Cirencester Scene

Somewhere Else Writers now have a slot in Cirencester Scene, a monthly magazine delivered to 12,000 homes in the Cirencester area.

September 2018

Poetry by Frank McMahon


To the memory of Ralph Vaughan Williams


I just don’t understand how it is done

the translation of sound to notes on a stave

not even for one voice or solo flute.


But I grasp the drive to capture bird-song,

wind -howl and the cries of the bereaved,

to work; no slackening before death took you


plans for weeks and months ahead, the only way

to face each day before the void. Melodies

drawn thread by gossamer thread:


I am there in the meadows when I hear

them played, in the woodlands and the salt-marsh,

music arcing back to a vanishing


world , to its ancient taproots, gifted free

to any willing listener. Our music teacher told us you had

died and all I knew then was Greensleeves .Now


your music threads my clothes and weaves

its way into my dreams. When it is my turn to leave,

Elihu’s Dance, larks and blackbirds will sing me home.




Cathar village, invested once with hope

and simple faith until professed belief

was burned out of their bodies

and ashes scattered on a ravaged land.


Deep rooted vines produced a richer wine

before the river, drop by drop

uncovered desiccation.


No record when it began to lose itself,

prayers for revival futile

while the wine turned sour

in the dwindling cellars.


Engraved stones beneath

a scorching sun.




Tell me again. Why did I come here?

Was I invited? And if I was

who by? And if they said they’d come

why am I here alone?


Every path is clear

no mist concealing beast

or man or their approach.

Or woman.


The hill falls away to a copse

of oaks and the sky rises

to a kestrel’s flight. Hover.

Watch as the sun’s glow catches

the steeple of the church.


Turn and turn in a slow

unsteady circle round

the compass of this hill.

Turn and turn again

as a sob echoes

in the hollow of the wind.


All three poems were first published in the poetry magazine, The Cannon’s Mouth. 2018 is the 60th anniversary of the death of Ralph Vaughan Williams and lectures and recitals of his works took place in August at Down Ampney where he was born to commemorate his life.

Frank McMahon has just been elected Chairman of the group and believes his involvement has inspired his writing. As well as writing poems, he is producing play scripts for radio,