In awe

Second cascade of the day for the dverse majestic prompt.



Beneath the mountain, a round pebble I,

Cloud-mountains build their vastness overhead;

The falcon stoops, my land-locked heart takes flight.


The keystone of a soaring arch-ribbed vault

Looks down on me with pure and cold disdain;

Beneath the mountain, a round pebble I.


The darting swallow-specks that fill the sky

Fly where I cannot go, that blue realm where

Cloud-mountains build their vastness overhead.


Such grandeur mocks our proudest works, their vain

Pale imitation fails to move, yet when

The falcon stoops, my land-locked heart takes flight.


I’ll believe perhaps


I’ll believe life is good

when you can show me

the faces of Syrian children,


I’ll believe life is good

when you can show me

the empty stalls

of the last veal calves

closed forever.

I’ll believe in life

when the trees tell me

they can breathe again,

when no man wields a gun

and death

with the impunity of a god.

Show me justice, compassion, respect,

then I’ll believe,

not before.

Roses in the blood

A poem for OctPoWriMo on the theme of mothers.


A mother is in the blood,

a flowering urge to root and shoot,

bud-burgeoning into blooms.

A mother blooms and falls,

her memory fading only slightly,

fuzzy at the edges, hard lines softened,

and the seeds set remind

in their bright laughter

and the way they hold a pencil

or turn a phrase,

that though the petals fell,

the rose remains.




When the ocean fills with darkness

This is the third of the poems I wrote for the Ekphrastic challenge using this painting by Dale Patterson.

Screen Shot 2019-09-20 at 17.04.06

When the ocean fills with darkness, fish will fly

Into the murky sky on silver wings;

In their tender mouths the seeds of perhaps.


The spring is silent now, no birds to sing,

All fallen, and the deer have gone, though mockers said,

When the ocean fills with darkness fish will fly.


So many flew, their souvenirs all wrapped in gossamer

But in the ports no welcome banners waved, and back they fell

Into the murky sky, on silver wings.


These children, my children, may still look up and see

The dreams go flying by and take up the fading cry

In their tender mouths—the seeds of perhaps.

Haibun for humanity

The dverse haibun this week is about indigenous people, which set me wondering about what this term actually means in the European context. The answer is, nothing at all.



Once there were the Celts, and they shared the land with the Romans who were drawn from all the known world. On these fields there were Gascons and to the east the Occitans and the Provençals. To the south were more Celts, Visigoths and Moors. Further north and east there were the Franks, and across the sea, even more Celts, driven west by Angles and Saxons, the Low Germans, then colonised by Norsemen and Goths, and in the farthest west, even there, the Norsemen built their towns among the Celts, and later the Normans, Norse-Frankish-Gallo-Romans with their Latinised ways, invaded and settled. Later still, the Italians came and the Portuguese and the Spaniards, fleeing war and poverty.

Now we point the finger at the African and the Arab, and say we, this mish-mash of tribes and peoples and nations, are the indigenous people, and we were here first. But we are all just people, colonised and coloniser, victor and vanquished, a story centuries old of the great brassage of populations. One day, we may realise no one has right of residence, that the earth belongs not to all, but to no one.

in the field

an oak tree grows

already older

than my grandparents

still setting seed

Wake the dead

Inspired by Ronovan’s word choice for his weekly challenge. Brought back memories of waking my mother.


Wake the dead,

sit with her

through the last long night above the earth,

laugh in her place,

and drink to the health that failed

(ah well),

and in the morning,

bear her lingering spirit to the rowan tree,

and lay her among its roots.

Water them with your tears.