I’m pleased to have had these two waterfowl poems up on Caught By The River recently.
Each from a forthcoming book - although two different books! Watch this space...
Grey as the watery dawn,
wet with the guts of frogs,
the blood of moorhen chicks,
ghosts upon the foreshore,
patient for fish and history.
Separate and sentinel,
misplaced milestones, attendants
to the helicoidal flow
which undermines the river bank
(a sliding snake that slowly
eats the water meadow).
Their perfumed legs
are nectar to minnows
who crowd to be speared,
their beaks - the impalers
of stooping falcons.
delicate and granite,
timid but constant,
observers and recorders.
Under their plumage
their hollow bones
are etched with runes
- the unreadable toll
of the seasons' cycle,
the pool of the river.
The cows stand dying in the field
sharp hip and shoulder blades revealed.
Who knows from where their sickness comes?
The Drekavac; the Mire-Drum.
Booming from the lonely reed bed
this ghost of the unbaptised dead
looks up toward the rising sun:
the Drekavac; the Mire-Drum.
Some say he drops his dreadful beak
into the marsh before he speaks
to make the stinking fenny ground
an amplifier for his sound.
Bog-Bumper: shy in tan and dun,
the Drekavac; the Mire-Drum.
Thursday, 10 August 2017
Image Kassiël Gerrits
My wife insists my legs run constantly
although I think she's making assumptions
based on the rucked up bedsheets on my side.
I'm pretty sure she doesn't move at night.
She settles to sleep like so - and that's how
she is when the morning cracks the curtains.
So maybe it is me. Restless legs? Meh.
Last night was different though. At three AM
I woke. Not in bed but on the landing.
My feet were wet and cold. The moon was full
and I could see my watery footprints
padding up the stairs from the open door,
wild silver light spilling across the lawn.
I traced my steps back out to the grey shrubs.
A large man approached me and I was scared,
shitting it in truth but I didn't run.
Not with my limp. He was wearing this mask.
A helmet really. It seemed like the moon
was within him and shining from these slits
in the mask. He spoke but surprisingly
his voice was soft, calm. "I'll be the surgeon
implanting your Deep Brain Stimulation
There's really nothing to worry about."
I recalled earlier meetings, talking
about wires like rods of fat spaghetti
being eased through my Basal Ganglia.
No one had ever mentioned a helmet.
"Why the helmet?" I asked. "Oh this device?
Your brain will emit some radiation."
He laughed confidently, began whirring...
(Dark Matters refers to Substantia Nigra - the part of the brain most affected by the death of cells in Parkinson's Disease)
First published at Visual Verse 8/17 as an ekphrastic response to this image from Kassiel Gerrits
Thursday, 3 August 2017
A crowd of gawkers stood around to watch
a digger lift the dead calf from the beach.
A Devon Red, its beaten hide sand-caked,
twisted legs flung out, looking like it might
have dugs its way up from some darker place
to die, satisfied, in ozone and light.
The driver heel-screwed his cigarette,
climbed in the cab and turned toward the calf.
One clouded eye stared up, pointing blindly
at the canvas sky. A polished pebble,
quartz and slate embedded in a slab
of sand and hair. An eye that once looked
through a thin fence without understanding.
The digger chuntered in. We turned aside.
Delighted to have my poem Calf Eye picked up by Caught By The River for their excellent and inspiring site www.caughtbytheriver.net
Thanks to The Clearing/Little Toller where it was originally published earlier this year (see post below)
Wednesday, 12 July 2017
In April three poems were published at The Clearing. Here's one - follow the link to their beautiful site for the others...
Two men ignited the bones of the past
one Monday, late in the year’s dark corner.
Boats weighed anchor off the Ness on Tuesday,
awaiting high tide and a hold of lime.
By Wednesday combustion was well progressed,
with a caustic stench and skin-peeling heat.
In Thursday’s moonlight the smoke ascended
like the twisted spire of Ermington church.
On Friday the pall-bearer night wore no gloves;
it shattered wherever it laid its pale hand.
Only the blistering lime kiln was spared
and the two men who slept close to its wall
flanking their deadly charge. During the night
the young burner rolled into the fire.
Whether the boy was choked by toxic smoke
or wooed the heat too closely none could say,
but he burned with insufficient fuss
to rouse the slumbering quarryman.
Saturday the kiln was cooling, ticking down
to Sunday when his riddlings could be raked.
Tuesday, 27 June 2017
Before he fucked off for good with his tart,
his wife dug in a thin row of saplings
along the paddock edge to slice the wind.
Driving past this November afternoon
I saw their leaves shiver orange and gold
against a low dissolution of cloud.
Beeches. Slow growing and platinum barked:
sentinels lancing the uncaring air.
Others might have planted ash for the fire;
or a timber crop, spruce perhaps or fir?
Fruit trees? Apples, plums, pears: all could grow there.
Instead, she bunched her hair and planted beech,
that tall, proud and pretty tree which despite
the winter frost still wears its golden leaves.
