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    Loving the stars

    (after Sarah Williams:

    The Old Astronomer To His Pupil)


    I wake at three in the morning beneath the stars.



    Have you ever strayed from a dream into a fantasy,
    loved how the one merged into the other, the wonder,
    the unreality of all that depth of sky and
    stars close enough to touch?


    Too beautiful a night to waste in sleep, I remember
    fondly my father’s arms around me as he pointed
    to Orion and the Plough and Cassiopea’s Chair.


    Be silent, he said, and hear the song of eternity.



    Fearful folk have cowered before the immensity
    of our ancestral pathways through the sky, but
    the truth is written there for all to see and know.



    Night is when the vaults are opened.


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    We stood on the edge of the marsh
    and one of our voices said,
    “I wanted to be part of a flock today,
    - thank you.”


    We huddle and skein
    and all our voices rise
    to the autumn skies.


    And I know that I am home.

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    Late Harvests


    September's ending,

    I should be cutting back

    the sage, but look to wasps

    and bees still sipping, drinking up

    the last of summer's sweetness.


    I can wait awhile, forgetful of

    calendar dates on pages,

    while the season lives out its fulness.


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    Summer waits on the shore,
    in bright waters and the green
    of subterranean weeds, while
    Autumn floats down to meet her
    on the first fallen leaf.


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    Fermain Bay

    (a little haiku trail)



    A single feather
    floats: an abandoned staysail
    catching the west wind.


    A snatch of seaweed,
    a mermaid’s blood-red wishbone,
    touches, swims away.


    Beneath the ripples,
    a blue eyed god lies waiting
    his time to be born.


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    A Wild Day On The Beach


    Oh, I needed that! Just being on the beach
    with the sea in full fury, the noise and the hypnotic churn
    both telling me “Don’t think. Just sit. Shut up. Open up.”

    That balance between attraction and fear.
    I really wanted to go stand in those waves,
    and I am not stupid enough to do so.

    Always the sea washes through my soul,
    but when it’s wild it scours me clean.

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    Vision, through a window



    Wildflowers – ok, call them weeds,
    - and a bistro table set, rusty shades of blue,
    tattered curtains hide whatever arguments
    inside are keeping me from being out there
    on the waves, the surf, the ocean, living out
    my dream, but people pass and maybe one
    or two, will understand how it feels, the having tried and failed...

    …to ride beyond the sunset into
    a something beyond the windows,

    reflections and salt-wrecked patios…


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    Bayfield Woods


    May we always have a steal-away space,

    where light is dappled through limes and

    and oak and ash,


    May we always have a sacred place,

    where ferns unfold,


    May we always know where the wood

    awaits us,


    And may we keep our promise

    to return.



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    Tonn a’ chladaich


    The beach wave gentles along
    the rolling cliffs, settling souls
    stirred by crashing waters.


    Dusky hued cliff clover,
    clambers along the edge,
    muting tumult.


    Heugh daisies cushioning
    ladies, surviving on the wild
    edge of unstable land.


    Thrifting, thriving, being
    wild in quiet ways,
    heads held high,


    strong spined,


    and silent,



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    Woodland Wedding


    Sapphire and diamonds

    are traditional promissary rings

    but I don't need gemstones.

    Weave me instead a coronet

    of bluebell and stitchwort

    and emerald leaves of oak.


    I will wear a veil of Queen Anne's

    lace and bear a spring of hawthorn

    for a poesy.


    We will walk the old drovers way

    to the hidden stream, and there

    yellow iris will bear witness

    to our vows, and cups of butter

    will drink our health, and water

    lights will dance our dream.


    The ferns will soften us to our rest,

    and the stars will send their brightest

    merriest jest, and we will sleep where

    cattle breath once blessed the





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    The artwork is by Gertrude Abercromie & my thanks to Sue Burge's "Poetry Gym" for the prompt.

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    Marsh Voices


    I can yield no more;
    all my inner ghosts drowned at Arwen’s Ford.

    They’re always singing,
    always such a deafening, a wrangling, and a ringing.

    Your clouds, are they Cirrus?
    Or cumulus tumbled and flown from wedlock?

    Taffeta, glass, and truth gone by.
    I am enough of silver, all day blue, and defenders do not win.

    Nothing worth the stating
    in this world, where newly murdered lie in the marram,

    and greater sins
    offer the sun excuses from this newly smelted morning.

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      Cattle Wisdom


    Contentment is a quiet sky,
    and greenery, and the water
    that flows along the field;

    it is knowing where the grass
    grows at its most lush and how
    to rest easily to chew the cud.

    Contentment is accepting the field
    with all its weeds, and finding our
    own way to the river’s edge.


