The Universe Took Up A Spoon…

The universe took up a spoon and stirred my soul
presented me with an opportunity to assume some sort of control

but I panicked like a lamped rabbit
and fled to the back of my familiar bolt-hole

kept my head down, did exactly what I was told
a pathetic pushover, a sap, a sucker, a henpecked cuckold

meek and mild, like an over-mothered child
grown bitterly resentful and pitifully old




Here be Morgwa

Morgwa top

The surface of the stagnant pool that stomached
him these ten thousand solar circuits past, guffawed
rank gas globes, jangled searing moon glares, gave
cold air a thin mist in exchange for
a litter of paper moths and brittle leaves.
The pockets of precious air picked from under
his algaed scales slipped through the wet grasp
of its black depths as it clung defiantly
to him, trying to deny his slow rising
into this, the bluest of blue full moons.

The surface of the stagnant waters that wombed
him these ten thousand solar circuits past, gave
August’s midnight murmur its single king’s ransom coin
in return for a spilt sackful of silver
sixpences. Blunt-toothed alders, thick as whispering thieves,
sipped black draughts through long straws, as the
sky slyly stole a minim of its surface
murk to darken a tempest’s fermenting cloud. Timid
washes lapped across its shallows as its waters
broke, crowning Morgwa the water monster’s heraldic head.

Morgwa bottom

Eleven Elements

Nature Symbol

The distant snow-powdered church tower
pales before the monstrous church-yard yews

Who conjure pitch darkness
out of a bitterly cold wind

That whips the late February evening sky
till it lowers it’s frozen weight in blurs of mists

Across this winter-locked land who’s
high crowned hill

Prizes a posy of shy snow-drops
that steal a March

On a still sleeping beech tree
who cries out in her restless dreams

Sending spinning
a clamorous congregation of crows

Nature Symbol 2

Rookery Wood

A goose got loose from Cold Harbour Farm and got lost
in Rookery Wood, possibly confused by the bitterly cold wind
a vixen-fox followed the webbed footsteps in the frost
starving for hot flesh, sweet blood and juicy bones, for thick-quilled skin

Amidst the tympani of falling canopy debris
that accompanies every blow of this whistling wind
the melancholic robin flutes a sombre symphony
a magical madrigal,
a sibilant soliloquy,
an hypnotic, melodic, elegiac hymn

A tawny owl mimics the screech of St. Eligius’s lych gate
every time he shrieks from deep within
the ‘Private: No Entry!’ high-walled Chaucer estate
that’s oft-flooded by the Orm’s fogs, spilling in over the brim

Rookery Wood 1

March Ravens

March Ravens top

A pair of ravens
in synchronised flight
angle, tumble
arc and glide
croak rasped asides
and as silhouettes slide
across the sky
and out of sight.

In nighted garb
with ragged sleeves
he leads their merry dance
until she concedes
then, in the privacy of a
beech tree’s canopy
he walks all over her
until she conceives.

March Ravens bottom

My Enchanted Lady Alyse

Alyse 1
My queen, serene, my enchanted Lady Alyse
sips chamomile tea from her fine bone china chalice
smiles her crooked smile and whispers in lisps
fiddles with the clasp of the copper bangle on her wrist
offers me more tea and although I lazily resist

she waves away my refusal, demurely insists
then chooses a chocolate finger and one with coffee cream in it
from the saucer founding a cathedral of assorted biscuits.
She then quietly recounts to me her day, of
bicycling to her sisters, of catching her dress in the chain, of

hearing a cuckoo call whilst free-wheeling along Capps Lane, of
delighting in the open face of Poor-Man’s Weather-Vane, of
resting in the candle tree’s quiet relieving shade, of
sunbathing with Sophie and watching the kitten-cats play, of preparing
a salad and picnicking beneath the shadowing pear tree boughs, of

strolling through Moreton Meadows, still brilliant with flowers,
of stopping at Helen’s Pantry in Starlington’s Lamb Parade
for a dainty cake and a glass or two of home made lemonade, of
idling the long way home and laughing arm in arm
by way of Lady Mildmay’s Lane, skirting Aston Farm…

“Oh!” Alyse suddenly exclaims
her hand to her mouth, her crystal eyes aflame…
“I’ve just remembered my last night’s dream!”
Then sounding rather vague, she says
“I guess that I was telling myself I’m on to a very good thing…

I found a shiny sixpence in a weed-bed under a wire fence
and half a crown, tail-up, head-down, beneath a clipped box hedge
a ha’penny then caught my eye and so a bright new penny that did lie
half hiding a shilling which led me to a sovereign
then a silver coin blushing and so on along a line…

till I was miles from home, quite where I did not know
and still dropping coins into my shepherdesses purse
on and on and to and fro, all night long until in a hay meadow
I found that my good fortune had quite suddenly reversed!
Not a penny, not a farthing, not a shilling could I find

in my purse or in my pocket, strewn before me or behind
and it was in my flustered searchings that out the corner of my eye
I saw you by the kissing gate where every evening we kiss goodnight…
and I awoke wanting to be with you, then, and forever more…
be we rich and rudely healthy, be we laid up and church mouse poor!”

