Merrivale is a complex of Bronze Age megalithic monuments on the west side of Dartmoor in Britain, including a double stone row of approximately 250m length, a stone circle and an imposing 3.8m standing stone. You can read more about it here.
The image above is a version of the photograph here – I’ve tried to find the photographer, but can’t. Do let me know if it’s one of yours…

Between stones, over hill,
I am stretched out fully,
To a great and impossible height.

My fingers touch the horizon;
My face presses heaven;
My back is all green grass and rock.

This is my rite of night-surrender
To this moorland Earth and the dark, dark sky:

I am insubstantial and immense,
Like a cloud or a wish or a song.

The sky is a bear’s mouth.
It is blacker than ink or oil, or
A pool of dead water in a dream.
Continue reading

Tuesday, moor-day.

Out onto the moor today. In the midst of all the busy-ness, the prospect of putting miles of moorland under my feet and acres of clear sky in my eyes gladdens my heart like the homecoming that it is, ‘though greater, when I’m out with the skylarks, the buzzards and the long grass. I’ll sing and talk to myself and remember all manner of forgotten things, be dazzled and devastated in turn by the world and the twists and turns of this story. And then I’ll come back to this house and the wind’ll echo in my head and my spirit and soul will be singing with lark-song and hawk-cry and I’ll begin the busy-ness again, renewed, recollected, my intent honed to a fine edge and my body alive with the wild.


Photos are not mine – you can find them here, and here, and here.

Wild God trails and half-world journeys

The Dogs Lick His Wounds by Jinn Bugg

As some of you may have noticed, December saw a flurry of attention for the poem ‘Sometimes a Wild God.’ I’m really not sure quite what happened, but I know that facebook was heavily involved. The site went from getting about 250 views each week to almost 20,000 just before Christmas. Yes, 20,000. Thankfully, we’re back down to about 100 a day now. Phew.

Perhaps it was the solstice, perhaps it was some fortuitous conjunction of the outer stars. Perhaps it’s just a mystery and that’s that, but I’m glad – there’s nothing that feeds a writer’s self-belief more than having lots of people from all over the world saying how much they like the writer’s work. And – in the wake of four years’ studying and a distinct lack of soul-nourishing-deep-water-poetry-inspiring time, for all that I’ve managed to drag up the occasional word-nugget from the poetry-veins deep beneath Black Mountain – that praise, my friends, has been like nectar. I’ve begun writing again and paying more attention to the poetry than I have in a long time. Thank you all for your kind words and for spreading the Wild God words in your circles.

One of the delights of this attention has been that a few people have used Sometimes  a Wild God as a departure point for their own work or given readings of the poem at a variety of events over the last few months. There are probably many more than I’ve heard about, so do get in touch if you’re aware of any funky doings based on the poem, but here are just a couple that have crossed my path. I’d intended to gather a whole compendium of Wild God happenings, but time and the pressure of an imminent journey have proved too much for me. There are some other related projects in the pipeline that I can’t tell you more about yet (a stage production based on the poem, for example, something that’s been brewing for over a year now, or the band in the States that are using Sometimes a Wild God in the liner notes of their next album…) and more things to come, such as the book of the poem that Rima and I are planning to put out later in the year, but here’s a couple of Wild God offerings for you to peruse as you will…

Just before Christmas, I came across this reading of the poem by Mark Lewis. I didn’t know about it until Terri Windling (a local artist, writer and blogger who some of you will know already) told me about it in passing, assuming I knew. It was the first time I’d heard my work in someone else’s voice, which is a mighty strange experience, but it’s done well and I enjoyed hearing it.

More recently, Jinn Bugg wrote to ask if I’d mind if she used the poem as a springboard for a series of photographs with Ron Whitehead as the model. Mind? I was delighted. You can see some of the pictures here  and more in her facebook album. I see prog-heathen album covers galore in this series – contact details are on her page

Sometimes a Wild God - He Does Not Know the Ways of Porcelain - photo by Jinn Bugg, words by Coyopa
‘He Does Not Know the Ways of Porcelain’ by Jinn Bugg

Yesterday we left our blue-eyed lurcher and our Devon home to begin two months of much-needed holiday in New Zealand, where Rima has family. Today, we’re in London and tonight we fly. I can’t quite believe it, as proper holidays are definitely something that other people have, but our tickets seem to be real and our suitcases are definitely made of more than dreams, so it appears that we will actually soon be off.

Eyes see the world differently at times of arrival or departure. Looking out over the Dartmoor landscape yesterday, preparing to leave it for two months, I saw the land as if I had been seeing it only dimly for months. What a land it is! I shall miss it and will miss seeing the still point of Winter turning to the miracle of Spring’s first heartbeat. I shall miss our incredible community and our home, and Macha. But, I think, somehow, I’ll struggle on…

Struggles on stoically...

