Deep waters

There are all sorts of things down there –
I’ve seen them glimmering in the murk,
moonfish, mirrorfish, memories –
sometimes a pale hand rises up
to press the surface.

I’ve seen my face reflected there
a thousand times. A million.

Vile, snapping things rise suddenly
in a whorl of mud, and sink again,
and gleaming predators glide smoothly,
light dappling their flanks.

So many things – lost things, that
unexpectedly break free, appear –
things jettisoned in the fight
to stay afloat. Illusions formed
from kelp and moonlight.

In this small boat,
I’ve sat out storms, and calms.
Some days I’ve waited hours
in the harsh, baking sun,
and nothing’s bitten on my line at all;
sometimes I’ve pulled a hundred
shimmering mackerel;
sometimes a single silver fish,
that I’ve let free, to leap and grow.

Sometimes a word, and sometimes silence,
sometimes a poem.

This, of course, is primarily for Jilly’s 28 Days of Unreason. It also works for today’s Mindlovemisery’s menagerie prompt – I’m going with When the fish stop biting as my alternative title…

Here’s the quotation, from the man himself:

“Saw a poem float by just beneath the surface ” from Songs of Unreason



The briar tangle of your gut,
clawed and tearing –
your lungs, full of bronchioles
that branch like an oak tree,
all those blood vessels, fine as roots,
neurones twisting and tangling –

The wild wood lives in you.


Day 23 of Jilly’s Unreason Challenge

23: “His mind’s all black thickets and blood”   from Songs of Unreason


Those of us cradled gently,
basking in the warm gaze of the universe,
who blossomed quietly,
opening in love

we have deep roots

and we carry light within us,
and the silence of the living forest.

For Day 22 of Jilly’s month of Unreason. 

“The world that used to nurse us

now keeps shouting insane instructions.

That’s why I ran to the woods.”

~ Jim Harrison from Songs of Unreason

What is the question?

He was a man who gathered facts
what does moonlight taste like?
as if he could build a world from them,
who first fell in love? with whom?
snatched dates and data from the atmosphere,
what do flowers dream of?

cross-referenced, indexed, filed.
what colour are my eyes?
He questioned endlessly, collated
can you hear a sunbeam strike the ocean?

all the answers, in boxes first,
where did I leave my keys?
then just in piles, great tottering heaps
what noise do Saturn’s rings make?

that rose around him,
what’s the gestation period of the unicorn?
and still, the world eluded him.

where does love live?

For Jilly’s 28 Days of Unreason, where we are all Jim Harrison tribute acts. Today’s quotation is:

“I see today that everyone on earth

wants the answer to the same question

but none has the language to ask it.”

~ Jim Harrison from Songs of Unreason

She doesn’t want to write about love

She’s not going to write about love –
because everyone writes about love,
and everyone knows
that love is a rose
and love is a thorn,
and love is a glistening
bead of blood on a fingertip.

There’s so much more to life
than love – there’s moonlight,
and reading, and bottomless coffees,
but everyone knows that
love is a warm jolt of caffeine,
and love is a poem,
and love is the moon,
and love is a lone wolf howling,

and even when she strips
the metaphors out of her work,
writing a forest – a real one –
she drove there, and pressed her hand
into the bark of a tree
’til her palm was marked,
still everyone knows
that love is a tree,
and love is a forest,
and love is the road
that carries you there.


“Love is raw as freshly cut meat,

mean as a beetle on the track of dung”

~ Jim Harrison  from Songs of Unreason


Day 20 of this 28 day delve into the world of Jim Harrison. Jilly is hosting a month of Unreason. Check it out. There’s some great stuff being written there.


Did I babble? Did I spill the secrets

of my immediate desires, not deep,

not very deep, just basic stuff –



Did I reveal myself, in my

vulnerability, my coming to,

my emerging from that hazing mist,

my brain stretching itself, releasing

small thought bubbles that had no

real life, just that primal craving –



“I’m quite tired of beating myself up to write.  I think I’ll start letting the words slip out like a tired child. “Can I have a piece of pie” he asks, and then he’s asleep back on the cusp of the moon.”

