The Secret Keeper’s weekly writing prompt provides five words to incorporate in a poem. Sometimes, I don’t get on with the words at all, and it takes a lot of work to fit them all in. Sometimes they just jump into line of their own accord. This week was one of those times. The words are



Brave are those, or foolhardy,

Who let the pure ones lead them in the dance.

For the pure have no hearts,

Their souls are cloud wisps,

And their eyes of lake water

Are cold and deep enough to drown in.

I will dance with the wilderness,

Fire-furred and velvet-padded,

Where the river tends its own banks and the sea its shore,

Sing larksong with temerity and abandon,

Soar on wings strong as the bones of the mountain,

Take the hands scented with rose and the yellow gorse,

And never let them go.


Night wolves

Four short poems on the theme of wolves and the night.


Night passes,

Hours burning slowly through the darkness,

Candles of whispered promises.

Silence falls,

When the last, papery sigh is consumed,

And love in ashes blows.


Take my hand, my heart,

and listen to the night,

listen to the cry of forever

in wild lupine throats.


What says the wind as it howls through the poplars?

What says the night to the stars high above?

Dark is the wolfsong, the voice of the wilderness,

Binding fierce hearts in a lifetime of love.


All passes,

Night, day, years, loves,

But in the fading light,

Pearl smooth and lustrous with memories,

Grows the unattainable indestructible

Monolith of the past.

99 word flash fiction: Wilderness

The theme for Charli’s flash fiction this week is wilderness.


She sat on the flat stone, closing her ears to the faint hum of traffic, opening them to the warblers in the tall grass. Lizards sprinted across the old railway sleepers, damp shadows filled the fox tunnels through the brambles, and saplings rattled their leaves in the breeze. In the distance, voices called, but they never came near. This tangled place was not for jogging or playing Frisbee. The city ground its cogs and wheels, and beyond, in the countryside farmers sprayed their crops and shot animals and birds they couldn’t milk or turn into chops. Here was peace.

Hearts in the Wilderness poems


Lost in the wilderness

of your heart,

where no one will find me,

not even you.



Absence of order,

Lack of communications,


A place where wild things creep,

And prowl and lurk,

Where life stalks a fine line,

That we never see.


I let a wilderness grow in my heart,

Where birds sing and foxes play,

And you are waiting beneath the roses.

For outside,

In the cold, bare silence

The world is empty.


I wander in the wilderness,

Of your heart,

Searching for the red spark,

The red fox bark,

Of lost joy.

Wolf haiku

These are my haiku on Freya Pickard’s Wolf theme.
Illustration from the Rochester Bestiary

In the darkling woods

memory slinks savage, free

no wolves in this world.

Wolf in the forest

shade of the lost wilderness

forgive our madness.

Yellow-eyed shadow

stay awhile beneath the trees

ghost of a lost past.

White wolf wild spirit

wander wary and watchful

your wilderness home.

Peace falls

Poem inspired by the Caserne Niel


I could find some peace here
From the city’s roar
Beneath rusting girders open to the sky
Where kites and swallows soar.
Lizards bask upon the tumbled stones
And dart among the sapling pioneers.
Root and stalk of wild plants ramp
And the sharp sun sears.
I do not seek a sheltered nest
Beneath these echoing beams
Among dusty memories
Of a thousand soldiers’ dreams,
Where no one’s left to answer
And no one to respond
My thoughts run past the ruined halls
To the untamed woods beyond.

Small things

Our private wilderness

Cleaned and rearranged

A parade ground of trees

PENTAX Digital Camera

Rows of saplings

march in spindly ranks

across the wasteland.

Once the rusting girders

of forgotten engines

lay beneath a dancing riot of creepers.

silver grey


among the flowers,

the debris of an era

fragments of a busy past

washed clean by rain

and scorched

of all the oil and soot and noise

by summer sun.

Quiet now, picked clean

wood and iron revert.

But the saplings march

and in the van the diggers dig

clearing land billiard table flat

and the memories are dragged away

and buried

where the murmur of their voices

won’t disturb the joggers.

