Snow

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Small flakes spiralling

Cold on damp melting

The world greying

Houses shiver under wet roofs

Trees drink in great gulps

Cars slow then spring ahead

Lights sparkle or quaver

Sound quavers too

Then stills

 

Sharp flakes needling

Ice on ice driving

The world hurting

Houses flinch beneath metal skies

Trees sway at the assault

Cars spin then skid awry

Lights dance or flicker

Sound flickers too

Then stills

 

Huge flakes smothering

White on black swirling

The world narrowing.

Houses cower behind closed doors

Trees shrivel into deep roots

Cars loom then disappear

Lights fail or waver

Sound wavers too

Then stills

 

White drifts glistening

Quartz on silver shimmering

The world shining

Houses crouch inside warmed walls

Trees display jewelled arms

Cars slide then come to rest

Lights pale and are muted

Sound is muted too

Then stills

 

(The tree is at the bottom of our garden but I took this picture a few winters ago)

Thoughts at sea

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Sometimes

 

When we are out at sea

There are islands,

Rough, ragged, jagged rocks

Ready to lure ships

To be holed and torn.

 

Captain and navigator

Steer a clever course

Between, around, and past

Leaving the siren stones

Behind, folorn.

 

And sometimes

 

There are islands in the air,

Cloud countries

That change and drift and loom,

Now tinged with sunset golds.

Now white, now grey.

 

Passengers hold cameras high,

Hoping to catch

The beauty of the skies,

Imprison it to watch later

On a less spectacular day.

 

And then

 

There are ideas that form,

Skimming over the waves,

Dipping into the foam,

Breathtaking in their immensity,

New born and still blind.

 

I watch them unfolding,

Children of the vast sea,

Space ships of the ocean

Inexorably building green island

Gardens in my mind.

Handwriting

Capture

My hands hurt.

Anxiety presses pins, needles, nails

Into my knuckles

The pads of my fingers

And my thumb.

“Don’t press so hard.

It’s bound to hurt,” they say, “gripping like that,”

but then they add

“You have half an hour to finish,” and wonder

Why I stress so.

The words are easy.

If I could type them on a keyboard,

Neat and bright

In a well presented paper, I could have ended this

An hour ago.

“You don’t complain

When it’s maths,” they say sadly, but

Maths is beautiful

And I can ignore the pain to get

Those numbers formed.

Meanwhile, they want

Three sentences that explain some words

I have understood

For ever and a day, and you must understand

My hand is numb.

(I was writing to a prompt: “If I waited till I felt like writing, I’d never write at all!” and was inspired by my autistic grandson who finds handwriting a trial.)

Advent

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These are the days

the days that pass in a blur of dark and light

the days when by mid afternoon

we huddle in our curtained rooms

and shut out the night.

 

The days of miracle

the days that are full of glittered decoration

the days when presents fill the minds of everyone

to give and to receive, wrap and unwrap

and share, with anticipation.

 

These are the days of wonder

the days of glistening lights on every street

the days when trees leave the forest

to wear indoor finery while we call

cheerful blessings to all we meet.

 

These are the days of miracle and wonder

The short days of the solstice and the longest night

the days when the world sleeps and yet

outside my door an onamental quince has already

opened new flowers to welcome the light.

April on The Wirral

new brighton

Pale shards of semi-whiteness across the river mouth:

thin cranes and looming gantries of the docks.

Against them, a brighter whiteness,

a lighthouse layered in sharp focus on its rocks,

the causeway a line of dark in the murky sea,

gulls following in case scraps were left behind.

An unrenovated fort stands

(proud as the lighthouse), sand

beneath, the strip decreasing with the rising tide.

Children, crowded on the shrinking beach,

pull small dogs in and out of lapping waves

or scramble barefoot, risking a spiked ending to the day

on boulders that keep the invading sea at bay.

A small yacht motors calmly towards the open water,

heading for the mists,

a noisy boat pulls a smaller one

in looping spirals round

the lighthouse just for fun

and there are shrieks of fright

or glee

while shuffling figures watch

from a pontoon

moored by a buoy that guards the channel

in case a ferry should go astray.

Crowds, shops, cars

as far

as the eye can see.

