Category Archives: Wolf

Poems 1-4

ONE

Encircle & gather
ye night-flying moths,
embroider your lugs,
with the benefit of wine
my beating breast
falls, evenly,
like orchid dust
on blazing tongue;

This is a song for the very last wolf
of Scotland; bards call Sylvermane
to mind when thinking of lost ways,
whenever Scotland has forgotten
Her Wolves once freely roamed.

Under craggy underhangs
they sleep…
…we wake
we range the braes unceasing,
admiring god’s changelessness,
lamenting ancient kingdoms forg’d
when Wolves first walked the Brig.


TWO

The insects are awake & the sky
untroubl’d by rainfall
individual, distinct
mountains are inverting
on a still, mirrormane
grasses in the loch
bow respectful heads
to a stag on the heights
royally observing world.

We watch our food diminish –
martrixes, roes, wyld catts,
whittrets and fumarts –
we are forced to slaughter sheep
to survive,
invidious & necessary sin,
‘rycht noysum to the tame bestiall!’

In Glen Shee, where the Watchers
have faces like Titans
daggers glint in busky clumps
dogs & barons scour the bens –
in other glens, forest burns remorseless.

As we starv’d we fled,
but we surviv’d,
unknown numbers in the north,
where plaided clansmen dwell
with wives of curling ringlets
& bonnie, barefoot children
in glen or mountain eyries –
with these we must contend.


THREE

In this prehistorical landscape each rock
has a name, each tree its shade of green
mountainous
extremities
crystal water
flows through Glencoe; ferlie, immortal

Men came to extirpate a noble name
snarers of heroes, those ancient MacIans
woestruck
by fate
reapers of peoples
stomp through snowfall flung oer greensward

There’s a rough awakening across the Glen
Men mingle in a single bloody purpose
destructional
elritch torchflame
sets homes alight
Gaelic innocence rape-ravish’d in its bed

Flee! Flee! out into billowing snowburst
babes clutch to breast, feet burn with cold
pitiless
bitterest
blizzard ever seen
exposed to death, breath steams into silence

We found them frozen; ones, twos, threes
an easy scent, rooks craw in the elmtops
we bite
through white
cheeks of children
Aye, the meat should keep good up ‘til Spring


 

FOUR

Nature’s sublime music, her melodies
cruising through brooks
and landslides and the whistling
winds, it is in the bark of deer
the fall of leaves, the buzz
of myriad insects & the hum
of blooming flowers,
imperceptible to Manflesh ear

The pack has grown perilously small;
Beside the alpha mates,
in perfect genuflection,
only her parent & brother for protection
& Goldenfang’s nulliparous womb,
‘Let us try again for the Spring’
She nuzzles her beloved
The famous Old White whose thunder-howls pierce

The womb of Goldenfang
boils with life once more
Old White remembers the routine;
first to Fearnoch Forest for to catch
Beavers & Squirrels, then up to the heights
of Ben Cruachan, safe a thousand years,
tho’ the Council ceas’d howling lang syne since,
Where thistle wags like bonnets after battle

Poems 5-8

FIVE

The summer had burn’d like jeopardy
bracken crackles, twigs snap underpaw
Across the scented territories
roam Goldenfang, Old White,
her mother, Fozynose, her brother
tracking scampering deer-herds

Carcasses strip clean in the rain
time-hallow’d cairns of warriors – we revere
the revels of sangsters – we hear
those fresh laid tombs – we dig them up.

skills long practic’d
kept them alive, calculating azimuths
upon the green-gold winds of evening
plump herons, breasts in the upcurrent,
soar over bubbling orchards.

