Been Away.

Been away. Off the radar. Somewhere else. Somewhere different. With a capital Dee. I have so many impressions, drownin’ in ‘em. So many thoughts, tumblin’ in my cold-moon sky filled head. Like grains of Blake sand blown down a dune. Enough to create a dune. Maybe a series of dunes. A desert?

A desert that’s anything but a desert. But where, my friend, where, oh where to begin?

“Simple,” I hear you whisper on sand-scented winds, “begin at the beginning.” And, so sweet of you; for I know you would be trying, as ever, to help; but when the beginning is written in the opening of Holy Books?

The lake that’s a sea and so much, much more than that. Where I floated confidently in hot waters. Saturated. Literally.

A place that is, now, nothing like it was. That comforted humankind on its way out of African cradles: offering fertile lands, good plentiful water. Space for living. For evolution of civilisation. For trade. For thinking. For faiths to be born, tasted and tested.

And everywhere and everything seems to be only two handshakes, two salaams from the Old testament, the genealogy of the Bible, echoing down from 1960s Sunday school and R.E. lessons, is reality: homeland, homecoming and promises of futures.

Skies that, in the high-sun heat of day, remember the Flood, but can so rarely hold a raincloud hold a cloud – and in the night pour the balm of cool from clear-star heavens over seas of sand in which rock formations wallow like slumbering leviathans.

To a country where people are genuinely helpful, far, far beyond pale plastic pseudo-polite imitations; where, if you tap your head to a waiter in a coffee bar he will be there with Paracetomol and water, before you realise what you were signalling.

A country born from a revolution that changed the world (again); named after (or for) and bordered by a river (the one we have to cross apparently). A country that has little or nothing in the way of resources, but one that showed a different face every day – and each of them brimming with hospitality and generous friendships.

A country extremely poor in water, but one whose role and example has stabilised the region, thanks to diplomacy, patience and inspirational leadership.

A history carved in rock and the winds: revelations on every hand.


Vixen Territory

October, birth cave of my soul; the tipping point of the year. When nights are no longer gently drawing in but rush-pushing and pressing harshly on retreating daylight, moving it along with a bullying sneer. The month of big moons, clear cold-pattern stars, new flight paths.
A month of trying to keep summer alive, burning candles at both ends, old pullovers, new fleeces and ornamental weeping acers becoming fountains of candy colours in pewter mists. Fall. Car headlights sweeping the ceilings and ghosts of the smell of smoke on the now-alien outdoor air.
I am resting after an emotionally draining day at work. Timetables switched, challenges met with a smile. Shortened dinner break, intensity. But satisfied. I can still do it. New music in the car on the way home. Still : enjoyed the lyrics and musical partnership. But the spill of light from the corner uplighter and the warmth of the gas fire are welcome. I huddle up on the floor, TV on for the sound, if not the news. It’s not company but it helps. Beyond the leaded windows the garden looks dark, mysterious and … something else that I have no vocabulary for, something dark and faerie. Enticing, but not.
Later, while at the keyboard (upstairs) I hear the vixen. I have watched this beast so often this year, admired her fluid agility as she scales fences, rolls tail in tongue and fang-filled mouth on our lawn, walks atop the brick wall, disappears at will. But now, for the first time she is intense, keening. I know of no verb for the sound that foxes make; it is unearthly, sounds to be coming from a mythical beast, a larger, more threatening animal, or a haunting, damned spirit – in tortured pain. It sounds on both the out breath and the in, seemingly physiologically impossible. She is following instinct-blood calls. Denying those closest to her, casting them out with this scream-choke coughing mantra. Obeying the ultimately foolish need to claim territory, to stake it out, make it known. That which drives her may hasten her demise, but she simply cannot do otherwise. It is the sound of frustration. Forlorn, hopeless yearning.
She is crying, as she and her sisters must do every year, for what she has lost, what has been taken away from her. Maybe she senses them this evening, those proud-to-be-crazy forebears on this same crazy-to-be-proud ritual. She may wear the skin of the rabbit stealer, hen thief, but is so much more this evening, because she recalls. Seer-like, she recalls the past and the future, travelling the kaleidoscope between them with careless-dance, black-socked steps.
She is crying for what she wants, needs, what she must have, yet cannot find. A mate, security, a day gone to be brought, magically, back and lived again. For memories, so clear they are yet to be lived. For her children, her own mother, her dances in jealous moonlight.
For the things she can never have … and never be; the glory of life that is yet to be; that will be taken from her, weeping away, maybe tomorrow, maybe in the depths of this, or next, winter.
Her song is meant for her own kind, but we would all do well to listen. And think.
11th October, 2012


Giddy from life’s

Revolution roundabouts

I saw the moon,

Bigger than the future,

Confidently climbing

The slow-motion ladders

Of a darkening sky.

The bitter and the sweet,

The tunnels and the lights

Somersault days and

Passionate nights.



To A Different God.

Paper tide covers rock,

Scissors halve the paper,

Spiders will defeat the ape-king,

And, on their day,

The lowliest of pawns will

Take the blue-blood queen.


Some prayers go

Where they’re meant to go;

And some

To a different god.



“Lonely am I …”

“Lonely am I …”

Sobbed the wolf,

“This cold is persistent;

Bites like a legend!”


“I am bigger

Than mere winter,”

Riverstone moon replies.

“We both understand

Loneliness is a choice

We make for ourselves,

Because we relish

The torment.”


About Doors

Through December-strange windows,

Silver framed by frost’s craftwork,

A pair of yellow roses bloom still:

Chariot-ghosts of summer-gone moons,

Like steady, pale cream flames in falling snow.

And, I have been thinking much

About doors these past weeks:
I won’t be using this one much longer,

And it won’t remember me.

Why would it?


The Same Place

Far from the flat bar,

Bridge rail holding me safe,

Indeed perhaps holding me together,

Above a long, flat,

Horizon-bound line;

Rippled reflections.

Stripes of boats,

Temporarily precious rainbows,

Grasp the present

With ugly ropes,

Untidy knots;

Beneath fleet corsair swallows.

River and I

Call the same place