Embrace

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I stumbled upon you, standing alone, naked on the edge of the woods,

Your arm stretched out, beckoning me to come, closer to your grace,

Motionless in the winter sunlight, as if you had been waiting, for my arrival.

I draw up close, and wrap my arms around, your weathered skin.

Our essences touch, as one looking out, across the fields together,

Sharing our stories in silence, we hear each other, so well,

You enter my soul, loneliness in banished from us, with tear filled eyes,

My heart races in sadness, as I disengage, and turn around,

Walking away I look back, at you saying, “Goodbye Beloved Tree”

Samhain

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Spirits gather on this most auspicious of nights, 
As a portal slowly opens to the otherworld’s heights,
Magic and fire on hilltops form halo sprites,
Heralds death and rebirth through mystical rites,

And with each gust of blustery nocturnal wind,
Icy chills rescind as veils between past lives are thinned,
Now silent lanterns flicker and sway while they grin and protect ’till the darker half’s first day.

Mast Year

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Under the burdened apple tree,
Late rubies tumble and fall,
By a lagoon of calm stillness,
Mists envelope like a shawl,
Furry acrobats enjoy swollen kernels,
Hints of future ciders are drawn,
Strewn in over abundance,
Across the garden lawn.

In the wild hedgerows of the hither-land,
That brim so full of life,
Cutting the rolling farmland,
Into a quilt of patchwork delight,
A rustling and something stirs,
Beneath feathers of green and gold,
Gatherers of harvest’s splendour,
Indeed they are now so bold!

Across a field of razors,
Reigns silence and a naked air,
Shadowless and almost featureless,
The land laid barren and bare,
Encircled by giants in autumnal robes,
Arms spread wide yet hang so low,
Prickly baubles burst at the seams,
Expectant creatures wait below.

To the forest of scarlet umbrellas,
Where the air fills with spinning wings,
Cloven hooves patter and rummage,
Amongst shells trampled by antlered kings,
Balmy days of sharing with peers,
And a right to feast and store,
Mast fills the eyes with joyous tears,
Like the glorious years of yore.

Moving Goalposts

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A debate has been raging within the United Kingdom on how to deal with bovine tuberculosis in domestic cattle. Unfortunately wild badgers have been targeted as a potential source for this disease, resulting in a cull in two designated areas which has involved the shooting of badgers to reduce the local population by more than 70% in an attempt to demonstrate a lower incidence of Bovine TB in cattle.

Most responsible scientists with expertise in this subject are against the cull and believe that it will not work. There is also the issue of animal welfare, in what seems to so far be a pointless slaughter of wildlife, bearing in mind that there are other more effective control measures such as vaccinating badgers, or management of livestock on farms in order to prevent the spread of the disease.

And so the badger cull debacle turned into a farce this week with the publication of widely contradictory figures for badger populations within the designated cull zones, and also the announcement that the badger cull may be extended again due to the its failure to reduce population numbers sufficiently order to make the cull “effective”.

This is of course an absurd situation. The inconsistent figures published indicate that no one actually knows for sure how many badgers live in cull areas, or how many have been exterminated as part of this cull. One thing has become apparent though. The badger populations are far lower than previously estimated, and may collapse if the cull continues. The environment secretary, Owen Paterson, blames this on the badgers themselves for “moving the goalposts”, a surprising and slightly ludicrous statement which can be interpreted as an admission that these beautiful creatures are in fact more intelligent than our politicians.

But the most disturbing part of this situation is that due to the wasteful and inefficient way that the cull was carried out (free shooting badgers regardless of whether they are healthy or not – 6 out of every 7 killed have been found to be disease free) the instigators of this cull extension have reverted to the use of trapping badgers in cages before exterminating them.

A very simple question is raised in the mind of the discerning reader; If a badger is trapped, with all the expense, effort and organisation involved with that, why not then simply administer a vaccine and then let the creature free?

During this difficult time, it is more important than ever not to lose sight of the suffering and devastation caused by these non-sensical culls. I have attempted to record a glimpse of their terrible impact in the following poem:

At rest with cubs in warm family sett,
Torpor disturbed by sweet-scented net,
With full moon outside just cannot sleep,
No final goodbyes on this occasion to weep.

Easy finds follow simple neat trails,
Does not seem natural but instinct prevails,
Leads blind follower into rusty cell,
Trapped in baited heaven waiting death row hell.

Piercing pain in back of neck, falls upon broken head,
Eye stares up from coffin deck, watches moon turn bloody red,
Executioner’s shadow suffocates life’s last sight,
Distant scream informs newly orphaned of end to sorry plight!

Foxy Spirit

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October has arrived, and both city dwellers and country folk alike may have noticed a subtle increase in the number of foxes that roam at night. The reason? During the later part of the year, in what is known as the season of dispersion, kits leave the family den and “disperse”, to seek out their own territories and establish new lives.

To many people, the presence of foxes may be seen as something controversial. However, in traditional cultures, the fox possesses a spirit associated with wisdom, cunning and guidance.

Here in this poem are my observations of this spirit in action on our city streets:

Seen through broad windows above polished oak tables,
Dark blanket of evening adorns the city in sables,
Coy figures shimmer between lonely street lights,
Pen is released by the hypnotic sights

In the gloaming they observe without being seen,
Their invisible presence scanning the scene,
Sudden amber pearl-drop eyes pierce the yellowy light,
Slender red muzzle narrows to black nares and snowy white.

Again like sleight of hand they slip from sight,
Then re-emerge from the shadowy night,
Spirit of vulpes silently glides,
With totem wisdom it effortlessly guides.

New season signals freedom and new adventures when,
Silent troops disperse from the den,
Bushy tailed shaman casts magic! all are withdrawn!
Pen starts to scribble on page until dawn.