From lifetimes of travel unswerving
Old White is slowing into his bones
‘If Autumn hard, hibernation sweet,’
whispers his mate, but ears are closed,
insane intoxications

she woke, him gone
aromatic delirium, by the crags
stern of aspect, nature’s law-grim monarch
she saw a golden eagle sate in state
upon the breathless body of Old White


SIX

Upon ancient Cruachan,
Long-lost hill-fort, mossy
gums, rings of gorse, Hipp
olytes’ spear, amber-heade
d shaft thrust in cavern so
il : Millennia before; in thi
s den tonight a she-wolf e
mpties slowly her womb f
or Old White, these pricele
ss births AT LAST! AT L
AST! & manifesting the di
vine, four wonderful pups;
body led flat, aching limbs,
she raises her head, gazes o
n wolfkins, among these fu
rballs, flying sylver streak!
Outside the cave the pack w
ait like guardians, watching
eyes opening slowly, tentat
ive lights shining thro’ cav
e-dank, when one May morn
ing, mother’s nuzzling muzz
le pushes pups onto slopes, F
ozynose & Solareyes lick each
one in turn, tails wagging ex
citement, the blood of Old W
hite & his spirit finds them all


SEVEN

Unseen forces
lift the lid of sleep
twitching limbs, raising heads
lick her mouth
belly’s filling
blood-flow growing thicker.

A foolish puppy
strays far from pack
an opportunistic eagle strikes
Goldenfang angry
life’s vital sentience
inanimate one moment.

Butterfly night
they saw full moon
compelling young hearts to sing.
upon the ridge
up to the Moon
their primal chorus master.

‘We are the Wolves’
chaunt unified
‘We are your sacred children!’
a sylver light
comes flooding down
on the braes of Ben Cruachan.


EIGHT

Hills fold the pack in tartan shawl
purple heathers interwoven
with spiky, trumpet-blaring gorse

Pups sit by a shining loch
full of plump, floundering fish
watching mother’s splashing dashes

The scent is caught upon the tracks
red deer, hot blood throbs thro’ veins
churning with bestial intent

Wolf-line splits into two horns
the deer upstartle, but are too late
pandomie has come to rip them apart

How hungry, how voracious are the wolves
carcasses consumed within an hour
first the organs – the lungs, liver & heart

Stomachs ripped roughly open
the lining sweet to taste
intestines fullsome with flavour

Sylvermane gulps down a kidney
upon back muscle gnaws slowly
cracks upon a fawn’s fragile skull

Guzzling in primeval success
absorbing deer-psyche to his own
he’s one wiser wolf, come morning

Poems 9-12

NINE

nowhere else in nature’s realm
can be seen that shade of red

skies streak with glorious horizon
skies adorn’d with Dawn’s crimson tails

‘I am wolf & wolf I am!’

daylight reigns like apple blossom
warm scent of sweet cicely
sprigs of nasal aniseed

‘I am an inmate of mountainous dwellings
the heads of Watchers wrapped in clouds
have known my mother & my father
my ancestors & all we wolves of old’

huge skeletons of crags
clombing hilltops
steps of visual sovereignty
form stony harbours for the wind

‘I am wolf & wolf I am!’

sun sets, moon rises
over Earth’s mouldering crust
resplendent constellations
vital sparks of Heaven’s fire

‘I am wolf & wolf I am!’


 

TEN

Two years fly by & the pack
Is changing fast, Sylvermane
his brother
& his sister
after the season of snows
tension rises with the sun
day of fangs & claws
broke oer Cruachan
it was a mighty match-up ‘til the last
when Sylvermane saw sense & slinked
away, alone
a refugee
blown like bumblebees
or blossom upon a Mayday breeze
thro’ the bens
into the glens

Above, along, atween the bens
the lone wolf roams in silence
scars have healed
each one up front
for he fought well, no turning back
gouged as he fled the field of battle
from sadness, pride,
true reassurance
he had every god given right to exist
he could hear his name in the shadows
melodious
whispering
beside glittering diamond crags
splashing thro’ curious cataracts
always moving…


 

ELEVEN

For Honeypaws
& her sisters
mother never came
back
‘she’s gone to the Capitoline’
wolfminds whisper

Scavengers
in the open
scouring burials
devouring unburied
bodies
River Glass
Fasnakyle
Cannich
Struy
Olfactory territory
beauties breathtaking
red deer
leave soft prints
otters ride the streams
golden eagles
surf the folds
Sky travelling moon
stars keep ancient courses

Varrar flows
Falls of Kilmorack
high stones
wild-set weres
burst with salmon

Erchless Castle
the laird is large
from the gates
riding with his brother
tracking wolf-scent
Ravine bottom
chainmail glove
down-throat thrusting
As she-wolf dies
her sisters flee
Honeypaws
Funnyclaws

