For whoever needs one.


Out of the blue
it flew
bolted and brass-banded
sturdy and steady as stork wings
heron stilts
a burnished brazen-backed
bird of happiness
just for you.


Under the influence

Aren’t there a lot of people out there (here?) donating free advice on how to be happy/successful/lovable to the rest of us poor miserable sods who don’t know how to put one foot in front of the other without help? If I read one more time, the important thing is to just be yourself, I swear I’ll slap someone. Who did Goebbels think he was being then, if not himself? Or Idi Amin?

There are people who are making it their business to persuade others that happiness is a commodity that we can all acquire by sheer bloody perseverance, by smiling at strangers, wishing them a nice day, not swearing, and most important of all, by not having any problems. It goes without saying, you have to ignore everything unpleasant around you, like dirty people, abandoned pets, wars.

Essentially, it’s all about you, the unique and wonderful you. The uniquely wonderful being that is you could be happy walking through the ruins of Oms because you could give a biscuit to a starving kid. Wouldn’t that be a wonderful gesture? And you could get that warm, fuzzy feeling of self-satisfaction seeing their little starving faces light up with happiness.

And it’s all about beauty. If you can’t be twenty, rich, with the body of a super model, you can still have a beautiful mind. Which means suck up your mediocre looks, physique and bank balance and smile at people.

The basic message from all these helpful people is that to be happy, you have to ignore the other bitches. Just be yourself, and only you know what that means. Sorry, you have to help yourself just a bit here. Just make sure that yourself conforms to the young, beautiful, trouble-free, financially secure segment.

Happiness is shopping, beauty, skin care products, exotic spots to take selfies, a healthy diet and regular workouts in the gym, but failing the body beautiful, you can still think nice thoughts, or have nice hair, or something. Happiness is that glow inside when you’re okay though the rest of the world is wallowing in misery, and it means that you have learned to love yourself.

And what if happiness wasn’t about you at all? What if happiness was about contributing to something in the course of your life that made a difference to everybody’s well-being, about being part of a cause, speaking up, taking action?

Just a suggestion. I’m not an influencer. I don’t have any skin care tips or advice on shopping or where to go next when you’ve taken your selfie outside the Taj Mahal. Maybe I just don’t know how to enjoy myself. And if learning to love myself means giving myself a big hug of commiseration for falling so far short of what I ought to be instead of a kick up the backside, then I’m afraid I fail on that count too.

I found a truth today


I found a truth today,

hiding in a pool of yellow sunlight,

where a red leaf curled

and in the tree above, a robin sang.

I found a truth today,

racing in the stream

with the yellow poplar leaves,

where lords and ladies unfurl their new green banners,

for beneath the rustling brown carpet

life is stirring.

I found a truth today

that explains the emptiness,

the mist that hangs on every bough,

in every longed-for sight and song.

Happiness is the two wings of a bird,

the hand that holds, the hand that is held,

it is the giving and the given,

the walking in step.

The truth I found—

happiness is not,

unless it is shared.

Moon-feathered song

A tritina for a wonderful day!


On the right side of the moon the darkness falls,

the left, a goddess smile of echoed light

born on wings of owl and fluted song.


Starlight glitters, night leaves, while the song

of brown birds charms, whatever else befalls

this world of feathers soft and silver light.


Morning fills the sky with golden light,

sunrise whispers silver streams of song,

winding twisted tresses where it falls.


Feathered moon falls, light and gentle as a whispered song.

Haibun: Erased = happiness


The song goes on, night and day while flowers grow and seed. Sun rises, sets, and the moon swells and scatters stars. There were swallows in the sky, but will they stay? Nothing is attainable, fixable in the hand or in the heart. All is drift and chance except what is preordained in sap and cell. I drift, open my hand to the air and try to catch the sundrops falling on elm leaves. Nothing sticks, the music winds on and on even when the stream runs too low to speak. Standing beneath this wide sky full of leaves and wind, or hiding behind a wall of tired stone, I grasp the trailing silver gossamer of good news, a chance, a sundrop falling into the open palm of my hand.



the white flower

opening with the sun.


