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.



each a tiny life that soars
glows a moment free
of wood and the binding of tree limbs
the end not in slow
cold fermentation with worm and beetle
rust red dulling
sliding into primal slime
but in the glorious laughter
of fire cackle and crackle
leaping the sky.


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.

Fire and blossom

Yesterday I wrote a lot of twitter poems, each one for a different prompt, but all seemed to have a common theme. These are the darker one.


Through the haze,



you walk,

I see you melting into distance

like smoke from a dead fire.


After the fire

only black ash

smears its greasy trails

on the ground,

and a pain aches

like the burned hole

where my heart was.


Winds lash tender blossom,

rain tears sweet petals,

and I weep for the beauty lost

when the river howls

beneath dark spring clouds.


I have no memory

of another time

before the dark,

perhaps hidden in apple blossom,

waiting to unfold,

perhaps in the green mists

of another spring.


All is change,

the past slipped away

like fallen cherry blossom,

fragile memories,

out of reach

of your destructive fingers.


Is it so monstrous, the deluge

that washes away the blossom,

when in its place,

a million bright new leaves

are softly unfurling?




Microfiction #writephoto: Pandora

This is for Sue Vincent’s Thursday photo prompt


There was something strange about the couple at the house on the hill. They had been in the village no time and already their names cropped up everywhere: he on the board of governors of the local school, though they had no children; she as president of the local historical society, even though the old one had not wanted to retire; both of them opening the village fête, though no one could say who invited them; and now it was rumoured, he was standing for mayor and she as parliamentary candidate.

A lot of land went with the old house, and they kept horses. The woman from the cottage at the other side of the lane liked horses, had done ever since was a girl. But horsey stuff had been for rich kids and she’d just admired them from afar. The horses on the hill were beauties, such a brilliant chestnut they were almost red, with long, golden manes. They were wild though and rarely came close to the fence that ran along the lane.

That day, the day it happened, she had thought she heard the horses crying in distress. They weren’t in the field. The whinnying came again, louder, more like a roar. After a moment’s hesitation, she climbed the fence and hurried up the field to the barn. The sound of hooves clattering was clearly audible. She flung open the door and caught her breath. The stable was a mass of dancing shadows thrown by a huge fire. Flames leapt to the beams, but there was no smoke, no smell, no heat, and no sound, except the wild calling of horses. In consternation, she took a step backwards as the fire surged towards the open door. She cringed, backing away from what she saw now were not flames but horses with flailing hooves the colour of red gold, an image she took with her into eternity.

The wall of flame divided and multiplied into a vast herd of fiery horses that galloped through the village leaving black ash in its wake. It would have gone down in history as the beginning, except that there was no more history to write. This was the beginning of the end.