One dark Hogmany
on an unstable cairn
auld woman sits
griddle-clutcher
a rustle
Funnypaws
strays too close
sticks out her great
grey muzzle
lifts black lips
raises red gums
long incisor rows
teeth that go all the way back
down slams griddle
splitting skull in two
Honeypaws winces
readies to attack
but vividly halts
in her desperate track
a better fate to flee
so she does so


TWELVE

Twilight trembles under a Hunter’s Moon – Malcolm Campbell of the Bows, comes by boat – valley full of cloud – oars bib & bob & drip & splash as stroke-by-stroke Kilchurn swallows the scene – Malcolm lands on time-buffeted shores – round towers & solid walls completing stoic stone – built to last ‘til doomsday

Malcolm welcom’d heartily – Hunter Poet, whose fresh-spirited lines, in these very halls, have been repeated by lesser-breathing bards – they had stood proudly before the Campbells of Glenorchy – Sir John of Bredalbane made Kilchurn a barracks – stood knifepoint sharp, at the bare throat of cattle-tracks

Six nights at the fort – liquor in plentiful goblets – intoxicating merriment inveigling blazing fires – men shake dice at boards – there is feasting, there is fellowship – blades of well-whetted steel – women in fine mantles, wearing necklaces – graceful Morag waves her clustering ringlets like grass on shoulders –– she bedazzles Malcolm’s eye – & she his –– Morag engages Malcolm – there follows a chemical, primeval fusion – she slips away, he follows softly

In the wilds of mountains – spruces slicing shadows on mountains – buzzards hover like kestrels… rigid wings thrust concavely – a fine, pretty flex & off they dart – below press’d imprints of lovers in the grass – above them all Fozynose catches scent – she had smelt it as a pup that long-wrought, haunting morning – a spear pinn’d mother to the earth, wolfen crimson trickling down the shaft

Poems 13-16

THIRTEEN

Malcolm waits
for full-faced moon

he loved hearing tales
of Cruachan’s Carlin

he comb’d the locks
of Morag, by rivers

he heard the thunder
stun green-robed Watchers

‘Fetch me, my love,
my bier & my bow

rough-clefted arrows
strings strong & supple

mounting dustless slopes
he goes about his work

twelve furious hounds
pre-empting footsteps

rocks lit by moonlight
forever frozen phantoms

crenelated by gorse
like ragged acropoli

noses catch the scent
paws begin sprinting

wilder than warsteed
eyes black as demon

a cacophony of barks
a desperation of whelps

battles to the death
tooth punctures muscle

arteries burst blood
spurting like churl-spit

annhialated pack
Goldenfang wounded

Malcolm strides briskly
draws back bowstring

unleashing feathers
barbs enter heart

& all is over, bar
her pitiless skinning


 

FOURTEEN

Wolf communes with Watchers
What they would unfold to us
Could we but understand
Rugged massive peaks
Dark mists
Wideset skies
Vagrant moons
Canis Lupus

Over a restless, tossing restless sea
Tide washes sandtwine
Autumn bens don, like kings,
Crowns of chronic snow

Silent by ice burn
He felt tree rooted
Observating
Bracken, heather
False summits
Boulder field
Beyond clouds
Rows & rows
Of flowing peaks

Massive scything mountainscape
Saturnine denizens of fables & fairies
Stunning in scope & glacial spaciousness


 

FIFTEEN

Sylvermane danders dark, waste hills
extraterritorial wolf sits awhile,
gillygaping armies of marching ants
gnawing rotting leaves to nothing

above him at the gates of Overself,
waters twist ceaselessly hillsides
mirror in the water frightened wolf
fearful of imminent catastrophes

from a distance Sylvermane sights
Inverness spires, rooves, carts
beyond the voices oaks in groves
float up Watchers like cloud-shadows

day closes over the country
the spirit of the wolf rides with
Sylvermane freedom spills onto
untouched canvases of memory

trees bare their bones foliage-free
mountains covered with whiteness
those bitter dawns loneliness
Watchers watch on unperturbed

there was a time when all of Manflesh
fear’d the wolf how things change
not long past a million wolves
ranged these blessed isles today
a single, ragged wolf remains


