Thursday, 29 June 2017

A Queen of All She Sees: 4 Hallowe'en


It comes round again
The smell of woodsmoke
in the living room
And scented candles
on the stairs
Outside, wet tarmac
Damp leaves and rain:
Making torchlight escapades
Shifting timber
For the last of last year’s logs
Beech and Elder,
Felled sawed and split,
Burning long and hot,
Yearning for that dry heat,
A treat for bones and limbs
We now live in twilight clouds,
watching for the gaps
at hallows eve,
to welcome or call halt,
interrogate ,ignore,
such memories or shades
that come calling.
You never know just who might come
Now dark has rolled up
And coughed its darkness all around:
Drop by and see what gives
Who’s alive and whose passed on,
Who’s fucking who and who’s in love,
Who’s out there on the edges, waving,
Or just there, standing,
On the edges,
I think we’re dreaming of the dead,
That the dead may dream of us.
At greenvalley’s edge the woods are full,
and yet she leaves the farmhouse
and goes alone
She meets and talks to all
Gathering the news,
Passing on warm breath
And hints of last year’s form,
Facing all and sodden sundry
With a basket of warm bread ,
Going to places where smell alone
Nourishes the guests.
Returns informed,
to apple bobbing and lambs breath,
old songs with the men,
damp harmony and deep bass drone
And trick or treating
Of a stranger kind
Hopes that village kids will dare the lane,
For treacle pumpkin pie
And the kitchen fire,
But knows their;parents have such sense
As keeps them from what they dare not know
But ,gathering up her brother from his books,
Plans gentle mischief,
Cloaked and hooded,
Carrying a fire brand,
With Wolf at heel,
They harry rabbits at the woodland edges
High up the valley wall
And howl at nearby houses,
Until the village dogs a-bark,
And shutters bang,
And the wandering child
Is pulled inside and , as midnight comes,
The village settles down.
for those peer out late they see,
high on Cam Peak's uncovered head
a woman and her brother Wolf
looking upwards at the stars
And in the morn,
As flour bags and blown eggs
Litter streets and lanes,
A slice of linen wrapped,
Greenvalley pumpkin pie
Is found, still warm,
For breakfast treat
A solid gift of life

From the wayward Valley’s queen.

A Queen of All She Sees: 3 Green Valley Sleeper

The song is sung on hearth and heath
To remind the sleeper to sleep deep,
And to stay beneath the sod
Whilst, on top, us mortals plod
Dreams of ice bears fill a mind
That moves world wide and glacier slow
And holds inside a growing force
That helps the seeds and corn to grow
Once human fingers rooted be
And once wet eyes now knot each tree
And hands that once a valley saved
Do waft the wind, propel the waves
She knows, as such a girl will always do,
That he has not gone, but moved on,
And that the Ravens, though they caw and chirp
Their words and secrets in her ear
(a surprise to the uninitiated
who wandered up the lane
for milk or eggs, sent there
by friends with sense of humour
and not a little malice),
still owe allegiance to the valley Lord.
She wonders if they tell on her,
Pass messages to some strange beyond.
But when she asks them,
Direct and honest like,
How he does and what he does,
They do the cawing bird stupid thing,
Then bring her little gifts,
Perhaps condolences,
Or perhaps just mischief or distraction.
This does not please her,
So she has stopped asking,
As what a Raven thinks is treasure,
Will not bring a quaker girl much pleasure
He does hear
Of course he hears, he hears it all,
He hears each acorn drop
And each web tremble with each fly’s passing,
He hears each voice and birdcall,
And as humanity occasionally returns,
Hears voices he once remembered
And the soil cracks at his fond smiles,
And sand dunes shift at his brows furrow,
His hand move beneath the earth
And cracks open seed pods,
Bursts wide corms ,
Send new flowers to decorate the paths
Upon which his little sister walks,
To make her path and mastery
If not easier
Then one of magic and of beauty.
So when her power is on her
And her time is getting near
She walks about her daily chores,
And behind her,
Nothing but flowers
Crocus, snowdrops,
wild magnolias,
and of course

