The cynic weeps silent tears of rage

Another bomb atrocity makes the headlines. This latest in Manchester where husband and I spent three years at university. It doesn’t make it worse. I don’t feel angrier or choked up because I once walked those streets. Murder is murder, wherever it happens, to whomsoever it happens. For the families involved, it’s the end of the world. For the rest of us, it’s just another nail in the coffin of humanity.


It gets harder to feel the pain; the outrage is dulled—we’ve understood, that’s what terrorists do; they blow people up. The reporters work harder, the footage is more explicit, the heart-rending accounts more tearful, because we’ve heard it so many times before. We listen to calls for prayers and sympathy and interviews with distraught people who once considered going there for a holiday years ago. Imagine! It could have been us!

Only hysteria works now, and only on behalf of ‘people like us’. It’s happening in the Philippines, all over the Middle East, Africa (do we still remember ‘our girls’?). The refugees fleeing war have seen all this too, but they don’t count. The world is sinking into murder, the food industry machine-massacres, the fashion industry enslaves, our excess pauperises.

Only hysteria brings tears. We have too much to cry for. The horrors jostle, snatching at our attention to be top horror, to make jaws drop, stir the inner ghoul, and extort more prayers. Where can I look and not feel guilt?


Wind blows sand blossoms,

parched and dry like the river,

and still the birds sing.


On the edge

This haibun is for Colleen Chesebro’s Tanka Tuesday.

Photo ©Wouter Hagens


Only at this moment

and this and this

can I write of past and future, each moment ticking by, another grain of sand in the glass, adding to the past and taking from the future. I sit or stand or take a step

this way or that, back again

in that infinitely narrow strait, where all futures, all pasts, slide and pass, reach out a hand, catch a grain

and another and another

and by the light of a star already dead, imprint its shape. Memory stored, I keep it polished and bright, as long as I can see its trajectory downward, behind, stroke the memory of its fiery tail as it falls. This sun, with rays so much younger than the fiery mass, flickers in the facets before they are lost, poured through the straits into the pile of the past. So many grains, falling in a brilliant cascade. How many more are left to come?


Each moment glitters,

dark or light, by sun or moon,

a glimpse of heaven.

I taste my childhood, the scent,

floral, pungent of privet.

Sound of music

The dverse quadrille prompt is ‘sounding-off’. Sound is such a vast and beautiful area I wrote two.

Photo ©Malene Thyssen


Even when the traffic growls

and rappers grumble

and drunken shouts tear up the evening air,

I hear the sound,

sometimes far, sometimes near at hand,

the pulsing music,

water-ripple, star-bright,

sun-dappled, honey-sweet,

petal-soft and love-fierce,

the ancient, insistent notes

of the blackbird’s song.


In the seashell,

rolling in the spirals and whorls

and roundy curls

is all the majestic, uproarious sound

of the ocean heaving deep and green

and poplars ranting their rustling dreams,

and if you listen carefully,

behind the song of the surf,

a blackbird.


Colours of hope

A poem for The Secret Keeper’s writing prompt. The words to include are:



How do I count the colours bright,

that paint the fields and fill the light,

across the waves and out of sight?

All these hues a heart can hold,

the reds and blues the green and gold,

fiery hot and winter cold—

a wealth to store against the past.

It fell, a shooting star, so fast,

our love no longing could make last.

With no regrets, I look ahead,

with green of hope and little dread,

to find a new love in your stead.


you’re my piazza navona

I once dreamed of living in Rome. This blog is the nearest I’ll get to it.

off the beaten path

When I think of the Piazza Navona in Rome I think of you now.

Last time I was there I was walking around, and every coffee I had, or wine I sipped, or smile I gave to a passing man, or Bernini fountains I stopped and stood at for the hundredth time pondering with fresh eyes, or place I wandered into… gazing at everything in Saint Agnese, or in the museums near by; I thought about you there in the piazza before me, and after me, off in your own reverie, not thinking of me except when I asked for an image of you once, standing before a marble goddess. You sent it to your part-time Aphrodite on Hérmes’ winged feet, and I treasured it, and buried it, like Crassus’ riches.

You have captured my imagination against my will, and that’s kind of lovely.

This strange, exciting, impossible idea of you…

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