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.



To a baby not yet born

This is the sonnet for Ingrid’s EIF challenge. It’s not a Valentine’s Day thing, every day is Valentine’s Day in this house, but there’s love in it and that’s what counts. If you feel a sonnet coming on, link it to her post so we can all read it.



To a baby not yet born

When north wind blows through ragged winter trees,
Raking thorny claws through stark black hair,
Silent fall the furred and feathered, these
Who trembling cling to bough and brake, pauvres hères.
Living in the moment, hopes of spring
Are dim, when frost’s cold pelt lies on the ground,
And only soul to brave the blasts and sing
Is thrush, the lone unfrozen liquid sound.
Could there be life beneath this frozen skin,
The skim of ice on water, snowdrop-pierce,
Where deer scrapes break leaf-crackling, thin
As hunger clinging to the bones, as fierce?
Sleep, curled in nested flesh, heart-pulsing, warm,
My little one, untouched by winter’s storm.

Rain horse

Füssli,_Johann_Heinrich_-_Nachtmahr,_Detail_Pferd_-_1802

When there is no evening light,
no dusk-mote thickened air,
no gentle slide from gold to blackest night
and only falling grey and greyer, ware
the dark mouths mouthing darkest words,
water-sucking mud beneath the feet,
feathered ruffled roosting with the birds
pouring loud in ditch streams flowing fleet.
What is it takes the silver, grinds the dust
of stars and planets, scatters ashes wide?
In this sunless sea-gloom serpents must
uncoil in gutters where the pike fish hide,
as I drag fingers down the chilly pane,
stare dull-eyed through sky horse’s streaming mane.

To a Lost Child

For the dverse prompt. This poem is my side of the conversation with Yeats in his poem To a Child Dancing upon the Shore.

I could have seen you pass on any street,
That skipping step that children keep for when
The school day’s done, there’s nowhere else to run
But wild and thoughtless home to play and tea.
I could have called you back with some excuse,
A word about your brother, mother, nan,
But you’d not wait, the wind was in your heels,
Drawn or driven, reckless, did you know?
You raced the pavement, skip-hopped cracks the while,
The minutes ticked, and knowing now, your smile
Was empty, frayed as anger in two fists¬—
He beat the laughter from you, beat it dead.
The children who run wild, wind in their heels,
Are too fleet and bright for this dark world.

I sit in shadows

I got this sonnet style poem from the Oracle this morning.

unmown beneath willows

I sit in shadows cast by half-seen dreams
That drip their honeyed light on thirsty ground.
Though storms play, twisting skeins of feathered cloud
And threading them with rain, I close my eyes,
See only summer ocean, swallow-tossed,
with waves of darting blue and lightning forked.

There are roses still that climb the house about,
And songs still sung from tree to sighing tree
In the ancient shining tongues that only
Birds know, sweet and sad, rose-red and raw
With premonitions of the whispered cold,
The bare bones shifting of a year grown old.

It will come the end, hill-stalking black and stark,
Yet in the deepening sky soars spring, the lark.

Swallow song

I have been rereading Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and have found myself as enthralled as Stephen Dedalus and Joyce himself by Yeat’s verse that Stephen quotes, Cathleen’s last words from the play, The Countess Cathleen. The whole chapter is full of references to the swallows. The words have stayed with me, and I am reproducing Cathleen’s short speech from the play. The fourteen lines that follow are my own.

Bend down your faces, Oona and Aleel;
I gaze upon them as the swallow gazes
Upon the nest under the eave, before
She wander the loud waters. Do not weep
Too great a while, for there is many a candle
On the High Altar though one fall. Aleel,
Who sang about the dancers of the woods,
That know not the hard burden of the world,
Having but breath in their kind bodies, farewell
And farewell, Oona, you who played with me,
And bore me in your arms about the house
When I was but a child and therefore happy,
Therefore happy, even like those that dance.
The storm is in my hair and I must go.

W.B. Yeats: The Countess Cathleen Scene 5.

Swallow song

I watch the swallow swoop above the grass,
Their wings as sharp as spearpoints, voices shrill
As children playing at their thoughtless games,
And wonder will they call back from the sea,
When storms sweep, tossing waves and bringing night
To hearts that only ever knew the summer sweet.
Will they call back to what they left behind,
The meadows rich with sun, the light that warmed
And danced with them the days the summer long,
That slip to autumn now that they are gone?
The wind wails cold among the darkening trees,
Cold the days to come, the candles dim,
When swallows flock to fly the waters loud
And leave me empty-eyed in this wild crowd.

The slow rush of the comet

Poem written early this morning. Later, in Blue and blue and blue the Oracle picked up the same images and gave them a slightly different interpretation. And again, a painting by Odilon Redon illustrates it.

773px-Reflection,_1900-1905

These long, languid days of relentless blue,

slow moving as the sluggish stream,

that flow one into another seamlessly

stitched with the hot breath of invisible night,

 

hurtle into oblivion,

a morass of dead moments,

molten and merging into gold,

slipping like quicksilver from the tightest grasp.

 

Time pours silently over the edge

with the places we never visited,

the unknown cloaked in the mists of intrigue,

the pebble dropped into the bottomless pool,

 

comet-rushing, the slow days that seem to drag,

dead march, strike sparks from our flying heels.

She grasps at threads of meaning

 

I take the time to craft a word,

to read the clouds that tell the sky

and search in storm-washed mud for signs

that answer questions, how and why,

but cannot find the time to say

and paint and weave this love of life,

the fleeting things that drift away,

rose petals scattered by the wind.

I cannot find the time, it streams

through helpless fingers, water bright,

elusive as our fading dreams,

perhaps because my heart is full,

with trampled beauty overflows,

and all those answers, no one knows.