Seasons – haibun for dVerse

There are so many seasons, overlaid like layers of paper – like one of those books with separate flaps you had when you were a child, so that you could create a clown with a ballerina’s body and farmer’s boots, or a spaceman with a gingerbread tummy and toddler mary-janes.

There’s the calendar year, of course, but I don’t pay much attention to that. The academic year still runs my life – new shoes and pencils in September, a surge of freedom in July. This year we’ve had Big Exams in our house, so Exam Season has been stressier than usual. Hay Fever Season is another biggie – I watch the pollen report, even though there’s not much I can do about it. The farming year dictates the smells, the mud, the dust, and the likelihood of getting stuck behind a tractor, and Grockle Season started early this year – an outbreak of windbreaks and pop-up tents on our local beach as the visitors invade; caravans and campers on our deep, narrow lanes. Our local ice-cream vans come out in March and disappear in October. The first cone is the start of something –  I’m not sure what.

We skin-swim all year, and suddenly it’s a pleasure, not a penance. We look a little slant-wise at the people swimming in wetsuits. They are missing out on the fiercest sensation of all.


seasons shift and flow
suns rise and set, tourists swim
the sea is always there

An unconventional haibun for Jilly at dVerse. 


Wild – for dVerse

I have known the wild.

There is a fierce joy there –
the desert air burns brightly.

I have been afraid.

I have dared.

How would it be, to live your life in sensible shoes,
in clothes that are neatly ironed? To wear a pale pink lipstick,
to spread it cleanly every morning? How would it be,
to build a cage out of cleaning, and polishing, and setting the table?
How would it be to wince at mud, and to watch the world
through a pane of glass? How would that be?

The wild calls.

There are forests and mountains,
nightclubs and music,
and the risk of rain.

There is the ocean, calling, constantly calling,
and the river that will take you there
starts here, at this bank.

Take off your shoes.

This is for Jilly at dVerse, who asks us to write about the Wild. And why not? 

Light – renga completed

Come and stand beside me at the window,
the world out there is waiting for us.
The day broke early, light scattering, looking
for refuge from the delusions of the night –
all those dreams shattered, now a thousand shards,
melting and fading in the sunlight. I still reach for them,
a sudden refraction bewilders the senses
while day’s mundane routine veils a private loss,
as if the rhythm of this ordinary day
contains some charm to hold our lives suspended
believing yet we hold the sway
the tweak of light, a spark adrift confirms –
and is belief enough? A single spark,
a single flame that shudders in the wind?
When there’s nothing else? but a faith in a
far flung dawn, another light – scattering
diffracted rays that owe their very beauty
to the barrier that defines their limit.
Prisms bursting colour beyond the origin
diffusing value now through the opened window.


Sarahsouthwest and Petrujviljoen Jan 2018

The completed renga! Thank you, P, for a very enjoyable collaboration




It’s never – for Jilly’s jade challenge

It’s never about birds in poetry;
it is about our inadequate,
marrow-filled bones that
weigh us down
reminding us of the immediacy
of the dust.

It’s never about stars in poetry;
it’s about the darkness
that sits in our bellies
waiting to swallow

It’s never about sunsets in poetry;
it’s about the endings
we fear, cold and alone,

It’s never about oceans in poetry;
it’s about finding somewhere
firm to stand,

This is a completion of Jilly’s poem, for her November casting bricks challenge. Her words are in italics, and mine follow. 

Narcotic – a brick for Jilly

I hold the needle, paused above my vein
pump a fist to watch it rise and bulge like
hungry goldfish lip-quivering for a grain
of tetra flake craving; a perma-blight.
What night-terror stands naked in the hail
leaves me gill-gasping, ravening for you
a gritty fix for this rapacious frail
Body, that yearns for something like the truth
Yet all I feed myself is empty lies –
False hope, false love, false joy, false everything –
A twisted ugliness that aches and cries,
Leaving me yearning, lost and grimacing –
My face and body coiled in painful bitterness
Empty of fullness, full of emptiness.

Jilly asked us to complete a sonnet, which as any fule kno goes abab cdcd efef gg. I’m not mad keen on sonnets – it’s that punchline thing which I struggle with – but I made an effort for Jilly because she is great. This is for the October casting bricks thing.