Thursday, 19 October 2017


Emily Brontë’s on my doorstep.
Under her hem I can see her feet.
She has no shoes on.

I know she will have avoided
Stepping in toadstools, hedgehog
Excreta, worm casts,

Flattened her soles into moss,
Cold clover, mist of dew,
Maybe thorns.

I remember referring to my upland home
As wuthering. Has she come
To snort derision?

She sifts through my heart,
Eyes a forgotten colour, all reproach,
Lofty, lyric,

A shadow on the shelf,
She enters, dissolving in dimity,
Ferocious flare from heath to hearth.

Tapping keys, watching words cascade
I feel her at my back,
Refusing to relent, melt, yield, unbend.

Monday, 17 July 2017


Today our north was promised a broken future.

It made the news.

It made us cry.

I see the monster viaduct, the swathes of sweetness, cow parsley and paddock, cut by knives of ringing rails.

HS2 is coming to harm and haunt us.

I am feeling furious for the fields;
for the warren of whirling windfarm blades spinning in breezes on Penny Hill at Ulley;
for Thurcroft and the southern reaches of my Wickersley on her upland plain;
for Broadlands at Bramley;
for Hellaby, Braithwell, Firsby Reservoir;
for Hooton Roberts, where Vaughan Williams played croquet, learned the apple tree's lean on Linden Lea;
for Conisborough, its castled keep and bailey;
for Denaby Main, split by something more sinister than pick and pit;
for the floodplains of my beloved Dearne;
the Shimmer estate in Mexborough, cloven in half and hammered flat;

I am feeling heartbreak for my heartland;
for the souls caught in the soulless march of money;
for those whose homes will be demolished;
for those whose babies must be relocated;
for those whose children will be uprooted from familiar schools for classes across an alienating distance,
leaving friends in mixed up mayhem.

I am grieving
for lost lads and lasses, their amenities, homes, communities gone;
for the disabled, the disadvantaged, the disoriented poor,
facilities snatched away, shattered, scattered,
subjected to demolition, compulsory purchased;

I am up in arms
for people's daily lives razed by arbitrary mandates from on high;
for our farms, our wildlife, our fragile habitats, noble nature,
irreplaceable treasures destroyed on a whim;
for our woods, our blessed places, our countryside,
green fields that will be gone
when HS2 belts blazing through.

It will not stop to nod to us,
nor note our tears,
the absence of bat, newt and bumblebee,
the wandering death of hedgehogs.

Shame on greed.

Shame on the gravy train.

Saturday, 15 July 2017


Someone said you were 
Well dressed.

I tried to see it in you.
I gazed down into your depth,
Your mossy brickwork,
Your echoing hollow of plipping dark.

I hauled up your pail, hand over hand,
Thirsty for a drink.

I made eye contact with myself 
In your lichen circled mirror,
Coins thrown, making wishes.

I whispered a blessing
Over chaplets of daisy and cinquefoil,
Withering woodruff woven
Sticky Willy,

You had spelled your own name
In stitches of myosotis,
Instead of the local saint's.

Chlorophyll clouds dried
On boards of salt and clay,
Straws strewn on water,

"Don't fall in!"
A dove flustered out of the copse
A startled naiad
I grabbed your rail,
Recovering my balance,
Blinded by your shimmer,
Newly baptised,
Baby fresh