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Railay Number 4 - Princess Lagoon

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As the morning sun starts to bake
the red earth of these hills,
we set out.

Clasping rock and rope,
we embed our digits into this land as the mud embeds beneath our finger-nails.
I am shoeless and bare chested, to let the clay paint my skin with the story of this journey.
This climb is not about a summit, but an isolated depth, an interior sea-level  inside this peninsula's ribcage.
So we re-descend the steep trachea walls, and listen to the breathing path whistle and giggle in playful respiration.
If you are fascinated with the echo of this palaeolithic chamber, that vocal selfie-stick,
the waters of the lagoon will freeze in interrupted stillness, shy of the volume of trespassing tourists.
But, if you listen in silence, long enough for your feet to sink beneath the surface
the heart beneath the water begins to beat, and the lagoon will rouse unto its pious dance, with darting fish, red-breasted birds and unseen monkeys,
whilst a gargantuan web soundly glistens as the sun pierces through from the world of th…

The Vine and the Branches

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Photograph of a vineyard in Les Cévennes, by Silje Lilly. Taken in July 2017.


John 15:1-8
Gleaning grapes before October storms,
the vines are ancient fingers, deathly-dry and knotted digits. bark-scarred with the wisdom of growing. They are crowned with a branchy vibrancy, of greenery, naivety and fertility.
The miracle of the vine and the branches is the fruit.
The credulous branches, are trusted to bear the weight of the yield, their green luminescence is continually fed by the vine that looks like deadwood.  A Lamb looking as though it had been slain.

I wrote this poem in the Autumn of 2016 while I was in a vineyard on the outskirts of Montpellier, where Silje and I live, in the south of France. We were picking grapes after the harvest and enjoying time reading and writing in the autumn sun. Silje took the photo in July 2017 while in another vineyard in Les Cévennes, a short drive north.
Time and again, since moving to Mediterranean France in 2015, I have read biblical imagery of nature while…

A Writer's Paradise

I find myself where
the wind in the leaves is heard
but traffic is not,
where hills without houses
roll to the horizon,
where the creaky chair and desk of tired varnish
furnish the coming days with ideal,
and I must write.
The air is fresh and the sun blistering, et je vais parler français  avec les amis, en buvant le vin de la région,  et la sensation de la conversation dans une belle langue  ajoute une émotion pure, when I come to write verse in my native tongue.
And the boisterous laughter of children, and the giggling of an infant energise this siesta atmosphere to fill the time with melody, and the fill the melody with words, and to fill the words with meaning, to fill the coming months avec le repos de maintenant.

Written in July 2017 while Silje and I were on retreat with some friends in a tiny village in the south of 'Le Parc National des Cévennes.' 
As I learn to speak more French I have experimented writing bi-lingual poetry... This is the first one that I am sharing on this blog. Here I chang…

Familiar

It’s not only in the colours and outlines
of the soft rounded hills and calabrese trees,
and every possible variant of the colour green, under a grey sky.

It’s also in the patterns of rust
drawing maps on corrugated roofs
of trackside farm buildings.
It’s in the wells of deep hoof print 
in black sodden earth
surrounding a trough of water.
It’s in the living fence-posts of moss-damp wood,
and beacons of fresh-yellow timber
where it has been recently mended.
It’s in the crown-of-thorns birds-nest
visible through naked limbs of a winter oak.
It’s in the irregular circles of tiny yellow lichen
on the unique fragments of our planet
which make up ancient stone walls.
It’s in the fragile chandeliers, of frosted spiders-webs
that decorate an evergreen hedge.

When I return, 
I find my home
in the details of Britain. 



This poem was written in the autumn/winter of 2016, whilst I was visiting the UK. 
Since moving to France, it feels like I have been given new eyes for my home country. A new appreciation for the beaut…

Father, Forgive Them

'Two others also, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him.'

Calendar's rhythm thuds.
The kick drum rattles your rib cage
As collective memories and communal routines
Plume like dust from that undulating skin.
.....You must wrap gifts in superfluous paper,
.....That's tradition. .....Yet repeating acts to underline thankfulness, .....That's superstition. Calendar's rhythm thuds And we bellow through that dust cloud, Clearing our throats and averting our eyes. THUD For the drum announces the sales THUD The rhythm is the anthem of vacation gifts. So discard the old and ugly, To find the beauty, To spend and to own. 

'They came to the place that is calledThe Skull'
Excited skin bristles. Chill shivers the spine in want For purpose and ergonomics dim in contrast To the lights, and the efficacious movement of the crowd. .....So much spectacle, .....All these plate glass doors, .....Are diamond pimples covering the  .....Universal symbol of death. Excited skin bri…

Announcement: Easter Joy and Justice Arts Project

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If you are anywhere near Northwest London this Easter you should go along to the Easter Joy and Justice Arts Project in Northwood.  

It's 'An amazing opportunity to engage with various art pieces, created by 13 local artists, and see the Easter narrative in a new light. The project combines the Easter narrative with issues of justice (e.g. homelessness, poverty, climate change, drought) and brings together these concepts through various pieces of reflective and transformative light.'

It's running from 11th to the 22nd of April, for specific times and more details follow the link.




Le Printemps Arrive

Gentle chill
mingles with
February sun
to warm my bones,
and prick my skin with cold. 


Lake calm
sleep breath waves
expose the broken shells
that make up the earth, and
keep the land believing in winter. 

When I lived in the U.K. the first sunny day of spring would burn itself onto my memory with relief from the cold, joy in the warmth, and anticipation for the summer to come. Most years I would write a poem on that day about my excitement (such as 'I have missed the sun' written in April 2011). 

Now I live in Montpellier in the south of France, that feeling comes a little earlier in the year. This year it was towards the end of February, when we were at the beach near Sète for the day. It was warm but the (relative) cold of winter was still clinging to the air. The feeling given by the weather matched the relief and thankfulness we feel at finally moving into our flat here in Montpellier.