three line poems

                                                    a handful of words
                                              a palmful of poems
                                                         a bookful of leaves


Japanese maples leaves in poetry book

Bryngarw Country Park, South Wales
14th October 2013

the field

There’s an idyllic green field that I’ve returned to now the summer is ending.

It sits draped over the hill behind our house like a soft saddle. From above it looks as if it’s floating, suspended over the tightly arrayed rows of the village, held beneath the bare bleached shoulders of the valley head.

The valley climbs steeply, with the village pitted deep in the cleft of its slow slim river, and the field hangs halfway up, smoothly swathed over a gentle hollow in the hillside, like a dear green meadow of the mind.

I once read a quote in a Kenneth White book about the mind of a deer being a green place and the image has stayed with me. I imagine a quiet clearing in a forest, filtered by leaves, a cool greenness gathering.

The field doesn’t have the close-hid intimacy of woodland, with its winding trails and swift wildness. The field is domesticated, grazed upon alternately by ewes and their half-grown lambs or a few highland cows and a dark brown horse. It’s open pasture, where you can lay out your thoughts and bathe them in the flooding sunlight and sit with them there; or lay your whole self out and rest, while the light illuminates the veridical carpet and the world, for a moment, stays.

Above Pontycymer, Garw Valley, South Wales / Cwm Garw, De Cymru
29th September 2013

the summer

Assynt seen from the Minch

The summer was blue; blue and spreading, blue and rising, blue and stretching.

The summer slid out onto the sea, gliding through it, when the sea was silken; riding upon it, when the waves swelled cut and grey.

Summer streamed out and lands rose from the sides of it, low and lumpy, tall and hard. We sailed among their fingers, which reached out, raking the waters and holding them down like huge paws of an old stone beast, and we clambered out on their rocky knuckles, stumbling among the feathered grass and fallen walls.

Some lands greeted us with longer arms, which curved around and drew us in gently, with welcoming hills and pale beaches shining like soft promises through the thin drizzle; and when we rowed ashore, the sun flooded us and myriad wildflowers danced behind the sand in the multi-coloured machairs which are the true meadows of heaven.

One group of islands was made of walls – high columns, stacked with seabirds, which stood in a sheltering arc around us, and we spent the night there listening to their story, enchanted.

The summer was blue the day we left the spell of those islands and sailed back over the Minch to the northern mainland. The sun rose early and the wind blew us steadily east until, close to the coast, it dropped beneath the glassy water – and there we were with all the mountains of Assynt arrayed around us – solitaires, circling – rugged and red.

We watched and waited, in the blue bloomed sky, in the pure afternoon, floating on our own reflection, until eventually a small breeze arose and, nudging our sails, blew us quietly home.

It was slow, was fair, our passage through the summer: araf, teg.

Ara’ Deg.

Easy does it, she said.

The Minch, Scotland
14th August 2013

the green fuse

The force that through the green fuse drives the flower
drives my red blood; that writhes the roots of trees
rouses my desire;
and my flesh runs with the rich sap’s flood
as my limbs spring with the same green fever….

When I lived in Montreal winters were bitterly cold, and so long. Even into March everything was still smothered in thick snow, gripped hard in grey ice. Other than the dark blue-green of a few conifers in parks, no living vegetation was visible and it felt like the whole world was held in a sterile stasis. By late February I’d start to feel a deep longing, an almost physical thirsting for greenness, and I’d be scouring the city for the sight of the slightest green blade poking or peeking through.

The first time I was back visiting Scotland in the winter I was amazed by the colour of city parks and gardens and would wander across lawns reverently marvelling at their soft green hue, brushed only lightly by sparkling morning frosts and giving way to stronger vibrant green by mid-morning; and when the shoots of snowdrops and crocuses came pushing through in late January, it felt miraculous. I felt that I had come to some secret northern paradise.

I’d kneel down to feel the firm fine shoots between my fingers, and cup their swollen buds in my hands trying to feel the force that was thrusting them from the earth, pushing them spear-like through the grass.

This year (now back in Scotland properly) the snowdrops came as usual, their fragile forms belying their hardiness, as they bobbed up and down through snowfall after snowfall, and I eagerly anticipated the (comparatively) early Scottish greening. But as the crocuses and daffodils waited coiled beneath the soil, the unusually late spring drew my green thirst again, as trees stayed bare and late snows and cold winds blew over the pale land.

Until all at once, everywhere: buds folding out green fingers, ferns unrolling feathered fronds and even the gorse bursting brightly, as the world quickens into flower, flutters into leafy green flame.


Oh greenness! Green for growth, for firm but supple strength; green for a fresh profusion of life. And green for gladness, for this force that germinates and generates, driving the flower, and driving all of us, in our continual and generous emergence.

Green for gladness; green for verdant, luminant life. And green for gratitude: for the sunlight coursing through the floral fuse and – as we go to greet it – for the sunlight pouring through ourselves.


Dylan Thomas, ‘The force that through the green fuse drives the flower

Strathendrick, Stirlingshire, Scotland / St David’s Head, Pembrokeshire, Wales
30th March / 4th May 2013

green light

Green light in the near branches,
in the soft mossy bark,
in the lowlit sun, slowly wheeling round.


Glas, Gaelic, green, grey; from Irish, glas, from Proto-Celtic glasto, green; like German glast, radiance, sheen.

Green glow, green gladness.

Strathendrick, Stirlingshire, Scotland
6th March 2013