guiding light

I would crumble under her gaze
two eyes as black as moons absorbing
the universe and she the centre
me the broken debris of a comet’s tail
breaking apart in every aspect
like a moth caught in a candle flame
the golden ratio disproportionate
distorted beyond the rainbow’s end
where her flock grazed on purple clover
and pitching camp she would weave
stories and willow baskets into the night
that I could ever keep up with her
ah heaven knows I tried and failed
I may as well have been a blade of grass
amongst the many pastures we traversed
she leading, me following, the way onward
never knowing if she loved me or not
never knowing what lay ahead
I would crumble under her gaze
and would now if she were here
to guide me



wrap me in your swaddling arms
blanket me with your love
tonight this man is your child
don’t let him out of your sight
for though the moon may shine brightly
there’s darkness behind the stars
and this man is a child and needs you
to guide him through this night

even the geese have flown

it was as I suspected
it was as I had feared
the footpath was deserted
the mountainside was cleared

empty were the pastures
where her goats had wandered free
the tinkling of their neck bells
no longer calling me

and in the valley woodland
I stood beneath the tree
where she and I first surveyed
the grasslands growing green

it was as I suspected
it was as I had feared
no more her lips to savour
no more her voice to hear

but will the spring return her
to my arms and to my side
in all my dreams I will conjure
my shepherdess, my guide

Shepherdess IV

she was knee deep in cut fleece and laughter
and I was thigh high in cleaved oak and joy
her with the shears and me with the axe
we snipped and chopped in the open air
until, work done, we shook off the dust
retreated back behind our eyes and went
our separate ways . . .

Shepherdess III

oh god she is beautiful
tending her flock on the hillside
lighting a bundle of gorse twigs
to see herself through the dark

and inside the abandoned byre
she rests her head on a bed of stars
for this is not the Elysian Fields
this is here and now and forever

and time is a breath

Shepherdess II

I wear the fleece of my mother’s skin
around me wrapped like a body blanket
a bag of gifts and good intentions
warm affections and familiar smells

no sacrificial lamb am I
for through this needle’s haystack eye
do I travel through the birth canal
my Shepherdess has opened wide


my Shepherdess cradles her little lamb
she comforts him with tender hands
abandoned, desperate, stumbling blind
her breast she offers for him to find
suckled, nourished, love divined
Shepherdess save me from my mind

Isn’t that just how dreams are meant to work?

I followed you like an orphaned lamb follows
a shepherdess, blindly bleating, jumping for joy
until you cut my throat and stifled my hunger
with your severing knife of cruellest steel

I know, I know, I didn’t sleep well last night
someone kept calling me out in all my dreams
I suspect it was you but I couldn’t hear your voice
and isn’t that just how dreams are meant to work?

they trick you into believing you are safe with them
that clouds and lambs and eiderdowns are
merry-go-rounds with familiar sounds and
there are painted smiles on the turnstile ponies

but on reflection, in the cold light of morning
I should have heeded the warning signs
and if by chance you should come my way again
leave at home your knife of severing pain