Alyse 2

Dr Hantrobus Garpike

Dr Hantrobus Garpike

Knelt beside the grave of Kit Fallon, the gloomy ghost of Dr. Hantrobus Garpike offered down his honest apologies and beseeched the boy-child for forgiveness. With a choke in his throat, the Doctor’s red-sore eyes streamed continually with tears…

In truth, tis a common sight abroad the graveyard of St Eligius Church, in the town of Rookwood in the very heart of Ormland… for Dr. Garpike, in that later period of his tenure as a Penny-Doctor, put more bodies in the sour ground than the virulent Marsh Ague he aimed to cure…

As so often happens, this tragedy was innocently invited upon life’s stage. The good doctor, very much in his cups with ale and port, scoffed a hearty supper of rankest cheese that proceeded to inflame his dreams…

Dr. Hantrobus Garpike discovered himself in his usual splendid attire, positively flamboyant in his scarlet wool coat with its wide skirt cut to mid-thigh, his favourite turquoise stockings clinging-tight so as to all-the-better show-off his elegant calves; elasticated stockings of course, none of those fiddly buckled garters or tatty fastening-ribbons for Dr. Hantrobus Garpike!

And then, by way of his crowning glory… his most expensive powdered periwig-peruke, tied neatly with a black silk ribbon at the back of his neck. He’d never thought more than nought of spending a veritable fortune on his most dashingly fashionable periwig, certain-sure that it commended him loudly unto the high esteem of his peers and equally, set all the ladies of Rookwood and Starlington a-swoon…

The dreaming Dr. Garpike looked about himself with all the sneering confidence of a man who knew everything. The planet Mercury shone down from a cloudless night sky as brightly as if it were a high summer’s noonday sun… and in so doing, it illuminated milkily the dark green Eden in which he found himself entirely at home…

“Mercury is most assuredly God’s own cure for Marsh Ague!” Dr. Hantrobus Garpike pronounced unto the planet-blazing sky, entirely confident that God preferred to confide His truth through a mortal’s dreams.

A low and boisterous draught then nagged at his ankles, laying flat to the ground all the profuse herbage that made so untidy Eden’s forest floor… only for it to then all be gusted vigorously otherwise and then again obtusely. But the deeply devout and ever-so clever-wise Dr. Garpike was so certain of the profundity of his God-delivered insight that he ignored the timid yet insistent whisperings of those flowerless plants…

Dr Garpike set at once to obtaining the very densest mercury that coin could acquire and via Ebenezer Luxulyan, the Apothecary in Starlington’s Orm Lane, he was purveyed a half-quart bottle of the liquid metal, labelled scratchily, ‘Quicksilver’.

Stirring it liberally into a soup of foulest eel and slimiest bleak, Dr Garpike prepared a decoction that he was certain-sure would cure the ghastly Marsh Ague that was then, as seeming ever, rife abroad all sodden and mildewed Ormland…

Eelers, withy-cutters, beetle-makers, hull-board shavers and nailers, sail-cutters and stitchers, rope-winders, kettle-weavers, flax-twisters and fish heavers, descalers and skinners… all had lost immediate kin and neighbours and constantly feared that the Ague would soon steal away their own souls into the long dark night…

So certain was Dr. Hantrobus Garpike of God’s inspirational Word that he continued to prescribe the deadly medication despite his patients falling in agony by the wayside so regularity that they quickly became a blur of unrecallable corpses. He simply assumed that he’d not been granted access to their mortal body’s with sufficient time to save them, what with the poor marshfolk too often not having spare the penny necessary to command his presence and attentions.

Of course, it being Marsh Ague they would have died anyway… Dr. Hantrobus Garpike simply made their passing into God’s embrace a Hell of a lot more agonied than would otherwise have been the case.

If only he’d realised that his rank-supper-cheese inflamed waking-dream wasn’t directing him to look up at the full moon, which, oddly for a clever fellow of great learning, he’d managed to imagine was the planet Mercury… no, it was directing him to look down at the profuse plant that had hailed and regaled him in furious whispers…

Bog’s Mercury, the ubiquitous yet essentially anonymous plant in question, wished for nothing more from its life than to be sacrificed as an admixture in a curative caudle… as all the many witches of Ormland knew of old; they called it Ague’s Ease, after all. But Dr Hantrobus Garpike was not the kind of man to stoop so low as to ask a crooked crone for advice; indeed, he was certain to sniffily dismiss their balms and charms as vain deceits…

But quickly upon commencing his personal wait for Doomsday, Dr Garpike came to regret his gross error… so, to this day he roams St Eligius’s graveyard, ever-beseeching the consolation of his many victims’ mercy…

And he has much work still to do before the trumpets of Doomsday release him from his guilt and reconcile him with his all-forgiving Lord.

Have pity for the poor fellow though as he approaches the agonied and raging spectre of Hugh Briss. He’ll find no comfort there, even if he begs for a million years…

Dr Hantrobus Garpike




Sleet 2

Hoarfrosted, thorned-hedgerows
stunned blunt by this winter’s fiercest frost

Guide a long skein of slow mute crows
across this solid white sky until almost lost

Amidst the horizon’s dissolving mists and blurs
that strike dumb Even Song’s summoning toll

Twixt here and distant Bixwood Hill’s eerie serried firs
the Jinnet’s floods are numbed to ice by the startling cold

The starlings have forsaken their twilight flight and verse
though a ghostly owl swoops amidst the disconsolate sheep

Then one stray blasphemous raven curse
shatters this frozen silence into sudden sleet

Sleet 1

Three Dozen Black Apostrophes

Left marginThree dozen black apostrophes sit atop these skeletal scribbled trees

at a sudden rain-burst, parliament dispersed

wheeled, dropped, flapped, caw-cursed

beaks full of guttural, hoarse harsh verse.

The fire-glow and flame of the hedgerows along Northcott Lane

blaze against the greys of this drizzly October dimsy

stray sunrays illume autumn’s displays

the mid-blast explosions of hawthorn’s berries.

Black branch lightening, permanently striking

against a heavy-rain cloud sky

new moon rising, wryly smiling

mirrored in the misting brook, brim-high.

A lone crow idles through these damp mauve airs

that ring to the choirings of a crownful of starlings

their elegiac hymns

their passionate beseeching prayers.