Monday, 30 November 2015

November Rain

Goodbye November with all your rain...

November Rain - Linda Pastan

How separate we are
under our black umbrellas—dark
planets in our own small orbits,

hiding from this wet assault
of weather as if water
would violate the skin,

as if these raised silk canopies
could protect us
from whatever is coming next—

December with its white
enamel surfaces; the numbing
silences of winter.

From above we must look
like a family of bats—
ribbed wings spread

against the rain,
swooping towards any
makeshift shelter.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

The Action of the Beautiful

'There is no future, past, only pure presence.
The moment of a glance is brimmed so full
It fuses consciousness to a new balance -
This is the action of the beautiful...'

The Action of the Beautiful - May Sarton

I move through my world like a stranger
Where multiple images collide and fall,
Fragments of lakes, eyes.......or a mirror.
How to include, make peace with them all?
Only your face (is this too illusion?)
So poised between silence and speech
Suggests that at the center of confusion
An inward music is just within reach.
Can so much be spoken by an eyelid,
or the bent forehead so much light distill?
Here all is secret and yet nothing hid,
That tenderness, those deep reserves of will.
There is no future, past, only pure presence.
The moment of a glance is brimmed so full
It fuses consciousness to a new balance -
This is the action of the beautiful.
Lakes, mirrors, every broken radiance
Shine whole again in your reflective face,
And I, the stranger, centered in your presence,
Come home and walk into the heart of peace.

Saturday, 28 November 2015

The Magic of Frost

There's something very beautiful about frost, just as there is about winter in its entirety. Alice Oswald captures this feeling in a stilled language particularly intricate and beautiful itself.

Pruning in Frost - Alice Oswald

Last night, without a sound,
a ghost of a world lay down on a world,

trees like dream-wrecks
coralled with increments of frost.

Found crevices
and wound and wound
the clock-spring cobwebs.

All life’s ribbon frozen mid-fling.

Oh I am
stone thumbs,
feet of glass.

Work knocks in me the winter’s nail.

I can imagine
Pain, turned heron,
could fly off slowly in a creak of wings.

And I’d be staring, like one of those
cold-holy and granite kings,
getting carved into this effigy of orchard. 

Friday, 27 November 2015


One of my favourite seaside sights in winter is watching oystercatchers take flight, a black and white synchronised spectacle over water. Quite mesmerising.

Oystercatchers in Flight - Eamon Grennan 

Sea’s stony greenblue shatters to white
          in a running swell under noonsky of cloudlight
where on a foamed-over cropping of rock
          a band of oystercatchers faces all one way
into a nor’wester so shafts of windlight
          ignite each orange beak in this abiding
tribe of black till you clap and their risen black
          turns white as they veronica on wind and
then away with them (shrill-pitched as frighted
          plovers only harsher more excited)
and riding the stiff wind like eager lovers straining
          into its every last whim: its pulsing steady
heart-push in every flesh-startling open-eyed
          long-extended deepening sea-breath.

Thursday, 26 November 2015


'Too bad you couldn't be there
 but you were flying through space on your own asteroid...'
I love the characteristic blend of humour and sentiment in this simultaneously funny and touching Thanksgiving poem from Billy Collins.

Today I give thanks for those we have loved who have left this earth and left an indelible print in our hearts. 

Happy Thanksgiving.

The Gathering, a Thanksgiving Poem - Billy Collins

Outside, the scene was right for the season,
heavy gray clouds and just enough wind
to blow down the last of the yellow leaves.

But the house was different that day,
so distant from the other houses,
like a planet inhabited by only a dozen people

with the same last name and the same nose
rotating slowly on its invisible axis.
Too bad you couldn't be there

but you were flying through space on your own asteroid
with your arm around an uncle.
You would have unwrapped your scarf

and thrown your coat on top of the pile
then lifted a glass of wine
as a tiny man ran across a screen with a ball.

