Tristessa

Strong hearts
Do not require taming,
Unmetallurgic wild horses
Never found comfort
In sodden-straw stables.
Your father brought home
For the old kitchen table
A brace of dead pheasants
Bound by a cable.

Through turbulent moors
And rubicon rivers
We felt there reverting
A timeless deep raging;
From scorched summers burning,
Briar-berry and bramble,
To winter’s bare pantry
Where salt pays for aging.

Together, five or six moments,
We felt more or less able
In the heartbeat of angels
To outlive the lengthy assailing,
(Daily they’re planted,
We later discovered)
Of all modern things
People now take for granted.

No one here has ever seen
Our grey-green seas
Deprived of life and motion,
The fossils would make a commotion!
No one observed those orchard trees
In the entirety of their devotion
To imparting the knowledge of apples,
And no one here speaks,
For our mouths do not open
(Unless for a token),
So I remain unable to say
How much one singular moment takes,
Though without you here
This feels like forever and its days,
Restrained by constant motion.

Black Dress

This bleak and empty screen,
Like repetitive angst, or writer’s block,
Trying to eke and will words out

As contrived as a tattooed snake in my jaw,
Polarising a use of my
Fruitless time, amoral Time,

As trying to help pull you through
From one place in our denuded lineage
And the space between rhymes

To another untested angle,
But there’s your better lover
Returning home from work

While I wait through centuries here,
Willing improvements in words
To emerge like moonlight

On a dim and distant
Drain-scarred stagnant moor.
You dropped your black dress,

Yes, I watched the seismograph
In my mind finding new charts,
In a pool on a kitchen floor.

As The Crow Flies

High on a subliminal moorland, a figure hides in
The folds of my sleep. A self-evident soul, no more
Or less than he needs to be, without subterfuge,
Neither camouflage nor disguise, with no need to lie
When a corvid mind cannot be forged or fathomed.

Huddled into the spine of my nights, his cloak made
My neuro processors benign, he’s hunched in his feathery
Tope from the far autumn rain, aspiring to be crow-like.
So much more than alone, a deeper motif runs through
The contagions of his life, roams through my dormant mind.

We are inextricably linked, we breathe with a bifurcated lung
Thrust up from the frost-thawed dung and peat
Into the midriff of man-made exile and oblivion amid
Heather-groans and wraiths of bracken-binding weed.
There, the buffeted curlew knows the signs of stones

Which make his muir-maid’s cairn,
In the leeward cleft of a croft he surfaces, his feathers wet,
His crooked nose bent, face ever turned away from the eyes
Of men, the croft dislodged in time and earth,
Like a rotten tooth in mossy gums,

Waiting through epochs for its inculcation,
Or a byre perhaps, long shorn of forsaken herds
Cowering from a summer storm – I cannot tell
Whether this enclosure has history, myths or form,
Only that its crow-king’s composed

As he believes a crow would approach
Its own anthropomorphisation,
Its own way of knowing what it is to be mortal.
In the mountains beyond where I have not walked
There are the mouths of merlins and growse.

His costume bedezined with drizzle, he opens
A cage where he nurtured three juvenile crows,
In that strange drove. They hopped between
The runs of chicken-wire
Into the blue newness of hope.