For the earthweal challenge.



Out of the depths she has cried, the vixen,
and runs now by rushing waters;
no lying down in the deep dark or bright day,
running, outrunning.

The earth, her earth not ours,
fills with hounds’ teeth
and the shining teeth of the trap.

From morning watch even until night
she runs, red running, finding solace
in the companion, the faithful shadow,
watchful, padding print for print
with her between the winter trees.

She dreams of a day of rest,
eyelids flicker, paws twitch in fitful sleep,
and the perpetual light shines—
on white and shining teeth,

and again she runs,
perpetual motion.




Mist and night-cold cling and cloud,
Dripping grasses damp the ground,
And in the morning silence loud,
The crack of shot and bay of hound.

I wonder at the dark of mind
That finds its pleasure in the death
Of bird and hare and timid hind,
That steals wild beauty’s final breath,

If in the dark where hunters stalk,
Does shame, compassion ever break
Upon the bloody path they walk?
Is mine the only heart to ache?

What did it say?


What did it say, the bright murmuring water,

What did it whisper to you, my love?

What did it tell you about the red slaughter

Of pigeon and partridge and turtle dove?


It passed by me weeping clear tears of sorrow,

The stream that carried the bloodstained tale,

It said that the same would be true of the morrow,

The guns would be after sweet thrushes and quail.


What will you do when the bullets are singing?

Where will you stand when they fly, my love?

What will you do when the heron is winging,

Will you be the velvet or iron glove?


The water is raging, love, hear the trees moaning,

Nothing is still when blood stains the dark loam,

No voice should be silent in grief when alone wing

The dark-feathered owls come to carry them home.

Sunday morning


Sunday morning and the hunt is on

chasing belling sounding

through the quiet fields

where quarry quivers in fear.

This world is raving


where peace once walked

barbarity stalks


the dream gone sour.


One drop

the rain begins

a curse—

the scent trails fresh and singing

sky weeps but not for us

feet trample

and in the rain-whisper

shots and death

where warm life scurried nurtured and loved.


In the gloom

I see the sky weep blood.


We walk


stirring ghosts and noise

displacing the silence of growing things

with our death wishes

and all our yesterdays shadows

cast by tomorrow’s fading hopes

and the monolithic mountain

of today’s body count.

Silent screaming

Monday morning, after a weekend of carnage, the retired men with white vans, too much time on their hands and too little imagination and sensitivity are still blazing away at inoffensive creatures that are infinitely more useful and beautiful than they are.

For the OctPoWriMo prompt.


knots tighten


twanging like bowstring

the report of a gun

not placid

as the eyes embedded in wood

fiercely blind

clench-fisted against the ungraspable.

Knots bind

hands flail

unbound but helpless

in the face of flying bullets

and the brutish blackness

beneath the skull

of the hidden hunter.

Silence broken

As I sit on this glorious autumn morning of warm sun, I can hear, all around me the sound of gunfire. I defy anyone who is not a completely insensitive brute to listen to the sound of senseless killing and not be angered and sickened by it. A cleave poem for OctPoWriMo’s silence prompt.

A cleave poem is three in one: left side says one thing, right side says its opposite. Read together they make a third poem.



Early morning gold / the shadows lie

thick beneath the trees/ cool and deep­—

autumn settles / with a stealthy rustle,

when the only sound is birdsong/ hunters creep

beneath the wing-fluttered hedge/ deer startle into flight

I hold my breath/ as silence breaks with sharp retorts

and russet flashes, gone / shattered the fragile peace

where wild things go / snapped the thread of life

I watch the silence /as death falls on fallen grace

filling the space of beauty lost/ for some warped and dark delight.

Haibun: Dark morning


They made a convoy this morning in the dim light before the rain, a dozen vans driven by red-face men with big bellies, full of dogs and death. They gathered in the field beyond, and I waited for the surge of excitement of released dogs, the shouts of encouragement. But in the silence before the rain, as the sky darkened, they roared away, taking their guns and their dogs to another site, and relief that the massacre would not be here was tempered by the certitude that somewhere a mother and her cubs would lose their lives in terror.

World full of killing

yet we add to the pain

buds fall unopened.

Haibun for a reprieve

The hunting season closed at midnight last night, for deer and hare, rabbit, blackbird and water birds. The geese can wing their way home, the pheasant can cough away with impunity, and the thrush sing his heart out and live to see the morrow. Happily, the evil badger and fox, the diabolical marten and weasel, the terminator marsh beaver and the devil’s melt of magpie and crow exist to provide continuous sport for the professionals of death.

Broad skies overarch

sun shines rain falls regardless

of your calibre.



Dear animals,

Just a short word to say, we are not all sanguinary brutes, although it must look like that to you. You see the two-legs rushing round in their vans because their legs aren’t up to running after you. They need their dogs because they can’t sniff out a track on their own or get among the brambles. They need their rattles and horns and whistles to frighten you because otherwise you would stay put and they’d never see you. They need their big guns to kill you because they have no teeth, claws, speed, stealth, talons or beak.

They kill, the overweight and out of breath, because you are beautiful, and you can live where they cannot, because you run, creep, fly, stalk where they blunder and trample. Don’t forgive them, for they know what they do. Run and hide. See tomorrow dawn.

A friend.


A message from the Oracle.


We drive beauty away Screen Shot 2018-12-22 at 10.42.07

from this garden;

life is stilled,

only screaming shadows remain,

smell of lost summer,

whispers in the wind.

Shots rip red death—

stop! Please.

Raw is the rose light

that shines this sad bloody day.

Why? I ask, but there is no reply

for those who cry.


Rain stopped play.Screen Shot 2018-12-22 at 12.35.01

How many thousands more

need to die?