Winter runes

From the Oracle, illustrated by Franz Marc

Winter runes

The music of the North Pole plays
frost vibrato of grass stalks beneath an unseen sky,
diamond ripple of running water notes,
while the black ship, ice-bound, awaits
the finale, the report of floes cracking.

From my bed I can see
the blue tits around the window shutters,
industrious tapping, pecking and prising
insects hidden in the wood, the hinges cold with night,
their hollow bird bones stronger than mine.

You glower and complain at the rain,
the running rivulets down the window panes,
the dullness of the light, irritation sparking
in every brusque movement.
What will you say when the storm breaks?

She’s there, the lake goddess
where the rocks of a single island
break the silken skin of the water.
I hear her song, honey-coloured in the evening light,
and wonder do I dare take that cold path.

Reading the motifs in the carpet,
the bird, the eye, the star,
beneath my feet, the sky’s reflection,
woven by hands far away, years ago;
the colours sing the answer, clear as well water.

Fox night

For the dverse prosery prompt, a 144 word prose piece.

I dress in their stories patterned and purple as night’

from the poem, When we sing of might by Kimberly Blaeser.

Painting by Franz Marc.

Fox night

Light falls in pale bars through the shutters; mist rises, thickening to fog. The earth will be soft, the mud deep after the rain, and full of prints. I heard them in the dark, the foxes, the dog fox barking on the hill, the circumspect padding beneath the window of the vixen, the dash and leap of the cubs. I will find a tale beneath the tree where I put the food, a tale of full bellies and a full moon to light the way home.
I dress. In their stories, patterned and purple as night, are the pangs of hunger, fear of the hunter, the joy of cubs not lost to sickness or starvation. In the dance of their prints I read a little, but no human heart can ever know the wild tastes and tangs, loves and lives of such as they.

Night falls on the countryside

Painting by Franz Marc.
This poem came from the first selection of words. The Oracle didn’t need any more than that to show her disgust for certain ‘traditional’ leisure activities.

Night falls on the countryside

The grotesquerie of this tapestry,
moon-silvered and sordid with blood
and flesh, torn to rotting meat.

She spreads her soft silver and rain-weeps,
but such a blanket cannot warm dead bones,
and the smell lingers beneath leaf mould.

Forest heaves in sorrow beneath the moon;
even her spangled gown is shot full of holes,
bleeding starlight.

Listening for the echoes

Not a cadralor from the Oracle today. A short, sweet and to the point message.

Listening for the echoes

To stop this frantic race and soar
with the unthinking grace of a hawk,
to run where the stream runs, unquestioning of the end,
to board the ship, knowing there may be no return voyage,

is a wish that pulses in the too-human blood,
that surged with our first infant cry,
that falls in wind-whispers from every broad-leafed tree,
tongued in imperatives by the turning-season storms.

I would paint my path in bright colours and follow it,
had I the talent, but being no artist, I send my heart
in the wake of kingfisher and the white scut of deer,
and with my silence, listen for its distant echoes.


Painting by Franz Marc.

Away we are bound to go;
life stream pulls like moon tides
and the storm that blusters in the wind.

Above, the leaves stream,
beaten and lost.
Trees wave them goodbye;
the rest will not be far behind.

A hare raced across the sunny bank,
chased by the clouds,
and the bright glitter
of last night’s raindrops fled.

Into my listening ears,
the rain whispers a story
of oceans and rivers,
the journeys some will make,

but the songs that pour
from unseen bird-throats
never falter;

they have heard it all before.

Two harts

I watched two harts lock horns today,
The dance was wild with russet light,
Their graceful fight seemed more like play.
I watched two harts lock horns today;
The sun shone gold beneath the may,
Until the dusk dipped into night.
I watched two harts lock horns; today
The dance was wild with russet light.

Too much and not enough


There is too much cold in the drop of the light,
the pit of the stomach, the corner of the eye.

Time pours, gushes over the edge,
and the tremulous gold of the dandelions,
a finch’s wings, cannot hold it back.

Wind blows and its tongue is bitter.
From all four corners the message is the same,
from all colours and all walks of life.

(Don’t let them blind you with pseudo-science).

While there are men who say death is the answer
to any question, I will watch the light drop,
hands crossed upon my breast and whisper,

give the world back to the mothers
and those who say, let all their children live.

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.