I’ve been working on this poem for a few days. Seems like a good moment to post it. For the NaPoWriMo pastoral prompt.


We walk in the dark of the wind-rushy trees,

listening to their wind-rushy voices,

solemn and wise and old as the earth,

silencing birdsong and furtive rustlings

from woods, hedges, field edges

and sleeping gardens.

Hands touch, but can they hold it back,

the something, pale blue and shimmering,

that seemed to fade in the dusk?

Wind rushes, rolling the perfume of lilac along the lane,

playing the woodwind of rose and oriole,

bowling garlic flower notes against the dark.

Wind ruffles flowerheads with gentle hand,

my face, sharper, imperious—listen, feel—

then suddenly the stream,

banked in heavy scents of wet earth,

edged in elm and elder,

alder and willow boughs sweeping low,

calls in the pure ringing voice

of spring water running

and the notes, a seamless weave,

leave no space for sadness.


It’s that apple again

Episode II of hypocrisy and misogyny in…well, you name the time period. This is using the Cranach painting of the Judgement of Paris for the NaPoWriMo prompt.



Later, she says, looking flirtatiously at the painter,

your interpretation will be debunked.

You painted us, the three harlots of antiquity,

Hera, Athena and me, Aphrodite,

exposing our charms,

bribing a harmless shepherd god with promises of power and wealth.

You made us shameless whores,

but you stripped us naked and you revelled in it.

They say I was the one who offered him Helen

in exchange for the apple, the prize,

(funny how that apple crops up

wherever women and their wiles are at work)

but it was you, men like you, painter,

imbued with the self-righteous sanctity of Christian teachings,

and like the paragons of manhood idolised by warlike primitives,

who made the world where women were judged for their beauty

and nothing more, and could be offered as prizes.

You made the world where a wife could be stolen,

(from the husband foisted on her in the first place)

given to another man, then blamed for the war to get her back.

Because she was beautiful.

Because you stripped us all naked

and made us nothing better than wet dreams of concupiscent child-bearers.

Later, she says, one day, women will turn around,

(like me, now, go on, look)

and they will tell you and all the lecherous contemptuous men

who peep and touch, promise monts et merveilles

and leave you with the kids—

just kiss my ass.


Root of all evil

For the dverse prompt. Late because we had a power outage yesterday evening. The Judgement of Paris probably says it all.


They stand in the shadows, Deirdre and Étain,

Andromeda and Persephone,

Eurydice, Penelope, Helen,

all the women who took the blame

for their beauty, the greed and lust of men,

for not being their father’s sons.

They stand in the shadows and watch

as we stalk the catwalks or cringe behind veils,

as we walk always two paces behind

but with a simpering smile of complicity.

They stand, they watch, and they judge.

So long, their stony eyes say in silent reproach,

and still we mince and pout and take the rap,

the punch in the face, the unwanted touching,

or we wrap our shame in black

scuttle like beetles to deflect desire.

When, they ask, will we turn to the adventurer

returned from his wars and his conquests of female flesh

and say, what kept you?

Slap Paris in the face and tell him,

I am not a prize to be won;

I too will fly on a winged horse to sun and moon

to pluck golden and silver apples,

spit the pips in the eyes of all your gods.

My prize is not a bedslave,

but the liberation of the world.

Writing exercise: Repetition

Issa Dioume posted another writing exercise from the great Ursula. This one, to write 150 words using at least three repetitions of key words appealed to me. It’s exactly 150 words with quite a lot of repeated words.


Pigeons litter the sky as cartons litter the pavement and cars litter the kerbs. She takes out her phone and checks the time. He’s late. He’s usually late, doesn’t seem to care if he keeps her hanging about in unsavoury places like this tatty square full of life’s litter and grubby pigeons. There’s a fountain somewhere, across the cobbles. Not that you can see the cobbles for the cars. She’d like to see the street sweepers come along with hefty brooms and sweep them away, like the cartons.

Pigeons flutter down with a rattle of wing feather and strut around her feet, pecking at pebbles and ring pulls. Some people would sweep them away too, with their deformed feet and lice-ridden feathers, she thinks. Yet they’re just cleaning up our mess. She looks up at the sound of footsteps. Someone squeezes between the parked cars, grinning.

“You’re late” she says.



For the NaPoWriMo prompt to write about an animal. I seem to do that all the time, so this is a scene I participated in this morning before breakfast. And if any of my sensitive little chicks are reading, this is NOT you. Okay?

Photo©Luis Garcia


Watching the skirmish from the window

birds chasing through the waving fronds

of the pink tree heather

(piebald shark pursued by trout)

a hen blackbird clucks mother-like

fury boundless—magpie thief eludes her

mocking and

they flutter through the fronds

(pinkly waving)

weaving a dance of ritualised aggression.

Cock blackbird arrives late for the battle

(it’s his chick too)

and I run outside shouting

as if I can intervene in a pattern of nature

remove the chick from the (Chinese kite demon’s) beak

restore it to its nest.

I watch the inevitable

(demon kite) sailing away through the trees

and grieving parents clucking among the branches

winding down

returning to the survivors


(Do they, I wonder?


Do mothers ever forget their chicks

even when they are grown and gone

even when they forget birthdays

and fill their lives with things more important

than mothers?

Things that are lost

A quadrille for the dverse ‘rise’ prompt. A poem which I wrote with Redon’s painting of Orpheus in mind, after he has lost Eurydice I imagine.


The wind rises with a fiery voice

like angry hornets,

swelling the rising oceans that roll

over people risen against their empty bellies,

thirsty rivers,

dead children

and others against the rise in petrol prices,

and I, weeping,

I will arise and go now.