I didn’t want to not do the last NaPoWriMo prompt, even if a cento isn’t my kind of thing. This poem is entirely written by William Shakespeare.

Dreams of a dead lover

I dreamt there was an emperor,
His legs bestrid the ocean,
His face
A sun and moon.

Night hangs upon mine eyes, my bones would rest
Beneath the visiting moon.

A sea change
into something rich and strange—
Those are pearls that were his eyes,
A walking shadow.
Our lamp is spent.

As boundless as the sea, my love,
I owe more tears
To this dead man than you shall see me pay.
Here is my space.
Kingdoms are clay.

Sleep that knits up the ravell’d sleeve of care,
Sleep, that I might see but such another man.


A new life

This NaPoWriMo prompt didn’t spark much to begin with, gifts, talents, silver spoons, gratitude-type thing, until I stepped back, and saw a broader picture.

A new life

So many thousands
of short lives
one to the next
through turf smoke
mist rising from the river
and time

ghost hands bone-white
intangible as breath
hold mine
across time
and wild waves

tight as I hold yours
small person
of so much blood
and memory

next in the long chain
stretching forward
into the mists
breath of time

carrying the gift
of visions
in turf smoke.


After reading Kim Russell’s duplex sonnet, and seeing how something ‘poetic’ could be got out of it, I thought I’d give it another try. This is my version of it, for NaPoWriMo (again).


Where did it go,
the peace of evening glow?

At dusk the sky’s agleam,
reflected in the stream,

where mirror-silver runs with glitter,
shadowed by the flutter-flitter

of uneasy blackbird wings,
yet still he sings.

Birdsong fills the blowing trees,
whispering in the evening breeze,

the paper-rustle of evening sedge,
the gentle calm of winter’s edge.

Peace once fell after the snow,
where did it go?

Ferdinand’s ghost

Yesterday’s dverse prompt was to write a sonnet or any other poetry form, incorporating the title of one of Shakespeare’s plays. Today, the NaPoWriMo prompt is to write a duplex sonnet. Too good a coincidence to miss, but since I didn’t warm to the duplex option, here is an ordinary sonnet with Shakespearean overtones.

Painting by John William Waterhouse.

Ferdinand’s ghost

An overarching of sky of bird’s egg blue,
A sward of grassy green and golden light,
All swallowed by the rising storm, the hue
Of kelp, that heaves, a restless sea of night.

Like scraps of feathered day, the crow flock flees,
Wings black as space among the swirling clouds,
Torn from the ragged shrouds of ghostly trees
That heave and sway like huddled fearful crowds,

Who watched the tempest wreck the ship that broke
Upon the gale’s dark teeth. Its timbers sank
Into the deeps; the bridegroom never woke,
A linceul now his diamond raiment, rank.

Full fathom five, your prince, the dead man lies,
No tears fall from those pearls, his only eyes.

Beyond the rim of the world

This poem was written with the visual images for tomorrow’s poetry challenge for Paul Brookes. It fits the NaPoWriMo challenge for today too well not to post it now.

The painting is Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s A vision of Fiammetta.

Beyond the rim of the world

The dark half of the year is ended, she said,
and her voice was water murmuring
in the stream, the wind in new leaves,
and the fluting song of the orioles.

The light half of the year is begun, she said,
and green flows an ocean girdling the world,
a haze of golden buttercups, and beneath,
the galleries and burrows team with unseen life.

The light half of the year is upon us, she said,
fluttering and whistling, growling in cub-play,
shooting in wild meadow stalks,
sighing where the long grass blows.

Keep the dark time as a memory,
a warning, a time of fear and dearth.
Remember, and let the light shine.

I wake to the hand of morning on my brow,
the cool air full of song and mist from the river,
butter-light spreading across the meadows,
the deer slipping back among the shadows,

and the joy of her words,
rolling like small waves in my ears,
is tempered by the clouds,
darkening the horizon, deep as night,
with the distant rumble of nightmares.


I am thrilled to have been chosen as featured poet for my contribution to yesterday’s NaPoWriMo prompt. It was an unexpected pleasure.

I didn’t know Kay Ryan, the poet whose work inspired today’s prompt, and I’m not sure this captures the right spirit, but it’s how I feel.


It seems to me
(though the opinion is only mine)
that this is no time
for aphorisms
the clever observation
that has no spine
only a smile in a mirror.
It seems to me
the wry humour
is misplaced when
children are dying
next to their dead mother
in bombed basements
rubble falling
(our shame)
(you know, don’t you?)
each missile
in each fighter jet
is signed with a name.
Have you found yours yet?

Morning questions

A prompt asking for use of repetition is a prompt for me. This one is for NaPoWriMo 2022 day 22.

Morning questions

These days that should be full of light,
begin in rain, begin in grey,
and grow in grey though birds still sing,

the cuckoos and the orioles
among the trees down by the stream,
a spring of blackbirds in the hedge.

Deep night time dark is full of song,
the nightingales that never sleep,
beneath a sky where stars are blind,

and blind the world of men to what’s
above and round about and in
the blood that flows beneath the skin.

Will we always live in grey,
the half-lit hues not night nor day
and claim we bask beneath the sun?

The sun looks down, the stars, the moon,
they see the trenches full of blood,
then, sighing, look the other way.

Andrea dal Passato

For the NaPoWriMo prompt.

Andrea dal Passato

I knew you through him;
we grew close, as friends.
I realise now, you wanted more,

except there was always him.
Even when we rowed, split,
and you were there to comfort me,
so was he.

I took the job to be close to him,
and you tagged along for a while,
like a faithful dog,

but your career took you away.
You made money,
I made my choice.

I still think of the Andrea del Sarto
in the National Gallery,
your favourite painting,

the young man,
looking over his shoulder,
looking out at me.

I wonder, had I looked deep enough then,
would I have said, yes,
to the question you never asked?

Five answers to one question

I enjoyed writing this one for the NaPoWriMo prompt. I like fives.

Five answers to one question

Beneath the thin shade of pines,
the buttered blanket of heat,
scented with salt, thyme and resin,
and the throbbing song of the cicadas.

Night, a Paris street,
lights in mansard windows,
and café chairs scraping on the pavement,
tepid air, smelling of coffee and pastis.

The pushchair rattling on cobbles,
children running on ahead,
the door of the baker’s opening, closing,
the smell of buttery pastries.

Rain pattering on leaves,
light an impossible green,
ahead the rise in the lane and the sight of the sea,
hills we call mountains, purple beneath the cloud.

Grey and cold, the traffic stink,
brakes squealing with irritation,
never enough time, look, we’re late,
and your hand always warm and strong in mine.