Couch grass – poem for dVerse

Our pale roots
tangling through
the dark soil

knotting and knarling
like a child’s
wild hair

we metastasise
our thick roots

plump, white,
in every crack

in every cranny
we push our
fat fingers


food water warmth
we seek, we seek,

pluck us
we break
we grow again

mocking mocking

our pale roots
our green shoots

clumping spreading

we will starve
the garden
with our pale greed

Kim is hosting at dVerse tonight. She asks us to look at contrasting, yet companion poems by Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath. You might say I’ve followed Hughes – I used to live just over the hill from Heptonstall, and now I’m just up the road from Dartmoor – but I’ve chosen to echo Plath’s poem. You can connect to the original through Kim’s dVerse post, and find lots of other poets there.

Couch grass is a vile and evil thing that mocks the gardener pitilessly with it’s sickening root system. If you leave even a millimetre in the soil it will regrow, and it’s incredibly friable. I hate the stuff. If you’ve ever tried to garden in England, you’ll know it.

My imperfect vegetable patch – haibun for dVerse

Come outside with me now. Through the gap, across the cobbles, round the corner, and there it is. Look at it with a gardener’s eye for a moment – note the weeds – those speedwells, blue as ripped up scraps of sky; dandelion leaves sharp as teeth; grass encroaching, insinuating its green way across the soil. Nothing is quite in a row. The Trail of Tears sends purple tendrils, coaxing the walking onion to join the wigwam. There’s a squash plant running riot, creeping through the patch, popping up between pea plants.Frankly, it’s a mess.

Now look at it again, with me. Stand here, beside me, in the early morning light, when the grass is heavy with dew. Look at that purple – the dark rippling leaves of the cavolo nero, the midnight pods of the Trail of Tears dangling like heavy tears themselves – and the orange – joyous nasturtiums tumbling over the path, courgette and squash flowers flaunting themselves, flirting with the bumble-bees – and all those greens -the green lettuce leaves, lit from within, fat pods of broad beans, lined with velvet, chard, and peas, and turnip tops, a riot of green.

Trail of tears entwine
green heart of the garden,
bright gold early morning

This is for Victoria at dVerse, who asks us to glory in imperfections this week. There aren’t many things as imperfect as my vegetable patch, but I love being out there…

NaPoWriMo 4 – The Cruellest Month

March, you’re very fickle, is all I’m saying:
You give us summer for a day or two,
Then pull it back, like you’re a kitten, playing,
And send a hailstorm, just to prove it’s you.
You tempt the fruit trees into budding early;
You’ve tempted me to leave my coat at home –
Then send a night that’s clear, and bright, and starry,
And brings a frost that chills me to the bone.
The birds are looking out for nesting hot-spots
They think it’s spring, and they should settle down:
You send a wind that threatens all the tree-tops,
Rattles the twigs and shakes the branches round.
March, like a toddler tantrumming, you’re cruel:
Mad hares, mad winds, mad me, because of you.

This is my first, slightly wobbly, sonnet. I promised myself I wouldn’t stress too much about what went up for NaPoWriMo, so I’m just going to press “publish” and not worry about it.