Kenneth Steven

Kenneth Steven’s tenth collection of poems is appearing in the summer of 2012. He’s from Highland Scotland and much of his work is inspired by the wildscape of the north and west of the country. He’s also a widely published writer of prose for adults and youngsters alike, and he translates the work of many Norwegian authors.



A Green Woodpecker

The day is like dead wood –
No colours, only shades of grey, 

The gentle breath of my steps
Leaves a ghost story written in the grass.

 A stillness like that when snow falls
Except there is no snow, and none all winter – 

Only the river in its silvering among the trees
Whispers the same old journey to the sea; 

Only the moon, low above the hills,
Frail as a ball of cobwebs. 

On moss feet, I go into the wood
And a great door closes behind me: 

Little quiverings of things
Quick among twigs; 

Two deer, their eyes listening,
Flow into nowhere in a single blink. 

I look up, into a pool of light
And hold my breath: 

Swans stretching north
Swimming the open sky –

The silence so huge
I hear their wings.

And I think,
As I begin to go back home;

I came here searching one bird
And found all this instead: 

How like my life.



light swivels on the night edge:
the full moon’s eerie beam
wobbles like a child’s balloon, huge, and breaks
upwards at last, into the clearing dark 

otter trundles over wetscapes, crying
as points of milk-white stars shine clear;
he curls into himself in seaweed
through the swell and ebb of tide until
the oystercatchers drip their calls across the sky
and orange gold the dark melts into day –
then he’s off, a scamper on the sea edge
scenting, searching, circling –
flowing into river edges, a thousand streams
sewn inside the silk of him, for ever