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.

God is Dead

It was when he came to the stream,

the soft breeze of the water flowed

over his face and washed away

years of thoughtless obedience.


Suddenly the birds were singing,

had they waited for him to leave

the quiet courtyards of convention

where he’d bent his back to labour?


Beyond the stream, the horizon

stretched – a universe of unknowns –

and the knowns of his slavery

stood at his back, humming gently.


He waited, not knowing which path

would connect him, and to what end.

So there in the growing shadow

he sang cruel songs of oppression.

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.

Christmas Snow

It’s Christmas  movie snow.
All the weight of expectation;
all the lightness of love;
all the show of a night out;
all the softness of a cradle;
all the silence of shelter;
all the playfulness of a park;
all the chill of cleanliness;
all the heat of a rosy cheek;
all the romance of childhood;
all the deathly cracks of bones.
The Nativity is just our birth to Nature
at one with the cattle in the manger.
It is enough to nuzzle for warmth,
to look about with the eye of wonder,
and to paint our world with our own colour

Danger’s days of comfort

Danger once loitered in dark alleys,

behind the rifle’s rear sight,

or in the wolf’s bared fangs.

It gorged itself on the flesh

of the careless and reckless.

It haunted the dreams of the guilty,

throwing them down chasms,

striking their soft necks

with the scorpion’s sting.

Danger’s venom was vigorous,

and was on first name terms until

the powerful seized it by the arms

and took it to banquets of death.

Then, in its comfort, Danger

could rest content. Now, it lies

secure, in the plastic seas,

the melting ice, the smoking

ruin of forests and the stark

indifference of wealth.

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