Saturday, 5 December 2015


I know down where you go
When people just don’t do their job
To wake in times of weeping
Where your heart is on the curve
Yet still there must be some
Between sleeping and the grave
Some wilder aspiration for the truth

Friday, 23 October 2015

The Circling of Silbury

From where the land   beneath the circling Sun God   rises
we see   at day   the circle of The God of Air
In anger  clouds race round the sky where at the fall of night
a force of light more dark than day sets The Sun to rest

And in His measurement the God of Stars communes
to share his vastness with the varied Moon
She circles our watching heads   changing Her position with the seasons
sometimes close and round as The Sun in the day
sometimes pared away and distant   sometimes gone

These Gods - more steadfast and more powerful than we -
send fatted grain to swell the husk of spelt
At the closest brightness of The Moon -
and in The Light of Sun - we harvest

Each season follows on as Gods decree they should
But when the God of Air is angry in His circling
clouds send no rain and crops dry up and wither in The Sun
or too much rain - they rot along the stalk - and grain can never ripen

In the best of harvests   when spelt is brimming in the store
we climb the hill and raise our thanks to meet The Gods
giving generously of grain They gave to let us eat

And in the desperate times
when grain is poor and full of mould
we give the best to Them to strike a bargain for the years to come
and sadly we wait out the cold of winter

This rising of the land is not enough to keep us close
Along the plain   just where that rock juts forth
we plan to build a hill much higher

Its circling will be an echo of the seasons
Our tools - as good as any tools The Gods allow us -
continue striking every hour that we can see
We prepare the steps in circle upon circle to the top

As our lives and seasons change and fade away
we'll carry clay and stone to raise our offerings much closer
A centre mound of clay above the steps of rock will form a circle
Around this circle   in a circle   we will place the blocks of chalk
Along a ramp and rising   we will raise the blocks to meet The Gods
Each season   higher than the last we'll please The Gods with offerings

Feasting on the flattened summit
we'll celebrate the Goddess of the Earth
The Sun God and The Goddess of The Moon
The Gods of Sky and Air  The Goddess of The Water

On Their alter made of clay beneath the arch of circled boughs
we'll place our offerings of gratitude for harvest
call our invocations to The Gods wherever they may be around us
celebrate the harvest and the circling of time

1997 CPR

Friday, 25 April 2014


 Where Wai-wai warriors wear
beads and feathers in their hair
hanging in a single pig-tail
down their arching back

Pudding-bowl Xavantes serve the mass
Escaping basilisks run like little men
upright in their fleeing to the water
Giant anacondas loop
Flower-kissers flying backwards
sip the nectar from a fringe of petal
Fish swim high along the forest floor
when rainy season floods about
Out of time the condors fly forever

Steamers ply along the river
buoyant long beyond the rubber boom
Where the Negro meets the Amazon
dolphins play in clear tea water
Rafts of cattle float above the ox-bow
until the land comes flooding back
driving piraruca fish away

Vulture kings inspect
beyond their orange feature
Macaws hang down a line liana
like bright-washed jewels
screeching blue and red and green
Fiery orange cock-of-the-rock patrol
helmeted as Roman soldiers
Toucans bill and couple in the canopy

Nomadic hunters sporting lip-discs
slash and scar their naked bodies
into beauty
Kamayura artists decorate with paste
crushed from urucu seed and kneaded
bodies needing vivid patterns set in red
Jivaro still hide shrunken heads
of enemies
to keep possession power
Kayapo brandish war cudgels
wooden like their spears dancing
to claim the help of forest spirits

Orchid flowers in waxy languor
lavender and mottled red
with red and yellow throats
linger on a line of stem
groups of brightness here and there
high above the forest floor
Heliconias beaked like parrots or macaws
dangle long their redness and their yellow

Sloths hang beneath a branch
considering slowly if moving is an option
On the Orinoco shanty towns
stilt above the water
sheltering behind canoes
painted startling forest colours
Mud skippers hop around the mangroves
where scarlet ibis gather flapping into air
Silent ghostly giant egret wait for fish

Crocodiles smile smiles of smugness
Manatees float gentle in the water
A goldminer taller than his mule rides
into El Callao
gold hung across the saddle
Butterflies drink liquid from the eyes
of yellow spotted side neck turtles
Black piranha dagger teeth at vegetation
Vampire bats poised pig-nosed above
wounds they open
fan gentle wings in frenzy

White Uakari monkeys
apoplectic in the gloom
rest on branches in the shade
like Englishmen in clubs  snoozing
Naked in the river shallows children play
cooling where the water rushes
Jaguar women  wearing whisker-spines
stare beneath black fringes
at human meat
Mayoruna people used to eat

A shaman calls the spirits
to drive the sickness out
as women  bunching herbs near breathing
practice what the shaman claims
Swarming butterflies  twin petals fly
flocking in to fruit  Armadillos work
burrowing  and floating in the water

Where once a wilderness
brought only life
and death to generations of the tribes
where feathers were the wealth
which people took
values forsaken
in a headlong rush to promise
progress into silent forest
Slash and clear to take the best
leaving all the rest as debris

