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Above the City Lights

18" x 24"

acrylic / canvas


Sitting among blue flowers

whose name is hidden from me

above the city lights

this side of Orion's belt

in a moment much like any other,

the Earth gently heaves at rest

and tries to speak a word that I might hear

but it is also hidden...somewhat.


Hidden by far too many words

and deafened by shrill philosophy

and ponderous consensus

the path to me is tortuous

with weeded twists...

and yet I listen

this side of Orion's belt

this side of the answer

as you do ...sometimes.


Among blue flowers whose

name I just remembered.

I sit in hope

this side of Orion's belt

and listen....somehow






... all Creatures Great and Small

18" x 24"

acrylic / canvas


What great design and palpable stamp

are in me

as I against the red bricked wall

lean wondering as the rain streaked cat

lopes to his quarters dry and simple.


Small creature unaware of Tuesday night

or clusters of stars with significant names

or invisible worlds where eternal solutions

just wait for the finding....

if you just knew.


But you don't....

You know shelter and scratching

and food in a bowl.

So you leave me and scurry

while I stand damp by the bricks

feeling wise and germane.


Yet deep in my bone

beyond greatness and truth and

images of worth....

I think but of shelter and scratching

and food in a bowl.






Ancient Circles

acrylic / canvas


Bringing what I thought was little

a small token

a bloodless sacrifice

laying it with no small reverence

on the blue grey granite

glistening with wet

extruded from the tattered

mountain clouds.


In rough homespun

we smiled bad toothed

jostling each other with love

older than the rock.

Linked with thoughts

as deeply shared

as the lung breathed air

as common place

as the moist brown earth.


Wrapping names 'round

things we'd seen

wrenching tales from the

doomed and mirthless gloom

adding texture to smooth

colour to dark

sweet lies to

corruptible mind numbing truth

. . . I join my friends in the circle.







The Renaissance Canal

18" x 24"

acrylic / canvas


Earth and flowers scent the air

on the banks of my canal,

while I the regal rebel audition for eternity.

My thoughts are awash with the smooth stones

of pilgrimage

while a fish bumps my unexpected fingers.


Farmland gently whispers the quiet tune

of yellow corn and red splashed bird

as I glide through its stomach.

Accepting as the Christ child

it hears me briefly but is undisturbed.


Not far is the city which cries out my name

but I have stopped my ears with sun

and on my eyes a balm of wing beat

and in my mouth the taste of answers.....

so I am not swayed by its infantless cry.


Today I also hum the quiet tune

on the banks of my canal.

The regal rebel !

The first breaths !

The birthing !






Lady of the Loch

10" x 14"

acrylic / canvas


Does an angel leave a footprint

and have I smelled her hair

close to where the lillies white and orange

float and scorn the earth?


Down there where the dragonfly skims to rest

upon those emerald plates

and underneath the sunless trout

. . . eyes the sparkling wing.


Have I seen her face moon caught

and all at once not there

down there where the reeds might snag her dress

and leave a piece behind

. . . grey green and silent.


And surely I have heard her song

which stops the thrush in hers

and sighs across the kindred lake

to where the red deer

lifts his head unstartled

. . . and forgets to feed.






Magnolia Tree in Lightning

18" x 24"

acrylic / canvas


Never in the temple

when God sang through the stones,

never hugged an iceberg

in a cold and empty sea,

never flew with ibis

as they skimmed the jungle's roof

and never wore the sword of truth

with my army brave behind.


But I have seen the spider

on his silken tapestry dance,

and I have seen a child of stone

gazing at the sky

and in the crashing blow of lightning

I have planted a magnolia tree.






Once Upon a Time

8" x 10"

acrylic / canvas


Was there ever once upon a time

when Sir Galahad and I

fought for a maiden's hand

and Arthur of round table fame

rode in our Chevy '56.


When scaly dragons drank malted milk

with girls in poodle dresses

and we sang such silly songs

before the days of rock 'n' roll

once upon a time.


was my mother really Guinevere

did Merlin and I drink Coke

did bad guys wear black armour

that we might not be tricked

did we shoot pool in Camelot

and everything was free . . .

once upon a time.


