Floods and tides

Maybe it’s coincidence since we were talking about Shakespearean sonnets yesterday, but Jilly’s next (for me) Jim Harrison quote has a distinctly Shakespearean feel.

“There is a human wildness held beneath the skin that finds all barriers brutishly unbearable” Jim Harrison

“There is a tide in the affairs of men which taken at the flood leads on to fortune” Shakespeare (Brutus).


To leap into the raging tide and risk the swell,

Or suffer the battering on the rocks, takes courage.

Perhaps, but what, dear Brutus, of the tide

That washes soft and sweet upon the strand,

And, with so little bombast fills the pools with glitter?

Wise men tug the coat sleeves of the fools,

Though not to stop them in their maddened flight.

But in their wake, the slipstream of their folly fly,

The path beat clear for the cunning and the keen.

Not wise men, angels, I hear you murmur—

Is that how you see yourself, Brutus,

As you stand so straight, your golden armour

Borrowing the splendor of the sun?

Give me the hungry and the lean,

For they know the price of courage, the toll of bravery.

I will take instead the hand of Cassius of my heart,

And lead him safe across the water,

Away from the shadow of such men

As the wide arch of the ranged empire call heroes.

She asks her love to dance with her

This poem is for the dverse prompt and is inspired by Jilly’s quote from Jim Harrison

“As with dancing you have to learn the steps”

The challenge is to write a sonnet in free verse. With no rhyme or rhythm, the lines don’t fall into strict units of quatrains and tercets, for me at least, so I’ve stuck to classic Shakespearean sonnet form. A cop out, I know, but I find a sonnet quite hard enough to write without adding an extra twist to the thumbscrews.

Photo ©Tobiasvde


There is never a teacher for this dance,

No more than to guide the fledgling’s first flight,

To fly or to fall, in the hands of chance,

Sleep or the wolf may come with the night.

Will we untangle the mess that we made?

Our steps tripped and faltered, we parted ways,

Like sand castles crumbled, the plans we laid,

The dream of the future obscured in haze.

There must have been love to have left such pain,

As there must have been music to draw us on,

There must have been sun once though now there’s rain,

The piper once played sweet who now is gone.

Watch my eyes at sunset, moonrise to see,

The star-stepped path that brings you back to me.


Songs again. This is in response to the Day 2 quote of Jilly’s challenge:

“That morning the sun forgot to rise”  Jim Harrison.


The morning the deer come no more to the brake,

And the sight of your face is like cloud in blue skies,

When the thrushes are silent along the still lake,

Is the morning the sun will forget how to rise.


When the evening star falls through the oaks in the wood,

And the tides of the ocean cease their ebb and flow,

When the moon’s face reflected is red as shed blood,

Is the evening I’ll tell you I want you to go.

World of dreams

Borrowing Day 1 of Jilly’s Jim Harrison quotes.

“In this world of dreams don’t let the clock cut up your life in pieces.”  

Painting ©Salvatore Di Giovanna


This is a world of dreams, they say,

where anything you want, you can,

it’s true as long as you can pay.


Dream of Egyptian nights bright-starred

and boat trips down the sluggish Nile,

just jump aboard your credit card.


Ferocious big cat safely dead,

is yours to boast of to your friends,

your photo, foot upon its head.


A dream is slippery as an eel,

what’s fun to you is death to me,

your bucket list to me, unreal.


Too many folk with too much time—

some live their dreams of candy froth,

some yet to leave the primal slime.

Children of the stars

Continuing with Jilly’s August challenge and the last of the Jim Harrison quotes.

“Why does the mind compose this music well before the words occur?”


Children of the stars, we,

drops of glittering light

that grew and grew in the holy dark,

rocked by the lilting song of the spheres,

washed by salty seas

in the pulsing tides of the heart.

Sprung, a fish-leap,

from quiet ocean in a fountain of mirth,

we swim in enfolding arms,

listening to the music of beyond,

until our bleary eyes focus on the dreaming sky,

and we learn to reach for the stars.

These hands of mine

This is the other poem I wrote in response to the Jim Harrison quote Jilly posted a couple of days ago. You can read the first one here

“It is life’s work to recognize the mystery of the obvious”  


These hands of mine,

ever-busy tools,

twin companions,

never flinching from a task,

familiar as sunshine and the purring of the cat,

always before my eyes,

but in a blur of inattention,

a group noun like rain or ocean

not crystal raindrops,

or perfectly curled waves.

Only when you take them in your own,

strong-fingered, violinist, carpenter’s hands,

that make magic from wires and switches,

planks of wood,

bolt battleship-sturdy pipes,

and tease music to make the heart sob,

do I know what the maker of hands intended.

Night tides

We’re reaching the end of Jilly’s  28 days of Jim Harrison quotes. This one is

“It is life’s work to recognize the mystery of the obvious”  

Photo ©Slaunger


Yours, a face so familiar

I know its every line and curve,

its skin tones shading.

Eyes, so often swum in, dived deep,

that I have watched as they close in sleep,

and the way the colour changes

with the sky and the years.

So close, so near,

and yet I dread those silent nights,

when the moon looks the other way,

and stars and wishes fall into other’s hands, not mine.

I wonder, if I am left behind,

when you turn your face into the dark,

will I still recall your eyes,

the colour of sun on a northern sea?

Sky in motion

Still finding gems of inspiration in Jilly’s Jim Harrison quotes. This one is

“On some clear nights in the country the stars can exhaust us” 

Image ©Zach Dischner


Nights full of stars and the sounds of the dark and the smells, cooling and winding from deep-cupped blooms, unfurl around our day-pale faces. The ear is filled full as the sea, with the snip-snap and rustlings of furtive life. Strained eyes see only the lack of light and shrouded shadows beneath the trees. But in the sky, in the brilliant vastness of the overarching sky is strung out the lightshow of the universe. Songs of silence glitter where the friendly chattering blue was spread. Untuned our ears and unfocused our eyes, the Dog Star draws us skywards, heads tilted back in wonder, into the tireless dance. About our feet, mice patter, while fox watches and waits for us to blunder on our way.


Dark breeze, wash and hiss

of night trees rocked by the tide—

we wade through starlight.

Letting go

This was inspired by Jilly’s Jim Harrison quote:

“The river can’t heal everything”  ~ Jim Harrison

The painting, by August Macke is of the Rhine at Hersel.


Into the water it goes,

the weight of the past a round stone,

and the ripples it shivers so bright,

silver flickers, still I stand alone.


Into the river, brown trout

swish shadows where currents run deep,

tressed water of anger and love,

drawn down to the ocean to sleep.


If you’d once whispered soft words at dawn

when the harsh morning dragged me awake,

but the rose petals left me the thorn,

and the shame of the day was to break.


Into the water I send

the petals and thorns and the dreams,

to sail in a barque with white sails,

where silver and golden light streams.


Into the river we go,

swept in dark arms of the flow,

perhaps at the end will come peace,

when your face fades to moonlight—release.

Small things

Jilly’s Jim Harrison quote for the day is a splendid one, full of possibilities.

“Nature has portals rather than doors”  ~ Jim Harrison

It links up very nicely with Paul Militaru’s photo that he posted yesterday.

I borrowed this photo from Brian Gratwicke


Part the boughs onto the night,

as the wind blows clouds across the moon,

watch till the stars gutter and die,

follow the flight of the owl.

Listen to voices you don’t understand,

in leaf rustle and dark water,

reach high with winged hands,

to touch the moth-fluttering infinite,

and it will teach you how to see

the harebell at your feet.