Ledbury Poetry Festival is partnering with Queenswood Country Park to launch our “Poetry of the Woods” on-line poetry submission. We are calling for your poems on your experiences with woods and trees – perhaps trees have healing qualities for you? Perhaps you like to smell the silence and hear trees whisper? Perhaps you are inspired by the multiple life forms that inhabit trees and woods? If you’re indoors in isolation or lockdown, is there a tree you can see or remember?
Upload your poem here using the form below (40 lines maximum). One poem per person, please. Your poem will be enjoyed by our on line community, and submissions will be convened for a special Festival reading event. Mandy Ross, our tree whispering Poet of the Woods, has started the campaign with her poem for two voices (read the italics as chorus) “What We Know”
About Mandy Ross, Ledbury Poetry Festival’s Poet of the Woods
Mandy takes an unconventional approach to poetry, using it as a spark to engage and weave voices and stories in all sorts of communities. She makes visual text work too, often seeking inspiration outdoors in the city and beyond. Training as a psychotherapeutic counsellor, she explores creative approaches to wellbeing and personal growth.
Mandy has written lots of children’s books as well as plays and work for adults. As one half of Secret City Arts, she works with storytellers, musicians, photographers and filmmakers to bring words off the page.
Poetry of The Woods entry form
Queenswood Country Park & Arboretum is a popular woodland park in the centre of the Herefordshire and one of its most visited attractions. The site includes an arboretum, a 47-acre tree collection, and 123 acres of semi-natural ancient woodland .
A number of trails run through the site including accessible paths on easy terrain, more challenging, longer trails and an audio trail with specially designed listening posts where you can listen to snippets of local history, and poems selected by Ledbury Poetry Festival.
The park contains a visitor centre with all amenities, and a café. A full programme of events and activities runs throughout the year.
Queenswood Country Park is located on the A49 at the top of Dinmore Hill between Leominster and Hereford. Postcode: HR6 0PY
What We Know Mandy Ross
We know we’re small, walking among time-giants,
drinking their centuries of tall, rustling grace,
know one place
here now dark light dark
grow slow still deep high
lace, shade and airy rooted reach
between earth and sky, breathing light,
kin reach bend roots hold
endure rhythms heat freeze storm calm
husbanding food and sap through seasons’ stories,
mothering saplings, even rotting purposefully.
bud slow unfurl leaf
sun green under over through greengreengreen fall
bud seed wood rot nourish
So much we know, all eyes and ears, naming them
in many languages, learning, measuring, writing,
bird visit visit
as they spread and whisper wordless messages of slow
urgency above our heads, beneath our feet.
rain! roots drink share
seed loves life each mine ours
So quick and full we are, fluttering, wanting.
We love life, each, mine, ours
seeds make seeds
and our future seeds making seeds.
Here, now, we know our wants threaten,
rhythm shifts falters
yet can’t seem to shift.
Watch the film of this poem here
By Virginia Griem
Tanglewood, whitewood, spindletrees
by water-runs, birchbark marked by devil’s
claw, ash hung with heaven’s keys. Here
the bees reign, cockchafer crawls the
undergrowth nudging through the celandine.
Willow warbler cascades his song, sets the
catkins tumbling, while gangs of whitethroats
start a game of chase chase me, and jenny
wren busy in the brush being madam broody
intent on nesting, mouses up the bramble
covered bank. Here the wood is young, sapling
bound, bending each whichway, playful in its
long legged lanky growing, curious in its new
found confidence, ready to sing and dance
with all nature’s gifts re-wilding.
Sonnet for Autumn by Shreya Aggarwal
Bursts and clusters of brown, russet, yellow.
A dense carpet of leaves encrusts the ground.
A dried maple plummets down without sound.
The touch of the air is cool and mellow.
Not an inch of moss or grass can be seen,
Like prison bars veil it from any light.
As much as it tries it’s locked out of sight,
Now, the most masked from the world it has been.
A taste of dampness lingers in the breeze.
The sun is pulled out from behind the smog.
Its rays cascade onto a lifeless log,
As the light is entwined within the trees.
The pale sky shelters the fields sown with corn.
Autumn is a unique time. Love is born.
Dymock Woods by Roger Hare
A parliament of timber
all the while whispering
in the quiet language
to catch our words,
through the litter of years
to confirm its hold
Do they suffer too? by Giles Dawnay
Do trees suffer
for being trees?
Obeying their nature,
to stand tall
and grow deep,
do they wistfully ponder
where else they may
Do they jostle
for the sunlight
and show envy
if no other being
chooses to nest
in their arms?
Do they bare
‘so and so waz ere’
and dignify them,
and do their roots
fight for the best
access to the source?
Do they fear death
or hacked down
to be remade
into something else
against their wishes?
Or perhaps do
that they are there
for the true benefit
of all who come near,
with trunk, branches and leaves
thrown wide open
to an endless
yet changing sky,
in a humble yet life-giving
Dieback for LN by Carl Tomlinson
Forever it seems you’ve formed part of our frame
as medicine, shelter, or spear.
Our ends are the same, they fall from our flames.
Wild in the wind, Chalara lays claim
wasting wood and leaving you bare.
Year after year it reshapes the frame,
as Hymenoscyphus – the fungus to blame –
brings damage beyond our repair.
Our ends are the same when they burn our remains.
Our woodland is girdled now, branches hang maimed.
Helpless, the experts despair
as, dying, you leave us alone in this frame.
As habitats, weather and skyline change
will we know only splashing next year?
If the oak stands alone who will summon the rain?
When our grandchildren scatter what’s left of our frame,
when the earth where you stood holds their tears,
will they know that our end is there in your name,
that your name is in our remains?
“Chalara ash dieback .. is a disease of ash trees caused by a fungus called Hymenoscyphus fraxineus”. https://www.forestry.gov.uk/ashdieback
Ode to a Spinney by Jean Atkin
O rowan, birch and thorn, you are
collectively, my wood of choice.
You bud at first with native caution, yet
if facing south and offered sunshine,
will rush the matter, unfurl at life
in a completely reckless
flush of green.
O you are the dappled, dancing ones,
splashed with wood anemones like
drops of milk
between your toes.
Letting go by Tina Cole
In just a few weeks they will fly
leaving trees frost clad, silhouetted
against the iron sky. Have you considered
that trees are experts at letting go,
recycling growth, change and freedom?
There is something honest about trees,
something to admire. Humans are not
so bold, they hoard the detritus
of lifetimes, mummify it in forgotten news.
My mother held on for forty years
to a man she never loved,
too terrified of the world to step
into it. She never acknowledged the beauty
in moments of unfurling or the thousands
of Summer shadows playing patterning
games. Letting go is an art form,
few are adept in its practice. Today
I hold on to edges, refusing to acknowledge
the unusual and remember days
when we attempted to control time,
keep those devils change
and uncertainty from interceding,
keep leaves green and a charm
of goldfinches in their boughs.
The Screeching Owl by Kevin Cowdall
A hunter’s moon
shines bright and high
above the towering trees;
with stars wide-strewn
in a cloudless sky
and a whisper on the breeze.
The screech of an owl
disturbs the night
and echoes across the air:
A predator on the prowl
in search of midnight fare.
Trees by Chris White
You walk into a forest
Surrounded by all sorts of trees
All different shapes and sizes
Just stop and look at them please.
Some are bent and twisted
Some look like they’re going to fall
Some are short and struggling
Some stand straight and tall.
Some are luscious evergreens
Some have branches bare
Some are young and look fresh and new
Some old, like they’ve always been there.
All different types of trees
Standing, season after season
You accept that they are just that way
Every tree has a story or reason.
Many have weathered storms
Some didn’t get enough light
A few have struggled all their lives
But you don’t judge, if they’re wrong or right.
You don’t care if they are different
And look strange, weird or bizarre
You look and appreciate each and every tree
Just the way they are.
The world would be
So much better, I bet
If we felt the same way,
About the people we met…
The Wood of Tidi by Bob Woodroofe
Still early yet the sun already beats down,
as you stride out for the old woods shade,
glad of the cool along the tall hedge.
Ravens croak awake the morning,
sport above the green canopies.
Sink into quietness as you enter,
wooded since the age of ice,
Tidi worked here 800 years ago.
Huge old coppice stools, moss coated,
multi trunked, proclaim it so.
First bells of blue scent the spring,
the twin leaves of the twayblade,
the four leaves of the paris herb.
Followed by the devil’s bit blue
and meadow saffron’s lilac hue.
See the peacock on the nettles
vie with tortoiseshell and comma,
and orange tips on jack by the hedge.
The tawny fritillary dashes down the ride
as speckled woods dance in dappled shade.
The ride now a riot of yellow, purple, cream.
evening primrose, fleabane, meadowsweet,
scented agrimony, marsh thistle, willowherb.
Small teasel, loosestrife, blackberry blossom,
where white admirables glide down to feed.
Here they found the famous plum,
forester’s conifers are turned to planks,
the hazel coppiced for the hurdles.
The clear felled coupes regenerate,
the wood logged to warm our hearths.
The noble chafer still roams the orchards,
on the ranges the badger excavates his sett,
wanders off along his ancient trackways.