Did God live in our kitchen

did He smell like new baked bread

was there a time before my dad got drunk

and smashed the house around

before the days of little pills

to get you through the day

before anger was the cool response

. . . before the great divide.


Was Sir Lancelot my father

once upon a time.






Scottish Gothic

18" x 24"

acrylic / canvas


He and she and back to where you can't really go

and notions of how things will be in the past

and heather beer

and there to a place of stillness

and early and simple and nothing to remind us

'cept trading on the Internet

and roaring with the Yamaha.


And clean like peasants never were

yet catching still a glimpse.

And dealing with the sheep...all three

The farmer's rest

and down the Three Crows for a pint.

And baking bread and growing leeks

"Let's fly to Spain this weekend!"

Not having six kids...having none

and eat your heart out Grandma Moses...

but we were born too late.






Sheep's Lament

18" x 21"

acrylic / canvas


Oh can't he hear the fox's cry

and can't he see its yellow eye

and over there in that cruel night tree

the blood beak'd eagle searches me.


Please tell me that he doesn't doze

and misses the black wolf as it goes

passed the stream with moon glazed teeth

to where I lie in helpless grief.


And there's the lion with feet of death

can't he sense its heartless breath

its coarse red tongue, its sinews strong

if he sleeps I fear it won't be long.


. . . But wait I think he moves his arm

grasps his stick which wards off harm

his eyes are shining like a star

. . . and I am safe and danger far.






The Terrible Beauty in the Garden

24" x 18"

acrylic / canvas


I have a garden which no one knows

my soul is freed there

where the truth grows.

There's an angel who lives there

who welcomes me in

and shows me the places where the healing begins.


In the midst of the flowers

I weep like a child

for the prison within me

innocence defiled

And it takes its strong wings

and around me it folds

and against its calm bosom

my tired head it holds.


It shows me the rose

and the terrible thorn

on the same stem growing

on the same stalk belong.

And the doors of my prison

are flung open wide

into the terrible beauty

my soul steps outside.






The Fool

8" x 10"

acrylic / canvas


Among the wise I throng to work

to where my mind resists,

to make a difference.

Important beyond measure

I wait the forty years

to rest and watch the butterflies.


Not so the fool

who keeps the same hours as the lily

who's slow and witless mind

opens slowly like the flower

who's notes from his whistle

clear and sweet

sail above the sageless water

float among the mindless trees

and back to him

who knows so little.


Unimportantly he looks upon the butterfly wing

and marvels at its being there

while his tune

so full of promise

goes unheard.






The Smell of a Bee

18" x 24"

acrylic / canvas


He came by often when I was yet small

small enough to still see faces

in the clouds that headed somewhere,

and he could too

and would point them out

and tell me where the sky

had come from

and why the fathers grieved the sons

yet why the world was swathed in love

and why the night so dark and silent

held no terror

for my soul.

And how all life would dance around me

and every step was made for me,

how a bee could smell of honey

how my mum could smell of rope

and under rocks

upon the beaches

he would show me ancient planets...

Oh. how I loved to glimpse

his tunic...

and how I thought

he would always be here.






Vision at St. Abbs


The smell of fish came coiling

on the ocean wind

that day the silence cozied up

and overcame the fisherman's laugh

and stilled the mast rope's slap.


The jurisdiction of the waves themselves

was wondered at as quiet fell like molten lead

and lapping held its briny tongue

at the harbour of St. Abbs.


Shaved from a piece of marble vapour

substantial as a night sweat dream

she hovered above old Scotia's rock

and held him like a snake gazed rat.


The words trilled out her beautiful mouth

like bubbles from a small child's toy,

"Your shadow that fell upon the wall

now falls upon the iron gate

and innocence surrounds you like

a host of stingless bees . . . choose well!"


The sound welled up with seagull's cry

and creaking boat and canvas crack . . .

for she was gone and sound was left

. . . and innocence . . . and I.






Cafe au Lait à la Nude



When I count to three take off your clothes

and join me in a cuppa.

Rip off your togs down to the buff

surprise your spouse at supper.