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    Dew Drops

    She sits quietly and smiles, and

    hides the constant pain she refuses

    to talk about, but is there behind her eyes
    when she nods a silent yes.

    She laughs about her penguin-waddle
    which means, something else is going
    oddly wrong, and that too is pushed aside

    to speak of my week or my day on the marsh and how the rainbows rise and larks sing,

    and geese come and go.

    She would rather share how much
    she loves the way dew alights on grass
    on summer mornings. She would rather
    laugh through her memories of romance
    with the man still by her side, and let the
    candles dance where she can no longer.

    She loves a lantern, sparkles, and living
    light. She loves green things.

    She buys me elephants.

    And lays fires in the room where I will
    sleep and watch the moon cross the sky.

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    I am all the red-gold colours, white-hearted
    with the heat of every love there ever was.

    I welcome the rest of evening, the sinking into to the molten leaden sea at nightfall.

    The clouds that veil my undressing soften
    and pull my shades, stretching evanescence,
    allowing me fingers, tendrils to paint a path
    across tide, and harvest fields in the sky,
    and spin mysteries that reach toward
    you on the shore.

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    Towards Tomorrow


    Above the dark waters,
    above the fiery phoenix feathers,
    a simple gull flies towards morning.


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    Imbolc 2023


    You may find the promise of spring
    in hedgerows, snowdrops, crocus,
    in budding leaves and birdsong,
    but I know that winter’s tiring
    when first the beach bows
    to an arching sky and sea
    calls for discarded shoes
    and brave toes to be
    caressed by cold. 


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    Conservation Options


    about all the
    in our
    me of all that
    is still here,
    still to pray for,
    to be reprieved.


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    Secret Gardens


    Where do we go in the dead of night;
    what lights shine in secret gardens?


    Waking leaves green and soften
    the place where rain has fallen
    and candles are not lit and
    interloping paths are strange
    un-wild ways,


    and the door is ever open to
    the darkness, the deepness
    of un-tamed dream-space.



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    Who are they now?


    Who are they now, the Elders?

    Where have they gone, the wise ones,
    who held all that was sacred?


    How long is it since the pure-in-heart
    and ancient-in-wisdom, looked upon
    the path ahead and turned aside?


    And will they return?


    It is hard to live in the world of man, and yet


    the oaks still stand

    gnarled and twisted and bark-stripped
    and deep-grooved, and branch-shed,
    and leaning over the road,

    and wounded and



    Where are they now, the elders?


    They wait in quiet lanes
    and by the woodland paths.


    And you will know them
    by the silence of their beckoning.


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    What is wild, or life?
    Not only that which breathes, but
    stones and fallen leaves.


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    Is there anything more wild and free
    than sunlight?


    And are we ever more arrested
    by the natural world, than when
    it makes us stop…


    …and see.


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    It lay there, still bloodied and gnawed. I foot-dragged shingle over it and tamped it down to feed the earth-living things

    and hoped it would rot and disappear,
    but truth is it was too near the door, and I would tread upon its grave too often to rest easy.


    I let it resurface and was surprised
    at the humanity in its paws, how hand-like
    they are holding that single pebble
    like a holy book, and the flowing nature
    of its gown, a rain-drenched shroud.


    So what do I do now?

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    Don’t drape me with plastic, or flowers,
    nor tie me with ribbons and string,
    clothe me only warm sphagnum blankets,
    and birds stopping by to sing.


    For pearls give me mushrooms that gleam,
    for diamonds string dewdrops on webs,
    cloak me in gossamer mists of a morning
    and crown me with a ruby at sunset.


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    What would you do?


    If you were tiny, and your rapid
    heart, outraced the minute
    a thousand to one;


    if you’d become a poster-boy
    for some strange cult, purely
    because of the colour
    of your skin;


    If you woke too early and slept
    too late, and were harried to
    live the frozen months on
    scraps, and ice;


    would you still climb the highest
    tree, and sing?


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    We are all sometimes Gull


    We do what we need to do,
    not what others want of us,
    yet while we’re slamming down
    head-first after soggy bread
    on Christmas day, we don’t
    know just how beautiful
    are the wings that
    hold us.


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    Last Light


    Longest night steals in;
    trees spread their black
    fingers into the sky and
    across the waters.


    Darkness does not fall,
    but waits for daylight shades
    to fade to grey and outlasts
    that flash of white,


    while blackness oozes
    from the banks.




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    I do not wish my old life back
    nor the people from it

    but how I miss…

    the way they made me feel
    and how I feel the sadness
    of this new world.


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    A Wish Granted


    I woke to a world of fairy-dust
    and glitter,


    not true snow-fall, more

    a sugar-coating,


    an end-of-Autumn shimmer,

    winter’s coming.


