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.

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

Mid-Winter Night


The night wrapped its bitter cloak
Around your shoulders
And took you where the frozen
Gods spread their beauty.

The marks of men do not touch
The scattered magic
And the tree bears its burden
Of white in the stillness.

The snow may hold memories
Of the day’s living
But now it waits in the night
To slake future’s thirst.

You watch alone with the light’s
Faint glimmering warmth,
Letting yourself be absorbed
Into mystery.



“It feels strange,” she said,

Seventy seven years having passed since this cold

Empty greyness was softened, given life,

By her childhood games.


What is strange about

Such vivid memory is the mystery

Of time slipping away, lives completed

Yet landscape unchanged.


It is fifty two

Years for me, though all my memories are shared

With the living, reinforced by telling

To those who were there.


It still feels strange though.

The landscape framing personal stories

That contour and colour an inward life

With no outward sign.



The tree dies, dispensing

Decorative detritus,

Depth and disguise

To become form – diagram.


 On death, shape is ragged

Violent in its skeletal

Splinters, cutting

Into the demure softness

 Look away – to the hills,

To the smooth slate greys, cloud formed

Where comfort sleeps

To wait for the seed to crack.

Becoming (Part 2 Hallam)


Then to a modern world,

Stepping from the romance of steam

To the electrifying journeys

Crashing through Nature

Into the city. The music here

Is firm, work a day, functional.

This suburban land was the future –

Community life was a fine thing,

Something to do at the weekend,

An optional extra outside the garden gate.

Boredom no longer populated

Chapel anniversaries and faith teas;

We learned to mind our own business,

To wrap myth in old text books

left in dusty attic shelves.

To subject the exuberance of curves

To the invisible ink of tidiness.

All was structure, order

Carefully timetabled,

Always under surveillance.


The woods were wilderness

With their pointless paths

Meandering bramble clad to imagination’s edge.

Modernity could not tolerate

Meandering; to be pointless

Was to be dispensable.

The woods now house the comfortable,

Happy, all in order in their

Tree shaded compartments.


To extract the poetry from here

Is to wrestle with suet pudding,

To burrow into eiderdowns

To cry out in the curtained shades.

But the wildness clung to this life’s

Edges – the quarry in the wood;

The crumbling bomb shelters

In the wasteland beyond the gate;

The exposed moors swept by fires,

By Winter, by unforgiving winds.

We had words for none of these places.