Out of my comfort zone

I can’t see
what you              see in me
another’s arms                         holding you      
the two of us                                       drowsy in a hotel
where we go                                  from this point
and definitely                absolutely not
hot tears             in your eyes
and that is why
I can’t see




Thanks to Kiersty Boon and her brilliant sequence of Valentines for inspiring me to try something different. I guess on some levels it’s still a Nature poem, though…


Red in tooth and claw

A moment of history yesterday: the whippet caught and killed his first rabbit. It was a fair contest, on open ground, and it was hard to say who was more surprised by the outcome: me, the dog, or the unfortunate victim.
Whippets were originally bred to hunt rabbits, and though we’ve never encouraged him to chase anything (we’re animal-lovers, after all) we always assumed the instinct was there somewhere, and so it proved. Blood will out, I guess.
All the excitement seemed a bit much for him, and he slept the sleep of the innocent right through the evening. I’m fascinated by this split personality – snoozing family pet one minute, potent killer the next – and, secretly, rather proud of him. I’ve no blood-lust, but it was a thrill to see him in action, just like watching anyone doing what they were obviously born to do.


Now, he sleeps
In a croissant curl;
Warm as new milk,
Upholstered in butterscotch velvet.

Does he dream
Of the field;
Feel the rain,
See again
The rabbit bolting in white-eyed dread
From its hollow in the wet grass?

Do his drowsing limbs
Flex and glory in the power
Roaring through them
Like the big south-westerly
In the leafless trees?

Is his sleep-soft jaw
Filled with fur and bone,
Teeth closing tight as shears,
Gripping, chasing
The boiling blood racing beneath the skin?

And in his stillness
Does his unseen self
Slip back to stand sentry,
Breath steaming from his laughing mouth,
Over the limp and cooling evidence
Of his first kill?
No one calling him away,
No snap of lead on collar:
Just him
The rain
Life, death
And dogness.

Or perhaps he simply sleeps,
And all sense of deep things clicking,
Promises kept
And purposes fulfilled
Is mine alone.


Bike-riding shows me something wonderful in Nature every day. Some days it’s a big thing, like a fox or a rainbow; other times it’s just a tiny moment of perfection like this one.


As I pass
A blackbird bursts
Out of the hedge
Like a mortar shell
In its sudden startled flight,
Bullets between the lowest bars
Of a white farm gate
Across the road;
Laser-guided through a gap
Just wingtip-wide, then
Ricochets across the yard
To lodge in a tree
That happens to be
In the right place at the right time.
While I congratulate myself
On avoiding the pothole
I spotted at a hundred feet.

Fallow ground

A poem about a group of deer I spotted on a ride this week.


Were they cattle
I could count on them
To still be here
At sunset.
But within an hour
Or at some sudden sound
They can vanish,
Passing like woodsmoke through
The arbitrary lines and limits
Ruled across the land:

Fences, gates and hedges
Do not hold them;
Feeding like sheep
In this quiet pasture
They’re never for a second
Less than wild.
Everywhere and nowhere,
Slotting in among the common stock
Then blithely with their white rumps bobbing,
Misting into the sheltering woods
Leaving the tame, compliant and confined
Flat-footed in the field.