~ Jim Harrison from Songs of Unreason

That Jilly is totally unreasonable, expecting us to keep up with this challenge! Day 19 of 28 Jim Harrison prompts. 

Cycle – quadrille for dVerse

Pedal as fast as you can –

you can’t out-cycle death –

she’s right behind you,

thighs pumping, –

hair flying

no helmet.

Hide in the peleton –

she’ll find you out –

make a break for it –

she’ll reel you in –

ride hard, ride fast,

death always wins.

Cycle is the keyword for tonight’s quadrille, courtesy of Kim at dVerse. This is for all those middle aged men in lycra. 

Childhood ocean

Even inland children crave the sea –
these were my waters, cold Cornish coast, me
coming out shivering, blue-toed,
letting my crabline drop through
harbour water, long sunny days
sitting on hot stones, reading,
ice-creams and pasties, and all
the jolly little fishing smacks.

But sometimes, down there,
where the sun slants greenish
through the water,
I brushed against a myth.


“We’ll know as children again all that we are
destined to know, that the water is cold
and deep, and the sun penetrates only so far”
~ Jim Harrison from Death Again

Jilly’s keeping going, and so am I. Day 17 of 28 days of Unreason. Jim Harrison – the gift that keeps on giving.

Love letters to Selene – Dreaming Spirit Press.

Just to remind you that the anthology is now up there.


The link for the newsletter is:

The next “letters” anthology will be based on Hestia, goddess of the hearth and home, but there are other anthologies on the go.  Maybe you would like to contribute? Check it out here:

Finding wisdom

There is wisdom in the mountains –
the wisdom of high and lonely places –
and the birds have wisdom,
the knowledge they carry
deep inside, unspoken,
of moving with and against the air.
The cat knows how to be still,
how to coil energy in muscle,
how to spring. The tree knows
how to grow, how to seek strength
in the soil.

She’s never trusted her body
to crave the right things. She’s
never stopped to listen – has
crammed her feet into the wrong shoes,
cinched her waist tightly,
read the labels on tins and packets
obsessively, counting numbers
that don’t count. She’s over-ridden
her own desires so often
she doesn’t know what she wants.

The bee knows how to dance.

Inside that bean there is a plant
that needs water, earth, light,
to grow tall. Touching something
with its twining tendrils, to cling
and coil, and seek support,
opening its flowers to the bee –
that dancing bee, that carries
sweetness and information in
equal quantities – always the mystery
of growth and flower and fruit and seed.

She sought wisdom in distant places,
danced under full moons,
read so many books that told her
who she was, as if some distant
writer knew her better than she did herself.
She listened to whalesong,
had her skin rubbed with oils,
cut out gluten, dairy, carbs,
ran so fast she met herself
coming back.

There is no wisdom in the soil,
but you can find it there, if you dig deep –
it’s in the digging. There’s no wisdom
in a loaf of bread, but you can find
a kind of wisdom in the making of it.
There is no wisdom in the ocean,
but if you sit there, reading it,
you’ll find the wisdom that you carry
deep inside,waiting for sun, and air,
water and food, waiting to blossom,
waiting to fruit. Be still.

There’s no real wisdom in a poem, but you can find your wisdom there.

This is for Day 17 of Jilly’s 28 Days of Unreason, poems springing from the diving board of Jim Harrison. Today’s quotation isn’t from a poem, but from an essay: 

“Prolonged exposure to nature gives one a sort of grammatica pardo*, a wisdom of the soil.”

~ Jim Harrison,  from A Really Big Lunch

*to be worldly-wise; know the ways of the world

Technically,  A Really Big Lunch is not a book of poetry; it is a series of essays by Harrison.  I am currently reading it. Warning:  it is outlandish and best read with much wine and a propensity for laughter. I used this quote because, like much of his prose, it has the stuff of poetry and because his connection to nature is a big part of why I connect with the poetry.

 As always, everyone is welcome to join in.  Write a poem inspired by this quote, post it, credit Harrison, link back in the comments, stop back by and read other poets.  Cheers! Jilly