Tag Archives: spiritual poem



This poem was written during a time when I did a lot of volunteering for wildlife trusts and other environmental groups. Amongst other things, I learned how to build a drystone wall, coppice woodland, and lay hedges, in some beautiful parts of the country. There was always something magical about being outside, working with a group of like-minded people, whatever the weather.


A man, a man I could have loved
starts to shade, to shade the morning mist.

He is beating stakes, stakes into the clay
forcing them past stones, stones and steady roots,
the things weak within the earth
and the things that hate to move.

As I approach he takes his shape assuredly
from the frail and wet white air,
a seamster weaving hazel whips through the hedge,
outwitting the final challenge of scratch and rip.

In defeat the hawthorn rests its useless claws
uneasily against itself, uncertain how to act.
Then feels the sap rise, rise again in its veins,
and knows that it is elect.

Regeneration, Colliers Wood

like the river
going home
and crushed up
like the river

in between
High Path
and the Savacentre

half my eye
snaps a bolt of blue –

did a kingfisher
release the river
just for one moment?

And, if
it wasn’t the kingfisher
how come the river
is here with me
in my living room


on the other side of now?

First published in Magma no. 24

The Cormorants

If I could be whisked away warmly
from this spinning sack of sleep
I would rise through the hollow rain-wet night
past the soft-touching leaves of trees
and travel beyond this cosy land.

With arms stretched out through the cold
I would come to the dark salt sea
chopping remorselessly at the moon,
and finally to Iona of peace,
and the unnamed rocks about it.

And there I would find the cormorants, with
black bills hunched in a cloak of grey, watching
watching what? as they soak
with rain and briny spray, watching for
the tides which make and seek them.


First published in Tandem magazine, no.2

Bird Garden, Hong Kong

A big pastime for old men in Hong Kong is keeping songbirds. There’s a large garden on Yeung Po Street in the Kowloon district, where men go to feed birds in return for songs.

I wrote this poem when I was there in 2001; it was published in the Belmont Art Centre’s Poetry File programme for teaching in secondary schools in Shropshire.

Bird Garden, Hong Kong

In the new Bird Garden
on Yeung Po Street
very old men
gaze at caged songbirds.

One lifts a bell-shaped dome
from a branch,
holds it above his chest,
below his earth-worn face.

There.  Its sudden trill
could be the sound of hope
played backwards
bright beads falling from the string of time –

or the beauty of things forgotten.