We all have to make sacrifices, I tell him.

He’s not drinking milk
each morning. Milk’s the thing
that sends us out into the town,
and shopping’s not a pleasure now.

I plan our meals, now, carefully,
avoiding waste. We check the list
before we buy. We’re not so frivolous.

Our pleasures shrink. The sky is blue –
unmarked by plane tracks. That’s
a miracle. We journey out
on foot: the lane is longer
now. Distance is measured
in our footsteps. I have never seen
so many primroses.

I caught the scent of violets and we
spent several minutes looking for
wild orchids, on the lane
that’s usually a conduit,
just the way that takes us
to the road. We bomb along it,
hurrying – we’re always late.

Suddenly, there’s nothing
to be late for. It’s all here –
work, play, music, words.
The home we built

out of the things we loved – that
painting that you bought me,
that green bowl, the table
that we knew would scratch
and stain and bear the story
of our family life – all these things
we spent our whole time
leaving. Well, now we look
at them again.

This poem is for Brendan at Earthweal, who asks us to think about the parallels between this pandemic and climate change. I think he’s right, there are many. I guess what I’ve been struck by is how much less we are consuming at the moment, just in my small household. All those things you buy just because they were dangled in front of your nose are suddenly not there. I don’t think I’m missing them. I do think I’ll have a shopping list at the end of this, but it will be of things I need (all my socks have given up on me) not things I just kind of want because they’re pretty. We’re driving much much much less. We’re walking more. This could be sustainable.




Will it end in fire or ice? I think I know –
we’ll burn it all, pile it on,
until the smoke rolls thick and dark
from all the mass of tyres and bottles,
coal and living trees, and chicken feathers,
and old furniture, and money money money,
which burns brighter than anything,
flames leaping skywards. We’ll huddle,
backs to the dark, the great infinity
of emptiness, until the last flame flickers,
the last ember fades to ash.
And then we’ll freeze.

My second post for Brendan at Earthweal.  We are thinking about fire in the context of the climate crisis.

I lived in East Gippsland for a year, 25 yeras ago. It’s hard to see it burning. Thankfully, all our friends there are safe, but it’s been scary for us – terrifying for them.


We thought we’d tamed her, and that made us men,

that we had crammed her into some small domestic sphere

content to roast our meat and bake our bread,

to warm our feet and our bed.


She rose against us.


She rose and burned it all,

our homes, our crops, our makeshift sheds,

our livelihoods, our cars, our trucks

our power stations, pumping out smoke,

our sawmills, our shopping malls, our greedy bars,

our TV sets, our mobile phones, our soft hands,

our plump bellies, our plastic bottles,

our crisp Egyptian cotton sheets.


She bared her teeth and claws.


What fools we were. What fools.


For Brendan at Earthweal. 

After the rains

This is a dead city, and those of us who live here are just ghosts, muttering among the ruins.

When the rains moved North and the river dried up, we had the chance to leave, but some of us chose to stay until it was too late. Now we are trapped here, unable to cross the desert to find somewhere gentler to live, clinging to life in crumbling palaces.

This is the barrenness of harvest, or pestilence, I sometimes think. We sowed the seeds for this, we set loose the plague, and now we suffer as we deserve. Yet some evenings, when the air is cooler and the breeze has the taste of rain, I remember the sound of children playing, of laughter in shady courtyards, and I think then that death will be kind to me, will recognise that I am his already.

Bjorn is hosting at dVerse tonight, and it’s prosery time again! 144 words of flash fiction, including a quotation given to us by our host. Tonight he’s chosen two lines from Louise Gluck (can’t work out how to do an umlaut, sorry): this is the barrenness of harvest or pestilence. 

Head over to dVerse and check out the other writers there. It’s a great place to hang out.


The thing I fear is the silence:
when the buzzing stops
because there are no more bees –
the belly hum buzz
that dances from nectar to nectar

the silence that falls
when the sun goes down
and the birds quieten

a reminder that there could be
a world without a blackbird
calling tumbling notes
from a sleek throat,
without rook
gently reminding rook
that they are friends,
without skylark promising
joy effortless

and the silence of sea water
grown sluggish
half plastic
holding death afloat
silver belly turned
towards a yellow sky

and the silence of a forest
where every tree
is just a dream.

Anmol (HA) is hosting at dVerse tonight, and asks us to write a poem about the climate crisis.