Yews of Llywel



Older than theologies,
Blood grail holder
A taste of cinnamon and rust.
He would have stood here shaded,
Llywel, eyes following your dark spirals,
Hands and back against your rough dragon skin,
Watching the rain sweep in across the valley trees.
The little stream growing loud then quiet again,
The nod of measowsweet and hawkweed,
A thick, potent prayer tasting on his lips.


Lidless, you seeing yews,
Eyes fast on eternity,
Shrugging off days and years.
Time, (even), kneels down in your shade
Forgetting all but this one moment,
Head bowed, long-veined hands
Like the valleys of the Epynt,
River full and throbbing green,
Bending seawards, bending to the lowlands,
Bending to the silence, to the confluence of breath,
An instant of clarity, wordless, bubbled, weightless.
The chambered heart, rope and sinew,
Knotted, released, a stretched tympanum quivering.
One vowel, one consonant, one tree.


My tongue a rolling mist,
A down feather aimless,
Unable to approach nearer
The in and out of your mighty, inexorable breath.
Time’s golden apples fall ripe and fall rotten,
Lapsed thought imcomprehensible.
A simple vastness, single, resounding,
A parliament of photons.
Woven thickly, red, hard, etched water.
A held swirl, thirled moments,
Nailed, transfigured, an apotheosis
Beyond good or bad, beyond purpose,
Beyond meaning,
An etymology of divinity.


A Taller Silence

We are living now in a taller silence.
Settled down to a rhythm of hymnals,
Level with the swallow’s breast.
On the edge of long valleys winding northwards
Where the skies divide and clouds battalion,
(The sheep-cleared highlands where ghosted soldiers thunder).

Grey walled are the lichened churches, hunched and hummocked,
Grey walled the farms, grey walled the cwms,
Silver and green the streams under grey spanned arches.

Time turning back to itself, not a straight but a winding road.
Time, as patient as a ripening sloe, taking hues from each twilight.
Time measured in the names of saints, in their prayers and footsteps.

We are living now in subtler skies, rhymed, alliterate, nuanced.
Between threaded rivers: alder-toed Dulas among the sedge grass;
Oak-vaulted Irfon where Llewellyn stumbled never to rise again;
The Bran, the Gwyddon, the Cledan, the Cammarch,
All matched by the paths of stars in the tall, silent night.

The rain sweeps colour from the distance now,
The sun blesses this and then that field with light.
Hills melt and reappear, the ashes sway in a westerly wind.
We settle deeper yet and become still, edged with moments,
Wrapped and whispered, between the syncopated grazings of sheep.


Fragments from a Long Road


In the blue shadows:
White bindweed moons.
Indescribable fragrance,
This August, summer air.

How the hills
Swell with rain,
Rise pale and loiter
At the edge of sight.

Chicory, wide-eyed
by the roadside,
Ragged blue
as the windy sky.

Even through these warm still days,
The scot’s pines, ever singing
Of storms and roaring seas.



And now, at last, these geometries fade and waver,
Shimmer and dissolve. They pale into dream by the minute,
Their patterns particular, their patterns platonic, eidetic,
Now smudge and stumble, arching poetry drowned
As crystalline mechanics impose precisions of direction.
Here revolve the greater means, the spheres of motion.
More primal their causes, more abstract and faceless
In their godwards ascending.

Spera nona – spera motus octave spera que fit motus eius de septentrione ad meridiem et e converso ( ninth sphere, which moves the eighth sphere and causes it to travel from north to south and vice versa)

We spin and drift
Caught in a mighty flow of will,
Ninth and tenth now are these spheres,
Mighty, faceless,
A slow measuring out
Of purpose,
A swing of footsteps,
A steady scythe, left to right.
A fall of stars,
A winnowing light.

Spera decima – spera suprema qua fit motus de occidente ad orientem et est pricipium motus (tenth sphere – highest sphere in which takes place the movement from west to east and which is the principal of all movement).