The crack of rifles is no longer heard
and bees mine the sand, not bullets.
In the wood a ‘fall’ of trees new felled,
brash protects from gnawing teeth of deer.
Tall oak ‘whitepoles’ left to cut 14 years from now,
taller oak ‘blackpoles’ left to cut a further 14 years on,
and so the cycle continues round
Neon Trees by Iona Mandal, aged 13
You taught me to tend for the wild,
in places where it had been quelled,
that the growth of stray wildflowers in gaps,
between the concrete of a postcard patio,
was better than a naked lawn.
As we globe-trotted amidst islands
of cigarette stubs and half-chewed gum,
making colonies on the ground,
tessellating into a synthetic Pangea,
you showed me burly roots of urban trees
breaking through uneven asphalt,
like a finger through an eggshell,
a snake of vascular tissue,
beneath a man-made facade.
That night you told me stories of Pan,
syrinx in palm, galloping through woodlands,
winking at wood nymphs.
But the only rustic music I could hear,
was of traffic and men, on too much drink.
The only woodlands I could see,
were found between plastic neon swings
in drooling play areas,
mimicking the idea of greenery.
And then, I understood why,
city trees grow fast, but die young.
The Gift by Margaret Jacobi
It was a gift
Yet we left it there
In its pot, stunted and constricted.
Why did we ignore it?
Perhaps the memories needed to fade,
Pain to subside
before we could treasure the gift,
Taste the fruit.
Two winters passed
It seemed dessicated
Leaves scarcely grew and then were lost
Crumpled in the ground.
Finally we dug a hole
Deep for its roots
Gingerly placed it in
Tenderly packed the compost,
Moist, brittle brown,
Sprinkled clear water.
This spring at last
Buds, slender but fresh green
and a glimpse of white blossom.
The possibility of growth
Of memory giving fruit to consolation
The Tree by Barbara Wright
I saw a tree
I’m sure I did
By the river.
I saw its leaves
Give a little quiver.
Yes I saw a little tree
Down by the river.
In its leaves a little bird
Looking at the river.
Above my head
A nest of birds
Down by the river.
The wind blew cold
A darkened sky
Made me stand and shiver.
I thought I saw
A little tree
Down by the river
The Oak by Stephen Caudery
Underneath your vibrant cloak
You hide your frame of winter beauty
That stark frame against grey sky
Through mist and sun you stand
And have stood for ages past
Held aloft by sturdy stem
Deep rooted into our beloved earth
We have no root to hold us here
So we are free to roam
Unconstrained to explore and discover
Yet in our eagerness to see
What this world can give to me
We lose the value of being still
Rooted – grounded LORD in Thee
The Marvel of Nature by Brian Tannatt Nash 1971,1995 and 2020
Give me acres of land to roam o’er,
Give me forests and streams and hills,
Give me time to marvel at nature,
and forget all life’s troubles and ills.
’tis a simple life that I want, Lord
’tis a simple man that I am.
To look at an oak and see strength,
Strength without worry or care.
When I chance to look at the heavens
or smell the sweet grass at my feet,
I know that You’re there as a presence
with a love that Man cannot beat.
’tis a simple path that I tread, Lord
upon this, Your delicate Earth
With a lingering hope we’ll see reason
and preserve all You’ve given mankind.
Yet the crystals of frost in the Winter,
and the glare of the pure driven snow,
remind me, from harshness comes beauty
and, in Spring, all newness aglow.
’tis always a time for renewal
to change the things that are wrong.
To help make this a far better world,
where Man is at peace with himself.
The song of the soaring skylark,
and the lapping of the salty sea,
the warmth of the sun on my body
give me pleasure, immeasurably.
’tis a simple task that I’m charged with
to live a good and honourable life
to put back all, No, to put back more than I’ve taken
and enjoy my purpose in life.
Give me time for my contribution,
to the pleasure of futures to be,
To return the joy that’s been given
so often and freely to me,
’tis a simple seed that I plant, Lord
that will grow to a marvellous tree.
To roam thru’ the woods and see life,
Life with its future assured.
My Friend by Rupsha Mitra
I have heard of wintry-woods,
Ravishing-roses and blooming briars..
“Love dwells in the foliage of forests!”
I thought they are such liars.
But then….there was this tree
Welcoming air, wanting to be
In my forlorn, formidable teens,
It knew all the stories of my pain .
The only purifying, trusting friend.
Of my love,desire and the fire.
That ignited me everyday.
I had told my friend- flowering fecundity.
My patient peer, not heard but listened to me.
My friend breathing of pulchritude..
That shared my lone as a teen.
Then days passed, as I grew ..
In rendezvous, I went back to …
.. my empathetic beau.
My lovely friend still as beautiful before
Still the freshness, the scent of serenity…
The greenery of the strong and lovely soul..
As if recalling mellifluously..
The nostalgia of our memories.
With tears in my eyes, a quandary..
Of not knowing how to thank…
For being the sheltering belt of my insecurities when I was an ingenue-of eleven.
My friend, with the enduring alluring captivating calming beauty…
Taught me how to appreciate..
The beauty of rains..
The light of the sun.. and
The charm of enigmatic endurance.
Fireplace by Wendy Fout
The fireplace, is like the feeling of LOVE,
It is beautiful to look at, it gives you a calmness, it is oh so mesmerizing, it keeps you warm , it feels you with a sense of security it can have you sleep in comfort, only to have a shadow of darkness of coldness when it dies out, it disturbs the felling of comfort, the beauty is gone, the calmness turns into a fiercest of terrifying feelings, which can turn your feeling into coldness of being like a death. It turns and tosses of sleepless times when you want to rest.Therefore,it is up to you to keep the love and compassion burning in your soul. That is the spark of life into thy heart of the fireplace.
The Story Tellers Of Katyn by Gill Garrett
(i.m. April – May 1940)
Delve deep in the undergrowth;
beneath curious fingers, bark is Braille;
to the attentive ear, murmuring foliage
whispers low, confides how,
once upon a time,
these trees stood witness to a spring
that carpeted the forest floor
redder than autumn’s fall.
Now their canopy fends off the midday sun,
cradles new life in the crook of branches,
echoes to the call of warbler and bunting.
Now a summer breeze caresses
the curve of their trunks, tousles leaves
as would a reminiscing grandfather
a young child’s hair.
I wish you were mine by Françoise Walot
again this year
to reduce you
reduces me to tears seeing
feeling the bleeds
Birch tree who planted you there
in front of his house
too close for him to bear?
Kingdom for the birds
Never give up
Our Woodland by Trevor Stringer
The bluebells are covered in ivy and vine
The white jasmine choked by trees intertwined
Our love was seeded where the walnut once stood
That time when passion and life ruled our wood.
Get rid of the dogwood, the bramble, the sallow;
Make me alive by the sight of your light;
The sticky sweet lime, let me smell your aroma,
The red berried rowan let me drink of your wine.
I will not live like the Lombardy poplar,
Erect yet alone with no feminine part,
But alive and reborn like a hedge layered willow;
As the bounds of your beauty, so the bounds of my heart!
Beyond the Shadows Of Lockdown by Malcolm Whitehead
Beyond cool garden shadows
in a keen April breeze
newly green branches breathe.
Where is she? Where is she?
ask the leaves.
Yes, we welcome the bees
but still we are lonely
We know that in life
there are no guarantees
but until she returns
we cannot be
Where is she? Where is she?
We beg you now
on bended knees
please find her for us
wherever she breathes.
Seek the whole earth
seek all seven seas
then bring her to us
we lonely trees
Returning by Jodie Duffy
When this all began
you stood in silhouette
arms reaching up for
something you could not grasp
fingers jabbing the shadows
you cursed the sky
you’d waited so long to see
it was a few days later
when I noticed the buds
green breaking through
your wrinkled, cynical skin
and the clouds softened
a week or so after
your lower branches were dressed
ready to welcome
the imperfect spring
warmed, you shrugged off
the fatigue, the chill
from your creaking limbs
then, today you nodded
towards the house
I sat next to you
the shade of your leaves
rippled across the grass –
the return of your laughter
Housman in Autumn by Alison Falls
Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with fire along the bough
While crimson, orange, gold and green
Together through the woods are seen.
Now of my threescore years and ten
Not one day will come again.
Nor is it given me to know
How many days I’ve yet to go.
But since to look at woods alight
Time is no measure of delight,
A moment’s all that I desire
To see the cherry hung with fire.
Nature Club, 1998 – 2002, by Heddwen Bethan Creaney
I never learnt the leaves
inked on worksheets
cut from brothers
I never learnt to remember
to hear his name
when I looked up
head tipped so far I can’t breathe in
I never learnt what they told me
twisting the leaf’s stem between
thumb and index
feeling the dry bark,
waxy crayon on crisp crunching paper
All I remember is
the dust of the Forest
on my finger tips
sticking to the sap
sticking to me
I forgot again
it might have been an oak?