Unencumbered by your cladding

the brew will taste divine

join some friends at the coffee shop

au naturel's just fine.


to drink coffee while your bum's bare

is such a freeing thing

sipping tea without a stitch on

is enough to make you sing.


The full monty with a java

espresso in the raw

Tetley tea when starkers

don't care if they guffaw.


Here we go take off your hat

and put the kettle on

strip off your gear, fill up your mug

and sing a wistful song...

1 . . . 2 . . . 3 . . .






Circus Strand

(Commissioned Work)

acrylic / canvas


And here they are

on the circus strand

gaudy and gleeful

and ready to charm.

Red beaked clowns buffooning

on the rocks...

the oyster catchers smile.

The drying cormorant

in feathered cloak outstretches

and in his pocket...

a rabbit and cards.

The black faced seal

without his multicoloured ball

at ease in his briny confines.

Ducks walking on water.

Crows laughing at gulls.

The otter the acrobat

dances for fish who

glide like the lady

who holds the big hoop.

And the noises and lights

reflecting on water...

the big top at the seaside

the circus strand






Behind The Wall

acrylic / canvas


Overlooked when the world was happy

in his alcove crooked and fastened shut,

glimpsing a fair minded morning ...

just out of reach and

behind the wall.


Juggling words he couldn't hold them

when they fell with silence to indifferent earth

and fashioned phrase ,

that seamless garment...

just out of reach

and behind the wall.


Cupped in loving hands and nourished

a June bug protected

by a child

he'd see the others smiling, thriving...

just out of reach

and behind the wall.


The stones they hid a beautiful secret

and through the gaps

she could clearly see

the solemn one,

so well adjusted...

but out of reach

and behind the wall.






In Praise of the Strawman

acrylic / canvas


Their moonlit limbs glide

over the styles

white shining as desert bone

and as quiet as snow,

alarming the horse

by the blackthorn tree

who shudders and climbs

deeper into the gloom

that he might not be seen

by the petticoat girls

with jaws of clenched purpose

and eyes of dark mischief

as they sail over fences

resolve hard as oak heart

and hair like insanity

fleeing their heads.


He need not be fearful

old Toby the cart horse

these nocturnal marauders

have no interest in horse flesh.

Soft footed as dormice

stout feet on the earth

the darkness it clings to them

like a child to the breast.

They are pursuing the straw man

who is still at his post

his blank eyes not seeing

that jackdaw and raven

have long since retired.


Star kissed the crow's eye

gleams out of the dark tree

and shuts once again on the dance

of the field

for they have now gathered round

the crop's lonely sentinel

and are singing his anthem

as ancient as death

they remember the others ,

dirt watchmen of the valley

protecting the sod

like their own flesh and blood.

But his face is rough sack cloth

so he can't feel their fingers

as he's tenderly reminded

that he's never forsaken

though he spends all his daydreams

alone with the sky.







18" x 24"

acrylic / canvas


In a night of sudden madness

the fish defied the odds.

"Let's not ! Let's not ! Let's not !"

the salmon whispers gurgled

as the great bear moved in slumber.


"Let's not fight and gasp and roll

onto our backs and let our skin our flesh

become as bellyfill for the white head eagle

and lay there eyeless with panicked gills

and take the shameful end

Let's not !"


"We'll lay the eggs !The eggs ! The eggs !

we'll work as one , take to the moon

and not lay down and rot

for racoon's teeth

Let's not !"


And in the most astounding feet

a bid, a leap

the sound of immortality

stirred the jackdaw's thoughts

then silently his eyelid closed

as did the portal on one glorious night

as the moon kissed sky

. . . was filled with fish.


And day break climbed

as tooth and claw and beak came down to feed

. . . and stream was fishless

. . . and sky was moonless

and the only sound that still clear morn

was spawning water's laugh

and a far off breath.....

"Let's not. Let's not. Let's not."






On Fields of Gold #2

48" x 24" acrylic/canvas


On fields of gold they intersect

the person and the partridge.

small players below big sky.

deep in thought...then startled

. . . then exit.


