Mapping winter

Blow the summer sky into the past
bury it beneath last year’s dead leaves
and sweep it into purple sleep before the fall.

Dark days are coming
black wind-fingers plucking tree music
scattering leaf notes like startled birds.

The storm will pass
ebb with the hiss of a wild tide
the blue beaten and bruised

and we will learn to tread the frost
follow leaf-veined parchment maps
in search of hidden treasure.

Night air


Air too hot to move hangs heavy,
darkness weighing,
between sight and wavering stars.

Air as hot as high summer
sighs among the trees, these nights,
in breathless whispering,

buoying on its billows, owls
that drift from glade to meadow
stroked by unseen hands.

Air, a river, swollen
with the sluggish sloth of tropics
and troubled depths,

yet I hear it, nights,
in wind ripples, restless,
ruffling the careless hair of the poplars.


For the dverse open link.

Photo ©Felix Uribe1600px-Bubulcus_ibis_Garcita_bueyera_Cattle_Egret_(6549249775)

Up in the field behind the plough
that chops and churns the heavy clay,
the egrets flock, a snowy storm,
bird-blizzard, feathered phantoms walk.
Heron-tall, but not so still,
they stalk, stork-white amid the clods
and stand like sentinels in white,
beneath the sky so burning bright.

Slow-flapping wings where tractor plies,
this autumn ploughing, out of time,
the crisp air, leaf-fall, hawthorn red,
is just a wish, a memory
of other times when ploughs would climb
the hill amid a cloud of crows,
so long ago, another world,
I scarce recall how north wind blows.

Here where pink hibiscus blooms
and regal purple, roses climb
where lizards fly like dragon birds,
and dragonflies skim swallow light,
I count the egrets on the hill,
the snow white birds beneath the sun
and wonder if white grace will run
in feathered streams when summer’s done.

Sometimes roses

There are roses on the wall and climbing,
To the dark of midnight, light of sun;
There are flowers falling in the garden,
Though throbbing, brazen summer’s not yet done.

There is darkness coming with the turning
Of the year, the guns already blaze,
And leaf pyres in the field already burning;
The acrid taste smoke in morning’s haze.

There are roses climbing through the roof beams,
And tangled honeysuckle, berried-black,
The pretty path is harder than it first seems,
And the truth is, you can never take it back.

Ripe stars

For the dverse prompt. I have used the line: Those/ pale /flowers /might /still /have/ time/ to /fruit from Karina Borowicz’s ‘September Tomatoes

Those summer nights,
pale with slowly winding stars,
flowers of fiery gas, blooming in the dark,
might once have been enough.

Still, the stream now, the running path;
have I lost the thread of happiness?
Time was when I knew the way
to you, to what was in our hearts.

Fruit falls, over-ripe, spills like stars.


In the dusk light falling,

where the trees are dark,

the shade so green,

I heard a deer bark, calling

to the shadows deep,

the empty meadow wide

and dappled with the dying sun.

No answer came;

the call rang fainter

through the dark trees

‘cross the meadow.

Find your herd, bright russet one;

the days grow shorter,

and the winter will be long.  

Out of kilter

Wind rose at fall of night,
the hot breath of the south,
dust-dry, its rasping tongue
lapped up the shadows’ cool
and soothing secrecy.
All things were bared beneath
the still and moonless sky,
while dead leaves crackled grey
in impassive starlight.



Was it admirable, her patronage of the arts,
finesse, distinction, a sign of higher than the common
sensitivity, discernment, appreciation of beauty?

Was it a quality, that ability to spend a fortune
(how gotten is obscure but probably in the usual way)
on luxury and extravagance?

What a woman, some say, fingering
the painted silks of her dress, pretending
to trace nobility in the hard lines of her features.

What a way to go out, blowing it all
and scavenging for ostrich feathers,
not food, in the dustbins.

Yet where is the nobility in gold slippers and champagne
with millions of war dead, famine, depression
and the rise of fascism’s hideous head?

Where is the beauty in those hard, painted eyes
that looked away while children starved and empires fell,
that gazed into the fire while the world crawled on its knees?

Art exists
despite wealth
not because of it.

Tanka for a dream of cooler weather

It’s still far too hot here. Up again to 38°C/100°F and it’s going to be hot all this week. The break in the weather gets put back further every day.

For Frank Tassone’s haikai challenge.

receding into
the distance the autumn mists
cool of orange leaves
we thought we could bear no more
flames—I hear their crackling still