driven out?

I thought I might
go for a ride;
a short, easy spin
to clear the head
remind legs, lungs and heart
what this is all about.

But now
this simple, innocent act
is made political
pitting me against
the full inchoate outraged weight
of hate and spite and bile;

a target painted on my back
fear following me like my shadow
and I wonder when and how and why
we found ourselves
heading down this road
and what could turn us round.

Coup de foudre

My days no longer play out as they should –
No water-bowl to fill, no wrapping warm
In winter coats to walk down to the wood –
A cheerless list of tasks I don’t perform.
I miss your warmth, your velvet fur, your eyes,
Rose-petal ears and pointy needle-nose,
Sounds and expressions. Now I realise
How much a dog takes with him when he goes.

The axis that my world revolved around.
A lightning-bolt that briefly touched the ground.

Viggo. 20 July 2009 – 27 January 2021.

Going dark

I am not
by nature
a quitter;

but I tell you now
I’m just about ready
to throw in the towel

when it comes
to what’s going on
in the world.

I’m done trying
to make sense
of events;

keeping pace
following the thread
seeing where any of this is going

and wondering whether
it’s me or Them
that’s finally gone insane.

No matter
how much
I see, hear, know

I’m no nearer
to understanding
or being able to change a thing:

They will do
what They will do
regardless of me and mine.

So at the risk
abandoning my post
I’m going dark

leaving Them to it
for a while
see if the sky falls in

and get back to the real work
the real world
They cannot touch or spoil.

A’ bheinn mhòr

These are my terms. I am. Have always been.
Foundation of all things; bones of the earth.
No number for the ages I have seen;
To ancient fires and ice I owe my birth.
I suffer you to stumble up my slopes
To brave my bogs and burns, my sudden squalls.
I will indulge the crampons, axes, ropes
With which you arm yourself to storm my walls.

But I will not assist or lend you aid
When storm clouds break upon you and the snow
Screams in. You own the choices you have made;
I stand impartial, neither friend nor foe.
And when the wind and wet conspire to tear
Your trembling fingers from their fragile hold
I do not weep, rejoice, laugh or despair;
Dispassionate, I watch events unfold.

And should you overcome all things, succeed
And stand upon my peak in victory
I offer no opinion on the deed:
Your gain and loss are all the same to me.
I have no truth, no answers. You will find
Them in yourself alone. I am the place
Where you may dare the darkness in your mind
And meet your strengths and frailties face to face.

All things must pass; and yet I shall endure.
The world may change, but I will always be.
When doubt and chaos reign, I still stand sure.
When truth is hard to find, remember me.


For Burns Night: inspired by our trip to the Scottish Highlands last year. Scotland’s mountains aren’t high by world standards but they’re rugged, remote and can be tricky to navigate; combine that with their notoriously fickle, often brutal weather and they’re definitely not to be trifled with. The image shows Ben Loyal, a magnificent Munro in the far north: the title is Scots Gaelic for ‘the great mountain’.

Vulpine

By field and farmyard
Shaw, copse and spinney
Bridleway and holloway
I am Fox.

By garden and playground
Twitten and cul-de-sac
Bypass and underpass
I am Fox.

By seeking and scavenging
Raiding and thieving
Nourished and famished
I am Fox.

By swiftness and subtlety
Stealthy and shadowy
Running and cunning
I am Fox.

By covert and country
Hounds, horn and hunters
Followed and swallowed
I am Fox.

By midnight and daylight
Highways and byways
Glances and chances
I am Fox.

By legend and fable
Knowledge and hearsay
Neighbour and stranger
I am Fox.

By adapting and enduring
Shifting and drifting
Thriving and surviving
I am Fox.







Vanishing act

It would be so easy now
to simply disappear:

just turn off
a couple of sockets,
rip a few wires out of the wall,
feign deafness when the telephone shrieks,
leave the computer stone-cold, silent
and go.

I need no one’s permission,
require no licence,
warrant, pass or explanation:

I have only to will it
make that choice
and I can be
entirely
unreachable
untraceable
fall right out
of time and knowledge
be nothing more
than a man on a bicycle
you pass, glimpse
and instantly forget.

And only the instinct
to survive
is stronger than
the temptation.

Not a rehearsal

Life
they say
is not a rehearsal.
And having given the matter
due dawn consideration
I am inclined to believe
they might be right.
After all
we don’t get a chance
to take it from the top
once more
with feeling;
no going back over
our errors, missteps
stumbled entrances, fumbled lines.
So I’ve always taken the cliché to mean
that life must, therefore
be a performance:
but who would willingly
take on the role;
saying our piece, making our moves
with little prospect of applause, just reward
or even a good review
for a run that only ever ends
one way.
No. On balance, Life is, I think,
more an audition:
each day we must take a deep breath
step into that spotlight
open our hearts
strut our stuff
reach down deep
give our all
in the hope that it will be
enough.
And some days
it is.
And some days
they’ll let us know.