Touch tangent, heart racing

the person and the partridge

lost again in themselves.

but now connecting, belonging

paths crossed, contact made

the person and the partridge

move on . . . somewhat wiser







18" x 24"

acrylic / canvas


"Pilgrim overboard !" The call was heard

above the seagull's scream.

"He's left his prayerbook and a note.

It seems he's left the team".


We were sailing to the Holy Isle,

to St. Mungo's blessed shrine

when this strange desire to drift away

assailed my weary mind.


One Celtic cross too many

one Hermit's cave too far

hairy chaffing underpants

and stale prayers in a jar.


So I scribbled down a farewell note

"Goodbye cruel world . Blah. Blah ".

then slipped out of the wooden boat

and set my sights afar.


I throw off my robes of monkhood

and joined a travelling show

to walk the tightrope daily

wearing tights that did day glow.


I laughed with bearded ladies

carried drunken midgets home.

I sang and slept with the Bengal tiger

and shared his breakfast bone.


With no thought for tomorrow

and thoughts but for the day

from Glasgow down to Tuscany

I lived to dance and play.


I learned to juggle ferrets

to spit fire from my nose

and I loved those show folks dearly

in their shabby glitzy clothes.


But one evening in December

in a town that had no name

dung covered and carried naked

by those of sozzled midget fame . . .


. . . I saw my future clearly

as in a crystal ball

married to to the dog faced girl . . .

my life was in free fall.


So on the morrow early

I saddled up my horse

and waving to the tattooed lady

set out upon my course.


Before too long I met my old friends

sitting by their fire

singing songs of gladness

for it was their heart's desire.


And they welcomed me most warmly

gave me mugs of hot strong tea

and as we set off for St. Aidan's

the truth was plain to see.


I'll always wear my pilgrim's robes

through life's great lows and heights

but underneath in gold and red...

I'll wear the harlequin's tights.






Reflection in a Church Window

24" x 18"

acrylic / canvas


Small places taken from many lands

and carried around inside

and gently placed by a refugee's hand

in a secret stand of trees

where the others cannot find.


These lands are special to us

who find comfort in secluded hiding spots.

Nurtured by isolation,

we find strength in our waywardness.


Yet almost everyone has been our lands,

to our thoughts, to our small collected places.

We've all been pilgrim fathers,

to lands we never should have visited,

we've all looked for solace in cold flinty kingdoms.


So we look for our reflection in a church window,

a welcoming whisper in a foreign sunset,

love in a face on a passing bus.


The trees are alive with secrets.

We are all refugees.






Sacred Ibis Out of the Mist

30" x 36"

acrylic / canvas


A secret rendezvous between Morning and Night

when others sleep or don't sleep but neither see.

Whispered greetings from Dawn to his darker friend

as they both bring a dusky blanket to this trysting place

and find mirth in juggling their gifts to one another.

Yellow sky of day-worn light glints

and bounces on a vapour out of place,

like a child's laugh on a planet long since dead

and smile over trees they never could have dreamed of,

and watch while birds,

as white as sun drenched hills of chalk,

fly by,

they never could have schemed of.






Small and Feeling Smaller

22" x 30"

acrylic / canvas


If I might ever cease to be

and chaos rule the universe

they'll know I wasn't small like them

but held it all together

humbly in my power.


If ever I should die

and the Earth stop its spin

they'll know how big I really was

. . . but until then I'll pretend

I'm very small

and God is rather large.






Softly Upon the Heartland

25" x 20"

acrylic / canvas


Indiscriminate you shine upon the robber's tool

and pale skin of the woodland lovers.

How can you beam so recklessly

and judge not where your gleam might fall?


How might you tutor us

you who glints upon the killer's eye

but lights the drover's path by night

and guides the ship past boulders black ?


How can you illumine the ragged child

below the cold gray bridge

yet shine so softly upon the heartland.

What justice is in you twin of time.

Why so unfair old friend?






The Breech in the Curtain

18" x 24"

acrylic / canvas


The leaves brown and dry sail down

to the ground . . .

Returning Returning.

Their dance with life is almost spent . . .

Returning Returning.

