Poems by Nick Ross

 A live encounter with my love:

The waves say ‘I am lonely’.

The sea trout, feeling her own way

Says I am lonely too,

In unimaginable ways.

The sun breaks,

kisses the stone, kisses the water

Draws from his bag,

Out of his loneliness

A gift of blessing, freely given,

And the wind touches all, says,

Let it go, let it go, let go.

The waves are lonely, but not lost

And the sea trout, not lost either though

She is so far from the sea

Where is home? She speaks it like a lamentation.

What is home? She sheds tears as she pushes on

Beyond all comprehension,

Over boulders,

Pressing the shallows

With her ancient belly’s


Is this what longing means?

How it seems that home is always

Going upstream

Always against the flow?

The mystery can only be found here

In the jet black water

Always it lies deepest

In the most impenetrable dark.

I know only this; I am a man,

Not lost I am, sitting here

But lonely yes,

My God I am,

A solitary man

Just as lonely as I am

And I must be my love

Between the lake and sea my love

As lonely as I am


A celebration and prayer for the native soul.

Sitting there on the stile dawn just come

Autumn slung, haloed with the red berried hawthorn

Weary nettles stray across the sinew track

and the brambles grasp

the last of the summers fruit

turn, through the leaves

to where the dead tree stands

naked in his solemn blindness

Defying whatever it is we make of time

Majestic king, whitened by years out of memory

and spared the axe for reasons lost in time

A good home still for foxes and their kill,

Dead the fox lies now in its tracks

Beside the mainstream murderous road.


Inwardly the ancient peat,

Stirs at the first archaic sound

That is the soul’s long stirring call

From deep set winters sleep

Here the groaning Bogland weeps

uncanny in the bright lit world

The senses gnarl like weathered oak

and bend the seeing downwards

Towards the saurian place

Marked and etched

We see deepest with the cyclops’ eye

The things that are hidden

in that darkness still

In the way we see a  leaf curl,

the animals and beasts wander still

in-scribed on old pre-christian slabs

before the gods became one god

and nature’s gifts were defiled

Examine the stones and their markings

for your own strange mark which is

Only as mysterious as the distance

you have travelled from yourself.

from the prehistoric lens

that met the world each day –

and knew it all inhabited

in the time before belief began,

it stings your quiet iris still

This land was once the home of things

that stir amongst your long-tailed dreams

and call you back again

to that ancient threshold home


Maccha-Goddess of the horse

What did we really lose,

When we banished you to the hills?

How barren the streams of our lives have been

How dim and contained our little world seems

But the bog ooze speaks in the tongues of the world

To ears that know the languages of those

That camped here long before us

Where the wet centre remains

Now and always what it is


Coffee at the café

I am forever being pulled out of the world by Beauty.

How funny-because forever I seem to be pulled back into the world by Beauty too.

What a criss-crossing of the waters of the soul this is.

Form and formlessness are the names

Of the ferry and the ferryman.

The Beauty of God has no form

And yet the beauty of God that is form

is here All around me.

God is in the granite blue minarets-

they are fingers that point to the moon

They say-‘I know the moon, though I am not the moon’

And the pink roses and the blood red roses-

they know the moon too.

An Immam cries out studiously to God

and God listens and is pleased

As pleased as Turkish coffee with sugar,

gentle blues, sun and sparkling water

And the dark faced Spanish woman with hair and eyes as black as ravens

Who laughs with head-back freedom in the street below

With a glance

That is a dance

For hips and moonless nights.

Who can say that God is not here too?

God is here too and all about and he plays and plays and plays

It is play that lies closest to god;

the breeze tells me so, the swift tells me so

They speak to me all day and night and say,

I am here,

I am here,

I am here.

Seeing the rose

Meister Eckhart says- your life is like a door

Always swinging open and shut.

Your soul is the hinge-which is always still.

There is an eye at the centre of a hurricane.

The storms ceaseless spinning and the still point-

Where nothing moves.


You could hear a pin drop.

The dervish spins always to the left.

His Right hand is open to God

His Left hand turned down for the love of man

And the head is perfectly still but always inclined


We spin out of our centre only to find the darkness

That will allow us to return home again

What a dance is this!

In the whirling I am myriad; the ten thousand things scatter

In the centre-unmoved and absolute

Untouched by a thousand wars

There is only a perfect rose

From which the dervishes eyes

Never move.


Light and shadow

Catching your shape in light and shadow

I see how your presence here

Leaves a perfect absence there

How elsewhere children are prepared for school

With urgent words and kisses

As a morning plane arcs across the day

Between there and here, far and near,

And we, strangers,

Companied by grief and longing

For the life before us and the other world

Where we are sorely missed

I see in your great distance how life

Is always longing for home

How our quiet work is to know where home is

And name the fact in such simple

Acts of prayer


With little more to say I turn to poetry

To mark with a few words

The miracle of what passes for my life

How the small things are defining

Like the soft movement of my heart

On leaving home again

How the leeks hold themselves in a particular way

How the grass gleams after rain

The small hesitation at the garden gate

Or the feeling for my daughter

After a good call and too long apart

Hotel breakfast

Here in the busy world

In the anonymity of breakfast

Someone somewhere is missing

The faces I am seeing,

Another day marked by separations.

In face of this small recognition,

Of the necessary solitudes

And loneliness of life

We could see one another and smile

A small offering,

a human consolation

Casting thin threads

Across  simple existences

Our clumsy lives,

Not lived entirely alone

Always the Cross

Always the cross, Always the cross

Always the thorn, the bloody crown,

The final spear that drowned the sky

In empty thunder without revelation

And me with bloody hands asleep.

