Halloween Haibun!

My childhood Halloweens smelled of burnt turnip – much harder to carve a lantern from than pumpkins, but much spookier, too. They tasted of wet apples and toffee. My husband’s Halloweens were colcannon and barmbrack, and handfuls of nuts and raisins. My children had a bit of all that, over-laid with pumpkins and cheap sweets and tacky costumes.

My son was never bothered about Halloween. He doesn’t like dressing up and doesn’t like sweets. He was cajoled and coaxed along by his big sister (who knew he’d hand his booty over to her). The last costume she persuaded him into consisted of his usual clothes and a single black line drawn around his neck. “I’m the ghost of someone who had their head cut off”, he announced at every door we called at.

amber light
a hand reaches out
darkness falls

Frank is hosting at dVerse tonight, and we’re writing Halloween haibuns.

Grown up – quadrille for dVerse

My muck magnet
mud splattered
puddle stomping
jam smeared
crumb dropping
sticky fingered
paint splashing
pen scrawling
finger printing
juice spilling
boy
became
smart shirted
svelte suited
shiny shoed
smooth socked
slick haired
sparkly smiling
sweet scented
freshly shampooed
softly spoken
smooth talking
man

A quadrille is a 44 word poem. We write them at dVerse. De is hosting tonight, and our magic word is “magnet”.

Writing the wolf

I’m writing again.

I’m writing a wolf.
I write that his coat gleams like ice,
that his eyes shine like sunlight on snow.

The wolf says “no”.

I write his hunger. I write his belly
clenching against his spine,
his teeth biting down on air.

No.

I write the scent of life
clinging to leaf and twig,
a red thread running
through a labyrinth.

No.

I write the paw prints
ink on paper
the trail cutting away
to the horizon

I am drawn to writing about wolves at the moment. I don’t know why. I’m just writing it out of my system. This is for the dVerse Meet the Bar night.

Portrait of a fox.

The vixen slinks from bin to bin,
drinks at a puddle. She’s as quiet
as the night itself. Her cubs are waiting.

She pulls down a chicken leg,
a split bag spilling sugared doughnuts,
but she doesn’t pause to eat. She prowls –

a copper glimmer under neon lights.
She’s motherhood, caught in a frame
of lamp-posts, pavement, columns, city sky.

I’m hosting at dVerse tonight. We’re using the what3words site to generate 3 words that will lead you to a place in London. I’ve chosen feed, quiet and copper, which take me to the National Gallery.

In love with death, a little bit.

Only the very young can be in love with death.
Oh, and the old. The old man’s friend,
we called pneumonia when she came,
hot-fingered, offering a sense-dulled end.

Those of us in middle life
who’ve chewed death’s raw, rank-flavoured meat,
are different. We’ve sat with death,
been in the room when she has found her seat

and found life sweeter, sharper, stronger
because we know death hovers there
behind the door, around the corner,
beside us in the clinic. Everywhere –

Santa Muerte reaches out cold hands,
her fingers clattering like castanets,
offering cream cakes, coffee,
a tray of cocktails. Lighting cigarettes.

But would our little lives feel quite so sweet
if she weren’t stalking round the house at night,
stilettoes crunching on the gravel?
It might be not. Perhaps the young are right.

My second “dark ballad” for Lucy, who is guest-hosting at dVerse. This is a little less obviously dark – and a little less camp, I think!

I lost you

I’ve considered the shade of your lips
as they fade from rose-red to bone-white
and reached for your cold finger tips
in the depths of the shuddering night

I have cried, I have screamed, I have wept,
I have watched for the pale light of dawn,
I have dreamed that you lay there and slept,
I have woken and found you were gone

I have heard the cold song your blood sings
on wild nights, when the moon rides the clouds
and a blade is a beautiful thing
when you choose from a veil or a shroud

I have curled in a ball on the ground
I have stretched from the earth to the sky
I have searched, but I never have found,
I have lived, but I never can die.

Lucy is a guest host at dVerse tonight, and asks us to write a dark ballad.

Hold me

Weave me a blanket
of moonlight and mist,
of sea-fret and sunbeams,
to wrap me and rock me
and soothe me to sleep.
Fill me a pillow
with starlight and shadows,
with snowflakes and whispers,
to coze me and doze me.
Good night.

A little quadrille for an autumn evening. Merril is hosting at dVerse tonight, and our word is “blanket”.

Michaelmas

Beacons and battlements –
they build your churches
in high places, with long views.

I think we need you now,
warrior and angel, defender,
I think it’s time
to take a stand

in the heights,
to look out across the sea
and guide us home.

I’m linking this to earthweal’s Michaelmas challenge, and to dVerse’s vatic voice challenge, hosted by Lisa. There are lots of St Michael’s churches around here – always on high ground. Mounts, hills, and headlands.

The truth is

The truth is
your heart is as big as your fist.

The salmon’s a tin-foiled muscle
following the scent of truth
back to the breeding ground

and the swallow flies a trail of truth
across the gleaming sea
the glittering desert
to build a house of mud

and I just want a small truth
like a white pebble
in my pocket

but your lies
set bush fires
your lies
melt ice
your lies
break the world in two
your lies
are killing us

truth is a feather
on the tongue

a snowflake falls and melts
a million snowflakes
a million billion
form an avalanche

a starling
forms part of
a great moving shape

a fish
swings silver
in a sheltering shoal

and we are stronger together
standing against
your burning lies

Grace is hosting at dVerse tonight, and asks for protest poetry. I’m not sure this is one to shout at the barricades, but I am so sick of being lied to by politicians.