Butterflies and hyacinth macaws
trees to choose the best canoe from
strangler figs without a palm to climb
Herbs and tortoises all die
Cultures vanish into Coca-cola
Anacondas wither in the sun
Arrow-poison frogs are lost
and tiny monkeys taught to die
to leave the human breast alone

For this the priest returns in white
dons his red and spreads his Master's wing
The banker brings his box to fill
The woodsman brings his saw
The doctor brings The Western Way
The Amazon brings its self

The Watchful Condor

 A darker spec
High above their heads
A condor wheels
And watches their destruction

Where land and water run
Muddy channels each to one
Loggers slash and burn
Miners take the land

Growing grounds are gone
Which by their nature kept
All the jungle live
Trees upon the land

Living ways slide back
Insect – fish and bird
Tree and undergrowth
Animals – the land

Losing endless time
People leave their home
Slowly understand
They’re losing the land

Monkey trees chopped down
Anacondas writhe
Nowhere left for snakes
Shade is gone from land
Caterpillars left
With no leaves to eat
Butterflies die off
Nectarless - the land

Stone Age tribes move back
Back against the rock
Jungle grounds hacked out
They’re losing the land

Still the darker spec
High above their heads
A Condor wheels
And watches their destruction

Far across the world
Children such as you
Hear about the loss
Shout about the loss
Learn to stop the loss
And will reclaim the land

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Traducing the Art

I don't want to be part of their fashion
to write in a way that will fit
sit tight and pretend
endless learnedness I don't possess
less a part of an Art than a cypher
burdened down with their falsity
tedious tearing destroying the magic of words
Birds in the air drawn in flock and in group
swooping the treeline in vistas
dazzling eyesight and teasing the intellect
decked in a fringilous feathery finery
reeling and roaming or romping a tree
renewing the Art with original act

fracturing ego and following flow - racing around as the birds
words fitting spaces
quizzical quirkiness clapped on the back

Cracking a joke with a horse-fly remembered
curdling whoops from a flat-fish
Mission: demanding the right to explore
borders of poesy flourishing flowers
purrs from the catmint

Wintering seeds that were crossed
fostering hope of a flower enormous
mustering perfume to shock and amaze
raising its petals in colour de Triomphe to show

No rhyme must be partner to fashion
spun words can tangentially spread
sedition is part of the Art of a thought
brought to spangle the world with idea

aware of its craftsmanship - wary the same
famous craft is a fashion that stays
brazenly copied - and not very well
spelling out rhyme that won't scan
pandering Shakespeare Byron or Pope
hopelessly driving in boredom away
they who would listen

Sundering ties with the rest of the world
hurled into videos football and money
heedless of poems they don't understand
handing a poet just one final question..

Wondering - when there's no monetary gain
vain as a poet may be
dreaming - as all poets dream - of his fame
maiming his words to appease their strange fashion
running away from original sight
blighting the Art down to cop-out and lie

This poem was written as a 'proving poem' in a style and rhyme to protest at those with the tape measures and the rules - but with a dearth of imagination. It is meant to be performed, in a bright lively voice. The line stops are also voice stops

Sunday, 17 April 2011

King 1 - Queen 2


Wath - Queen of Villages - reigned
in her flower garden
her turnip grubbing fields
her pig pens and her byres
subjects tugging forelocks
native speech a country slide
years before the pits
When Wigan coalpits died
the King - black in workings underground
emerged in Wath to drag her subjects down
drawing men across the border
sinking them in daylight - or forever
in his pit Blueing them beneath

Sending hunker-squatters back to meet the Queen
pandas taken from her service
surfacing - to let her scrub their backs
remove the black

Men with coal-rimmed eyes
like kohl-brushed houris
in nights slaking dusty stomachs
black-lined heads

Scars blue as Royal Service
internal woad gained by ritual crawling to their workings
The Face - smiling its shining black teeth
sometimes biting tropic-naked bodies
sometimes swallowing them
sometimes swallowing for ever

Wailing whistles in the winding gear
women washing away with tears
service to the King of Coal
tracing the blue on silent faces -
thighs - stilled for ever

Wailing winding-sheets around
Returning them to greet the Queen
resting in her gentle soil

Replaced by sons and sons of sons
The King - voracious in his appetite
whispered that no learning
need come between
infancy and subjugation
A place was kept - lined with money

Slowly danger lessened underground
Machines protected men
Above they wandered in the dark
spoil-heaps - black buildings
blackened bushes - soot-flecked washing
on the line from Wigan

Sulphur clouds as yellow as the sun they masked
Cooling towers producing clouds
reigning over sky-clouds
rolling over men-of-darkness
soaking their sons

The King was growing old
his grip slipping
Wars fought by frightened men
to keep their subjugation
The Queen of Villages
rested by her isolation
reclaimed her subjects and her garden
threw green across mountains -
dragged black from underground -
closed cooling-towers and re-invented sky
washed her trees and bushes into blossom in the Spring
cleared the eyes and voices of her singing birds
returned her men from pandahood
moved inside their heads
blowing away the black

Cushioned them richly from poverty
but not from poverty of spirit
Taught hard lessons
Hopeless empty-handedness
Insinuating empty spaces
Acceptance of the need to learn
burning brightly in their pit-pale eyes
etching into sons let loose upon the world