Stephen Kingsnorth


Lichen to a north face trunk,
so similar to old man’s beard
in grizzled clumps curled about bole,
knee bowed,
gnarled knurl thrown prone in gales.
Lopped to side despite the bark,
rings bitten, chewed to oval shape.
through high flow low tight isobars,
as though new highlight paradigm.

I know that wizened moorland scrag,
two more on either side of tump,
a tumulus of ancient land;
the grouse where skylarks fear ascent,
where Sycorax trapped Ariel,
thin xylem as capillaries,
grey cambium,
cork overcoat.
A landing sight for sparrow-hawk –
trail worthless spadgers brought to naught –
a gulp of magpies, every side,
for all the world, these mocking birds
with trifles snapped, Autolycus,
those shiny, silver coin bits.

This whisked, abused as whipping post,
where sleeting spears pierced between ribs,
as spokeshaves, floored by carpenter,
taut calloused derm drawn over bone,
the cage protecting growth in phloem.
Another tree that bore the weight
of all the world could throw at it –
though jessie bells rang over stump
where stooping,
preying wings found flight.

Stephen Kingsnorth (Cambridge M.A., English & Religious Studies), retired to Wales, UK, from ministry in the Methodist Church, with Parkinson’s Disease, has had pieces published by on-line poetry sites, printed journals and anthologies, most recently The Sweetycat Press, The Parliament Literary Magazine, Poetry Potion, Grand Little Things, and Spillwords. His blog is at