Barely leaves a mark
on the day, a yellow smear
behind thin cloud,

low, tired, the sun burns out,
heaving itself over
the tree-lined horizon.

No burning these damp days
of leaf-sodden twilight,
no fire in the sky.

Twig-black cracks,
wind rising, scattering last crows,
and we hold

our summer-warm pebbles
tight as talismans,
smooth as new eggs.



The Oracle reminded me of an incident on a walk a week or so ago. She never forgets.

Painting by Willard Metcalf


I watch
but not her
not the woman with the tiny dog
yapping in her arms

fussing because leaves
damp dirt other dogs

I watch the beauty
fall slow from the trees
listen as the leaves whisper forgiveness
to the summer
for the relentless heat

I taste the tang of rain
in their soft browning
foetal shapes

while Dog sniffs the change
revels in its richness.

Autumn comes

Yesterday was hot. The yellow was golden, we kept in the shade and strolled home listening to the crackle of dried leaves.
The sunflower field looks desolate now, and the trees in front of the house along the stream look pale and thin.

The corn is in too, but the boar still come out to rummage.

Then today, the clouds came, the light was dull, and the yellow seemed more pronounced and drab. Like the box elder

the parched meadows

and the ‘garden’ reduced to yellow dust. The plants have died back or withered, the vine is wilted, the leaves curled and brown, and all we see on the roses are thorns.

At the end of this afternoon it rained. The start of the equinoctial change. High winds, unseasonably cool temperatures and rain are on the menu for the next fortnight. The mellow fruitfulness isn’t going to happen this year, I fear.

First thrush

First thrush

First thrush
through the mists of morning
among the damp trees.

The notes ripple,
soft as mist
winding through damp trees.

First thrush
in the misty morning silence
of this end of year-time

time of so many endings
songs and soft gentle company
among these dark damp trees.

Pictures of autumn

Pictures of autumn

The shades of autumn wash across this green
and golden place, with poplar petals strewn,
and feathered dancers dark against the sky.

Be-vined and wooden-shuttered, these grey walls
are ivy-fingered. Tendrils poke through frames
where rain and insect-pecking birds will creep.

Such quiet in the patter of the drops,
the pewter tumbling from a leaden sky,
I hush the birds, their ceaseless, careless calls.

I’d hush the rolling wind that brings the cold,
and still the murm’ring voices of the dead,
to let me hear the silence of the trees,

but winter comes on wings and trotting pads,
wolf-fierce, goose-fierce, fanged and falcon-clawed,
and we must build our ramparts as we can.

Grey the sky and stone and plumage flying,
dash of red and green, woodpeckers crying,
in autumn’s livery, the old year dying.

Wind changes

Wind changes

Walls run with lizard, ladybird, sun-shadows,
stone baking still though the fierce heat has gone,
shrinking day by day deeper to the core.

Meadow grass bobs with yellow flower heads,
sunspots, dabs of mauve, clover, thistle,
the dash of butterflies.

But wind rattles the drying leaves,
tossing poplar pennies, raining acorns
where furtive fur ruffles,

and the lizard lifts its head, sniffing the change,
aeons of memory of the great cold coming,
and the dark just beneath the hedge.

Hedge in autumn

Hedge in autumn

The hedge was dense and green through summer,
and at the end hung with red and black,
luscious gemmed and fluttering with wings
when soft-voiced birds flit, feasting.

And at the end, hung with red and black,
the sumptuous banners of a forgotten king,
blackberried and spiked, autumn builds its ramparts,

luscious-gemmed and fluttering with wings.
Turning vines drape purple grapes in gold leaf,
hand-prints across the green of oak and elm.

When soft-voiced birds flit, feasting
on hips and haws and plump purple,
I know the winter king will soon be holding court.



Blue gold and green, not yet flame
and the burning to ashes of the year.

Sun sails still proud and fierce, but the arc
Is falling into the arms of the trees.

Louis ploughs the bit of field beyond the stream,
turning over chocolate slabs of heavy clay,

drawing furrows of steady tractor noise
through the stillness, projecting into seeded spring,

and in the oak trees by the lane, a hind, wearing
winter acorn-brown, wonders which path to take.