Christmas Eve

Out here
in the cold

and the dark

I can see the glow
from the lighted windows
of neighbours’ houses

and up on the hill
the golden lights
from the edge
of the village

and my own kitchen
spilling warmth
and Christmas scents

Lillian is hosting at dVerse tonight, and she’s looking for quadrilles including the word “glow”. We’re sliding gently towards Christmas, and the dVerse winterlude. Check out those poems while you can.

Damn cow

A cow is screaming across the arroyo. I’m sweating, but my mouth is dry – my lips taste of dust when I lick them. I feel like screaming, too. The cow won’t last the night. We lit a fire to keep away night creatures and it’s comforting. If the damn cow would stop screaming I might get some sleep.

Tomorrow, I’ll dig for water.

The moon is bright and there are more stars than I’ve ever seen before. A few nights ago we had the strength to sing, but now we’re too exhausted. We passed more abandoned cars today, found some melted sweets, licked the papers for the taste of sugar. We can’t keep going, but we can’t stop either.

The cow screams again. Somebody swears at it, and we all laugh. What else can we do?

Linda is hosting at dVerse tonight, and it’s prosery night – 144 word flash fiction, incorporating a quote. Tonight’s quote is from Jim Harrison – “a cow is screaming across the arroyo”. I had to look up arroyo – it’s a dried up creek bed.

Hedge replies

Here you come, with your blade
and your hook, your leather gloves
and your big boots. You forget
that I hold the old wisdom
of tangled branch and root,
of bird nest and birdsong,
of leaf and berry.

You seek
to form me, mould me,
but my branches will always
reach for the sky. You’ll be back
next winter, and the next,
your swift flickering movements,
your grunts, your sweat,
taming me, not taming me,

my branches pruned and smoothed,
my roots always knotted
clutching the earth
and groping for the light.

Amaya gives us a two part prompt at dVerse. My first poem was about laying a hedge – the most satisfying of winter jobs. This is the response of the hedge.


Hawthorn, hazel, blackthorn, spindle –
I’ve wrestled with you all day –
those thorns, long as a baby’s finger
finding my skin through shirt
and sweater, my blade splitting
your slim trunk, brute force bending you
from the vertical –
light questing, light driven –
to the horizontal.

I’m forming you into something
woven and useful, I’m following
a long tradition here, making
a living barrier against
all those hungry hunting things
that prowl in the wild,
keeping in the soft-skinned,
warm-wooled, milk-breathed
tame things. I divide
safety from danger,
home from strange.

You divide danger from safety,
strange from home,
with your stubborn strength,
your unwilded tangles,
this geometry we form together,
me following your lead,
you bowing to my will –

I’m cold and scratched and muddied,
and I’m satisfied. A good day’s work.
I’ve wrestled with you all day, my hedge,
my hawthorn, blackthorn, spindle, hazel,
winter warp and weft of wood. We’re done.

The dVerseprompt tonight is to use apostrophe – direct address, not punctuation.


There’s a simplicity in a cloudless sky –
remarkable for nothing. You remark on it
and then move on. It’s blue.

A cloudy sky is far more interesting,
there’s form and movement,
there’s emotion there, there’s meaning,

look, we say, look up, that smooth shape there,
those dragon wings, that wolf,
that soft white pillow for a sleepy child.

Morning sets fire to clouds,
evening paints them lurid red and gold,
the sun sinking into them

rising again next day, radiant
from a slutty bed, all crumpled sheets
and tasteless coverings.

I drown in clouds, sometimes.

Laura is prompting at dVerse tonight, looking at all those words that end in “less” – a good start to Advent, a time of restraint.

Blithe spirit

Sometimes I think the orchard
holds a spirit. Her bright presence
moving between the trees:
in spring, she brings the scent
of apple blossom, almost there,
and then in autumn she quickens
each fruit, makes it sweeter.
I’m fanciful. That’s my defence.

De (Whimsygizmo) is tending the bar tonight. It’s quadrille night at the dVerse poets’ pub, and we are using the word “spirit”.