 

SIXTEEN

Angry winds batter land
Sun dimmer than memory remembers

Snowcubes drop like gravity
Moulding enigmatic shapeshifters
Schlepping apart the drifting snow

Trees turn white
Impenetrable walls
Impregnable buttresses
White! White! White!
Gloomy screeching birds
Asking angels
Languid questions
North winds
Mustering forces
Blustering, bewildering snowdrift
Revealing shapes

Her sacred womb
Frozen
Her youthful puppies
Frozen
Dead
Tragedies
It felt tragic
Not to die with them

Veils of snowflakes flutterblow
Sylvermane licks his paws
& drives off further
North

Poems 17-20

SEVENTEEN

Today there are no leaves
Shrubs shrink into silence
Windgust
does not
Slacken, buffets unchalleng’d
Who still mourns our wildest
Creatures
Impell’d
By hunger pangs, Sylvermane
Steals fish from boathouse spars
Beside the loch
The moon
Glows brilliant petulance
Underneath a raven’s beak
Foliate pines
Under
Chittering & shivering
Stars he waits, he hears
Hungry hounds
Danger passes
Barks & torches drifiting south
So, he shall go to the northfields
Tomorrow
Eyelids close
Clouds seizing squinting stars
Sighs Sylvermane, before sleep,
‘could I be the last?’


 

EIGHTEEN

The Red Dawn spreads
& did suffuse
sufficient pinks
a splodge of paint
hits holy canvas
from Culbin’s rooves
early birds sit
ivy creeps gladly
up sunlit walls
Honeypaws
paces the kirkyard
raids fresh burial
Morning comes clearly
clouds pulmonate
momentary silence
the sky explodes
armageddon!
torrents of sand
whirl about wildly
nothing seen
but sand
sand, sand, sand
ripping up
burnishing greenery
turf all flaughtered
via wastrel laird
mountains of sand
blanketing memories
Honeypaws
passes devastation
bounds down Graupius
westward, over moors


NINETEEN

Aromas of pine needles wafted low
Into the flatlands by the firth
Sylvermane caught the scent, rose
In delectable postures, stretching sinews,
It felt good to move, paws tickled by needles
Delicate sandy forest beds
He fell asleep that night, an owl calls precision
Whole nations of owls agree

In the ripped cavern of a fallen tree
He slept, twigs & sheltered roots
Drip hypnotic raindrops into sleep
He wakes
There is only time for a single thought
Extracted from a bead’s worth of Venus
Hope led him to this happy day, when
Beauty wheels irrepressible cartwheels
‘My name is Honeypaws,’ – her mind
Chimes on the breeze
They meet, nuzzle, entangled, imbrangled
Covet & sigh, hearts without malice
He loves her bravura, her vivacity
Her impertinence, her self-determination
His tongue-lolling lover
For sight of him sets off in her a gathering
Of all she knows she knows
But hasn’t had to know it
In this sudden change of heart
His sylver inspires as much awe
As it does desire
Instant devotions, anticipations of bliss

Shaking, shivering, tremblingly
They frolic about the rocky tops
Of Craig Phradrig
A certain skyness encapsulates
A perfect place to fall in love
‘We are the last’
‘The last?’
‘We are,
You & I,
With us the wolves survive!
Our ancestors have will’d it
Let us ask the brother wolf
Tonight, when the moon
Is a dragonseye above us.’

Up, up, always up the slopes they went
Mad rolling moorland of streams, drops & outcrops
With every step those young wolves fell in love
They knew the answer as they reached the summit
But howl’d anyway, loud & proud
Souls twinkling in the starlight in brilliant renewal

Sun rises like a fire in the distance
A mountain gives birth to it
Like the head of pup
Day rolls by, sun sets & the moon rises
inching higher
Brighter & brilliant in the vast night sky
All they did was swing in sweet union
Thro’ the night & when sunlight
Struck the Beauly Firth
They knew to wheel around westerly
& set paws north
For Manflesh would encroach within the hour


 

TWENTY

This curving world, this colourswarm
Sun shines thro’ showers, & the trees
Are laden with legends; two wolves
Furrow through forest, traverse glens
Up thro’ Easter Ross they roamed,
When testosterone uprises in wolves
When oestrogen blesses she-wolves,
Nuzzling, investigating genitalia
Sleeping enraptured in each other;
She was ready to mate, to make love
Under a ghost sky, as the brittle sun
Spread milky carpets over heather
Pawing & rubbing, copulating ties,
Sylvermane dismounts, rear-to-rear,
They lie, repeat their passion’s ritual
Five times, each time unreproachable
Expressions, indescribable lovepangs.

