Haibun for the brushers of pigs

It’s an odd thing about the Visual Verse prompts, but more often than not, the first impression inspires nothing at all. A complete blank. Then, like a blank sheet of paper, it starts to fill up with something I had no idea was waiting to be written. This piece was no exception.

You can read it here.

Haibun for a taste of spring

A neighbour stopped on the lane, hailed us, husband cleaning his boots, me holding dog on his lead. Asked had we seen the water down in the town. We’re cut off, it seems. Roads in all flooded and the quays in the town under water. The loop of the Garonne enclosing its flat plain of farmland is an unbroken sea.

He stopped and chatted about the world outside, a middle-aged man, old-fashioned, high-waisted trousers with darts, waistcoat, white shirt and flat cap. Could have been my grandfather stepped out of an old photo. He even had a stick. All that was missing was the ass. Watch the sky for the geese, he said. Then you’ll be sure the spring is here.

flood waters recede
leaving comfry to flower
in purple peace

Haibun for eagles

For the dverse prompt.

Eagles are rare birds and I’ve never seen one. Their habitat is mountain, wilderness, isolated bodies of water. Like so many of the inhabitants of the earth they have been elbowed out by our despoiling of nature, our greed and selfishness.
Those who refuse to make a next generation, who would rather die, fade into the dark than accommodate our leavings, are all eagles.

sky feathered air
only purity reflects
in those amber eyes

Haibun for an unpleasant discovery

I was hanging up the washing in the veranda because it was freezing and looked like rain and noticed an atrocious stink of very fresh cat doo-doo. So, when I’d finished with the washing I cleaned both cat trays, though there wasn’t much out of the ordinary in them. Went into the study, sat down and sniffed. Same stink of cat poo. Inspected all feet and paws, couldn’t find anything, then husband asked if it might be him. He was right. He’d tried an unnamed aftershave sample he’d found in the bottom of his sponge bag. If the sample had had a name, I’d have published it, with a health warning.

earth scents even
beneath the frost distilling
spring perfumes

Haibun for new beginnings

For the dverse prompt.

So many new starts on this stop-go ride, each one a life-changer, a string full of knots, threads in a parabola of joined up dots, how does one pick a moment and say, that one was the pivot, the tipping point?
So many changes of course, different places, countries, jobs, births always moving, restless as autumn leaves, yet through each change, I have always had the same hand to hold, and at each turning in the path, there has always been you.

roots wander stretch deep
seeds spill catch the wind and fly
and sinking grow


The Ekphrastic Review prompt was this painting, Virgin and Child Surrounded by Angels, by Jean Fouquet. I wrote three poems as different aspects of the painting. They won’t be published, in Ekphrastic, but I’m posting them here.



The putti pout

Did they know, his entourage, the trouble his birth would cause? Did she know, his mother? Her look is undisguised dislike, pinching her nostrils as she bares her breast, as if to say, Well, here it is, what I was conscripted for. Would they have rather been playing bawdy games, the frowning putti with their angry disapproving faces?
They had had fun as pudgy, winged toddlers when their playmates were Cupid and the Bacchantes, but those days were over and, like Mary, their role was fleshy innocence, background noise, a fandom for the stern-faced infant who was to rule the world.
Did they see the wars, the crusading fanaticism that would spring from such unsmiling prudery? Perhaps. Then again, perhaps they saw only the change in fashion that had painted them, resentful tots, into a prison of po-faced purity.

behind the clouds
wild spring races on goose wings
floodwaters sing

The girl dreams

The girl sleeps, head beneath the blanket,
while wind stirs the sand and the darkness,
stars flutter and foxes pad.

She is light again, the slender child no one notices,
and the air is silent except for the wind,
the sand sighing and the foxes hunting.

The angry insect buzz of voices is still,
the rosy over-fed cherub voices,
chubby pointing fingers gone,

and she curls foetus-like
around the empty belly that was never really hers
and will never fill with a child of her own,

the belly flat and arid
as the desert beaten by night winds,
so far from the stars.

The painter paints

He rages like the furious putti he paints
at the girl bride, his wife, so full of promises unfulfilled,
slender as a willow wand,

and he paints her breasts round as moons,
full and milky, full as cherub cheeks
and baby buttocks.

The hand refuses to round the belly,
tight, narrow-waisted,
hips bird-boned

and paints instead the mocking smirk
he imagines that denies the presence
of the rubicund boy

whose throne
should be her lap,
whose cradle her arms.



Haibun-ish for a birthday

A haibun is usually prose plus haiku. This is prose plus sevenling. Call it what you like. Today is my birthday so I do what I like.
Plus I’ll plug my chapbooks too. WP chose the layout.


It was so long ago and I don’t remember it, and those who would are no longer of this world. Yet still the day rolls around as the earth turns and the sun dims and the hours in this dark December are always shorter than a summer’s day. A birth nonetheless occurred, and if I pull in the thread it might bring me back, but I know I will always stop short of the place where I began, will not peer behind, along the untrod path of before, will not disturb the million ghosts in their slumber.

Already the dark
is here and the day barely begun;
the sun has set in torrents.

Which way the night?
Does is pass by the dawn
or the moonpath?

Ask me tomorrow; perhaps then I will know.

Haibun for stargazing

For the dverse prompt.

The most crowded place in the Milky Way

The night sky is always there though often veiled with cloud or rain, sometimes oranged with glare, sometimes floodlit by full-sailed moon, but the nights of no cloud, no rain, no moon, away from the orange stain that seeps skyward from the unsleeping town, are the nights to be swept into the net of the universe.

Soaring, we reach out to the million million blinking lights of the starcrusted sky, Milky Way spilt and pale, and the great fiery beacons that hold our spellbound gaze, until we see nothing but layers of light, hear nothing but leaves falling.

sky so high
and hung with lights and the dark
with fox-bark

Haibun for small mercies

For the dverse prompt, a local snippet.
Not much happens in our town. Looking back through the regional paper for the last week or so, it looks as if nothing happened at all. I do get FB notifications though from the wild life refuge just outside the town, in a nature reserve, out of bounds to the general public unless on an errand of mercy. Lots of good things happen there. Centre-de-soins-de-la-faune-sauvage-de-Tonneins-

P.S. If you look at the site, the most recent post is about the release of a buse variable, a common buzzard. The FB translation has chosen the other meaning of buse — a nozzle. You have to laugh.

Quiet and slow flows the world these days, but the men with guns still stalk the lazy fields, the wooded pools of the flood plain and its blue sky-gazing ponds, keeping the countryside safe from deer and pigeons. Quiet and slow, and in the river bend where no one walks, not even armed, is where the healing works. Here in the quiet, we take our foundlings, babies bereft, broken or off course, weak, wounded or too weary to care, and in the quiet on the river bend, on this domain, out of bounds of gun and dogs, pieces of life are patched up, wild lives reclaimed. So many small victories beneath the hail.
after the floods
and winter frosts the daffodils
always shine

Haibun for the next quarter of the year

For the dverse prompt.

The darker half of the year begins with fire. What more magnificent tribute to the dying of the old, the going out in brilliance, new growth cradled beneath the ash? We tell the dead we remember them and call them home to warm themselves and take their place at table. And so they won’t miss the path, we place a lighted candle in the window. Fire driving back the darkness, symbol of enlightenment, the sign that the world might be dark, but we have no fear.
tonight the cranes
flying south call to the light
of the stars