Fold up and slew the horizons.
The palaces of motion,
Hollow vowels, time evolving
Revolving through centuries
Turning one way, turning another,
A dance, stately and preposterous.

Natura pricipium corporis (Nature as the principal of bodies)

The four spheres of the soul:
Anima vegetabilis
Anima animalis
Anima rationabilis
Anima celestis

Folded between the transcendent, fierce certainty
Of angels, and sullen dust,
(The grinding orbs of time and space),
Float four soul worlds,
Unhinged, awaiting injection,
Awaiting ejection:
A breathed upon word to vivify
And consecrate voiceless earth.



Convincing ghosts rewrite our certain pasts,
or bitter to the last, at least try to inject their dying voices,
inject their reasons, their stories.
We all, full of hunger, scurry for validation,
deny our small wickednesses, rewrite, remember.

In that
Green shade
We are made
And unmade.
Click of insect moments.

The demons of eloquence
are not always right,
but their arguments
should always ruffle and delight!

What each we are,
A note plucked once and dying.
Attack, sustain, release, delay.
That harmonic wave is what we are,
How we intrude,
How we linger.

Over that hill it is always dawn, always midnight.
The smell of dew on hay,
The rising insects floating silent.
All this is uniquely ours -
This dawn, this sunset,
A moment fashioned and nested.
An egg of memory, in this small circle.

The pillars of the sky:
Skylark’s song.
Morning stillness.

In you…
Nothing moves
That is not world’s spin,
Past’s voice.
A wind’s will,
A wisp,
Not quite a nothing
Not quite a quite…

One star remaining
White edge of the summer night
Rimmed, restless, drawn out.

Or asleep, on
or off,
The eye
Of the I,
Blink, unblink,

The vale of now.
We move in and out of it
Hardly touching,
So caught up we are:
The sounds of our own echoing,
Fading footprints.
Mouthing alphabets
And times-tables.
Numerate, literate,
Dust dressed in story,
Veiled whisp, regardless.






Between the light stream and the dark stream,
Upon the ridge road blessed in sun, washed by rain,
We have settled now near the gentle dead,
(Slate heads ivy-wrapped, whispering praises
In the old, long language, name and age and date).

Crumbled, crumbling, the dried yarrow, ground ivy,
Under the green candled boughs of the arbor vita,
Under the arc of apple and yew and hazel.
Wings folded, feathers shaken, we roost.

Reacquianted with the arc of silence,
With the certain thickness of stone walls,
With the roaring call down tall chimneys,
The voices choired, remembered, grass green.

Under the oakwoods and under the ash,
Along honeysuckle and rose-cooled evenings,
Into moon-swept, singing midnight.

Swept up, returned by chance.
Become hills, become vales,
Become the smooth, rolling road.




Stoker at Ailsa Craig

(For G.B)

A soul windswept stares out to sea
The last time, maybe the last time.
Holding fast the eye on the wind isle
Buffeted and free, the brine woven air,
The taste of it, the taste of ships, eternal engines,
The past, freedom, a roaring coming in, a roaring going out.
Once and forever there is leaving and return,
Debris on the tideline, broken, poignant rubbish.
Voices far and near stolen from mouths,
Winged and drifted, gritted with sand,
The ground-down centuries of the dead.
Let the soul free, winged and drifted, wild voiced,
An exultation, a long howl of why, a longing cry.
The wind shall whip it away – all the warm familair,
The flesh, the dream, the reason, the plan.
Burnt up in wonder of the vast sky,
Turned bird, turned cloud, turned salt spray,
Turned, returned, wheeling away on white wings.
Lovelorn, love borne, alone to let go and stretch out,
The illusion of that sure, bound horizon.
Stretch, stretch out, thin the pain, dissolve in view.
So many, so many gone on before,
So many to follow.
It will not be so hard to leave the heart,
Once the hawsers are cast off,
Once the eyes have turned from firm land,
Once the rocking of eternal waves takes over,
We shall find sea legs, a new spirit, a new way
Without footprints, without shadow.

sunset, kerswell.jpg


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