As the sun roasts foxgloves in hedges
Enmeshed in each other’s existence,
The Wolf might not yet die or driven be
From Britain’s magical islands, forever;
Their sanctuary the narrow Glen of Loth,
Under Craig Riabhach, in a menhir cave
As safe & sure as Lupercal ever was,
Embedded by the beam of Sletdale’s
Pixie stream, they find warm delicious
birth-rites, as Razortooth & Firefur,
Ravenclaw & little Happytail, appear
Amidst parents & plenty of deer & fish
Fresh water & silence, this sacred glen
untouched by Manflesh, this sacred glade
Good home for wolves, who shall prosper
When wolfprints must return to forest
& wolfsong echo proudly thro’ the bens.

Poems 21-24

TWENTY-ONE

Storms pass over
birds rise up
stones outlast us
all

Macphail
with his two sons
Wester Helmsdale
poaching party
red deer
on the mind

Pictish stones
grassy embankment
full of ferns

Deer scatter
a way away
‘That’s a wolf-rout!’
‘What, wolves, here?’

Down the slopes
across the burn
the perfect den
‘Let us go down & investigate.’

Rushing rivers
Masking rustles
perfect nursery
at the entrance
bones, feathers,
eggshells
Macphail’s sons
creep in wraithlike
squirming pups
wince below shadows

clubs scatter brains
furious mother
returns
rushing, dashing
Macphail grabs her tail
Honeypaws twists
scrambling in desperation
but jammed sideways
into rock-clefts
manflesh hands glinting
stabbing
ferociously
Honeypaws
Envisions Sylvermane
lit-up by lightning
as acid
corrodes her soul
to nothingness

Sylvermane watches
motionless,
complete silence
no rage

just the cauld

just nothing

like death


TWENTY-TWO

Since the day she was taken
fuscous darkness stains the mountains
despite gloriously daybreaking worlds

Sylvermane ensared by sadnesses
torturous sensations of stagnancy
of life forfoughten – he paws loosely

between wolf-pits, gap-toothed traps
indignant jaws mocking him madly
sun smithereened into gloom-shards

Raven swoops by, depress’d by
His doomdrunk dolour, pitying
His gait’s subsidence… a fly drifts by

Ad infinitum not always forever,
the end has come for the Wolves,
aye, there shall be no second summer

He is the formal, the final leaf
of winter, ready for the sheering,
stubbornly clinging in a hurricane

of change, across the Moray sands
paw prints weakly wandering, & he
sighs low, like a Titan in a cage.


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TWENTY-FOUR

This is Norway, esteemed. The sun is mean
all summer, but undersky white Watchers
gaze on trollskin forests, trunks support
Valhalla on columns of adamantine granite,
misty mountains stitched with river silver,
lynxes prowl by wolverines, brown bears
& tremendous gangs of wolves, among
whom prospers, exhausted, Sylvermane.

Out of his ain soul’s dolesome desolation,
Sylvermane led to a lake of blackest pitch
Named Amsvartnir, furry birthmark seems
a streak of fish; appears Lyngvi ahead,
overgrown with heather, dilemma island,
this place Fenris imbounded by the Gods,
chained to a jagged rock; saliva-formed,
the River Van his prison’s testament.

He met the God Wolf gnawing on the bone
of some long-dead adventurer, bold youth
now knows Aesir are no fanciful prospect;
‘Welcome,’ growl’d Fenris, ‘though painful
to hear our kind are never more to roam
the bens, glens & heatherways of Caledon,
when ye have met a mate & mated well
thy clan ancestral, here, shall never die.’