King’s Cave, Arran

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

sea caves

On the west coast of Arran, quite near Machrie Moor, are a series of sandstone sea caves, formed by wave action when the sea level was higher than it is today. One of them is full of petroglyphs, some of which date back to the Iron Age if not before. It’s called King’s Cave — one of many caves around Scotland alleged to be the one where the fugitive Robert the Bruce famously observed a spider persisting in trying to attach its web to the slippery walls, and so resolved to be similarly persistent in fighting for Scottish independence. Continue reading “King’s Cave, Arran”

Disaster area

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

bark study 2

It starts innocently enough: just a small rift, a discontinuity in the otherwise seamless joinery of our days. The pulse quickens. We feel a bit more… alive. Yes.

birch roots

We were always told such frightening things about courting disaster. But what do the old people know? Surely they are just jealous of our youth and energy — they want to deny us the heady pleasures they themselves are too worn down to handle.

bark study 1

And the pleasures now are nothing if not heady. Bark turns to bite; bony dinosaur hide splits open and lifts into feathers. Welcome to evolution, baby!

girdled birch

But each new opening only retains its brightness for a little while before it, too, turns dull. The body is continually subverting the mind’s best efforts to fly free, and returning us to our cages of solid matter.

Wolf Rocks

Nothing matters: that is our chant as we look for new chasms to outgrow, new eyeholes to peer out of, new mouths with which to whisper in disaster’s ear: save us.

Wolf Rocks 2

And so we become like snakes, slipping our skins, going belly to belly with our parent rock. Our tongues taste the wind in stereo. We tap into the simple on-or-off reptile brain.

Wolf Rocks 3

With our fellow heads we talk, we dance, we howl. Disaster possesses us in turn. We paint our headstones.

All photos taken at or near Wolf Rocks, a popular teen hang-out spot in the Gallitzin State Forest of Pennsylvania.

The Quickening

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall


Chauvet Cave, ca. 25,000 B.P.
for Marja-Leena

Under the earth
the slaughtered bison dons a new flesh
made entirely of hands.

Not under the earth but in it–
the small intestines.

Not flesh but hide,
shift, disguise.

Not hands but glowing coals,
each with five flames:
that fire from behind the navel.

It begins to dance.