Euphoric Groves by Avisha Mathur
I miss the blissful bond that we had
All the times where i felt down
It lifted me up in the air
I failed to remember any despair
A wave beneath me that wouldn’t let me drown
It confessed to me its pain
And how it helped man but man helped annihilate,
Exterminate the woods, now he’s in vain
All they try to is to co exist
Provide with the elixir of life
Bring life into the bodies of mankind
Subdue, suppress, insufflate the toxicity in our minds.
When I abscond in wanderlust
Take off in hopes of efficacious meditation
I will for eternity circle back to
Euphoric groves for rejuvenation
Obliterate the unwanted
Revamp,renew the zephyr
Give an adobe to the tiny and immense
Lord, shield these Euphoric Groves forever!
Tree by David Smith
Just before you go
let me tell you about the tree
on the south side of the hill
which beckons me to lie
in its sloe-blue rumors
Today we spoke for the first time
I asked and it was agreed
that I could bring my special friend
will you please.
The Bluebell Wood by Sue Johnson
Walk in afternoon light, your hand in mine,
through an orchard in blossom.
Open the gate that leads to the woodland.
Notice birdsong and primroses,
violets and wood anemones.
Follow the path until you reach the place
where silver birches rise from an inland sea
vibrant with colour and scent
pulsating with loving memories.
Pause here. Listen to your heart.
Connect with the magic of this place.
Make a wish at the special tree.
Give thanks for everything we have now
as we create our own tomorrows
among the tide of bluebells.
The Wishing Tree by Judy Dinnen
Blue for hope, red for prayer, yellow for fury
They blew in the wind by the village path,
strips of Inge’s dress, Tomas’ jacket ,
Irma’s bedspread, striped and worn,
Green for resignation,
flowers for remembering.
When hunger or need came
Maria cut strips of fabric,
rag ribbons, hope bands,
went to the wishing tree,
standing alone in the wind,
cold biting her cheeks.
Checks for tomorrow,
corduroy for sunrise.
Fingers stiff as frozen cod,
she tied her found ribbons
on a crazy branch,
round and over and under,
so the blast wouldn’t steal them.
Blue for hope,
patterns for apricots.
Slowly, prayerfully, she let go,
dropped her calloused hands
against her flowered smock.
They blew with the whispers of her heart,
waving hope in the bitter cold,
wishing for gold, for journeys,
for peace, for release
or even, maybe, for romance.
Red for prayers, stripes for dreams,
blue, green, emerald, puce, amber
for adventure and a new moon
by Roger West
Limpid sun in a late December sky. Sounds of rifle shots rippling, of baying hounds rebounding. We foraged for pine cones, truffling them out as they snouted and snuffled in the bracken.
He stepped from the trees, almost perfectly camouflaged, weathered skin against weathered bark. On point duty it seemed for the hunters tracking their prey further down the valley. He led us through undergrowth down the path known only, he said, to him to show us the dolmen and withdrew to a respectful, custodial distance while we examined scarified and striated stones, sacrificial ashes long absorbed into soil. We saw him cock an ear, tilt his head, as though sniffing a new scent. ‘Voiture’ he said, hearing it before we did, ‘elle monte’, and took off towards the car park to flush out fresh quarry, returning with a new brace of visitors, harried and run to earth.
Later at home we burned the pine cones in the hearth, their heady resinous pyre spiralling upwards. Sacrificial ashes to sacrificial ashes.
The Lilac and the Cherry Tree by Mark Mansfield
There is a garden, choked with weeds,
where a lilac and a cherry tree
beside each other bloom,
where birds and squirrels play and feed
around a forgotten tomb.
The lilac’s branches reach like wings,
blossoming its lush perfume.
The cherry tree soon follows suit,
budding white flowers and some springs,
tart globes of unpicked fruit.
Long ago, two lovers drowned
near where these two trees grow,
around which squirrels and birds and more
forage on the untended ground—
a few long after the trees repose
when the tomb is buried in snow.
Willow by Karen Glen
the weeping willow waved softly in the wind
shedding teardrops of leaves into the river at its feet
the river grabbed the tears and caressed them
before they were caught by the current
and swept spiralling downstream
before the tears dissipated in to the arms of the willow
resting with abating breeze as it began
to join the tears in the river
Wodewove* by Bob Woodroofe
quiet across the woodland glade
comes the woodman with his blade
soon to ring through tree and wood
bleed away the sap like blood
like my crop I grow straight and true
my strength of character runs right through
I too am just as green as they
with leaves about my faces
I love to work and lie and dream
in amongst their shady places
there I sing my own sweet song
and whistle tunes upon the air
they hear me safe within their homes
and from deep inside their lair
they never see me yet they know
who I am and what I stand for
I come from the deepest wildwood
still uphold its ancient law
my mother wouldn’t know me
because I am not of her alone
I belong in hedge and wood
rise through earth and stone
shrouded in green monk’s habit
guardian spirits hasten to the task
shadows behind the trunk
hidden by the mask
come let us play the game
you know well who I am
pray tell me what’s my name
forever upon the woodland scene
I am the one that they call green
* Wodewove – the dark man of the woods
Search by Iuliana Pasca
Do not search for me on Facebook,
I’m going where the stones have souls.
you shall find emotions
in the water that awakens;
listen to its story, it has read stones
written by the truth seekers.
When you’ll miss me,
look at the calmness of the trees
and the twining of the branches;
search in the springs,
in forests and in the rain,
they will whisper about loneliness
and life’s purpose.
You shall find me
in texts written in blood,
Watch and listen for a while
then move on,
to comprehend you won’t be able
the written blood will flow through your veins,
the shadows will return to the clouds
and the wilderness of the soul will be filled
with the sand of the desire to know me.
Death of a Bluebell Wood by Vickie Johnstone
The earth is screaming silently,
Jaws ripped wide open
To reveal a gaping hole.
Where once breathed wood giants
And a carpet of living purple
Where people walked since 1600
Is now a stripped battleground
Of stumps, rocks and waste.
Bees, butterflies and hoverflies
Float on the breeze with nothing
To pollinate in this naked space.
Where once a canopy of leaves
Shielded us from heavy rain
Like open umbrella arms,
There is an empty vacuum,
The moist brown upturned.
These ancient bluebell woodlands
Have been carved out, centuries
Of existence bitterly erased.
I look over this wretched land
And despair to think who did this.
A legacy of one man’s greed?
Uprooted, we search for truth
Amongst red tape and excuses.
The dormice and squirrels,
Birds, bats and insects have fled,
Wounded or rendered homeless.
Others died in the felling.
Where will the birds be nesting
Next year? They won’t return.
Where will we walk our children?
The trees have taken their own truth,
Their ancient circles of wisdom,
To the grave while nature weeps.
There is a gaping hole here
In the landscape. The heart
Of this Devon valley is breaking
And nothing will fill it.
Breathing by Tamsin Pearce
Moss bark tracks
Raised root knots
Forget me nots
Clear cool breeze
Forest of Dean by Peter Johnson
The ghosts of this Royal forest,
Hide in these trees,
On twisted branches,
In hollowed out trunks,
Poachers and miners,
Poets and artists,
Flourish and fall,
Ink stains of mystics,
Fade in fast running brooks,
Cloaked by the morning mist.
The veins of wintered trees,
Cling on to remnants of golden brown tear drops,
Falling across miles of forest tracks,
Pockmarked by ditches and industry scars,
Bookmarked by sculptures ,
And stained glass forests.
We are waiting for the waking of spring,
And as time trips by the forest fills,
With walkers and runners and cyclists,
Families and dogs,
To breathe in this magical air,
With the backing of bird song,
And water flowing through underground stream,
The clap of wood pigeon wing,
And the call from a lone crow,
While the boar and the deer stay distant,
Til we pack up and go home,
And the stars come alive,
On this Forest of Dean
Tree talk by Alison Brackenbury
We hear two kinds of trees. One cannot stay,
like wayward ashes of the railway,
which uproot sheds, are felled, judiciously.
But how their sleek leaves pour! They are the sea.
Beeches remain. Wind-rushed, their rich ranks roar.
Head down, in hill-top tunnels from his door,
a bitter man, who strains to bend like these,
would be at one. Beeches are angry trees.
Massed pines, Victorians’ darlings, whisper stories.
I do not share their narratives of glories.
Yet mouse-squeaks silver them, small goldcrest words.
The tender cords of great trees’ throats are birds.
Step in a storm-struck shell, the hollow yew,
its rose fruits dewed when Saxon gold burned new.
Upon its smoked red bark, rain’s volleys come,
black sprays throb water. You vibrate, time’s drum.
But fear the woods’ late stillness in July,
when sudden dusk has drowned each finch or fly.
No leaves love us. Go now! Or, glancing round,
you hear your future, with no trees, no sound
Dream by Mori Leadbetter, age 9
Blow in the breeze,
Glint in the sun,
Making life fun.
Though it seems
That every tree dreams,
They awaken us with their brisk breeze.
Wild Garlic – in woods by Noeleen Fasolilli
Who would have thought on such a find?
Of carpet white and sceptre crowned,
Filtered light through praiseful hands,
And mighty boughs protecting lands,
And there you were white blossom aired,
Above bowing gowns in regal stare,
A fragrance strong nostalgic there,
And simmered warmth and comfort care,
Why hidden in a valleyed ear?
