Poetry






Here There Should be Wood

here there should be wood but there's me instead
standing up in a lightning struck hollow
I am Jonah, the oak tree is a whale

and then I am part-whale

cavity walls, skin of lizard, fire-crack black
algal green overlay on crosshatch-fractures

looking is ushered upwards, sight shot out
skyward, straight though a peephole

the tree, now Cyclops by dint of my eyes
human senses added to those old oaken ones
making eleven in all

seeing itself for the first time

branches jacknifed to injured chevrons
boughs, whole chunks of tree, strewn dead and dying
like fallen comrades on a battlefield

damage surveyed, I hatch out of the tree
there's nothing it didn't already know


A Step

a column of ground rises up to my thigh
leg baked through with earth
I move by soil

I am flesh to statue and blinkwise back again

toes clench the land as I turn the world round
by the width of a distant field

my stride sends an infinity of perspectives 
into flux

I step clouding hills into travel companions
hitching them to me

walk rows of oaks onto concentric carousels
and put hawthorns in slow orbits

I step a birchbank accordion into splay
open and singing

tread yarrow and dock to ground-skim flocks 
that approach with
withered wings and seedhead eyes

I step a shoesole of clod, grasswards ingrown
and headlong a clover sprung carpet

as a second ago recedes into melted past
I plant my foot like a flag on the moon
to claim a yard of time

and I step a new moment






The News

the news broke around six o'clock
robins heard it first

plucked colours from their breasts
then sang it to the dark

that coloured the tiny parts exposed
by dawn's needle
etching

clouds chinese-whispered the light
held on to it for a while
then passed it on

leaking ochre rumours
bleeding into flame

the hills heard the word 

lifted the veil
but slowly 

a star burst the horizon
flooded a piece of it

fireworked the fields
crackerjacked through trees

fireflied the mist
even glow wormed webs

the news broke around six o'clock
everyone knew by seven


Between The Start of The Pipit's Peep

between the start of the pipit's peep
and the ending three months later 

in flea time

In that moment
I've moved along the path
by two fronds of bracken yard

a million pixels have flitted
settling like soft snowflakes 
to new places where they'll be
for all of an instant-long

last year's grass lattice
a coarsely woven weave of
willow herb stems that
tessellate afresh

a jigsaw jumbled and then rejigged

I've felt a small mountain range 
beneath the feet
peaks jutting just enough to be cogs
that mesh with flesh
and earth me to the moment

flapping wings of breezeborne birds 
have sent runs of cool air
whirling, draughting wafts
for me to feel, only


between the ending of the pipit's peep
and the start of the bullfinch's pipe





A Crack Must Have Opened

a crack must have opened 
to let the barn owl in

slipped 
white side down
ghost side up

mothborne from another world

flashes like bonfire night
in very slow motion
unleaded the clouds

tiny nativities put
day-fragments in glow

scattered at first then melding
to an alleluia of skylight

the owl made a vortex 
of itself

spiral tightened down by the pull
of the volewise-grass

then as it dipped back
it changed shape

to air-snipping scissoring shears

maybe it passed on
a baton of morning

to the kestrel





A Roe Deer Leaps

soon as it sees me
the deer makes of itself
a ball of molten roe

hind, hide, head and hoof
are all in there now

pours itself into
an old mould it knows

has ample time to set
as time has also slowed

the new shape has the jump
of a curve
takes the springs from
a bound and bends them
to an arch

in mid air though
as with a different gravity
that pushes not pulls

the leapness spreads
not just the deer now
but all around

a rump ups
lift of back behind
white now coming through

it wasn't there before
but time has also stopped




Woodcock Rising

leaning into the gale
that sabres rain as a weapon
each up tilt of the head is met with
punishing wind-slap spite

so I look down, not ahead
settle for a view - a framed picture
of leaves signed by autumn
ready to give to the winter

I chance a glance in front
just a few snipe's bills along
where a small tornado of leaves
rises up as if the ground itself
has been raptured

foliage resolves into bird
leaves revolve into woodcock
a long twig threads forward
in a form become beak

a maple red rump at the rear
is redder by far than it is

bracken stitched
tawny woven through fawn
and all the fallen leaves
that ever could be
on the back and wings

with an unplotted path jinked out
of bends and kinks as it
weaves through a barn dance
of willow arms

the woodcock clatters

quickly out of view
its second has scooped up the autumn
leaving behind a spring in the mind






Birds Knit my Ribs Together

birds knit my ribs together
wrapped the corpse in feathers
song-embalming; mummifying

wrens sipped cuckoo spit
spat it to a thimble

stirred in berry and honeydew
dripped the tincture drip by drop

a woodpecker bored my skull
in trepanation

drummed a hole and wasps flew out
goldcrests’ needle calls put punctures
all along the kidney’s line

swallows’ flightlines skywrote my ill
when thrushes sang it out loud

a woodpigeon listened while
I told it secrets
laughed when I lied







when everything changed

in the days before change
a fully formed field,
solid with unending same
- that was all that there was

not finescale like it is now
not variable nor variegated

no one knew they were larvae
caterpillars were never seen

yes, there were butterfly wisps
blue clouding buff on blue
but these ones were flies 
that had always butter-been

fluxation only just forming
flexing, extending from all the 
bundled stuff of similar
breaking bonds of likewise

after the change set in 
everything that was, or could be thought up
had a bright russian dollness 
from crystals of chrysalis

each a fragment of a bigger whole
as if you could pick out a pizzicato 
of pissaro points

arising was twinned with passing away
and so the reverse got visa-versared

in this the new norm, of this the new now
pupae were mutable, 
chemistry alchemical

in this the new norm, of this the new now
people knew they were pupae,
knew they'd pupate





A Hazel in January

rounding winter's grey corner
I'm sprayed in the face with paint
yellow points splatter my retinas

and then drip

drops trailing vertical paths
like a thousand speckled wagtails
singing, bursting out of the sun

so impossibly bright tassels
rind of lime as tinsel
a burning hazel bush that
sears everything around it

its catkins strung
between earthed dull gravity
and a skyfull of living things

wanting to live







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