Walking, stooped between bristled lines
a no-man's land in the dark legions.
Soft needles, dead twigs underfoot,
sharp sniper branches jabbing.
Resistance is futile.
We move, folded in an envelope of rustling.
Dry branches snap, grab at clothing.
We mutter curses against those who planted
these bloody trees so close.
Who assimilated this hill.
A solitary bird gives alarm
otherwise, like the floor of a dry ocean,
all is dead and still.
Moss and lichen struggle. Grass never had a chance.
This is the basement where
all colour is saved, to flirt with the sky,
to sway, panning for clorophyll,
in the dreamed, copper-burnished storeys of light.
Ahead, green and gold escaping around the bars
of this colourless prison
a ceded ground, unplanned.
Sitka drones ebb around a lattice of fallen trees,
limbs chaotic in the new corridor .
We stand, our backs grateful for the space.
The beech had grown tall, chasing the light
Perhaps, she fell while dreaming of the sunlit days,
of cattle rubbing against her smooth bark.
Bird-garlanded, branches bright with green bunting
in song-buttered air, skittered by dancing insects.
Now, moss will cover impartially, yet with slow nobility.
The spruce lock roots, braced.
has determined this will not happen again.
copyright Iain Robinson, 2018
I was only just getting to know you.
And now you are gone.
Your familiar shape, a kindness
in the hedgerow,
a place for staring birds.
You rendered light
into dancing shade for cattle
dark eyed in grateful stillness.
You embraced all who climbed
your paternostered limbs
to them you were storied,
a fortress of life.
In winter, you were gesture and recrimination,
the sky comb.
Your roots entwined themselves between
my sunlit memories.
The legends of your gifts:
Quinine barked, beetle scrambled
your trunk was cleft
and the child passed through.
Your strength would heal their limbs.
Bound back together, you survived.
Yet chalara felled you.
Like the Constabled elms before,
dry-brushed, scumbled in the memory of broad leafed summers,
you are going away.
Your light will never dance again, jittering on the road,
or your shadows stoop at the golden hour.
My favourite places were hallowed by you
the sweet stand in the lower meadow
the rake by the burn.
Now I find you cankered,
a hollow carcass that won't hear apologies
the last throw of the dice
has gone with the staring angel.
No ring of twigs,
laid around you by moonlight
in old magic's name
will stay this.
In the corners of the wood,
by the stream banks and road sides
you issue the last fanfare of leaves.
Quiet cambium, you
will rise no longer in the world
which carries on,
careless of your passing.
Copyright Iain Robinson 2018
The moor is bilious, secretive and strange.
Under the weather, yellow grass fights for a hold in the soft ground
but sphagnum is likely to win.
Water patters into the untopped chaos of the North Sinc,
seeping through the teetering tips.
Most days are washing days,
soaking down through the dark adits
past the wormed pump, the wagons, the rails growing rust shells
out from gloom again.
The drainage adit a mystery
smeared onto the side of the hill far below.
In the north chamber
a chink of light, high up
makes a study of the fallen crane,
shear legs fibrous and delicate
while rusted brackets weep ochre.
Above, the tramway, seamed, puddled and tadpoled
reflects planished sky and memories.
The old mill offers all it has left.
Gnarled fingers of wall point to the sky for quarter
none will come, only oily rain.
Inside, the roof beams and frames of forgotten machines
lie over all at unexpected angles.
I looked but couldn't find the fabled north road handlebars
scratched in the wood,
though found "WD" and "Jones, 1936".
"Evans 1904" had a quiet voice,
he'd carved with skill and finely,
his name echoing faintly down the years.
On the top of the hill
three chasms are punched into the moor,
unguarded, like a brazen mischief done.
The wind flutes its fell music across
keening for the men who once split slate.
Hunched between the tips, an old cwt
hunkers, as if dodging from enquiring eyes,
shocked to see the situation it finds itself in.
The tips are built up all around it
a slow, fingertip tsunami of slate.
Now the lichens have equably
badged what remains.
Birch has yet to visit, but spruce
regretting it's mistake
among the slate dust and the heather.
The skylark skirls above the rain
The ravens cronk.
Somewhere in their black memory
the moor is untouched by man
unclassified by light.
Stacks of slates
ready to send, in 1960
are now a blue-grey geological card index,
sorted occasionally by the wind
infiltrated by rain
but weathering out the years.
