Tuesday, November 28, 2006

iron eye

This thing on a long iron stalk appeared from the surface of a reservoir in West Yorkshire during a recent drought. The water was around six metres lower than average, and the 'thing' is a little under a metre in diametre. I assume it's some obsolete part of the filtration system, left 'tethered' to the lake bed like a dead mine. It has since disappeared back into the black, peaty water, which no light penetrates. I like to think of it down there, preserved in a peat solution like a huge iron eye in the darkness, until the next long drought.

You can click on most of the pictures for the larger versions.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

reservoir dog

This was washed up on a beach exposed by the drought. It was some matted, compacted pile of reeds and vegetation, but it had me thinking of garrotted bog men, macabre corn dollies, and some grisly pagan artefacts from Medieval Britain. I thought it looked a little like some ghastly head of a dog or a horse left on a beach as some sort of sacrifice. Perhaps a kelpie?
The light was quite unbelievable, and the whole place felt dreamlike.




(A panel saw with a wooden handle, the old type
that you might even resharpen.
A tenon saw with a brass back, a crosscut saw
and a rip saw - all years old, with the blades oiled
to stop the rust.)

punched into the handles.

And an old spirit level
made of wood and brass
with glass vessels
for the spirit
and some bubbles
of old air
for fifty years.
I don't know
who he was
but he liked these tools
and he oiled them
cared for them
so I'm fitting a wire head
in my drill
and grinding off
the specks of rust
that have appeared
as a result
of my neglect
then I'm oiling them
using them
grasping the sweat
the grime
the blood
the skin
in the handle
the spirit
grasping the ghost
hand of the man
that liked these tools
and how they felt
the patina
that was left
by his grip
this is as close
as it gets
to shaking his hand -
using his tools,
most of all
using them,
bringing something
back to life.

goose alcohol sutra

There's a goose outside
at the edge of the field
honking, squawking
every year a goose
doing that goose thing
that sway, jerk, dance
by a big old bath
where the sheep drink.

Crying for her kind
wondering how
same as the last one
the last sad goose
in early December...

...and the moment hits
somewhere in the night
when the needle counts zero
and the wind blows in
and you fall back
into the wreckage
crash into empty cans
and bottles
and dead cigarettes
and the storm finally
blows the roof off
and the waves
crash through
your head
and you lie there
in the mess
kind of laughing
kind of not
somehow at peace
unhurt, that's the thing,
peaceful, listening
to the rain blowing in
and the stars

and the moon
is a goose
all night
for her lost friends
by the big grey bath
where the sheep drink.

Saturday, November 11, 2006


You have seen my secret place,
my foundation of ash where I coil.
Now there will be no silence between us
though our mouths may remain sealed.
Death will hold no fears for us
who have already died
and walked back into the light
through pine trees
engulfed by the mouth of winter
and shaking with the poems
that the Spring left here
like stars beneath the sea.

Thursday, November 02, 2006


We found this copper funnel in a hole in the ground near the reservoir. We suspected fairies were afoot, and we played with it for a while, saturated in light. Then we hid it again. The light reminded me of something Henry Miller wrote about the Iera Ogos (the Sacred Way) in Athens. He said that beneath the veneer, just under our impressions of modern reality, as you walk the Iera Ogos through the ugly, noisy back streets of Athens, everything is still flooded with light. That's the impression I have of this moment: flooded with light, almost numinous. The pagan priest at the centre of this ritual of light is my son, who was actually looking hard for badgers.


leaping at clouds
as though excitement
could wake skies

one dead by morning
a confused mother
crying over wet fields

dawn vignette

The shoulder of Boulsworth Hill
thrust against the cloud
like a half awake lover,
and the dawn's sweep
down to wet Wycoller
where the bridges crash into the beck,
and ghosts crowd the ruins
in the night's flood.

History is close here:
the Iron Age, the Saxons
with their wykes,
vaccary walls
still stark on the brows
like tombstones in the mist
down the hillsides
to where the alders shuffle
about the beck,
waiting for dawn
to drive back the ghosts.

The message

The message
is paraffin
and ash,
iron filings
and spent oil.
The message
is a room
in the afternoon
with no light
with the curtains
and grey rain
on the panes.

The message
is the shapes
beneath the skin
looking out,
behind the face
that demands
you attend
to the words
the absence of light
the anger
the alchemy
the message
until it becomes
no longer
the message
from the father
to the son
but the long
from the son
to his own
worthless soul.