The Diviner


light on the water
before the minnow
its shadow

He knows me this man. He doesn’t claim to, but he does. Not that I’m going to
alert him to that fact, despite the uncanny knack he has of being able to read me long before I’ve taken up my pen. Let him continue to believe I am the insoluble conundrum, an uncrackable code.

I’ve lost count of the times I’ve been met with a flash-bulb grin and a nudge-nudgewink-wink proclamation along the lines of: “I know what makes you tick . . .” (I’m not a clock); “I know what pulls your string . . .” (I’m not a kite); “I know what floats your boat . . .” (I’m not a marina) & &

one kiss
and you think you know me . . .
peony buds

Where is it located, this Me, this I? Can it be pinpointed on a map; is there a
symbol in the key that denotes me? Perhaps I’m the human equivalent of a little known tumulus, or a spring, long dried up, still whispering its secrets to a 1970s tower block. Could it be that my mystery remains intact, but I’m uniquely traceable, situated on some well-documented maternal leyline? No matter. This me, whatever it is, wherever it resides, is known, somehow, by this man.

scent of rain . . .
the winter hazel

NOTES FROM THE GEAN 14, December 2012





The River Between

Proudly presenting mine and my youngest daughter’s first publication, a tan renga:  Blithe Spirit 22:4, November 2012.

~ ~ ~

The River Between

Claire Everett and Amy Claire Rose Smith (15) 

black spot on the sun
the shadow of a minnow
steels the heron’s eye
   how does it feel to spend life
   cowering in weeds and ignorance?

the plumes of a rain cloud
   stirring summer stillness
   a wing blue as ice
   grey as slate
every mood
of the river
is yours
   an impenetrable haze
  where bird ends and water begins
the clink of the brush
in the water-glass
   still blinking
   the reptilian eye
   of the long-dead
in a dream
I wade against the current
flint knife at my hip
   sifting fish through silt
   two scaly feet
fishtail and underbelly
   neck curved
  to meet the breast
  morning flight
nag champa
a Chinese brush makes water
of the air
   gentle as washing a newborn
  preening each soft feather
ashes of roses
the heronry fills with wings
   from the dagger-bill
   the last croaks
   before going to roost


Amy and I would like to thank Alan Summers, former Linked Forms editor for Notes from the Gean who initially accepted this piece before the journal went on hiatus. Special thanks to Colin Blundell who then accepted it for Blithe Spirit.


Small Comforts


Small Comforts


the embrace that begins
and ends our day

Always rising at the same time. The cup of coffee you bring me before you leave for work. The favourite shirt you keep for Wednesday (the mid-week ‘morale booster’).The expressions known only to us, spoken like charms. This, the comfort of rituals, the invisible cord that binds our loose-leaf days. If there is a god of small things, I imagine this is how he is appeased. They will surely come, those other days, the ones that knock us sideways. But let’s not think of them now.

the book falls open
at your favourite poem…

Blackbird song ripples the twilight. A snowdrop pushes through frozen ground. In two shakes of a lamb’s tail it’s spring in the catkinned lanes, then summer is rusting on the vine. White rabbits! Pinch, punch, the first of the month! Over and again, until the leaves are gold and the stoat is in its ermine. Because they will come, those other days, days of pestilence and war, hurricane and tsunami. But let’s not think of them now.

and still
the certainty of sunrise…
winter aconite


A Hundred Gourds 1:4, September 2012

Crossing the Shades


Für Elise…
each star takes its place
in the twilight

To sit and watch, pinpoint the exact moment the iris is lost to blue. Perhaps Vincent himself has a hand in it. Cobalt, thalo, indigo, wash by wash, the coming of night. This hour the moon and stars have made for quiet reflection. All streams and rivers, all roads now lead to darkness, if we will let them.

It could be that it’s the breeze that unlatches the gate, but the dead tread softly, like the scent of lilacs through an open door, but softer still. Grandad, coming slowly up the path, pinches mint between his fingers. Grandma, making something of the leftovers, the cat on her shoulder in its third or fourth life. Dad, sitting on the step, rolls another cigarette. It’ll be the death of him. The one who died before she was born.

On a clear night many a flower is touched by moonlight; the one whose name is forgotten; the one which has no scent.

once more
into the shadows…
dewfall hawk


note: *The title is taken from “Afterwards” by Thomas Hardy

Contemporary Haibun Online
8:2, July 2012

Samhain Blessings to all in the Northern Hemisphere!

Dirty Old Town


Somewhere Up North, sitting on the bones of its backside with a mangy dog for warmth.

white-knuckle sky
the homeless man’s
broken teeth

By the railway station, baring its forearms, silver-white scars and raw ones too.

“Look what I’ve done to m’self … can you lend me the money for me fare?”

Talks to itself like a madman, white-collar, bluetooth and handsfree .Or lumbers around in hi-vis, grumbling at broom and litter-picker, cursing into bins. Kicks an empty can of Special Brew just for the hell of it. One more thing to rattle away like tinnitus in the gritty cochlear of the universe.

spit and polish
sun on the veteran’s medals
and his shoes

Forms an orderly queue, stops for a natter, chats about the weather and the price of fish, marvels at the busker on the corner.

“He has a look of my son.”

“He could be on the telly…”

“I remember me Dad used to play a whatsitsname”.

ahead of the rain
A Whiter Shade of Pale

Struts in short skirt and high heels even when it’s brass monkey weather. Designer label sticking out and a baby to match. No better than she should be, but a canny lass.

“He’s banged up again, but he’s good with the bairn…”

Asked what she wants most for her daughter:

“A footballer… in the Premier League”.

sound of water…
by the broken fountain
a girl reads Basho

Appears out of nowhere with eyes that could fetch ducks off water, a gypsy smile.

“Can I read your palm?”

“I’m sorry, I’ve no spare change –“

“Just give me what you can…”

Can’t say no. Neither could Mam, nor her Dad before her.

“Do you take credit cards?”

a sprig of heather…
you’ll never have much but you’ll
want for nothing

Gathers at dusk in The Pig and Whistle. Jockeys for position at the bar.

“What’re you having, the usual?”

“Aye, a pint of mild”.

“Make mine a bitter”.

Digs deep to buy a round.

“Here, love, have one yourself…”

“Cheers, I don’t mind if I do”.

Imagines saying, “Tell you what, how about a chaser?” The clink of coins, then of glasses. Salt of the earth, a shot of tequila, a slice of lime.

another dream
floats in the gutter…
scratchcard moon

Note: ‘scratchcards’ in the UK are ‘instant win’ lottery tickets.

Contemporary Haibun Online, 8:2, July 2012

cayenne moon












autumn/spring equinox blessings to all!

summer’s daydream

a dream
taps me on the shoulder . . .
moon at my window


twilight . . .
the here to there
of blackbird song


the first faint bars of spring
on a snowdrop breeze . . .
a memory of my father
brushing by


morning stillness
how sweet the burden
of these boughs . . .
cherry blossom mind
shake loose your words


through how many lifetimes
did you pass
before you found your place
in summer’s daydream?

– composed for Robin White on her birthday.

Blithe Spirit
The Journal of The British Haiku Society, Volume 22, Number 3, August 2012


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