Wednesday, 23 May 2018

#BirdWords #6 Rook

I awoke
beneath a raucous rookery
a cacophony of caws
as if the ash tree, near me,
had sprouted black feathers
instead of leaves
and was complaining loudly
at such an outrageous indignation.

The rooks eventually took to the air
flapping away from the tumescent ash
like tattered shreds
of plastic silage wrappers.
In twos and threes
they sailed off across the valley
like black knights dispatched on a quest
to accomplish dark deeds
in a kingdom of green.

Wednesday, 2 May 2018


Meandering along the river: three friends
Through the woods in its growing verdure,
At the edge of April
The water ripples and riffles
Catching the last light of evening
Filtered through luminous lime-green leaves.
Cow parsley and hawthorn line the way
Buds newly bursting to gild the green
With frothy white flowers.

An orange glow in the gloaming
Guides us into the open Arms of the Royal Oak
Leaning against the grain of the wooden bar
To toast the season, fizzing
With fresh watercress ale brewed by a giant
We savour the moment and the company
By raising our glasses
To chink and drink accordingly.
Outside: a full moon, Egg Moon,
Breaks through the thinly clouded sky, until
It’s caught in the branches of a still bare ash
Where we stand and stare with wide-eyed wonder.

It’s still dark and starry as we stir
(Not quite) the next day
Dawn dreaming itself into being
As we stand innocently awake
Drinking tea and tasting the time between times
Others, from other places, assemble around us
Moving as strange shadows, but with common purpose
Silently stepping from the sleeping woodside
Towards a long-appointed meeting-place.
Now, there, then:
A blackbird, breaking the stillness
Then all around and all at once
The sound of more birds singing
A chorus of approval for the dawn.

A barrel of beer, Beltane-brewed,
Has been brought to the summit
At the peak of its powers
For this golden crowning moment
Relished and then instantly refreshed.
Behind us, in April: the pale full moon
Fading but flirting with its consorting star
Sublimely shifting from Evening to Morning.
But now the golden chariot of the sun has gathered speed
And inexorably climbs up the green hill
To kiss the white giant
Rudely defiant and holding us together with his presence.
A song and a dance
A dalliance between ancient and new
Until merry with May, and smiling,
We slowly roll down the hill
Following an empty barrel of beer.

Friday, 9 March 2018

Bird Words #1

Starting a new series from my bimbling bird-watching around my local patch, to help remember different species id. Loosely based on Japanese Tanka poetry of five lines. Here's #1:

Sparrow-speckled back
Breast of gun-metal grey
A sweetly squeaking trolley
Wheeling away into the woods


Monday, 5 March 2018


A robin
round black eyes like berries
peering at me impassively
as I stand and stare back.
It blinks its grey lids
as I watch, and blinks again,
then suddenly shifts its weight
turning its back on me
but still looking at me
over a grey feathered shoulder.
I take a step backwards -
it hops a little forwards
keeping me close range
fixed in its gaze
as if I am a little tasty morsel
instead of a clumsy lumbering man;
perhaps I am.
And it’s a joy
a sweet stilling of time
to be
by a bird.

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Waes Hael

After the clutter of Christmas is cleared away 
And shops are shorn of lurid displays,
Now, outside, there’s a stirring in the trees
As merry music leads
Us along familiar ways
Into the old orchard, ablaze
With flickering torchlight
And a brazier of fire, burning bright.

Pots and pans are clanged
And shotguns banged:
Decluttering the trees of lingering malignants;
Replacing them with little lighted lanterns
And pieces of dunked and drunken toast
For Robin, the good-fellow, to make the most
As we raise our voices in joyful boasts:
‘Ere’s to thee - Old Apple Tree!

With wreaths of evergreen leaves
A Wassail King and Queen are crowned

And the Loving Cup is passed around
Overflowing with hot mulled cider
Bringing warmth and cheer inside as
We, outdoors, in the darkness of night
And the frosty grip of winter’s might,
Stand together to treasure and appease
The cold and naked apples trees
And wish good health to them:
In root and fruit, in branch and stem.

And so enjoining one another
To make merry in Midwinter
And celebrating the bond between bark and skin
We hope, once more, the trees will bring -
In autumn after summer after spring -
(As much as we give to them in our Wassailing)
So then, again, at Apple-Time we may all share
The wealth of the orchard: many an apple & many a pear!

Waes Hael!! Drinc Hael!!

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Midwinter's Morning

Night's shadows still hug the holloway
As a chorus robins and wrens
Greet the dawning grey light.
A clattering of jackdaws
A shattering of pigeons' wings
A sneeze and yawn from a battered tent
In the copse of tangled trees.
Molehill milestones mark the muddy track
As I climb the hill, until sea is seen,
Standing on a cairn of stones
At Midwinter's summit.

Monday, 30 October 2017

A little egret
Alifts from the riverside
Like an ancestral apparition
Bound by its being to the ever-flow of water
But released by the freedom of the moment
To rise and ride the wind -
Haunting the liminal land on wide, white wings.