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I grew up surrounded by the natural poetry of the moors and sea. As well as that, we have poetry in our blood: my Gran was a Burns-Armstrong, of the same family as Rabbie Burns, Scotland’s national poet. So it’s normal that I’ve written a few poems over the years. Below is a selection for your enjoyment. My first anthology, ‘Poems and Songs from the Bridge’ was published recently (2016), being a collection of 21 poems and songs based around my painting ‘The Bridge’, some of which I use at my Living Art events.

Click here, if you’d like to buy a copy.



The Moors


One of my first poems, written as a teenager. It appeared in ‘An Anthology of Northern Poetry’.


The moors, the moors

Ah! Wild and free

Windswept heather

Tortured tree

Ceaseless winds

Leaden skies

Unbroken, defiant

Of humanity



Storm


Storm’ draws on memories of ‘The Lyke Wake Walk’ - a 42 mile sponsored walk across the

North Yorkshire Moors. It was included in an anthology entitled ‘Homeland’, published by United Press.


The forest below this battered hillside

Breathes darkly, brooding within

And hugging itself, warm inside

Carpets of needles untouched by the rain

All is hush down here

All is hush

Out there the wind carries pictures

From far away places

Of vast open spaces:

Long desolate shores of surf-soaked sand

Mile after mile of drenched moorland

Where live none save grouse and curlew

While gull wheels forever ‘neath ice-loaded skies

Screeching defiance o’er her highway she flies

Scouring the sea below her she dives

With her stabbing pick-axe beak

But all is hush down here

With the wind only a sigh

Inside no need for fear

As the storm passes us by



Return


Return is inspired by the Book of the Apocalypse, the last book in the Bible and appears

in the anthology ‘End of Days’, published by Forward Poetry.


You will come

With your mighty ones

Those powerful ones

Of light

All’s white

With the clouds

Brilliance, bright

And the sun waxes, wanes

A candle to flicker and falter

Puny

 

Devastation

In the hearts of men

Fear

And then

Terror tears

And tears fall

Hearts break

All eyes see

TV’s tell the truth

Skim a stone ‘cross water

Nation to nation

The truth revealed

Throughout the Earth

All round

Nature resounds

In recognition

Of the return

Of its Maker


See the pride of men

Falter, wither

Crumble in terror

At your coming

Realisation too late

Mocking lips dry up

Cynical throats strangle in horror

Eyes stare white-wide

While hearts hammer wild

Flailing, failing

Palms clam up

And legs give way

At the great and terrible

Day Of the Lord,

The Conqueror

Sublime

In his Time

Darkness will flee

Before thee

Before the great and terrible coming

Of the One who was slain

Now redeemed

Restored

And Righteous


His fury

His face

Terrible

To behold

Look away

Look away

Before the Day

The terrible Day

Of the returning Lord



Viking


A  poem about our family’s Viking ancestors. When they arrived on our shores back in the 700’s, they spread terror throughout the land. They were eventually tamed themselves by that same land,

and its God, the Shepherd King.


And the journey will go ever on

Until the return of the Risen Son

The Glorious, Victorious One


We come, riding the prows of our sleek ships

The grey unruly waves of the north

Bow down to us, Sons of Thor


The men of peace and the cross are no match for us

We crush their skulls beneath our hammers

And tear their bodies asunder

We take their gold for their king is rich

And cast them in a ditch


Year pass and this fair land bids us peace

The fjords of our fathers are far

And the ice has melted


Our children grow under a more pleasant sky

Our farms flourish and our tongues are tamed

We the conquerors are the conquered now

And the prow of the longship lies

Beneath this green earth


The God of this land did not fall with his monks

Their blood fed the land which nourished the hand

Of us all


This cross we knew for Odin too

Had hung there three days

But this one can see

The ice black in our Northern heart cold

He takes it for gold

He has disarmed me


But we march yet with this Son of Light

We will thrust our torch into the oncoming night


And he carries no spear nor hammer or sword

They say his word is as his sword

Then so will I speak as my Lord


Valhalla has sunk beneath the foam

While this one establishes his throne


And the journey will go ever on

Until the return of the Risen Son

The Glorious, Victorious One



Hills


City life can get you down.


I used to look up and see hills

And hedges meeting the sky

Well-ploughed fields where furrows chase raucous rooks

And the ridge of the moor

Brooding on high

Today as I lift my head

Grey slate roofs and chimney stacks

Rubbish-strewn streets

Of potholed tarmac

People full of aggression and haste

No time to waste

In the city

Lord, I find it so hard

Not to feel down

When faced with the greyness

Of this tired, old town

Where my heart is starved of the beauty

I know and need and crave

To hear the distant roar of the sea

Of tumultuous breakers crashing

Upon miles of open beach

Mist-shrouded valleys

And snow-blanketed earth

Where is the green earth that gave us breath?