PENTAX Digital Camera

They dug up the field

Where long meadow grass

Cradled old boats laid to rest

Their paint faded forget-me-not blue

To plant rows of tidy trees

PENTAX Digital Camera

There was a place

Beyond the town

Where grass grew tall

And a thousand birds sang.

Where tram rails rusted

And boats with gaping holes

fell quietly apart

beneath a sprawl of speedwell.

But chaotic nature jars

In a tidy town

where parks and gardens

with cycle tracks

and explanatory notices

large as tombstones

are so much safer

Than a quiet temple of memories.


Poems for tourists


Sunbathers on a beach
slumber, oiled and indifferent
to the grandiose history of a grain of sand
or the dark, unsoundable depths
of the waves’ home.

Destroying the magic

Footsteps in the wilderness
no matter how quiet
make the wilderness


I feel no need to touch the pyramids
to see my footprints in desert sand
or stalk a tiger with native guide
or be the first to leave a plastic bag
in a virgin forest.


Floating hotel squats
obstructing the riverfront
spewing its load of credit cards
into the waiting boutiques.

New camera

Better to watch and observe
than snap and snap and snap.


She sat on the bench looking out across the river. At her back was a strip of grass planted with plane trees. Behind that was the wall of a big house. The stone shone deep orange in the light of the setting sun. The sun was still hot, the shade dark green and dusty. An old couple walked past, slowly. He leant on her arm, leaning on her more than he leant on his cane. She measured her stronger step to his. Walking with him right up to death’s door.
The old couple stopped at the next bench and the woman helped the man to sit, holding his arm, so the back and legs bent in the right places, lowering his frailty gently until he relaxed with a sigh and sank back against the backrest. His blank eyes filled with the bright light from the sky and the peripheral glitter from the river.
She looked across the river to the trees still in the full sun, and behind them gentle hills, peaceful, vine-covered on the south side. Beyond the hills was sky. Bright, implacable and blue. The bench was at the edge of the footpath, then the bank planted with a municipal assortment of plants, then the river. The river ran. It ran brown, and its ripples caught the light and sparkled. She stared across the river, but her gaze stopped always with the sky.
Footsteps crunched on the dry earth of the footpath. Stopped. A man hovered, hesitated. Then he sat down. She turned her head.
“Evening,” he said and smiled. It was a quick smile and she didn’t see if he had nice teeth. His eyes were creased against the light; his skin was tanned. He smelled slightly of the shower.
“Evening,” she replied, and turned back to the river and the hills, the vines, the sky beyond.
“Lovely view from here,” he said, misunderstanding, and smiled again, longer this time. He had normal teeth. “Live here, do you?”
She nodded.
“I like looking at the countryside,” he rattled on, “but I couldn’t stand to live in it.”
She frowned. “This isn’t the countryside.”
He waved a hand in the air, encompassing everything from the litterbin next to the bench to the clear sky above the hills. “When you come from the city, it’s all countryside.”
She turned, raised an eyebrow.
“All too empty. Too quiet,” he said, and grinned again.
“Too empty?” she murmured.
He crossed his legs and settled back. “You know, Nature and all that. It’s great in documentaries, but we all need supermarkets, don’t we?” He looked at her, as if expecting to find logos for big brands appearing, sprouting from her armpits, from plastic bags stuffed under the bench, from between her teeth. Expecting her to giggle and agree. Expecting her to fall for the superior man from the capital and follow him back to his hotel like a lost dog.
“Pretty,” he went on, “but give me the Champs-Elysées any day.”
As if he owned it.
She looked across the municipal flowers, across the river at the woods, the vines on the hill, heard the hum of traffic on the road, the murmur of voices from behind the wall of the big house. She smelt the smell of the shower, the smell of car exhaust, the barbecue behind the wall. She felt the inanity of the conversation as a physical hurt.
A road ran through the woods across the river, to a town in a fold of the hills. The vines had killed the soil on the hill slopes and there were no insects, no birds to speak of. This was the city man’s countryside, a pretty, sterile desert. She looked across the flowerbeds of gaudy scentless flowers, to the river than ran brown and glittering. She looked across the hills with their well-tended vines, listened to the distant drone of traffic. She shivered and her heart longed for the quiet of a wilderness with no road to follow, no bench and no normal teeth chattering to break the silence.