Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Springing thoughts

Two days after the last snow left
I saw the tiny hint of life
in colour, purple, on the mud
which rain had flooded winter-long,
and thought of Spring.
Encouraged by the silent sun
the lack of wind, the sudden song
- a blackbird sitting on a pole -
in air so silent I could hear
the rush of wings above my head 
as pigeons - should I call them doves?
 - set off briskly over roofs 
and gardens, sodden mossy lawns
and foodless shrubs where dunnocks live
I stopped, for long enough to feel.

But what I felt was not the joy
that children feel when freedom calls
but rather that nostalgic pain
more keen with every passing year
that tells me each Spring takes us up
the path towards that distant peak
where only faith says flowers will bloom.

© C.M.M 02/18

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Another Advent

Another Advent

for AM, who suggested possibilities

From the darkness that returns
each year we sing our plaintive song
and ask that God will come again
and fill our lives with what we know
and hardly know is all we need.
The fire burns low, the night is long,
and yet we feel in some way held
within the circle of this flame
that still we tend with anxious care
in some place hidden from the eyes
that mock and laugh and turn away
with restless ease towards their end.
The world too turns, and we await
the power that fills our life with light
and let our alleluias ring
within the darkness of the earth.

C.M.M. 12/17

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Argyll Weather

A Sonnet for Jim

The rain drifts in grey curtains from the hills
and turns the loch’s black surface into lace
before a random wind takes up the chase
that now obliterates the day it kills.
The burn beside me gurgles as it fills
and overflows. There’s water on my face,
the path I followed gone without a trace,
enthusiasm drowned in sudden chills.

But as I turn to make my sodden way
to shelter, warmth …dry feet … a sudden gleam
appears. It’s like another day.
The wet rock all around me starts to steam
and birdsong cuts the air as if to say
This is Argyll. Things are not what they seem.

C.M.M. 12/17

Wednesday, October 12, 2016


Aonach Eagach, Glencoe

The path is steep and rocky
and my body’s growing tired.
I’m looking for the summit cairn,
the peak I hope to find - 
and at the top I’ll rest awhile
and take a look around, 
decide if I’ve the energy
for the track above the cloud.

For I know that there's more climbing, 
there are still flowers at my feet,
but weariness keeps nagging me - 
a voice I cannot cheat.
I’ve wandered far, I’ve sung my songs, 
the wind is still as sweet, 
but all of us are passing through
to where all pathways meet.

My track is strewn with metaphor
and words mean what you read.
We all of us hear different songs
along the roads we tread.
 But looming in the distance
 or rising at our feet
that final hill is where we go
and where all pathways meet.

© C.M.M. 10/16

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Eyes wide open

One pale, quiet morning, 
I open my soul’s eyes 
unarmed with faith or company, 
responsibility or joy, 
and see quite plain
the vastness of it all, the loneliness, 
the very impossibility of life.
A hand in the desert - 
will there be a hand? 
Someone who knows the way
to travel this grey distance
and find the distant hills?

The question hangs
in the still air. But 
in the birdless silence
is that the gentle ripple
not mocking or sardonic
but inviting, is that -
oh please, is that -
a companionable laugh?

© C.M. 03/13

Friday, September 21, 2012


I have walked the high places, seen
the haze in the glaciated
trough beneath my feet;
I have heard the raven’s croak
among tall crags, felt the winds
keen around my head. I have
trusted my life to a friend, sensed the
taut rope’s reassurance,
known the joy of balance
on the white path’s ribbon.
I have sensed the unseen God in
the fierce, dangerous joy, the
tension and the trust, and always,
always the wind of his breath
piling the tumultuous clouds,
sweeping the pale sky clear.

©C.M.M. 12/01

Friday, September 14, 2012

Arles: Feria du Riz

Photo ©Fraser Shiells, by permission

Sitting at lunch beneath the shade
we heard the gunfire - loud, sharp - 
and then the growing noise of cheers
above the music of the band
and rushed to line the barricade
between us and the road.
And what came next was troubling to
the me that thinks I’m civilised
as horses clattered in the dust
and lances waved and suddenly
I saw the bulls - small, dusty, black
and gone: a swiftness barely seen
as bodies swirled and young boys clawed
and darted in among the hooves
and grabbed and cheered and strutted there.
And my blood raced in sympathy
as small dogs yapped beside my legs
and all my civilised disdain
was pulverised and lay in dust.

C.M. 09/12

This was a fascinating, thrilling and ultimately disturbing experience - the more so because I had not anticipated the event. I'm grateful to my friend Fraser Shiells for his photo - the speed of everything made it hard to capture, and this moment, when one of the bulls escaped the corralling horses and headed back down the road on its own, was especially dramatic.