In Flanders’ fields


I listen when the stars hang low, the night-
cool air is heavy with the smells
of fox and quince and water running bright,
chiming with the woodland’s leafy bells.

I hear the owl call in his fluting voice,
above the ploughed fields furrowed deep and cold,
where dead lie who were given little choice,
whose smooth moon faces never will grow old.


Everyday violence

Some days
when the gold of afternoon is defiled
and there are shadows beneath the turning trees
I have no strength no desires
except to close my eyes my ears
and sleep the sleep of the powerless.

But tomorrow the dead will still be dead
the rain will come to wash away the golden light
and who will see the tears?


Keep a place for me
where the dog rose hangs summertime,
and the nightingales churn
their everchanging hurdy-gurdy of song.

The rain comes down and then the cold,
and all things creep beneath the drips.
Even the colour of memories washes out
beneath this sadness.

In springtime

spring clouds


I always think of them in spring

though they died on the sill of winter.

I sprang from them, was formed by them

in the shelter they built of gardens and painted quiet.

I think of them when the flowers start to open

and the leaves,

when the breeze is brisk but the sky is haphazard blue.

I think of them beneath this sky,

so far away from where they called home,

but the sky is the same everywhere,

and the blackbird’s song.

Spring sowing

A pantoum for the dverse prompt about time, not really sticking very closely to Ecclesiastes.


This is the time of sowing now that spring,

The gentle season coaxes cold be gone

Though nights are crisp. The geese are on the wing,

While thrush and robin rival songs at dawn.


The gentle season coaxes cold be gone,

Nest-builders squabble for the sheltered places,

While thrush and robin rival songs at dawn;

We watch the stars fade mirrored in our faces.


Nest-builders squabble for the sheltered places,

Hare child crouches in the grass alone,

We watch the stars fade, mirrored in our faces,

The sadness that our own nestlings have flown.



Hare child crouches in the grass alone

Though nights are crisp. We watch geese on the wing

With sadness that our own nestlings have flown;

This is their time for sowing now, this spring.


I read some poison

I have just read a thread of tweets about the Sandy Hook massacre that has filled me with disgust. Excuse me if I vomit in public, but amid the stream of messages of remembrance, parents mourning dead children and hopes that something will one day change, was the denier thread.

There really are people in this sad world who will post their ‘well-researched findings’ that prove that Sandy Hook never took place, that it was a sham to gain credit for the anti-gun lobby, that one of the fake victims was later seen standing next to President Obama at a meeting. Anyone who sympathises with that ‘opinion’ is invited to not voice it on this blog.


I read some words drawled from a deep, dark hole,

Denying that those children really died,

Fake news, he said, to crush the nation’s soul.

I read those words drawled from a deep, dark hole,

Just to wring out tears, make church bells toll—

Our rights, our guns, he said, the truth denied,

With poisonous words that crawled from out his hole,

Fake news that would crush any human soul.

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.

Oh what a war

This haibun is the first poem for this Armistice Day, for Frank Tassone’s prompt.

Well, here we are, waiting in the mild sunshine, the clouds scudding past from the south undecided—rain, or just passing through—for the sirens to sound and possibly the church bell to ring if they can find anyone to do it. The grass is golden in the sun, lush and green beneath the morning light, and the sky is blue. Trees dance, oaks hanging onto their greenery, the poplars tossing gold largesse of leaves. And when the sirens sound the eleventh minute, and some chasseur can’t restrain his trigger finger, and the bells finish pealing, and we all speak again with voices full of relief, what then? Another war over, a new one just begun, because, to paraphrase the song, those who don’t want it, don’t count.

always the sun

the moon the stars and autumn

that peels back

to the heart of things  


This morning a hero died, Arnaud Beltrame, the gendarme who exchanged himself for a hostage, knowing he had little chance of coming out of the siege alive. He didn’t. His assassin was not a hero, or a martyr, though that is how he wanted to be remembered. He was a small time delinquent with a great big chip on his shoulder. I don’t much care whether he represents his co-religionists or not, whether he was a good or a deluded Muslim. He used religion as an excuse to go on a rampage and rob others of their lives, but he could just as easily have used a political ideology, or the kind of nauseating notions that don’t deserve the title of ideology.

The US gun control debate has no place in this tragic episode, and the recuperation of these deaths for their own ends by the pro-shooters sickens me. Gun violence and sectarian differences are what caused it—only their elimination could have prevented it. Until we learn to think for ourselves, to be able to look at our fellow human beings as our equals, to stop defining ourselves by our colour, religious affiliation or gender, to learn compassion for all things, to find better uses for our spare time than shooting and killing or muttering prayers to one or other of the various gods/spiritual entities humankind has invented, our species will never reach the heights of goodness of dogdom.


Gull soars skyward

a spirit dissipates

our shame lingers.