Some find no shelter

For the earthweal prompt. Shelter is in short supply these days.
Painting by Franz Marc.

Some find no shelter

They flock, the birds by hundreds, thousands,
they herd, the deer and antelope,
the packs stick close in formation,
the prides, colonies and sounders,
sheltering from danger, among their own kind.

I watch the mingled flocks of finches,
the way crows and thrushes fight off the hawk,
their strength in trust, cooperation, selflessness.

We live behind walls in distrust,
and when some hold out their hands,
they face a hail of abuse.

Our barriers are poison and betrayal,
nests of razor wire where children hang,
the ultimate of ultimates,
the solution only a god would contrive,
annihilation, dwindling into the last syllable—
take no prisoners.

Shelter is a concept that changes
from mouth to mouth, day to day,
place to place, slippery as an oil slick,
weaponized, a temporary respite.

Birds flock, hare, rabbit, fox,
huddle together to shelter from winter’s bite,
but where do we shelter from our own kind?

Vixen sniffs the wind

For the earthweal prompt.
Painting by Franz Marc.

Vixen sniffs the wind

The days are growing tender green,
leaf green, shadow green.

Dark is softer, wind wilder, moon dances.

Urge is stronger, wilder, yearning
like green plants,
stretching upwards to the sky.

A fearful smell is carried on this wind,
blowing from where the sun is born,
behind the wild, warm scent of kin,
the smoking fire stink of man.

Kin, leaves, moon, I dance,
because it’s time.

Skin shivers.
Time.
And then?

Where the wild things were

I wanted to write a poem for the earthweal prompt, but I couldn’t. Not one in the right spirit.
The painting is Franz Marc’s The fate of the animals.

Where the wild things were

The trimmer rips through the last old trees, the hunters shoot the last deer, the fields are full of grain to fatten industrial cattle, bombs light up the night sky.
The rich get richer, the poor die. And that is why,

I have no wild heart
only a hollow in my chest
slowly filling with tears.

In the eye of the storm

In the earthweal challenge, Ingrid asks us to take stock of the global crisis, how it affects us and what we can do about it. The big changes, I believe, are totally out of our hands. Money and the making of money will decide the future of the planet, not poets or people who care. But there are lots of things that all people who care should be doing, and if they do, they will make a difference, despite the greed and indifference of the world’s billionaires.

Stop eating meat and dairy produce,
stop using gas-guzzling cars,
stop using planes and going to far-away countries to despoil them,
don’t even think about cruises,
stay at home, let your garden (if you have one) run wild,
support actions to conserve wild places and wildlife,
and help the poorest countries develop in a caring, non-capitalist way,
do just a little of what your heart and conscience tells you is right.

I don’t want to preach, and if I already do most of these things, you could say it’s because I don’t have the choice. But it’s not going to be a choice for any of us soon.

In the eye of the storm

In the eye of the storm,
this landscape of green fields, meadows and woodland,
the peace is uneasy.

Death stalks, spews from the barrel of guns,
glue on branches, traps, dogs,
the cruel death by extraction.

Every leaf trembles in the poisonous wind,
the tremble of hares without a hedge,
yet here is peace, picture postcard peace.

No lark disturbs the silence,
no herds of deer mar the stillness of the hills,
no cattle graze, no pigs rootle.

Indoors all, in bunkers
stacked high, their babies stolen.
But there is peace and quiet,

and the people watch their TVs in peace
and stack their barbecues and freezers high
with cruel meat,

dream of their tour, cruise,
beach-lazy, sun-soaking,
in well-deserved peace,

in the eye of the storm.


Into the dark

For earthweal. I have gut feelings about the wild and I’m happy to leave them unanalysed. Most analysis of the mind sounds like over-think to me. What’s real is what we can see and touch. I’m with Saint Thomas on that one.

Into the dark

When first we feared the dark
we sought to light with fire
the shadows full of hostile eyes.

Those times are dead, and now
we are the dark, the hostile eyes,
the nature red in tooth and claw.

The night of stars and silver moon
shines in other eyes, a world
of quiet dark and feathered sleep,

furred feet that tread the mystic grass.
We have conquered wild and dark,
tipped the balance of our moonlit fields.

