For earthweal.


When the leaves are drying, curling,
rattling in the rising wind,
sharp as the gunshots that ring
from side to valley side,
autumn’s beauty marred by brutes,
it’s hard to remember

~ spring ~

bird racket and squirrels leaping where leaves unfurl,
the stream racing after the rains,
light falling bright and green,
falling on a mallard turning in the flood,
her chicks bobbing boats in a baby’s bath,
their new voices thrilling.


I missed the last Earthweal prompt, for various reasons, but I liked the idea, so here’s an affectionate poem with lots of place names from my adopted home.


I have dug down deep here among the Gascons
with their gasconnades and fanfaronnades,
the promisers of promises never fulfilled,
fighters, bagarreurs, untrustworthy liars,
intractable and obstinate as mules.

I have dragged my tangled roots
between La Rèula and Aiguillon,
along the Garona where the gabarras plied
up to Bordeaux, weighted with wine casks,
where the egrets stand tall and white
on the summer sandbanks.

Between Clairac, Calviac and Montagnac,
I have watched the moon rise,
between Castille, Canteloube and La Castenade
watched the sun set, watched the horned cows
graze with their bull at Razimet.

There is my stream here, the Caillou,
and my Tamberlan meadows. Mon pays.
The words of its tongue roll in the mouth
with the rattle of river gravel,
and twang like plucked guitar strings.

Italianate, Tuscan cypress and poplared,
rolling vined and fruited in the sun,
these hills where D’Artagnan swirled his cape
are mine now, with all their vantardise
and their extravagance.

In the labyrinth

for Earthweal.

In the centre of the labyrinth,
dédale, Ariadne’s brother weeps;
his tears fill a pool of grieving for what is lost.

In the hidden place that is no maze,
that has no other path but in or out,
he waits for mother, love, a gentle voice.

He waits and weeps, but only Ariadne’s laughter
reaches along the sinuous path,
and the sharp clash of her lover’s arms, bronze on bronze.

The world is full of lies, he knows and false faces.
His gentle mother reviled, his father dead,
his sister a stranger with wild bloody eyes.

Asterion weeps, and the world makes its way
with heavy tread to the centre of the spiral,
to winkle him out with a pin.

The Gulf Streams away

The story gets more depressing every day and the Oracle doesn’t pull her punches. I’m posting this one to Earthweal where it might feel at home.

The Gulf Streams away

Sun trudges with heavy feet behind whitecap clouds
no fish swim on airy wings through this rain
that draggles feathers and spirits.

The girdle of the oceans will wrap us
in a cold embrace blowing bitter winter
to shrivel warm beating hearts unopened buds.

We say we worship beauty the face of nature
press hands together before the setting sun
a flock of silver birds and say this is the creator’s work.

Our song is raw and bloody the wounds weep
red-running the earth an open sewer
entrails ripped and steaming

but we pluck a flower coo at kittens
eat steak not someone’s baby
and consider ourselves compassionate.

We reward our affluence with an idyll
tropical island deserted beaches trek across
a country teeming with poverty

but we take home
such memories, such beautiful pictures.
We love our god-created planet.

Empty words
when the earth is screaming
and we are all dying.

Crossing the line

Last week’s Earthweal prompt was Otherworld. I never got around to it, so I’ve written one now, late. The painting is by JMW Turner.

There are places and people and times that we miss,
places to linger and people to kiss,
and the magic of moments beneath sky’s blue dome.

There are veils and deep shadows, bright sun on the waves,
hands held in comfort, the soft word that saves,
and on the white strand we’ll dance in the foam.

We’ll dance in the foam with the wind in our hair,
and the call of the gulls will draw our feet where
gold light falls through boughs sprung from generous loam.

I’ll walk with my shadows beneath the bright sun,
and walk through the sunset when my day is done,
in the palm of earth’s hand, when she gathers me home.

Ghost cattle

I’m still following some prompts, but not posting them on the different sites. I’m finding I just don’t have the time to read and reciprocate to comments. This poem, a sonnet of sorts, was written for the earthweal prompt, a reminder that we’re coming up to Bealtaine.

Ghost cattle

In this meadow where only ghost cattle low,
bright buttercups bow their golden heads,
blue flax flowers mirror the pale May sky.
In this meadow where only ghost cattle low,
lush grass growing now is cropped by the deer,
a jungle where pheasants and foxes peer
through stalks and stems and flowered threads.
There were cattle here once but now the hare,
the fox, the badger, the rabbit and deer
tread wary paths the night time; no snare
is set in the grass, no traps to fear,
beneath the hedge where the spindle trees grow,
and the fire that’s lit on this clear spring night
is for ghost cattle shades, the past’s swift-winged flight.

Sins of the fathers

For the earthweal prompt.


Was there once a time
when we could flutter among finches and wrens,
a time when we could walk
side by side with badger and fox,
not being prey and predator,
in companiable silence,
when we played water games with otters,
when weasels ignored our presence,
kingfishers and all the hawks and owls of the air?

If there was, it has long gone,
and all that shines in the robin’s eye
turns away in blackbird, hedgehog and wolf,
is distrust and fear;
all that glitters in mine,
the sorrow of being a killer’s child.

And if we were already dead?

For the earthweal challenge.

And if we were already dead?

Life is a mesh a web a flock herd tribe
life spins enfolds cradles embraces all into one
oceans are swells of as many drops as grains
of sand as stars as many leaves in every forest
that ever was feathers on every bird
wormed digested fragments of earth
microscopic bacteria plankton the fantasy organisms

~ crowding the bottom of the ocean ~

as multitudinous as our unmemorable thoughts
dropped into the silence
are the weightless things of sterile self-indulgence
our fatuous flatulent oms our self-saving
for a cleaner more special and exclusive life
after life/death we drown in our navels
while the core grinds to a pitiful halt.


This is for the earthweal prompt.

Is she aware of her grace, padding silent
over brittle grass sun, dappled invisible,
sleek, powerful, target of envy and brutality?

She treads as they all tread,
soeurs, frères semblables,
have trod since the time when
the stones were young, the grass rich.

Can she hear their voices in the dry wind?
Does she know stars, raise her waking head
to watch the lights of the sky’s pelt
and see beauty, mystery?

I know only that she sleeps,
curled about her cubs
like any mother.