Wind of cloudscape and seaspray Scours, roars, glides and soars between the evening hills. Kissing the fan of falling water, Rattling the rusted shells of leaves on limestone, Hissing in a tide of trees And lifting the magic bird.
The stone coloured camouflaged curlew - Curving beak and curving song - Swings like a dark lantern on the unseen slopes of sky And pours its liquid flight Down to the nest of night.
Screamed by swifts and rung by river song, Glittered by shaking leaves and scalloped by peewits, Chanted by doves and burnished by blackbirds, The month lifts its tumbled head into the sky.
Hawthorn hedges creak with swollen knuckles, Wrestling roots through walls, And, weary under the weight of grass, The stream plunges and rumbles in the darkness, While down the dale the air flows like plover’s wine Around the early dancing larks.
In sunshine crackled with bees and broken promises of grouse The viper pours between the heather’s bones And lies exhausted on the slowworm warming stones.
The cloud-vaulted sky rings with shaken bells of bird song, With a loveliness unknown to those who Trudge from a sunday shroud of sleep To clanging churches Hung with the pale ghost they call joy.
The First Swallow Of Spring
Above the hard shining road Hot with the glare of raw sunlight I looked between the trees at the stillness of the sky.
Above the beech bark smooth as a glazier’s thumb, Above the maples cracked and peeling like old plaster, Above fields that flow green waves between dry stone piers, Above the surf surging wind and new born leaves I saw him.
Fresh from Africa, wings black as blue tempered steel, He rolled, soared, curled, corkscrewed And glided over the cowslipped turf And flickered his wing tips, And was gone.
I waited through the lapwinged, curlewed, goldfinched hours Until the stretching of the shadows and the falling of a star, And, walking from the dimness cast by the old house, I saw him on a wire scratched across the sky, Folded and furled like a feathered flag of joy, The summer bird.
Through the mist the sun sifts light Against the silver fin of hill.
Cutting the limestone land in ribbons, Pleating the daisy dusted pastures, The shadows form and fade.
They never told me this was here As I lumbered through geography and maths.
On the economics paper no words said It doesn’t have to be like this.
When they measured me for my working clothes And showed me how to punch my card No-one lifted their voice above the clatter of machinery, Or pointed over the roofs behind the railway, Or waved their hand at the distances Beyond the gas works and the canal And the smoke-plumed chimneys and said There is another way.
God, the arrogance of cities and the lies they spawn. And now I stand here A free man.
Perhaps one day I shall have another halfpenny To rub together with this one. Perhaps not. It really doesn’t matter either way.
On The Road
On the road is exactly how it feels. Its not about dishwashers and the next expensive thing. Its about where I’ve travelled from, Where I’m going and who travels with me.
Whether they are around me or away from me Or in my soul We are all travelling.
What is important is the journey And how it is great And how it hurts, How it feels to hold my children And how it feels When I can’t call my Mum On the first Mothering Sunday morning That she is not in this world anymore.
But I know that we are still travelling Still on the road Together.
Last Journey Of The Year
It is winter And the thread of road over Pott Moor Is dusted white With the threat of January.
The wind has muscles here That can tread life into a shallow grave Without even trying.
Perhaps we won’t pass this way again Until April relaxes the madman’s grip On his axe of ice.
And standing in St. Chad’s tiny church On its hill at the dalehead It seems that we inhabit islands In the archipelago of the Pennines Whenever the snow falls.
The tiny plane propellered through the summer sky, Slow as a grey goose against the western wind.
Penhill was a rising whale in a misty sea Beyond the mindless isle of Catterick Camp, And fragrant slabs of moor Lay spread like tea loaf On a platter of Yorkshire green.
As miles that have left my booted feet steaming Poured beneath the metal mayfly, Monastic tracks and trods Spokewheeled away below the banking wings, And dale merged into dale Fudged by fingers of wind on peat.
We turned by Greenhow for Harper Hill, Sun spilling through the scattered cloud And, passing over home, Swept down the tail wind to the landing lights.
The hour of unreality Was lifted from me, The bubble dissolved, And I could taste the wind once more.
The October Road
You took my hand Like the flame of Christmas past And stung me with a spark of love. For you I turned my eyes to the sun And burned out all my yesterdays.
And but for you I would have laid in the wind Where the clouds sweep from Nidderdale to Yoredale And let my sorrow for myself win.
That is all finished with now And I can paint today as bright as I like, Since you took my hand Like the flame of Christmas past And stung me with a spark of love.
We came here, my children and I, A long time ago on an overcast day.
They stood at the oriel window and smiled. The camera said: Click! I still have the photograph.
I had a big yellow dog, which I don’t have now, Hair, which I don’t have now, And a wife which I don’t have now.
After seven years we came back again, But this time the sun shone on the honey stones.
My children stood at the oriel window and smiled. The camera said: Click! (Again.)
I miss my dog.
And I miss my hair.
When Andrew and Heather were married The summer day shone like a polished harmonica, And, after the wedding breakfast, Served on salvers of speeches, We floated over the manicured lawns And, Temporarily moored by the gilded fishes In their reeded world, Decided to leave the langouring crowd For a walk in the late English afterlunch.
A drive between dusty hedges spokewheeling away Between ochre corn and sienna stubble And we came to the Roman bridge.
I clambered cutwater, causeway and crumbled tumbled stones While you alighted as a crimson flame on emerald grass. I turned, few words unfurling, And fell enchanted by The spill of your hair, The fall of your dress, The lovliness of you.
It was forever a perfect day.
Sometimes This Is Our Room
Sometimes this is our room On summer’s tail or spring’s beginning When Tired from running our world We arrive in search of sanctuary.
Sometimes this is our bed of new born dreams On autumn’s wings or winter’s memory When Fresh from turning the pages We celebrate the chapter’s close.
Sometimes this is our space of morning light On days as fresh as a lamb’s first breath When Miraculously drawn from the water’s depths We step out into the new days of our love.