Hot night with owls

Not a piece of prose, but a poem inspired by the dverse prompt line. This is for my youngest fledgling who learned today she has been accepted at the Brussels École Supérieur des ‘Arts de l’Image. Nothing to do with owls, but they insisted.

Hot night with owls

The fragile green has gone again,
sprinkling of rain a hope that died.
The fissures yawn in this tired crust,
crisp and crackled where once flowers grew.

There is nothing I could plant here,
no flower delicate and pale,
in this dry dust where foxes dig,
and overhead the buzzards turn.

Hay still smells sweet at midnight,
yet no peace falls on linnets’ wings,
no fluttering, but soft-voiced owls,
their night-flight spurred with sprung steel claws, `

in moonless heat croon war-cries,
tender as a leopard’s paw.


Hare brains

Yesterday evening, just after supper, we watched a hare loping around the house just under the windows, not doing anything in particular, nibbling a bit here and there. For once, we thought to try and take a few photos, through rainy windows though so as not to frighten it away by opening them.

Later, walking Finbar before bedtime, the fox was there again by the boundary fence. All three of us were startled when a pair of barn owls swooped between us, screeching like banshees. Magic (again) !


The neighbour says they know,

they taste the air around the house

and sense a peaceful calm,

like birds that know the lazy cat, replete,

will not even stir a paw.

They come up close she says

when the house is still, the light is silent,

timid things that race away when danger strikes.

There’s something in the scent of meadow grass,

the scent of man-not-killer

around houses such as hers, as mine.

I watch the way she bends and parts the weeds,

not uprooting—they need their space too—

finger-skin cracked and black with ingrained earth,

how she listens to the song of every bird,

and in the slow, measured sweep of her hands

the bow of her back

through the crook of finger and the tilt of her head

she builds a place of safety




Watching the sky


Where were you last eve

before the dark, the sky?

Where were your coloured banners

waving wands of soothing dreams?

Behind the gathered banks of cloud

dimming last light and the afterglow

we watched in vain

for shadow leap of deer;

no loping run of hare

no startled eyes outstared the gloom

just unadulterated pitch

unstitched with stars.

Wind blows still among the leaves

and shrill the voices of frail songbirds

not singing

not bringing hope of better days

but through the misty haze of rain

fall vibrating echoes of the call

of constant owls

hunting for the moon.

The owl house

A haibun for the dverse ‘owl’ prompt.


This is the owl house. It rocks itself to sleep in the feathery ripple of the owls’ call. They used to live in the attic, but it’s too cold to leave it open to the sky, so we mended the windows. Now they roost in the roof of the porch and eat their midnight meal by the front door, dropping their pellets and shredding the bird scarers of aluminium foil that the old lady who lived here before us hung from the beams. We stand beneath the stars and listen to their voices filling the trees. The night listens too, and answers with the gekkering of foxes and the slight rustle of deer in the low trees. I stand here until a tree shakes its dry leaves, something scuttles through the brambles reminding me that I am a foreigner. My place is not here, eavesdropping on the conversation of the owls, the hunters that fly on invisible wings through the woodland of the night.

No snow this winter,

no white shadow in the night,

red berries shine bright.