Autumn’s Kiss

Put your ear to the lean-to trees
folding one supine branch into another,
where every day the sun glances through,
lowering as the seasons change
from glass-sharp light into lengthening shadows
flung across the fields –

can you hear the sound,
the low pulse in the dusk
as you walk towards the twilight
and leave woods so deep
they feel like home?

Oaks whose arms reach so wide
they cover half the sky,
beech trees and birch and aspen

and God, I wish you could see
how the light changes from spring
into autumn, feel the crunch underfoot
and the wet backs of fallen leaves,
gold and copper tinted –

the startling colour
of jays on a cheek-cold morning –

blue, blue, blue –

I don’t want to stop, just keep walking
on this trail listening to the jabber –
magpies, crows, the broil
and surge of a swollen river,
cows to the far-side, roe deer bursting
from the trees. I love this place,
the smell of sheep and soil, deep wooded
silence, birdsong –

even tonight while the weather’s strange –

strange colour of sky –

no sense of isolation, no loneliness,
one full kiss
and the whole of it
is mine.

From the Land of Dreaming

Photo by Ben Mack on

You can dream all night upon this ocean

where a feather floats in spirals

as the water spills and heaves

in circling eddies, waves of wind and salt

breaking through your sleep

like the gulls and terns

flaring from the surface throwing out

a different kind of light. I have always heard

the ocean’s voice in the cries of children

and adolescent longings, in the what ifs,

maybes, buts, in all the myths and toils

of forgotten ages. Somewhere a butterfly

flaps its wings while a mounting squall

of water breaks overhead like a falling bridge,

crashing to the beach in a spew of foam

and plastic waste. The tide rolls back

leaving something rippling, glinting dark

and silver along the shoreline,

spreading in tributaries across the flats.

I still my breath listening to the pounding sea

thrumming like a heartbeat, wondering

on a future time when all our better angels come.


Photo by Jacob Rank @Unsplash

He comes from starlight
and night,
descending upon me
like mist –
all eyes and purpose,
long fingers
trailing down my throat.

He is the friend who never
sleeps, waking at 3 am
urging me to put
his strange ideas on paper.
But when he speaks, he’s one
with air and rain,
with lightning
and sudden summer thunder.

His kisses leave me weak –
both Heaven and Hell
have known him. He is
the sound that beckons from afar
turning to the distant roar –
the approach off a cliff
and the space appearing
just before you fall.

He is wild, capricious
and wanton. He is magnificent.

Circulating Light

Photo by Rachel Claire on

Under a patch of sunlight
glancing through the kitchen window,

shawled by the dangling leaves
of a house plant twining along

the edge, the glint of sky outside
and a freshening breeze bringing relief

from the fierce August heat. Each summer
is the same yet different, the years

passing in an eyeblink and suddenly
announcing that you’ve aged,

the threads of blue veining along your hands,
the lines growing around your eyes.

And you wonder how to tell it, the tale
so impossible to say, as though life were folding

in on itself and becoming something like air
or water, something like electricity or flame.

In the silence, the light dapples softly
on the walls like stars twinking in and out

and you turn away to go into the house
feeling younger, hopeful, safe.


Photo by Vijay Bhaskar on

Heading home,

two crows tumble

across the fields

tethered to gravity and dusk –

dogs bark

and on the news,

another war, another atrocity –

nothing changes,

events turning like the page

of a well-read book,

as though the centuries

were colliding,


and spinning into night.

I keep the memories close

of your warmth,

the inflection of your voice

the day you spoke of love.


Photo by Tanguy Le Runigo on

Tonight, you feel like fire, hot

and burning with stars.

It’s midnight out in the garden

and I tell you I feel drunk,

kindling with stars,

straining my head back to take them all in,

the whole panoply arranged across the meadow

like a TV or movie show. Look,

there’s Venus and Mars, Jupiter and Saturn,

a full Aquarius moon. They say our bodies

are composed of dead meteors,

a thousand atoms from space. You remind me of dust,

a stream beneath my skin of celestial ash

circling about me, living and breathing

and threatening to spill over,

soaking the darkness that pools at my feet.

I can’t keep you in. You’re a storm

waiting to break free.

The Swallow

The swallow,

that crimson-throated shimmering herald,

sheen of the skies

and lover of the summer,

wind-rider, sky-diver,

cartwheeling aerial acrobat,

strong-winged swing devil,

twitter-flitter, fluttering thing,

master of the aether,

that screaming swift and inkonjane –

wheeling, dancing, forking

far-flung thrum of thrilling electric blue.

A Poem

Photo by Pixabay on

A poem is a way of seeing

wet cherry trees in the rain,

a dragonfly on the wing

flitting from reed to reed,

or a swallow dancing

through an open sky, or a red kite

hunting low to the ground

like an arrow. A poem

is the strange flicker in a human being

seeking somewhere else to talk,

speaking words to build a grail

to the imagination, a home

for when the night falls

in a deluge of shadow.

The poem is a lamp, a world.


Photo by Pixabay on

Lightning strike,

the build of cloud on the horizon,

rain, thunder, the disconcerting flash –

like a sky inside you

thrumming, opening up

with thoughts

of touch, your lips, a dream,

a forest creature out at night

and lingering there, tasting waters

at the river’s edge. Something leaps,

a bird, a spark, some small hope

bursting through the endless,

boundless dark.

Some Things

Photo by Oliver Sju00f6stru00f6m on

Some things 

are hard to say –

your throat choked 

with grief and ash,

wanting to be like water 

pouring freely 

from an open wound –

in the heartbreak song 

of a nightingale, 

or a tale of a fierce wind, 

a stag, a silver

crisscrossed spider’s web,

horse, bird, feather, wing

all daring you to come alive 

and be like flame.


