Retirement

I am at home in the wilderness

watching the town’s bustle from distant

vantage points beyond fellowship’s reach.

The tracery of forgotten streams

curves around me with a soft comfort,

heated by the indifferent sun.

Warm rising air lifts the outstretched wings

as, head still, the hawk watches, cold-eyed,

ready to pursue his dark ethic –

kill or starve. Here, sheltered from the truth

of connection, from love’s sand paper,

I can hover, cladded by stillness.

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Foinavon

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It stands entire against

all the rage of history.

The winds hurl across

the unresisting seas,

sweeping clear the barren peat lands,

then crash, bewildered into

this complacent monster.

Below, Arkle waits for a turn

in the limelight.

It listens to the hidden

disintegration of shale

as Foinavon succumbs,

where tempests cannot reach,

to the relentless patience of Time.

Grasslands

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  There is a drained look about them   

in the casual buffeting of the wind.

Death paints their nails a dry yellow

and they bow to indifference.

They are at home in the grey skies

of empty bypassed landscapes.

I look down on them from my world

and paint them with my palate.

Unseen, the mouse sleeps, the spider

creates its drama, new birth

scurries and an empire is built.

Sutherland

The summer light casts its net

over the fading days

and time glides by, carried by winds

across bog peat and orchid.

The cuckoo’s pure notes float

for miles in silent pauses

as the world catches its breath.

The stop-start of man’s haste

down strips of road echoes

the ancient pattern of moor and rock –

flat unresisting planes colliding

with stubborn mountain blocks,

standing alone in a timescale

of geology and star.

I shrink with sheep and wheatear,

with midge and mistle thrush,

with thrift blooming on the cliff edge,

to the beat of a feather

against the Atlantic furies,

to the blink of an eye

against the spin of the earth’s core.

The Village

To the left

through the rain

the shade of a church tower

draws you in.

The road, puddles

filling each blemish,

speeds us past.

But you have to look.

It scoops your soul

from its business

and holds it

where the bells used to swing,

and the graves tied

past to present.

There was place,

home, rootedness

in your dreams.

Don’t turn left…..

‘The Beast from the East’

They come from the East, playful, casual

at first, dropping teasingly from blue skies.

They float, dancing in their suicidal

drift to earth. They are Innocence, that flies

from the killing wastes, the place of exile

well beyond all chasms of holiness.

It is enough for their dance to beguile,

to charm us as we sit in idleness.

Flurries giggle and flirt with Spring’s first blooms

and kiss the cold soil, as darkness looms

over distant hills. They were the vanguard

for the coming frenzy, the dervish blasts

galloping in wild desperation, hard

cut ice bullets firing through frozen wastes.