Long Nights


It is the very egg of long nights:
Still and black, a light rain falling.

The cats peer silent from windows,
The long fire slowly fades and whispers.

In the garden there will be slugs,
Stately, weaving their own fine galactic trails.

Beyond, in the meadows, glimmering sheep
Will nonchalantly chew, nod and say grace,
Nod and say grace.

There will be owls and a scurry of mice.
And there will be dreams sliding
Between the in and the out of breath,
A tower of worlds, made and unmade,
A cascade of tomorrows in dark and light.

For most, (but never for all),
There will be a slow dawn.
A new wind from the hills,
A resumption: nets and hooks set
Eager to catch time, labelled, minuted,
Used, misused, wasted.

But not now,
Not now.
Not in this one vessel of darkness:
One long curve holding curved void.

Not distinguished are the living or the dead.
All are quiet ghosts
Tasting the certain past
And this turning, rolling, cooling night air.

Valley Road



Hard against the hill
Is the shining snake road,
A year of seasons in its moods.

By the river’s wide roll it begins.
From sheep and fields and farms it rises.
Past the flat-capped shepherds, tight
Behind their wheels,
Through mud and puddles up, and corners
Rising to the sky, the open forbidden hills.
(A view of storm mountains, pearled
Valleys ploughed with mist and rainbows).

Down and round again, shuttled roads.
The forest’s lip, dark and curved,
With roaring streams and dappled.
Oak valleys pooled below, copper gold,
Horned, delighted.
A cast of rain thrown down
And forgotten.

The wilds of cloud and tussock,
Then down, down to the surf green,
To the familial names, to the crossed roads,
The straight paths.
To the door, our home in the dear silence.
The tall ashes pale now and yellowed
Falling one by one, as if counting,
As if counting.


Dear Writer


( for N.F.)

One book and its many reflections.
Mitosis ( or meiosis, never could remember
which was halving, which replicating,
and anyway….).
Settling with a partial view
or staggering under the weight of clever alternatives,
or maybe both.

A tale of simple folk
(is a tale of those we have never met).
A dissection of whys, a declaration
of Independence ( one eyebrow raised at that),
self examination and a tiresome topography of ,
a tying up in pretty-well untiable
( untyable? Untieable?) well,
there it is, endless viewpoints,
unequivocably equal in unlikelihood.

A bedtime story with copious footnotes
and referencing.
A paradox: to whom do you speak
(so eloquent, so verbose, such colours, such emoting),
and whose voice, and why, why should we listen at all
with all our own congregations and nowhere near,
no nowhere near, our own silences….

But, but, if the voice is urging,
if the river flows rambling sounds,
let us be its humble servant.
We cannot guess the weight
and landing of any word,
what it might feed, what slaughter.
We cannot guess if any purpose pushes us
(but can you not ever feel the thousand thousand
thousands from the past thirsting for,
not ever balk at the rigid arrogance of the present,
questioning the need to listen at all,
too busy, too rushed.

Sitting still a curious sin, dubious, up to no good.
Too smart to get carried away,
too smart to get caught out by fairies
and their fabricated gold
(hoist, as it were, as we ever are, as the big man said)…..

so rave on, rave on, regardless,
regarding all, a dutiful sun,
a brightness, a causation of shadows,
a dreamer of delicious confusions,
a surgeon of intents,
a mycologist of hidden fruits,
a wriggling squirm of human.
Dust singing.

Those Distant Hillsides


Those distant hillsides,
They are not velvet, not green,
But bog and rock, sweat steep
For all but ravens
(Whose feathers we might wish for,
For straight as an arrow, for
Wind carried swift joy,
For the soar of it, for the wide,
Open cry of it, for exultance,
For freedom from sins).
But down here, wind-sheltered,
Small, feasting on cold hopes,
Yearning for mist smoked valleys.

Did they watch from alder carrs
The washer girls, raw red hands
And tearful eyes, arching backs
And mournful, moaning songs?
Did they feel the Lord swell within them,
Those saints forbidden their fruits,
Wilderness dazed, sharp chinned,
Spear-eyed witnesses?

