Hot night with owls

Not a piece of prose, but a poem inspired by the dverse prompt line. This is for my youngest fledgling who learned today she has been accepted at the Brussels École Supérieur des ‘Arts de l’Image. Nothing to do with owls, but they insisted.

Hot night with owls

The fragile green has gone again,
sprinkling of rain a hope that died.
The fissures yawn in this tired crust,
crisp and crackled where once flowers grew.

There is nothing I could plant here,
no flower delicate and pale,
in this dry dust where foxes dig,
and overhead the buzzards turn.

Hay still smells sweet at midnight,
yet no peace falls on linnets’ wings,
no fluttering, but soft-voiced owls,
their night-flight spurred with sprung steel claws, `

in moonless heat croon war-cries,
tender as a leopard’s paw.

On the beauty of poplars

The 30DaysWild challenge today is an ode to trees. A sonnet in my case.

On the beauty of poplars

Without the poplar trees there’d be no song,
no fluting call of orioles, no wild
and wanton dancing by the stream, no wreaths
of black and yellow through the leafy green.

Without the poplar trees, how would we know
the wind was pouring, rolling from the west?
The oaks stand firm, immobile, poplars sigh,
their topmost branches trembling silver sea.

And when the trembling grows, a rising tide
of waving boughs and hissing with the foam
of unseen water-wind, cold ocean-born,
the poplars raise their slender boughs to show

the wind take form, we see it in the sky,
an ocean, weed-strewn, flotsam flying by.

Ferdinand’s ghost

Yesterday’s dverse prompt was to write a sonnet or any other poetry form, incorporating the title of one of Shakespeare’s plays. Today, the NaPoWriMo prompt is to write a duplex sonnet. Too good a coincidence to miss, but since I didn’t warm to the duplex option, here is an ordinary sonnet with Shakespearean overtones.

Painting by John William Waterhouse.

Ferdinand’s ghost

An overarching of sky of bird’s egg blue,
A sward of grassy green and golden light,
All swallowed by the rising storm, the hue
Of kelp, that heaves, a restless sea of night.

Like scraps of feathered day, the crow flock flees,
Wings black as space among the swirling clouds,
Torn from the ragged shrouds of ghostly trees
That heave and sway like huddled fearful crowds,

Who watched the tempest wreck the ship that broke
Upon the gale’s dark teeth. Its timbers sank
Into the deeps; the bridegroom never woke,
A linceul now his diamond raiment, rank.

Full fathom five, your prince, the dead man lies,
No tears fall from those pearls, his only eyes.

I heard a father call

Today this would have been my father’s birthday. He was a poet, and I think he would have liked this one.

I heard a father call

I heard a hart bark from the wooded hill,
Where some days past they shot a gentle hind.
Is it for one he lost, he searches still,
Or does he call to one he hopes to find?
We all have lost someone we never thought
We’d learn to live without, their presence near,
Whose voice we’d know among a million, wrought
Of all the memories we hold so dear.
You had your children late, grew old too soon,
To see the field you sowed blossom anew,
Too many suns had risen, and the moon
too many cycles turned, but when you flew,
You left your love of beauty in this blood;
It courses strong as any bright spring flood.


A sort of sonnet for dverse.


Once there were lovers though not loves that last,
the sentimental soppiness of youth.
Once there was Romance with a capital R
and words that said more than ever they meant.
What we want most of all is what few of us find,
the sailing and sunsets, fingers entwined,
how we searched for the glossy, the magazine love,
when we were green shoots, when the world was begun.
I don’t wish that I’d settled for Valentine’s cards,
for candle-lit suppers, a bright shiny ring,
nor ask is this heart-swell in quiet of night,
enough to fill skies and oceans of years.
This love that I hold in the crook of my arm,
is enough to build mountains, dry oceans of tears.

Shadow shade

The dverse prompt is to write a shadow sonnet. It’s not a form that says much to me, so here’s a straightforward sonnet instead. About shadows.

Shadow shade

Among the winter trees with damp-black bark,
Across the rustling sea of last year’s leaves,
Between the hours slipping, light to dark,
A shadow-crowd of black-veiled widows grieves.
Who stole the light and left us with the shade?
What false Prometheus damped the kindled blaze
And turned earth’s face away, from summer made
A time of cruel claws and frost-bound days?
I hear black winter’s teeth grind in the howl
Of storm winds, driving darkness through the trees,
When shades of famine-boned follow the owl
To find the longed-for honeysuckle breeze.
Yet winter shadows shrink and melt like snow,
In summer shade the white wood flowers glow.

The wind beneath the door

For the dverse prompt.

The wind beneath the door

Pain is always present in the cold bite of the wind,
early morning, and the dead leaves swirling,
the bones, too many, too sharp beneath the old cat’s fur,
the deaths and the regrets, too many, too late.
They never go, the needle-pointed jabs of memory,
the jolt of absences, the ghosts at the elbow,
when the laughter gets too free, and the light
seems so bright it will never fade.
There is a reason in the ache but not a remedy,
a wound but not a lesson, a scar but not a healing.
The animal curls around the hurt, seeks not
to measure good times against bad, to remember.
Our pain is the shadow behind the sun;
without it would we even feel its golden warmth?

Damselfly sonnet

For dverse.

Photo ©Vengolis

I skim, I dip a shiver of motion,
A dart, a sliver of glittering light;
Water beneath, a glimmering ocean,
Its depths acurl, aquiver with bright

Soft-shelled food things, I bite, and thrilled
I suck and grip, in a tremor of wing beats
Beating stronger with sustenance filled.
Is this all, a life, flying thing that eats?

And then the bright, the dazzle is why?
Sated, I search, another bright skimmer,
A winged, sun-searing skimmer, and I
Join in the dance above water glimmer,

He and I joined, wheel of dip-dazzle flight,
This is the why and the how of what’s right.

The wind that blew all night

Painting by Krzyżanowski

The wind that blew all night has stripped the leaves
and ripped the ivy from the wall;
its hot breath bringing summer from the south
has faltered, anger in its mouth.
Wild storms will come, I hear the urgent call
of songbirds sheltered by the wall,
and nothing battles in the higher air,
no wings are crumpled, tossed aside like chaff,
the magpie doesn’t leave her swaying nest,
a feathered anchor for her fledgling brood.
I hear alarm in every leafy sigh
and sough of branches, heavy with new leaf,
in every flower head with petaled crown
that fragile, bows, so soon to come to grief.

Ghost cattle

I’m still following some prompts, but not posting them on the different sites. I’m finding I just don’t have the time to read and reciprocate to comments. This poem, a sonnet of sorts, was written for the earthweal prompt, a reminder that we’re coming up to Bealtaine.

Ghost cattle

In this meadow where only ghost cattle low,
bright buttercups bow their golden heads,
blue flax flowers mirror the pale May sky.
In this meadow where only ghost cattle low,
lush grass growing now is cropped by the deer,
a jungle where pheasants and foxes peer
through stalks and stems and flowered threads.
There were cattle here once but now the hare,
the fox, the badger, the rabbit and deer
tread wary paths the night time; no snare
is set in the grass, no traps to fear,
beneath the hedge where the spindle trees grow,
and the fire that’s lit on this clear spring night
is for ghost cattle shades, the past’s swift-winged flight.