Photo ©Peter Trimming

In a town not mine,
a young swift on the pavement cried,
open-beaked, tongue fluttering,
almost soundless,
vestiges of pale grey fledgling duvet
around the eyes, the wing tips.

All I could do was pick you up,
put you on a low wall
out of the sun and passing feet.

You didn’t want to leave my hand,
watched me leave,
crying, wings spread, fluttering.

They used to think swifts had no feet
because they never land
live on the wing.

How will you live on the wing
when the wings have no strength?

Will a parent sweep so low from the lofty sky
for a child that might not last through the night?

and I still saw that tongue,
the wordless cry.

Wandering sleepless,
I met a glow worm on the bedroom floor.

He shone his light
for a female who wasn’t there,
and in the morning he was dead.

Charcoal tears

Short poems from yesterday’s twitter prompts


Happiness, fleeting as the glimpse

of a butterfly’s flickering flight,

while sorrow lies heavy as the grey sand

of the ocean’s lightless depths.


You are gone,

and spring rain scrawls charcoal tears

among the cold ash of love’s fire.

You are gone

and yesterday’s songs

pour through the rent in the clouds,

salt in the wound,

a mockery, hollow and brash

as the cold light in the sky.


Dark night when the soul cannot sleep,

and laughter taunts from the shadows,

I long to pass through the veil

and follow you into the light.

Spring branches

Small poem inspired by a photograph (the ninth one down on this page) on EP Verbeek’s beautiful blog. If you love the broad skies of the Low Countries this is the place to go.

Black fingers,
Brittle branches,
Thrust into the windy sky,
Casting cloud spells,
Cannon shot,
Smoke wreaths,
Sending spring a message
In still sluggish sap,
Buds and birds will come,
The fluttering of a wing,
Winter is never far behind.




Butterfly flutters over the wall

Tugged by a rogue sea breeze

Across the rippling mud brown river.

Butterfly flutters flickering on bright wings

Across the sun-dappled water.

How long, I wonder, can butterfly wings

Beat a steady course for unknown shores

Before they crumple, weary, upon a wavetip?

Bright wings turn black with distance,

Frail silhouette, still fluttering up and down

Searching for an elusive flower

Finding only the ripe salt smell of the incoming tide.


The need to possess
Or to watch the glittering vacuous life of others
The happy few
Has gone.
To touch and hold,
To turn a bright object to the light
Is enough,
To put it down then
And keep only the memory.
To push through crowds
Among a billion things
That can be bought and broken and forgotten
Is beyond my strength.
Hard pavements drive me inwards
And the stink of diesel,
Oily dust in the gutters and in the throat,
The fluttering papers of unwanted packaging,
And everywhere the misery
Of those who want and cannot have.
I walk now in my head
Among long grass stalks
And blackbirds singing
With a sweet breeze behind me
And a dog laughing at the sun.

PENTAX Digital Camera