Writing through winter

I don’t really get writer’s block. But sometimes I don’t write much, and sometimes I don’t write at all. I’m learning to trust those fallow times. The fields look very bare in winter, but there’s a lot going on deep in that cold earth.

in the dark earth
daffodil bulb planted
waiting out winter

Oh, this is very short. A haibun for Frank at dVerse.

Ash Die-back

Yggdrasil is dying.
I’ve seen it – 
branches bare as arms
reaching towards the sky. 

Trees scream silently,
carrying the heavens
in their branches, 
weaving the world
with their roots –

what happens now?
Yggdrasil fumbles, falls -
worlds drift away -
the gods slip into darkness -
frost and fire and flood -

and where will we find wisdom
now Yggdrasil is dying?
Whose arms will we hang in?
Only emptiness. 

Brendan at earthweal invites us to write about trees. Here in Devon, our ash trees are dying. They are such a massive, ancient part of our landscape – the countryside round here is going to look very different in 5, 10 years’ time. I’ve been part of a project called the Ode to the Ash Tree Project. As an extra bonus, here’s a video of Katy Lee performing my poem Devon Ash. You CAN watch the video – just click where it says Watch on Vimeo.


I’m yearning to sit
in a golden square
in the late afternoon light,
in that warm silence
that comes out of love
and needs no words.
I’m longing for a sip
of yellow wine, cold,
with condensation forming
on the curving glass.

It’s Monday, it’s quadrille night at dVerse, and Linda has given us the word “wine” to play with.

Easter Sonnet Sunday #2: Easter Eggs by Sarah Connor

How could you think of Easter without eggs?Shiny, foil-wrapped, hidden around the garden,small girls in nighties with their sturdy legsand boys in jammies, seeking, ardent?And boiled eggs, with their brightly painted shellswaiting for you to crack them. Inside, white and gold,like spring itself – blossom and daffodils.Winter is suddenly something we can holdand crack wide open.…

Easter Sonnet Sunday #2: Easter Eggs by Sarah Connor

Eagle Haibun – dVerse

I have always liked those old lecturns made in the shape of eagles. I like the idea that words will fly into the distance, that they will soar above us, that they have their own power. Give words wings, let them fly.

rising on sunlight
seeing the earth spread below
spotting a mouse dart

A haibun for Frank Tassone at dVerse, where our theme is eagles.

Spring in the woods

Let’s go to the woods. We should go now
because the woods are full of candles,
lit for a celebration. Small flames somehow
pushing up through thick soil, spangles
of red fire on dull brown twigs,
fat green candles, plump and swollen
gasping for life, waiting to be lit.
The woods are burning, green smoke rolling
over the hedgerows, just blurring those
sharp scratched winter lines. The woods are singing,
full of music. Don’t ask me how I know
I just know that we are candles, flinging
light across the space between us, light
that will burn and spread, flames that take flight.

This is for the earthweal prompt – a prompt centering on Imbolc, the start of spring, and all that energy. It’s my own prompt, and I’m really looking forward to seeing how people use it. I’m still wrestling with the sonnet – I think I’m starting to be able to think in sonnets, though I know my use of metre is a bit d

A Poem A Day – January

Ingrid at Experiments in Fiction can be found on Twitter @Experimentsinfc. She has started A Poem A Day challenge over where the bluebird flies – tweet a poem every day. When I first read her post about it I was very clear with myself that I was not going to get sucked into that! However, here we are. Not quite a poem a day, but here is my January poetry diary – in no particular order, just what Twitter threw up.

Dawn slumps in
doesn’t meet
my eye

left her fags
in the kitchen
last night

no matches
no light

still exhales

Let’s go as close
to the edge
as we can –

to where the sand
and the sea
and the sky
and the sand
and the spray

are one great
glorious roar
of wildness

last night
a lemon-peel moon,
this morning, frost
and hungry birds

and all those branches
scratching at the sky
begging for light

and it’s always hard
to step into coldness
yes but you must

the wood
silent as
a temple

a hare
racing like
a heartbeat

the sound of starlings
wheeling and whorling –
that rustle is winter

pause listen

and it’s easy
to wake before
the sun

to lie
in the
sullen dark

the world

the world
with the sound
of water
running water
all life
and movement

filling the house
with the scent of spice
cinnamon and ginger
cardamom and cloves
warmth worth its weight
in gold

not even sure
the sun
is rising

the sky
all sludge
and river mud

if you could
plunge your arms
into those clouds

they’d come out

Press your fingertip
into the clay
and map the
of your story

contour lines
like a labyrinth

we are all
seeking the
silent centre

on my chest

not the gale
or the rain

not pain
or grief
or fear
or anything

just the night
in my ear

what kind
of fool
keeps a wolf
in a cage
of bone?

not enough thread
to stitch
my story together

leave it


free to fly
with the wind

everything screams
be alive

the hail
shouts into
my face

the wind
grabs me
shakes me

the sea roars

be alive
be alive
be alive

the world
moth wing
the sky
tasting of
I could crush
these clouds
silver juice
with snow

I love
the suddenness
of flames

how they open out

how they create

our footprints
melted in
the sunlight

as if we’d never
walked together
up the lane
beyond the

the world ends
at the end
of the lane

beyond there

things with
teeth and claws

the absence
of colour



I don’t know

I turn back
I’m forced
to see

I am a comma
curving a brief
pause into
the word flow
of the day
round the lines
the stories

Prosery – In the beginning

She looked at her work, and sagged a little.
“Sometimes the great bones of my life feel so heavy” she sighed.
Mother took the hammer and chisel from her hands, and hugged her.
“Come and play a little.” Mother led her across the studio and and handed her a tiny brush and a tray of colours.

So she played. She painted carapaces that shone like jewels or glimmered like moonlight, rainbow wings and feet with microscopic hooks. Around her, her sisters created birds with clean-cut flight feathers, or concentrated on the precise dappling of a cat’s fur.

As the evening light slanted through the window, Mother clapped her hands. Everyone looked around.

“The Work is good” she told them, and together they blew Life into what they had created. Earth was ready to be populated.

How beautiful her insects were. How beautiful.

Prosery – 144 words of prose, including a quotation from a poem. This session is hosted by Linda at dVerse, and our line is from Mary Oliver: “Sometimes the great bones of my life feel so heavy”.

I really needed to write something joyful.

Day 16: seven

Seven silver birches guard the ancient forest gate
Where seven feathered ambassadors obscure the entrance to this strait

Know your lore
Read the bark
Never barefoot wander
Never whistle in the dark

Look askance at the glade
Await the call
In summer’s amber
And winter’s blaze
Autumn’s angles
And spring’s tirade

Up with the sap
Out with the hour
Seven silver birches guard
The key to this season’s bower

This poem is from Chris Jelley, who is part of the phenomenon that is No 7, Dulverton – bookshop, cultural hub and purveyors of beautiful things.

Chris is posting a poem every day during advent – you can find him at @TalesArtPlay and @SevenFables (Twitter / Insta)