News drops silently,

the opening of a mail,

barely a click from the keyboard

and a reality forms that was not there before.


The day fills with holes,

thoughts slip through

and come back reluctantly,

distorted, lacking limbs.


The day becomes the news,

the news is sung in the hedges,

strummed by crickets,

but nothing stops the ache.


Loss is like that,

and the staring into the void

that has opened up before the feet,


and the fear grins and grows,

that all the colour in the world

will pour away into the hungry dark.



This poem is very loosely inspired by Migratory birds by Desanka Maksimovic. (sorry, can’t get the accent). For the dverse prompt.


Geese fly south when the cold bites

and makes them cry for fledglings

lost to fox and hawk,

to the death of hunger-weakness or guns.


Geese fly, and their cry echoes in the winter sky,

the cry of ice-bound reaches that I will never see.

The geese fly south to winter warmth because they must,

and the hunger-weak fall behind.


Although I am not a goose,

and my winter place is my summer place,

and my chicks never died of fox or hunger-weakness,

still their cries tear a reply from my heart


for all that is left behind

and all that will never return.





For the NaPoWriMo prompt to write about an animal. I seem to do that all the time, so this is a scene I participated in this morning before breakfast. And if any of my sensitive little chicks are reading, this is NOT you. Okay?

Photo©Luis Garcia


Watching the skirmish from the window

birds chasing through the waving fronds

of the pink tree heather

(piebald shark pursued by trout)

a hen blackbird clucks mother-like

fury boundless—magpie thief eludes her

mocking and

they flutter through the fronds

(pinkly waving)

weaving a dance of ritualised aggression.

Cock blackbird arrives late for the battle

(it’s his chick too)

and I run outside shouting

as if I can intervene in a pattern of nature

remove the chick from the (Chinese kite demon’s) beak

restore it to its nest.

I watch the inevitable

(demon kite) sailing away through the trees

and grieving parents clucking among the branches

winding down

returning to the survivors


(Do they, I wonder?


Do mothers ever forget their chicks

even when they are grown and gone

even when they forget birthdays

and fill their lives with things more important

than mothers?

Treading bones

The Daily Inkling prompt is side effects, a supernatural meaning for a sharp pain.


Walking the meadow

dry clay

cracked from side to side

making islands of yellow flowers and pink,

and from the cracks

the scuffle of tiny rodent

claws and paws

curling in comfort one against the other.

Beneath the trees

where branches cover green and pale

in leaf

not quite enough

to hide new nests

and flitting coloured birds

the sound of springsong.

Why this jabbing pain

the ribs the soles of feet the head?

Each footstep treads

a death

the end of some brief spell

among the flowers

of the insect-creeping earth.

Creaking backs

spines ache when mowers strip

the cover

seeded heavy with food.

They fade

the coloured songsters

the vole and rabbit

quick brown fox.

Fewer nests eggs young fledglings


meagre fare.

Dearth fades

not the swift fall of the axe.

Pain pinches the heart

of those who see the failed nests

and regret there are so few swallows

this year.

The dark falls quickly

A pantoum for the dverse prompt. This one turned out rather ghostly.


The dark falls quickly at this time of year,

When winter clings beneath the leafless trees,

Where in the twilight flit like ghosts the deer,

And dead leaves rustle in the spring-sharp breeze.


When winter clings beneath the leafless trees,

I listen for the sound of cracking ice

And dead leaves’ rustle. In the spring-sharp breeze

I think I hear a sound, still imprecise—


I listen for the sound of cracking ice.

Though nothing stirs yet in the night-clear air,

I think I hear the sound still imprecise

Of laughter, our voices free of care.


Though nothing stirs yet in the night-clear air,

I feel your presence wrapping me in waves

Of laughter, our voices free of care.

A sea of grief rolls now, and fields of graves


I feel your presence, wrapping me in waves

Of twilight, where like ghosts they flit, the deer,

And grief, a sea rolls over fields of graves.

The dark falls quickly at this time of year.

In springtime

spring clouds


I always think of them in spring

though they died on the sill of winter.

I sprang from them, was formed by them

in the shelter they built of gardens and painted quiet.

I think of them when the flowers start to open

and the leaves,

when the breeze is brisk but the sky is haphazard blue.

I think of them beneath this sky,

so far away from where they called home,

but the sky is the same everywhere,

and the blackbird’s song.

On the night lake

Another of Paul Militaru’s photos with the lovely title of Night and snow over birds prompted this poem. Thank you, Paul!


On the night lake, grey gulls glide,

While snow falls thick upon the ride,

Where foxes pad and pheasants hide.

In summer waters small boats plied

Across the lake so smooth so wide,

Where mallards swim and grey gulls glide,

And many came here, sat and sighed

For lovers lost, for lovers died.

While snow falls thick upon the ride,

As cold as tears I’ve shed and dried,

Like stone I sit in lonely pride,

Among the gulls that drift and glide,

And wait for turning time and tide.


Night shades

I woke to a radiant morning and a sad piece of news that has touched me deeply.


Within this bright sunlight

lie always the shadows of the night

and the creeping dread of the day that will come

when no sun will chase away the darkness,

no sea of light roll across the arid bed

that once was green and flower-specked,

no stars, however countless, fill an empty sky.