Pendle Hill

Today I walked upon the upper side
where earth and heaven sundered by the sky
and loaming clouds roll wind-beat grey
cross Pendle Hill at end of day.
Touch of rains, misted clinging wet
breaks and roils, beading face and neck
skin-soaking cold but earth-fragrant sing
and carried in the the silence of the winds.
Then through the gloom lamenting cries are heared
wind-borne ripping, to break the hissing still
and as terror takes my heart in chill embrace
my thoughts, unbidden, tell of witches and the worse
that might find comfort in this lonely place.

Go! Go! my mind insists, and they
Stay! Stay!
Take not the downwards way.
What respite is there in light and warming fires
at the closing of this day?

Yet once I'm off that whale-backed hill
in a snug aside the bar
with a pint of beer and shepherd's pie
those cries seem so afar.
Then I laugh at tales of witches
and the gibbet where they died,
but will I walk that hill again at dusk?
Oh no, I say. Not I.

But at morn' I think of Demdyke
her daughter and her kin
imprisoned deep and hanged up high
and murdered for their sin.
So p'rhaps I will that hill again
in the clear lights of the day
when Bowland's in its beauty
and hate is far away.

Pott's Fracture

Pott's Fracture I ain't got
though Tim Haynes has squished me
six foot plus to five foot eight
I wished the bleeder missed me
at 2nd halfin fairness
I'd caught a scrum half fly
but that was in the previous half
for that I nearly died?
He caught me in the act
of leaping like a hare
and although I was good to run
the ball was nowhere there,
Chase the ball! Down the line!
your's truly head o'er arse
landing with Tim H on top
flat in the muddied grass.
Recuperate, hellish passage,
O corridor infirmal
prints by Charlie Waterton
matron's faux-maternal.
But it  wasn't Pott's Fracture.
Nor quite a case of bruiséd pride.
Just the breaking of an ankle-bone
by a bugger twice my size.

note: Charles Waterton was an English naturalist who wandered in South America, invented the bird box and was a prolific artist and taxidermist. In the early 1970s the boys' infirmary at Stonyhurst was decorated with his work; I believe the bulk of that is now in the Wakefield Museum, UK. CW had a sense of humor:
a famous tableau he created consisted of reptiles dressed as famous Brits and entitled The English Reformation Zoologically Demonstrated.


Spring Allergies

(for Gr. and written March 26th, 2012)

I woke with the larks and a SNEEZE! this morning
'Twas, I suppose, in my nose a warning
Outdoor-sy things, mad frolics, fun wheezes
Sadly come with stuffed SCHNOZZES and SNEEZES!

Daisies marching, bursting buds a'peeking
Swallows dash, their insect breakfasts seeking.
As bugs hum by prim stands of daffodil
A sun-dazed beetle rattles by the sill
And hid in dirt life warms and creatures till.

     The moral of this ALLERGICAL POME?

I told the lovely Miss Gr. that WE POETS, unlike THOSE UNFORTUNATES BEING TORTURED UNDER EDDICATION, can alter a word's spelling just to make stuff rhyme. And get away with it. 

I had another verse-y thought, but for the life of me I couldn't figure out where it might fit.

My sneeze was a roaring blast of a sneeze
If I was standing
On the landing
It would have knocked me to my knees.


For Gl. in Anticipation of Her Birthday 

(written on the 4th April, 2012)

If in this moment, you I cannot hold
I will my pen to celebrate Your Day.
If spoken words cannot yet while be told
I'll ink in rambling verse to stake my say.
So. Rosebud poesies in your fingers twist
And braids of rhyme be lilies in your hair,
Their petals dropping so your ears are kissed
By their goss'mer touch in praises fair.
For as a polished rhyme's well rubbed to please,
Or early bloom entrances when 'tis seen,
You, love, such childish fun to tickle tease,
Fair flower now: young woman; sweet sixteen.
     Though myriad be beauteous forms and hue,
     Three girls eclipse, and one of three is you.   

Other Cargoes

An homage to British poet John Masefield (1878-1967) who wrote about stately Spanish galleons, quinquireme of Nineveh, and a dirty British coaster butting through the Channel in the mad March days. There's a competition on the Wicked Nib if you're up to penning some similar.

Caravel of Lisbon wallows urgent westwards,
Then drifts in doldrums beneath a burning sun ,
With a cargo of misery,
Dried beans and manacles,
Stolen souls of Benin's Bight, one hundred strong.

Corsair dhow of Zanzibar fleeing 'fore the Ensign,
Hugs the Hejaz coast for the market in Aden,
With a cargo of rifles,
Brussels lace, brandy,
Parakeets, negro, and a flax-haired maiden.

Puffing Hudson riverboat against the tide to New York,
Wheels churning midstream on a sunny Sabbath day,
With a cargo of cut nails,
Saw mill, iron beam,
Applejack, woolsack and New Paltz hay.

Orpheus and Eurydice (unfinished)


The sunlit hills conceal a vale in Thrace
where wandered once and sang a muse's child.
I rested there nearby a listless river's bridge
and weary slept past dusk to wake much late
and find the lately babbling light-lit pools,
infested threat and shadow-gloam.

