poetry diary

I rhyme to see myself, to set the darkness echoing. (Seamus Heaney, from Personal Helicon)

Month: February, 2012

Spring – a haiku

Breaking through cold earth;
a symphony in green, which
promises flowers.


For haiku heights.

Caer Caradoc

Like a grain of sand I cross your banks,
borne on Roman time and tides, too late
to stand and fight, with you, for life.

My feet scour and stir the earth you threw
upon this hill in vain; once proud
projection of your power, erect
(I imagine, at least) but now
soft and conquered, smooth mounds suckling sheep;
slopes made romantic by imagined pasts and feet.
A woman it was, I hear, who did for you at last.

Like a grain of sand I cross your banks,
and shape your fort, and feel your hands;
two thousand years have passed and still
I dream with you.


Caer Caradoc is a hill fort and also a hill in Shropshire, in the West of England. It is named after Caractacus, the Celtic chief who resisted the Roman invasion of Britain in the first century AD, and is supposedly the site of his last stand against the Roman legions. He was betrayed by a neighbouring Queen and taken in captivity to Rome. You can read more about him on Wikipedia and about the hill fort here: Caer Caradoc.

I like castles and fortresses and this poem is one of a series which I haven’t added to for a while. I’ve climbed Caer Caradoc many times, and it is a good place for a last stand.

Winter pigeons

In winter treetops,
solitary pigeons wait
for reasons to coo.


They have been watching me walk to work all week…I’ll keep you posted on developments!

As the sea

Tasting stone, again, as I chase
your white light tempting, teasing
my waves. I yearn against my mass
for air; long for release even
as I swell and fill each crevasse,
moisten each cave, stir life into fish,
drive cracks into rocks, catch crabs, toss
each bone and moment, fight against
my fate and task and life here on
this earth, without you my moon, my
love, my emptiness, my wholeness;
my loss and my joy. Stolen.
I destroy, and give life, and destroy
again, to return, return, return
beaten and condemned, to tasting
stone, shaping stone, making stone smooth
like you, and round, and white, my moon,
my moon – I swoon, make moons, not you.
Not you. My creatures call: ‘not you’.
Break me, break into me, break me
come down, at last,
and swim.


Stimulated by We write poems‘ prompt this week (The other side of nature) – not something I’ve done for a while. I’m thinking of the way tides are the seas’ response to the moon’s gravity, and a vague idea of the moon having originally been formed by somehow being broken out of the earth, with the holes left behind filled, now, by the ocean – wanting a return to the time before they parted.

Monday morning haiku

Facing a new week
waiting for spring, I feel her
tension beneath me.

Loving for beginners (for Isa)

Focused fur. Always moving, looking
for something new, nervously curious
dark eyes sparkling, while your nose seeks.

Taking love graciously, soft to our touch
but never owned, always moving, looking
for something beyond. Sunflowers?

Or poetry? You have no time for
speaking (or listening, or yearning)
solitary creature, so warm to our touch.

Loving for beginners, you don’t ask
for much. Some water and dry straw,
a peanut a day, space to run.

In return, focused fur, warm and
responsive, just more than a toy: loving
for beginners, my daughter and I.


This is a poem for my daughter’s hamster, Isa. Isa is our fourth hamster and by far the most intelligent and lively and easiest to relate to. I’m not sure how I know this, or how hamsters have characters, but if they could speak and I had to choose one to take out for a drink, it would be Isa (although she’s getting on now, like me).

A Reflective Valentine

Soft, the imprint of your soul on mine,
like footprints in the melting snow;
I try to hold your shape and sense
your absent touch, your force, our past
held in my ice, then forming pools.
My heart beats as the sun, moving
through the sky, shimmers in crystal
echoes of your last goodbye.


Inspired by the last remnants of our recent snowfall, around the edges of the tennis court this evening, and someone I haven’t seen for a few months, and miss.


Snowdrops humble before frozen grass,
iced twigs and sharpened sods of winter’s
deathly call, this morning. I noticed
you again, this year; warm and gentle
by the tree, assuming nothing
but tomorrow’s sun.


I planted some snowdrops more than 10 years ago underneath a willow tree in my garden. Some years I feel I don’t notice them at all.

Thank you!

I was surprised and delighted to be told I’d won the M:/P MAG Competition today for a poem written in January. Here’s a link to the poem – Resolutions, and here’s a link to dVerse poets and M:/P MAG.

I’m amazed – Thank you to the judges!

Sunday morning haiku

Snow-smothered Sunday
streets silent this morning, when
I woke to go swimming.


We had 10cm of snow overnight.