Songs they taught me

A sidelong look at today’s days of unreason prompt.

“Nearly everything we are taught is false except how to read”

~  Jim Harrison from Songs of Unreason



I had a loved one, a grandmother,

who had learned that the world is cruel,

and no mealy-mouthed words, eucharistically moulded,

change one iota in the grinding of the wheels.

She had the tools of intellect and kept them sharp,

one way to fight against the darkness.

Find your knives and keep them sharp, she said.

You will need them.

I had another, a mother,

who feared to teach a love of beauty,

because it didn’t pay, and poverty is grim.

Find your own way to beauty, she said,

by following the pavement grey.

And I had another, a father,

who taught nothing, but showed

that gentleness and compassion is the noble way,

and if that fails, use your fists.

I have been taught in that subtlest of ways,

caught in the floating strings of kin,

the woven map of kin

that stretches further than the heart can hold,

that love does not conquer all,

that love is never enough,

that all things end,

so value each moment, like a miser his coin.


Night time

For Jilly’s days of unreason challenge. Today’s quote (I liked this one a lot!):

“Just beyond the bruised lips of consciousness.”

from Birds Again

~ Jim Harrison


There is a world,

we hover on the brink, daytime,

but night’s drapery,

lush and secret,

furtive and dimly starlit,

hangs over the hidden door.

You take me there,

part the curtains

of that elusive place

that lies just beyond the brink of sleep.

Its taste is still there

on my lips

when I wake.

Blood red tide

It’s hard not to think of violence with this prompt, too hard for me anyway. For Jilly’s days of unreason challenge.

“Her nights are full of the red teeth of death”

—Jim Harrison



The thrush on her nest, the hare in her form,

young, blood-beating and heart-throbbing

beneath their breasts, tremble in the dark.

Night is a fearsome place,

where ears twitch and eyes flutter,

waiting for the tread of the predator,

sometimes silken smooth,

supple as snakeskin, shark-silent,

sometimes a rush of red-furred fury.

But she waits for the drunken blunder,

the stair-creak like gunshot,

and the heavy stink of senselessness.

The red-tooth never maims,

kills swift, leaves a squeal and a sigh,

day breaks and the grass is still green,

the sun beckons the living.

She waits, stifling sobs

for the angry fists that never find relief,

for the red-toothed death that kills slowly,

night by night.

Haibun: Silent sounds

This extreme haibun erased is for the dverse prompt.



The silence that never falls is all around—the sound of damp air between dripping raindrops, the intake of birdbreath when a run of notes is ended, and the run of words that never falters, never stumbles in the ghost voice in my head.


On the cusp

of the rose petal

a single note rings.



the sound of raindrops

on the rose petal