Too many mornings

Editing this post to add a second short poem, a badger’s hexastitch for Colleen’s last post of the year. It’s a version of the original poem beneath the photo.

Badger’s foggy morning

Cold clings
fence wire dripping
with fog-damp bird-silence
in these liminal days
of the year’s grey

Too many mornings

of imprecision
of cold-clinging
when trees are ghostly galleons
and clouds are seas
and the thin ribbon of the moon
is sunk in billows of fog.


November rain

November rain

It rained enough to wet the ground
till all around, without a sound,
the ghost of evening fell.

Hands cupped we caught the crystal drips
from sedge spear tips that filled the lips
of arum lily flowers,

and walked beneath the golden light
until the night and dark’s cold bite
turned our steps homeward bound.

November Ekphrastic Challenge: Day 5

Paul Brookes’ ekphrastic prompts (Boze burger by Marcel Herms and Cool Jeremiah by Terry Chipp) seem somehow very relevant for today. At least my poem seemed to think so.

5MH Boze burger, mixed media on paper, 21,3 x 30,2 cm, 2020


Finding the north

And when the dust has cleared
and the cheering’s done,
when the victor’s corpse has raised clenched fist
and been carried over the ropes,
when the prophets are revealed as crack heads,
their graffitied texts washed clean,
will we find the way?

The north still draws those who know,
who listen to the pull of the earth
and whisper to the over-arching sky,
we do, we will, we are,
those who, like the homing geese,
take the broad world in their hands and say,
this and only this matters,
the turning of life and more life,
sheltered beneath soft wings.

TC5. Cool Jeremiah

Poppy time

For the dverse prompt—November and what it means to me.

At this the dog end of the year,
the guns still roar, the dead still fall,
the politicians, stern and implacable,
tell us we will not cede,
we will stand firm, no pasaran!

La Pasionaria calls but now her voice is dim—
Dolores, Dolores, more sorrow on the wing—

her words drowned deep
beneath an endless sea
the bloody drifts of poppy flowers.



days of wind and lashing boughs

rain slanting from shifting sky

colour of winter half-dark

filling the ditches with running cold

where frost needles will grow


light the stove

and listen to the flames

singing of old tree days

and green springs

filled with bird-flutter


chimney-wind echoes hollow

among the bricks

tree-wind rattles rain from wet boughs

and the solemn tweeting

of chaffinches



No sense in this shirt-sleeved November,

Stringing strands of summer among the turning leaves.

Sun-sweated, burnished beads of bronze,

Beneath a blazing sun,

Drip hot and heavy, slow as cooling lead.

Red flame, bird-breasted, berried boughs,

Hang still, while water willow, wind wafting,

Weary of this sky of unrelenting blue, bends.

Beneath the scarlet vines we linger, languid,

Wine-dappled tablecloth,

Red and gold with wine glass glitter,

Winking in the sun.

And above our heads, the wintering geese,

South wind soughing soft among grey plumes,

Cry their noisy joy to the glorious sky,

For the fine grand day that is in it.

What November has in store

First Monday of November, the notorious NaNoWriMo, and I have made a decision. I’m going to finish this novel in the month. It’s no big deal, I reckon another 20k words will finish the first draught and since I’ve set myself a lazy 5000 words a week goal, there should be no problem. I like setting myself challenges, as long as they’re easy ones.
This novel is the third volume of a duology. Yup, when I signed the contract for the first Wormholes book, I was persuaded that three is better than two, and as stories go on as long as they’re allowed, I accepted the challenge to write a third volume. I won’t go into the plot details—I’m still making them up as I go along—suffice it to say it’s a rather strange story.
Wormholes begins at the end of the world, with standard apocalyptic elements, plus some of my own invention, characters strictly my own and now personal friends, and an extremely unpleasant demise for our poor Earth. The second volume takes Carla and Tully to a parallel world, closely followed by the unpleasant elements of the first volume. What happens and how it happens is best left a closely guarded secret for the time being.
I had intended the story to end there, but of course, where there’s life there’s hope and another story. This third volume is on a different plane altogether and focuses more on relationships than exploding universes. Which doesn’t mean there isn’t a fair amount of action, it’s just that some of the action is of a more ‘adult’ nature, while keeping strictly within the decorous bounds of YA.

Here’s an unedited snippet.

Once they had passed through the second wall, Carla and Tully soared skyward, passing through the realm of the waking world and into the dark, velvet world of starlight. They walked for a while high above the glitter and ghostly glimmer of Paradisio that stretched as far as the eye could see.
“Where’s Between the Walls?” Tully asked, peering in all directions.
“We can’t see it. The walls around it send images of Paradisio back to us.”
“It really is like a box then. With a lid,” Tully mused.
“There’s something behind this, Tully. And I think we ought to find out what it is.”
“Why us?”
Carla chewed the inside of her lip thoughtfully. “Because we’re not exactly like the Grigori. I know they keep telling us we are, that we’ve come home blah blah blah. But I don’t feel as though I belong here. Not the way it is. Maybe the way it used to be…”
“Speculation, sweetheart. This place is the best. The dog’s bollix, as Dad would say. We’ll settle in, and when we do, we might find we were worrying about nothing at all.”
Tully smiled and hummed a tune, and Carla wondered if he even understood what made her feel uneasy. Tully’s singing made the stars gleam brighter, and meteorites danced like synchronised fireworks around their heads. Either she and Tully had developed powers they could never have imagined even in Lutecia, or Paradisio itself was full of magic. Tully stopped humming and held his head on one side, listening. His eyes glittered with amazement.
“Can you hear?” he whispered.
Carla stood quite still and held her breath. The silence of the night sky was broken. Like ripples on a stream, faint music made by unearthly voices came to her over the waves of darkness. She looked at Tully, her eyes wide.
“It’s the stars,” he breathed, “the planets. They’re singing.”
“What does it mean?”
Tully beamed at her. “It means we’re in heaven.”
Carla grinned. “Seriously.”
“The possibilities here are endless. Nothing is beyond us if we try hard enough. You can see why Nisroc wants to protect his world.”
Carla frowned slightly as if a cloud had passed over the moon, and the music faded. “Yeah. I s’ppose.”
Tully took her hand and led her into a fiery nest of stardust. “You worry too much,” he said gently and pulled her down beside him. “Time for dreaming.”
Carla snuggled into his arms, loosening his shirt from his trousers, letting his unmistakeable Tully smell fill her senses.
“I wonder if the Grigori dream too,” she said.
“Erelah said they all do.”
“Erelah? You mean we might bump into her up here?”
“What have you got against Erelah, anyway? She’s a good laugh, when you get to know her.”
“And you have?”
“Yeah, a bit.”
Carla fought to keep her ground in what felt like shifting sands. She held Tully tighter, finding the buckle on his belt. She bit his ear and whispered, “Like this?”
Tully kissed her hard on the mouth. “You ask the silliest questions.”
“Indulge me.”
Tully kissed her again. And again. “Of course not.”
His hands were on her skin beneath her shirt. His mouth was on hers. The stars were singing. Carla let the unpleasant thoughts slip into the gentle darkness between the planets and returned Tully’s kiss with the same passion as in the old days.