sweet Lilies of the valley

A Queen of All She Sees : 2 Wakenings

Although delays are part of daily life
And one’s hopes may founder on the practicalities
Of simply getting to some place or other,
She found that when she asked
That such and such a thing be done
In such and such a time
just to give a few days off
From the duty of her stewardship
There was no reluctance
From those she asked
And benign grace seemed to fill the air around.
Something was gathering closeby,
And affected all
The opposite of a thunder cloud,
Though as intense and coverall,
As if a green sea , a turquoise sea,
A mirror perfect eiderdown ,deep hued sea,
Flowed from the woods
And washed all in its grey green gorgeous grasp.
The mist and spindrift spray,
hung silent and did not explode
Staying in the woods,
Softening the edges with a smell of ozone,
wild garlic and new life.
And people now smiled at each another.
Sudden posies, white rose and jasmine,
Dropped at her feet as if by chance,
As all who made their business
to breathe in the valley’s air,
felt the need to give her flowers,
and whitewash dirty corners of old barns,
to hang baskets of sweet Williams,
on rafter, porch and window's eave,
and to smile with deep sincere intent.
The mood cannot be said
To have crescendoed
By any conventions that I know,
And I only write down what I see,
And hear from those who closer were,
But this warm feeling
Of supersaturated summer ease
Peaked and Alacrity’s new white shoes
Took her one day
Towards that bed within the woods,
That was now real as any gate.
She went alone, yet many saw her go,
Riding on that crest of inevitable elation,
Stepping like proud lipizaner,
Highstepping in some summer dance
Of which she could not, would not share the steps.
And one ,later on in happy cups,
Onlookers said they saw that bear again,
With crown of dogwood rose upon his brow
leading her into the woods
To where all guessed the bed might be,
From where all the mist and green light shone,
From where sunlight dappled on command
To where holly bristles softened at her will,
And ash keys, sycamores
Showered down as Pan's confetti,
And acorns, beech and hazel nuts
Pattered groundwards in sweet applause,
As vows were made
that are now part of the earth
part of the pact between
the now and what’s to come of us,
as Green-man and Green-valley's Queen,
broke open pods, seedcases,
greedily sucked wet fruit
and poured all passion into the thunderclaps
that rocked the Valley
and sealed its love
for all other valleys
where others live
and go about their daily rounds.
A brother, sleeping under the earth
Winks solemnly at a sister’s path,
And wolf, still with snow upon his back,
Yaps and prances as a puppy
In celebration and in joy.
We have, on earth, now all we need
In this, our brightstar wedded Eve,
A child of innocence and wise eyes
Who walks the path between the worlds
And sought and was the greatest prize,
Rejoining ,with sweet human touch,
Our lives which,once we thought we trod upon,
But now, as clears the wedding mist,
We know we walk ,as friends, amidst.
And on this day, as sets the sun
It was great

In Albion.

A Queen of All She Sees: 1 Embers

when rage burned her
it burned white hot,
but left behind,
charred walls, dessicated bridges,
and hollow eerie naves.
her despair had flamed and died,
leaving her in white ,pure quaker ash.
she felt at home, and yet alone,
a fact as observed as neither good nor bad,
just a thing
and learned to spread herself about
but not too thin.
The walled garden,
was now hers alone:
it's walls still there
but delicate in her aftermath;
the fruit trees, raspberries,
the brambles and the bees,
and her new box hedge,
delineating borders between witchy herbs,
showed form and growth and promise.
White bloused arms
soon browned by soil immersion
(a spectrum in coffee
from fingertip to shoulders)
and calmed by earth,
grew up her limbs
and filled the gaps
where dry burned wood,
the spill from brother's loss,
had been.
She broadcast thoughts again
to test the ether,
to feel the air
to search out hope,
an antithesis to care,
and found less barriers to her thought,
less impedance to her curious impiety.
A wave of empathy
radiated as a pebble's splash,
and the first within its expanding quaker circle mind
were the three Ravens, who suddenly made sense.
Not just their logic could be shared,
but all their senses,
now augmenting hers:
sharper eyes,
the taste of wind and weather in their beaks,
alfresco sensitivity to season's change,
as well some other things:
the unexpected avian indignities of
a pinion feather broke,
a well deserved soaking from a pail,
from housewife guarding fresh cooked pies
from greedy beady eyes and beaks.
At this serendipity she squealed and squawked,
and flapped in glee around the house.
The valley's borders,
with their help,
became softer,
and the harsh edges of unknown/known
became as inspiration once again.
No harsh edges to their land
("her" land was still a dagger through her tongue)
but a merging/gliding in and out
as Greenvalley once again
faced the outside world;
Swirling and ebbing
in dreams and temporal confusion,
the in and out of verse and life,
all sat well for her,
within this cusp,
and a million trillion possibilities of change
from smallest leaf to juggernaut,
were watched and accepted without fear,
but envied still was he,
who had found and sought
one single door.
She watched the valley easier now,
and loved to see a blurring in the woods,
as a poet from another land
walked in and peered
but did not always see.
Calm within herself, the valley warmed
and visitors started to return:
mainly down the lane at first
for eggs and butter
and her healing hands,
even just to chat.
At dusk she still set patrols
of herself and Ravens at the forest edge,
bird eyes and hers,
hazel and obscure.
hers was curiousity personified,
unmodified by grief,
but saw no movement of great import
Unclear at first
appearing over many days,
though when in focus seemed as if they always were
and always had been there.
She saw Ardent Wolf again, in winters coat,
on summer green
trailing garlands of white flowers,
orange blossom and white rose,
towards a clearing in her woods,
where oak carved bed
and floating gauze of this four poster's veils,
waved as willow saplings in a summer mist,.
Although everywhere was hung with white,
glazed in blossoms spindrift and heat haze,
the background palate was gnarly, green

