I missed the last Earthweal prompt, for various reasons, but I liked the idea, so here’s an affectionate poem with lots of place names from my adopted home.


I have dug down deep here among the Gascons
with their gasconnades and fanfaronnades,
the promisers of promises never fulfilled,
fighters, bagarreurs, untrustworthy liars,
intractable and obstinate as mules.

I have dragged my tangled roots
between La Rèula and Aiguillon,
along the Garona where the gabarras plied
up to Bordeaux, weighted with wine casks,
where the egrets stand tall and white
on the summer sandbanks.

Between Clairac, Calviac and Montagnac,
I have watched the moon rise,
between Castille, Canteloube and La Castenade
watched the sun set, watched the horned cows
graze with their bull at Razimet.

There is my stream here, the Caillou,
and my Tamberlan meadows. Mon pays.
The words of its tongue roll in the mouth
with the rattle of river gravel,
and twang like plucked guitar strings.

Italianate, Tuscan cypress and poplared,
rolling vined and fruited in the sun,
these hills where D’Artagnan swirled his cape
are mine now, with all their vantardise
and their extravagance.


Track rises
between small fields where grass grows
splashed with colour

Hot and dull the fields, full of origano and dense with trees in the folds where streams run. A patchwork of cultivation and places never worked at all. Birds pipe and the silvery sound of running water, deep and green despite the drought. There was a storm in the night, brief and noisy, half-filled the water butts and freshened up the frogs

greenfinch pipes
a complaint for the lost year
the empty nest

a lament for the cooling nights, the days shortening, this year’s young raised, and who knows if there will be a next year?
At the end of this lane there are only a cart tracks crossing country, meandering along the edges of fields, following the contours of the hills. Winding and empty, and I wonder how long it can last.

Vent d’autan
in the maïs—parchment
rattling wordless songs.

Haibun for a golden day

We walked the cart track this afternoon, beneath the sun, beneath a hedge, between the fields baking in the heat, a path that winds around a hill, the valley water-filled. Sloes were blue and bitter, the deepest ornière full of frogs,

if the sun sang
it would be cricket dry
rasp of insect legs

and the smooth clay of tractor tracks between the rows of corn held countless prints of fox, deer, badger and boar. Corn husks rustled dry in the wind, the hot breath of silence

swallow-winged air
dry as old bones rutted
like this earth

Haibun for a taste of spring

A neighbour stopped on the lane, hailed us, husband cleaning his boots, me holding dog on his lead. Asked had we seen the water down in the town. We’re cut off, it seems. Roads in all flooded and the quays in the town under water. The loop of the Garonne enclosing its flat plain of farmland is an unbroken sea.

He stopped and chatted about the world outside, a middle-aged man, old-fashioned, high-waisted trousers with darts, waistcoat, white shirt and flat cap. Could have been my grandfather stepped out of an old photo. He even had a stick. All that was missing was the ass. Watch the sky for the geese, he said. Then you’ll be sure the spring is here.

flood waters recede
leaving comfry to flower
in purple peace

Best wishes

Tis the season, so here’s a festive decoration from outside the barn door

couronne de noël

and one from inside the barn door in the kitchen


Kitchen barn door

House hunkers down. The folk that pad and trot around its walls the night have gone. Only the birds, ever-hungry, ever-cheerful chatter, fluttering from tree to tree and into the porch after seed and other necessities. A deer family ambles through the willows by the stream. Dawn sun streams gold, a glimpse of heaven before its flow slows and ceases. Cloud thickens.

days slip deeper
into the heart of the cold
east wind sighs winter

Sky fire

December dawn in crimson
spreading colour waves
belling thrush and robin songs into the west
where embers of sun-fire smoulder.

December dawn1

December dawn2



December dawn 4


December dawn 5


December dawn 6

Dawn yesterday. I’ve never seen such an intense crimson sky. Deepest in the east, and in the west a mass of orange cloud hung where the sun sank the evening before.

Pilots just wanna have fun

We rarely see a vapour trail here, very occasionally one on the lower western horizon. But from time to time we do get military jets as there’s a big base 100kms south of us. This morning the sun was back, and the sky to the south was covered in loopy ribbons that can only be jet trails.

They start in the east

starts here


make a great knot due south

sky knot


and veer off south west in squiggles like snail trails.

ends here

Looks suspiciously like the military having fun at the tax payers’ expense…