Haibun December morning

Morning rises into the dark in pigeon-pinks and greys suddenly glowing among the orange trees bright as Christmas. I smell cinnamon and brown cane sugar. Nutmeg. Jays chatter in the silence though no birds sing. No wind stirs branches, my hair as I open the shutters.

Hush of closed oysters
where unseen pearls glisten
in oceans of sky

First geese pass heading west. I trust them to know best. Deer among the willows.

Autumn races
red and running deer and fox

The mouse trap hops and another field mouse dies instantly. There is an invasion this year. Summer was too long, too hot, autumn too mild, and the foxes not enough.

Lives brief
as a whispering tide
soon ebbed away.

The air in the kitchen is still tepid from last night’s stove. Ash still hot. But the sky covers, ash-clouded after the volcanic dawn and the meadows and copses greening in the light swarm with men in orange, hunting wild pigs. The storm breaks.

Unquiet graves
uneasy peace the world shifts
leaves in the wind.


Haibun for autumn’s voice

For the dverse prompt.

Haibun: Autumn’s voice

For too long we heard the voice of someone else’s summer, the crackle and soft thud of leaf clumps falling, dried to a crisp, the air singing with insects over the stony stream-bed.

Blackbirds fall silent
listening for the patter
of wishful rain.

Too many trees failed, plants and bushes shrunk with the drought, and butterflies settled on any hand with a drop of water to offer. Sun baked the clay until it cracked, boughs broke and the meadow mown, no new flowers grew.

Holy Spirit beats hot air
with sacred wings.

But even desert winds falter, pirouette and swap gold-red skirts for black crow-wings. The rain falls at last, from a dull sky, whipped by angry gales from the western ocean.

baked in summer’s furnace
revels in rain-damp.

Is it anger, at our blindness that tips scales one way then the other? I listen to the wailing of its endless speeches in the chimney, and I think I know the answer.

Stoves glow red
rain pounds the shutters—this is
only a foretaste.

Haibun for the talking baby

For the dverse prompt.

Babies learn so quickly, growing from unformed blob of glup to something that walks, talks and has its own opinions.

So few weeks ago
it was spring and these birds
were still eggs.

Between September visits, our small grandbaby has changed from being dog spectator, watchful and amused, to dog commander, dishing out treats from her plate, and expecting to be obeyed in all things. She follows them about, calling, but of course, they don’t understand their new baby names, and of course, baby gets furious when she has to shout twice, or ten times.

Scattering leaves
with a swirl of red skirts
summer leaves the stage.

By the end of the autumn, who knows how her wings will have grown. Perhaps Bee and Emon will have learned a new language too.

In the porch
dog watches leaves bowling
remembers the sun.

Bee (more commonly known as Bix) stealing the talking baby’s lunch.

Emon (Redmond) and Bee (Bix) early morning June, hence the green.

Random word generator

Late because we were out this morning. Not far, just meandering. Here are the words. Feel free to borrow and build some poems with them.

Haibun for a summer walk

Sun had burned off the mist, the lingering memories of smoke snagged in the bramble tangles, where a nest slowly unravelled in the wind.
It was cool in the narrow lane between the softly curved walls of the tiny church and the façade of the big house. Cool the lane winding up between oak and ash and Sunday silence. Silent the disused church, especially on Sundays. No fire had touched this place that held damp in its cupped carved hands.
We walked, dog-panting, dog-curious, up and round and back again, between stone and stone and tree-walls and lingered awhile before the glorious evening sky-blue of the big house door, wondering if it ever opened onto the courtyard beyond, drinking in the scent of over-ripe apples.

Summer wasp-buzzes
still—reluctant to let go
of its ripe wild fruits.

Haibun for paper shelters

For the dverse prompt.

There are shelters within shelters within shelters: wrapped in a coat, inside a room, inside a house, beneath a roof, in a country with government and laws and no war. Umbrellas. But from some things there is no shelter, no higher shelter that keeps us all safe.
I walked in the forest today and saw the fern fronds brown and dead beneath mossy trees, their leaves shed in survival mode, and the dead snake-skin of an empty gully where only echoes run.
We are running along dry, leaf-filled gullies. And when the rain comes, no big car or swimming-pooled palace will be shelter from its fury.

