Following on from my last post’s megalithic theme, here’s a possibly over-ambitious poem which I completed this week. It attempts to link antiquarianism, the effects of industry on the landscape and death rituals over the ages.

I had a thoroughly amazing afternoon sat in the Stoney Littleton long barrow last year, a womblike space which has strange acoustic properties, silent save the occasional fly. It was a positive experience where I felt properly plugged into something very old…but the poem came out bleaker than expected and I’m not sure how or why that happened. Apologies for the sound quality of the audio – it’s recorded through my phone.


I am planning a raid on the territory glimpsed in the mirror
a temporary transfer from wood to stone
achieved by memorising the layout of black traffic cones at the crematorium
or discerning the path hinted at by the desperate signage
of dessicated offerings strapped to lamposts

I will follow this trail through the sagging high-rises
whose outlines are blurred by organic cladding
into sepulchral forests which frustrate the forager
where the giant thistle heads
of empty crows nests rest in skeletal trees

a cankered willow stoops to drink from the silted canal
which echoes with the soft knocking of
abandoned barges nuzzling one another
the rotten locks are permanently overtopped

I wish to shake the cold, dead hand on the tiller
To ask its owner for the words which will
prise open the burial chamber
so that I may present my gifts

this is the airless dream I don’t want to return to
yet this is the place which I always come back to
a wingless moth
circling the exhausted seams
spoilheap navigator, powered by the twitching pulse of unused tyre swings
looking to quietly nestle myself in the inverted turret of my tumulus observatory
to plot the smeared course of decomposing stars
and scatter worked flint for my ancestors to find

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