A queue

to find a space and then

another queue

for toilets or a drink,

or sandwiches that by the time the queue has gone

have vanished too.

Shaking the sand off our feet

and clutching a picnic we steal away

further along the coast and round the headland.

Turning south we reach

a long flat beach,

the tide

by now almost to the horizon.

A few dogs chase each other or a thrown ball;

a car braves the boat ramp

driving in crazy rings

near the sea wall.

The crowds have stayed

near the shops and ice cream vans.

Here there is loneliness and space,

only a few miles away.

We eat, watching a huge stretch of

damp sand

spread out to a charcoal smudge of what might be

sea.

A horse thuds past,

cantering against the sky.

Could we ride, we wonder,

all the way out to Ireland

if we were foolish enough to try?

 

I don’t usually post two poems in a row but this was an immediate reaction to a lovely day out, and needed to be posted while the date was still appropriate. Dedicated to Flair, who showed me round The Wirral, and whose birthday is this week.

The End Of March

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March came in like a lion;

went out like one

as well, roaring.

(There had been

calm times in between.)

Pale petals

grabbed from trees before

the flowers were fully formed

mixed with the snow

that dissolved on the bare ground.

Bins scuttled down the road,

alive and rattling,

shedding rubbish as they went.

Washing landed

in a fishpond

for a second soak

(startling the inhabitants).

The prop that should have held

the clothesline firm

dug itself into the grass

to avoid being sent arcing

like a javelin

point first to a bitter end.

Hail drummed

on cars, paths, windows, roofs

and all around,

nestling like spilled sugar

in new foxglove leaves.

A fence waved, rippling

as if a mirage had taken hold

but it was only the wind

telling the world

that April was coming;

in its own, cold,

boisterous fashion

trumpeting Spring.

A day at the zoo

elephants resized

We took our grandson to the zoo at half term and I started writing an account of the day for my personal blog. Then I realised it had rhythms and hidden rhymes so I worked on it till I had a free-form poem.

It was a grey day

in February

and we paid a lot to get in.

They seemed to think it their due.

They were not there for our entertainment

but rather we

were there to contribute to postponing

their extinction

and after all

that’s the stated purpose of the zoo.

 

The elephants

were first. They stood stone still,

a faint greenness on their hides suggesting

moss had gathered

while they watched their waterfall.

 

The rhinos

regarded an English February

as beyond the pale.

They dozed in their dim house,

the baby disguised as what we thought at first

was his mother’s swollen knee

but his ear flickered slightly

giving the deception away.

 

The meerkats

had disappeared

(maybe underground?)

and we couldn’t find

the giraffe.

 

The monkeys

were truly glad to see us.

I think we

alleviated their boredom.

They scampered out to their

moated peninsula with glee.

Each time we left their house to see

they climbed back in

and when we returned

to the leaf shaded glass hall

out they went again.

A fine game

was had by all.

 

The zebra lay sleeping side by side

in a stripe of sunlight they had found

while next door to their compound

the bongo

gracefully camouflaged himself

in the shadow of his wooden hall

and pretended he wasn’t really there at all.

 

There were deer

(of various kinds)

too shy to give us more

than a fleeting glimpse,

A warty pig

(not to be confused with a warthog)

and a capybara

that seemed to be where

the map thought the meerkats might have been.

 

And still we couldn’t find the giraffe.

You’d think a long neck would help but no,

although

we saw some camels huddled

in a knobbly ring.

They circled,

doing (perhaps) an esoteric

camel dance.

The reason was something

not for us to know.

 

Only one tiger

was visible, pacing

with a look of impatience

while his mate and child

hid

somewhere safe and secret

until the keepers were due

to bring their meal.

The male, I’m quite sure, saw us as an alternative

if the keeper should chance

to be late that day at the zoo.

 

The cheetahs tried

to hide

(to cheat?)

on a roof in their enclosure

but

it was still winter so we

could see them through the bare trees

and they looked less than pleased.

 

The Asiatic lions,

however, were proudly on display,

the male roaring a huge sound

– far too big for his size –

to let us know we should stay away.

 

There were birds ignoring us:

storks, cranes, and I think

a flamingo

though

as I missed it I have no

idea whether it was pink.