You would have heard me
saying grace with my elbows on the tablecloth
as one of the twins threw a dinner roll across the room at the other.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Frosty Moon

Tonight is November's full moon, the frosty moon. You can't really miss it; it's as bright as a searchlight, a promise. And there's something so lovely about the moon this time of year for these reasons.

Moonrise - DH Lawrence

And who has seen the moon, who has not seen
Her rise from out the chamber of the deep,
Flushed and grand and naked, as from the chamber
Of finished bridegroom, seen her rise and throw
Confession of delight upon the wave,
Littering the waves with her own superscription
Of bliss, till all her lambent beauty shakes towards us
Spread out and known at last, and we are sure
That beauty is a thing beyond the grave,
That perfect, bright experience never falls
To nothingness, and time will dim the moon
Sooner than our full consummation here
In this odd life will tarnish or pass away.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Winter Morning

A Winter Morning - Ted Kooser

A farmhouse window far back from the highway
speaks to the darkness in a small, sure voice.
Against this stillness, only a kettle's whisper,
and against the starry cold, one small blue ring of flame.

Monday, 23 November 2015

Winter Poem


'muddled and cuddled by dreams' - oh yes :)

Saturday, 21 November 2015

The Coming of the Cold

November is now making its presence felt...

The Coming of The Cold - Theodore Roethke 

The ribs of leaves lie in the dust,
The beak of frost has pecked the bough,
The briar bears its thorn, and drought
Has left its ravage on the field.
The season's wreckage lies about,
Late autumn fruit is rotted now.
All shade is lean, the antic branch
Jerks skyward at the touch of wind,
Dense trees no longer hold the light,
The hedge and orchard grove are thinned.
The dank bark dries beneath the sun,
The last of harvesting is done.

All things are brought to barn and fold.
The oak leaves strain to be unbound,
The sky turns dark, the year grows old,
The bud draw in before the cold.

The small brook dies within its bed;
The stem that holds the bee is prone;
Old hedgerows keep the leaves; the phlox,
That late autumnal bloom, is dead.

All summer green is now undone:
The hills are grey, the trees are bare,
The mould upon the branch is dry,
The fields are harsh and bare, the rocks
Gleam sharply on the narrow sight.
The land is desolate, the sun
No longer gilds the scene at noon;
Winds gather in the north and blow
Bleak clouds across the heavy sky,
And frost is marrow-cold, and soon
Winds bring a fine and bitter snow.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

To Paris, and The World

Paris 13/11/15.

My heart goes out to Paris, my absolute favourite place in the whole world, city of love, city of light. What happened there on Friday was unimaginable, callously cruel, shockingly tragic, an attack on all our liberty.

In saying that, my thoughts also go out to all the other places in the world that daily suffer this awful violence - Beirut recently, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria, whose very name has become a by-word for unspeakable suffering.

The world is, sadly, as this poem so tenderly puts it, hurting everywhere.

What They Did Yesterday Afternoon - Warsan Shire

they set my aunts house on fire
i cried the way women on tv do
folding at the middle
like a five pound note.
i called the boy who use to love me
tried to ‘okay’ my voice
i said hello
he said warsan, what’s wrong, what’s happened?

i’ve been praying,
and these are what my prayers look like;
dear god
i come from two countries
one is thirsty
the other is on fire
both need water.

later that night
i held an atlas in my lap
ran my fingers across the whole world
and whispered
where does it hurt?

it answered

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Letter in November

Letter in November - Sylvia Plath 

Love, the world
Suddenly turns, turns color. The streetlight
Splits through the rat’s tail
Pods of the laburnum at nine in the morning.
It is the Arctic, 

This little black
Circle, with its tawn silk grasses — babies hair.
There is a green in the air,
Soft, delectable.
It cushions me lovingly. 

I am flushed and warm.
I think I may be enormous,
I am so stupidly happy,
My Wellingtons
Squelching and squelching through the beautiful red. 

