Haibun for July rain

I look out at the July rain, listen to the thunder roll, the wind in the chimney, mop the water off the floor and try to find the voice of summer. In the livid meadow, feral cat shelters beneath a hay bale, watching the kestrel stoop and take the vole from the trickling stalks. There is no end, no stopping of the wheel, even though we have no use for these muddy times.
sun sinks in storm cloud
and spotting rain—somewhere
it rises golden

A moment of summer

That moment of utter calm,
golden as buttercup mornings
and pollen-dropping dusk,

when summer settles,
a hand, a face in the blue,

and each tiny insect sound
in the brittle-stalked hay, new-mown,
the tireless chiff chaff of the chiff chaff,
sudden flash of swallows,

is a stroke of genius,
a chord that balances light, life and peace
in the slow opening and closing
of a butterfly’s wings.

Storm coming

Couldn’t resist trying out this new form for the dverse prompt.

Storm coming

The world is enclosed in this window frame
waving oriflammes of gold
where sunlight gathers in dark dusk
and black clouds crawl, ponderous as tanks.

Waving oriflammes of gold,
the meadow marches into night.
No birds sing, no song but the wind,

where sunlight gathers in dark dusk,
releasing quivers of shafts of cold rain.
Storm stalks the meadow stalks

and black clouds crawl, ponderous as tanks,
bearing down on the golden pelt of this patient beast,
that tomorrow will glisten, unvanquished.

Haibun for sanctuary

A haibun for the dverse flower moon and for earthweal’s sanctuary prompt.

If I was a grass snake or a wren or a pheasant with chicks to hide, if I was a roe deer with a baby in tow, a fox or badger looking for a place to dig, I would live here in these vole-rich meadows, where willows overhang the frog ditch, poplars, oaks and alders shade the stream, and the deep hedge keeps out the others.

It’s a small place for so many, a safe place, when all around is a minefield. Do they know? When I watch the pheasant walk past with her chicks, disturb the hind who leaves her baby safe in the long grass, when foxes wait in the last light to see what supper will be, and owls perch beneath the porch, I believe that they do.

deer crop midnight grass
ignore the tight-closed moon bud
in the dark sky-pool


This is the piece of short fiction (which wasn’t chosen for publication) I wrote for the Ekphrastic challenge, the prompt painting After the Storm, by Istvan Farkas. I love the colours in this, purple and green together is among my favourite combinations.


The heavens opened five minutes after the Abbé left the presbytery. A real summer storm, short lived, but violent, driving rain and wind that thrashed green branches. The only shelter was at the top of the hill where the road wound beneath a spinney of oak trees. Someone was already there, a raggedy woman. The Abbé’s nostrils pinched in distaste and he nodded curtly. Clutching his useless umbrella, he turned his back on the woman and gazed firmly out across the heaving landscape.

“You’ll be late for your lunch if this keeps up,” the woman said. “Who is it this Sunday? Lefebvre? Fabre? Meunier?” Her voice was steady as the rain, and the Abbé heard insolence in it. He would not taint himself by replying. “He keeps a good table, Meunier, so I hear. And with the son a courtier at Bordeaux, the wine cellar’s bound to be good too.” The Abbé shuffled, and his stomach rumbled inopportunely. “But they’ll all feed you well. Any of those people. People worth traipsing the countryside in the rain for.” A malcontent, a starveling. The Abbé closed his ears. The wind howled and he heard the crack of thunder. “Not like poor folk. They’d not get you away from your warm fire. Not poor folk who have nothing to pay for a Mass with.” Bitter and envious. “You’d not stir yourself for them, not even if their bairns were dying.” He heard a catch in the steady stream of words. He had no idea who the woman was, but he had nothing to reproach himself with. The clouds hung black, swollen. “You’d think a man of God would have a bit of compassion though, wouldn’t you? Make an exception. A prayer wouldn’t have taken long, would it? It wasn’t the bairn’s fault that her mother had nothing to give.” The sob was unmistakeable now. “If she’d had the money, she’d have given it to the doctor. She might have still had a bairn now, not just a mound of fresh-turned earth outside the cemetery.” The Abbé cast his eyes at the sky, looking, not for spiritual guidance but for a let-up in the storm. “If there was any justice…”

The woman’s voice petered out, and the Abbé found his at last. “Do you dare threaten a priest of the Church?”

She stared through him. Her eyes were sunken, famished. She laughed, a dry, hoarse laugh that ended in a cough. “There is no justice, not here, not from men. But we all die, one day. I’d bear that in mind, Abbé Collet, if I were you.”

She pulled her shawl tight around her throat and, head bent, hurried out into the rain, back towards the village. The Abbé’s eyes narrowed and burned with what he was not allowed to call hatred. There was a time when the Church had been allowed to deal with witches like that. He glanced at the sky, looking for approval perhaps. Thunder growled and a flash of lightning winked at him from over the church tower.

He wondered what that wink signified later, in the last few agonising moments as he choked on a fishbone from Meunier’s otherwise excellent sea bass.

Was seed

now spreads broad-leafed branches,

unfolds, scented,
in a complex origami
of curl-petaled bloom,

gallops the hillside,
a russet-red leaper,

pads the night paths,
a russet-tailed chancer,

and you,
milky-soft, pink and unfocused,
learning by the moment,
gallop-growing, unfurling beauty,

were once a microscopic

A quadrille for EJ and the dverse prompt.

April poetry challenge day 27

Today’s poem is inspired by Kerfe Roig’s Reticulation. You can see all images and poems on Paul Brookes’ site here.


Jewelled meadow, diamond-strung with laced nets,
early morning before the sun slides over each surface
and sharpens it to one definition alone,
capture and filter the light.

Spider-spun ephemera, fading in fierce beams,
spin their delicate patterns from stalk to stem,

a web of functional beauty,
crafted with unconscious skill,

unlike the ocean-dragging nets that empty the seas,
the criss-cross trails that drag the blue from the sky,
the endlessly orbiting rubble
that threads the night with the mark of death.

April poetry challenge day 25

For Paul Brookes’ challenge, I chose to write a poem for Kerfe Roig’s April Showers. All the prompt images and the poems they inspired are here.

KR25_april showers_wombwell


These April showers of buttercup gold,
the sky that flows into running stream,
and grass lush as waterweed, seep and soak,

rooted where the river runs,
seeded where the clouds
sweep their trailing locks.

Earth, sky, water join in this light,
beneath the spread-boughed trees,
dappled and stream-spangled,

singing with a thousand throats,
drawing up the buttercups
to catch the falling drops of sun.