September warmth

Warm September
sun on the hills
starting with dew on the quad seat
Flora feeds her baby at the fence
there is no wind
Flora at breakfast
Walking long heather
with French shooters:
two grouse
for tomorrow’s feast
little enough

The cattle gather by the fence
in the afternoon heat
so that I worry
that they have water.
The trough is full,
and there is shade
under the willows,
but they collect any slight breeze.
September sun

as afternoon cools
to evening
one red calf chases another.
Halfcalf as he is,
misfit George
milkless baby
gallops a hundred metres
after little Alice.

In saving his life
I have preserved
a tiny quota of joy.

Panting George


Phantom fears stalk the hill

No more black coffee
I’m on a purge.
My flask delivers hot liqourice
and something- camomile perhaps.


I sit to watch

deer scattered in the heather

below the monument.

They watch me –
a dozen hinds and calves
with a couple of knobbers
(young stags) still in velvet.
Hidden gully
Unperturbed though
until distant shots crack
from a neighbouring glen,
shotguns not rifles-
grouse or clays-
but the deer rise
and move below me and out of sight.

The Nog is prone
under my head
-a canine pillow-
and hovers unusually
tight as I move off-
flatteringly attentive –
until I remember his fear of firearms,
however far off.
‘Gunshy’ doesn’t describe
this overwhelming terror
conjuring phantoms
while the heather smells of honey
and the wind is from the south

I study water pouring slowly
down a smear of green,

– to challenge other phantoms.



Chewing it over

The studio is wired in.
A live line of 16mm armoured cable
runs from the mainboard in the basement
to the studio distribution board,
enabling the circuits,
power & light
shower & cooker,
fans & smoke alarm
that I have laboriously installed.
New line from the masterboard
These domestic circuits are cobbled together
like daily routines.
Bringing the power in
involves something deeper,
more dangerous:
dredging potency from the darkness below.
It has been anchored somewhere
on my mind’s seabed
catching on rocks and weed
slowing the job down.

It is done-
and, like many a troll,
living damp and dark,
below ground,
was small enough when confronted-
less than a day-
and I learned from it.
Meantime, the cattle have been lying down
in the humid conditions,
chewing the cud.
Neither expectant nor ambitious,
they loll
in late summer fullness,
moored safely
when I surface.

Old ladies take their ease


Old farm and new

It’s a hornbeam – I think-
the tree growing in the doorway.
The tree is not beautiful
or even that healthy.
The doorway is a ghost
nothing more than a memory
of comings and goings
to and from the old farmhouse,
Uvie farmhouse.

Protected by the fallen lintel,
jambs lying together,
or just possibly human intent,
the ungainly sapling has grown tall.
It spoils the view
from and toward the roundhouse.
(A guest recently took a photo
from across the river:
‘nice apart from the tree’).

Today as I build
the cattle graze
around the house,
like would-be purchasers.

Companion animals

Companion animals

Flora stands alone by the tree.
One day-
when my house is fallen
to an overgrown mound
propped by nine cast piers-
an old red cow may wander here
making milk for her baby.

Flora visits the old farmstead

Flora visits the old farmstead


New freedoms (but no sex)

Sex is in the air, (I won’t tag that)
but it’ll be okay
so long as the West wind blows.

The little heifers
Holly and Alice
graze freely
on the aftermath
of the silage cut.

Stock fences are illusory,
a gesture of control.
The cattle can walk through
parting my lines easy enough.
Mostly they appreciate constraint,
but I have slung a halter around
the horns of Eros
hitched him to a hurdle.

Holly and Alice are 18 months old,
ready to breed
and keen.
If they find the bull now
they will breed successfully,
but all their strength
will go to the new life
leaving them stunted.

Where do you think the  boys are?

Where do you think the boys are?

So I watch,
sour as a dowager,
while they nibble newfound delights.

A field away upwind-
shielded from sight,
Angus rolls along the fence,
sucking at the air’s juice.