Glow worm shines,
a miniscule moon on the bedroom floor,
shining in the dark of its lonely universe.

I don’t wonder how it got into my dark,
shuttered from the sun and moon,
bringing its moonlight,

but I watch its moonlight fade,
as the insect fades, this heat too hot,
too little rain, the grass too dry,

and it is one sadness too much.

I take it in my hand.
There is lavender beneath the window,
a better place for anything wild,

but a night breeze plucks the faded moon.
It makes no resistance, the luciole,
falls into the night,

its star is fallen,
its time done.


Hidden in the fog

Hidden in the fog

This is a misty place,
fog gathers like sheep’s wool,
blanketing the sky.

There are dark thoughts in the fog,
dark deeds among the wintry trees,
creeping with reflector vests.

Mist is sky fog,
rising and descending,
masking field furrows.

Blanket mist muffles
dog bark, gun bark,
the sounds, harrowing.

A lover

A lover

In the hanging trees, the shrivel-fruit are dark
as no-moon and bitter as sloes, black the shadows,
pinched, a dead hand’s grip.

Through the leaf-rustle I wade
though briar’s cruel canes bar the way,
fox tracks too low, too narrow for me to pass,

and the air moves above my head
in feathered waves of startled pigeons,
clattering from their roost.

They tell me I will find you on the bald hill,
rabbit-cropped turf, dark beneath the no-moon,
where the owls sing to lure the stars.

They tell me I may not like what I find,
but still I take the cold path, no choice but to follow,
though your only sweetness be lilies.

Haibun for a life drawing to a close

We don’t fight death, we resign ourselves to letting go, bit by bit, little by little. Like pebbles in a cliff, we accept to part with just a handful more, until that wave, that has our name wreathed in spray, rises from the depths, and when it breaks, the heartslip, landslip, lifeslip slips away into the rolling blue silence.

Dry seed heads bend
beneath the wind’s hand sowing
flowers you won’t see.

The day I became an orphan

Today is the anniversary of my mother’s birth. Last night was the anniversary of her death. Four days before was the anniversary of my father’s death. in three days we will remember them all and wish these were the old days when believing would bring them close again, just for a few hours.

The day I became an orphan

On the bed, a woman sleeping,
a face familiar in all its lines,
unlined not old, smooth-skinned,
unfamiliar in its distance.

Eyes so blue, closed.

In the bed, a warmth, a body, a casing,
and beating still, beat, beat, beating,
a heart.

On the sheet, a hand, still,
the shape of the nails familiar,
the ring I look at for the first time since childhood,
amethyst winks in the hospital brightness.

In the hand, a trace,
a link to the heart, beat, beat, beating still,
and when I take the hand in mine,
at the end of the long last tearful journey,
the steady breathing catches,
heart clenches,

and the fingers press mine with all the gentleness,
the ancient abiding with me tenderness,
of a blackbird, enfolding her chicks
beneath her spread wing.


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.