And the visible and unseen are soon reunited . . .

Returning Returning.


There's a breech in the curtain

as if through a glass darkly . . .

Returning Returning.

Now I must visit a scarred over wound . . .

Returning Returning.

And reconcile before I sail down . . .

Returning Returning.






The Change Will Do You Good

Art Deco Man dances in Surreal Landscape

20" x 24"

acrylic / canvas


"Get out of bed!" the strange voice said,

"The stars are buzzing brightly.

Put on your clothes, climb down the wall

fly the sparkled grass most frightly.


Don't stop and think don't even blink

leave while your heart is steely

there's a dolphin smiling in the moonlit bay

he will give his time most freely.


He will take you far 'neath a distant star

where the sky and sea is yellow

where the insects croon and the birds all talk

he's a dolphinately stalwart fellow.


And when you reach the pale pink beach

they will wrap you in warm towels

you'll become the queen of that island land

whose name has many vowels.


They'll call you 'Mam' and feed you Spam

wrapped up in square blue leaves

and your maid will sing you poetry

while your silken cloak she weaves.


"Get out of bed!" the strange voice said.

"The change will do you good"

But I was afraid and slept till morn,

had toast and jam... it was good.






This Loneliness

36" x 48"

acrylic / canvas


White and bleached white this desert bone

this hollow horse's head....this loneliness.

Unchanging and unheeded it waits,

time scorned with pale rigid hope.


The blood charged herd so very far away

jostling in their many.

Yet within that tangled froth

of heart and hoofbeat,

a deeper and more pitifull longing.






Time and Tide



My kids don't have a grandma

but if they had ,I know

she'd fall asleep on beaches

to scorn the undertow.


She'd dress as the Easter Bunny

and scare them at the door.

She'd knit them clothes that never fit

to show she loved them more.


She'd give them cash for presents

and books in foreign tongues.

She'd baby sit when we're still home

and sing with all her lungs.


She'd bake them cakes with sherry

and smoke a small cigar,

the uselessness of algebra

she'd teach them in the car.


She'd find a cure for cancer

stop Aunt Mary passing gas,

she'd join the two Koreas

and keep candies in a vase.


She'd put the kids through college,

think I'm as handsome as can be

love them with the fiercest love

and dream she's on TV.


My kids don't have a grandma

and maybe that's ok.

She just might never measure up

so instead I'll dream awa


When Children Dare to Dance

18" x 24"

acrylic / canvas


Few in years but long in mettle

they look beyond reason

beyond self preservation

to a wee small place

where the humdrum faithful

need not visit.


That place is courage

where bravery is dispensed.

Not to bronze men of valour

on still horses in parks

or uniform clad from old yellowed books

. . . but meted out to children

with futures yet written in sand.


When the small are brave

God knows He's built stern stuff.

When the fragile dare to dance

with sickness as a partner

and live bullets as their music . . .

heroes are truly forged.y.







18" x 24"

acrylic / canvas


The white birds reflect in the water she drinks

bending twisting, their white shapes shift

and she drinks their magic and smiles.

Up to the source their whistling wings push

and they become small and so does she

. . . depending.


The water is cold and sweet

cold so her lips tingle and she wipes her mouth

are the birds inside her or close to

where the stream begins ?

Will they be above a gurgling in the rocks

or wings folded asleep in her bosom?


If she is a fable the ibis have no home

if she breathes real air

are the birds flesh and bone

and do they skim the khaki trees ?

. . . depends.


only she knows for Wisdom is her name.






Food For Thought

24" x 18"

acrylic / canvas


Oh let me be unique

so when I start to speak

everyone would listen

my views on life they'd seek.


Just different please not better

with conformity never fettered

special, distinctive, apart, one off

stand out in a crowd? you betcha!


All I ever wanna

is to be a blue banana

a two tailed dog, a purple sun

a cheap flat in Toron'a.


Oh let me be unique

if it means that I'm a geek

I don't care. Don't make me plain

. . . I swear that I'll be meek.






