A Line Through Exmoor

On Richard Long’s abstract ‘walking sculpture’


This work of his, like the wind, is invisible,
so he draws the theory in pencil – a straight line
on a compass bearing of 290 degrees –
with a ruler across the Ordnance Survey map.
It’ll be a sculpture of strides on the terrain,
north-west to south-east, from Parracombe to Exford.

It means a radical departure from his previous Line
Made by Walking, a piece of grounded pith:
see the bare thread worn in the meadow
by his tread from A to B, backwards
and forwards for a month, in this photograph
taken before the grass grew back.

But A Line through Exmoor will leave no trace
other than his memories of it, wearing thin
and thinner with each day, and what appears
on paper as a neat, hassle-free bee-shot,
like a biography of the artist in a hundred words,
translates as miles of fences, hedges, banks.

All the trundling through moors under the rain,
scrambles over styles, the slosh through fords,
the sludge in bogs, the clods loading his soles,
traipsing ice-hardened soil, thirst, breath clouding
in the frost, the steep combs, the trespassing,
wire fences, foxes’ holes, the arrow-like

line in his mind will need to rhyme in slant.
His progress will wend the corrugated verse
of a space odyssey told in rambling phrases
his heart understands but cannot speak.
He’ll pause under the sleek antiphonies of owls,
in the ruffled waves of red stags’ bellows,

the ultrasound fizz of damselflies, the drone
of easterlies harassing the uplands’ face,
breaking through the boundary of his scheme.

Third Prize at Hope Bourne Poetry Competition,
Organised by Exmoor Society

Artichoke, (in Bloom)

You say it’s punk; I say it’s Greek.
Its scent reminds you of something else than honey,
something from childhood in Hampshire
going down a hill, running,
or up a hill, cycling.
To me it’s absolute honey,
and the inner thoughts of bees,
besides one tangible proof
that God is a keen sculptor,
and a lover of honey,
(which adds to the recorded evidence
that he loves honey on the comb
when recently come back from death).
It’s beyond eating,
the artichoke, cut, in the vase,
having been left to itself for the length of the summer,
all the way to the end of its season and over,
and anyway it was too single for a meal.
This is better, and best,
this architectural, radiant,
valiant statement bloom,
extravagantly handsome,
extravagantly squandering
the last of its sweet strength
in these extravagantly bright violet feathers it gives for petals,
this ultimate scent of honey
that neither you or me
would have ever had the courage to imagine.

End of Litanies

Finally the closed opened.

Finally the sleep spent.

Finally the lock dropped.

Finally the dream touched.


Finally the cloud lets.

Finally the freeze lifts.

Finally the sides burn.

Finally the banks swell.


Finally the stick buds.

Finally the space runs.

Finally the while births.

Finally the grasp flies.


Finally the stop gave.

Finally the hands sang.

Finally the leaf tree.

Finally the fruit life.


Finally the river on.

Finally the waters breathe.

Finally the soil sane.

Finally the only much.


Finally the full more.

Finally the thoughs ands.

Finally the were will.

Finally the yes Amen.