Published 12/6/17 at Clear Poetry
Thursday, 8 June 2017
I'm delighted to have had work popping up in a variety of places recently including Acumen, Clear Poetry, Popshot Magazine, The Clearing, Prole and in anthologies from Picaroon (Troubadour) and OWF Press (Poetry about Pubs) - my thanks to all the editors.
I'm now looking forward to performing some music and poetry at Moreton Music Day and Port Eliot Festival over the next few weeks where I'll be joined by my brother Andrew on hammered dulcimer. Should be a lot of fun - come and say hello.
Check out their websites for further details set times etc - or follow my Facebook page www.facebook.com/marcwoodwardmandolin
Let us suppose your car packs up
out here. Beyond Broadwoodwidger,
St Giles On The Heath, Virginstow.
It is night - a justice of darkness
that lives on these shapeless acres.
You walk the twisted lane a mile
then, seeing lights, you cut across.
Fields, hedges, a dark shadowed copse.
Fields, gates, the woodland edge.
What do you feel?
You feel the brief breath of an owl;
silence after the fox's cough.
What do you hear?
You hear the weight of condensation
on a vast ocean of bending blades.
A hundred rabbits knew your sound
through the earth, long before the air
announced your voice or waved your scent.
Here there is nothing to save you.
If you lie down now, this wet ditch
may be your decomposing place.
Who will find you? Only strangers.
Still the dark world will keep moving,
eating, weatherbound, star stared.
Out here, in the twitch of spiders,
the fright of jays, the quick knee-jerk
of a cricket's ear - a moment
considered, passing, forgotten.
The only trace: a disturbance
in the scent blown down from the wood;
an imprint on the retina
of a cow's large soft eye, fading.
Originally published in Otter New Devon Poetry C.1989
and included in A Fright Of Jays published by Maquette Press 2015
Monday, 29 May 2017
Put the sky behind you and clamber down
from the wind harried ridge to the deep coombe.
The air becomes still, the trees exhausting.
June the third and these plants would consume you
if such was their nature. Turn and turn back:
the weeds sprout even while you look away.
Drop to the bridle track, shrink to the beads
of dew, cuckoo spit froth, blackberry spike,
stick, splinter and mould. Ant, aphid, woodlouse,
and all the catastrophic underworld
are attending to their chores, chopping up
flags of leaves; new buds bulging in their spoil.
Careless, instinctual, organic - they're all
just a plague away from taking over.
Now shrink smaller still, down to the crazy
ommatidia of a beetle's eye,
gaze through a foliage kaleidoscope
- observatory to a mushroom sky.
First published in Popshot Magazine no. 17 Summer 2017
Thursday, 11 May 2017
This is where we sit to watch the night come in
ever since Trumputin bombed our English towns.
We emptied freezers, ate our neighbours pets.
Now in the bird-settling, when we once sat down
to be tamed by tv shows we can't recall,
we recline here and watch the weeds approach
knowing soon their rope will be a ligature
that tightly winds itself around our throats.
Wednesday, 29 March 2017
Dagan the fish-god was an important god of the maritime Canaanites, the Phoenicians. Early Roman traders came to the West Country to annex the tin mines and may well have used Phoenician galley rowers who may - perhaps - have brought their Gods with them...
"Who has not seen the scarus rise, decoyed and killed by fraudulent flies"
Marcus Valerius Martialis, Roman poet, fisherman and source of this first description of fly fishing.
Where the Teign descends from withy moorland,
quick under sloe and red berried rowan,
scrapes over grit into fly-whirling pools
- and slivers of brownies waggle and flit -
Martial the poet took twelve foot of silk,
a Hare's Ear nymph tied with feathers from Rome;
and with a neat flick put a hook in the lip
of the fish god Dagan - Dew of the Land -
a Merman in azure and olive scales
burnished as bright as a Lazio noon,
crowned with cassiterite, cloaked in the moon.
Swiftly unhanded he slipped the God back
into hollow water. Cold western winds
sucked up the sea into chough-feather clouds.
First published in The Broadsheet 10/2016
Thursday, 23 March 2017
Picture a pendulum;
the moon's patinated dial,
with each long sweep shifting
the ocean back and forth,
scraping seashell dust along
a mahogany floor.
Sea-tugged boats swing on their moorings,
rotating to a lunar beat.
Tethered to knotty trots regatta dinghies
founder and rise, levitating with the tide.
The ferry plies its trade across the harbour;
small queues grow and vanish on opposing shores.
Anglers arc bass lures overarm
then reel them back in, tangled with weed.
Returning house martins feel another pull
- that of a slower seasonal migration,
like the coach loads of summer tourists
who swell the bars in this seaside town
eating a cardiac of cod and chips,
banging empty pints on waspy tables.
Over the river the wealthy retired
shuttle from village shop to pharmacy,
until flashing blues block the street
while a doctor gently seeks a pulse.
A sea so calm it holds the stars
in yellow stains. And nearer,
on the cooling sand: two starfish,
in a lovers' kiss, left by the change.
The new tide unclutters the beach.
Morning wipes the stars from the sea.
These planes and circles mirror and repeat.
The grit of stars and shells grinds at our feet.
Published in Acumen, January 2017