City Woods

The wode is a kind of dust –
it piles up around the land’s cracks
where the cleaning equipment
sighs and faints in exasperation

And up close and in it
a tangle and heap of word
with cuts and slices on the plane
where trees fall and bring light.

To walk by, paths which increase
and curve with a complex
runic twist – to read this
it would take a kind of Hecate

Bluebells raise their damp towers
where small grey flies hop to try

V.56

It’s been raining for weeks. The fish
have left the ocean and are fled
to swim among the raindrops in
the air. Airships begin to hunt.

I was walking today downhill
from town when one of those trawlers
passed overhead. It had the sight
of a great shoal over Sheepscar.

I heard the sailors calling, then
the terrible noise of ratchets
releasing. The net jettisoned
had destroyed the park. I ran down

and watched as apartments and trees
were ground to pieces, as people
were screaming and pulled skywards, fast
as the fish were caught and the old

neighbourhood destroyed. I asked her,
this fisher, what’s the strangest thing
you’ve drawn up from the foggy murk
of the city? Unfeeling eyes.

“I once caught a whole damn marriage.
The bride was hanging by her train,
Her mouth opening and closing
in a strange way. We threw them back

V.48

It is remarkably easy
crossing rivers, over the grass
that is submersed. I walk across
the bridge and turn, see my vampire

friends shivering and swearing there
typing fragments of disgust at
this thing which flows on and never
likes or retweets anything. Wow

I say, just wow. Come on over.
They can’t. Their undead hearts pump blood
borrowed from moment to moment
from various devices. Who

am I kidding? My thoughts are run
through with desire paths. My
thumbs are tired and I can’t think.
I try press the river into

service as a question, a graph
an interesting friend, a text.
But the water keeps on going
and eventually cracks out

of my phone screen, as I walk on,
fizzing like a burst pipe, I sigh
and my clothes are drenched. Their toothy
grins follow me, as I trudge on

Naiad

The surface of the water opens
and the raising dome of hair splits,
a smooth plug of water draining off.
The dewy skin of the nymph is blue
and sets trails in my eyes like the sun
bursting through clouds over the dark hills
and mountains over the cattle pass.
The lymphatic system of the rock
shows its pale blue in her, in small pools.

Just as her body breaks the water
so it breaks me. The heather and moss
and the golden reeds in the damp sun
for hours as we walked up the falls are
no protection. I look at my friend
sadly, and my foot joins the stream floor.
My boots fill with water. I shiver
and again I shiver as her smooth
lips touch my ear and pour in water.

Soon I am naked and my skin numb.
The valley’s and lochs of her body
are mine for one short play of white light
in shifting nets upon the cave roof.
Then I notice the half eaten girl
with her heart hanging out but pumping,
just. Her deep eyes are dead barnacles
and they stare at the bone covered floor.
I play in their water like a child

In Which Things Move

The wind moves in the future
with soft wings – it brushes the leaves
hanging in the air with the trees

The clouds change:
a gradient of grey to blue-black
– and we too, walking beneath.

Our mouths open to let breath leave
while the red of your nails clatters
on the walls

The words spoken move
through the past, and your smile
leaves your face to land on my head

Three days later
it’s still there, folding and unfolding
like a butterfly, warming in the sun

All the Sky’s a Stage and all the Clouds are Merely Players.

You walk down the unnoticeable incline into the city. You look to the skies where the weather systems rehearse a performance they will give you
next time. You see the bowl of the heavens reflect the skull’s roundness – and all car sounds in its persistence. You love this. It is, you think, the mark of a walk’s greatness to array contingency in its random archways. You sigh. And walk on through the headache as the white grey blues yellow

27/02/18

Brambles cut with snow
are the earth’s bronze crown
of thorns in the sun

This sun – glancing the snow
I walk under – and my ears
tilt to the birdsong now –

this spring beginning with snow
A fox-path diverts from mine
to the deeper more humanless parts

And cars through the sleet
as my ears grow colder
the houses are there, dusted

with drybrush grey-white crusts
plucked from a model of
the apocalypse – each is empty

Others walk by to arrive somewhere
as I stand and look
at the fallen tree, sliced with a gap.

A half frozen lake waits
for me, and duck ripples
there is no escape, but this

is an escape, the frozen sheet
the tree’s twisting bark
the wood-pigeon’s cold thrum

May this be preserved
this tas of remnants
this preciseness of life

which clings to us like a scar.
‘Do not go in the water’
it would be piercing quiet

Then dull, but I do not need telling
twice – to not miss
by brash action – a moment.

Behind the patient moon,
a meteor – as I walk home
watch my head coalesce

into the white materia – holy.

Two Fragments

I –

The rain sets a gradient on greens –
old lithograph fade, with yellows
as if cloud, slate dark depressed
is absent-mindedly flicking through filters.
Only at twilight, such a light.
After, the streetlamps pale as soggy
worm corpses, settle on the streets.
I miss the phosphor orange glow
of the days when I was younger.
Today, I miss it. Maybe not tomorrow

II –

Pylons grew out of the flesh of the land.
Iron bones of blood-rust thrust through
scaffolds to hold up the cloudsky – how
insufficient were the rocks, now
heaven had grown heavier and heavier –
only metal and electrics could halt it
as it dropped off hurtling downward
toward the cold earth’s blank plates

Return of the Red Kite

The Red Kite is a bird of prey which was almost wiped out by landlords with rifles, and then soulless egg collectors. It was saved by some thoughtful people in a campaign against their stupidity. Now it can be seen all over West Yorkshire again. This poem is about the first time I saw one as I walked nearby Harewood.

Carefully she offers control to the currents
as her eye glides up over furrows –
never overcorrecting, she appears
when she means to, clears the barren treetops
and fastens some fur between her beak and the ground.

Her predator’s presence in the city shows
she retains the perfection of ages –
and rats, nested in stubborn woodland patches
sing of her soundings to their children, of days
of sudden pain when scraps and salvage end.

I was deprived of her, by the lords.
Eggs, whose skin could crackle like woodfire
instead were fixed alone, under glass –
as a nobler blood stained the tree-forks.
Their keening night-cry declared the time.

And silence slowly took to the skies while I was born
as the hill-wind began to forget a part of itself.
No longer the slip and slither of air around wing –
only the crow’s desperate gasping and magpie chitter.
I did not know that anything was missing.

Then, one day as we walked amongst the drizzle
along a long drystone wall, I followed her hand
which gestured up. How can it be, that a few dark specks
and their swoopings, complete the sky?
I felt this, and mum smiled to see me smile.