We reign supreme in this, our ashen world,
the only ones to walk the earth
in mortal fear of our own kind.

Wild is where the heart is

For the earthweal prompt, wild mind.
Painting by Franz Marc.

Wild is where the heart is

Wild is where the heart is,
in the tree-deep forest woodscape,
in cold torrent, rushing river,
the rose’s yellow eye,

in the gaze of fox-bright amber
and the dark that fills with movement,
pigeon-roosting ruffled,
beneath the silent leaves.

We look in parks and gardens,
in picture postcard idylls,
for a tame and tidy ersatz
for our armchair-comfort wild.

But we were born with wildling blood,
and our bones are carved from mountains,
for wild is where the heart is,
and in the wide eyes of a child.

The swelling of the year

Because today is Imbolc and because the Earthweal prompt mentions it, here’s another poem for Brigid.

Painting by Evelyn de Morgan.

The swelling of the year

The rising of the first milk is come again
to the full bellies of the ewes,
and the rising of spring water into rushing rills.

Will we light the fire to burst the buds and melt the snow?
Will we pick the first snowdrops in the hollows
where Brigid’s feet have trod?

Listen to the church bell ring,
bronze and thin, it calls in the wind,
but some hear an older song.

The gull swallows its lament, easy as a silver mackerel,
while in the hollows of Brigid’s fiery tread,
white bells rise and nod, unstilled.

Egrets we

Apologies to Brendan at earthweal if I’ve missed the point with this one. I got carried away with big white birds.`

Egrets we

The lone swan flies into the light,
so white, bright-feathered,
lost to sight in the brilliance of the sun.

Below in the golden meadow,
white-plumed egrets strut, pale herons,
yellow bills dart and dig beneath plum and fig.

Each to his own, grace in the skies,
searching for what is lost, flown,
while stocky cattle birds stab and dab.

I would be a swan-ship, petal-cargoed,
not frog-grubber, cow-ticker, parody in plumes,
but I have lost the right to choose.

Une vie en moins

For earthweal.

Une vie en moins

Et encore une vie ôtée, sa grâce brisée.
Je ne verrai plus sa forme gracieuse, long-patte,
couleur de feuilles en automne.
Elle ne tournera plus sa tête si fine
ses yeux de biche, me dire, je te vois.
Je ne verrai pas ses petits grandir,
gambader dans le pré,
parce qu’on a ôté la vie de la beauté
avec ses grosses mains de rustre,
avec le laideur de son cœur.

One life less

Another life taken, grace broken,
and I’ll see no more that graceful silhouette,
long-legs, colour of autumn leaves.
No more she’ll turn her head, so fine,
doe-eyed, to say, I see you.
I’ll not see her young ones grow,
chase about the meadow,
for you’ve taken the life of beauty
with your heavy brutish hands,
with the ugliness of your heart.

Because all life is here, in this small place, this moment of small tragedy.
All of human grossness is in the act of a boor, in the unthinking act that destroys a life.
That act, finger on the trigger, echoes again and again the world over, in the mines and factories, the safaris, cruise ships, circuses and zoos, the forests maimed, oceans defiled, the caged and miserable.
The common factor, the finger on the trigger, human, greedy, selfish.
I curl up around my universal hurt and keen in silence, seeing no remedy.

The ways of the world

I’m not certain this is what the earthweal prompt was all about, but it’s where it led me. So thanks, Brendan and sorry if it misses the mark.

The painting is by Odilon Redon.

The ways of the world

Simple is the way of the world,
the way of its greening, the way of its loss,
but we lose our way in meanders
of our own making.

Simple are loves and tendings,
the bursting of buds and feathers fledging,
the sky higher than the softest cloud,
higher than the great hawks soaring.

Simple is the letting go,
the grief that spills in torrents,
for grief like happiness is a simple affair,
both spring from the same source,

the heart that aches, swells and breaks,
is given and taken and given again.
The flower unfurls endlessly in glory,
day breaks and stars wheel.

Simple is the heart
full of both grief and happiness
that accepts without understanding
the why or the how,

whole is the life unbounded,
that lets the tides turn, sand through fingers slip,
with face turned to the sun,
hands held out to catch falling stars.