Where none might see fragrance revered,
That I should find amazed to be,
And join the homage owed to thee,
A two-hold motive in his hands,
Beauty, warmth on this our land
Leaf Mould by Chris Hanvey
My fork lances easily through layered mould,
smelling of mushrooms and damp.
Piercing the silver torn leaves
Like invoices on an accountant’s spike.
Soggy, as if well-thumbed newspaper,
falling open to the prong’s probing.
Or half-burnt books,
writhing in flames
And piled high on rioters’bonfires.
I think of the oak, hornbeam and willow.
Their leaves gently falling.
And if not heard making no noise?
And truffles under oak trees,
snouted out by wooly pigs.
And far deeper underground, the press of forests,
Dug out to burn brightly in domestic hearths.
Jagged, glistening black rock that glazes the hands
as hard as leaf mould is soft and crumbling
The Leaf Warbler by Phil Madden
At first solely sound.Unseen in deep green.
Maybe a day to settle for whimsy.
Pretending the tree has learnt all the songs.
But then flit and then perch.
Blood shadow of silhouette.
And then new flit and perch. Full frontal now.
Sun struck, it sings.
Arpeggio orgasm of quivering trill.
Whole body shudder. Whole body thrill.
Heartwood by Kathy Miles
These pages: long unopened, a flimsy crackle
of leaves that tense against the spine,
ochred from the shop’s forgotten shelves.
A sinter of melded forests, how fragile
it is, how brittle. I should know better,
and yet unfold the book against its will.
And the perfect binding breaks,
snapped back like a sprung lock.
Poems lose their bearings, go racing
round the room like scattered birds.
There is no map for trees. But held
in the memory, perhaps a twist of bough
that marks the lane where you
turn again to your own place.
Held in the threnody of wind,
in the starlings’ hefted code.
Each twig and latticed branch
tuned to the rook’s sharp compass,
the geodesy of a blackbird’s eye.
So hold them while you can.
Feel that woody hug, smell sugary sap,
let their cells mutate your flesh
into leaves and bitter acorns.
Enter the trunk. Count whorls and rings,
peel back the door of bark. Step inside.
And see how a black hole opens up,
sucks you into the heartwood,
down past taproot and bedrock
to the iron-nickel core, where landscapes
are forming in an artery of fire,
and a kenning is forged
from the glowing trope of furnace.
Leaking Drips of Learning by Stephen Wren
It was always in the wood’s company
Birches and elders were book ends, Hazels
the arms of my favourite bench
Earthy, earthly existences subdued
by heavenly beams of amaranth. Rose-red,
feral and not forgetting
But, primed always
Showers of not knowing
Thoughts about the why
passed between each tree like bullets
Terracotta and grey and less banal
Twins with me in the Square – with placenta
leaking drips of learning
All About Trees By Sumi Leadbetter age 7
Trees are blowing all around,
Trees are moving with every sound,
Birds are having babies,
Squirrels are having them too,
Trees are homes for animals and bugs,
From the mighty Oak to the evergreen Yew.
How to Grow an Apple Tree by Esme Blue age 7
the pip from the pith
of an apple
is early food for it to germinate
and shoot upwards
with its root shooting downwards
stem likes good
warm moist earth
for growing well
for growing blossom
into blossomy, juicy
caring I watch carefully …
In Elkin Wood by Dave Holmes
In Elkin wood
Beneath the trees
And exposed our knees
A gentle breeze
Sent a quiver
Atop the trees
as we amazedly
did I just say tory
Bagels with cheese
Boiled eggs and ham
Who gives a damn
Boris lets us out
An extra spike
Indoors we’ll stay
Stay where you are
The hospitals can’t
Deal with your care
We’ve had a good day out
More rules to flout
Crataegus by Dean Brindley
I find you faery tree
Standing unplanted and alone
on the green bank where gypsies camped
Garlanded and wrapped around with stones,
shielding the spring that slips out from the dell
Life giver, taker away of life
Into your bark I push
this needle from the collar of my coat
Allow it to conduct the hate that tears
the fabric of my darkling soul
Port-way to the otherworld
Hold my hope, my outstretched arms
I fear you and I will protect you
Three times ‘round the circle walk
And each step closer to your bole
I close my eyes that I can see
Into your bark I push
this needle from the collar of my coat
Allow it to conduct the hate that tears
the fabric of my darkling soul
Willow Feels the Chill of Winter by Raine Geoghegan
Sharp frost fills the air. The ground hardens.
Stripped of colour like the sky, you shed your leaves and weep.
As you turn inwards, Merkstave crawls into your trunk while the earth groans.
You are more stone than bark.
Once you gave refuge to wolves. They leapt into your branches, slept at your feet, listened to Odin’s footsteps,
He who wandered through the woods, bearded, one-eyes. When he lay down at night the wolves licked his hands.
Is this what you long for?
Merkstave – Runic word for confusion
Pinkish white path by Sheila Salway
Waving trees in the sun
Pinkish white path
Create patches that quiver
the earth`s ribs
In the woods by Ruth Esther Gilmore
Hear, I say to myself, hear,
hear, the raindrops falling,
feel the moisture rising.
How many times will you
hear the rain
on fallen leaves?
How many times will you
feel the moisture
on risen dreams?
Hear, I say to myself, hear,
hear, the time falling,
feel the change rising.
Every time goes through a change,
but every risen change
has its own time.
When time rises over change,
there is a change
that falls through time.
Prayer by Carol Howarth
under Scots Pine,
a hundred feet deep,
sky a watery blue,
flecks of white vapour swirl
flock of starlings submerge
on green and blue
windows to the mind.
trunk deeply scored,
years measured by rings of time;
rustling anxiety as storms approach,
high winds whip branches
into a symphony of sound,
thick branches submit, sway,
birdsong breaks the silence,
a robin trills,
the distant thrum of a woodpecker,
in this cathedral.
Woodland Harmony by ADS
Even the birds seemed hushed, as
I wandered on familiar well-worn ways.
Memories interlinking, overlapping,
Under a light canopy of leafy trees.
Soft shadows on sun splashed paths,
Arrayed in gently flickering patterns.
Interlaced images in a wooded glade,
Tranquil meanderings, light and shade.
Waiting by Kader Sevinç
Stray dogs are waiting,
night is almost asleep.
Wind is sweeping sidewalks
night is now torn apart.
grass of sleep is on the move.
The moon is nowhere around.
Buildings are sulking.
Pen is waiting for paper,
row boats for a kiss.
I am walking towards your forest.
Your smile is the earth’s lashes, a novel page under rain.
The moon is still lurking somewhere
Trees are waiting.
Rocks are waiting.
A day of festivity that echoes
with the songs of dead birds.
The Leaving by Michael Forester
When the marsh wind sighed and the hare’s tail swayed and waved,
And the valley sang a soft soliloquy in requiem.
I did not see the mist hang low upon the brook bed’s broken back
or watch the roe buck toss indifferent antlers at my memory.
“Why?” asked a sullen gorse flower.
But the question was rhetorical.
“Why now?” the field mouse added, singing solo to the rustling oak leaf chorus.
The ponies think themselves the masters of their destiny,
but merely play at freedom til the Drift.
I had no more choice than they.
I turned my back and drove away, branding the ground with temporary tyre tread.
And the Forest brushed my dust from off her feet.
Through the Woods by Graeme Sandford
When travelling through the woods,
and, if you happen to see a flicker of flame
from a fire there,
and continue upon your way-
trolls are not friendly
they’ll eat you
as soon as look at you,
and if they do look at you
they are just sizing you up
to see what sort of a meal you will make.
please take care
if you are wandering there.
A Swarm of Stars over the Autumn Woods by Steve Geliot
A silver light is ringing through the high pines,
A soft tinitus,
Sweet as a lover’s kiss,
Tender fingers of light
Running down the tall trunks,
Chiming in the leaves strewn beneath,
Forming a waist high halo in the bracken.
Close at first,
Then the slow building swish
Gliding through the canopy,
Filling invisible sails,
All of them straining momentarily,
Major Oak by Jennie Turnbull
We could not circle its girth, alone
and ancient in the corner of the playground,
but we knew its worth. It furnished us
with dolls’ teacups and soup bowls balanced
on saucers of stone, shed fans of green
fingers and elfin heads in bobble hats, a currency
kinder than conkers. It was temptation
to small tarzans, a safe home for hide and
seek, and a perfect base for tig. Later
we learned of Robin Hood and Charles II, of
hollow secrets and lofty fear, discovered
wartime coffee and oak leaf wine, drank
our first legal halves in the Royal
across the road, emerged at closing time
silly and in love. Simple then
to swing up into its outstretched
arms, carve hearts and initials
into forgiving bark. We had
the future at our feet: this precious woodland
path which, heedless of its many gifts, pounding
out our daily run, we trample underneath.
Woodland Bathing by Anne Steward
Rise early in May, June, July…
Leave footprints in wet grass, in hoof-steps of shy deer,
Under flickering canopies of woods, aged and new.
It’s good to take time to know we belong.
Listen to arias of blackbirds, full throated thrushes,
Fine duels of robins just maybe a cuckoo, and always a dove.