So many brave boys borne away,
Cudgeled and shivered in blood.
So many unborn, covered in autumn leaves,
And wept over.
So many promises split, broken open
(Nothing but spit and spite remaining).
So many reasons to slide into silence
Hoping for a glorious trumpet
And ’til then, peace.

Of the earth.
They are all of the earth
And know it not,
Or birch their blessings
For want of wit and a little love.

The pines roar
But bear no anger.
The pines cry
But have no sadness.
The rain sweeps down across the valley.
Leaves fall, air becomes sweetly bitter.
There is no blame, should you stay,
Should you watch.
Everything will seem as it is:
Sun through mist, a mellow round passing.

We shall melt as we are gathered together.
Melt and become another again.
One or two words (only) to pass through
The narrow straits of a few years,
Before they too will become singing silence.

This melancholy is a cloak for deeper joy.
This deeper joy, a cloak for melancholy.
All notes sung before the throne,
Chords of major and minor,
Diminished, augmented.



Come, come whilst the woods are green and golden.
Days crumble and fall, a burnished bracken,
A tremble of cobwebs.
They tumble and cascade, ripened and rotten,
A glorious ferment, a willed and wanted collapse.

The roof-tops in the forest,
Moss covered, dripping:
A kind of amicable silence,
A shared solitude
Threaded with birdsong.

Our scars, our pains, show
How we have become ourselves.
They are the maps that have brought us here.
In these pools of silence
Put them aside, fall, forget.

Come into cloud silences, the tumbling breezes.
In early morning, a slow drifting time,
The calligraphy of bats above the feeding sheep.
Where distance comes and goes,
The river’s voice everywhere and nowhere.
The long, pink dawn stretching low,
Rolled out on bird wings,
The green gold of valley oaks.

Come, before the days grow too short,
Before the fords deepen and run so fast.
The still soft light of woodland,
Bramble, bracken, willowherb that browns and thins.
And the dead risen up in their Sunday hats:
They sit in circles and talk endlessly
Of the past that we are become.

Come if you are homesick for woodsmoke,
For a slow, unwinding road,
A symphony of edges,
A breathed rhythm,
An enfoldment, a rapture,
An end and a beginning of stories.
A little time away.
A time given back to the world.
To be unnoticed, camoflaged, melted,
Drowned sweetly, the waves of autumn.


Cefn Gorwydd


Cefn Gorwydd ( pronounced something like ‘kev’n guroo eth’ ) is the hamlet where we now live. It is strung along a high ridge between two ranges of upland : old mountains- some of the oldest in the world- the Cambrians and the Eppynt, once home to druid saints and radical preachers…


Here we all are, eight in a row
Sight pinned to one view.
Welcomed by distance
Absorbed, belonged, threaded in.
Suspended in swift airs,
Slowly turned, become diaphanous in thought.

Vague only to the roaring loggers
Mumbling down to valley woods,
Vague to the laboured city breath.
Worn thin and cherished
On the sight of light and land,
On the crisp edge and whispered mists.

Folded in and waiting.
The mountains’ round names
Seeping into stilled minds,
Burned purple, stained grey, rubbed in gold.
The layered edge a lilting song
A yearn for valleys curling north.

We are named, but little, a scattered thing
Tumbled together by this or that.
Laid out in a neat line
Patted down, a pattern of years.
We become monastic, an inward road.
Going and returning slow step by step
Between a fuller season
And a perfect prayer.


Small Moments


In the mist at daybeak:
Ghost of whitened
Climbs thunderclouds.

Under eaves,
through slow rain spatter,
Small bats chase,
wings squeeking.

Still is the air.
We tumble
and totter
through space.

We are now such
A tower of cloud
And rain.

A roar,
A drumroll,
A whisper,
Percussed silence.

Leaving glistening
Green skin:
This world.

As she sleeps
I find her slopes
And gullies.
I love the
Familiar folds.
A rising mountain
I become
And she,
The deep greens
And valley dark.
No distinction:
One rising breath,
One landscape.
We, a loved land
Clouded and clear.



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