For the dverse prompt. I tried to write of one of the elements, any one, but they all came back to the same one.


I could write of summer wind,
night time bringing the cool of space,
rolling out rivers and oceans of stars,
and day time, sandy desert-dry,
carrying incandescent heat on red wings,
fanning flames that burn up the sky,
making dusk of midnight.

I try to conjure oceans,
tides that roar like thunder, kelp-scented,
mirror lakes where the moon swims
and rivers running, sandy desert-dry,
scars of gullies and the breaking backs
of parched trees, bending beneath
the sweeping waves of consuming flames.

Swallow the air, taste baled meadow hay,
damp of rotting wood beneath fallen leaves,
salt and pine resin, rose-lavender,
the sharp tang of smoke of forests burning,
glittering with phosphorescence,
glimro, trees exploding in fountains of sparks,
no cooling balm this, sandy desert dry,

cruel as thorns, steel-taloned, bronze-beaked,
everywhere the earth laughs, cries, shouts in fury,
with the dry crackle-cackle of the great god fire.

After the fire

After the fire

The fire is ash, the dark sky darker,
and the rain falls heavy as sorrow.

There was no tapping at the window,
the places set remained empty,

but I heard the owls and their calling
across the meadows and the swaying trees.

The door is closed now, the cloud veil drawn,
and the night will deepen before the dawn,

yet there is a spark, a memory of soft fingers
brushing my cheek with feather-touch,

and from the corner of my eye,
I think I catch the fading of a smile.

Perhaps you came after all.

Hope in question

Posting this one to earthweal.


Cold comes in the answer
and snow in the wind,
furrows fill with white, while
growling incandescence consumes
branch and twig
in our invocation of the sun we have lost
in the dark night of winter.

In the morning,
the embers cold and pitted with deer tracks,
ash streams, the wind still bitter.

Ice cracks in the north
with a dark voice full of teeth,
and in the wood
a thrush is singing.


The painting is Franz Marc’s The fate of the animals.


Among the trees a flash of russet red,

The gentle sound of sleepy bird-chirrup,

And insect voices throbbing in the heat.


Can I take this earth into my hands,

These roots and rivers take and twist, and light

Among the trees a flash of russet red?


Land can be stripped and bridled like a beast,

Branded deep; its roar of suffering drowns

The gentle sound of sleepy bird-chirrup.


Among the trees, red greed devours the heart,

The only sounds the shriek of flames, last cries,

And insect voices throbbing in the heat.


For the dverse ‘fire’ prompt.


Fire in the sky,

clouds aflame

in passionless, pyrotechnic show,

so high and vast

and magnificently free—

Phoenix bird spreads wild wings.

And in the house, low and dark,

we huddle around the sparks,

Promethean relics,

and dream of lovers

and long tail feathers,

stirring among the ashes.

Fires will blaze

Today and tomorrow, we celebrate Imbolc, Brigid’s fire festival, midway between the winter and spring solstices, when the ewes start to give milk, the first spring flowers appear, and the end of the winter is in sight. This small poem is inspired by Paul Militaru’s splendid photographs that you can see here. There may well be more.


Fires will blaze,

feet tread in the darkness,

soft and silent,

while faces of the wild,

peer, watching,

waiting for the spring.

Flames lick the dead wood,

burn up the old,

light the new,

and in the ashes,

grass shoots.

Before a blazing fire

An ode to the fire, for last night’s dverse prompt. We got in too late for me to start into a poem, and besides, I was enjoying the fire.


Returning on a frosty night

To cold grate, colder still the air,

We scatter glitter in our breath,

Shedding cold from every fold

Of coat and sleeve and build a fire.

With voices raised to fill the air

With phantom heat, we watch the blaze,

The light that paints the walls with gold

And leaping scarlet, banishing the cold.

Beyond the shutters tightly closed,

The night frost grips each blade of grass,

And mice curl huddled in their nests

While silent-footed hunger prowls.

But in this space of crackling boughs

And sparks, a nebula of stars,

We stare into the shifting depths,

The fire path our forebears walked,

And see the tales that once they told,

Sung high, before the world was old.