Rain pours

For the NaPoWriMo prompt—if. Free verse, only punctuation the ?


rain pours

as it did yesterday

and no gleam in the sky

today is yesterday


same gestures

same damp in the air

in our eyes

no gleam

green there is

and birdsong echoing in hollows

if they flew

would we care much?

their song is all that matters

and if we don’t hear behind the double glazing?

if would should could

then why not is and will?

because they are slippery words

full of broken promises

I hold your hands tight

as if they are wings

and you might fly

with the birds and their hollow singing

would you?

if what?

you open your voice

to sing?

the glass swallows the words

you smile

I think

unless it is a reflection

long gone




Jam jar summers

This poem is in response to the Real Toads prompt, a place evoked as a person or vice versa. I suppose fish count as people.

I found this picture on Wikimedia Commons (©Bill Henderson), taken in August 2007, of Batley park lake where I used to fish on Saturday afternoons. In August, when I was a kid, it would have been teeming with hundreds of us, and not an adult in sight. This is uncanny. Times change and children now have other, safer things to do.



Warm, never hot,

those jam jar summers,

the busy town park,

cool, green, water-weeded lake,

and dark rhododendrons in dusty exotic glory.

Minnows were tiddlers,

rainbows the most prized,

twisted and curled,

bright ephemera in their prison—

summer sun,

trapped in a jar, fish-full.

Park lake noise

of boys

scrambling up the cascades of the fountain

to the ice cream stand.

Finding the places where the tiddlers hid

in the shadows we titans threw,

the nets plunged, chased.

Fish eyes glinted and tails swished,

green water rippling where the swans passed by.

Turning and twisting,

silver-scaled summer drifted,

park lawn-smooth and unruffled,

and the jam jars always ready

with green twine for handles.

We carried them home,

slop-full of silver treasure,

that faded and died, slowly,

like the thick smell of privet

and the ice cream van jingles

into a past,

blazing with water glitter

seen through a fisheye lens.

Striking a pose

For the Secret Keeper’s weekly writing prompt. This week’s words are:


Photo©Manfred Werner


You strike a pose leaning on the rail,

As if you are guiding the cruiser’s course,

As if your charisma draws the gulls

That wheel and scream in our creaming wake.

I hide my laughter behind dark shades,

Hide the mocking, dancing light,

For I’d give no clue I’m watching you,

Have you believe you’ve hooked a catch.

You shift your weight, half-turn to see

Whose gaze is teasing the back of your neck.

Your jutting jaw with artful shadow,

Is how you set your tender trap.

Leaning now, your back to the water,

And watching me with a confident smile,

I shrug and take my place beside you,

Let your hand close over mine.

You cannot see, will never know

Could not decode the soft veiled threat,

But in my smile, my glittering eyes,

Is the poison you seek,

The fire you play with,

The gamble you lose.


At the end of the street, the river


There’s a pool of blood at the end of the street,

Where droplets splash the dirty stone,

And memory drags from reluctant depths,

When shadows crept and evening fell,

The sound I heard and pushed away,

Of pain and terror, tormented dog.

The heart makes leaps and links the two,

The story glares from drying blood,

The trail of drops across the street

And down the path between the fields

To the riverbank where oblivion runs.

In creeping shadows, evil lives,

And crawling flesh remembers things

Eye never saw, but the heart still felt,

Death in a corner, ni vu, ni connu.

I find the place in the beaten sedge,

Where the broken barrier let them through,

To give the broken, bloody mess

To the all-embracing river’s arms.

And does it matter and do we care?

Is blood the same however shed?

An end to suffering when all is bled,

In the river running down to the sea.

Bread and Circuses

The Daily Post prompt is: circus.


Critical eyes narrow,

mouths opens to receive another piece of popcorn,

bellies tremble,

shirts stick sweaty,

seams creak.

Nimble acrobats contort and gyrate,

defying death.

Timing is all.

Perhaps in a split second the end will come,

spangled and no applause.

Below, mouths open,


bottoms shift,

thoughts run to supper,

the dentist,

next month’s holiday.

Hands clap mechanically,

fingers reach into the bottom of the bag.

Lithe, shiny-faced acrobats descend,

grateful for the dusty, gritty sand,

and in their cages,

animals watch with glazed eyes,

once wild,

sifting through fading memories

for the scent of running water,

hot, hoofed meat,

and the sliding of lush fronds against the skin,

muscle-rippling limbs

plunging through vibrant free air.

May 8 1945


On this day, the bells rang out,

The crowds cheered, and joy flowed in rivers,

But creeping inexorably into the light,

Its pale, white underbelly revealed,

Nameless and blind, the foul creature we had woken.

No bright lights, no embrace however tight,

No indiscriminate kissing of strangers,

Will ever dispel

That bloated face hiding in the shadows.

Out of the depths, did it croak,

The beast that cannot crawl back,

For we have plumbed the depths

And lit beneath arc lights its depravity.

When the wild, delirious laughter fades,

The only sound I hear

Is the mourners’ song for the dead.

NaPoWriMo: Earth

An Earth Day prompt. This might be the first poem of several.



not rich, not deep and galleried with crawling things.

Thin and unlovely it was,

speckled with decades of thoughtless waste,

glass shards, bottle tops, plastic caps, nylon string,

and older, rusted things that once has a purpose.

Garden earth,

was tainted with paint spills and varnish,

and killer products supposed to ward off evil pests,

the stupidity of ignorant preference,

tulips over dandelions.

My garden earth,

I tend and nurture,

returning what I can,

the peel of dead vegetables, tea leaves,

the good things the earth eats.

My garden earth responds,

With the riddling of galleries,

the wriggling of earthworms and earwigs,

the spiral beauty of snails,

and the first prize,

the gold of the podium,

the mad scampering of blackbirds

as they dig and scratch, squabble and cluck, tossing and turning,

in their wild treasure hunt.

My garden earth responds with life.



In this dark time of the year,

When buds still sleep on rain-black boughs,

And famine stalks the winter-weary woods,

Stealthy as fox tread, quick as the kestrel,

I do not bend my head in sorrow or in shame,

Or shake green boughs to ward off last year’s ghosts.

I watch the blackbird settled on her nest,

Listen to the cloud-grey turtle dove,

Murm’ring softly to his lifetime’s love,

And make a promise to this burgeoning and blossoming,

To live what I have left of sun and showers,

With as much unselfish passion,

As these feather soft, fur trembling, gentle ones,

My precious siblings.

Lost, the tender darkness


Lost, the tender darkness,

Soft and gently yearning,

Strewn with the glittering stars of passion,

That filled our immortal nights.

Better the dread of the dark,

The night terrors that haunted each sleep,

The wolves with bonewhite fangs,

Glinting in the dead darkness of childish nights,

Than this hollow wasteland,

Specked with dead dust,

Now its lodestar is gone.

When the rain pours in torrents


When the rain pours in torrents,

And thunder chases lightning through the trees,

When running feet pound the rain-slick road,

And the frightened bark of the fox tears the night,

When wet gravel squeals and squeaks beneath heavy tread,

And boots clump through muddy pools,

When doors slam, and children cry into damp pillows,

I remember your face, moon-pale,

Bland as a salt pan,

And loveless as the chill mists of autumn.

I remember the thin black line of a mouth that never spoke,

Tight closed, a crack in a mud-parched riverbed.

I remember dark eyes, slipping and sliding,

That couldn’t see to tell the truth,

The tangling words and lies and flying hands.

I remember the weeping and wailing and the sharpening of teeth,

The night you went away.