The Shadowed Queen

In a lonely, far off place,
the shadow of a gentle queen,
cast across her lofty tower,
caught my tired and vacant eye.
I was conscious of her grace
yet never once I saw her face.

I watched the shadow slowly change
through the slow revolving hours
as the light grew bright and strong
but faded fast away.
Sunlight is a harsh light,
laying bare reality,
then shadows grew too long.
I thought that in the moonlight,
when starlight lit the way,
and all the air was quiet and clear,
the mystery of a true romance
might bring the queen to me.

The castle walls were sheer and high
but where they swept so steeply down
to granite rocks  in gloom, below,
I saw a single, deep red rose
cast upon the stony ground,
a bud that almost bloomed.
I took it in my hand.
I laid it to my heart,
yet she could not come down.

I spent a lonely vigil there
but I saw only shadows,
light and dark, an interplay

I’ve seen bones amongst the leaves
in many ancient forests.
They’re the bones of valiant knights
that shadows led astray.
They died consumed of hunger.
They dug their own cold graves.

I’m bewitched by beauty,
but I know dark
and I know light,
and all the shades that rest between.
Experience has taught me well,
and so I rode away



in between night and sunrise
in between my right hand and my right
in between my dreaming and my waking
in between lost thoughts
and the next thought I may have
in between the ticking of the clocks
they move between the stairs
between the floorboards
between closed doors and ceiling cracks
between the shadows windows cast
until they become reality at last

Telling Fairy Tales

bedtime stories are a door
between day and nightly dreams
a door held open by a voice
swinging in softly imagined breeze
that blows in from a magic land
scented sweet with jasmin and juniper,
and roses for summer warmth
they lull a child to gentle sleep
on banks of woodland flowers
and keep them safe to wander there
until the sun returns

when we are grown the stories fade
our troubles follow at night
in corridors we search for doors
shadows swallow the light
but now I will return again
to find the forgotten tales
that lead us to the faerie glades
where pleasant dreams are made


it’s a quiet early morning in springtime
rooftops arise from a gentle grey mist
the dawn streets are in silence and empty
and all in the drowsy town are asleep
it’s then i go out, in to the garden

it is then that my heart, sighing, grows still
in peace, alone with the trees

it’s a quiet time of day in the summer
when the dusk starts to fade slowly away
the sun sinks behind the far distant hill
and the birds in their nests lower their songs
with an occasional voice they settle

it is then that my heart, sighing, grows still
in peace, my mind flies away

it’s a quiet autumn day by the river,
a mirror, shining, reflecting the sky,
where white swans silently glide by in dreams
and the willows bow, heavy-headed,
a soft breeze makes the calm water shiver

it is then that my heart, sighing, grows still
in peace, lost in the beauty

it’s a quiet winters day at the fireside
coals caverns burn in a cast iron grate
casting shadow as flames leap and fade
imagination wanders in landscapes
the world outside grows forgotten and dark

it is then that my heart, sighing, grows still
in peace at the end of the day


such shadows come and fall on me
from joy to sorrow, like a switch
i fight to turn the light back on
i don’t know where the joy has gone

a single note in some old song
a word not said
a thought unwise
i try to see where i went wrong

the tender sweetness
on a breeze
can turn my heart
and make me freeze

and then i go and sit a while
and lean against a steady tree
and wait to smile again
and see

like the earth we reach for warmth
and the thirsty kiss of rain
all things in nature
are the same

it’s all a mirror of ourselves
dimmed and scratched
things unclear
and things not seen

this constant flow
of dark and light
is just the deep souls day and night
and the turning of the year

Escaping Tyranny

the cat always vanished as the man approached
hiding in the shadows as quiet as a mouse

the house fell silent, the walls became all ears,
leaning, straining forward, the better they may hear

the fear of his footsteps, coming closer now
i stayed very still, my expression was a mask

my thoughts were my own, untouchable, my home
a cat will vanish, i could only wait

confronted by this hatred
i  escaped,
i had learned to levitate

Storytellers (a pantoum)

when the power went out we were ready
the oil lamps were already filled
the white candles stood in their holders
all was comfort and warmth

the oil lamps were always filled
we gathered more brushwood and bracken
all was comfort and warmth
we kindled the fire, made it crackle

we gathered more brushwood and bracken
piling on driftwood and logs
we kindled the fire, make it crackle
the flames rose high as they burned

piling on logs and driftwood
we sat near the fire as it blazed
the flames rose high as they burned
we sat by the fire, telling each other tales

we sat near the fire as it blazed
while the wind rattled the roof tiles
we sat by the fire, telling each other tales
life went on unchanged

while the wind rattled the roof tiles
the bread was steadily rising
life went on unchanged
until the power came back

the bread was steadily rising
we flicked a switch on the radio
when the power came back
the world stepped into the house

we flicked a switch on the radio
bringing nothing of value to us
the world stepped into the house
the house grew instantly colder

bringing nothing of value to us
now all would be darkness and shadows
the house would grow instantly colder
there is no source of heat these days

now all would be darkness and shadows
I miss the wood smoke and firelight
there is no source of heat these days
I miss the stories we told



(this is a re-write of an earlier poem I posted – called Without Power – I rewrote it as a Pantoum to see if the form improved it – I think it has)



Under the Willows

When we were young and dreaming

we hired a boat, floated beneath the bridges

made of worn and ancient stone

we rowed stronger and further than anyone else

to be alone on the tranquil river


We pulled in and laid back beneath willows

toes touching, smiling, reading

while the afternoon drifted downstream

dazzling sparks and flashes on ripples

sunlight filtering green through the leaves


We never thought to look deeper

into the darker shadows

to the tangle of weeds beneath us

but we rowed against the current

to make our way home in the evening


We were young and we were dreaming.


Five Haiku to start five stories

a girl surrounded by fairy wings
sees what others don’t see
the gate stands open


guarded by ravens
the tower stands in the forest
twigs snap in the dark


a man hurried past
his breathing heavy
shadows obscure the path


the bus is surrounded
bright eyed boys in the dusk
starlings flock to the rooftops


after a hot day

silver crack on the horizon

a line in the dark


in springtime we wandered into the wood
walking through carpets of bluebells
their deep throated scent filled the air
we spoke of golden dreams, hopes shared,
tenderness, beauty, love

the air seemed to change, birds silenced,
a shift in the wind carried a chill
leaves rustled, foretelling a storm,
we drew closer together, light faded,
the wood grew still, night fell

owls hooted, trees shivered
off in the distance a twig snapped
shadows shifted, moving closer
limbs crashed down in the wood
we sought the forgotten way out

in a world full of shadows and light
lighting fires, frightened of witches,
huddled like Hansel and Gretel
holding on to each other tight
hoping to find the trail

cursed from the start
curses piling upon us
doomed by darkness and gloom
demons and traps closing in
too fast for any escape

in a world full of shadows and light
sunlight flashed through the trees as we ran
black bars pierced by illumination, too brief
we couldn’t see where we were going
how could we find our way?

finally we found a door, too narrow,
i went through it alone
‘Go!’ you said, ‘I’ll be here.’
but you became lost in there
while i wandered on in the world

the paths never took me back
it was all so long ago
i forgot
how will i ever find you now?
i have no key for that door