The Gateway


It stands open, promising 

as if a new palace 

cooled by soft waters,

shaped by exquisite patterns,

were drawing me in.

It is a gape that must be fed

and they pour

lorry-loads into its gut,

stuffing their girth 

through the gape.

No need now for a St Peter – 

he is redundant when entry

only requires pieces of silver,

an empty smile and a clean shirt,

and fairness is guaranteed by a pin.

I can peek through

to see if they have left

flowering borders and well cut lawns,

or if concrete and aggregate

have invaded.





The rain taps lightly on the glass 

To say, “look up, listen for the deluge”.

The air is pulled back to full tension

and waits, stilled by expectation.

Do we believe in a merciful God – 

feel His warm presence as the dark clouds crowd

into the focussed moment? Do we hear

A small voice through the crack in Time’s window?

Or do we reach like a child for comfort

from an invisible friend as the owls

stretch their claws through the vole’s terror? The rain

will come, the wind will blow and all shape

will slip away unnoticed as thoughts 

fold into silence.

The Music of War


No nuance;

just the thoughtless cannon shot

of bow against steel string.

The rhythm of viciousness,

shards of steel shearing

bone from sinew;

shrapnel slicing limbs.

Until a pause for re-load

leaving trails of blood and pus

across the devastated waste.

Refreshed, the cannons 

spit their lethal gobbets

wrenched from the string,

scraping screeches of terror

until the final shudder

of iron and flesh.


Death crushed the land,
its weight centred on the vocal chords;
all the noise of the storm
sucked into grief’s black hole,
crushed to a silence
whose density
burst the ear drums
of the voiceless island.
At first, wails escaped
to echo round the villages
until they too were slurped
into the lightless black.
The weight of all things
dropped on the crofts and trapped
survivors before the flickering
flame of the fires;
motionless, mute, staring
into the invisible dense dark,
where the clocks stopped ticking,
and words were stripped of flesh.
Down in the chapel
the chanter’s siren
brought forth a tuneless groan
reaching up to a fierce God

Dona Nobis Pacem

I can hear the echo of the last stillness,
a white sound, its vibration like a heart beat.
I can see the shadow of the last daylight,
a ripple on the mirrored darkening waters.
I can feel the caress of the last air flow,
A tenderness beyond the crowd’s muscled shuffling.
Can you come with me, and sing
as the moon falls below the distant seas?
There is no stepping beyond this day’s horizon.
We are swept by currents outside our imagination
but still must turn the soil where we stand.
We pay the price of innocence with mortality
and the blessed capacity to forget,
as the crow picks clean the bones of slaughter
and the wasp lays its murderous eggs to eat life
from the inside out. Our calling is to forgive
where none can see in the sweet silence of darkness

The Unregarded

It lay, heavy with inertia
as the day shambled thoughtlessly
through a long afternoon.
The bird pushed at it idly,
prodding its cadaverous form.
In the discarded hedgerow
the fox slept on his starvation
and nothing moved,
save the tall grasses, listening
to the sea’s shingle song,
catching its pulse in the moving air.
The movement became a breeze
and lifted its corner
to see what lay hidden.
It stretched against the ground
but the air moved its dead weight
as the trees began their waving
and the fox opened one eye.
The grasses could feel the sea’s wildness
and they shivered,
and breaths became gasps
as the earth began to move and dance.
It began to tap as if impatient
when the earth coughed
and lifted it into the air
to a terrible freedom.
And the birds exploded,
scattered to some new point of stillness
in some infested hedgerow


We know the talon’s grip
and the stabbing kill of the beak.
The gore pulses within us
and disgust is but a skin’s depth away.
So we paint the land, pinks
and golden spikes of colour bandage
the wounds and frame the blood
red gape of the wild passings.
And we are comforted –
In our foolishness,
warmed by the heedless rays
of violent collisions, watered
by the clouds’ disregard,
we caress the pitted bark of infested
trees and smile in wonder
at what we destroy. Reverence is a poor
offer; just thoughts and prayers
will not cool the fevered
brow in time