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    Wet wood (close-up)


    Translucence rises from logs and leaves,
    pearlescent, alabaster, sepia memories of
    the aging and the birthing, the quietude
    of autumn: woodland decaying into life.


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    Autumn Falling



    If I should fall in Autumn, then let me lie
    where golden leaves will be my coverlet.


    Let the gentle mists sing me to my rest,
    and early evenings welcome me to home.


    Instead of swan-song let me hear the honk
    of returning geese and believe that I will fly

    in a shimmer of golden wings rising
    into the morning Autumn sky.


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    We look to the stars for the alien life,
    which already lives beneath our feet, and writes to us, in hieroglyphs
    trying to find a way to speak,


    while we look far beyond the place
    we live and do not yet understand.


    The scarab first caught my eye, emerging crablike on the Cromer sands,


    then the overflowing horn of plenty,
    its silver shimmering creator coiled


    and dived leaving all the cryptic faces,
    goggled, helmeted, spaced out and


    planned for me to wonder at, puzzle out to find the four-ribbed tube-breathing prototype of man.


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    We think of famous places,
    natural untainted spaces, or those
    magnificent castles and country piles
    of bricks, and gentry lives, but whose
    landmarks are those?


    What relevance to your growth
    and being who you are becoming
    registers in that earth, or those walls?


    Make your own marks on the land!
    Create your true points of reference, and
    raise the smallest statues to your beliefs.

    Or plant – or maybe save – a tree, to
    shine golden in the evening against
    life’s stormy sky.

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    Autumn Encroaching



    As we edge towards the darkening,
    lanes are lit by summer’s lingering.
    Fairy-sconces of toadflax torches,
    shine by the hacked-back hedges,
    while beyond the rusting gates,
    and long-forgotten fences,
    bright green fields stretch
    out their aching sinews,
    refreshed by autumn
    drenches, and then
    relax their greens
    into fading sage
    and brownish
    beige, as all

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    If I could only photograph one thing


    I would sit and weep for being
    made to choose, between the paling
    of the sky at dawn, and the fading
    of the earth at dusk.


    And in my tears I would find the
    answer, if I could only photograph
    one thing, I would choose


    I would picture the distorted world,
    rounded in a raindrop, gilded
    in an office window, impressionist
    river paintings.


    Low tide would gift me light,
    clouds and cliffs in the shimmers
    of the still-wet sands, and gulls


    In puddles I would find the autumn
    leaves, the wellington joy of children,
    and in the dark of the mountain tarn,
    I’d find the echo of miracles.

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    Tread not so softly

    (After W.B. Yeats)


    Though my dreams are scattered
    at your feet, run wildly on.


    My hopes are as firm as the
    dunes where the marram grows,
    as the quicksilver of the evening seas;

    they have all the fragility
    of the moon at dawn,


    but fear not your treading
    across my heart, run free,
    run wildly on.

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    The Seeds of Memory

    Soft ice cream and the pointless drive
    along country lanes, which you haven’t yet
    figured out is one of my favourite things, idle
    rides on roads to somewhere, or nowhere,
    just looking at the places in between.


    The gentleness of cygnets on the river,
    in their end-of-summer grey, thunder clouds
    fallen down without rainfall, soft feathers
    on the water, and beyond the tree-lined
    bend: the skipping light.


    Reed-streams below the surface, and
    why I wouldn’t swim where such fickle
    greenery lies waiting to entangle the
    unwary; ramshackle boats and one
    sleek beauty of polished wood that I
    held back from stroking.


    Old flint walls and hidden park-land
    beyond its old-money rusting fences,
    tree-tunnels, and macho fools who jump
    from the stone bridge into the weir,
    impressing no-one.



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    Be still blood red heart
    of paper whispers, there is
    bee-work to be done.


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    Weed Bug



    Lonely seven-spot,
    forages in the shade of
    a ragwort sunburst

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    The Gatekeeper



    Hearts of burnished bronze,
    and silken fawn, held in the
    palm of lime green leaves.

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    Water on white campion

    Flaming June is doused,
    and sopping, sobbing still.

    Night-scents are wasted
    when moths cannot fly,
    wet-winged, grounded,
    hungry for the sweetness
    hidden in that pale blind

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    Marsh Moment


    Heat on the river path has me slowing
    to the pace of swans, languid and diving
    beneath the water, seeking shade; has
    me retreating to the few trees
    and the breath of leaves.


    A swing has been strung on a branch,
    seemingly grown specifically horizontal
    for that purpose


    and looking as though it has been
    there forever,


    waiting for childhood to return.


    I regret just walking on.

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    Orange Tip Settling


    Impatience flutters,
    alights on the perfect bloom,
    folds wings, disappears.