Fox digs out the hole
in parched clay. Mouse sees only
a giant’s shadow.

Haibun for a home in the sky

For the dverse prompt. We moved from Paris to Laon in Picardie after our fourth child was born. It’s a lovely little town, perched on a rocky outcrop, with a beautiful cathedral. The stone masons honoured the oxen that had drawn the stone up from the plain to build the cathedral by placing their statues in niches of the two main towers.

Photo ©Uoaei1

It went up and up, the road winding about the rock, through woods, vertical trunks clinging to slopes were vines grew once, the new road taking longer because the old one, cobbled more than 800 years ago, was too steep for modern vehicles. Ox carts managed though, even laden with building stone.

Time sits on branches
bowed beneath birds and leaves
never stumbling.

Through the arched gateway of the city walls, towered, watchful, and still climbing to the centre of this world in the sky. Cobbled paths met, converged and merged on the cathedral parvis, and my gaze rose above the statued portals, above the rosaces and their coloured glass, sombre on the wrong side of the light, to the towers, the light, airy towers where stone oxen looked down, as they will forever, in pride at what they had achieved.

Silent as stone
lichen-grey and green as spring

Haibun for an encounter

Before it got too hot, I took the dogs out for a walk around the newly mown meadows. Yesterday our walk was curtailed because Trixie followed us and a cat in a field is fair game as far as dogs are concerned. The day before we had to double back because of rabbits, the day before that the marsh beaver family was out by the pond and they send Redmond berserk. Bix doesn’t like them much either. I had great difficulty controlling Redmond who yelled his head off and had to be thumped.

Today, before it got hot, and after Trixie had come back in from seeing Imelda off, and I had checked that the marsh beavers weren’t in sight, we set off. Sniffed two dead snakes, juveniles. One at the edge of the meadow, sliced in half by the mower, the other beneath the trees, half-eaten.

Deeper beneath the willows, where the mower doesn’t go, we startled a hen pheasant. She didn’t fly away, but hissed and fluttered at the dogs who were surprised and excited but not murderous—the long grass in front of us was seething and cheeping with pheasant chicks. Bix got tangled up in Redmond’s lead, yelped, threw himself into the sedge and refused to get up. Redmond, non-plussed, let himself be untangled and led away. At a guess, they have not been used for bird-hunting.

We left the pheasant in peace to gather up her chicks. I’d like to think she’ll look for somewhere safe from fox and feral cat, but it’s not in her nature. At least I can keep the dogs away.

Relentless heat
broken grass throws no shade
well water recedes.

Haibun for wild maps

For Paul Brookes’ 30DayWild challenge.

Haibun for wild maps

These fields are veined with running feet, the hooved and the padded, the broad forked twig-feet of pheasants. Through the long grass they run, tunnelled through bramble, broadening to the crushed stalks of temporary resting places. River banks are scored with badger claws and the parallel slices of deer hooves, caves hollowed by coypu, the landslips of boar.

Birds weave their aerial paths, the flitter and flutter, leaf-like, from bough to bough, the flash of damselfly-dip into the stream. Squirrels antic their way, highwire, no trapeze, through poplars and alders, where woodpeckers mark altitude points.

No contour lines track these slopes, sedge symbols the ponds. Dogs nose, gaze, see smells as bouncing colours in the air perhaps. I follow, trusting to commonplaces, my half-world as much as I can ever know.

Smells recall childhood
baking bread hot tarmac
here quince blossom.

Haibun for an almost forgotten word

The dverse prompt is to write a quadrille using the word ‘spell’. It has another dialect meaning that is less well-known.

We called them spells in the north, the tiny wooden shards that stuck in fingers and knees. A northern word, not Gaelic, from the Norsemen perhaps, a legacy like beck and thwaite, wether and garth.

time of stinging nettles
searching for dock leaves.