fecund , musty, and gladly strange

Green Valley 2: 6 Alone

Where are the guests of yesteryear
Brought by starlight and bright hope ?
They stand amazed at how a feral child,
And protective pack, order all,
Keep hired men in service, dealing fair,
Ensuring that tomorrow comes,
But they stand back from her glance,
And stay away and dare not enter in.
One eye on horizon clapped,
And other on the land.
She deals herself the harshest hands,
Longest days, mind and hands occupied,
Not thinking of what tomorrow brings,
But only of getting there with no further hurt
Blessed sleep brings no relief,
She wanders wide awake in dreams,
In unanchored landscape with no form,
No myths to bind it to her will,
No visitors from other worlds intrude,
Offering advice in rhyme
Hand written on machine milled paper.
The only constant is warm wet fur,
As the dogs curl up and comfort.
She wakes and screams for brothers,
Husband to be, or even lovers,
But no one comes. The Ravens are a clique,
And just observe, she’s given up asking even them.
She knows the path of season and of growth..
Her barns are full, and money comes,
But for what purpose she is unsure.
Ardent Wolf will return, she’s sure,
But never as to when, and she still
Has not dared to enter in
The chamber of the former King.
She cannot bare the thought he is not in.
In the dog days, when stubble burns,
And the harvest is most firmly in,
One day one snowflake drops out of the sky,
Like a slingshot from a heart’s assassin,
And lands on our child’s brow.
With it thoughts arrive
A picture of a cool cold land,
Right here, but perhaps from long ago,
And behind her weary eyes
A voice writes words that sooth.
Sister, forgive me not for sending sooner,
Ardent is gone to seek his brother,
He has learned of some old doors
That may help this or that old cause
and maybe gone sometime.
Alacrity, and here she recalled she had a name,
Not elf child, witch, strange one, queen Mab,
Felt a fellow sadness in the voice
I cannot come to see thee, I bring
The ice in footsteps and we two,
Maybe one, but hold a balance.
I keep things as they are, to freeze and to protect,
And you, my blessed one,
Are the cradle of the world.
My ice would kill what you would grow,
And in despair, as I see you are,
You would welcome that,
And that I will not permit.
Amidst the stubble smoke,
Charred fields and noonday knives,
A child relaxed a bit,
And felt a mind wander into kindness,
Fellow feeling and other things,
That has not been felt a while.
A trouble shared is a goodly gift,
Two voices said as one,
And, in polar opposites,
Two hands touched faces and their hair,
Wondering when last they’d washed and preened
Between us we can hold the earth,
From polar caps, to valley green,
Between us we can bridge the worlds,
Between us we can find the boys and men,
Who have walked from our land to another.
There are poets to ask, invite him in.
And while these thought emerged,
She found her feet had taken her
To where a willow o’er hung a pool,
where once a letter hung,
where now, losing clothes as chrysalis of pain,
she slid into the dark and lilied pond,
To say that wriggled toes in pond weed,
And chubb and rudd between ones hands
Were the most delightful things for way too long
Hardly needs more detail
As your mind now fills in the gaps,
And our imagined pleasures are
The equivalent of hers
A slow stroke to the other side,
And back again, scattering midges,
Eyes tight against the sunrays
Bouncing off her bow-wave and wake.
She knows she could find them if she tried,
But there is still beauty, though men may die,
And death does not kill it all.
She dried herself, most boldy,
By simply lieing in the sun,
and , on seeing her old clothes,
The browns of enforced duty and of pain,
Wrapped herself in white feed sacks,
And sauntered barefoot home
Remembering the corn.
I am the Queen, she thought,
And I have mourned,
But now I play
and my fiancee must be wooed again.
She trailed ivy in her hair once more,
And ,when home, oped all the windows
In all the rooms, wrote notes to all she knew
Inviting them for a summer’s feast,

Listening to the bees.

