Gold Panning

gold panning at pedros-creek, near Fairbanks, Alaska.

Don’t forget the dusky red garnet
the ephemeral flicker of yellow pyrite
the flash of silver as the water recedes

nor the purple mist of crystal clusters
pinkish amethyst clinging to quartz
the copper nugget conducting the light

nor how the river runs
how it settles then bends carrying weathered fieldspar
stream-rolled jade and crimson cinnabar

indigo octahedral fluorite
like Saturn’s rings  this orbicular diuorite
in the tumbling stream

see the way they all roll in black sand together
scooped from the river bank in the sun
a halo of pigments as you swill the pan

and tip them away
so eager for gold and its flickering rays
while the world in a ranbow lay in your hands.



Orbicular diorite. © Oxford University Museum of Natural History.


Pyrite. Source:



Octahedral Fluorite. Source:




Cinnabar. Source: Wikipedia.


Gold dredge coco mats to collect sand and gold, subsequently retorted. © angelajanehoward


Dredge stone crusher – behind are the riffles to collect quicksilver and gold


Note: The Limousin region in France has had two gold rushes, the first during the Roman period, and the second in the first half of the 20th century. More recently, 40 tonnes of the precious metal were mined by Areva in this region between 1982 and 2002. Gold is thinly distributed throughout France, the Pyrenees, the southeastern edge of the Massif Central (Cevennes) and the Massif Amoricain.




Hump-back in a huff and a puff you loll

bask in the waves sighing, pitching your tail

curling to hide some bad mood as you roll

over surface so still you tip, slide and sail

holding your breath

heaving your largeness away from our noisiness

while we swerve, turn and swear, just skimming the surface

unable to find you, trying to comprehend your meaning

as you shift away reeling camouflaged through the swell

your world to us fathomless while we weave over waves

precarious – unsteady our restless world

while you beneath unfazed.




In my father's garden


I live in my father’s garden
celebrate our conversations
summer lighting up the roses
pink carnations spreading scents and memory.
Crocuses – another spring –
we talk of children growing up
summer seeping through our thoughts
I hold his hand, weed out old age creeping in
sow seeds for conversations in the furrows of his palm.
I trim the roses, cut the dead heads
keep them in a pot beside my bed.
The pot is pierced with little holes
through which their fading scents escape
they help me sleep,
dream of the one I love the most
who’ll never fade.
Their scent has gone now
Autumn leaves lie lusterless
releasing damp of life expiring.
I lie down in my father’s garden
and whisper through the earth to him.


Master Mountain, Denali, Alaska

Master mountain sighs his enormity
weeps in small gullies at the weight he holds,
despairs of immensity, too big to hold himself
mountain shifts, avalanche of granite and schist
slate sliding down to a clear glacial stream.
Yet he holds his head high, shoulders snowbound,
chest draped in tundra splendour
felt-leaf willow, orange splattered with reds
autumn cranberries, creeping greys,
at your feet the yellow aspen quake
and Master Mountain shimmers in gold.
In Autumn your peaks tear up the clouds
they fall lace-like, listlessly down your chest
a shawl covering the season’s demise.
Basalt and granite faults, cracks in your sides
reveal the hidden life within
moulded in muteness
Master Mountain, locked in your hugeness
so long ago the deafening eruption
now silenced, you dream of your final explosion.

Savage River, Denali Park, Alaska

Jostled by Ghosts

You never would imagine he could close up like that,
like an oyster, wrinkled mouth sealed shut
contours of hermetic rock.

I tried to prize him out of his privacy,
bore through the crustaceous shell
but everyone told me he was impenetrable.

They did not know
I once lay couched in the shell of his inner mind,
it was cool in there, and silky.

We went to Skye where the sands were even cooler.
I told the hotel staff to leave him
thinking in his chair.

The waiter was polite, he smiled too much
wrung his hands with stiff embarrassment
he was only trying.

That night I slept alone.
His silence eats away my mind
hollow cries trapped in airless caves

I fear madness in his crinkled lips.
Something dreadful stalks the world
I cannot see

“They’re building a bridge to Skye now,
I heard the waiter call.
Some-one coughed, a dry whistle from the throat

we are all diseased but the world spins on.
I lay five days waiting while the sky slid by.
We had sea-blown salmon served on briny green.

The sun cut through the stained glass pane.
“It’s something about the marrow,” someone said,
“it aches and aches.” He looked up,

laid his hand on mine.
Cold streams of broken waters
yet dry, ungiving.

Our room was dark
someone was sobbing in the hall
he leaned over, caressed my hair

I cease to be afraid.
Someone screamed behind the wall
“It’s nothing,” a voice said but the scream came again.

There are those who join the legions of dishonesty
they march on in madness up the mountain
come hurtling down, all folly, to the sea.

I turned to watch his mind uneasy on the pillow
heard sighing seas and heaving hosts of restlessness
once-wise words withering in disillusion.

The truth lies locked up and no-one can find it.
An even worse misunderstanding
strides across the earth.

“We only see what we can alter,” some-one said one evening long ago
“the rest does not exist.”
He laid down his knife and fork, stood up,

He left them in their fragile world. I followed him,
further away than you can imagine,
watching the glow fade on his back.

I had to follow.
Is it madness, sadness?
This is part of my torment.

Someone knocked on the door,
the waiter bowed, clutching a platter:
Breakfast, tea and oranges,

he lingered, leaning in, too curious
I had to reassure him, then made him go.
I brought the tray gleaming to his chair

his eyes lit up, examining the label,
”All this has come from far away,”
I thought I heard him say.

I looked up, saw life persisting, resisting,
drowning ghosts trapped behind his eyes,
desire fleeing human hands.

He swallowed firmly, damming back the demons of the past.
I caught his hand, could not let him go.
Some thread, invisible, binds me

yet some sing in churches bondage should be freedom.
We stepped over barren land out towards the sea,
the still-grey surface stunned by an empty sky

we walked to the edge, he took my hand
and still he did not speak
but there were caverns echoing.