skitters in the corner of my eye,
irking like a bluebottle corked,
erratic flutterings meshed into
a five foot box cell silhouette.
I suppose crow smarts
then failed to find egress.
The track bears left,
I turn right to interrogate.
I twist the small door’s snib
with little further thought.
Perched on the threshold
he black eyes my framed bulk.
When I side-step, he gunnels out.
His burst plummets off-kilter,
one wing clattered perhaps
in thrashing runways at escape.
Have I just made a fast-food snack,
free to the quickest clench or bite?
I re-snib the door in stealth,
glancing late inside the cage.
Two wrecked hares gore-pecked,
half a smeary tub with water –
intentions here of some survival.
But what kind of gamekeeper
aids and abets a carrion crow?
Unkent to urban bumpkins perhaps –
a trapper’s ruse, a jig set to dance,
bait to snag a raptor’s gaze?
Walk on. Am I just a jail-bird’s patsy,
stumbling in imagined manumissions,
meat and water, caged as maybe? Still –
not half-a-second stood by unstolen,
before air was ripped apart in broken flight.
Fafernie is a rounded top
astray amid other places.
Southeast a shank to the Knapps,
slow strewn stone rumpled ancient beds.
Northwest Callater glens a way
to distant Cairngorm stories,
if these are unobscured by clouds
looming grey with rain lofted into snow
as ambiguous as now.
At the small cairn a throw from the top
I meet ptarmigan partners.
Sighting me they take stations:
he stands porcelain on the topstone,
eyeing me with red khol caution.
A step past, she sits well grounded,
dissolving spring speckle into
lichen and wind rounded stones
as still as earlier ice.
Bending slowly, I rediscover
her against the uncertain sky.
Firmly static, from above she flickers
lost and found and lost again.
Stalking an unready camera,
I exist too much, and they burst
in flurry croaked alarms of flight,
just far enough to horizon me
as vanished as myth.
Trees can be very big, and some of them are very old. Their character and way of life is complex, in many ways hidden, and very different from our own. They can make us pause and they can make us gasp.
drawing breath is a collection of twelve poems arising from a collaboration with visual artist Tansy Lee Moir.
I’ve made booklet with the poems, some photographs, and some of Tansy’s drawings, and I’ve also made a series of recordings of readings. Hope you like them!
You can find links to all of these and more about our collaboration here.
An echoed note bends from my
throated whisper to pipe your name.
In the morning I will see
A curlew fly with purpose, horizon
Perpendicular to the driven path.
His bill less hooked than remembered,
His flight as strong as I recall,
His ghost cry stilled in passage.
RSPB’d data beats decreasing,
Awaits a weirder silent season,
As we glance shivers when you sing.
THE GREAT NEBULA OF ORION: A digital print of a photographic plate from the Ritchey 60-inch telescope at Mount Wilson Observatory, made in 1908. from the archive of the Carnegie Observatories, in Pasadena, California.
more about this
Not all spaces weigh the same.
There are variations. The depths and darknesses,
Volume, lightness, and quintessences, of
Every emptiness’s chiaroscuro.
Not all spaces are devoid of presence, some
Harbour unstated substance in subtle doubt,
Pass trembling semaphores of existence,
Harmonise plainsung intimations of light.
Not all spaces are rendered on our charts, still
Undiscovered emptier places may await. Nulls of
Colder, quieter, unexpressed embraces. Voids as
Void as only absence might surrender.
Prowling baton points
Rifling air in appetite,
Yaw sickle curves,
Sinewed barley scallops,
As light and sure
Land’s stationary surface
Squeaking like meringue
To grip my marks,
Becomes a sudden sky.
I sense the edge.
I can’t see it,
But my stomach gives
A predictive lurch.
Ahead an uncreased page
Sweeps away, her seamless
Laid quite unperturbed
By marginal horizons.