Dappled things

The line from The Maltese Falcon is similar but not exactly the same as a line from The Tempest. I have used the original so Shakespeare gets the credit. I’ve bent the rules of the dverse prompt a bit. The title is a nod at Gerard Manley Hopkins.

This time, this place swells full as seed pods
with such stuff as dreams are made on,
pours such light as stars englobe and
sings such songs as angels envy.

Our little lives are pale as starlight
in the bright of first sun rising,
waking from the dark of sleeping,
sweet ephemera we breed,

like damselflies upon the water,
turquoise, crimson, fiery glimpses
of the molten core, the deep heart,
that fountains here among these trees.

In the waking world, the dancers
slip between the now and then,
but these small fields remember beauty,
dreams or fancies planted deep;

I see them blooming when I sleep,
and when I laugh, and when I weep.

The last waltz

(for dverse to be sung to the tune of the Blue Danube)

The last leaf that clings
in the wind and the rain is
the leaf that will fly
with the wings of a bird,
and I’ll watch its last dance
as it blows in its russet
attire, the gown
of the belle of the
wild autumn ball,
when the trees are stripped
naked and birdsong
is mournful, the sky full
of winter, no swallows
and even the geese,
they’ve all flown,
and they’ll not
be back
till spring!

For Francis L

In the cool damp of the morning,
When blackbirds whistled in the hedge,
The bright jay shouted warning,
Bittern boomed in the sedge,

In the cool of dewdrops falling,
You marched back to the mud
And none of blackbird’s calling
Brought you back, no soft words could.

For the men who marched across the sea
Took the blackthorn in their pack,
And you knew as you crossed the lea
That you’d not be coming back.

A poem for Francis Ledwidge and dverse.

Blue of fire

For the dverse prompt.

Blue of fire

Blue is the last to go,
when the waltzing pinks and whites and golds
are cold and grey with shadows,
and mist rising, dew dropping,
drained of day-life,
still as the ocean bottom.

I watch for pike where magpies waddled.

Above a wash of water-blue,
blue light,
the set sun, lingering by proxy,
pricked and pierced
by the jagged light of stars,
reefs in the deeps
where satellites float in their lonely glitter,
pretending to be meteorites or asteroids,

expensive toys lost in space,
where blue is fire.

Haibun for this moment

For the dverse prompt.

There is no present moment. It’s gone like a raindrop falling, no time to inspect it, turn it about to see the seams. The light dips, and the last blackbird is silent. Did I notice the last notes? Or are they confused with the nightingales’ songs that never end?
Light, ever changing fades to grey, the moon hidden behind thick cloud. Each moment thickens the colour until there are no moments of grey left on the palette, and shades of black begin.
Birdsong beats the rhythm of passing moments, flowing into the past like stream water flowing into the future river, while I listen helplessly to the bird notes of an unrepeatable song.

night flowers with stars
flower with light showering
night-petalled stars

All of it

Painting by Ludvig Karsten. Prompt from dverse.


It all comes back again the light that was
the flowering trees the songs that sang in bird-throats
rippled water and the lane that runs up and down.

It all comes back the daylight moonlight flamelight
of childhood bonfire nights how it feels to share with cats
blisters nettle stings and the searing cold of January frost.

Never far below concealed a dusty beast
beneath the rug it all comes back the night fears
exams homework not done a hand lost in the crowd

and when the night’s too dark to sleep the moon
too bright to hide the empty space where you are not
it all comes back.

Explanatory note

The dverse prompt tonight is fortuitous, as I was going to do this anyway, though not, perhaps, in rhyme.

I was going to write a note today
To explain why I have been away
And only call from time to time.
Why the only entries on the page
Are short, delivered, then the stage
Is empty, left to echo rhyme.

I feel the time is racing past,
The days too short and fading too fast,
And I have got a book to write
Before the baby comes and stakes
A claim to all my time and takes,
In tiny grip, both day and night.

So all the prompts are put on hold
Until I have my story told,
And I can think of other things,
Crawl back from far antiquity,
Its mysteries and iniquity,
Hold in my hands the joy life brings.

Circling back

I went today to a different place
and dug in a different soil, planting
and planning to make a different future.

I went to dig among wild strawberries
and violets, weeding carefully between
slender white stars of Bethlehem,
beneath the honey-scent of wild plum.

But can there be a different soil
a different future not set in the stars?
Are we born with fingers that know only
to dig one earth, beneath the plum-scents
of honey flowers and sweet violets?

The fault is in the stars,
the alignment of the planets,
and in this deep earth that calls us home
when we wander, the petals fallen,
deaf to the call of seal and gull,
the north gone astray.