Calculating worth

Colleen might not be back yet, but that’s not a reason to shirk. An etheree, because she likes us to keep counting syllables. Short enough maybe for the NaPoWriMo prompt too.


They say there is no value in grass or

ditches running with bright rain water;

the sun, the sky, the lark singing

cannot be owned. Yet at the

end, when the last dark falls,

the nightingale’s song,

sweet stream pouring,

will be worth

more than




Snatching a few minutes here and there, I haven’t worked out what the NaPoWriMo prompt wants, so I’ve attempted a translation of the Baudelaire given as an example.


Be still my sorrow; let your disquiet sleep.

You asked for eventide to fall, it’s here,

Enveloping this town in darkness deep,

Bringing peace to some, to others fear.


While the common mortal herd at leisure

Gathers regrets, picked from festive debris,

Driven on by the task master, pleasure,

We stay aloof, pain, come, give your hand to me.


On heaven’s balcony, see dead years drape

Their shabby antiquated crepe;

Regret rise from the ocean depths profound;


The dying sun asleep beneath an arch,

And like a long shroud trailing in the east, the sound

You hear, my love, is of the sweet night’s march.

Upon a poem

For the NaPoWriMo prompt.


When we write a thing

of joy or grief

a falling leaf

an absence beneath

the roof

the way the light plays

on still water and water rippling


or the slashed

cross-hatched rain

across the window again

when we write the words of you and me


the cat lying in the sun

an unknown whose life is done

when we write the song of birds

and lamentations near and far

they are


Lilies and…

For the NaPoWriMo prompt, with apologies to Shakespeare and thanks for the loan of Sonnet 94.


I’ll not compare you to an evening sky,

Shot full of rainbows melting with the light,

A shadow only in the mem’ry’s eye,

When all is swallowed by the hungry night.

High praises are not what your ego lacks,

Your self-opinion soars with eagle’s wings,

Oblivious to any flaws and cracks,

A drab it preens, and as the peacock sings.

To compare you thus is hardly fair to birds,

Birdsong is sweet to hear and full of grace,

Unlike the fatuous flow of hollow words

From that blowhole in the middle of your face.

Give me a simple posy and staunch deeds;

Lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds.

We toss roses in the river

A poem using repetition for the NaPoWriMo prompt. A cascade.


We toss roses in the river,

Running to the sea,

And it leaves us both behind, you and me.


With its cargo of dead litter,

Scented sweet and tasting bitter,

We toss roses in the river.


Once we laughed like children,

Digging castles wild and free, we went

Running to the sea.


Time’s relentless, rolling river

Has love’s cargo to deliver,

But it leaves us both behind, you and me


I’ve been working on this poem for a few days. Seems like a good moment to post it. For the NaPoWriMo pastoral prompt.


We walk in the dark of the wind-rushy trees,

listening to their wind-rushy voices,

solemn and wise and old as the earth,

silencing birdsong and furtive rustlings

from woods, hedges, field edges

and sleeping gardens.

Hands touch, but can they hold it back,

the something, pale blue and shimmering,

that seemed to fade in the dusk?

Wind rushes, rolling the perfume of lilac along the lane,

playing the woodwind of rose and oriole,

bowling garlic flower notes against the dark.

Wind ruffles flowerheads with gentle hand,

my face, sharper, imperious—listen, feel—

then suddenly the stream,

banked in heavy scents of wet earth,

edged in elm and elder,

alder and willow boughs sweeping low,

calls in the pure ringing voice

of spring water running

and the notes, a seamless weave,

leave no space for sadness.

It’s that apple again

Episode II of hypocrisy and misogyny in…well, you name the time period. This is using the Cranach painting of the Judgement of Paris for the NaPoWriMo prompt.



Later, she says, looking flirtatiously at the painter,

your interpretation will be debunked.

You painted us, the three harlots of antiquity,

Hera, Athena and me, Aphrodite,

exposing our charms,

bribing a harmless shepherd god with promises of power and wealth.

You made us shameless whores,

but you stripped us naked and you revelled in it.

They say I was the one who offered him Helen

in exchange for the apple, the prize,

(funny how that apple crops up

wherever women and their wiles are at work)

but it was you, men like you, painter,

imbued with the self-righteous sanctity of Christian teachings,

and like the paragons of manhood idolised by warlike primitives,

who made the world where women were judged for their beauty

and nothing more, and could be offered as prizes.

You made the world where a wife could be stolen,

(from the husband foisted on her in the first place)

given to another man, then blamed for the war to get her back.

Because she was beautiful.

Because you stripped us all naked

and made us nothing better than wet dreams of concupiscent child-bearers.

Later, she says, one day, women will turn around,

(like me, now, go on, look)

and they will tell you and all the lecherous contemptuous men

who peep and touch, promise monts et merveilles

and leave you with the kids—

just kiss my ass.



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?


A quickie for the NaPoWriMo prompt referring to an art form other than writing. The woman in the August Macke painting looks uncannily familiar.


If I could paint

a painter I’d be

but these things are decided

when fingers are still stubby tools

for grubbing in the dirt after earthworms and beetles,

forced to shape themselves to uncompromising ivory keys

to grip skinny slippery pencils

and form symbols of another’s creation.

If I could

I would

but paint is a river

an ocean too glorious and uncontrollable

too close to the rolling weaving

water and wind-swept tableau

of another’s creation.

Words instead tumble and trickle

salamanders from a volcanic pit

to be captured and shaped

before they scuttle back into their secret caves

pinned to a page where they glow


That’s the theory anyway.