Photo by Aenic Visuals on

I think too much on death

wondering if when we die we wake instead.

But the gods seem angered –

it’s written in the stars, they say.

Yet morning arrives all mist and silence,

just the early thrush, a fox’s cough,

the slow rise of sunlight – glitter on dark water.

Amid the reeds, still and motionless

a heron, hook-necked, moon-feathered.

I watch, hold my breath, but the heron startles,

lifts off in a clatter, wings opening

into the weave of its becoming. I wander home

longing for the night, your nearness, your touch.

The Gift

Photo by Mo on

The moment of waking, his soft breathing,

the garden, frost on leaf, is darkness,

is a question arising unannounced,

yourself at the very point of turning back,

the path running off to night – is stars revealed,

trapped crystals in an hour-glass, time circling

around Saturn’s rings, and I, standing in the midst

of stillness, of a gift I cannot name,

return to his voice, to the window’s orange glow.


Photo by Louise

Looking at this world from my garden

I see how glorious life can be

on this day of endless sky and sunshine,

a tiny bird landing on the fence

to pronounce its song without shame

or embarrassment about its voice –

its song trills, loud and unapologetic,

as if to say ‘sing your own song

and do not be afraid,

live how you were meant to

despite the madness in this world.’

Maybe I’m tired of always lying

and pretending this is how it’s meant to be.

Life could be made of song

if only we could see,

if only we had the strength to choose it.

Spilling Over

Photo by Ylanite Koppens on

Some days spill over

like water from a glass

compelling you to write them down

as though you were composing music

or a song, as though you were clinging

onto life by your fingernails

at the edge of a sudden fall, each letter

of the alphabet a fortress

against the ruin, a new space

to inhabit within this lilting sound,

and even as my hand stops on the page,

the tune still plays,

the lamplight flickering in and out

as darkness sinks silently into dawn.


Photo by samer daboul on

Some nights I lie awake in the dark

chewing over my mistakes, my wakefulness

a phase pulling me out of time

and on a journey

through the phases of the moon,

tonight, a yellow disk

in a sky full of stars

and in the corner of my eye – did something flash?

I thought I saw it, an angel twinking

into existence and alighting softly

by my side. I’m sure I felt the brush of air

as it landed and folded up its wings –

is this the end? Is this my final reckoning? –

my head bangs and I’m feeling suddenly seasick,

the woods outside my window

creaking and groaning in the wind

like a mad witches colloquy

gathered from the netherworld, sent to exile

and curse my own. I’m rent by pain

and mind games, dizzy within my brains cage,

my ribs cracked and aching

as though I’ve been beaten to the ground. Breathless

I witness the morning glow

cresting over the canopy, the night a ghost,

a premonition, a dark bird in a tree.

Silver and Gold

Photo by Pixabay on

She is always watching, watching from afar

just as she watches me

weighing up those rights

and wrongs – more wrongs lately

than are good for me,

and I am lost, yet I know I am there;

I am found and yet I am lost.

Do two wrongs make a right?

Or is the just, the unjust,

the judge, the condemned?

It matters not – the restless half-night

grows on regardless, unfolding

over resistance

like a flower bud turning its face

towards the ever rising sun,

atoms smash

and merge,

bursting out of nothing

like a thousand million sparks –

and this is how I know, how the flow

of love courses ever on

through the mind, through the body

made of stardust and the earth.

The Turning


astronomy cloud clouds cosmos

Photo by Joonas ku00e4u00e4riu00e4inen on

Hurrying home in this darkness, in this rain,
there is a sound that’s easily missed, a still point
before a turning where the tug of the moon
holds the world in place, the house on this street
just like any other, dim under an urban twilight,
grey in the orange glow, and I’m walking blind

amid the shadowed shapes; the child’s broken toy,
the debris littered along the underpass, the emptiness
of the night. Just ahead the sharp cry of a cat
in some alleyway, piercing skin and bone,
the dark washing inside out, a figure etched
onto the wall pointing towards the blackness of a void…

“It’s all in your mind,” whispers a voice I cannot place,
as if I didn’t know, as if I wouldn’t escape this bind,
this gun at my head if I could, those yesterday’s,
and all those days before hanging around my neck
like tokens of betrayal left soaked and sodden
in the unmanned outpost of this heavy half-light.

Meanwhile, the shadow leads me further on, zig-zags
along the ground, running on ahead like a hound
that won’t stray from its scent, disappearing
into the murk. This is it then; the long haul, the be all
and end all of it, not knowing in which direction
to begin, to have some hope of distance covered,

some moments of release, the rising wind at my back,
the keys in my hand, my foot at the door. In my veins
lies the lure of another country whose sky resembles
a smudge of indigo shimmering in the distant heat,
where the guru holds satsang by the ancient temples
for the workers of the sweatshops and factories.

What is life for you, a heaven or a hell?
Both turn on the same wheel, he says – an awakened sage
who talks with a candour searing to the deeper parts –
only you get to decide which it is. And there my thoughts fall
to the patterns of starlight and shadow, murmurs
in the slipstream, the hush in the dark which brings me back

as the night deepens and the moon hangs low and full,
in this world within a world, this dream within a dream
that has no end, its walls paper thin, where I might
stand or fall or begin again. In this I’ve chosen, no going
back, just the blood-rush, the unspoken wish as I hesitate
by the splash of rainbow pooling on this sliding slick of road.



A poem from a good few years ago now, but one that came back to me recently. All things seem to go around in cycles, but bringing ever greater insight and knowledge each time. I like to think there’d be an end at some point or perhaps a different story, but I guess the moral is to slow down a bit and enjoy the journey, putting things to rights if possible and learning as much as we can. That’s my take anyway. One day I’ll get this life thing right. 🙂