Gogyohka for the winter solstice

A sequence of gogyohka for Frank Tassone’s solstice prompt.


longest night full of cloud

unlit by any moon

unlit by any sun

yet when the morning comes

the balance has tipped


at the end of the longest night

is always the morning

perched on the rim of the sky—

though clouds hang heavy

night’s grip loosens


in the dark

cloud-heavy rain-running

loud with night voices

of braided water

waiting for the promised morning

A day


all night the patter of rain

in the chimney

through the morning fog

the erratic movement

of a hunting dog



and the grass ripples

water glitters bright as feathers

clear as a bird’s sharp eyes

watching the cat


at the edge of the dark

between the line of shadow trees

and the lowering cloud

the place where the sun was

a strip of sky bird’s egg blue

Bird skirmishing


robin tweets his warning cry

fiery fierce

from his honeysuckle bush

none shall enter

this private tangle


egrets in the meadow

pause in their insect search

then resume unconcerned

the bullets

were for someone else


crows mob the buzzard

black voices hoarse with hatred

but when the red kites arrive

slow in tight formation

no one moves


Gogyohka: autumn rain


I look for light where there is none,

taste the wind

for a salt memory of the sea

and touch the wild grasses

for the fleeting presence of a hare


wind blows

full of damp grey ribbons of cloud

streaks and shafts of steely grey

rain-wet and dew-wet

and a scattering of noisy finches


dusk seeps and creeps

beneath the cloud

between the rain drops

among the raggedy grass soldiers

still standing

Harsh words


Cold is a word

that sneak-thiefs

when the world is dark

into the very marrow

of the songs of summer memories.


Frost is a word

that bites with the bitter teeth

of homeless cats

and hopeless dogs

chained in yards.


Ice is a word

as hard to grasp

as starlight

and moonlight

on Arctic sea water.


Snow is a word

six-pointed spiny

as the winter bramble brake

and rose prunings

hardened by the north wind.


Grief is a word

that bites like ice and friendless dogs

and creeps into the heartsblood

with the stealth of a thief

leaving a bouquet of dead roses on the snowy sill.




days of wind and lashing boughs

rain slanting from shifting sky

colour of winter half-dark

filling the ditches with running cold

where frost needles will grow


light the stove

and listen to the flames

singing of old tree days

and green springs

filled with bird-flutter


chimney-wind echoes hollow

among the bricks

tree-wind rattles rain from wet boughs

and the solemn tweeting

of chaffinches

Night walking

Day eight of OctPoWriMo. I might try a sonnet form later. For now, it’s a sequence of three gogyohka on the theme of scent. Our lane at night is beautiful.


walking at night

on a moonless path

with only the scent

of windfalls to guide

my feet


passing the empty house

night breeze

wild and rich

brings an unknown perfume

from the dark garden


fox in the dry leaves

pigeon in the branches

an owl glides in silence

the night perfume