Cold Front


The dampness trickled down my neck
as we walked through the fertile mists.
Midges were dancing by the beck.
Around us gathered all the ghosts
of association lifted
from memory by warm wet winds.
In the undergrowth life shifted
its limbs, stretching fingers to find
the fermented leavings of past
adventures. Around us, the songs
filled the air, the scents of life cast
their spell, until at last, we longed
for purity, abstract, released
from bustle and jostle, all still,
the horizon a single crease
across a blue sky and frosted hill.

Our voices rang clear in the cold
’till we too were chilled to silence,
relieved to let the frost freeze old
obligations, close down the sense
of the unfinished, shadows gone
in the crisp noon of Winter sun.



Innocent country;

these hills are content in their folds;

the winds play happily

as the rains wash field and stone

inside and out.


Grey echoing grey

stone barns meld with mists on cloudy days,

lingering in sympathetic

harmony when sunlit walls

frame quiet trees.


Men, lone and silent

brace themselves against the same winds

that lift lapwings in play,

like exuberant butterflies

but chapel clad.


Only as daylight

is blown away, do darkening

thoughts gather with the crows, circling

each other like restless fears stung

to life by night.


In the black of night,

scavengers gather to clear out

all thoughts of blood and death,

whilst the silver light manicures

all savagery.


And always the flow

of streams, dancing to an endless

rhythm of life with youth’s delight,

now hiding, now bursting into song

in growing choirs.

The Photographer


No more do the sounds of the day

drive you into thoughtless action.

Only the yellowing lamplight

defies the triumph of the dark.

The crystal carpet takes the light

and throws it up into the face

of the phantom of gloom, clinging

grey and wounded to the day’s hope.

The tree hides its pulsing heart

deep beneath a stoic stillness

and a magnificent bridal display.

And you stand watching, wrapt, alone.

Kings College Carols

As I listen to the carols
Burnished by the pulsing
Vibrations of the arches
To a cold purity,
My mind is shrouded
In a misty softness.

I reach upwards
To find in the filigree
Forms of shaded echoes
Some golden revelation,
But the mist thickens
Around the borrowed song.

Best to move on
To the drizzle of Winter,
The soiled pavements
And glaring lights
In the anxious business
Of making a living.

There in the neglected
Dusk of December,
The stories of imagination
Lurk in the shadows
And sit in the strange
Corners of ordinary lives

Dead of Winter

Now is the stillness chilled

into the marrow of brick and glass.

All wait, holding the sliver of the quick

in the pulse of the hidden earth.

Fear says, “to move is to die”,

but the shudder will not be denied.

Crow, the singing hedge­bound survivor

mocks with his brittle edged dry “cark”.

The sun’s beam slices through the frieze

like cold steel missing its mark.

Dreamer stares, bewitched by the white tracery,

poised in the trees.

The ice sets to cement

and binds dead matter in ruins


I grew up in a dying world

but the death throes passed me by.

The mills ground to a dead silence

and the cloth frayed from neglect.

Fires were doused and the presses stilled

as furnace and forge were left for scrap.

The pits drowned and the gases claimed

all the space that men had hewn.


The world is always dying

as the leaves fall around our feet,

covering the signs of new life

with the rich colours of grief.

I was forged in these unknown worlds,

blind to the signs of decay

driven by youth’s necessity

to push my shoots to the light.

There, the glowing embers of death,

hidden by a screen of words,

muffled by the rhythms of myth,

still generated a heat

through a moulding community

and a lingering purpose.


And as my own fires lose their heat

I find my life was branded

by the warm glow of those ashes

now scattered to the unknown.

Suburban morning – Winter

As the sun glares coldly

at the town, white around the gills

like an ageing dog,

the waves swish down the road.

The long night’s gathered

energy crashes on to the streets

only to stop, beached, steaming.

In the unsparing clarity

of the blue’s sharp light

eyes narrow to slits and the hardness

of brick and stone pierce the advancing tide;

killers come out of their sandy beds,

claws sharpened, shells hardened.

Shivering, I listen and watch,

but head for the trees,

the squirrel’s rustle and the furtive

twitch of the brambles, where I hide

my wounds in the dappled light.