The Scrimstone Circus Gospel :: part three

His Silence and the End of Time

This is the final part of a short piece which came out in book form earlier this year. Part one is here – you should read it first!

To read more about this piece, have a look at this post, which has links to all manner of things about it, and the book of which it is part… The illustration at the head of the page is a detail from Rima‘s accompanying pencil drawings, to which the previous post also has links.

Part three: His Silence and The End of Time

My enemies grew strong in fifteen years. The world changed. The rulers of men’s lives have always been the rich and the empty-hearted, but now they were emboldened. Greed rose from their mouths like grasping snakes of smoke. I closed my eyes and tried to ignore it. All around, I heard the world groaning. I plugged my ears and moved one foot in front of another. Continue reading

The Scrimstone Circus Gospel :: part two

The Scrimstone Circus Gospel (1) - (c) Rima Staines

This is part two of a short piece which came out in book form earlier this year. Part one is here – you should read it first!

To read more about this piece, have a look at this post, which has links to all manner of things about it, and the book of which it is part… The illustration at the head of the page is a detail from Rima‘s accompanying pencil drawings, to which the previous post also has links.

Part two: A Circus is a Church

“Ladies and gentlemen! Lay-dees and gent-el-men! Roll up, roll up, roll up . . . ”

I look out at them there in the grey rain and the candy-floss night and my eyelids flicker with the dismalness of it all. Look at them. Content with so little and yet . . . and yet . . . Content with so much discontent in themselves. I cannot fathom it. Cannot, will not. So much could be theirs. So much wonder, so much passion, so much life. They accept a thin wafer of it, a bowl of gruel, with a tip of their hats in thanks. Why not bow too, or curtsy? Kiss their masters’ feet? Their lives could be a feast. I hate them for it, for their acquiescence to such a shallow plot of happiness. For this, what do they receive? They are used by governments, by business, by bankers and money-men to play their parts in the machine of it all. They enter into such one-sided bargains and I cannot, will not, let it go unsaid. It leaves me with despair and a curse for him who left me here among them. Whether he hears my curse or not, I don’t know. Do not mis-cast me as a villain, friend. My curse is, I admit, no more than the curse of the rejected lover to the beloved. Do not tell anyone – there may be A Scene. Continue reading

The Scrimstone Circus Gospel :: part one

The Scrimstone Circus Gospel (1) - (c) Rima Staines

To read more about this piece, have a look at the previous post, which has links to all manner of things about it, and the book of which it is part… The illustration at the head of the page is a detail from Rima‘s accompanying pencil drawings, to which the previous post also has links.

Вся время губит и вся покрывает

Вся тлит время и в конец превращает

Едину истину аки свое племя

Хранит блюдет и открывает время.

Time destroys and covers up all;

All is decomposed and brought to end by time.

Only truth and its offspring

Are conserved, protected and revealed by time.

from Иѳіка ієрополітіка (1712)

Part One: The Outlaw’s Life (and A Death)

Listen to me. I wasn’t born for birthday parties and scented candles in the twilight bath or string quartets on the lawn. I wasn’t made for clean handkerchiefs and your mother’s approval at the dinner table. Oh no. I was born for rock’n’roll, sea shanties and the smell of diesel on the harbour walls at dawn. I was made for bear claws on bark, for fires in the wasteland where desperate men in greasy overcoats swig vodka in the sparse snow and cold so tight and empty you can barely see a flame in it or the shape of hope in the dark. I was born for broken glass and imperfect love and riding the rusty trains home when the last-ditch grail-quest has failed and all the knights have spent their blood and wine on wrong questions asked of nobody in the three-penny hours of darkness. I was born to live wild under the hill, in the belly of the alembic, in the sperm of the whale and the heart of the gold. I staggered into the world breathing fire and ferocious dreams of the Inferno – when I awoke, I was a child. I don’t know how it happened. All the grit and grease and the tugboat diesel fury was washed off me in a church font and I had to begin again, quickly forgetting who I’d been and why. Ha. I thought I was a child, born mortal and fearing. Some trick they pulled on me there, my friend.

Continue reading

The Time Project

Time :: The Lazy Gramophone Press

Way back when, almost in the before of before, but actually just after the beginning and not too long after the previous end, it came about that I was asked to write a short story for the Lazy Gramophone Press. Rima was to provide illustrations, and the story was to be the backbone of a strange and bold publication in which a number of other stories would branch off like ribs from the first tale, crossing over at crucial junctures and forming a multi-dimensional entity that is much better described by Rima here. This was some time in the latter half of 2010. 2010! I had not long arrived in Devon and had just begun my Chinese Medicine studies – it seems like another story entirely. Continue reading