An impromptu performance of fine-feathered choirs.
Let the sweetness of hawthorn, meadow-sweet, nettle flowers,
Bathe you to calm.
Rise early in March while grass is still frosted,
And mist slips among birch boles like memories of dreams.
Look up to the pale skies
Through fine-drawn tracery of stripped-naked trees.
Look back at your footprints.
There’s a moment of time to show we were there.
A wood brings us back to where we began
Security by Richard Hawtree
When woodland slips whatever you ask
into her lilt of birch and broad oak tree
don’t seize her, offer a second chance –
make leaf light your security.
The Grassy Plain by Dona Pratnekar
Ah, coolness lays on the plain
and dusk beckons me to a chase game
to run ‘twix its sleek tails of grass
all barefooted, naked and wild
Oh the mossy ground of forest pines
here we stand under rainy skies
and dreamy clouds chased by the winds
hint of long forgotten things
Ah sweet coolness of the plain
with sleek mists and weedseeds stuck to my name
hidden creek churns under the rock
its endless voice an echoing song
Oh sweet stillness of the night
with whispered tales and unseen life
Dance of wisps, to me so dear
in my cloak of feathers I disappear
Regrowth by Sean Smith
The winter sun slinks low,
its light shaded by grey garden walls.
The trees turn, green bleeds into red and
the cherry tree, blossom long since wind-kissed,
covers its leaves in grave dust,
a memorial shroud to those pink pollen days.
The world turns.
Lemon yellow leaves, jaundiced with age,
flicker bright and drop in a carpet of burnt orange
whose flames sterilise the mountain side.
And in the blackened embers, two green shoots,
lift themselves from a blanket of ashes
and wrap a new season in their embrace.
Painted Trees by Frances Knott
Someones been in the Garden and painted all the trees
I`m not sure if it’s Elves or Fairies
I know it wasn’t me.
They have painted all the trunks a lovely shade of gold
and given all the leaves a multi coloured coat.
There is pink, red, orange and blue
The only colour missing is the one I would have painted too.
I love the colour purple and everything I own is in different shades of purple
Even my lavender scones…
Hundred Year Old Tree by Darinka (Dinks) Radovanovic
You were always a need, never a want
A necessity, as food and water
But now feel the need is greater
As life itself and people come and go
You don’t judge, you don’t hurt, or say no
You are part of my seed, my spirit, my emotional growth
Love to lay down, intertwined with mother earth and the blade
Imagine your roots beneath me, nurturing, protecting, energising
You are the constant , always there,as cotton around its reel
I speak, you listen
A calmness, a stillness surrounds and stays
Look up towards your lush green canopy
As it changes into a feathering shawl
Your arms spread out invitingly, with beckon
As the beat of you meets the beat of me
Fingertips touching , connect
Feel the roughness of your garment
Don’t want to let you go
You are a capture, my capture
As the lens holds you in time
Unremembered Woods by Diane Jackman
The names come from myth:
Pignut Spinney, warm and brown.
Hangingstone Rocks, black and carmine fissures.
The Outwoods, brilliant with bluebells.
My father rambled and scrambled
through trees and over rocks as a boy,
with Ernie Brewin of the crumpled ear.
His new mother spilt candlewax on his head.
My mother courted among the bluebells
dropped the flask of tea on a parched Sunday.
Not the only thing that made
the afternoon so memorable.
The children in our street,
“Are you coming up Hangingstone?”
Bikes, Corona, sandwiches in greaseproof.
I was never allowed.
Sixty years on, from my distant home,
I’ve pinpointed the names on a map.
I shall go on pilgrimage before I die,
see for myself at last.
The Screaming Tree by Clive Grewcock
When planning the route for a walk, the best explanation is given by highlighting a landmark. A distinctive tree that has become known as ‘The Screaming Tree’ is one particular point of reference. Notable for the gaping hollow in its trunk that leans back as though shouting up to the heavens.
Standing alone in the woodland, creeping
Too close to the path while shouting disdain
At anyone catching his eye. Swearing at you,
You would swear he watches your very direction
To make sure you keep moving along.
Guarding his wooded hollow, with wide yawn Scream
At passers bye like a shout from Edvard Munch.
“How dare you!”
It’s not surprising he’s standing alone,
Those of a weaker character have been scared away.
The contorted Screaming Tree stands guard in
His overgrown hollow, surrounded by jagged nettles
And sharp edged bottles kicked at his feet.
They say trees speak with fellow flora through
An underground language of twisted roots.
The howling mouth silently screams at the disturbing
Sights he senses from the damp centre of his creation.
Angered by age, this elder protests gentle ways are
Seldom heard. Shouting from frustration for us to hear.
Fresh saplings flutter their confetti leaves in the breeze,
To the disgust of interrupting this ancient primal scream.
Angry at a loss of solitude grown from the first fallen seed.
I Think This Tree is Smiling – Thomas Keating-Jones age 9, written up an oak tree
I think this tree is smiling
With the light of the sunshine warming up its tiny new green leaves
I also feel like smiling
as the sun washes away the darkness in our hearts
I think that tree is smiling
With happiness and joy, as I look through a window where the cherry blossoms danced in the wind
Time is passing
I think my tree is smiling
As he knows his role in the world
I can feel its strong branches
It can feel my tiny hands
I am up in its canopy hidden from the lockdown world
My view is special and just for me
I think this tree is smiling
Smiling straight at me
I feel like smiling
I feel free.
Seed, Whip, Sapling by Ian Royce Chamberlain
Children of the forest reach
for parents’ dangling fingers
straighten slim as needles
point to where the sky is hiding
climb the seasons, stretch
to be the tallest in the under-jungle
up and up against the tallest odds
to show their faces to the sun.
But for those who never make it –
deer-stripped, uprooted, trodden down –
there is a kind acceptance as the forest
takes them back into its heart
to lie among the still-born and the beaten
blanketing the next generation.
The Call of The Oak Tree by Elizabeth Holt
Hear my rallying call,
People of this land.
Be in awe of
The majesty of my history.
I have witnessed great joy,
And boundless sorrow,
In equal measure.
I play the generous host to mistletoe.
My own fruit nourishes
Small creatures and men alike:
Take the acorn from its tiny cup,
Pound it to make flour,
Or bury it and forget
So that I might re-birth.
I have borne restless men across sea-miles,
Carried home the spoils of conflict,
Nestled within my wide arms.
I have sheltered would-be kings
Escaping from the field of battle,
And commoners who would rob from the rich
To give to the poor.
Hear the drums of war and clash of my staves.
I have seen battle,
My strong body bent
To form sleek, hard crescents,
Releasing waves of sharp arrows
To pierce metal; freeing men’s souls
From their too-fragile bodies.
I have lived for a thousand years
And live on still,
My wracked frame
Supported with metal trunks,
Yet my mighty heart beats on.
Hear me once again, my people,
And know yourselves through me.
Harbinger of Harvest or Pandemic Spread by Jules K Blue
At the silent, soft, dim light of dawn,
a drift of breeze blew across the lawn;
an apple fell
and all hell
a complicit glint of green-gold burned
a sparked path through the sepia-shaded
furore of foliage,
exploding on the ground
only to fall back to recover the fallen fruit;
a stunned dun toad jumped,
birds burst dumbstruck and disappeared
beyond the reaches of disturbed branches;
wherever the apple rolled
it crushed like a wrecking ball
and stole the former peace and dignity
of orchard repose,
for an eternity.
Before, Mind by Martha Iris Blue
a world hidden from everything
sleeps silent –
I am kaleidoscopic
patterned delicate, petal-like – but
I am hidden like winging moths in camouflage
if I hear a soft rustle then what?
I see silver shades of a Hunter’s Moon,
and birds blurring into yellows and oranges
drained from emotion
here are dark depths of thought
now there are warmer winds –
the first sign of the circle of doom that hurts with its spoon,
sweeping this forest like a broom into a room
of rest, dark-like –
like a nest from the top height of a naked tree
still, it still waits for me
stark, skeleton-esque trees, bony in their leafless look,
hang in stony shock, seem to lean against the whey-grey skyline
a second sign
where has this second Autumn come from-
are we sinking deeper…?
a lower sun descends, what has begun?
darkness opposite the light of summer turns again itself from dark,
and old waters mingle together in a wet spectrum of glow
sun still melts spiders’ webs and dew invisible. But the light is new …
we are plunging into this unfamiliar muddle of death-
today I looked out from my window,
hemmed in by desolate tall angry townscapes, tallasgiants,
that cast unmovingshadows which roar like constant trains,
and I am foregroundstuck,
surrounded by distanced crowds of coldupsetbusying people, scurrying like rustles of litter.
I mingle like the wind but leave no footprints here.
I will remember it, too.
The Harmony of Familiarity by Aurora Blue Age: 11
some autumn thoughts
are like flown birds,
my own-grown garden birds
are crisp webs crisping leaves dry
joining a web of familiarity
are making temporary homes
as life repeats itself year after year
are coming around again and again,
foraging a new cadence
are growing underground and waiting,
borrowing from acrobatic tunnel spiders
are slowing up like tight-rope walkers and climbers
on webbed ladders to
the harmony of familiarity
The Naked Man Tree by Stefan Markovski
I want to
I want to
I want to
I want to
I want to
I want to touch
The tree of my life
Wild strawberry, colored
Turned upside-down like a planet
When sweet autumn leaks its sugars
I’ll unbind my senses when they get touched.