Green Valley 2: 5 Wild

There was no secret to the Ravens
No telepathy required, no spells,
They hung about, chased mice and chicks
And answered questions with precision.
From them she learned the order of the farm,
Its boundaries, quantities, and where to grow
What was required for now and later.
And so things stayed the same,
And prospered even as the summer grew,
But no brothers sat in kitchen of an eve
And meals were taken without joy.
She took to inviting neighbours in,
But all thought that she should marry soon
And give the farming over to a man.
The women better were, still talked of herbs,
Or quaint corners where other worlds slid by,
Dropped many secrets ,saw the work she’d done,
And gave silent warm respect,
Murmured warnings of other doors,
And deals that should not be made
For lost one’s lives.
Were disapproving of her flashing eyes
When such hints were raised.
Once she thought she’s seen him
Standing on the valley’s rim,
Leaning on spear
Looking down and in,
Ran breathless, cloak a-billow
with Ravens flapping, bobbing round her head
and Jess the sheepdog and puppies round her feet
approximating Wolf but no real substitute
but when she got there,
it was not him, just some pedlar,
who made the cross at her wild expectations
and backed away at speed,
muttering, in high german,
By all the saints, A fury.
She caught a glimpse
Reflected in a puddle by the path
Of her demeanour,
Bird haloed,dog-packed in protection
And recognised her eyes alone.
There was no peaceful quaker child,
Here was careworn desperation,
All energy on the valley,
Keeping other’s safe ,
And who cares for the carers
Came the thought.
And where was Wolf.?
Threw back head, hair loosed its bounds,
Cloak hood failed in function
And she howled skywards as a dog.
Ravens cawing called in rooks
And Jess’s pack howled along,
She ran as whirlwind
Past the oak and thorns
Past hayricks ,through lines of maize,
Her own wild hunt, and brought with her,
Unsurprisingly to some,
Great sheets of cloud, then heavy rain.
Inside, as rain’s huge gobbets bulleted the house
All gulped hot soup from wooden bowls,
In feral hunger, no distinction made
Between witch-queen and her beasts,
No manners, or ordering of the pack
As all slept in piles before the fire,
Dogs and wildchild,
Offering each other the dumb warmth
And mannerless comfort,
So needed by bereaved.
Green Valleys defenses were now so strong
That language could not get into the land,
All is strength, immediate reaction,
And inside the quaker child still burned,
Desperate for the poorly to visit and be healed,
But they saw the valley in a different light,
Owned by half child half witch, and pack of dogs,
And dared not enter, though in great need.
A bear they said, with Ivy in its pelt,
Prowled the woods and devoured all.
In abandonment she cast new runes
And waited while the seasons turned,
Still feeling hints of the old life she craved,
Whenever the new moon waxed.
But,wild as she was, and woebegone,
The farm still grew and promised life,
She barely saw this, though sun shone,

Would Greenman still came to claim his wife ?

Green Valley 2: 4 Chaos

Chaos in Green Valley
It was his Ravens first brought the news
Uncalled for, unwelcome on that morning,
Cawing as a bad surprise , unsuspected
And making stomache drop and hard
At what, through the noise emerged.
No support to hand, Wolf’s away
Feeding Arctic Appetites but must come soon,
She thought as cold dawning and the ice
Of determination froze.
“He found the door, he found the door”
Cawed Thought and Memory.
“By the Black isle, beyond Stornoway,
he walked through, upright,
and was gone”
She sat down on the earth,
now most likely hers to guard,
and felt that sunlight did not warm her now.
These two Ravens are not enough,
They hold his history in the beaky heads,
But history does not give us intuition,
Does not help us when the barley rots,
Does not settle land disputes
Or order winter to be over,
So we must reinvent anew.
I will not leave the land
I will hold all for when he may return,
Against my wedding to the earth,
And I will that all will live.
She did the things then
that one has to do,
And told the bees their master’s gone,
Keeping the thought inside her head
That this may not indeed be true,
But what do bees know, she grimly thought,
Of dreaming worlds and Fisher Kings.
The hives all took the news quite well
And their buzzing grew in valediction
Till the garden hummed and throbbed,
Sound waves heat-hazing garden walls,
And her vision rippled,
And Queen to queen the hives then spoke
To her as if to say
We are queens, we know the score,
We have resolved to stay.
There are the animals, butter ,
My new garden, its herbs and flowers,
A realm’s maintenance,
And then some more:
My healing, world dreaming.
Will the other-worlders know where he has gone ?
The thought cascaded and she stood,
A new adventure called her,
Where her bags, her cloak, filled purse and wand ?
Bees stopped their chorus and a world spun slowly.
The Ravens spoke in chorus
“the land comes first, your country is your life”
and sitting down again,
homespun skirt on flagstones,
chives and thyme bravely growing through the gaps
she saw that this was true.
But the smell kicked her brain
And lavender gave her thought
And memory went far back before she was ever born,
Offering nuggets and arcane hints.
And so she smiled
A narrow smile that says
That she had found the first step onwards.
Hands dug, furiously into clay and soil,
And moulding, modelling, breathing,
Hands created a third raven,
As she breathed and blew
Feathers from dusty loam grew,
And she whispered it its names,
“you are dreamer, heart catcher,
far traveller, confidante,
you are the third and sister to the two,
your name is Intuition.”
And the white Raven fluttered up
Perched with Thought and Memory,
Who began to groom their sister
As if nothing untoward occurred
Now I can begin to mourn,
She sighed,
And picked up the hoe

And finished the weeding.