Category Archives: the wild

Ventifact

Not owning a property, I don’t own a fence or a wall.  I’m not sure that is the reason, but I suppose it could in part  be why posts seem to have become a minor theme for me. Or it could be just be that, in a populous and long-cultivated island like Britain, lines and boundaries, old and new, are so plentiful as to be unavoidable. You are always bumping into the edge of someone else’s definition of something. 

In places that generally feel quite wild for the drawing of lines on the land, posts of one sort or another – wood, stone, metal – are generally hard to avoid. In the hills – even (or the perhaps especially) when wires are long gone, old fenceposts are often handy waymarks for walkers – especially in fog or snow. At any rate I seem to have become attached to some of them, and developed needs to tap, listen to their sounds, and daydream a little about their stories…

Ventifact

High up, near the drystane shelter
between Leacach and Maol
by the ridge dyke, by iron spikes –
once I was an older fence of wood.

Wind beat time and ice and rain
and drummed norther posts
down to the final nubs
of outsized Argos pencils.

I retain my tensioned form –
grain-split twisting sinuosity,
a lime-dried wrist upthrust
wire-clench tight, though

not to punch. To punctuate.
Sculpted dot on a broken line.
Air’s song is what it moves –
I am an artefact of invisibles.

I am dictation. I am a note.

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Other post posts…

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a tree speaks

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a large beech tree

a tree speaks is a short film poem.

The poem is one that I wrote back in 2017 when I was working on a collaboration with artist Tansy Lee Moir.

Now felt like a good time to rework some text animation that I made for a projection back then into a proper film poem. You can see the result below… (sound on is best)

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Well met

I’ve been reading a remarkable book called The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-Than-Human World by David Abram. It’s a study in ecological philosophy that seeks to examine and understand world views of cultures that don’t separate human consciousness and the natural world. Frankly, it’s not always been the easiest read – I’m afraid my slow brain does have to chug over some paragraphs several times to make sense of them! However, it’s been worth it. Mostly I’ve found it invigorating, and I’d recommend it.

This short poem is about a kind of encounter which most of us might have had sometime, perhaps often if we are lucky. This (and other meetings like this) played in my thoughts a lot while I was reading David Abram’s book. I see this poem as a meeting between two very different minds in the same domain (i.e. not between ‘a human and nature’). It might be commonplace – it certainly was once. It’s slight, but (I hope) there is more to it than meets the eye.

Well met

Where the fireweed straggles
after the arch of the viaduct

I met the deer in an accident
we closed quietly.

A young doe looking up without
alarm to a slow moment

we measure in-between –
calm breaths elongating

our horizon – until unworried
she turns and walks away.

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Sea symphonies

I’m delighted to have a poem (and some artwork) included as an ‘Editor’s Choice’ in Issue 5 of Consilience, the journal of poetry and science.

The theme of issue 5 was Rhythm and my poem is about remarkable research by researchers from the Sea Mammal Research Unit at the University of St Andrews studying the songs of humpback whales in the South Pacific.

There is also a reading in the Consilience podcast.

See https://www.consilience-journal.com/issue-5

more about the background to this poem


Cup and ring

cup and ring illustration

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Cup and ring marks are a kind of carved rock art or petroglyph. They are found widely in both Mediterranean Europe and across north western Europe, including Scotland. As with so many prehistoric artworks, their intention and meaning are far from clear. They consist of a central indentation surrounded by concentric grooves of carved circles. Like a tiny map, or a labyrinth for the hand, they seem to invite touch.

The place where I was when I had the idea for this poem does not have such a mark (that I know of), but the poem is connected with thoughts about their meaning.

 

Cup and ring

(a benediction)

Turning at this middle stone mark
Driesh and Mayar, Dun Hillock,
Tom Buidhe, Tomount, Monega, Maols, and Claise,
Fafernie, t-Sagairt Mòr, and Bannock,
Broad Cairn, Lochnagar, Meikle Pap,
and Broadlands
back again.
 
While the wind spits grey break rumours,
this little top lees a cup of sun:
be warm and happit here a sitting moment,
brim hill-flask full,
short sweet napped, 
rest still as quiet ground
in a place well met.