Where are the becks that kept us from death?

Boarded and chained

Closeted, maimed

Take me away from this graveyard

Where people kill for fun

And hearts are cold and calloused

And cynicism carries a gun

And kindness is hiding, shaking

Terrified by what has become

And gentleness lies bleeding

In a gutter, raped, discarded

Left undone



My Mind


Who needs drugs when you have the mind?


I need no shining needle

To reach a higher ground

Nor smoky opium staircase

To see what Alice found

And Sergic’s lie’d just lead me astray

For the plasticene porters just melted away

Go down that tunnel of light?

I’ll rather stay here with the night


An angel plummeted in mid-air

His face so radiant and fair

And a thousand gossamer feathers

Fell onto a rail-track in Surrey

And the commuters all in a hurry

Were made late through ‘adverse weather conditions’

Laudanum and absinthe are diluted dreams

In the tar pits of my mind


May’s petals are filtering down

All golden dust and honey

In the sparkling beams of morning

In an ancient copse of oak

And the dampness of the shaded ferns

Invites me there to lay my head

And listen to the tiny ones

Scurrying beneath my bed


I have no need of this alcohol

That vice I do not miss

I’d rather drink of this natural madness

I see so much clearer like this

Purer waters run so much deeper

Feeding icicles in my head

From peak to shining summit I leap

Whilst others’ feet turn to lead


These streams they feed the stalactites

Dripping in the caves of my mind

So far beneath this raging world

I leave the clamour behind

I wander those echoing valleys

And meander ‘neath those statues deep

Lost in their calcite prayers they stay

Their silent vigil to keep


Pure waters run deeper where others lie stagnant

Clogged with this bubbling poppy-seed pus

Spawning its tumorous growth malignant

For this I have no need and thus

The reeds in my stream are razors to slice

This brain into quivering slithers

The seeds of my dream were once covered in ice

But watch now as the creature it shivers


 Off with the old and crackling skin

We’ll leave it blackening in the sun

To begin anew, to be born again

Now that the harvest is done

This shell to dry in time you’ll see

‘Twas but a husk of a previous humanity


And the treasures I find

As I halter my mind

Are purer than prisms of light

In the freshly sown bed

Of my dew-dampened head

Lie the seeds that will grant me flight


For the jewels that I find

On the shores of my mind

Are more precious than the waters of Mars

In the glittering bed

Of my heavenly head

Lie seeds that will give birth to the stars

Lie seeds that will give birth to the stars



Reflection


I see me

In your eyes


Made small


For you

Know me


Behind these proud battlements

Beyond the savage world

Sits a wee boy-child

Toying with a dandelion seed


You take me in

With your eyes


Each time I look at you

I am recreated

In the orbit of your soul

Held by the gravity of your gaze

My constancy is rewarded

As your light brings colour to my world

Whilst behind me

Only

The icy-cold emptiness of night without end



These last three poems all appear in ‘Songs and Poems from the Bridge.


Alone


I can’t do this on my own

Lord hold my hand I pray

I know that you are with me now

I just need to know you’ll stay


Your word tells me you will

And I believe your word is true

It’s just that I feel so alone sometimes

Was it ever like that for you?


When you hung upon that cross

Exposed for all to see

Your cry spoke of such devastating loss

Eli, lama sabachthani



The Light


Go wander in the daytime

Fair further in the night

Still and always and again

Outside, inside, the Light



Love


At the end of it all, where would we be without it?


Love

Only love

Is the curlew’s cry

On the edge of the dawn

A whisper and fragile

The unborn

Carried away on the wind

Like honey blossom

Or pollen

Waiting to be picked up

Treasured

Protected

Kept safe

For the little ones,

the helpless, the blind

Nourishing, feeding, surrounding

All calm and warmth within


Love

May travel

A dandelion seed

A thousand miles

‘Cross land and sea

Joining two hearts

By invisible thread

Stronger than iron

Or death

Love goes beyond

For love’s not confined

By time or space

But travels beyond

Further than this place


Love

Is the mystery

With power within

From the beginning and before

It existed

To the end and beyond

Completed


Love is the whisper

To bring down empires

The pillars of existence

Collapse with its breath

Death

A mere servant

No more

No less

And fear

Extinguished

Finally


Just be

In love

And all

Is well