Bird words

For the dverse prompt.
Painting by Franz Marc.
Taking the quote à contre pied.


“As if we could hear music inside the words” Gail Newman from the poem Trust.

Wordless the songs
the fluted whistle swooping swift as light

grass quivers
branch trembles
and gone.

I strain in vain to hear the words
in the different strands of sound,
staves staked in morning grass dew-heavy,
booming with the memories
the shadows make
of night just past,

a harp chord echoing on the hills
where cocks crow unmusically
bullroarer and trumpet-voiced.

Wordless the songs to human ears
but what music, beak-tongued,

eloquent as stream babble,
hooved feet
tapping careful cadenzas,
squirrelled grace notes
tripping from tree to tree,
and the light pat-pat punctuation
of fox paws
through drifts of muddy leaves.


For the earthweal challenge.



Out of the depths she has cried, the vixen,
and runs now by rushing waters;
no lying down in the deep dark or bright day,
running, outrunning.

The earth, her earth not ours,
fills with hounds’ teeth
and the shining teeth of the trap.

From morning watch even until night
she runs, red running, finding solace
in the companion, the faithful shadow,
watchful, padding print for print
with her between the winter trees.

She dreams of a day of rest,
eyelids flicker, paws twitch in fitful sleep,
and the perpetual light shines—
on white and shining teeth,

and again she runs,
perpetual motion.


For the dverse prompt.



From the rolling red deeps
of fierce Dies irae,
purple splendour of Lacrimosa,

running light and sharp as hoarfrost
along the branch, the threaded pearls
of the Queen of the Night,

I leave behind the booming oceans
to walk beneath
the bending boughs of oboes

and the clarinet pipings of the thrush,
gathering the careless scattered notes,
red and gold, of finches a final bird salvo,

before the day fades
into the blue misted violins
of the setting sun.

Short story in Ekphrastic Review

The painting prompt for the Ekphrastic Review challenge was a blue horse painting by Franz Marc. Anyone who knows my admiration for Marc won’t be surprised that I was duly prompted. Lorette asked for short fiction, which is what I wrote. You can read Horse Dreams here as well as all the other entries.




Mist and night-cold cling and cloud,
Dripping grasses damp the ground,
And in the morning silence loud,
The crack of shot and bay of hound.

I wonder at the dark of mind
That finds its pleasure in the death
Of bird and hare and timid hind,
That steals wild beauty’s final breath,

If in the dark where hunters stalk,
Does shame, compassion ever break
Upon the bloody path they walk?
Is mine the only heart to ache?

Dark dawn bright dreams


Days still too short and dark,

though the nights are shrinking,

trees stretched stark against the clouds

that hang suspended on the world’s edge.


Cold breaks, sending waves

of chill, splashed spray and

frost furs—these winter

days still too short and dark.


No birds sing the sunset unseen,

bleak blanket suffocates the flames

and their red and purple veils,

though the nights are shrinking.


Tomorrow may come in golden

glory or colour of dirty snow and

drape with fog and dripping rain

trees stretched stark against the clouds.


Dreams still gallop through the dark,

the soft shadows of blue horses running

across the green and red meadows

that hang suspended on the world’s edge.