From yesterday’s random words.


The ship heads north,
course fixed, the wheel lashed,
and wind bites sharp
as the cracking ice.
No one will reach home.

In heavy seas, the bell rings,
below, the radio crackles,
smoke streams
in the uncertain verticality
of a wild ocean.

Nowhere under the sun is safe,
but when there is only water
underfoot, fear swims in every gut,
a shoal of mackerel,
or the white teeth of sharks.
We reach for amulets.

They throng the quay,
waiting, hoping, beneath a black sky
and the white of gulls screaming.
Storm cloud scrapes roofs,
wave crests. A bell tolls.

Night deepens with no stars,
flying cloud, and rain driving arrow-flights.
The crowd grows, leaning inward on itself.
Too far away to hear,
a ship’s bell answers.


Random word poetry

The Random word Oracle gave me an odd poem. Maybe odd is the new normal. This is an old photo. The stream is still barely trickling.

The stream

The stream is troubled,
close to bursting banks,
new green shoots.

Such a muddy crowd
of broken things rush by,
driven by the engine
that drives the water,
its pulleys and cords.

Beneath an ill-formed sky,
the flood flashes back
with dull glints, between clouds
and dirty foam.

It shouts in a dark tongue,
tales of parched trees
and stony drought,
tales of floods
and unheeded warnings.

Random word poetry

Just the way things are

Weep is what the clouds do,
what marble angels do,
what women do so often,
more often, it seems, than the clouds.

The wren in the honeysuckle tree
shouts at the robin, dip-diving,
deep into the tangle, bird spats,
even among the gentle folk.

Tree rings speak of things
we could never understand,
though we poke at them
like the entrails of sacrificial birds.

Listen to the silver-tongued water
sing the enduring story
that flows and flows,
ripening as it reaches the sea.

Sometimes we tell ourselves just living
is heroic. We wrap ourselves in togas,
wear laurel in our hair, when we
could reach out a hand instead.


Inspired by yesterday’s random words.

Painting by Akseli Gallen-Kallela


They lie beneath the stones
the laws and stories,
lie with the scattered bones
and the compost of flesh
enriched with blood.

The air is rich here and thin,
thin enough to hear the voices
telling tales, the hiss of spear flight,
a swan alighting on the lake.

The earth smells of ancient things,
soap the scent of woodbine and lavender,
the wool of horned sheep.
It tastes of honey and bronze.

Clouds come and go,
taking their shadows with them,
trees grow, hewn like stone,
leaving their history in ring upon ring,
spiralling into the core.

All of this is in a place,
a ring of stones,
a cairn by a river,
beneath the always sun and moon,
in silver light and gold.

On the cusp

The random word generator gave me this (almost) cadralor.

On the cusp

Weeks pass, waylaid by silence.
No bell speaks to ring the change
from one half-year to the next, but
the fire is laid, a light into winter dark.

Dogs track rabbits, sniffing the remains
of their feasting all around the house.
Humans are not alone
in having a sense of humour.

The car stops by the river, a family
clambers across the river stones,
parents to plunder garden decorations,
children build a cairn.

In this quiet place of water noise
and wind among the last leaves,
the sky is noisy with chemical trails,
military visiting cards.

Pain throbs inside and out,
sunlight prickles, darkness howls,
but among the trees by the stream,
the only drum beat is the woodpecker.

Autumn has its bright moments

My poem (I think it’s a cadralor) from the random word Oracle.

Autumn has its bright moments

Leaf pauses in its spiral, a breath, a call,
unseen hands toss it higher,
sun touches it with brighter flame.

There’s a gleaming in the river,
a pebble, beneath its water-ribbons,
turns mica dapples to catch the light.

Ground, not yet cold,
damps the fallen petals of the roses,
dew-dipped just enough to revive the snails.

A finger to your white throat,
raises your head to stare into brown eyes,
too deep to read, full of enigmas.

So many tragedies, the numbers slip
into meaninglessness, but the squirrel’s panache
will always make me smile.

The hunt

The hunt

Silent cries fill the morning light
and sharp shards of fragmented sound.

There is no progress, no enlightenment,
no peeling back of layers of rottenness,
the pleasure in pain and fear.

Fluttering of wings in the dappled shade
and the screech of jays, clucking blackbirds,
warning notes to those who hear,
before the heavy tread, the crack
of dry branches, the panting breath of dogs.

There is no glory in these executions,
the hollow reports that crack the placid sky,
and we, who would let live,
must keep to the middle of the road,
hands on heads, renounce our humanity,

while the bannered azur and gules,
sable and argent gallop the wild tracks,
hooves and halloos flying.

Random word generator

Late because we were out this morning. Not far, just meandering. Here are the words. Feel free to borrow and build some poems with them.

Haibun for a summer walk

Sun had burned off the mist, the lingering memories of smoke snagged in the bramble tangles, where a nest slowly unravelled in the wind.
It was cool in the narrow lane between the softly curved walls of the tiny church and the façade of the big house. Cool the lane winding up between oak and ash and Sunday silence. Silent the disused church, especially on Sundays. No fire had touched this place that held damp in its cupped carved hands.
We walked, dog-panting, dog-curious, up and round and back again, between stone and stone and tree-walls and lingered awhile before the glorious evening sky-blue of the big house door, wondering if it ever opened onto the courtyard beyond, drinking in the scent of over-ripe apples.

Summer wasp-buzzes
still—reluctant to let go
of its ripe wild fruits.

She wishes to turn back the tide

Another attempt at the Word Generator, trying to get something more concise. Didn’t work. The Oracle knows what she wants to say.

She wishes to turn back the tide

Belling of hunting hounds
chase the wild thing,
lean, hungry after the drought.

This country is hard as iron
beneath paws run ragged.
Heal the weak, she calls,

from her cave above glittering sand,
her prison (hands only reach so far,
and oceans intervene).

The key slips into minor, her voice fades,
and across the miles and miles of water,
paws slip, jaws close.

We stumble once again
on the march towards humanity.
She turns away, pulls a veil across her face,

as the tide rises in waves of oblivion
to smooth the wish runes
in the wet sand.

Random word generator

I’m getting this in early because I won’t have time later. 100 random words from Oracle II. My poem is below. The Oracles work as a team.

Waiting for the rain

I hear the crash of dark waves
and the intake of mussel breath.
Lighthouse, coastguard, the beacon on the hill,
sentinel from another time, watch the darkness.
Fear, trepidation or curiosity hold our gaze,
waiting to see what will drag itself into the world.

We challenge history, deny the truth,
draw it out like chewing gum,
wrap it around a stick and toss it in the fire.
We have always done it, rewritten the facts,
and it has always been to justify
the flawed incubus of the present.

Some word associations feel uncomfortable
like Satanic verses, yet we see them
writ large in fiery letters every day,
their net cast and drawn in, wriggling and squirming
with the dark deformed things
that should never have seen the light.

Quickening, the leap of joy
that sometimes missteps
and never leaves the crucible of potential.
Not every wish is granted, not every shoot will blossom.
The quick and the dead, all the same in the end,
it’s just a question of time.

Cloud hangs low, damp smoke billowing,
and we watch for stray lightning bolts, listen for thunder.
Most of all we listen for rain, not the gentle foam hiss
among dry leaves, but the purifying torrent.
Night falls with the first drops
amid the release of withheld breath.