Thoughts perhaps

For the last ten days or so I’ve been struggling to find a reason to keep on writing. It’s the time of year when death is uppermost in my mind, my mother’s birthday, the anniversary of her death, the festival of the dead and the start of the dark half of the year. Thanks to a friend insisting (nagging) that I don’t give up, I went back to the Oracle. I think the message is that some things don’t need a reason.

Forgive me if I don’t feel like ‘joining’ though, and have bowed out of the interactive scene. Hanging around on the margins is enough.

What follows starts with the eight square poem I wrote yesterday, leading into the Oracle’s response this morning. I have ended it with a coda of my own.


There is no more in these hands to

shape and form into butterflies,

no more music in the flute of

the wind. There was little of worth

and nothing to match the ripple

of stream or birdsong. Now I watch

the rain, the mist rising, sunlight

falling, and that must be enough.


Listen to the words in the wind that pours,

see how the ice grows red as fire in the sky,

fly in the face of the poison men spread,

and perfume the night with the scent of roses.

I will sail into this sky wet with stars (or is it rain?),

where the broken and the brilliant fish

their slow desires in the well of eternity,

where the morning wakes like thunder,

and your soft ghost of a smile

dances blue as the overwhelming salt ocean.


Wind blows sea whispers (from rock and wave)

across the skin of the sky,

rain sings in water shadows, purple and

black as a night far from the land.

I wonder if the moon is less than the sun

when she swims with dolphins through spray

petal light and creamed with foam,

and why I can no longer hold the elusive blue

and gold of twilights in my hands.

Is red the only colour of time?


These are questions few can answer,

perhaps the black pearls sleeping in deep waters,

perhaps pearls of moondrops falling in deep waters

or rain in puddles beneath a November sky.

Perhaps there are no answers,

perhaps they are the wrong questions,

but I will paint my thoughts in the sky

at the back of my head behind my eyes,

full of this sunset obscured by rain.



See you on the other channel

This (bar technical disasters) is my last post on this blog. In the last few months the minor ‘glitches’ have got worse and now they are legion. The list is too long and tiresome to go into, but just posting has become hard work, and I have decided to emigrate.
There is too much baggage her to take with me, so words and pictures will stay here, a sort of museum, free entry and open all year round.
My new address is
It would be nice to see you there.

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
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.
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.

Making wild plans

She imagined the meadows set forever in pink and yellow and white, like cloisonné enamel work, with flocks of goldfinches and high-stepping deer, hares hiding low and foxes making tracks in the dark. They would not mow at high summer, leave the wild things alone. They could let saplings grow here and there and become trees, let the woodland spead and step prettily among the flowers. Some said without a cut, bramble would smother everything, an unholy mess. Others said it wouldn’t. Sometimes, she decided, the only thing to do is follow the dream and see what happens.

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.