Song flowers grow

moon swallows stay

I catch sundrops

grasp gossamer

happiness opening.

Touch the misty breath of morning

The dverse prompt, is to play with the senses.


Touch the misty breath of morning,

tangy with the steely taste of dew,

and stroke the back of river flowing,

curling ’neath the bridge piers striding.

Draw me a cloudburst drenched in rainbow darts,

and I’ll blow you kisses through the slate grey shade.

Sing me all the blackbird’s songs,

if you dare!

and I’ll reply with moonlight tangos,

strummed on a hazel branch.

Pluck me an apple with skin as smooth as oceans,

and I’ll breathe you mint and rosemary,

rock you in the scent of roses,

until the evening falls, soft as moth wings,

bee-humming with the joy of young things,

in a cascade of heavenly blue.

Happiness in ripples

Photo©W. carter


When grasped too hard, joy like a nettle stings,

Peer too long into lake waters clear,

Happiness escapes in widening rings.


A dream achieved, and still the yearning clings,

Though we have touched the green light on the pier—

When grasped too hard, joy like a nettle stings.


The dawn breaks harsh that no desire brings,

Dream horses bolt and shy away in fear,

Happiness escapes in widening rings.


The way is strewn with arrows spent and slings,

The longed-for prize eludes, a leaping deer,

When grasped too hard, joy like a nettle stings.


In this bright world of myriad splendid things,

To choose one star and try to keep it near,

Happiness escapes in widening rings.


Be like the gull, content with his broad wings,

Bask in the golden light of this blue sphere,

For rose has thorns, joy like a nettle stings,

And ripples out of sight in widening rings.

Is there happiness?

Painting ©Bernardien Sternhelm


Is there happiness to be found,

to be picked up for the asking,

plucked from random moments

and the bustle of other people’s lives?

It used to be there,

I remember,

packed in books and chocolate,

and sauced with the scent of Christmas pine and pudding,

or filling the hours spent sifting pebbles and pond life,

while the world stood still and held its breath.

What remains of that wonderment

that filled to the brim the vessel of content?

Cloud hangs now on the horizon,

fear of tomorrow at every fiery sunset.

Grains of sand in the machine

grind and grumble through the blackbird’s song,

once beauty pure enough to stop the sun in its course.

The world is full of shadow,

and the limpid mornings,

the golden afternoons,

the birdsong of another time,

an echo growing fainter by the year.

When the darkness gathers

and the ricochets of broken dreams

fall thick and fast as bullets,

and the veil of fog on the river will not lift,

I reach out and touch your hand,

the pivot, the centre that must hold,

however thick the darkness grows

and the sunlight cold.

Microfiction challenge #15: Freedom

The painting is by a Russian painter I am getting quite fond of, Ilya Repin. There is always a lot of colour and movement in his work, and this one is filled with such a joie de vivre, I thought it would make a nice antidote to last week’s rather sad painting.

The couple in the painting are having such fun and in such an unlikely setting! The title of the painting is ‘What freedom!’ and I’m wondering at all the different kinds of freedom we can infer. The waves pouring around them seem to be submerging a building? a promenade? The sea is wild and deep, no beach in sight. Where exactly are they going?

Write your thoughts in a short story and post them in the comments box before next Thursday. I’m looking forward to reading a lot of happy stories this week 🙂




Giving in to the addiction again—another minute poem for the Daily Post prompt: learning.


What have I learnt today, asks she,

What can I be?

Is there a ploy

To bring me joy?


The answer falls from sky of blue,

Of every hue

The petals bright

In green leaf-light.


The answer sings in feathered throats,

Dancing dust motes,

Clouds, rose-pale skies—

Open your eyes.