Calum McRoberts [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

White sands as soft as satin
Bloodwarm and enveloping,
Stretched out and untouched
But for our feet and the slow, hesitant caress of
An evening tide that tumbles up and scampers away
In tiny waves, shy and apologetic
Singing like wind chimes, sighing like pan-pipes.
These are turquoise seas of fairy tales
Deep, deep waters as clear as our minds.
We sit quiet and still under tall sand dunes while
High overhead the cries of seabirds echo lazily.

This place must seem like summer every day of the year
No matter how dark the clouds are
No matter how grey
No matter how many clothes, how many layers
How many hats and coats
No matter how many pairs of gloves we have to wear.



A west wind blows firm today
Mile long rolling waves break on sea-stacks
To collapse under sand-dunes.
Surf blows up through rocky cliffs
Cut to the shape of an eye
Catching the light like champagne tears

There are gannet, there are fulmer
There are tern and shag
There is the most raggedy sheep you ever did see
Facing into the wind that blows on and on
Long strings of wool and black plastic whipped
Horizontal from barbed wire fences

We hunker down behind a lighthouse wall
For a few moments respite
When we stand again a squall is upon us
Black clouds circle in on all sides
Waves crash ever louder below
Boots sink deep into sodden machar
And more rain comes down
The air is drowned in water
The whole world is water
We are standing up straight on dry land
Our heads fathoms-deep under the waves

South Lochs

Stephen Branley [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Old stones,
Ragged and ridged like the faces of old men
Worn and cracked, piebald patched
Watching from the hillside
Over still lochs and dark waters
Over empty crofts and quiet harbours
A fixed stare set immovable to the sky
A silent shout out of defiance
This is not an easy place to be, they say.
This place does not want us to be here, they say.
But it will take more years than these to wear us down.

Old stones
Older than the wind, older than the waves
Older than the land, older than the rain.
Older than God.

Sir Dominick’s Bargain XIV


Poor Sir Dominick. Faithless, feeble Sir Dominick
Some stains you cannot clean from your soul
He comes at midnight
Here by appointment
To keep a promise

Too late for priests and prayers now
Too late to run, too late to hide
How happy, now, how inviting looks
That old oak tree with its open noose?

Like a coward you bluster
Like a child you plead
But the stranger is not for listening
Not a gentleman any longer
His coat is ragged, his shirt torn
Long matted hair worn for breeches
He takes a step towards you
He puts his stong hands upon you
And throws you to the wall
And smashes your head in pieces there

Lights go out. A door crashes closed.
A gale blows through an empty house.
From the fireplace, ashes fly and
Hang in the air, glowing silent
For an eternity, it seems
Before dropping and vanishing

Outside there is a howling
A crying of beasts in panic
Two shadows ride from Dunoran
Silent and uncanny, while
Your body lies in the courtyard
Cold and stiffening already

Poor Sir Dominick. Lost, damned Sir Dominick
What hope did you ever have?
Your bargain is not yet ended.


Sir Dominick’s Bargain, 14 poems by Rufus Woodward based on the story by Sheridan Le Fanu.  Now available.

Sir Dominick’s Bargain XIII


The fear is upon me worse every day
Fierce and growing, blowing like a gale in my
Face, a roar in my ears. Fever claws sharp in
My flesh. A poison in my blood. I dare not
Trust my eyes any longer. My tongue is thick
And tastes of ashes, and tastes of sodden earth.
I have not spoken to any man in days.
Thoughts scatter and tumble like shattered glass.
I cannot drink enough to draw them together.
Only one thing I do know – he is coming
He is coming, he is coming for me.

Oh God, can you forgive me? Father can you
Help me? I would give up much to be free of
This. I will make my confession. I will make
My penancy, give over all my vices, change all
My ways, live in retreat like a hermit, as your
Servant, as your servant, Lord. Oh God, please let
These prayers save me. Oh Lord, please let these
Prayers save me. Please let these prayers save me.


Sir Dominick’s Bargain, 14 poems by Rufus Woodward based on the story by Sheridan Le Fanu.  Now available.

Sir Dominick’s Bargain XII


Seven years
Seven years of all the pleasures
All the glories of the world
Seven years of enough and more to spare
Of never owing a penny
Of never missing a card, never losing a wager
Seven years of hounds and horses
Of great company, of grand nights
Of woman at hand and wine to drink
Of never a moment without a bright fire lit

Seven years of madness
Of troubled thoughts as black as the night
Of desperate diversion, of empty prosperity
Seven years of knowing
Seven years of waiting
Of wishing for a place to turn, a place to hide
Seven years of unwanted visitors in lonely places
Of pale riders come at your side
Terrible creatures in godless shapes
Leering and laughing, filthy and ragged
Who is the master now?
Who is the servant?
What is to come when seven years are done?
What is to become of me when seven years are done?


Sir Dominick’s Bargain, 14 poems by Rufus Woodward based on the story by Sheridan Le Fanu.  Now available.