Bird words

For the dverse prompt.
Painting by Franz Marc.
Taking the quote à contre pied.


“As if we could hear music inside the words” Gail Newman from the poem Trust.

Wordless the songs
the fluted whistle swooping swift as light

grass quivers
branch trembles
and gone.

I strain in vain to hear the words
in the different strands of sound,
staves staked in morning grass dew-heavy,
booming with the memories
the shadows make
of night just past,

a harp chord echoing on the hills
where cocks crow unmusically
bullroarer and trumpet-voiced.

Wordless the songs to human ears
but what music, beak-tongued,

eloquent as stream babble,
hooved feet
tapping careful cadenzas,
squirrelled grace notes
tripping from tree to tree,
and the light pat-pat punctuation
of fox paws
through drifts of muddy leaves.

Time passing

For the dverse prompt, two poems written one in the morning the second this evening, connected by the passing of time that changed mood, lifting it out of the doldrums by sprinkling it with sunshine and birds.


once I said
that no breach could not be mended
no cares were so heavy
that the wings of a blackbird’s song
could not lift them beyond the grey

then I didn’t know
that some days
are like the nights of no moon
no stars
and no tomorrow

persimmon plaquemine

Later the sun and birds

all along the roadside buzzards
perched on traffic signs and on the radio
Puccini played and Placido Domingo sang

fields full of egrets spilled
onto the verge pecking where car tyres span
and Domingo sang

there was sun after the heavy news
and egrets and hawks a heron by the pond

a persimmon tree full of willow warblers
that chipped and chipped until the block
of sadness black as ice cracked

and in the sun beneath the blue
with buzzard brown and egret white
we smiled.

Flight of sorts

For the dverse prompt. 144 words exactly.

The egret picked its way through the reeds to where the open water of the lake began, the stately progression of a Medieval princess dressed in white samite performing some mystery. He shifted his weight; the movement frightened the bird and it launched itself in a shower of droplets into the sky. Envy made her want to weep.
“Oh to have that freedom, those white wings.”
He shrugged. “It’s not freedom. It’s just following nature’s orders.”
“Sometimes,” she said, “the great bones of my life feel so heavy, I could drown in these shallows.”
He took her hand. She knew what he was going to say, the platitude about how he’d always be there to carry her. She pulled her hand away.
“The shallows call with more passion than I’ve ever heard from you.”
“I know,” he said and turned back to the house.

Seeing what isn’t there

For the dverse prompt

When I look beneath the leaves,
there is dark earth and tiny holes
where someone lives and the threads
of pale life sprouting,
roots of fine hair searching deeper
among beetled bodies
and the slick movement of earthworms.

Tunnels, paw-delved, run straight as veins,
colour of decaying petals,
to the heart the salamander-fissioned core.
I feel the heat in my fingertips,
the whisper of the earth’s breath.

When I look beneath the leaves,
the robin watches,
quick, bright,
and light changes
to illuminate a simple truth;

food squirms here not fantasies.


For the dverse prompt.


This is not an ornament,
a chunk of nineteenth century pottery,
not just a Staffordshire dog,
staring into another world
where its mate is not.

This voiceless, hairless companion
sat by great-grandma’s chair
to be petted by children then grandchildren
then great-grandchildren,
a stray adopted from a flea market
when she was just married,
Victoria still on the throne,
and never left her side for seventy-five years.

Dog, I say, you’ve seen some changes,
been dragged across counties and countries,
and it’s not over yet.
You’ve seen them all out,
all those children,
almost all dead bones now,

and I wonder if your mirror image
sits on some mantelpiece,
thinking pottery thoughts,
longing for those puppy days
when you were twins.

This is not a poem but a piece of history,
a shard, you might say,
that has no meaning for anyone
but me and a Staffordshire dog.

Winter light

Poem inspired by Sarah’s poem It’s raining in turn inspired by Laura Bloomsbury’s poem In The Rain. Another version of that meeting, or not. For the dverse prompt.

The light dredges up the memory
the colour of rain-smeared windows
of a seedy café
the kind where dirt seeps into the pores
smears on plastic
where spoons drown in coffee dregs
and the smell of frying
nothing definable just oil and sizzle.

You remember grease spitting

how you shuffled your feet
sipped gingerly from the edge of the cup
watched the door the rain
listened to time passing
hating the grey tired faces
for not being yours.

Time dripped
another smear
on the window.

Last train gone
you pushed back the chair
to leave
letting the clatter and scrape fill your ears
and the silence
of your voice not saying,

The chair scrape echoes
on and on
into the depths of the ear-whorl
but it never quite dies.

Haibun for new beginnings

For the dverse prompt.

So many new starts on this stop-go ride, each one a life-changer, a string full of knots, threads in a parabola of joined up dots, how does one pick a moment and say, that one was the pivot, the tipping point?
So many changes of course, different places, countries, jobs, births always moving, restless as autumn leaves, yet through each change, I have always had the same hand to hold, and at each turning in the path, there has always been you.

roots wander stretch deep
seeds spill catch the wind and fly
and sinking grow


For the dverse prompt. Clue—read the end of line words.



Night fills this window space,
the stars behind cloud smuts, the
only flickers of light, final
flares at the dark frontier.

What artefacts these?
What hand shaped such distance? Are
ours, looking out, the
only eyes that see how light voyages,
falling in cascades of
time, gathering glitter-moss from the
silent planets? Moon, star, ship
sailing the night, this wild enterprise.