It’s my favourite time of the year. Will it always be like this, until there’s nothing left to kill?

What working of the mind,
what connections linking eye to hand,
thought and desire to grasping,
breaks the perfection of morning peace,
the majesty of oaks laden with sun,
morning bustle and flutter of birds,
silence of curled sleep in secret hollows,
with the bark and bellow of gunshot?

Is there a darkness in the soul,
a blindness to life and beauty,
to the beating pulse of life,
an inability to let alone, let life walk
the path it chooses?

Sadness clouds the cloudless sky,
dims the sun, cools the rising heat,
and the bushes round the house fill
with blackbirds, robins, finches, fleeing
the outlying trees where death falls
in fury from the sheltering leaves.

The dark of the year


This night is when I think of you,

all together, not one missed place

at table or ache in my heart.

We are what we come from, the blood


and the white bones beneath the earth,

the wind wailing ’cross the mountain.

We are the river running to

the ocean, the waves on the strand,


the quick flick of the hare’s white scut,

the blackbird’s song in the rowans.

I try to explain the hunger,

the land left behind in grieving,


the hope in children not yet born,

but the past is a foreign land.

I listen for your voices still,

in this owl-soft night, and I weep.

Silent screaming

Monday morning, after a weekend of carnage, the retired men with white vans, too much time on their hands and too little imagination and sensitivity are still blazing away at inoffensive creatures that are infinitely more useful and beautiful than they are.

For the OctPoWriMo prompt.


knots tighten


twanging like bowstring

the report of a gun

not placid

as the eyes embedded in wood

fiercely blind

clench-fisted against the ungraspable.

Knots bind

hands flail

unbound but helpless

in the face of flying bullets

and the brutish blackness

beneath the skull

of the hidden hunter.

Wake the dead

Inspired by Ronovan’s word choice for his weekly challenge. Brought back memories of waking my mother.


Wake the dead,

sit with her

through the last long night above the earth,

laugh in her place,

and drink to the health that failed

(ah well),

and in the morning,

bear her lingering spirit to the rowan tree,

and lay her among its roots.

Water them with your tears.

Silence broken

As I sit on this glorious autumn morning of warm sun, I can hear, all around me the sound of gunfire. I defy anyone who is not a completely insensitive brute to listen to the sound of senseless killing and not be angered and sickened by it. A cleave poem for OctPoWriMo’s silence prompt.

A cleave poem is three in one: left side says one thing, right side says its opposite. Read together they make a third poem.



Early morning gold / the shadows lie

thick beneath the trees/ cool and deep­—

autumn settles / with a stealthy rustle,

when the only sound is birdsong/ hunters creep

beneath the wing-fluttered hedge/ deer startle into flight

I hold my breath/ as silence breaks with sharp retorts

and russet flashes, gone / shattered the fragile peace

where wild things go / snapped the thread of life

I watch the silence /as death falls on fallen grace

filling the space of beauty lost/ for some warped and dark delight.

In the reaches of the night


Something calls in the reaches of the night, where stars

wash back and forth, caught in the swell of the sky.


Its wordless words are saying that this place between

hoof, paw and the netted stars, that stirs in flaring nostrils


and tastes of the night, is love and anguish at its loss, is

birth and death and all of life between, muscles sliding


beneath hide and feathered flight. It says, listen to life

calling, hear its song in the snailshell of the ear, feel it


growing deep in the bones. Keep it close, let it not be

snatched away snuffed out in blood and tears,


but carry it always to sing, loud-throated as the blackbird,

into the teeth of death and the last silence.


Ronovan’s art prompt is this painting. I have no idea what it is, but here’s what it inspired.



From a forest of tree tangle,

dead and dry, it comes,

treading with the confidence of death,

untouchable and indefatigable.

No wings carry this crow,

no lightness of sky and cloud touches its dusty flesh.

Midnight at midday,

the wilderness caws,

hoarse as war trumpets braying,

and we cower as the blight grows

and the fever rises,

and we dread the sound

of pounding at the door.


For the Daily Inkling.



The dawn breaking, slow and sluggish wakes her, and the clicking of the sand crabs. They crawl out from their sandholes at first light, hunting. She pulls up her knees and sits, hunched up small, reluctantly letting go of the oblivion of night. The crabs click, and the sand stirs as hundreds of them home in on her body heat. She raises her eyes to the hills that roll heavily skywards and squints. The light is pale, but she is sure that the highest points are green, a ragged leafy crown of trees. Up.

Beyond the scuttling crabs lies the ocean, still miles away, but creeping inexorably higher. The crabs come first. She has seen what follows. Up. There is no option.

Sun rises and the heat increases. The light is deep red gold but it sears like flame. Up there, the air is too thin. The stars are too close. She keeps her eyes on her feet and climbs. Sand shifts, slithers, and each step drains the energy of two. Up here, there is nothing but sand, smooth and glittering, and dry. She fixes the image of the trees in her head and plods on, higher.

Higher, the sun weighs down, like lead pouring onto soldiers’ heads as they storm ancient walls. She feels the burning trickle down her back, dragging on her feet. She even hears the screams. Up. There is no option.

She no longer feels anything. Her feet have melted, her back is a brazier. Her eyes are as dry as her mouth, her vision as cracked as her lips. The shadow falling softly over her shoulders goes unnoticed at first, but the fire recedes, gradually. Cool. A breeze on her face, and slowly, painfully she raises her eyes from the sand before her and the flames in her eyes cool. There is shadow and thick trunks of scented pine. Her toes scrunch pine needles.

Hope dares to seep back that perhaps the story is true. Perhaps there is safety on the hilltops. She finds new energy, walking quicker, her head high, searching for water. There must be water or there could be no trees. She zig-zags between the trunks, sniffing, peering, her toes digging into the sandy soil searching for dampness.

Ahead, the trees thin. Already? Then there are no more. She hangs onto the last tree truck, her heart falling, falling, falling. Beyond, the hills roll down, back down, inexorably down, through baked dunes to the sparkling ocean, where they are waiting.

In the hush of night

A poem for the Secret Keeper’s five word prompt.




In the hush of night, the cold is rude.

Frost feather-ruffles with frozen fingers,

fitting into any lock, beneath any door;

no nest or lair resists.

Beneath the cruel winking of the stars,

the pheasant stirs, caught

in the unbearable embrace of chill wind.

No kindly wing covers and protects,

no error pardoned—fox sniffs

the frozen air, and the night is stirred again

with cold blood.



Dear animals,

Just a short word to say, we are not all sanguinary brutes, although it must look like that to you. You see the two-legs rushing round in their vans because their legs aren’t up to running after you. They need their dogs because they can’t sniff out a track on their own or get among the brambles. They need their rattles and horns and whistles to frighten you because otherwise you would stay put and they’d never see you. They need their big guns to kill you because they have no teeth, claws, speed, stealth, talons or beak.

They kill, the overweight and out of breath, because you are beautiful, and you can live where they cannot, because you run, creep, fly, stalk where they blunder and trample. Don’t forgive them, for they know what they do. Run and hide. See tomorrow dawn.

A friend.


A message from the Oracle.


We drive beauty away Screen Shot 2018-12-22 at 10.42.07

from this garden;

life is stilled,

only screaming shadows remain,

smell of lost summer,

whispers in the wind.

Shots rip red death—

stop! Please.

Raw is the rose light

that shines this sad bloody day.

Why? I ask, but there is no reply

for those who cry.


Rain stopped play.Screen Shot 2018-12-22 at 12.35.01

How many thousands more

need to die?