Evening, hush

Evening, hush

Flower meadow lies quiet
beneath waves of fescue,
feather-bannered stalks, rippling light,
in a south wind blowing,

and through the ceaseless
green-gold movement of growing,
I see white daisy, pink orchid faces
peering back from beneath the waves,
green-gold and rippling,

of the ocean meadow,
the bee-humming sea,
ceaselessly rolling
from hedge to sunset.


From the moral high ground

For the dverse prompt https://dversepoets.com/2023/05/23/an-artist-gets-his-due/
Inspired by Thorvald Hellesen’s 1914 portrait of Elvind Eckbo.

From the moral high ground

The military man, a structure of medals, sashes,
stiff bebraided collar, booted and belted,
poses, sword in hand for a looming war.

His gaze, fixed on the middle distance,
peers through canon smoke; he listens
to the screams of men and horses.

Look harder and he vacillates,
moral contradictions rocking the edifice
held together by gold and ribbons.

Look, how the middle distance,
the bloody, screaming smoke,
becomes unbearable,

and the unflinching war machine,
white-gloved, stiff upper-lipped,
turns his head, in pity or in shame.

A flight of beauty: review of The Crow Gods

A flight of beauty

I read Crow Gods in one, breathless sitting. Rather than a collection of poems, it reads like a single, sustained exploration of the emotions that link us to one another and the world we live in. There’s a tenderness to all these poems, those dedicated to family, children, memories naturally enough, but even in the humorous evocation of the drunk outside the pub in Obby Oss (and I didn’t need a translator’s note), in the frankly touching portrait of the farmer in Spirit, and in the quiet nobility of standing upright, keeping moving against the tide of illness, as in The crow gods and Fear and Courage.
The bird theme ties this collection together. From delicate goldfinches stitching us to the sky to the almost human rooks, with their black-clad elegance that is never entirely serious, their eavesdropping and mocking, gossipy laughter. Children are birds too, build their own nests, learn to fly but flock with family, never breaking away completely.
It is the tenderness that remains with me after reading and rereading these poems, the ease with which Sarah Connor, in a handful of simple, perfect words, gets so deep beneath the superficial, that she finds that elusive place of common human understanding. Sail is perhaps my favourite of all. The honesty of it makes me want to weep.

Haibun for then and tomorrow

For the dverse prompt. https://dversepoets.com/2023/05/22/haibun-monday-5-22-23-memory/
The latest glitch with WP is that I can’t insert links. I also have to reset the font and the font size each post or it’s microscopic Times New Roman. Maybe it’s time to find a new hobby.


I remember so much that never was, childish reconstructions of stories of how it was, re-imaginings so vivid they may as well be true, of emigrating across a dark grey sea, the old house on the hill, an army of my mother’s fellow art students making it habitable, the cast iron bath with eagle’s feet and steps to climb into it, playing with fox cubs on a moonlit lawn. Perhaps some memories subsist from infant times, embroidered by repetition of stories told. But how could you possibly remember that? In the end, does it really matter?

Yesterday was spring
and tomorrow will be too
blue, bird-loud and new.

Haibun: green water

I have never seen the canal in sunlight, never seen its water clear. Plane trees meet high overhead, holding up the unseen sky. Some see a green cathedral and hear angels singing. I see tree gods and hear a symphony of birdstruments, wild flutes, clarinets and oboes. There is no sun here, but an even, green light, and the water waits, still, dimpled with insects walking, and fish lips rising to kiss their feet.

The world has shrunk
this damp spring to still water
pooling at my feet.

Spring is

Spring is

Spring is a bold thing, bramble-hooked,
barging into quiet corners,
sky-shooting, flouncing fronds.

Spring is noisy as whizzbangs,
scudding bees in the mimosa,
woodpecker tattoos.

Spring is joyously juvenile, striped,
flecked and dappled with sun,
pied and purple, a riot of life,

running in rivers of green
and flower-gaudy, flying with damsels
in the bowed arc of the rain.

A departure

A departure

Across the meadows,
bright with duty and waving flags,
between supple soldier stalks,
bee-wreathed and busy,
spring departs.

From the town,
the solemn sound
of the church bell tolling rolls
ebbing or flowing or both at once,
through the sky-chant,

ingenuous paean
to the moment now,
of a hundred meistersinging blackbirds.

Lost treasures

Lost treasures

There is no going back,
not one moment, one golden flash.
The river running to the sea
leaves behind smooth pebbles with regret.

Not one moment, one golden flash
will drop into you hands again,
nor your eyes follow beauty into the shadows,

the river running to the sea.
Sand-sifted, gravel-sorted,
the current that carves and sculpts,

leaves behind smooth pebbles with regret,
amber-gemmed and jet,
for some later princess to find.

White night horses

They came again in the night, white and wild, singing their songs of plains that roll on and on until they tumble to the sea. I tried to run with them (as if I could) or catch a bridle (but they tossed their heads aside) and the ringing in my ears was the silver bells tressed into their manes.
The sky runs red these nights, specked with the yellow stamens of roses climbing among the trees, plucked by the outstretched hands of stars. There are apples too, nesting in the high branches. If only I could climb that rugged road from bough to bough, I could tempt a horse to bow her belled and bridled head and let me ride the almost endless plains to the tumbling sea.

Still listening

Still on the horse theme, a golden shovel based on a line from one of my favourite poems, The Listeners by Walter de la Mare.

Still listening

Why did they wait and never answer, and
why was the night so still, his
voice as pale as the coat of his horse
left grazing beneath the trees? In
a pool of moonlight, cool with dew, the
house walls, lapped in silence,
listened for voices, while night horse champed,
the stillness stirred by the
wings of a bird risen from the grasses.

With a cry, an owl flew from a window of
the shadow house in the
trees, flew into the listening forest’s
dark while echoes, ferny-
plumed as ghosts, sank into the grassy floor.