Awake at once or in a dream

With only the long road ahead

The howling desert, the dry stream bed,

Always the cross for me

Luke and Cleopas walking on;

Futureless and without imagination-

Alive only in name, in the time

Before faith and symbols

Sandals filled with sand and stones

Mouths numb or speaking

Only hollow words that knock about

Like empty drums.

What can heal those two?

Could I not be there?

With them when He came

Along the Eastern road?

Why am I left with the one image only?

Which all my life I mistook for peace

The dead tree

With the dead man dying there.

At the tavern in the dark

With gritted eyes we waited vacantly

With wounded eyes that could not see.

Sitting dumb, and speechless

The stranger took upon himself

The bread and broke it.

I, looking up too late was sore amazed

Emmaus was in astonishment that night

As solemn words were whispered on the wind:

Weep not deare friends since I for you have wept

When all my tears were blood the while you slept.

River poem

For Tia

Standing in the river

The sky blackened by the

Scudding remnants of a

Summer storm

You asked a simple question

Where the bubbles all come from?


They are bridegrooms to the rain

That met the pain

we felt that morning

Which fell like shards

Pouring through the canopy of trees

Making rain-fish leap

As the bubbles

frothed and eddied

Burst and giggled

At our feet


And you my sweet love

Hiding blues

Beneath the hood of your

Old blue coat

Watched transfixed as a child

The bubbles sweet procession

Miraculous expression

Of the river and the rain

Making patterns for a


That will never

Come again

Medice Meus

I am scared, I am scared

Cried the first bird

Mad I made myself last night

I do not like this darkness,

Do not like this darkness

Or the pending light

Too much the medicine tonight

Medice meus

Augustine said-

Yet God is dead

And this godless torment

Cannot heal my soul.

That which is not sacred is profane

Burning in the withering dark, sulphur black

At the sharp and guilty turning of the world

Before the dawn

The best part of me lies Stilly sleeping

And the washer women sleeping still……

Before the Work’s begun

I do not like the darkness

Do not like the darkness

Where the worst part of me lies awake

And filled with animal foreboding

In a dangerous dream

The white hart can’t escape

Slain by the hound with red ears

The women will not clean the stain

Left by any Lord or history

The Old King; drowned with a dull eye

And the young Man

Still lost in the sea of dreams beyond

His age or time

In a storm too rough to swim in

Might drown beneath the thunders dreadful roar

But here the flash of lightning

Is only passing cars in the pre-dawn

Etching out the endless routes to oblivion

Each to their own and I to mine

God I am wracked upon the shore.

God how I cling to her more

For dear life in the dawn

Merlin and Ninniane sleep.

The Great King himself sleeps,

Two lie tangled in the wild wood,

Another in the cave

Beneath the granite stone

Cleaved open to the moments fate

I follow the string and like Caravaggio

Trading habit for sublime

Sword and Horn gather dust in time

I -in my dreams in the cave

Would always choose the sword

It was always the same dream-

The sword falling slowly to the floor

Waking us both with a dull ringing

With sounds of lamentation,

Sighs of wounded grief,

Perpetual Disappointment

And a hundred years

Of hopelessness

Descend upon the land

Upon my head

Again and every night he cried-the King,

‘Not yet, not yet and maybe never ‘

‘Next time choose the horn first-

Remember the time for swords is done’

That is what the water sang on the high moor

Where I, once wild, as a boy- would walk.

Even as a child

Standing there

Beside the charcoal hut –

Half real, I recognise it now, the same song

‘Not yet not yet and maybe never’-

That is what the waters sang

Beneath the ancient bridge

A single slab of rock toppled

Into significance

By impossible hands

From amongst its folded flock

Half- hidden in the grass

The bubbles in the stream

Make endless commerce

Between the worlds

Out of nothing, into nothing

Soundless burstings, silent poppings,

Momentary lives

Purgation-illumination- union

The sacrifice unfolds with the five words

Rung out before dawn

At the old church in the holy season

At the end of the broken lane

Leading nowhere beside the farm,

Where cattle shift in pre-dawn stillness

In the quiet barn

And in the church

Apsis of the Judging Christ

Where stand Andrew, Luke,

Peter, Paul

The latter pointing downwards to his own tomb….

Yes-you with the crown, you with the thorn

Not the white thorn of the easy hidden wood

But the carved thorn that bleeds eternally-

 You who bled for my eternity

Spoke for our eternity


Was ever grief like mine?

The white thorn blossoms too

Eternal but in a different way

A flush of stars-lux perpetua

Not simply the twice blossoming flower

But timeless in a forest in Wales

Where Merlin sleeps I once was

And thought I heard the wind speak

Whispering quietly in a song

Only lies can break the vessel-only lies.

We build our work on the fragments of dead men

And women

Drowned in the ooze

For witches or poets

Caught up in simple acts

Of madness or reconciliation

To things the ordinary folk cannot see

Take from me the suffering Lord

Take from me the suffering

Take from me the guilt and

The tarnished sword half hidden in a mire

Or in the river where

You nearly drowned

Washing away the hart’s blood

The sin which would not clean itself in time

Is constant repetition of our failures

Something more than simple humiliation?

A way of emphasis perhaps-

A way of emphasising frailty or futility

More than our stupidity?

Is our punishment more fit with repetitions?

The worst is not that you don’t respond or answer

Or react or play dumb even

The worst is that you are not, nor might not- be at all

That the boy by the bridge is not, nor might not- be at all

That the man in the study

With the golden light is not nor might not -be at all

If ambition wracked you

Then temptation is my curse.

Is there no one who can listen?

 Is there no-one there to listen child

By the bridge

To the bubbles burst?

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