Poem: Sky Warrior


Buzzard, not the smartest of birds,
Your intelligence is in your instinct,
The lust of your programming

Euclidean geomestrist – the sky’s tawny compass,
Hunter of circles,
Shaper of predation

Inside you is a leopard,
Feathered, yet unfrantic,
Space-stabbing cries,
A sky warrior’s dialect

You have read all the lexicons,
All the grammarians of hunger,
And many scholars still worship
The cold stupidity of your fortitude

A weaponized wing,
A crow-taunting thing,
A heart-chaffing nest
To catch the clarity of spring



Poem: Joey The Underwater Milkman



After years of being a milkman,


Joey decided to become an octopus.


He studied them as much as he could.


 In the delirium preceding the slitting of his throat,


Octopi were his thoughts’ sole focus




In the following murkiness, the dark hours


Of draining blood, the growing schism


Between spirit and body, Joey’s essence poured


Itself back into the world, rewaking, couchant,


Before the throne of Jove, who, diving his soul’s purpose,


Cast him deeper into the sea’s foams




Then all was a chamber of blue,


Procreant from a shuddering shell,


He left his egg, fragile doorway of the world,


His hard, horny beak breaking through its bonds,


To clack into infinity




Not bird, nor fish, nor snail enlarged,


His thoughts expressed themselves


In the billows and contraries of undulant body,


Not a recoil, nor the spilling of crimson ink,


But a net, a hunter, a capturer, an acrobat






He danced with polymorphic agility through this matrix


Of ocean, seaweed-silhouetted, peeping beadily through


Shoal vistas, circumspect, puncturer of any thought,


Listen to his mind: the crunch of soft-tissue and bones




Concealed in pebbles,


Minareted in sands,


Perched on the brink of sub-aqueous cliffs,


Waiting, searching, fin-tasting and charged,


A maze of motion, of unwritten currents,


Jet-propelled prism refracting muddied


Fragments of stealth






But then days arabesqued into more than just


Stealth-lined shadows – of prying life-pryer:




The coral was coloured too harshly,


Dizzying his mind into unwelcome mazes:


What if there is more to being an octopus


Than being an octopus?




“There is,” unthroated strangeness confirmed,


“For all things stretch back to and emanate


From the centre. All things lead to where


Your tentacles are going, your thoughts


Disappear in discoloured ink.”




And he was a kid again, at the fireside,


Hearing his father wax lyrical on the delivery of fresh milk:




“At the centre of the ocean is an octopus bigger than all of this –


His far-reaching arms balance the eight directions,


Juggling the five elements,


His ink is the blackness settling the night,


His eyes the flash fire of ineluctable day.




“He Is the reason your Father dies after ejaculation,


And your mother a sack of eggs serrated by self-slaughter!”




“But why must I be so?


An eight-armed orphan to the world?”




And Joey remembered the seasons of his father’s woe,


The dread certainties manhood would make him mate.


He knew of no more earthly love than this.




So he cried into the ocean,


Neither man nor mollusc,


Just a net adrift, conundrum-captured,


Hunting and roaming,


While throats, still slit, dribble reality into the sink,


As The Baboon God beats out his own brains.




Poem: The Barn Owl


Beginning with the furry ridge above your beak,
Mite-eyed, I walk down the peacock patterns
Islamic carpeteers once wove into your back

For a short while, your body is my atlas:
I can spend my time tracing the fault line
Of your spine, every hollow of your vertebrae,
A chapel in which I can sit still and be

O, sweet barn owl! You whose screech
Kept peasants awake with thoughts of vampires,
And goat-sucking ghouls – why is it only behind a glass,
In the arms of taxidermy,
That your hidden presence can be seen?

Once the phantasm of farmlands,
You are now a museum geist,
Habitated in the sterility of mummified non-life,
Your spirit long since flown away

If I could use my mental powers
To inhabit the pale hidden limbs of God,
I would spread you out,
To be counsellor of every village,
Chaplain of every graveyard,
Watcher of unscripted stone

But, for now, I am the patron of your glass-bound self,
A dreamer of infinite birds


Poem: The Gull


A gull is an angel,
Agitating more than it soothes,
Exposing you to the wasteful entrails,
You would rather keep subdued

With wings white and broad,
A self-appointed choir of ululations,
He eats of the flesh of the Holy Lamb,
And lift himself above the nations

Yet you who poison the planet,
And render it a ruin for yourself and others,
You who are a pest unto yourself,
And a pest unto the world

You have the audacity to call him ‘vermin.’
This winged anarchist of God,
Who teaches us all how to laugh at disorder

If your harmlessness to this planet,
Could be as little as that of this bird,
Your saintliness would be of the whiteness of his wings,
And your laughter would be The Word


Poem: The Eternal Sparrow


It seems foolish and melancholy
To dwell solely on impermanence,
When past experiences dwell in what I presently feel,
And new experiences rekindle old flames,
Switching between streams of primary colours,
Finding continuity in the shadow of what is no longer there

The sparrow may no longer be in the hedgerow,
But you can find his echo in every hedgerow,
And his furtively swaggering call rings out from a blueprint
Even time cannot smother

For wings are the science of the imagination,
And they flap every time a thought returns to itself,
Like roots sinking through a decaying mother,
Buried in a graveyard of heather

To live with William Blake,
On an eternal lake,
In changelessly changing weather


Poem: The Restoration


It was hard earlier in the year,
Clutching shells and stones from the seashore,
When every second without paralyzing fear was
A second of success, but not one in which I could rejoice,
Knowing how swiftly and severely it could be undercut
And swept away – my safety not yet sealed by the satisfying
Certainty of boredom

There were many moments when I prayed,
I yearned for boredom – to experience the drama
Of the small – the Jane Austen banality of domestic

