Gates of Annwn

The gates of Annwn are rising
Through the last hours of the year.
Tonight we must stand our vigil
Through darkness and fear.

The gates of Annwn are rising.
As the stars lay down their shields
Tonight we must stand our vigil
Whilst its secrets are revealed.

The gates of Annwn are rising.
Shining souls in procession tread.
Tonight we must stand our vigil
For the living and the dead.

The gates of Annwn are rising.
As the hunt prepares to ride
Tonight we must stand our vigil
Setting pain and doubt aside.

The gates of Annwn are rising.
Through chaos and broken bowers
Tonight we must stand our vigil
Through the year’s final hours.

The Story Door

Stories from the wildwood are infectious.
They bite and itch, crawl under your skin.

Beneath a rotting tree lies a story door
only the orange spotted ladybird

and aged sphinx moth with hoary wings
know. It is rot that lets the stories in

and they grow like mushrooms, hollowing
it out like parasites with sucking teeth,

like bats only the cloaked and winged
hear them flit in darkness between two worlds,

like goblins they come from beneath hills
and steal your children; one for the pot,

one at the feast. Whilst you butcher
every tree and burn the forest down

the story door is never found, yet
from it in your sleep creep two children,

one inside the other one; two stories
riddled deep within your flesh.

Story Door, Penwortham Wood

To Go into the Wildwood

To Gwyn:

I want to go into the wildwood
to twig crack and snapple of leaf,
to see the beauty of alterity in crimson flashes,
hooded figures between trees,

to go where death and darkness drag me over,
strange, mossy stones line spirit paths
and a single grimacing skull
holds no message in its teeth,

to go where your black horse is bigger than the hill,
see-sawing mud with huge round feet,
the sky filled with owls clawed and winged
and I dare not look upon your face,

to go where screamers accompany your hounds
into the wildness of a long, mad night.
As the sickle moon arches backward
in the peril of your sight

you bring the wildwood into me
and I go into your story.

The Wanderer, The Wildwood Tarot











*’The Wanderer’ card is from The Wildwood Tarot, drawn by Will Worthington.

Presence published on Moon Books Blog

My poem ‘Presence,’ which is dedicated to the ancestors of my local landscape, has been published on my resident poet’s page on Moon Books Blog. For me land ancestors include the land itself, trees and animals as well as other humans. The process of writing this poem took me back to the ice age, to the very first birch tree colonisers, elk, auroch and wild deer as well as early human ancestors and traces this lineage through time to the present day.

Moon Books Blog is currently managed by Nimue Brown who updates it every two days with a mixture of articles, interviews, reviews, excerpts from works in progress, stories and poems. The other resident poets are Robin Herne, Tiffaney Chaney, Martin Pallot, Beverley Price and Romany Rivers and their work is well worth checking out.

This is a photo of one of our earliest ancestors, Horace the Elk, who is 13,500 years old.


Spinner in the Cellar

Chorley, late 18th C

She sings of a love long dead.
She downs the treadle and sings of another
in a voice that aches and creaks
with the turning of her wheel
and a high, lost note that breaks the cellar’s air.

“Young man, busy in shop windows
with your tailored suit and tight cravat,
do you feel your heart string tug,
a little choking in your throat,
outside the florist, hear petals whisper?

Will you bring me flowers
with steady footsteps and a gaze sincere?
By the cord of my voice, come,
drawn by my slowly turning wheel
to where I lay out my skeins with love and care.

In my forgotten workshop
I shall tell you a story of flaxen flowers,
how I spun them into linen
and wove them into my tangled hair
by this damp mill town’s autumnal air.

How on cold nights my breath turned to mist.
Now I see your breath in my cellar
I just want some company
as I lay out my skeins,
the touch of your hand on my bone-like fingers.”

Spinner, Helmshore Mill









*This poem was written for a Guests of the Earth performance at Chorley Live. After finding out there was a pub there called ‘The Spinners Arms’ soon afterward this came to me.
**Picture courtesy of Helmshore Mill.

Completion of Penwortham By-Pass: Council Meeting and Rescinded Route

On Monday the 7th of October I attended the meeting of Penwortham Town Council for the purpose of finding out where they stood in relation to the completion of the by-pass. I was relieved to hear the majority were against the new route, which will destroy a large area of the town’s landscape with little benefit to its residents.

Another member of the public made the pertinent points that the plans were lacking in adequate data, it wouldn’t stop traffic travelling through Penwortham and would cause further severance between Penwortham, Longton and Hutton. I raised the issue of the environmental effects.

Penwortham Town Council decided they would a second response to Lancashire County Council that they wanted to reaffirm the ‘blue’ rescinded route rather than the new ‘brown’ proposed one. All of this is recorded in the latest minutes (1).

One of the reasons behind the planning of the new route was that it wouldn’t destroy any homes (the rescinded route destroys five) and it would cause less damage to the landscape. However, the functionality of the new route depends on the building of another stretch of road and bridge over the Ribble that will destroy an area of natural coastline then run through Lea Marsh, a Biological Heritage site.

I’ve walked the rescinded route from Broad Oak Roundabout to where it would join the A59 at a new roundabout between Saunders Lane and Chapel Lane.

Penwortham, Preston, By-pass and city deal 024 - CopyIt cuts across farmland and divides Lindle Lane…

Lindle Lane…splits this public footpath…

Public Footpath…then destroys Moor Cottages and runs through Bamfords Wood…

Moor Cottages….at the end of Park Avenue it will destroy more houses and cause noise pollution for Bramble Rest Home…

Bramble Rest Home, Park Avenue….a mini-roundabout will be built on Chapel Lane

Chapel Lane…here it will join the A59…

A59It is clear that the costs will by far outweigh the benefits. I can’t see any reason why people would use this piece of road rather the A59 at all, even at peak times as they’d only get caught up in the congestion headed for Golden Way.

In my reply to the public consultation I have to objected to the building of both roads on account of them causing unneccessary damage to the environment, separating communities and on account of the fact that sufficient data hasn’t been provide to suggest either will be effective or work better than improvements to footpaths, cycleways and public transport.

(1) Penwortham Town Council Minutes, 7th October 2014, p4402