After the very first touch by a human hand
My illustrious naked tree of Mount Kožuf
Turns upside-down and suddenly falls
To all the other solo trees there
Just like the planet
Or my dreams.
Lone but Vibrant Tree in the Field by Pepi Stamkov
I’ve been driving my car up the hill,
nothing shall, must or will.
But a vibrant tree in the field.
A long ride, accompanied by no one,
a voice in my head cheering: “Go on!“
Hours went by, leaves dry and crunching,
with a blink of an eye, rockets are launching.
In the galaxy.
In outer space.
In a place.
“Is the light playing tricks on me?“
Heard someone say, sat next to me.
“Who are you, interrupting me?“ I protest,
“Looking at me, postured like a grotesque.”
“I am scared, I shall exist in your mind.” he proclaimed,
Being weird, a curious character my mind obtained.
Let’s have a chat, my mind and yours,
the mind power going on world tours.
We’ll smile, joke, jive and laugh,
And be the best in our craft.
“What’s the craft?“ I asked with delight.
“Just being us, enjoying the sunlight.“
“Let’s go!“ he remarked,
I followed him, had my territory marked.
We saw the stars, we saw the sky,
the light, the dark, each and every sigh.
Curious as was I,
Gonna ask a question on time.
“Why is there a fire here?”
Through murmur, he said:
“That was the lone but vibrant tree in the field.”
Big Ben by Alex Lombardo
Broken chords sing discordant tunes over twice the speed of sound like a jet plane.
It’s bright but I shiver a rush starting in the back of arms racing through the shoulder blades.
We’re alive at least, it could be worse, the best is yet to come. Break the silent pond let the goldfish breath,
give the morning its voice, the day has begun. The door is open, a cold gush
of air rushes upstairs and comes down with boyish charms.
The monster truck needs fixing, it won’t
work, time to solder, change batteries, replace aerials. Our directive is clear, look after number one,
it’s not too difficult to have fun in the good weather thank God. It’s a monopoly, with natural vulnerability,
a good time to preserve the cherished childhood moments. I go to the other side for you,
when you hold my hand we step over the stream deep in the bluebell wood when all I want to do is go home.
We sat by the sinking mud and stones as water rushed through my ears,
it takes away the hurt of village confrontation and I am a child again in my father’s hand.
It’d been a tough day and while we searched the water lilies in the pond for goldfish, shoals surfaced, the big one we named, Ben,
when we’re both ready to come back, you’ll have been to the other side and know what to do, when the broken parable sings.
The Tree in My Garden by Marina Ikonomova Shokeva
Your branches bowing, kissing the Earth,
Yet, full of dignity.
S? strong, reliable, down-to earth ,
Like an experienced sage,
Still with your head in the clouds,
Aspiring, dreaming, shivering.
Your balance gives me stamina.
I feed my soul with your simple harmony,
I feed my body with your grace.
My teacher, my lover, my friend.
Life giver, healer, adviser.
I warm my heart, hugging your stem
I calm my mind ,lulling in your crown.
Most of all, I learn a lot –
That standing in one spot
One can still get very far.
Comforted by your side, in your noble shade
My heart sings quietly, full of love, full of joy:
Thank you, thank you, thank you.
The Arborist by Simon Cockle
She’s climbing a tree
or is it the tree climbing her?
Unruly child, the limbs
stretch to meet each new limb.
Her roots will hold
in a winter storm
but summer cannot contain
the fuel that keeps the bonfires lit.
Ancient bark, a sleeve for young sap
and the tunic of leaves,
reaching for the sun.
Who will get there first?
I Still Remember by Morgan Johnson
Glancing at the sky,
with the sun shining high.
ecstatic memories and secrets shared,
still in reminiscence of how much I cared,
and your hazel eyes at which I stared.
Perfect photo of us sitting in the grass,
and you chugging lemonade in the glass.
Cheer and giggles captivate the air,
with the bracelets we used to wear,
but now our encounters are very rare.
Always and forever we used to say,
but that is until you walked away.
Now clouds cover the sunlight up there,
betrayal and deceit is everywhere,
just an old memory that I don’t go near.
Bluebell by Sarah-Jane Crowson
The massed scent is heavy,
like damask roses smelled through rain.
Bluebells waterfall the steep ridge,
called out by coppices, lit
by stitchwort constellations.
If picked, their petals bruise from lavender
to lapis, like dreams where we lose ourselves
in woods, wake up curled
and semi-precious, a glinting lizard,
pangolin, or snake. We leaf out,
furred with moss, nested, the forest
floor our feather bed.
Used for setting feathers upon arrows
and to cure snake-bite.
Flower of grief and mourning,
Of Libra, under Venus
The Way Through The Woods Rebuilt by Richard Stephenson
They shut the road through the woods
(taken from Kipling’s Way Through The Woods)
They shut the road through the woods
Aye and tore the trees down too
Once home to badger and Bird
To make a home for me and you
When they shut the road through the woods
They didn’t think of the Badgers set
Or where the ring dove builds a nest
To give us the best home we could get
Once a road through the woods
Now a street of brick and tar
And the horse of the old ways
A replaced by the family car
They shut the road through the woods
To build a world for you and I
But for the beauty of the woods
They never stopped to ask why.
Burnt Orange on Green by David Babatunde Wilson
Lighting tall trees
Undersides of leaves
Hollow Ways by Peter Roe
In cloth of ochre the trees stand sway
Beside the hidden ancient way
A sunken path from days of old
Cut from the earth in blocks of gold
This secret place before too long
Will swell with the voice of evensong
As Nature calls her children home
From their quest for food where’re they roam
This change of guard at fading light
Is done this way by Nature’s rite
And creatures of the night hold sway
Till comes the light at break of day
Wandering Forest by Tiziano Fratus
Tiziano was one the Festival’s visiting Versopolis poets in 2017
is a forest
living inside me,
a sung and endless silence,
streams flowing and animals that run.
I don’t know who I am, the voice is repeating,
I don’t know who I am. Yet I feel there is this world of
fine weaving living in a place without any border,
here, in my chest, in my heart, in my mind.
It settles in my hours of sleep and feeds
my hours of thought. This is why
when I go back to a real forest
I feel like I want to scream,
to love as a mother who
doesn’t discern a son
from another son
I am a forest
who walks, a forest
who roots in and
The Unruliness of Trees by Susan Wigmore
I had always rather liked the tree
that marked one corner boundary of your plot.
Limited in ambition, suburban in nature – yes –
but jaunty in demeanour. A catwalk tree
a tree with attitude, my mother would have said.
Stewartia sinensis rosata, a name with which to grapple.
But you ignored its Latin stylishness,
its dog rose flowers flushed the sweetest pink,
the drunken bees, soundtrack to a summer’s day,
and damned those leaves red as a child’s crayon
for their falling and ruffling the precision of your lawn.
It mattered not that Kubla Khan fed on honeydew
when its stickiness turned a sooty black
on windows and car bonnets, and roots
no doubt undermined with stealth unnatural
the foundations of your very house itself.
So I place flowers now with sorrow but no surprise
on your plot as far away from trees as you could lie;
I know how much you would like the reassuring
crunch of gravel, the neatness of the path.
Tree of Winter by Natasha Sardzoska
Cold fire in the forest
Rough rinds on the edge of this window
I see: I burst shivering without thinking
in a burning inter-zone
that restores me
and glows and wriggles
my bones my womb
and yelps without my name
without your recognition.
A fish from a northern sea
You give me
a grasp of wheat and
you spit a bit of wine in my mouth
You are my race
on my feet
Than Trees by Simeon Jr. Dumdum
Love we may call what is greater than trees
Because it rises much taller than trees
They sit before a little waterfall
And they to me appear bigger than trees
I’m on a bridge standing across from them
They see nothing of me other than trees
Because love does strange things to gravity
They must be flying now higher than trees
Because what grows has a voice of its own
But love can be so much louder than trees
Because their love will last beyond their time
The mortal lovers live longer than trees
But then most things end with the afternoon
Whose light has brought the dark closer than trees
They walk towards me who must move away
And find another place farther than trees
Because your love now bids me come home, calling,
“Simeon,” and to me you’re dearer than trees.
What the Japanese boy told me by Janet Wright
The Japanese boy
loved winter’s leafless branches:
A few days’ rain by Al Verey
A few days’ rain
After a bleak month
And the hollow land
Cannot slake its thirst.
The rivulets through the wood
Still run dry.
I hide under a beech
Listen to the river
Watch the lozenge leaves
As if a piano hammer
Were arbitrarily striking out some
My Sycamore Tree by Jonathan Clark
I was six. It was my sycamore tree.
To scale its branches, looked so huge to me.
Skywards glance up this towering staircase,
My beanstalk step to my secret cloud space.
First step, first branch, first base beyond reach,
A nearby wheelbarrow gives giant leap.
