The Long Man

Long ManBandy-legged he strides
Through wind-weathered pastures
Tousled haired grasses,
The long fringe of Winter
Blow across his gaze
Sweeping, his clod footed feet
Brush them back
With irritated steps.
Boldy, he bog-hops
Over transient streams
Seasonally available
Like plump strawberries
Or barb beset pineapples;
There is a spring in the long man’s steps –
But Spring is not upon us, not yet
Just this low, long sun of Winter behind him
And those shadows – spreading, stretching
Elongating the everyday.


BrockDigger, builder,
Badger, Brock,
The grey man of the fields
Scuttling gait, shoulders rolling
A shepherd lolloping after sheep;
Pausing, snout up, paw cocked
Like the keeper’s gun,
Ready to snap-shut
And kill;
Brock waits
Maps the land through scent
Worms, or grubs, or nesting chicks;
In the far field, home
Root-roofed, earth walled; the sett
A safe haven – until the men come
With their shovels and picks
Holler and thrum
Dogs and gas –
Brock runs
Low now, head down, urgent
Through the long grass
Into the ditch
Beneath the hedge
Under the wheels.
Brock lies
As if asleep
Digger, builder,
Badger, Brock.


Stoneyford Bridge

The long grass in Summer
Bends to the murmur of the wind
Only so far for a polite kiss
Daintily hiding the traces
Of seasons’ past.
Heads of feral wheat, far from home
Are bold now, fine-whiskered
Heads up like prairie dogs
Alert to danger;
Yet through it winds a path
Down to Stoneyford bridge
Just the trace of wandered boots
Like wisps of gasping breath
Captured on a frosty morning
Or the ripple marks as the tide flows.
Stoneyford bridge;
Two planks wide, nothing more;
Knurled knots standing proud
Lateral lines of yearly growth
Polished to a gloss
By Hunter Boots and walking shoes
Towelling trousers of kneeling kids
Yelping with delight
At the white-water chaos
Of Pooh-sticks below.
And beyond, the path whispers up
A rounded hill, encircled with barbs
Round like an iron age fort
Or the tree-shod bloodied slopes
Of some desperate bayonet stand;
But no fighting here:
Just the contours and trees
The echo of children playing
The lowing of a far-off cow
And the sigh of the path back
To Stoneyford bridge

The Lone Oak

I am here
I am a remnant
Just one
One, of a once great forest
One, of once upon a time

They say, ‘There is the oak
Church doors; cruck frames; the wood of war
I am formidable
They say, ‘There is the oak
Proud; strong; sentinel
The watcher, keeping guard

I am alone
I am a remnant
Just one
Today, a whisper of the past
Today, the inconvenience of man

Like my kith
One day soon I will fall
Felled to ease
The pass of the furrow
Straight lines in mother earth

Like my kin
I accept my fate
Until then
I am formidable
The watcher, keeping guard