the moon and the nettle [c. 1984]

How might the nettle strike at his life

the stained glass pane in the hallway door

the statue and glimpse of the wet wood deck

said the moon on a cork tree twig

set the weed on a pile and the heap on fire


winter twisted my wing and root in the clay

in the pea hay mulch said the nettle

and the thorn of my wing was a dark green leaf

by the spike by the dropped rose petal

I will break the light on my face in a dank place


in my sleep many limbs

they were broken like stems

and their flower heads bruised

and the earth did smell

and the worm was in the dell

said the moon


in the rooms many hours

in a black phase passed

in a silence

vast as a desert

I heard the worm yelling

I saw the form and the dawn placed a hand

on an open mouth

with an open throat

the bird wore a coat in the colour of war

and the long time of peace we hoped for came at last

said the nettle

and the nettle sings

how I might pierce the skin of kings

how small things in a grass blade castle

might stop tanks


the moon in a rank sweat night was a rancid yellow

and the window gave on a slick paved stone

the impression of another ring


in a ring of white bone


and the fashion of talking

degree of dress

like burns

put stress on the body of the lamb

and the man goes bleating in the sick field


the moon said cold

said angry

said hold

in the advance of the nettle



as immaculate

as a tool

as a puppet

as steel

as a biopsy


the nettle glittered in a splinter of a second

all it saw was an island

for a second



said the moon in a cut in the cloud

in a gin soaked shroud

in a heaven

made of peace lit from the east

the stinking rut is a love

as dense and great as a flood

that brings death to the coast

and the gut of the host tears at the crease

new life is yet alien to the grip

of this beautiful grief


and the nettle said come said come

and embrace me I will break your light

on my face

fall in tatters and streamers

and the letters of lovers at my feet

in a thousand years of spottled waste

fall in a thousand pearls of hardened hate

on my pricks like dew

do not fear the drop or the taste

nor the weight of time

I am underneath you

do not fear the ground of shame

and disgrace and I

I will lift you up again


so the nettle and the moon

dance in a metal room

and dance in heaven