Wild geese fall
from clouds
snow on their wings.

Quietly, love descends
on Port of the Ruins.

Raven's Peak

Druid Sun drowses,
cloaked in raven clouds
spills horn light.

His crimson dregs
stain wolf-pelt moss
draped over dolerite,
thrown ribs, fishbone bracken.

Stain feathers drifting
from a heron purse.

The rushes burn low.

Aelia stumbles up
Hill of the Rocks.
Grasps starr, dagger-sharp,
breathes heather.
A night bird churrs alarm.

Above her
a sturdy lamb
mounts the outcrop
its fleece, dull amber

behind the dark velvet mask
fierce eyes   flicker.

Starr: a coarse grass

Illumination of Rhyme

The cloister library
a mahogany womb,
one O glass bars
the keening winds of Iona.

Bent over dark wood
an illuminated gospel,
you trace the eternal knot:
man, head swallowed by a beast
mental torture of the lost.

Ruby swirls, gold chevrons,
note the geometry of God:
the Celtic charm to bind evil
a swastika.

Topsy-turvy, border
beard-pullers tumble
down violet-green
to the underworld.

Crazy. You understand,
write. The rare jewels
you have dredged from chaos:
poems, their burning colours
fired by pain.


a wolf, smalt eyes burning
with a clear flame

a rowan torch,
this Celtic warrior

smoulders into song
in Relig Oran's dolman chapel

commands the flow of voices
over stone

invokes the roving spirit
of one long gone

murmurings, that echo
an ocean flooding in

so, light strikes a silver cross
through the graven lintel

as solstice sun
skeletons seated in an ancient barrow:

tongues of fire
could descend,

the howl of grief
`I want him back'

tinder dry bones
and this Cave of Death

rattle with dancing

Relig Oran: Iona's burial ground

Aeld: A Riddle

Wild and wanton as fire, you fear me
for devil's wood, a witchy tree
I root in dried blood and, dancing
over graves, blow blossom
as the cuckold corpse sings.
Decked to kill, in lark-shit lace
or stoat-eye beads, I stink
of pussykin's pee.
                  Caress me...
I can heal your bone-creak, banish
rheum, will bear sweet ebon berries.
June, gowned in gold-green leaves
toss you froth for cool cordial --
cream florets for a fragrant champagne.

Answer: An elder bush.

Port of the Coward

I ran to the Hill of Wine
to gather elderberries and broom
as you pleaded in a dream.
Fog scrawling from Port of the Coward
blotted woad-dipped sky
and blurred my vision.
Lost, I found only hemlock
and goblin apples, rotting ochre among thorns.
A peevish wind fretted, the chill withering
my bittersweet bouquet, tossed
grey as grief, to the Lapwings' Lochan
Now I know   you will not visit again.


       Celtic goddess, your nicknames betray you: Panic, Frenzy,
Scald Crow of Battle. A Phantom Queen, raunchy as Sheela-na-gig,
who flaunts all on church corbels.

Ravenous as Sul, goddess of dark, underground waters, who devoured
humans; whose lust for Lugh, son of light, spawned the hot springs at

on Samhain eve you seduced the Dagda, your large-thighed consort,
and laid him in Bed of the Couples Glen.

Turning Point

Dell of the Cock, Sacred Hollow
the Trough,
down Bed of the Earth Nuts

we come at last
to grey-green starr,
stubble of the Machair.

A grass tuffet. I squat
munching stilton cobs,
glance back

below Eagle's Nose:
a crimson fleece, a rust harrow.
Tufts flutter,
black hoodies tug at bone.

I taste the warm salt
of blood, smell rain.
Blue veins pulse,
in my hand, a knife...

`Why don't you?'
As Aelia turns to go

across scrub
cropped by grubby sheep,
I see the hill
where Columba met with angels

burn again
in a furnace of white wheat.

Hoodie: the hooded crow

The Beehive Cell

Colum, Demal's hostage
wrestles with airy demons

tossing dice for him
they offer a skull-chalice
brimming with nettle broth.

It's not easy to be alone
near the Well of the North Wind:

the sky, heavy-jowled,
bags under its eyes, thunders.
The corrie mirrors vacancy.

Mouse-brown heath
and quilled couch grass,
rasping with crickets
offer no relief.

Silence, leaden cumuli part.
Glittering ransom coins --
a lark
           giddies up
Axal's thrown shaft

the White Sword of Light.

Colum: St Columba
Axal and Demal: his personal angel and devil.

Pasture of the Geese

I have crawled on beaches,
hands sticky with blood and tar

clambered rocks where
the guillemot draggles
oil-slicked wings.

No more angel than a shag,
a junkie tossed to the gulls,
I gobbled up my nightmare
and retched on the dark.

Now, I treasure-trail barefoot
squat on dunes soft as breasts
where water-flags surge
and lambs shudder the ewe.

Here, in this thin place
I choose to dream.

Milk-blue terns
     on water
like pebbles skim my longing --

for the wild goose
whose wings, alone
can shelter.

Strait of Storm

Seals nudge Aelia,
who plunges, rises
gulping brine, strikes for

Iona, crumpled in a kirtle of mist.
The sky is the colour of a hawk.

Sudden cramp, she doubts
falls back
the void. Seal bodies
rising, buoy her.

Beaching Big Mouth Point
she slumps on boulders,
the slime of egg wrack.

A peat smooring.
In a mantle of blown smoke
I kneel, stroke her gaunt face.

Where potato famines once raged,
we hold a pigfeast. Swigging mead
watch Brant geese
flames to a metal sky.

Wiping salt and oil from my lips
I crack an almond.
The rough husk
pools mango-light and deep laughter.

The Vicar's Wife

from the shadows.               
`Have half' rough oatcake

Dark eyes
& a raven voice
laughed, `Arty farty.'

Sharp Liverpool
she darts an Arran hug.
Face pale, mouth resolute
     & strides through glass
her future, sure as hell

is decay
& the muckspattered nest
of the hoodie.

The Barnakle

(Barnacle Goose) 

Crack of black alder,
      wind barks across marsh
            and a feather sculls

the dark lochan.
      Stamped on mud  
            your web-arabesque      
melts to grey.
     I am drunk on salt. 
            No croodle of doves

bloated milk,
     can hold my hunger.
            Migrant lover

son of thunder
     fly the frozen landes.
            Come upon me,

kneeling in the dust
     and I will cup my hands:
            a beggar for love.