Unlikely springboard to new woodland home,
I wheel and tip and start a cautious climb.
The makeshift ladder with it’s snake’s legs tilts,
As lean to slips and I’m arse over tit.
Tumbling, spinning, like a sycamore seed
Returned with a bump oh how I’d been tree’d.
A broken wrist from my sycamore tree
So no more climbing, stick to poetry.
The Oldest Oak by Susan Mobbs
On every bank a scatter of primroses among drowsy cowslips
jewel violets under hedges, while stitchwort stars the tall grass.
Today the oldest oak is crowned with green, welcoming another spring.
This tree has seen a thousand dewy April mornings
with clouds of blackthorn blossom and the green haze on hawthorn.
The little river runs eastward to the sea, the fields beside
have long felt the hand of man, they left the tree to fate and let it grow
now its crooks and hollows shelter owls, wood-mice a sinuous polecat.
Touch the fissured skin to feel the rooted pull of the earth
lift your head, you are with new leaves open to the sky.
The Sentry By Nicholas Soar
Each Saturday morning the boy took himself off
From his village house to the bridge over the stream.
At the midpoint, on the rise overlooking the
Meandering, tumbling shallow gushes below
A grand sycamore tree’s roots opened and
Gripped in a fist a great split sandstone boulder.
The boy wondered often whether the roots were crushing
The rock or holding its cleaved strata in tension.
Boulder and bark loom, almost falling onto the knot
Of the rising tarmac track. In this tense, vice-clutching
The roots remember the passing of Roundhead
Cavalry troops; of quiet carriage of new lambs; of lovers
Kissing and drunken orchard-pickers fighting; the slow
Trot of mares and hounds and flashes of crimson. Root-knowing:
A memory hive of the great meadow fire underneath and
Flooding salting and silting; and the now reckless new rush
Of metal and rubber and glass hurtling passed, past.
The roots feel the beat of the boy’s walk, his steps,
His whistling like the wind from the north that surrounds again, again
But he does not hear the rock-bound roots speak to roots
Below, between, the insulated soil murmurings, secreting words
Through rhizomes: mycelia to mycelia – an internet of fungal shivering
In the dew below the grand 30 metres of leaves, trunk and pendant samaras.
First Breath of the Morning by Jenny Rhoderick
Heavy moss fills the air
Thick, but beckoning,
Dew lingers well after the suns awakening,
Mist rises- the earth breathes
as the warm sun, wakes up the trees
Little wrens, chirp and flit around
As the dew drop clusters, hit the ground,
Tiny critters, seem in a hurry
So busy working
Across bark, they scurry
A feast for my eyes
A hug for my skin
My heart is nurtured, by the trees I am seeing
My soul breathes in this woodland wonder
As the earth is woken by her nurturing mother.
Sonnet for a Primal Wood by Daril Bentley
This is the light and these the leaves despair
had been had Adam woke to no one there.
Little has changed in this garden since that.
We inhabit this lonely cage of bones
dug from clay and set upon Ararat
to teach the earth the meaning of its stones.
We are not dense core but the tender air
brought forth through the ages from the forest
that traces to the tree of Eve’s great dare.
Our flesh, however pure, will not have rest
in this paradise of impermanence
that pins a leaf against the clothes we wear.
We can but show the source due deference
and work to earn a world our sires thought flat.
Found by Five Cram
This forest dreams in decades,
details vanish – the flash of mountain
bikes, gangs of hiking teenagers:
events here are seasons, growth,
sifting decay, the random attack
of storms – who’s next to topple?
Drift of autumn confetti lays
booby traps over tarry mud,
beetle totters doggedly onward,
crazed ploughing scars of boar,
ticklish skittering of squirrel claws,
tiny fungus like stretched skin,
beneath the gracious majesty of trees.
Lost among giants, dissolved in vastness,
I breathe freely, heart lifted,
thoughts evaporate in edgeless space:
absence I can be truly present in.
My Blossom Tree by Deanna El Khoury
My Blossom Tree saw better days:
when I would run through woods’ walkways
under rays of beating sunlight.
I watched you on star-studded nights,
green shoots became My Blossom Tree
your limbs watched as I sipped my tea
the sky’s colours swirl wild and free.
Peace broke as builders yelled and drilled;
the sky darkened with each grey cloud.
I stood with you, our bodies tense
but time can’t steal sweet memories:
light meals of cake and raspberries;
a wedded kiss beneath your arms.
Love ran out yet you, you were there
throughout long years of red and gold
They told me you’re diseased. Too old.
We wrestle winter’s cold without
my wife. The kids never visit.
I will never let them part us
If they take you down, I will go down too.
A Woodland Tale by Ellis Charlesworth
Upon the fronds of bracken i tread
Through the deep dark world of the woodland bed.
Tis in this place as black as ink
I dare not make my eyes to blink.
Among the gnarled old trunks and branches
A hundred mocking leering faces.
Tho fleet of foot and soft i tread
On i go,deep through the glade
My arboreal world of dark and shade
Moving through the understorey
I realise that for me there is no retreat
For here my destiny i shall meet.
So when next you come these woods to roam
Mine is the face ye shall meet!!!
Nan Tuck’s Lane by Mike Bell
Over Buxted, into folklore,
our sniggered-search for Nan Tuck,
the ghost of those woodlands,
a crone, flown from The Uck.
We set out as useless hunters,
on her kindling-carpeting,
the coppice of nervous laughter,
with hid fears half-echoing:
‘A dearth of any wildlife,
where Nan Tuck’s spirit waits’,
but we disturbed a leaping deer,
and were stabbed by beaked complaints.
No fearsome witch, no spells,
no cackle, no dark arts,
but stepping back onto tarmac,
we walked calmer down that path.
Argan by Nisha Bhakoo
The fleshy fruit of my body
is tender. Jolted
by the dehydrated roads
I lick the strawberry laces
in a wilting hand.
Distraction, in sugar.
I find it also on the other side
of the bus’s splintered window –
Goats perched on branches
the stoic tree blurs
out of eyesight.
Even wild bees seek its time.
The fatty liquid
in the cracked nuts
of this crooked tree,
is adored worldwide.
It bewitches saucepans,
soothes hungry mouths.
Eases tough locks
in oily lullaby.
How does the Argan tree
keep its ego in check,
when its slender branches
drip in goats and gold?
In a Forest Thin With Cold by Jamie Alcock
In a forest thin with cold
you sing just for the singing,
voice the space between trees.
But for the fallen snow
nothing would mark
Erumpent Ochre Leaves by @poetroza de la Roza
Once verdant panels succulent with life, now kindled and suffused into dormancy by yawning Nature and Cosmic migration soon complete.
Radiant bursts bearing thick of pyre trees, blazing boughs aloft vestige trunks, the soft ambience of senescence ushering Summer to Fall.
Erumpent ochre leaves of Autumn: tawny, saffron, amber and auburn. Sun’s lapsing emittance stages ageing foliage with a gilt glow.
Now, we are witness to deciduous blessings as fiery umbrage sheds, igniting pavement and tarmac beneath sodden embers.
Ponderously I gaze upon the phenomenon of dissolution; nowhere is it more precise, more ephemeral than in this marriage –
Of Cosmic splendour and Gaea’s rhythmic flush. A flowing panoply of colours discovered within each enveloping season, steadily guiding us, evanescently, onwards.
In response to the question “what is your favourite tree?” by David Ashbee
What does the forest rampant,
the comical spinney, the humble copse,
think of celebrity trees –
the ones that have their names in glossy tomes ?
Do they thank the Pulpit Oak and Gospel Oak
for spreading the good news,
The Testament of Trees,
respect them for their longevity,
for putting oaks on the map ?
Or are they as curmudgeonly as me,
resenting the cult of tree personality,
grumbling “what have they got that we haven’t got? –
a King could have hidden in any of us.”
I like the herd instinct, the Commonwealth of Trees,
I like how every mob seen from a hill’s triangulation stone
is moving towards me like Birnam Wood.
I like being ushered in to the trees’ discotheque,
to stroll around touching them one by one
as the wind rhythms build.
No favourites should be any teacher’s motto.
Trunks en masse is my manifesto.
Let them thrive without a leader.
It’s recently been discovered
that they talk to themselves
through green underground networks.
It’s good to know that nature has a landline..
The Million by Shelby Cartwright
Reaching out from the ground
Twisted Birch and Pine creak in the wind
The green grass littered with wild flower
Blue faces, unmarked Hyacinths, barely sing
They pave the path for the many lost hours
Shared with bramble, stone and shins
On Sunday mornings we’d wander there,
Searching for secrets contained within
Army green Land Rover, a fierce metal box
Up high, I’d stare out at the brown blur
Trees, soil, manmade fence, imagined fox
The healing properties of the bark
The bird song in the gentle wind
Whether wren, woodpecker or lark
You would identify as they sing
We haven’t walked for years across
That beaten, trodden path
Discovered, there was a buzz,
they came in droves
I was Aghast
Now we only walk there in the
Bleak sunshine of my mind
Reserved for days I need the nirvana
That only wild Bluebells bring –
Trinkets of a much simpler time.
