All souls

Move over. Let them come in.
They are there, clamouring at the edge of the light –
whispering their lives. Listen.
Move over. Let them touch you, their cold fingers
on your heart, their paws, their claws,
the soft brush of a feather. Let their leaves
fall on your face again.

There are not enough tears to put out these fires.
There are not enough tears to carry these boats
down the river to the sea. There are not enough tears.

All Souls, and the priests bless the graves
with smoke and words and water. This is far
from plastic webs and monster masks and eyeball candy.
We are somewhere else now, a place where grief
is love and love is grief and there are not enough tears

to wash away the mess we’ve made. There are not enough tears
to clean our hands. But here, in this place, for a moment,
there are only tears. What else can we give?

Let them in. Let them sit with you, guests at your table.
Let them eat your love. Let them drink your tears.
Let them feed you with their pale hands. Let them remind you
to love the world. To love the world enough, to seek out
beauty, to stand amazed. Let them love through you.

Here, we balance past and future. We are transient,
slipping through time, trailing dreams and memories.
We bury our seeds deep in the winter soil. We hope they will grow,
that the trees we plant will feed some future child,
that a blackbird will peck the topmost apple,
that the soil will take back the ones that fall,
that someone will wonder who planted this tree,
here, in this place. That someone will be touched
by our pale shadow, by the warm breeze of our lost breath.

Our earthweal prompt this week is the last of the Cross Quarter Celtic festivals – Samhain – All Souls’ Day – Halloween – the Day of the Dead. It seems to be a festival we need – we’ve held on to it for a long time. I’ve really enjoyed writing these Cross Quarter prompts. In fact, this was the start of the Celtic year, so I guess we’ve come full circle. If you’ve read these prompts, I hope you’ve enjoyed them.

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.

All Hallows

Crossing the midlands –
the great bog bowl –
in autumn – (dull sky
stretching away,
grey road curving
beneath us, still
miles to go) –
we saw a priest,
(two altar boys
trailing behind) –
blessing the cemetery.

For a moment, we watched,

There were no pumpkins
or howling ghosts,
no painted skulls,
or dancing witches,
so it took us a moment
to remember the day
that was in it.

We drove on.

We left nothing,
just a wide sky,
and empty road,
a man with his hand raised,
and two boys,
silent behind him.

This is for Sabio’s Billy Collins exploration.
If you want further details, you should head over to his site and have a look.

I have tried to incorporate some “Billy Collins” traits. I think it’s accessible, and conversational, and easy to understand. I think it does end in a slightly mysterious way. It’s first person, observational. The title tells you what it is. I don’t think I’ve done the background/foreground thing that Sabio discusses. Anyhow, it’s there for feedback, and I think the plan is that I edit and improve according to the feedback I get. That’s quite exciting for me.

This is the update following Sabio’s comments.


We were driving across Ireland,
across the midlands,
where the land makes a great bowl
under the wide sky,
a bog bowl.

There was nothing much to see,
the brown land,
grey sky, and greyer road.

Coming round a bend, we saw
a priest, blessing the graves
in a small cemetery.
Two altar boys stood back a little,
looking cold and serious.

For a moment we couldn’t work it out,
and then remembered that we had left the city
draped in fake cobwebs,
plump pumpkins grinning on every porch,
plastic skulls on gate posts,
bats stuck flat on front room windows.

“All Hallows”, we said,
remembering the day that was in it,
as they say,

and then swept on, round the curve,
leaving them behind,
two boys,
a man with hand upraised,
under an empty sky.



I am the last of the three
and the power in me
is the power of time
that crumbles all,
the power of root,
that carves all,
the power of wind,
that wears all.

I will walk through
the dark of the year,
and you will hear
my footsteps echo
on hard ground,
and my words will
whisper in the whirling wind.

I am the last of the three,
the one who bears
the winding sheet,
the one who stands
in the doorway,
and my strength is
the strength of the
tree enduring,
the fire burning,
the storm raging,
the night consuming.

Happy Samhain, Halloween, Day of the Dead, whatever. Bjorn has asked us to write from the point of view of a monster. I’m paying tribute to the third, and darkest, aspect of the triple goddess – the Crone. Hard to love a crone.

Head over to dVerse for some spooky Halloweeny poetry…