If I ruled the world

it would be my choice to redistribute wealth, the surplus, unearned and obscene wealth, to rebuild stricken societies.
It would be my choice to give all women autonomy over how they dispose of their own bodies and how they construct their lives.
It would be my choice to ban the possession of all firearms, the torturing of animals for sport, entertainment or to make cosmetics silky-soft as well as unnecessary.
It would be my choice to close down the meat and dairy industries and grow kinder foods.
It would be my choice to close all places of worship and teach philosophy in schools, not religion.
It would be my choice to take a great number of rotten, corrupt and morally bankrupt world political and business leaders to the edge of a very high cliff and push them over it.
But they’re choices I won’t ever be offered. And most people would judge, that is probably a good thing.


Mice and their cats

Mice and their cats

We have mice in the house. Field mice, not house mice. Why do we have field mice when the fields are full of things for mice to eat? Why do we have any mice when we have two cats and two dogs?

This house-boat leaks, broken tiles, mud walls, planking chewed and holed. Internal doors with pieces cut out at the base to let cats through, shutters in the attic with holes for the owls, a separate exit for the pigeons. Mouse highways.

So we put everything edible in plastic tubs or glass jars, keep the fruit in a meat safe, sweep up crumbs.

Yet we still have mice. We hear the scritch-scratch in the night while the cats sleep. See them scamper across the kitchen in the daytime while the cats sleep.

In the long ago and far away, a wise ancient had the bright idea of inviting cats into his granaries to eat the mice. I don’t suppose there are records of his success rate, graphs to show rodent populations, champion hunter tallies.

All we have are the memes, household cat gods, sleeping in the sun, by the stove, waiting for the next meal to appear from the fridge.

in the stars planets
the orbits of satellites
day and night plenty and famine
we strive
balancing on the tipping point
between too much and too little
what is and what should be
like the stars and their music
the deep tragic silence
of felled trees.


Redmond sees ghosts. On the kitchen table. What do you do with a dog that sees ghosts? I wondered if it was the melon, but the thought of what a head-sized melon on a table might signify is too Godfather-ish. Bix (who sees nothing) tries to comfort him, but he can’t. Redmond sees what Bix doesn’t, what we don’t. Who sees the truth?

In the penumbra of old walls,
the table where generations
of elbows have rested,
red tiles where boots have trod
and savates slip-slopped,
in the hot air,
thick with hay dust,
something stirs,
or shakes a fist.

Two souls

The world turns regardless and it’s April again. Poetry month. I had forgotten until I saw Kerfe’s post. Here is day one, for NaPoWriMo or whatever the international version is called.

Two souls

I met no one today, met no human soul upon the lane or in the fields.

My feet walked, treading new grass and old remains of winter among new leaves, that pale fresh green of katydids.

I met only the wind, its curt, brusque bustle-past with muttered insults in my tingling ears, and I bowed my head, cheeks slapped red.

I met no soul but you, dog, brown and white hunting dog, let loose to exercise alone.

You burst from the woods, making no tongue, well-trained, and stopped, four feet sturdy on this hillside, braced against the wind and the movement of the earth.

No doubt you left havoc in your wake, among the new nestlings, martens and furtive pheasants, started hares, woke the sleeping deer.

A moment we paused, you in your Landseer pose, and I held out my hand.
The scent trailed, nose to fingertips, linking two worlds, buffeted by the wind on a grassy hillside.

Above, in a pale sky, pale clouds trailed.

You sniffed the air and trotted past, up the track. A skylark rose, beating against the gusts, then veered over the barley field. A white panache of tail fluttered on the brow of the hill, and bird and dog were gone.

The wind was a pair of robust arms, turning me about, pointing me home along the farm track and its scents of dog, bird, boar, badger, unseen to a mere human soul, dancing on the invisible air.

Foggy horror snow

The white goddess whispers
and the fog obeys,
stripping birds’ bright raiment,
clad in bone and frost,
flying with ghosts.

On the second day of the big fog, I went outside only to feed the birds. Beneath my feet the white-furred grass crunched, and fingers of fog ran through my hair, its voice muttered in my ears.
Body heat fled, and the voice became my pulse, my pounding heart. Fingers numbed and I retreated indoors.
Birds fluttered close to the windows, pecking at the scattered seeds but more insistently around the window frames, as if looking for a way inside. They fluttered silently, voices, like their bright colours, leached away. Tapping.
Fog clung to the frosted grass blades, frost flakes filled the foggy air, clumping thicker until even the tall trees were too faint to see. At evening, the birds left, sucked into the fog, and night fell on perfect stillness.
On the third day we left the shutters closed, intimidated by the ghost-grey that pressed against the glass, where condensation trickled like tears, afraid to see faces in it. If the birds had returned, we heard no insect-tapping on the wood. Instead, we heard the cracking of ice.

