Furious love

This is for TJ’s Household Haiku prompt. I hope haibun is included. The poem is inspired by watching a sparrowhawk trying to catch a peregrine falcon that had stolen a fledgling from its nest in the church spire.

The prompt words are Well & Sweet.

Photo ©Dr Raju Kasambe



There are no words, just cries of rage to scream the injustice of it all. What images unfurl behind the yellow irised eyes of the hawk robbed of her young? Red rage or white-fluffed memories of wide-beaked young? I watch with feet anchored in the clay, the aerial tragedy of loss and grief, and rage and hunger, and instinctive urges. Perhaps the falcon has young of his own and makes no difference between the pigeon squab and the future raptor. His wing beats, smooth as water, steel and silver in the sun, twist and turn, a feathered cascade, to beat off the smaller bird. And all the while, the short, final stretch of life, the mother screams, heads lift to see, and the baby dangles, helpless from the peregrine’s claws. Does it strain to see its mother’s furious, desperate flight, and does it hope, even a little bit, that a mother will prevail against death?

Clear as well water,

the sky, silver-barred and plumed,

sweet as honeyed dusk.


A poem inspired by Jilly’s quote from Jim Harrison

“Tiring of language, the mind takes flight”  ~ Jim Harrison

Photo ©Jacob Spinks


Can you hear the hawk crying in the wind,

or the twig snap beneath a dainty hoof?

Does the rain fill your ears with music

or your heart with chill?

All the words that drop from the leaves at morning

will not suffice to show you how the sky is blue,

if you never dream to touch the stars,

nor can they paint the song of the lark,

if this handful of warm feathers does not break your heart.

The colour of frost


There was a time,Screen Shot 2017-08-19 at 15.55.38

when honey-drunk

we soared

with music whispering

in our wings.

Now, ships that pass

in the night.



Time devoursScreen Shot 2017-08-19 at 16.07.52

the soft heart of the day.

Morning comes, red as fire

but at my dark window,

ice, steel-blue and hard,

kisses the cold glass

with ghosts of the night.


Night touches the skyScreen Shot 2017-08-19 at 16.18.47

with soft wings,

old songs fill the evening,

and we dance in starlight

as a river of music

runs into the morning.



Between life and the fall,Screen Shot 2017-08-19 at 16.36.16

we wander.

Root to bough,

spring to winter,

dawn to dusk,

the dark cycles rolls,

until the rose quiet shade

is the colour of frost.



Floods and tides

Maybe it’s coincidence since we were talking about Shakespearean sonnets yesterday, but Jilly’s next (for me) Jim Harrison quote has a distinctly Shakespearean feel.

“There is a human wildness held beneath the skin that finds all barriers brutishly unbearable” Jim Harrison

“There is a tide in the affairs of men which taken at the flood leads on to fortune” Shakespeare (Brutus).


To leap into the raging tide and risk the swell,

Or suffer the battering on the rocks, takes courage.

Perhaps, but what, dear Brutus, of the tide

That washes soft and sweet upon the strand,

And, with so little bombast fills the pools with glitter?

Wise men tug the coat sleeves of the fools,

Though not to stop them in their maddened flight.

But in their wake, the slipstream of their folly fly,

The path beat clear for the cunning and the keen.

Not wise men, angels, I hear you murmur—

Is that how you see yourself, Brutus,

As you stand so straight, your golden armour

Borrowing the splendor of the sun?

Give me the hungry and the lean,

For they know the price of courage, the toll of bravery.

I will take instead the hand of Cassius of my heart,

And lead him safe across the water,

Away from the shadow of such men

As the wide arch of the ranged empire call heroes.

The unasked question

This is a second, very rapid attempt at the dverse challenge to write a free verse sonnet. No rhyme this time, but I do like a rhythm to my words. Still not sure if this fits the bill.


Will you take me with you when you go?

The question hovers on my silent lips,

And will you want to find me by your side,

Or will my slender wingbeats just annoy?


The journey’s long to the place that we dreamed

Together, when the world turned at our will,

When we were hero swans that braved the storm

Together, and would stay so for all time.


The curve in your flight dips across the moon,

Your silhouette so clear cuts like a knife,

Slices through the tangles of the years.


Such wing strokes no cold buffered wind can stop—

I rush to join the currents wild and warm

That weave among the threads of our frayed past.

She asks her love to dance with her

This poem is for the dverse prompt and is inspired by Jilly’s quote from Jim Harrison

“As with dancing you have to learn the steps”

The challenge is to write a sonnet in free verse. With no rhyme or rhythm, the lines don’t fall into strict units of quatrains and tercets, for me at least, so I’ve stuck to classic Shakespearean sonnet form. A cop out, I know, but I find a sonnet quite hard enough to write without adding an extra twist to the thumbscrews.