Golden Oriole and Woman

18" x 24"

acrylic / canvas


and faithful was she to me, my golden bird

who sped her way in black winged darkness

to those who slept

and removed from them their golden rings.


and in the morn,

when honesty once more upon the land did dwell

and those who had true loves awoke,

my clever bird returned to me who had none






Scattered Thoughts

acrylic / canvas


They are small silvery ,slippery fish

and they dance around my outstretched hand

and when I think I hold them tight

they explode from my fingers with reckless intent.

They are my thoughts but they're barely mine

as they exit the mind in treacherous flight

like scurrying rats from the drowning boat

or panicked fleas from the dead rat's hide.


They belong to the world and they spurn control

as their kin they seek out in the swirl around my life.

But I own them like water, or sunshine, or death

so they come uninvited, and visit, then leave.


I tend them and nurture and despise and despair,

smile at their antics as they catch me unaware.

Wrestle, defend them and share them with friends

and discard them like petals

on the ground beneath the rose.






The Cracked Vase

18" x 24"

acrylic / canvas


There's a crack in the vase

that used to be smooth

and yet I stroll the boulevards

flawless and bright.


I smile at my neighbour

as if I might live

for ever , but the crack

in the vase has now widened.


And yesterday while I stood

in my own reflected glory

whilst admiring my shadow . . .

a piece of the vase fell out.






The Renaissance Canal

18" x 24"

acrylic / canvas


Earth and flowers scent the air

on the banks of my canal,

while I the regal rebel audition for eternity.

My thoughts are awash with the smooth stones

of pilgrimage

while a fish bumps my unexpected fingers.


Farmland gently whispers the quiet tune

of yellow corn and red splashed bird

as I glide through its stomach.

Accepting as the Christ child

it hears me briefly but is undisturbed.


Not far is the city which cries out my name

but I have stopped my ears with sun

and on my eyes a balm of wing beat

and in my mouth the taste of answers.....

so I am not swayed by its infant-less cry.


Today I also hum the quiet tune

on the banks of my canal.

The regal rebel !

The first breaths !

The birthing !






The Steadfast Quiet

acrylic / canvas


Heavy silken flaps of water

gently winding over lake-shore grasses.

Steadfastly quiet as hermitage air

where the gently moving man in homespun

rings the shoreline of his faith

with almost silent interaction.


As the thrush's nest when night has mantled

and bright sparkled eye has lidded shut,

such peaceful and secure belonging

it easily shares with the sunset lake....

as it gently rubs its watery wing

upon the downy breast of Earth.






Valley of Echoes

24" x 18"

acrylic / canvas


The echoes of the sun sing

down the valley where the red flower bows.

In ancient tandem light and warmth

praise the onopened day.


. . . and touched without comment

the long suffering mountain wrinkles

his broad back

to catch the sound of morning's herald

and quietly rolls.


Echoes so silent the popping broom pods

seem recklessly loud beside

in their rush to spread life.


. . . and this rent in Earth's parchment

this healed wound of ages

languishes in the morning glow

like a conservatory cat.






White Strand of the Monks

16" x 19"

acrylic / canvas


Cutting through the shining sea

in monster head ship

they sailed from northern sky,

thoughts of gain behind wheat hued hair

not yet bloody hands upon axe and sword

and plunder eyes on the white beach isle.


They sat and painted holy page

in words ordained and shapes fantastic

in sanctum simplicity the men of peace,

their rough hands turned to art

their rough hearts turned to love.


The Nordic nightmares flew up upon

Columba's sacred soil

how l throated and with mean intent

they fell upon the men of God

with warrior's gusto.


And still upon the blood white sand

in riven homespun robes they lie,

inked fingers stiff and red

their life's work interrupted

. . . And God if He is wont to grieve

now sobbing unconsoled.






If not...


“If not in this town, then perhaps never!”

These roads are eating me up

as clouds witless as newborns

find their own place in heaven.


But I am a constant companion

of hedgerows and cornfields

brother to the silent trees

friend to the mindless splashing stream.


Nameless days

skitter into twilight horizons

and my eyes weary

of the flowers ' beauty

and my words weary of no answers .


A mocking raven calls,

“If not in this town, then perhaps never.!”

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