This is my property.
Two times a day
I pace it, sniffing
The barbarous holly with its viridian
Scallops, pure iron, 

And the wall of the old corpses.
I love them.
I love them like history.
The apples are golden,
Imagine it — 

My seventy trees
Holding their gold-ruddy balls
In a thick gray death-soup,
Their million
Gold leaves metal and breathless. 

O love, O celibate.
Nobody but me
Walks the waist high wet.
The irreplaceable
Golds bleed and deepen, the mouths of Thermopylae

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Autumn Refrain

nightingale bird flying. But the name of a ird and the

Autumn Refrain - Wallace Stevens

The skreak and skritter of evening gone
And grackles gone and sorrows of the sun,
The sorrows of sun, too, gone . . . the moon and moon,
The yellow moon of words about the nightingale
In measureless measures, not a bird for me
But the name of a bird and the name of a nameless air
I have never–shall never hear. And yet beneath

The stillness of everything gone, and being still,
Being and sitting still, something resides,
Some skreaking and skrittering residuum,
And grates these evasions of the nightingale
Though I have never–shall never hear that bird.
And the stillness is in the key, all of it is,
The stillness is all in the key of that desolate sound.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

On The Shortest Days

On The Shortest Days - Joyce Sutphen 

At almost four in the afternoon, the
wind picks up and sifts through the golden woods.

The tree trunks bronze and redden, branches
on fire in the heavy sky that flickers

with the disappearing sun. I wonder
what I owe the fading day, why I keep

my place at this dark desk by the window
measuring the force of the wind, gauging

how long a certain cloud will hold that pink
edge that even now has slipped into gray?

Quickly the lights are appearing, a lamp
in every window and nests of stars

on the rooftops. Ladders lean against the hills
and people climb, rung by rung, into the night.

Monday, 9 November 2015

The Falling


Autumn - Rilke 

The leaves are falling, falling as if from far up,
as if orchards were dying high in space.
Each leaf falls as if it were motioning "no."
And tonight the heavy earth is falling
away from all other stars in the loneliness.
We're all falling. This hand here is falling.
And look at the other one. It's in them all.
And yet there is Someone, whose hands
infinitely calm, holding up all this falling.

Sunday, 8 November 2015


'A lifetime isn't long enough for the beauty of this world
and the responsibilities of your life...'


Flare - Mary Oliver
When loneliness comes stalking, go into the fields, consider
the orderliness of the world. Notice

something you have never noticed before,

like the tambourine sound of the snow-cricket
whose pale green body is no longer than your thumb.

Stare hard at the hummingbird, in the summer rain,
shaking the water-sparks from its wings.

Let grief be your sister, she will whether or no.
Rise up from the stump of sorrow, and be green also,
like the diligent leaves.

A lifetime isn't long enough for the beauty of this world
and the responsibilities of your life.

Scatter your flowers over the graves, and walk away.
Be good-natured and untidy in your exuberance.

In the glare of your mind, be modest.
And beholden to what is tactile, and thrilling.

Live with the beetle, and the wind.

This is the dark bread of the poem.
This is the dark and nourishing bread of the poem.

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Driving Back

So short this poem, but the truth it articulates is simple, and needs no explaining.

Driving Back - Naomi Shihab Nye

People do not
           pass away.

They die,
           and then

they stay.

Friday, 6 November 2015

December Day

December Day - Sara Teasdale

Dawn turned on her purple pillow
— And late, late came the winter day,
Snow was curved to the boughs of the willow.
— The sunless world was white and grey.

At noon we heard a blue-jay scolding,
— At five the last thin light was lost
From snow-banked windows faintly holding
— The feathery filigree of frost.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Autumn/Winter Time

Astonishing isn't it, how each season comes and goes so quickly? Autumn/Winter time is most definitely here now after its brandishing mascots of 'frost-stiff grass' and 'curled leaves'.

