
Help me to live out the rest of my days

For in your blue eyes I can see,
A happiness locked inside of me,
And when in Bristol Harbour we’ll be found,
I will sleep without a sound


Poem: Holy Land


Scatter my ashes in the woods,
No holier land conceiveth I,
No Jerusalem or Palestine,
Tibetan Lhasa or Himalayan sublime,

But the soil and water of the River Wye,
Are quite holy enough for me,
No desire for The Ganges nigh,
When I could have these valleys green,

And lose myself in Lady’s Park Wood,
The Little Doward’s limestone cliffs,
Or from Yat Rock espy the terrain,
Of Herefordshire rolling quick

And who will join me on these walks,
A pilgrim in this palace of trees,
Will give me love to keep me warm
In this everchange of nature’s confederacy?

I hope it will be you, my darling,
Who will be right foot to my left,
Who will be the inhale to my exhale
When I am struggling for more breath

But you enfold me, calm me, open me,
As a key unlocking latch of door,
Unto your glass, I will pour me,
Drain me, always search for more

In this quiet infinitude of man,
In this library of secrets, by crows surveyed,
You have the power to be my making,
And to be there when I am unmade

Unmade, yet never lost, not quite,
For there is a light under everything,
There is a song of whispering might,
That never loses its voice to sing

So, tree me, darling, branch me, leaf me,
Be the bark that ne’er will unsheathe me,
Be the Venus to my Mars,
Be the space between the stars

Be the rainfall on my lake,
Be the wine, my thirst to slake,
Be the building – be the stone –
Be the mansion I call my home

But most of all, my dear, be mine,
Be the needle on the pine,
Be the mountain, be the rills,
Be the hollows my mistiness fills

And, mysteriously, I’ll come down,
To be the thorn upon your crown,
To be the cells within your blood
Scattering my ashes in the wood

Sonnet: Love In The Making

Shelling by Night 1941 by Eric Ravilious 1903-1942

Pulling back the sable curtain of shade,
Unfolding happiness in the shadow of sorrow,
The theatre of light the mountains displays,
As I climb through the thickets of thorny tomorrows,
Searching the escarpments, the ridges, the plains,
Along river and canal bank, by raven’s call beckoned,
Wishing to surrender all the luxuries of pain,
Endured for years, days, minutes, and seconds,
I want to learn about you by kissing you,
To map out the seasons of your emotions and needs,
Desire puts the cartographer back into the blue,
To root out the affection on which our happiness feeds,
My heart is open – in your chosen room,
Waits love in the making – a kiss in the womb


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