Limbo of infants

For the dverse prompt, a 55 word poem about one of the most insensitive unofficial doctrines of the Catholic Church.


Beneath flat stones,

nameless as the first day,

they lie cheek to cheek.

No forgiveness,

say the black-robed men,

for scraps of life

dead before the holy sacrament

can cleanse the uncommitted sin

from their souls.

Yet any mother knows

original sin

is the rot

in the black hearts of priests

not babies.

Ask one.

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


I walked beneath the trees

For the dverse open link I tried a rubaiyat in iambic hexametre because that was how the first line fell out. I only managed two stanzas. I found this a very hard form to use. Next time I’ll ignore it and stick to pentametre.


I walked beneath the trees today beneath the sky

And listened to the songbirds sing the spring awake

With dappled, dimpled notes. Each one took wing to fly

Into the frost-pinched air and winter’s grip defy.


I walked beneath the sun today down to the lake,

Brim full and dark from winter rain the streams ran high,

I tossed a pebble, ripples wrote the wish I’d make

If wishing stones were hearts—then they would never break.

Fish magic and rain petals

Late consulting the Oracle this week. We lost internet on Thursday and just got it back. Two strange poems. I take what comes.


Water runs on frantic feetScreen Shot 2019-02-10 at 13.27.39

from rain to river,

sunshine and shadow,

filling the spring sky

with sea spray,

blue as rose petals,

pink as honey—

our ship will not rust

in this sweet light.



You cannot fool fishScreen Shot 2019-02-10 at 14.40.59

come to die in this red glass ocean.

An air of peace surrounds them

as they fly into the sky,

singing their sad songs.

Let laughter rhythm this morning

with the sacred voice of time.




Haibun on the whys and the wherefors

I thought I didn’t know how to respond to this dverse prompt. Then realised I need to remind myself.


He wrote, they wrote, we wrote, I write. Poetry is a yearning, a trail of matter that drapes the DNA like a banner, drifting and waving in the essence of who I am. It is a baton handed down, a pearl in a deep dark shell that opens when the time is right and the dark pearls become rainbows. I took up the batons, one in each hand one from each side, distaff and spear, and I wield them like pencils. Poems surge in the blood with the pulse of the heart, always were, like the sands on an ancient beach, always will be, as long as there is a star above to guide the words to birth.

Opening, leaf buds,

enrobing with green, a tree.

Ever-changing sky.

Milk and (maybe too much) Honey

My eye was caught yesterday by an article in The Bookseller about poet Rebecca Watts’ scathing attack on a particular type of poetry from young British female poets, which is selling by the container-load. I recognized one of the culprits—Rupi Kaur—as the author of the volume of poetry one of my daughters gave me at Christmas. I had flipped through it and quietly put it down thinking, nope. The poems are the kind of thing you find on twitter, a thought, that may or may not have the merit of being spoken aloud,



like this

in a

column with no punctuation



a poem


The thoughts are often trite and unoriginal, and for me, unmemorable. I don’t find any of the beauty of language that I associate with poetry, and though some of the images are good, they just sit there on their own in the middle of a sea of white page and don’t add up to anything more. Not my cup of tea at all, and I don’t know why people want to read it, let alone pay money for it, but they do.

That is probably the point. I appreciate that Rebecca Watts finds this kind of stuff too easy (read facile) and accessible to have any real merit. There’s no evidence of much sweat or effort gone into the creation of some of these poems that read like the captions to those photo-shopped pics posted on FB and Tumblr etc. But then, there isn’t much evidence of Damien Hirst’s technical skill with a pencil in his sheep floating in formaldehyde either. People ‘who know’ tell me it’s art and other people with the money to do something more useful with it spend a fortune acquiring similar objects.

I have also read a lot of poetry that Rebecca Watts is possibly happier about, the more intellectually navel-gazing, depressing sort of poetry that doesn’t make much sense to anyone who isn’t the poet or doesn’t suffer from the same mental disorder. This obscure and highly personal stuff, sometimes with a fancy shape or font or layout doesn’t do it for me either. The big difference is in the spondoolies. Modern, easy, slam type poems of the romantic caption, short attention span-style, make big bucks.

I don’t think it makes much sense to criticise this kind of poetry for not being deep, or literary, clever or lyrical, or for being too ‘accessible’, dumbed down. I get annoyed (well, incandescent sometimes) about the manuscripts that agents and editors choose over my own beautiful prose. Many of them are badly written, clichéd, often with ludicrous plots and awful characters. But that’s what the punters, enough of them anyway want. However galling I find it, editors and agents are not charitable institutions; they have a perfectly valid point in turning down books that might be beautifully crafted but won’t sell. A poet can write and sometimes even publish whatever s/he wants to, but s/he does not have the right to dictate how book buyers spend their money.

We could go through the entire collection of “Milk and Honey” (it doesn’t take long) and criticise each poem on its poetic worth, or we could simply look on the whole movement as a phenomenon that makes a lot of money for a few poets. Whether it is on poetic merit or because there is something reassuringly familiar in the words, these collections of thoughts have become the equivalent of the Gospels for a generation of young women. I hear you, Rebecca Watts; I’m jealous too.