Sometimes a blackbird

Sometimes a blackbird

Sometimes there is song
at evening when the day fades,
before the dark comes and sleep;
blackbirds conjure the light,
drawing out the course of the sun.


Heat rises

evening june

Heat rises from baked earth,

sighs in whisper of thistledown and butterfly wings,

bathes in gold the green beneath

more and more relentless blue,

seeps in the sweet, ripe smell of bird-pecked figs.

Leaves flutter,

flickering the shadowed sunlight where

a blackbird sings softly, a trio of notes,

listening in vain

for stream babble

to finish the line.

Some things just are

Sorry it’s not celebratory, Lillian. For the dverse open link night, a haibun I wrote at the beginning of the week. Another insignificant death. There are so many here. Compensated a little by finding, the same evening a couple of toads nestled up together beneath a tree, waiting for the rain.


Today a young bird died, a blackbird, sick perhaps or dropped by the hovering buzzard, mortally injured. It crouched in the grass alone, waiting to die. It died before midday, behind the log pile. Refusing to eat, no idea of where was home, drawn to the blackbird fuss from the distant trees and then renouncing. Finches were twittering overhead, a woodpecker chipping away, a pigeon cooing. It died, one wing outstretched, like a hand, not knowing why, knowing nothing beneath the implacable sun, except that death was coming. How many stretch out a hand, a wing, a paw in those final moments? How many look into the face of death and understand at last what it is to be alone?

Sunlight falls

but in those eyes

winter gazes.

City beauty

A sequence of short poems inspired by Claudia McGill’s reflections on geraniums at windows.


There is joy and beauty

beneath the city grime,

and the blackbird’s song

is just the same

beneath this sky.


There is beauty in the stone that glints

with the colours of the changing light,

and in the chaotic fluttering of sparrows’ wings.

There is kindness in the dirty blanket

laid beneath an old dog’s head,

and happiness when a greeting is returned,

a stranger’s uncalculating smile.


The earth is deep and dark in the garden plot

where snails creep,

elegant and unhurried,

among the stalks.

The earth is deep and full of life

that shoots and climbs higgledy-piggledy,

without order or patience,

riotous and lush,

because the sun and rain fall here as anywhere.

The earth is,

deep and eternal,

beneath my tread,

and over my head,

the sky.


And on a lighter note


How grey the sky and damp the air

and loud the screech of tyres complaining.

Beyond the cloud and heavy mist

somewhere there’s sun and it’s not raining.

Microfiction #writephoto: Black pearl

This is for Sue Vincent’s Thursday Photo Prompt.


Winter sunset and the old stone glows red. Blue as a bird’s egg, the sky, raked with bare black branches. So much colour in the biting cold. The night would bring frost and grass collect a fur of white. She used to live in the house behind the black branches. She had thought of it as home. But it had turned into a trap.

If she looked hard she could see the flames of the fire in the grate. It would be warm inside. He probably had another woman by now to cook him exactly what he wanted, to plump up the cushions and make sure the place was spotless. Because that’s what counts after all. The shell must be as pristine as the inside of an abalone, licked clean by an obliging cat fish.

Inside, the flames dance and the house looks at her with its glassy eyes. It had never liked her. She had not taken enough care with its rainbow shine. She had wanted more than the shell, and he, the mollusc’s usurper, could give her nothing else.

She hunches her shoulders against the north wind. Her hands are cold and raw, but at least she feels the way the air moves and flows around her like a river. A blackbird flies past in his low, rapid dash from tree to hedge. He crashes into the glossy-leaved thicket with an irritated cluck. She smiles, hoping he’s found something to eat in the hard ground. His shell is the sky and he is the black pearl.

She makes up her mind, suddenly, turning her back on the house of no mirth forever. She will be a pearl too, her shell, the sky, flushed with the setting sun, and filled with the last notes of the blackbird’s song.

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.


We walk in leaf shadow

green river bank

Too hot for spring, we walk in leaf shadow,

Damp-footed in the heavy dew.

Mud oozes, sea-green and buttercup-creeping,

Smelling of the sea and elderflowers.

Blackbirds listen for the murmur of worms,

Run­-stop-running, leaf-tossing among the fronds,

Where fledglings waddle and squabble,

Seal-sleek and gannet-beaked.

Life sprawls as slow as the sun’s arc,

Fast as the deepening blue of evening,

And sings in all the colours of the rose.

Overhead, in silent, widening curves,

Bland yellow gaze fixed on the dapples,

The kite hangs with death in his eye.

Last songs


Though blackbird’s song is hushed, his eye’s still bright,

Searching through dead leaves while lasts the light,

The wind blows brusque and sharper every day,

No ruffled feathers keep the cold away.

Ripe fruit falls and bruises on the ground,

Too late for wasps, leaf fall the only sound.


From summer-weary birch tree boughs I hear

The robin’s song of notes, as sharp and clear

As icy water trickling in a rill,

As starlight glittering on a snowy hill,

Reminding me, sure as night fades at dawn,

That this sweet summer too is almost gone.