Copyright Iain Robinson 2018
Vintage sunlight catching
chrome plated italics
my finger tracing raised lines.
I feel weightless
of loaded film is
an infinity of images,
ready to burst out of the brittle cream plastic.
I yearn to press the shutter.
But this is a perverse
I take the expected photographs-
mundane arrangements of aunties-
christmas days, holidays
smiling seasons within a narrow world.
Enprints return from the chemist
In envelopes more exciting than the photographs they contain.
Albumed, their magic fades, eclipsed with sadness.
a holiday in Devon, 1962.
Restless all day, sand castles lacking allure
instead wanting to creep
to where a secretive locomotive wheezes,
pushing wagons about .
At last, precious minutes are approved
time to take my photograph.
Parents impatient, smoking, keen to be off
"Hurry up, then!"
I squeeze the shutter
the spell is cast, set to travel down the ages.
The next day, excited about more train photos
childish hands drop the camera.
The bakelite body breaks
film looping out, unspooled, spoiled.
Spilled memories stream
diluting until lost in the summer light
amid my tears.
As if to compensate for cardinal loss
my retina assigns soot and sunlight to memory:
The crew, smiling from the cab
locomotive beetling towards the docks
swathed in yellow smoke and shadows
sky unfathomably clear.
Much time has passed.
Now there are no steam engines
outside of captivity.
My latest camera is complicated,
capable beyond my abilities.
Yet I still hope
as I press the viewfinder to my face
for the magic in that sunlit image,
captured in my mind.
copyright Iain Robinson 2018
The clouds came from the west
war banners flapping, sheets in the wind.
The air full of portent,
tender young oaks chattered in their tubes
birches rattled limbs.
Spruces round the old quarry twll clenched their wide roots
in soil shelved thinly on slate.
The wind sent some of last Autumns leaves as flyers
"keep down and nobody will get hurt!"
A detatchment of hail rode shotgun
to make sure all was above board.
If there had been a shepherd at Blaen Pennant
he'd have got his flock in quick.
But the windows there were wind holes, purged of people.
Trum-y-Dysgyl ripped the advance guard to shreds
so the clouds gathered darker
a mile above
and fell, frayed on the sleeve of a low front
into the cwm.
A joint operation, wind and clouds took control.
Hebog was gagged, walls running into grey.
There were no landmarks now.
full of black notes and the wind's chaos.
Birds flattened against rock, or deep within hawthorn and birch.
A fox shivered inside the opencut above Hendre Ddu.
Sheep rolled about like stones on the moor.
Welsh Blacks above Tyddyn Mawr
swayed a twenty ton scrum against a wall, eyes wide,
lowing in the wind's wild jabber.
The oaks fought a shrewd battle, letting branches go
let the wind think there was damage,
among the torture of twisting limbs.
But this was the night that the ash trees gave up,
not that any blamed them; their raddled trunks sundered
lying along the no-mans land
in the sad, damp pasture.
We woke up next morning to the loss of their familiar outline.
Gorse was ripped from the ground
"no quarter given, none asked".
The spruce trees fell slowly, at the last,
when things seemed over.
The wind was tired, but mustered one last tour of the scene
offed a few by the road at Garndolbenmaen.
Sent three down into the twll and four more over the road,
where the farmer,
half asleep, ran into one, cursing.
As the first soft drops of mournful rain fell at dawn
the hawthorns gripped
tightly and decided to go on doing so,
for as long as it took.
Copyright Iain Robinson 2018
A collection of my slate landscape poems is now available to purchase.
Containing twenty poems, it is illustrated with nineteen black and white photographs taken in the slate landscapes of Gwynedd and Mid Wales.
There are ten new poems that have not appeared anywhere else, while the others have been reworked, in some cases, extensively. Showing some of the work online has clarified my thinking and enabled me to dig further into the subjects.
The book has 60 pages and measures 12.6 cms by 20.5 cms.
It costs £10.00 plus postage.
Postage to the UK, first class, is £1.50.
To Europe (including Ireland) is £3.05.
To USA and Canada is £3.70.
To Australia and New Zealand is £3.80.
To purchase a copy, fill in the contact form below with your full postal address and I will invoice you by email- you can pay immediately from the invoice and your book will be posted to you.
All copies of the book will be signed