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.


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.

The fleeting season gone


The heat has come, too soon, too fierce and dry,

No time to taste the clean, brisk breeze of spring,

To watch the songbird fledglings learn to fly,

The fleeting season’s gone, bird on the wing.

Bright water rushing, tumbling down the fields

Is silent now and sluggish in the sun,

The racing torrent, fed by rainstorm yields

To drying mud, its youthful mad course run.

Already meadow flowers fade to seed,

Hay making trembles in the dusty air,

I fear for those who hide, too young to heed

The machine’s voice, in meadow’s flimsy lair.

The wheel turns, beauty gone, will summer bring

More soft nights when the nightingales will sing?

Sonnet for the hare

Although the animal and birdlife has otherwise been so rich, I have been saddened to see only one hare and a couple of forms this spring. Usually there are lots of them. It was a real pleasure to discover there are several hares bunking up with the rabbits on the bank across the lane. I noticed them this evening, the rabbits quietly cropping the grass as usual, and a couple of hares chasing one another about like mad things. A detail in the bigger picture perhaps, but it made me happy.




Winding white, sweet-thorned, the roses climb

And ramble wild among hibiscus boughs;

Is this the moment longed for since the time

When spring was whispered? Now the west wind soughs

In branches full-leafed, full of nesting birds.

They nestle closer, once were timid things

That fled, but now I shape their songs in words

Of pleasure in their bright and gaudy wings.

And when I see the hares race on the hill,

Long legs, long ears and full of springtime joy,

I feel perfection in the air distill,

That no fear of the hunter can alloy.

I’ll follow where they lead, their wild hearts’ beat,

To where the flowered plain and free sky meet.


On the razor’s edge

For the dverse prompt, a poem in rhyming couplets, a sonnet of sorts.


Quiet falls so soft, it’s all there is to hear,

Except the dull remorseless beat of fear,

That intrudes upon the tractor’s busy hum,

Its harsh, relentless beat a warlike drum.


Listen, quiet fills the heart with peace,

The world stands still, a wingbeat of release

Of tension stored. The sky is rain-washed clean;

Look, beyond the stars, the night’s bright screen.


Our tears and weeping mingle with the rain,

There is sorrow in the silence, loss and pain,

Yet blackbirds weave their song from evening gold,

And love remains the greatest story told.


I would live always on the razor’s edge

With arms to sound the depths and dreams to fledge.

The door of the house

The OctPoWriMo theme today is doors. This poem came out as a sort of unmetred sonnet.


This house is bounded by stone walls,

sheltered by the roof, and more,

all the life within, without

is guarded by a door.

Feet first she went, among the mourners

following, darkening the sill.

Head first the baby entered,

banishing the dark, the weeping fallen still.

She always said that, my grandmother,

when one goes out another takes their place,

leaving or arriving, the balance kept

with open arms to vibrant life or death’s sad face.

Whichever way we pass, on joyful feet or head bowed to the floor,

It will always be beneath the scent of roses round the door.

Sloe magic

Yesterday I thought I might find a poem for Paul Milataru’s magical photograph. A sonnet of sorts.

Screen Shot 2019-08-18 at 10.56.48.png

Quiet, except for the clamour in my head,

the chirruping of sharp-beaked nagging

that competes with oriole music.


Still, except for the restless waves of anxiety, mimicking

the gentle swaying of boughs, and the clouds that drift

at a relentless pace across the unforgiving sky.


Peace, except in the world beyond the hedge, in almost

every heart, and the weight pushes against these barriers

with the force of twisted nature.


How to fight the noise and listen to the music beneath,

to still the turbulent troubled air and let peace fall like

a sunset, a spring shower, a smile in the darkness?


When moonlight leads the way along the lane and the owls cry,

when sloes glow dark as midnight pearls, I see where secrets lie.