There were also ducks,

some of which were strolling on the paths like us,

like the blackbirds and starlings joining in

a general search, human and avian,

for snacks (or crumbs).

 

Squirrels,

too,

had decided there might be rich pickings at the zoo.

They must have had the sense

to avoid the big cats.

Either that

or they were extremely fast.

 

The fruit bats

simply dreamed on their branches all day

though a few

swooped

and fought and slept again

pretending to be strange fruit

and by this ruse fool

their natural prey.

 

The chimpanzee

house was closed for maintenance,

whether of the house, inmates or both

the sign failed to say.

 

By the time we reached the butterfly house

that was closed too

because it was almost the end of our day

at the zoo.

There were signs

saying ‘aviary’ and ‘aquarium’

but by then

we were on the way

out.

They would have to wait

for another day.

 

We joined merging streams

flowing towards the gate.

There was tension in the air,

an anxiety not to be late,

locked on the wrong side

at some keeper’s whim.

What did the inmates make

of all these others in their bright coats

who came every day and invariably left

at teatime?

 

Then we were all spilling, tumbling into car parks,

chattering about what we hadn’t seen

and what we’d wanted to see.

(We still hadn’t found the giraffe.)

But whatever we had observed

it was time we dispersed

to our own family paddocks,

our own keepers

and our own tea.

Grey

79. Grey

I’ve been away – physically away (and parted from the internet for a while) and mentally away since my return. The poem below probably sums it up. The picture is, of course, the Guggenheim in Bilbao, which we visited on a cold grey January day.

Grey

Cold grey

Not the crisp off-white chill of ice or snow

Not the warm grey of clouds of summer rain

A dull day

 

Grey

Grey thoughts

Not the frisson of grey approaching dusk

Not the warm grey sea of semi-dreaming

Dull thoughts

 

Grey

Grey life

No tinge of green, blue, gold, emergent spring

No warmth of summer or of autumn colours gleaming

Just grey

 

Grey

Grey skies

No other colour except beige dry grass

Nothing quickening the winter mind

A grey day

A spooky zine

glitterwolf ad

Once again I’m ‘advertising’ on behalf of a friend. I haven’t yet read any of the contents but I know her poetry and it’s good.

Glitterwolf is a UK-based literary and arts magazine celebrating the work of LGBT contributors from around the world. They publish fiction, poetry, art and photography.

This year they are also bringing out a special Halloween Issue with four variant covers to match the four main stories. The issue is full of seasonably themed fiction, art and poetry, including three poems from my friend Kat Soini, a Finnish poet.

FREE TASTER of Glitterwolf: Halloween

This year, in addition to our usual three issues, we’ve released a Halloween special full of queer, weird and dark fiction, poetry and art. We’ve released four variant covers featuring the stunning work of artist Jason Grim and featuring the work of writers and poets including Steve Berman, Tom Cardamone, Lou Dellaguzzo, Jeff Mann, James K. Moran, Evan J. Peterson, Amy Shepherd, and many more.

To download a taster of the issue, featuring roughly half of the full table of contents, you can

follow this link to download. Alternatively, just send us an email at freeglitterwolf@gmail.com with the subject ‘Halloween’.

If you enjoy the taster, then please consider buying the full issues, which are now available for purchase on Amazon.

If you feel like spreading the word about this in your own journal/elsewhere, that would of course be hugely appreciated.

Mimosa Clearance

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The road crew came, setting

out their small signs

and taking

the business of directing

traffic very seriously.

Red for stop

Green for go

Yellow for the mimosa

they were cutting

slashing

stacking

clearing.

Sad to see the blossom

destroyed

at the height of its pride

but in a few weeks

there would be interdictions

against bonfires.

Few landowners

would want

to store

and squirrel

the wood against the winter cold.

The heavier timber

dried

would keep flames

burning

when the flowers

were just a dream

but the yellow flames

of the mimosa blooms

would not warm

the woodstoves

when the world turned

again to ice.

And without

the harvesting

the flames would burn

wild and bright

in the summer sun.

So the road crew did

what had to be done,

and moved on.

Note: Wikipedia and various other sources assure us that mimosa is a tropical weed that has spread to Europe and we know the roadside trees and shrubs are a fire hazard but the flowers are some of the first colours of spring and are simply glorious.