But I could not yet have it!
All was too intense, every experience,
Sharp and piercing, straining for blood without surcease;
A whisper in the skull could metastasize into a choir of paranoia –
A macabre thought could haunt me all day – a morbid sensation
Cling to me like bats to the roof of a cave

I felt the full reality of the Chinese curse:
“May you live in interesting times”

I came to distrust stillness:
You’re only safe when you cycle, sleep, or walk,
And I hated summer for the firmness of its fire,
The hound nipping at my heels to keep me tirelessly

Meanwhile, we sent messages and photos to one another,
I whispered your name as I walked in the woods –
A pilgrim invoking the ghost of hope,
Praying you would be the blade to cut my ties to pain;
All the suffering to which I had been so strongly committed
And which I now wished to divorce

You were my lighthouse, my other shore,
I felt willing to relinquish all of my religious
And spiritual powers and knowledge if I felt
It could secure me a stable future with you

But that was not essential –
Medicined by your love, I am the still the shaman,
The sorcerer, as brooding, strange, gloomy, erratic as ever,
I still speak in a strange tongue, and go onto mountain tops
To chase the fog – I still find my soul’s reprieve in the beauty
Of rotting leaves, and search out birdsong in the cliffs and gullies,
And hunt all my days with a raven’s malaise, loving and revoking
Love in my usual wayward ways

And restored to myself, with you by my side,
I have a dragon to be this crow’s smiling bride

Diary: The Love Of Rotting Leaves


leaves.jpgToday I am mostly moved by how beautiful rotting leaves are. They are precious relics, gone unnoticed, holier than hair clippings from the head of a saint, and far more pervasive in terms of the blessings they offer to the world.

Breaking down into mulch and soil, in senescence, they become the very matrix of life, the womb of trees, insects, flowers, and the dancing space of crucial, earth-pullulating worms. When you bundle leaves up into your arms, you are holding the lymph, the blood, the marrow of the earth – the distillation of what it means to be alive.
Let them not go unnoticed. Feel their crunch beneath your feet, the satisfying snap that sneaks into your ears – examine closely the march of mould across its surface – an evolutionary invasion. The landscape of a leaf is as arresting, as fascinating in its ecological brilliance, as any waste, heath, wood, or tundra. It is the thing that fungi get excited about and thirst for – the dankness of its moisture as it decomposes is the muse of goblins and gnomes – the cold, yet warming animation of what was once an exhibition of colour yielding to the life-germinating darkness of crows.
The scent is a mixture of a dirt and promising urine – its dry crackle is the crackle of storytellers round firesides, of pneumonial lungs being cleared. It invites us to scurry, to roll, to play, to be surreptitious. It makes death look exciting in the certainty it offers for regeneration.
Trees are shedding their gifts for us. Do not dismiss their offerings as mere mess or clutter – as an invasion of your neurotic denatured neatness – but as the sensuous tokens of a cyclical eternity. And I look forward to the day when our vapidities of cement are buried beneath leaves, and locked deep in the vault of the earth.

Poem: The Severn


Wind-blasted hawthorn, crude contender of The Severn,
Crisscrossing mudflats, groove-worn into neurons by sandy
Engravers, with power lines decussating to the relics of old
Power stations, curlew calls twist and spiral out of these
Reefs of landscape, reed beds never sleeping but always in

You do not need the ocean to be anything but ocean,
Binoculars can look back on themselves to be the obituaries
Of recently drowned tourists – but it needn’t be all so gothic-
Just give yourself up to the salt wind – no need to go through
The mediator of a first-born daughter, when motion and stillness
Are the shadows on horizons, that hemispherical line slicing
Eternity in finger sandwiches

No, there are no castles here – only things that will seem
Ancient in but a couple of years – history can rewrite itself
Every day in these fingers of sand – and the writer is the one
Who writes himself a journey he never planned

Then, coming into vision, accumula and strata non-dizzy
Out of the water, and my pen finds itself to be the etchings
On a wooden lighthouse – a tree carved out of itself to be as
Light-bearing as it really is: burn all your negatives, and
Photograph your own apotheosis – for this is the coming
Of the Future


Poem: The Birds of Autumn


Wind-blown maple keys whirligig through the air,
Whitebeam branches fall to the ground,
Piles of leaves rob the trees of their hair,
And migrating fieldfares erupt with sound

Filling autumn with the commotion of bush-exploding chatter,
Zipping from cypress, to yew, back to fir,
Oh, dearest birds, whatever can be the matter,
To make you whizz, bang, cluck, and chirr?

Is there something you feel that eludes human hearts?
A secret in the chill air that makes you come alive?
Flying all the way from farthest Scandinavia,
You come here to mate, thirst, frolic, and thrive

And I can relate to you, my darling thrushes,
For soon a little bird will be flying to me,
Who will whisper to me, softly, in the night’s autumnal hushes,
And enable me to feel happier than I ever thought I could be!

We too will go flying, swooping over meadow,
Preening each other’s feathers as we recline in the lea,
Snuggled up together as snuggest of bedfellows,
Perched close together in a horse chestnut tree

My passion, once flightless, can now take wing,
And my caresses and kisses are as starlings in the sky,
Though a troubadour, only to you do I sing
Of a heart now empowered to fly, fly, fly

To fly with you, to smell you, to feel your breath on my face,
And the ecstasy and comfort of knowing I am loved,
With you, I can find a paradise in the ugliest place,
Heaven in the rooftops, my Stebba, my beloved,

To be with you as a rook, as a jackdaw, as a crow,
To be a feathered thing – beak against beak –
To nuzzle in a nest – to know and be known,
To trickle with you, as water, down life’s placid creek

And still the maple keys whirligig through the air,
Still whitebeams branches fall to the ground,
But now our migrations bring us together,
And I hear your music in every soft sound

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