There is a grandeur in the landscape, lifted up and uplifting
and dry, or dried in brightening air.

It is matched by an earnestness amongst the people
who have been hardened in the ways of nature and cooperatives
but can now hold higher hopes out for their children, who are
open-faced with dark and shy and curious, serious eyes
burning through the open groves and scattered plots
and stooping limestone crags, towering
over the poverty of older lives, sheltered with their animals;

Living together in resilience in adversity, for however many
years and days of grace and gratitude god sends…



He had fled
as a child from the world of flood, a refugee unwelcome in his pack
who had felt afraid from the first; to find another place of faction
in which the weakest could show strength, where features concealed his fear…

His hands bled:
not minding strings of razor wire, he clambered on our fences,
he beat a bloody pulp against the bureau’s battle tank of process
but brushed aside the complex holograms besetting our enrichment

Like mirror-smoke

He would change.
Disliking men on task, on principle, he found enough belief
to claim control, to assert agency; but let his vision shrink into true faith
as roots turned in towards the cautious tearing agony of shifting shapes…

He was new:
on the right, his beard grew fierce and strong, in which he could rejoice
beneath a hooded eye, though his left profile was smooth and fair
like the face of a teen who had been young, without enjoyment.

Atlas, in parallel

Atlas stretched and flexed, but my brittle shoulders cracked;
which was sadly typical – or ingrained, even entrenched.

Versed in common rhetoric, I had adapted to the sweep of years
but shed a flake of life at each inflection:
~ When I’d learned to feed the looping thread towards the needle’s eye;
~ When I’d traced the whipping cord, recurring through the labyrinth –
pursuing meaning in the tail;
~ When I’d thought the prize to celebrate was learning how
to paper over cracks and fix some bugs – enough, to come again tomorrow;
~ When things I’d feared were inbuilt limitations to the versions that we share –
and the masks we wear, together;
~ When what survived was hidden in exceptions to my flawed pursuits
of mirages, of dreams I’d cared about so much – until I leant on them instead;
~ When (haltingly) I’d left behind those childish things, to find
that hope was badly drawn, and charity was bound, threadbare;
~ When threads were all there was to see.

At least – I think – those threads were real, despite my contemplation;
But did they – could they – lead to grace, or even beauty?



~ smoky red

Now birds hunt not sing, evoking older fears
of a single strike we felt could cast us down;
and daydreams, of likening to those encountered briefly
while switching (versatile) between the roles
we’d made within the gift of life.  Sometime supplicants,
always turning on the pinwheel, stiffened by surprise,
we are held safely, still, but shaking / in each others’ smoky hands
and cleaving to the promise of rebirth…


Clear blue

Branches etched out movement on a bright November sky
tracing their patterns of regret and birching silver stripes
of clarity above the shadowed lowering wood,
sharpened by a northwind blown across the course
to shiver those still trailing leaves of painted-on decay
in dissipated beauty drawn from distant, coppered splendour…

Cold and heedless of disorder under heaven
but (stumbling) striking sparks on harder ground,
we wandered through this landscape:
silent figures with our dogs, casting crablike
in their underworld of withered bush and musk,
stepping lightly through its sere, discoloured fall.



Dust had appeared, a fallout from the air
Swish-brush, swish-brush, swish-brush
A brush is handled, organises and attacks
Brisk-brush, brisk-brush, brisk-brush
The dust falls back, conforming
Swish-brush, swish-brush, swish-brush
Some dust conceals itself in corners
Brisk-brush, brisk-brush, brisk-brush
Other dust escapes down cracks
Swish-brush, swish-brush, swish-brush
Clouds of unintended consequence are raised
Brisk-brush, brisk-brush, brisk-brush
Satisfied, eventually the brush moves on
Swish-brush, swish-brush, swish-brush
The dust settles.  It has time…


The wind brings snow

When my hair was long
and worth cutting with style
I would turn my face to the wind
so I could feel how it blew
as soon as I opened my eyes.

Now I count the breaths and stand
in shelter, feeling for grip
as December blows in from the north.
Facing the blast, I look for a path
that will let me provide for the young.



There has always been a weight.
Suspended by its cord, it cut through sensitivity
to drive us home
until the weight became the cord, which became the weight:
scythes of productivity,
cutting in their being, preventing equilibrium
without knowing why

It shifts…

Now weight accumulates around my waist
obscuring former forms,
bowing slender limbs already weaker from the fight
against inertia’s burden;
I must bring patience to my scrabble for a hold –
to steady up, to get a grip –
to escape the anxious maw, the slipping precipice of doubt


the plain

Under a low sky, scraping the bounds of the earth
a stillness mists around us that makes the world opaque
and shuttered to the light,
in a landscape framed through glass I had neglected,
blaming eyes I’d bruised by facing the absurdities of life…
eyes blinking, shocked at what a scan now shows
of our society, of smallholders from a broken hilly country
who’d decanted on a corner of the plain, who’d encamped
and learned to specialise in arcane fields
in order to survive.

We were unencumbered – so we thought – by overweening majesty
but circumscribed within our island habits and sunk in careless sleep:
locked inside our skulls, choking down our lack of words,
we kept quiet to eschew the curse or taint of heresy,
like lambs among the emptiness of cynics standing by / detached;

We were still small people absent leadership, or faith or hope or vision,
who gave precedence to scoundrels and took nonsense for an answer,
cowed by jackals, led by donkeys, following false prophets –
their tenets brightly burnished against sense –
who pretended to console us at the funeral of logic.

Now many have decided to make the best of it they can
and seek to save themselves,
as we shake our fragments into line, of sorts,
to stumble (sheep to slaughter) off a cliff,
so ending our experience by freely choosing chains
of private personal catastrophes;
craving purpose, as we go blind into the night –
beyond our daily bread –
but not unhappy, in our imbalanced way:
lost if not mistaken.


An anniversary

We go on, because we must go on
We go on, for that is what we do
We go on – that’s how the light gets in

Famous Blue Raincoat