Photo ©Tobiasvde


There is never a teacher for this dance,

No more than to guide the fledgling’s first flight,

To fly or to fall, in the hands of chance,

Sleep or the wolf may come with the night.

Will we untangle the mess that we made?

Our steps tripped and faltered, we parted ways,

Like sand castles crumbled, the plans we laid,

The dream of the future obscured in haze.

There must have been love to have left such pain,

As there must have been music to draw us on,

There must have been sun once though now there’s rain,

The piper once played sweet who now is gone.

Watch my eyes at sunset, moonrise to see,

The star-stepped path that brings you back to me.

Flash fiction #writephoto: The dragonslayer

This short story is inspired by Sue Vincent’s gorgeous photo.



In the middle of a distant ocean was an island fringed with inlets that made natural harbours, and with many rivers that made fertile valleys. The island should have been prosperous but the lives of the farmers and fishermen were blighted by the presence of a dragon. The uplands were blasted bare by the dragon’s breath, and the land could not be farmed. Any sheep that wandered out of the safety of the valleys were soon swept away in the dragon’s claws. Fishing barques that ventured too far from the sheltered coastal waters were also game for the beast. The fishers and farmers had not the means of killing the dragon or chasing it away, and their children, one after the other, packed their bags and went to seek their fortune on the mainland far away.

At night the dragon slept, but with half an eye open. The boats that slipped away under cover of dark waited for a strong tide and a good wind that would carry them far away by morning. On one small farm, an old couple said goodbye to their youngest child at sunset and watched in silence as the muffled oars pulled out into the tide and the dark sail unfurled. Their eyes were dry, but they knew that soon they would be unable to work their smallholding, and they in turn would have to leave and seek the charity of their children on the mainland.

On the dunghill in the farmyard, the cock, a vain and aggressive creature, heard their sad words and understood in his limited way, that the life he knew and loved as chief of all he surveyed, would soon be ending. He had sometimes seen the great leathery bird with feathers that looked more like fish scales, swooping and diving in the sky above, and was full of envy. To envy was added anger, because the leathery bird had driven away the farmer’s flock, and there would be no one to take his place when he died, no one to feed the cock and his flock of hens.

The morning after the last of the farmer’s chicks left the nest, the cock crowed a defiant challenge. The hens listened, the dog heard but took no notice, and the cat watched to see who would answer. The sun rose and the morning wore on, but for all the cock’s singing, he could not attract the dragon’s attention. So he left the barn, he left the farm, he fluttered along the narrow track that wound up to the plateau. At the end of the valley on the edge of the uplands stood a single tree with singed black branches. The cock flew up onto the topmost branch and crowed again.

In his lair, the dragon opened a lazy eye and saw the fiery bird with its peacock pride in the lonely tree. In the dark depths of the scorched earth, a spirit stirred and saw a glimmer of light. The dragon stretched his wings the colour of scarabees and leapt nonchalantly into the air. The earth spirit breathed fire from the depths into the bird spitting angry sparks, and the cock spread his wings, russet and red and green and blue, and fluttered in his ungainly way to meet the dragon. The earth breathed, and the cock grew. His wings spread wider and wider, his feathers caught the sunlight like burnished bronze, thicker and stronger, wider and taller, and he threw back his head and gave a cry like the shriek of an eagle.

When the two met, the cock was as huge as the dragon and his spurs glittered wickedly. The dragon, who saw only an angry, outsized chicken, plunged with outspread claws, that raked through the cock’s flourish of plumes and caught thin air. The cock kicked, once, twice, and the dragons leathery wings were ripped in two. The dragon belched flame in fury, but the earth breathed again and turned the fiery breath back on itself. The dragon roared and plummeted, twisting and turning, as his useless wings wrapped him in a strait jacket of flame.

The cock crowed a song of victory and cast his cunning eye over the valleys, searching out the barns where the grain was stored. He turned his awkward flight away from the plunging dragon, intent on destruction of his own, when the wind veered from the north and hissed, No more!

In an instant, the air froze as cold as a January midnight, and both the cock and the dragon turned from fire to ice, creatures of frost, until the wind blew through the crystals of their scaled and feathered effigies and blew them away.

In the valleys and the villages by the sea, snow fell for a day and a night, though the year was almost at midsummer. But when the snow melted and the sun returned, the first green shoots in a dragon’s lifetime appeared in the fire-blackened soil of the plateau.