A Great Scaled Beast

Gweint mil mawren
arnaw yd oed canpen
a chat erdygnawt
dan von y tauawt
a chat arall yssyd
yn y wegilyd

I pierced a great-scaled beast:
there were a hundred heads on him,
and a fierce battalion
beneath the roof of his tongue;
and another battalion is
in (each of) his napes
The Battle of the Trees

A great scaled beast sees
wars across the worlds: these
last days of Empire’s fall
beautiful, terrible…
Heads burn East, West, North, South.
Everywhere a Hell Mouth.

On the howl of Dormach
fierce battalions march
forth from beneath the rooves
of his tongues sent to prove
the world’s end to itself
and lead each frightened self

into the great beast’s maw.
Entering his gaping jaws
every step is further
down his throat – surrender
would be bliss if it weren’t
for regret, guilt, the hurt

of leaving all we loved.
Our work was not enough.
This is a night of tears.
This is a night of fear.
This tongue a road we must
walk – perfect faith and trust

keep us strong as we go
where only the gods know
splitting East, West, North, South –
all into the Hell Mouths.
In the maw of the beast
will we relearn to speak?

Will we each be reborn?

A Great Scaled Beast Black, White, Red Final Sml

‘A great scaled beast / there were a hundred heads on him’

Devil’s Bagpipes on Stoneygate

Arkwright HouseWhen Richard Arkwright played the devil’s bagpipes on Stoneygate a giant hush came over the town. The blistering whirring sound against the pink horizon of a sun that would not set over clear sights for two centuries of soot and smog was damnable. Yes damnable! Gathering in storm clouds over Snape Fell.

You who have seen a premonition might have heard the village seers tell of smoke for flesh charry knees and the squalor of shanty towns. Red brick mills turning satanic faces to the coin of their heliotropic sun: Empire.

Piecers running between generations bent legged beggers, tongue in cheek defiant. Weavers watching shuttles slipping through fingers like untamed flies. Luddites sweeping across greens with armaments and gritted teeth. The new need-fires of burnt-out mills. Staggerings of Chorley.

How he rubbed gristly chubby jaws and did not see the unfairness of profit or tightly curled hair when hair-pin thin people laboured in his thrall. How he played the devil’s bagpipes over breached bones of the dead then one day toppled pot-bellied splay-legged from his cushy stool.

In bugle layers of this town decided long ago I long to rush through industrial rain, knock and knock on his front door and beg him to stop. But know he will not listen. Only play on and on laughing his demonic laugh. So we dance the hurly-burly on the ruins of Horrocks’ back yard in a splash of flowers and cement as if it is our last.

Site of Horrocks' Yardworks

Dudey Hound Grffiti, Horrocks' Yardworks

Birch Wood

Birch trees. Carr Wood








There was a land of ash with no future.
Out of the ice age they came, colonizers
Silver-black and delicately snake skinned,
Shedding white edged leaves on the ash-clad winds

And singing do you remember, remember
The ice age and peat and lost Vindolanda,
Sentinel cities and burying oaths
Enstyled on bright birch to placate the world?

And singing do you remember, remember
The strange black peal of the blacksmith’s hammer,
Street lights of amber and echoing roads,
Cities estranged by the gathering smoke?

And singing do you remember, remember
How empire fell that fatal November,
Civilized monuments crashing to dust,
Swaying white fields and the soft song of ghosts?

Silver-black and delicately snake skinned,
Shedding white edged leaves on the ash-clad winds
Out of the ice age they came, colonizers.
Their land was ash, with an unknown future.

Birch trees, Carr Wood