Hem Heath Woods by Dean Bridley
There are no dead men
in Hem Heath Woods
spangle the path
brightening brown oaks
Burying the litter
while dog bags
decorate old trees
Birds move silently
Squirrels seek shelter
Beetles find beetles
Thick moist bark
A heavy green
catches errant winds
My Glorious Apple Tree by Elif Özgöçer
There was an Apple tree down by the river.
An enrapturing scene, where grandpa picked apples for me.
I smelled the kitchen from a mile,
‘Cause grandma turned them into her famous tarts in this small town.
Please, take me back to my Apple tree.
There was an Apple tree near the field of sunflowers,
I pinched myself million times to know this is real.
Father set a swing, mother was angry because I was afraid of bees.
Captured every moment in my mind just to play it when we leave.
Please, take me back to my Apple tree.
There was an Apple tree on my road to school.
In winter, I solemnly promised to a boy that we’re in love and always will be.
We sneaked in one night, made our first kiss and wished on a wishing star.
God knows where he’s now, hope he remembers me as clear as the sky was that night.
Please, take me back to my Apple tree.
There was an Apple tree all alone under blazing sun and sheltering rain.
Wore my ripped heart on my sleeve, cried with sky on my way home till I see.
With a woeful voice I asked: “Why people are full of hatred? They give me pain!”
There was no response, only falling leaves but I guess it didn’t know too.
Please, take me back to my Apple tree.
The day I see all of this cruel world & its cruel people, I’ll come back to the Apple tree.
My eyes will be sore and I will have nothing but my hollow soul.
I’ll take my last breath, the tree will be bestowed upon me for cherishing it,
They’ll lay me there silently and let me rest among the dead livings.
Under its shadow with lavender breeze, I’ll find my peace.
Sorry to interrupt the scenery in your mind,
I’m a dreamer, when I pinched myself I woke up in agony
Because the society has chosen skyscrapers instead of big trees
But I know my tree exist somewhere in this big mad world.
Who knows maybe I’ll walk someday and there’ll be an Apple tree
Which will whisper to me, dreams can come true if you believe
The Forest King by Alette Bernasconi
Your palace is heady with whispering,
As you, great monach, glory in the beams of the sun,
And I, strange and unmoored, move at your feet.
Your welcome is benign and your courtiers nod,
To each other, or to me, to the sun, or the rain.
Your palace is heady with whispering.
A palpable connect caresses the air and soil,
As alliances form, munitions transfer,
And I, strange and unmoored, watch at your feet.
Your Crown Prince stands proud and pays you homage,
Catching or snatching glitters of sun falling from you.
Your palace is heady with whispering.
You, giant in the world for whom time has a different measure,
Listen and give succour and strength,
And I, strange and unmoored, wonder at your feet.
So I leave your many webs and return to mine,
The complex communications that I know my place in better,
Your palace is full of harmonious whispering,
And I, less strange and less unmoored, learnt at your feet
Excerpt from “Master Trees” by Franca Mancinelli* , translated from the Italian by John Taylor
These creatures faithful to water will show you the way. As long as they resist, trails, nervures, still open up. You can follow their trembling traces.
Its roots are above ground. It grew them like branches. It didn’t protect them in the darkness. You don’t know how it breathes. And how many of its roots sink dizzyingly. But these that it has bared to death, these hardened veins on the surface, speak of its strength more than the foliage that it lifts up to the sky.
arrow for no hunt
mute tongue beaten by the wind
dark torch, landmark
of our lives with its hard
tattooed with stellar trails.
The Church of Trees by Sue Wallace-Shaddad
‘as though the heritage
of God was hidden in the branches
— Seán Hewitt, ‘Tree of Jesse’
Each tree reaches for heaven, sap rising,
confident it can grow, rooted deep
in the earth below.
Each bud a renewal, a promise of spring,
weathering sun and storm; each branch
a yardarm, holding true.
Each canopy spreading out in full sail,
a ship of whispering souls
leaning into the breeze.
Each arch blesses the path, casts a mosaic
on the forest floor, the dance of sunlight
through stained glass.
Each vault of green, a place to rest
where wind’s caress will shrive
my untold sins.
Maple by Tina Cole
If I had to choose
just one, it would be you Maple,
whose citrine branches conduct
an opera of green.
No soft focus
no need for cropping
to tame or frame your dazzling locus.
Olive skinned in Spring,
with wrinkle thin faced promises
that turn wily grimaces
into citrus smiles.
Later, pink-brown wheat freckled leaves,
like straw hats of childhood days
when plaits and ribbons
skipped a countdown to the August blaze.
A chameleon tree of shifting shades,
zingy lemon limes, chartreuse,
sage laced veins
that outshine dusty pines.
You know the old trick of alchemy,
that yearly turn of green to red and gold,
while glittering Gods play flicker games,
skitter shady repetitions.
I want a long song, to celebrate
your great beauty, to sing alongside
you in sisterly earth, keep the anchor
of our worth.
Lament for an Ash © Lizzie Ballagher
Leaves full of light,
leaves feathering & fanned
on finest paper stems
all light as the air
that blows between…
with rustling messages,
inscribed by summer winds
as sickness stalks you:
tar oozes from the cleft
of trunk & branch.
split your smoothness,
crack your bark.
No more your green ballet
on grey skies:
leaves darken, shrivel,
The canker grows.
Then must I fell
or burn you?
White Poplar by Patrick Osada
Way, way before the Marvel crew found fame,
true super-heroes, fabled sons of Gods
left signs on Earth of how they made their names —
appeared in verse composed by Hesiod.
Hercules wore a wreath of poplar leaves
to snatch away from Hades Cerberus,
his garland, white from sweat, so we believe —
his battle with that dog was vigorous.
White poplar now wears leaves with one side green,
their underside of white in winds will show
like the wreath of the hero of our dreams,
fresh from his labours, many years ago.
Breeze in white poplar whispers down the lane :
soft sounds from canopy like ghosts or rain…
Hesiod, poet, contemporary of Homer.
The Water That Beckons Me In by Adam Davies
The water that beckons me in,
Laughs with me,
Lolls over my skin
It trickles down
The contours of my body
Mine is the only human sound
Amongst a peaceful harmony
Of howls –
Up there in the forest’s symphony.
In the privacy of the jungle
I feel at ease
And as I wade forward
A child-like playfulness
Begins to blossom.
Tending The Magic Garden by Simon Tindale
I’ve been fighting dandelions
all of my life.
Now we’ve drawn a line
I’m drinking dandelion wine.
Follow me through hollow trees
to the edge of the well
where rows of hocus-crocuses
are casting their spell
and from the magic holly bush
a baby crow flies
high above the redwoods
into star-berried skies…
after crapping all over my garden furniture…again.
O Birch High Above by Sabrina Durmaz
O birch high above,
where do your eyes lie?
Do you see the perched
robins who peacefully fly
to you entrance of leaves
where they nestle their youth
protected from the raven thieves
who steal from their twigged booth?
O birch high above
where do your eyes lie?
Do you watch as I trot
through your fellows to try
towards the deep knot
where I hear the wind’s current cry?
The wood’s protective veil,
gallantly shields me from my mind.
I discover distraction as I cross your trail
and eventually calm is what I find.
O birch high above
where do your eyes lie?
Do you simply observe the sick sign
of the Bronze Borer who passes by
your weak, light spine?
Their tubular tunnels,
wilt your frail bark and soul.
Hollow lines cross like puzzles,
causing your skin to scroll.
The stories you tell,
countless years of ringed truth,
even after your foliage fell,
and your stump is no longer smooth,
you have released my stress,
so, now, please take your rest.
Where Our Woods Were by Faisal Binzagr
Time flies by,
Blown across entwined vines
Pages that speak ages
In circular lines
Thousands of them
Breathing life, now
Wave them all goodbye
The resin is what they cry instead
No tears on these leaves
Except the ones you leave behind
When there’s nothing else
to wipe your eyes with
On the day I die
How they all looked so nice
Huddled together in a line
Reduced to fine
Ash in the soil, now
They’re in my mind
Imprints of lifetimes in rings, fading as
Time flies by.
A beautiful walk under the wooden garden by Uday Shankar Durjay
In the absence of extraordinary beauty I have been waiting for a brand new summer. A nature must be more natural and more charming than any one’s expected. A significantly long wait was hanging in my note pad, believe so summer will knock me out promptly. Windows are kept on, the doorbell is activated, close circuit cameras keep watching around. I accept, wind will listen to the whispering of the branches those are leaning on each other. Cheerful breezes will make a wave in the hearts of trees, I just have been waiting to capture.
I would see her shadow left behind, some maple leaves blown over it to absorb fragrances. I would have a beautiful walk under the wooden garden, sunlight will change its name to flash light; ray of lights are not lights they are bows of sun, just falling in. Might be, there is a river inside me to take a divine drive to Ocean from this forest. I won’t let it be finished so soon. Though once summer finishes I hear the whispering of the branches of trees. My stunning eyes get stuck to the brightness of the leaves where sun painted a green on it. Quivering leaves are knocking behind me, summer will go soon. Leaves will go off quicker.