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A poem for Anna Dreda

I love reading this one – in fact – I have a couple of readings coming up – one at The Poetry Lounge, Ludlow 7th July 7:30pm start at The Blue Boar, Mill St, Ludlow; and one at Mid Wales Arts Centre, Caersws on 9th July…. I think I will give it an airing ! It is published in ROAD KILL along with some fab poems by David Calcutt. I admit – I really love the collection – and I learned so much reading and writing alongside David.


I know Anna Dreda really likes this one (I can still see your face when I read it at Wenlock Poetry Festival 2014 ! I had to look away to keep composed xx)  – so Anna – this is for you – always x Thank you for supporting poetry, Shropshire poetry, all books – your love of reading shows in everything you do. I am so lucky to know you x


It has mediaeval hunting terms in it…


Red deer stag

Amused with naming
at first –
calfe, brocket, spayard, staggerd –
their king of the wild
is not worthy of man’s pursuit
until age has crowned it ten tines over
and it is named as hart.

Hunting par force.
The noblest of sports.
The Quest.
The Assembly.
The Relays.
The Unharbouring.
The Chase. The Baying. The Unmaking
and The Curée. Grand words

that camouflage
the expert huntsman’s tracking
while drinks are downed
their chatter mounting
the grouping
of the rache, the running hounds
all waiting
while the stealthy lymer
noses out their quarry

then they join
in its running down
horses galloping
hounds bark, men shout
acceleration in pace and sound
to its final moments
when eyes stretched back
its hide lathered in grey sweat
shallow breaths labouring
the moment for its last stand
then hounds commanded
from attack, sword
drawn and passed
to the party’s most prominent.
The death

as if it means something
then deer dissected
dogs rewarded
the head a trophy.

Some stories tell
how a stag
can live millennia
and how a bone
that is lodged
in the centre of its heart
protects it from a fear-filled death.
This beast of venery

antlers hewn from ancient forest
with velvet-mossed branches
stands now on misty moorland
holds his head still.
Unwavering vision.

While his harem of hinds
ruminate on heather
he challenges the next rival
by belling and roar call.
They start to walk in parallel.

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