poetry diary

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

Month: December, 2012

At the turn of the year

Wind-driven raindrops:
sheltering songbirds watch
wild geese embrace the storm.


The weather matches my mood today. Happy New Year to everyone.

Winter landscape

Rivers like roots
binding sea to land.
Forests silent at dusk;
mist rising like breath,
from the slow rhythm of winter hills,
like ancient cattle,
gathered at the gate of spring.

Pause with me a moment,
stay quiet, and let your eye
fall and rise through valleys
dissolved in clouds.
Then you may hear it too –
soft and distant, that insistent tap,
from underground tunnels and hidden lairs,
buried caves and just-thawed mud,
of seeds unfurling and bulbs cracking;
of worms uncurling and mice turning,
buds glinting and sap stirring –
for chaotic awesome life
is sleeping yet,
but like the restless dragon on her hoard,
she is about to blink.


The last image inspired by watching The Hobbit on Christmas Eve  (which  I thought was good, despite anticipating a reaction against an excess of Middle-Earth…). Posted at Poets United.

Another day

How many opportunities
lay hidden in this day?
How many happy lives?
How many gentle hours?
If only you’d turned the other way,
and spoken instead of thought,
touched rather than paused,
and taken your fleeting chance?
How many other ways
might you have lived?

But now the sun turns,
and with it all these lives are lost.
Move on,
into tomorrow.

A winter walk in middle England

Across the folded hands
of some long-forgotten god,
we skirt the contours of desire,
and follow sheep instinct-drawn paths
while dreaming teenage dreams,
and talk of washing up.

I touch, again, the bars
of that childhood-constructed cage,
and sink back, scowling,
on the cushions of your rocks.

Easy philosophies aside
(and mirages and hopes)
these are the middle ways of middle age in England;
redeemed occasionally
by gentle touches at unexpected moments:
a fading coda,
to the great unplayed symphony of youth.


Posted on dVerse.


Half a fallen leaf,
fragmenting under your foot,
cries out for summer.


Posted on Poets United. Happy Christmas to everyone.

There is no snow this Christmas

There is no snow this Christmas,
no fantasies or fairy trails.
Damp pavements and fallen leaves,
and cold reluctance from the breeze.

A solitary jogger,
wearing pink and moving slowly,
glancing at a passing cyclist,
who doesn’t pause to wave.

Everyone, like the season,
slowing to a hesitation,
lost between their self and others;
waiting for the world to stop.

Grey magnolias reflect
the flat sky, in buds pointing
upwards, quietly ignoring
the mood of the day.

I will focus on these, although
there is no snow this Christmas.


Posted on Poets United and dVerse.

Napoleon at Waterloo

One day the English will feel this too:
our heart beats blurring into drums,
that are no more than wave falls, like on Elba;
blue and breaking on the reddened shore.

Why lift our hands or eyes to smoking hills?
They all know what they do and why.
Long past feeling cannonballs and heads
rolling and falling; grateful only to be un-dead

a moment longer. And to hope. It was on the road
to Laffray this fight was lost: hope and romance against guns,
and love against logic. So now they fight
from deeper dreams, timeless and beyond defeat

in this world or the next. Nothing we can do
can kill that hope; the tactics of Austerlitz
and Jena known, the day undone. We know our role,
they know their place; the grass, and blood.

Clouds like lava, flowing from the West;
we must play our part, into that volcano sun.
This is our final moment, we cannot betray
future believers and our myth – all that remains:
to make an end, let it begin – forward our loyal Guard.


I’ve been feeling in a historical romantic mood this weekend.

Historical notes: Laffray was the village where Napoleon opened his coat to the King’s troops when returning from Elba and invited them to shoot him, and they changed sides. Jena and Austerlitz two of his greatest victories. The final (hopeless) attack of the never-defeated Old Guard at Waterloo is one of the great romantic moments of history (although not necessarily for those there). Napoleon’s strange lethargy on the day of the battle has often been commented on.

Posted on Poets United.