Frances Presley

Four Poems


Two oaks and a triangle


thicker girth
not biodegradable
no need for secateurs

stay here
less than three

ten years
taken out
stemming primate

It’s funny that the leaves haven’t fallen off

ever bronze
clinging acorns
fruit fruit fruit

new stems
new growth
these leaf formations

here the rings end
no further
to reason

expert cut
clear incision

new sidestem
is it too thin
will it continue?

how to prune
what remains

can a replacement
be a re placement?
too much competition

to rise above
or simply to leave
and let her go

arranged stone
her boots

any self respecting deer could have its feet in

the stone that is only a stone
at the base of brambles
between two beech trees

anxiety for the oak
which must either thrive

nettled frenzy
these laurels we do not want
though less invasive

mind shift
gear change
text expected



the oaks planted in memory of my mother, Selworthy woods
17 Feb 2007



Naked boy



nest more
range up

naked boy
nay nay ced
head truculent cede

it has its spine
like a boy leaning
like a boy stripped bare

a green coat for the quartz
a pelt
let us pelt



the naked boy
rests into the stone
put him up against

what did he say

he’s disappearing
he’s going to turn right
he’s climbing over the gate

two bodies that prop each other up
one animal one human



fossilised face
worn down
turn away

we have gone down
we have gathered
we have emerged

watching the wind farm


high flown pheasant



he holds a lap
it shapes a lap

shIPS that we need?


just the common name for over
slates and plates

we have overlapped



Naked Boy, a Neolithic standing stone on Exmoor
12 April 2007



West Anstey longstone


here ti(l) la
my deepest breath
startling deer

stertling roil
on the ridge

she’s here at last
the ‘veiled lady’

shepherde of the stream
no strange or rambling

look after each other
all one

with a plantering bosom
my own things get done last

patched patchouli
absterrent hardering

made hepworth
veiled but more expressive
than a gormley

look there’s a small orange

the anatomy of sandstone
will not pister

‘d’où viens-tu bergère’?
not from the tour eiffel
or the mobile mast

tired of that ancient world
her masts are flowing familial
her masts



24 June 2007



Caratacus stone


‘failure is not an option’



leans sideways
at an awkward angle
this is not the way to strain

gradual ceding
call it quits
double or quits

my double trouble
character gouged
smooth mouthed

leaning tower
kept leaning
lean times

monitored always
identify me with N
for nepus




chipped off
the block
pasted back
with pale pink gum




24 June 2007




‘The stone is so remote from railways, and the ways of Latinists, that it has hardly ever been seen by an epigraphist’

It is impossible to clearly show the inscription by means of an untouched photograph. So that the sizes and shapes of the letters, and the spacing of the inscription, can be readily seen, they have been outlined at the expense of naturalness

CARĀACI or Caratacus - Welsh national hero of early Roman days, taken in chains to Rome, where, according to Roman historians, he was given his liberty because they were impressed by his fearless bearing

NEPUS = Nepos (Romano-British reading) Sister’s son, descendent, kinsman, son, grandson, nephew

One of the pieces was distinctly inscribed with and exactly fitted the fracture immediately preceding the EPVS. The N was cut reversed – a not uncommon error even nowadays

It is to a local hillman, unversed in archaeology, we must turn for the key to the re-discovery of the missing , for its jealous protection during many months, and for its fixing to the inscription in the exact position and with commendable skill

Carat – represents the passive participle of the verb, which is in Welsh car-u, to love



from Alfred Vowles ‘The history of the Caratacus stone’ (1939)

Frances Presley