Short sharp sorrow

Trying to get the sadness out. A haiku, a short poem, and a tanka.


Grief pangs twist the heart
Wring tears from vague sentiment
A sea to drown in.

A child is dead
And another and another
All someone’s children
All my children
So many parents’ tears
A flood of heart’s blood
To quench the fires of hatred
But ideals do not listen
Fanatics need guns
Not children.

I did not know you
never held your hand in mine
or called out your name
but I grieve for your absence
the world is a darker place.

In these dark days

This poem is in response to Peter Bouchier’s comment that we need words of hope of some kind ‘in these dark days’. This week has seen enough shocking, senseless deaths on our European doorstep to make any right-minded human being shout, stop! Whoever is doing it, whyever they are doing it, this is not the way.


Once death reached down from parching summer skies,
Crept into cradles with a spring that came too late,
Strangled with a winter’s grip too hard too long,
Stalked the streets, a pox, a plague, a reason of state.
Death came in many simple forms
Slim blade simple, empty belly or a soldier’s hand
Too little food, a poisoned well, or too much snow
The simple terror of the tyrant in command.
But in these safer democratic days
When science and education shine their healing light
The tyrant is the leader with a poisoned tongue
Who fans the flames and sends men out to fight.
Too quick to heed the words of hatred we refuse
To see the beauty in ourselves, our world and be content
But butcher maim and justify another’s pain
In these dark days of our enlightenment.

All things pass

©Michael J. Bennett
©Michael J. Bennett

All things pass and turn into the dark
Green leaves shrink and sink into the loam
Howling cliffs are beaten by the ocean swell
Into grains of sand beneath the lacy foam.

All things turn their faces from the light
Beyond the blue, cold darkness fills each corner of the sky.
Following the cosmic dance until the end
The fire of the brightest star will die.

I gather them up, my myriad shining thoughts
Though they have no weight in the infinity of space.
The planets turn and wheel about my head
And stars pick out the contours of your face.

All things pass as I will into endless night
Leaving perhaps a trail of fire in the dark
For you to follow when your light begins to wane,
Kept glowing in your heart, a bright eternal spark.

My one desire while the daylight lasts
To learn the beginning and the end of what you are
And be content when my world turns into the dark
To cool and fade like any humble star.

June 6th


On this day the sun beats down
From skies of eggshell blue
And gulls float by cloud white,
Whisps of feathered foam.
On this day the air vibrates
With crickets, traffic, the screeching voice
Of the neighbour calling to her cats
While the sea rolls gentle on the pebbled beach.
Sea cliffs gleam beneath the sun
In silvery calm holding back the waves
And laughter plashes in the pools
Where children poke unhappy crabs.
On that day the air was dull
As if the sky refused to see.
The cracked air screamed with the voice of death
Untimely, man-made, relentless death.
On that day the sea rolled red
The beaches stained like a butcher’s floor.
For the thousands who beneath the cliffs
Pushed back the wave of abject philosophy
With their soft bodies, their hopes and dreams
That longest day stretches to eternity.

Fox waits

Shoots stems stamens

Stalks and sap striving.

Roots and rhyzomes

Deep in the damp dark

Digging and delving.

Leaf furls worm curls

wave rolls on the windswept beach

Hail batters rain patters

And the raw smell of animal hair.

The bird in the egg struggles

Magpie snatches.

Hawk hovers

Voles mice shrews scatter.

And cradled in the warm earth

Fox curls around her young

Waiting for the wheel to turn.

©Rylee Isitt
©Rylee Isitt

Spring Earth

Dark earth twitches with tiny life,

Pale and grotesque,

Blindly industrious,

And sharp crocus spears thrust to the light

Through last year’s rotting leaves.

No human values apply in the real world.

The slug, the crook-legged insects,

The sharp smell of rottenness,

All have their place with the new, unfurled leaf,

The graceful curve of a rose petal

And heady garden scents.

The rose dies, a brown sludge

And brambles bar the way as well as any wire.

Songbirds die exhausted after winter fast

And plumage dulls beneath the creeping lice.

Beauty and ugliness

Two words with meaning only in the world of man

Who makes and breaks and judges what shall be and what shall die.

Give me the morning, sharp and cloud-smudged

With the tang of rain in the wind

And I will raise my face to the sky.

The man-made paradise

With shark-free lagoons of heavenly blue,

Concrete pools, ice-chinking drinks

And misery behind the barrier of palms

Is uglier far than this dark earth

Creeping and busy, full of dead and dying

And life.

© Axel Kristinsson First Flowers of Spring
© Axel Kristinsson First Flowers of Spring