By arches of this bridge mist poured.
O'er rocks, o'er eddies and o'er the river's flow,
cataracted horror come 'cross shore.
Still blanket cloaked-wrapt-'round, I backed
barely looked nor brooking thought
of what was there, or not.

I saw two wraiths approach.
My eyes mistook. T'was one!

Stay! I cry. Halt there and farther not!
Though the apparition stands, I flinch,
fear flooding thought, my heart, my limbs.
Stay I said and stay he did,
a wild staring stay. Now fixed on me.
I never saw such eyes so seeming lost of any hope.

Stricken eyes, a lyre across his chest.
Fingers spread against the strings,
slack dribbling mouth, un-voiced,
eyes looking back, for what?
Nothing moves within the swiring dark.
What does he imagine there? A dream?

The answer comes upon a note,
a note that echoes 'neath the bridge,
building bank to bank and up the slopes
purely constant as he sings:
Her Orpheus I am. Her Orpheus I am.
That note I knew, this story too, and well.


Be warned ! few stories go this bad.
She, near-wed, mad pretty in the rush,
is serpent-spat against her heel.
She falls rapt still from Orpheus' kiss
is bourne to myrtled bowers' mossy bed,
fails, lingering whispers un-allowed by death.

His lips drew in her breath, her hair,
thick body-scented strands, his hands
about her hips, laying sweating-still before
the over-warmth of morn' force them apart.
Barely touching backs for cool,
their ankles then unlink, prescient of her day.
Near dawn were two entwined,
before the noon just one!

It happens quick as oft a dying is.
No repine, no time for kiss-fluted fare-thee-wells
or even time to save or savor
faltering beats, or fix the 'membrance
of a lover's breath upon the lips.
No. She goes and harshly quick.

Now Orpheus sees all life unmasked.
Sunlit and murmurring streams perhaps,
kindly no. Spawn's eaten here by frog,
she by heron, egg by rat, feral cat and violently
to man, whose sister's fate
is likely rape beside a brook.

This is hell amonst the bloom and grow.
Spring's warmth is cruel,
the feast of unrestraint, that stands
without the plause that wordly things
might be undone, redone, or given back.
Zeus or Hades are the options now.


In his thoughts Eurydice's are kind.
She will bring cool water to the senile
listen with a smile his lonely loons
and posy scented flowers as her gift.
To 'Pheo she admits her cares
and so her hand is on his heart.
Of her self, for 'Pheo's looked at moments
when her thoughts were somewhere else.
Were she not the same in self he'd judge
in how she smiled or frowned or stooped,
but she is constant in her self,
this suitor's test no more applied.

Of grace! When 'Pheo saw the girl
once chase a startled fawn,
nut brown two limbs matching four,
leaping, reaching, hoofs snapping, slapping
soles upon the grass, she felled the beast
to merely pull it's hurting thorn.

To his eyes Eurydice's will change,
one moment hue of spume and winter sea
next sheen of spring-dewed  moss,
then autumn-down flecked bold by light.
Clear gazed, orbed utter white these eyes'
grow black when 'Pheo's by.

In mingled breath, Eurydice drinks wine
in meadows plying her's to 'Pheo's kiss.
A kiss, a lick of sour breath and wet ripe lips,
each's kindness cast aside for lust;
instinct of desire, all within that breath,
breast, flank and swelling mound.


How could she know he'd rivet up
his hard'ning heart 'gainst this divorce?
Natural beats constrained by iron,
forcing blood beyond its real pulse
to limbs and mind alone, gentleness
of love forgot, to only rail.
In that final race across the rush
Euridyce was scent of sun and grass.
Had he caught her, kissed her, tasted
lips, freckled cheek and seeded hair,
could chance, a moment's lull in chase,
confuse the snake so love might be?

The answer's yes! for Orpheus
though no god, enjoys the mortal gift.
Chance is all our life! I'll prove the point:
a die that's thrown a hundred times
all falls one side yet still permits
a further cast's apology.

Faithful men make prayers, then wait.
Some hurted, break their faith.
Others linger in the midden pit of hope
faith un-guided, so are despaired.
To Orpheus anger came, flecked bold by light,
illuminated by the coldest loss.

What he'll never know is this:
Eurydice is all of certain things,
dew-fall's wet and warmth of day
her love for Orpheus undisputed,
subject to accept the 'is' as 'will'
with no dispute and no remorse.


Daffodil stands prim midst
honeysuckle loosely vines
her scent to lilac, dappled air
and insect drone above the grove.
Time-stopped, wine-drowsed to lull
awhile her lover thrums his song.

Here forest light is dimmed,
its daylong dusk denying
tangled groves and unexpected,
swards to all but nymph,roe or they.
Here he sings and how he sings:
Your Orpheus I am.


Fixed Orpheus with her coal eye she warns:
I will the Hundred-Handed-Ones
and Titans in Tartarus deep
unleash to broken vows. Look back before
Eurydice is cast in lights of day
then such or worse will have her soul.

Alas! rising to dark Hades gate
concealed beneath the Bridge of Thrace
the Singer's glance is drawn by sound:
Eurydice' mistep, the heel-raked pebble-clink
that draws his cursed eye and casts
his lover back to Hell.

Lament! Ten steps yet more,
her cautions would be void!
Look not back! she'd warned.
When tis done, whence came she'll go.
But back  he looked and now
his fair Eurydice is gone.

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