The book I’d like to read has not been written; The tune I want to hear has not been played. No painting is precisely as I’d wish it; My perfect movie is, as yet, unmade. What song would soothe my ear now, there’s no telling; No architect’s creation holds my gaze; I fear my feet would find no fun in dancing; No appetite for even Shakespeare’s plays. And what of my own kindred: do the poets Have powers to aid me in these fevered times? Perhaps I might discover some great secret Concealed in their cadences and rhymes. For poets speak of love and truth and beauty; Show us a new and grand reality. A vision of a world unspoiled, unburdened; Not as it is, but as it ought to be. And yet I see no promise of redemption: All things are tainted by the touch of hands Intent on harm and hurt; no thought of making But only breaking, ruining our lands. And there’s no comfort in the old religions No hope in our so-called democracy: And even at the bottom of a bottle There’s no long-term solution I can see. So I will go out early in the morning Ride through the country, where I hope to find A truth no human art has yet imparted To my world-weary heart and troubled mind.
after so many years all those miles half a lifetime willingly paid over
I can still forget that
after so many hours all those words hollowed out by all the hiding
I can repair all that
after just a moment stolen from reality with this magical machine.
And I am thankful that
after each forgetting it is there to remind me and pick me up again.
Missed a couple of days on the bike this week owing to poor weather and work commitments. Felt awful, darkness closing in etc. Went for a ride yesterday and things got themselves back into some kind of balance. Can’t understand why that surprised me; or why I so easily forget that, very often, that’s all it takes. Yes, I’m obsessed, and should probably be worried that my mental state is so bound up in whether or not I’ve managed to get out today. But I am absolutely certain that the bike has saved me from seeking solace in things that would be a lot worse for me; and I am so grateful to it for finding me all those years ago. (The pic is my much-loved Brompton outside the church in La Chapelle-au-Mans, Burgundy, on a very hot day back in June.)
A drowsing acre of rough-cut grass walled off from the waking world. Beneath pale stones, splashed with flowers the founding generations mingle, one with their home ground, as their crisply chiselled names bookended with joy and mourning slowly soften with the seasons.
Spinning down to this quiet corner from the village on the hill – the home I left long years ago – I find myself among old friends see more familiar faces here than there; my past interred in ordered rows. And so I turn back to the road; my world between two worlds.
A day to set the tarmac popping underneath my tyres; A day sent straight from Lucifer and his infernal fires. The smell of dust and molten rubber in the stifling air. And some are going to die today; but you don’t seem to care.
It’s fine when I can stick to backroads under shady trees Or racing down a long descent, creating my own breeze. Compared to those indoors I know how fortunate I am; But something’s gone profoundly wrong; and you don’t give a damn.
And still you prattle on about the wondrous things you’ll do. A list of golden promises. And not one word is true. So while we watch – scared, weary, sickened – as you play your games Our country’s going down the drain – and our whole world up in flames.
To the sorry collection of idiots, incompetents, fraudsters, fanatics and fantasists currently vying to become leader of the Tory party and the next Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. All obsessed with tax cuts, culture wars, stroking division and refighting the Brexit battles; and not one of them will do a single solitary thing about the climate emergency. We can only hope that today’s record-breaking temperatures (set to exceed 40C in the UK for the first time ever) are a foretaste of what awaits them in the afterlife. It is the very least they deserve.
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.
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’.
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.