The night is deep now, perhaps dark, but I suspect it will be grey, thick like city river water. There will be no sky no stars, no frost shimmer on the meadow, no moonlight. Only fog, grey, dirty, pale, like winding sheets unwound from ancient graves.
It presses against the shutters, the roof, and we hear it sigh. The tapping begins again, and it is not birds.

Fly before the wind, birds,
before winter jaws snap closed,
before the marrow freezes
and the song dies—
find the sun.

Fox night

For the dverse prosery prompt, a 144 word prose piece.

I dress in their stories patterned and purple as night’

from the poem, When we sing of might by Kimberly Blaeser.

Painting by Franz Marc.

Fox night

Light falls in pale bars through the shutters; mist rises, thickening to fog. The earth will be soft, the mud deep after the rain, and full of prints. I heard them in the dark, the foxes, the dog fox barking on the hill, the circumspect padding beneath the window of the vixen, the dash and leap of the cubs. I will find a tale beneath the tree where I put the food, a tale of full bellies and a full moon to light the way home.
I dress. In their stories, patterned and purple as night, are the pangs of hunger, fear of the hunter, the joy of cubs not lost to sickness or starvation. In the dance of their prints I read a little, but no human heart can ever know the wild tastes and tangs, loves and lives of such as they.


Track rises
between small fields where grass grows
splashed with colour

Hot and dull the fields, full of origano and dense with trees in the folds where streams run. A patchwork of cultivation and places never worked at all. Birds pipe and the silvery sound of running water, deep and green despite the drought. There was a storm in the night, brief and noisy, half-filled the water butts and freshened up the frogs

greenfinch pipes
a complaint for the lost year
the empty nest

a lament for the cooling nights, the days shortening, this year’s young raised, and who knows if there will be a next year?
At the end of this lane there are only a cart tracks crossing country, meandering along the edges of fields, following the contours of the hills. Winding and empty, and I wonder how long it can last.

Vent d’autan
in the maïs—parchment
rattling wordless songs.

Unexpected summer

We had no internet for a couple of days, got a lot of revision done. It’s just back and so is summer. 24°C yesterday 34°C today.

I have missed the damselflies, their gem-stone glow among the tree shadows along the stream, the sapphire and emerald, turquoise and garnet against the slow dark water. When the sky has been a stormy sea and the meadows an ocean of waving waterweed, I have missed the light.

Now the sun clouds have broken, tame as sheep and horses, and nothing trammels the summer sun, insect-light fill the shade. And in the sun among mauve banks of mint and pennyroyal, teasel and thistle, the flutter of butterfly wings, every shade of russet orange splashed with white and streaked with black, is so dense, their silence seems impossible.

The air moves and the poplars sigh like the sea, foaming on the strand, breathing butterfly and dragonfly so loud I can scarce hear the gentle piping of the birds. Later weighed down by the growing heat, the breeze dies and even the poplars fall silent.

From cold clear night of crystal stars, the day rises to a crescendo of heat, and the meadow combusts in butterfly wings.

By the house, flowers hang limp. A dragonfly zips and whirrs like a clockwork toy.

this world rolls skyward
evening clouds dove-grey— a
new moon sets in gold


For the dverse prompt, including the lines from The Song of Wandering Aengus by WB Yeats:

I went out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head.

Caillou High

I went out to the hazel wood, because a fire was in my head, but the fire, I took with me, and the rushing stream couldn’t quench the flames. I listened to the blackbird, but his song was out of kilter, and the sun streamed slantwise through the pale green leaves.

They say the world is spinning to its end, the heaving oceans empty of their fish are filling with our discarded plastic. I listen to the blackbird but his song is not for me.

They’re shooting in the chase, I can hear the horns and the coarse voices shouting, coarser than any dog giving tongue. As if we needed more blood. The world is drowning in it.

Listen, blackbird, to the pale-winged moths, their song is more in keeping with these end times. Hush. I hear the ocean rushing over the world’s edge.

Best wishes

Tis the season, so here’s a festive decoration from outside the barn door

couronne de noël

and one from inside the barn door in the kitchen


Kitchen barn door

House hunkers down. The folk that pad and trot around its walls the night have gone. Only the birds, ever-hungry, ever-cheerful chatter, fluttering from tree to tree and into the porch after seed and other necessities. A deer family ambles through the willows by the stream. Dawn sun streams gold, a glimpse of heaven before its flow slows and ceases. Cloud thickens.

days slip deeper
into the heart of the cold
east wind sighs winter