The first job is always to go down

to the sea – just to make sure we’ve arrived

I suppose. Not a remarkable beach

and no waves in the pearl-grey of evening.

Rusted chains lay staining the sands, no more

taking the strain of boats against the tides.

The lifeboat house stood like a museum

on the headland, deserted in concrete.

We were, I think, alone – maybe the odd

dog with owner distracted by routine.

It was for me just a marker for what

lay ahead; a time to let the traffic’s

hustle evaporate into sea air.

Then movement caught my eye – your frantic dance

to a music I could not hear. Arms, legs

in spasms of joy; you were completely

absorbed in some wild celebration.

This music though was electric. Discords

threw limbs in a frenzy, as if to escape

your skin and become the sea side. I watched

and did not see, – until now my tears fall.

There in the shade of the playground, apart,

the little boy hides, cowering beneath

the watching eyes and the press of the world;

stiff and alert for the attack; goodness

clutched like a lifebelt in the sea’s frenzy.


Tumbling Bank Cottage

The curtains part; fluttering clear the stage

Momentarily. Silence falls. We sit

Still. The mouse sleeps and the watching birds gauge

The moment to return, to fight and flit

Urgently; sudden dartings to evade

Threatening beaks, but to snatch nuts and seed.

This colourful show absorbs as if made

To restore us, so that we also feed.
Nature’s backdrop of colour and movement

Wild emptiness and enduring balance

Is it for us just a theatre set?

Step outside to traffic, brick tenement

Tar stained pubs, industrial remains. Glance

Here at our urgency, struggle and fret.

Above the town


On the bare stubble of the hill

wildness bellows its last chorus.

Pinched life stands dumb around me.

Corvids cackle in exultation

before the winds sink into the trough

of industrial clamour

and grey muddied lowlands.

From here I can watch the life signs in the town below,

the rhythm of traffic dotted down

the vein of the valley;

the school’s silent playground with its sombre arches

waiting for the outburst

of playful excitement;

the chapels, dark, solid,

weighted with memories

now redundant and cold.

Hunkered down beneath the wind’s last gasp,

I people my town with nostalgia

and cling to past visions.

No need here to feel the pain of the dying ways;

no need here to fear the neighbour’s glance;

no risk here of being found out.

I can chant my vision of the world

to the indifferent elements


Edges are a discovery.

I presume they emerge as separation,

unseen and unknown;

separation not discovered as absence

but as an encounter,

a coming together,

a rubbing up against,

a path meeting a fence.

They become a place for love and rage,

soothing, erotic, vicious;

the velvet touch of warm skin

the taut profile of a figure against the skyline,

the door to the secret garden,

the gun lined turrets.

Across the moorlands

they are marks of history,

of bloodied, blistered hands,

and dry stone, of bug bitten

faces grimacing through bogs and thorns,

of aching legs on

precipitous hillsides.

Edges define,

create the possibilities of difference,

wake us to the new.

To be whole is to be divided.

To the Buzzard

I watch your circling in the late Summer sun.

You float, effortless, scanning the rooted

world for its dead,


resting your weight on the invisible.

You look down as we sink deeper,

deeper where matter clutches solidity,

where edges define our presence.

I want to throw my words

into your unconfined air

to spread wings and soar.


Where your feathers play

in the thermals with the assurance

of a concert pianist,

the songs are not for me.

I am an eavesdropper

pinned to the earth,

defined by grief.

Look to the Cold Months

The pale bloodless mists

flowed from the north

and cut through the lingering

lethargy of the warm days.

Now the fruit shrivels

and the woodland spreads

a carpet of sweet chestnuts,


This is no time for silent

attention, luxuriating

in the shimmering haze

of burning afternoons.

The cold must be fought,

shoulders tight in their defence;

action is required,

the arms must swing.

Now is the time for tasks,

for the saving grace of duty,

for the strain of muscle

against a resistant land