Spring Forward, Fall Back - Phil Hey

Tell time now by the frost-stiff grass
and how beneath shod feet it cracks
and heaves; by the curled leaves
skating on their edges in the street,
too late, too late; sun wheels,
trees go gold and bare, light fails
as the fat moon wanes and falls,
as great Orion girds to stand
and stride with sword and lion’s mane
across fields gleaming and gleaned.
As soon undo the flights of geese,
the first blooding of the apples
on the tree; as soon redeem
the few last ragged shards of day
and wish them whole; but summer,
the lake-deep blue silver summer’s bowl
once so lovely full, is broken.

Monday, 2 November 2015

All Souls

'Now the dead move through all of us still glowing...'

I love how this poem equates mourning with complex, undying love. Because that's what it is, really.  I read a line recently that said there can be no such thing as a tragedy without great love being present, that's what makes it a tragedy. So, grief is just the proof of love, the price we must pay for having loved. 

And the rub? Well, to remember that love, in spite of all the pain of grief. To remember and know that those we've lost live on in our memories (how memory 'makes kings and queens of us') and through us, where our hearts hold them forever, 'still glowing.'

This poem I would like to dedicate especially to my five cousins and uncle who lost a beloved mother and wife a few days ago. And to all those mourning loved ones this November, month of the holy souls. May those we loved and lost live on through us, in the great feat of love.

All Souls - May Sarton

Did someone say that there would be an end,
An end, Oh, an end, to love and mourning?
Such voices speak when sleep and waking blend,
The cold bleak voices of the early morning
When all the birds are dumb in dark November—
Remember and forget, forget, remember.

After the false night, warm true voices, wake!
Voice of the dead that touches the cold living,
Through the pale sunlight once more gravely speak.
Tell me again, while the last leaves are falling:
“Dear child, what has been once so interwoven
Cannot be raveled, nor the gift ungiven.”

Now the dead move through all of us still glowing,
Mother and child, lover and lover mated,
Are wound and bound together and enflowing.
What has been plaited cannot be unplaited—
Only the strands grow richer with each loss
And memory makes kings and queens of us.

Dark into light, light into darkness, spin.
When all the birds have flown to some real haven,
We who find shelter in the warmth within,
Listen, and feel new-cherished, new-forgiven,
As the lost human voices speak through us and blend
Our complex love, our mourning without end.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Scary Movies


Post-Halloween and as we enter into November, the month of the dead, we are reminded once 
again that the scariest thing of all -  that which scary movies and all the spooktacular like try to 
alleviate -  is the very fact of death. Its certainty and its inevitability.

Scary Movies - Kim Addonizio 
Today the cloud shapes are terrifying,   
and I keep expecting some enormous   
black-and-white B-movie Cyclops   
to appear at the edge of the horizon,

to come striding over the ocean   
and drag me from my kitchen   
to the deep cave that flickered   
into my young brain one Saturday

at the Baronet Theater where I sat helpless   
between my older brothers, pumped up   
on candy and horror—that cave,
the litter of human bones

gnawed on and flung toward the entrance,   
I can smell their stench as clearly
as the bacon fat from breakfast. This   
is how it feels to lose it—

not sanity, I mean, but whatever it is   
that helps you get up in the morning
and actually leave the house
on those days when it seems like death

in his brown uniform
is cruising his panel truck
of packages through your neighborhood.   
I think of a friend’s voice

on her answering machine—
Hi, I’m not here—
the morning of her funeral,   
the calls filling up the tape

and the mail still arriving,
and I feel as afraid as I was
after all those vampire movies   
when I’d come home and lie awake

all night, rigid in my bed,
unable to get up
even to pee because the undead   
were waiting underneath it;

if I so much as stuck a bare
foot out there in the unprotected air   
they’d grab me by the ankle and pull me   
under. And my parents said there was

nothing there, when I was older   
I would know better, and now   
they’re dead, and I’m older,   
and I know better.