Day 9: Sentimental

A new born lamb- for slaughter

Or the brass box my great uncle made

Her wedding dress

Flints in a molehill

And the last photos of the dying son

Each turns us from ourselves

Into the deepest, most broken





That can change the course of who we once thought we were

Sentimental value?

Sentimental- banded about like an insult

Or a hold-all for that which rips us apart

The word should be discarded by civilised people

Who claim to know

How this feels

Day 8: virus

Since 1908

And the first case of HIV

Long before even that

We have stripped Nature to her knees

For assets

And occasional viruses

Not so occasional now, it seems

And we are not so immune from

Our foolish appropriation of that which was never ours



Swine flu


Coronas of many numbers

More whose scientific names I forget

To my shame

Because the list should be listed

Lest we forget and go back

To taking what isn’t ours

And getting what we’re given

When we never factored it in

I am sorry

So sorry

The sorrow fills and spills over into rage

When all this is over and the



Have been counted

We will hang our heads in shame

And find our place in the world again

With humility and finally



Day 7: wild garlic over a camp fire

Walk to the riches

Can you smell it before you can see?

Choose far from the path

The dogs will piss where they want

And humans kick muck onto the wildness

Picking the leaves

The juices smear onto fingers

And there is no need to wash



This juice smells like garlic caught behind

A full-powered radiator

And the body is infused

Clutching the chunky bouquet

We each carry a meal

Out of the forest

And home to be mixed with

Lemon juice

Pine nuts

Olive oil

Salt and


The camp fire gets ferocious

The pots go on

As the heat rows the fiery smell subsides

As if there is no more need for it in the air

But once it’s inside us

The power of the plant does what is does

Warm and well from within

Day 6: A hammock can be many things

Blackbird chats noisily overhead

While they row row row

Their boat gently down the stream

A hammock can be many things

As the sun goes down

The starlings come out

They look up from their observation post

To say

They started at six o’clock with only their friends

And began a little clump of promise

Zooming around the sky

Then their friends got the message and

More and more of them arrived

Until now

Look mummy!

The sky a filled with murmuration

And squeaking and

Occasional drops of shit on the roof

Intensely the group constricts

The noise grows startling


Confusing and a little bit scary

The shapes are fluid


Breathtaking in their daring-do

The hammock is a refuge

Their safe space to hide and watch

What mysterious mind orchestrates this display?

Ferocious movement

Intense choosing



Completely they

Roost and settle

A Little Samhain trickery from Down Under- from 2018

Being in Australia at the turning of the seasons is very unsettling. Social media is showing me how the uk and Europe are swift becoming warmed, bathed in longer days and the promise of better weather. While here the summer is long gone and the days are turning cooler. Everything is relative, of course and even these days are over 20c, bright blue sky over ripe fig trees.

My family have been enjoying surfing lessons. I asked the instructor if anyone is planning a Samhain-esque end of autumn. He looked blankly at me; how can they here have a similar event to our Halloween? Their Halloween is on the same day as in the northern hemisphere and therefore utterly bereft of ritual significance of the Ancestors. May Day means nothing, of course, and it cannot be translated.

So here I sit on Samhain in Australia. Aware of it alone. Nothing is organised on a community level and no cultural significance is given to the ending of their summer months. Winter begins tomorrow and that is important.

One fine day in the middle of the night,

Two dead men got up to fight,

Back to back they faced each-other,

Drew their swords and shot each-other.

For some unknown reason I’ve been reciting this little ditty to the girls. I haven’t known until now why it had popped into my consciousness. But now I see that I have been aware of topsy-turvy reality: it has seeped into my mind and come out as a little kids’ rhyme.

I have wondered these last few days how to ritually communicate this money of transition. I feel that Samhain somehow isn’t quite right here. Offerings, symbols and objects need to be of this world and not of the old. So I have collected a few items while beach-combing:

A real sponge, bleached sea kelp, stones that the girls think are dragons’ scales and a beautiful pine cone.

Let’s see what happens later, when the Awen flows and the inspiration of the land takes these rambling awakenings and turns them into a moment of awareness.

Day 5: If we are so rich

If we are so rich

How come recession looms

And starvation of our elders

And breakdown of global life support systems are imminent?

If we are so rich

And we have built irrefutable wealth in the blood and bones of billions

For tens of thousands of lies and years

Then why does the homeless man fear these corona days?

That is not richness

That is a poverty

So extreme as to make soldiers cry out in pain

And children’s nightmares fill their wide eyes

If we are so rich then

Where is the richness?

Who has it

Hidden away in bunkers and under silken bedsheets

While the rest of us choose

If we should lie next to our loved ones

For fear of hurting them

If we are so rich

How come the richest I ever feel is when

I lie

Under the apple trees

Looking into the empty sky

With Blackbird and Wren and Tern

Talking over my non-existent collection of cells

While I sway

While I feel the breeze and the still-cool air

And feel the changing season

Ancestral wound

We are all from unbroken lines of ancestral resilience

Day 4: Fear grabs at me today

Fears grab at me today

From the hidden crevices of my mind

What if?

Breathe into not knowing

Can you, please?

This tight chest doesn’t suit



I put up the hammock today and

Lay, swinging,


At a biplane flying overhead

In an empty sky it flew

Free and detached from all of this



People walked past my window, milling,



I tingle with incomprehension



Stay at home!

They activate their privilege and immunity

To the consequences of their actions

While my neighbour struggles to breathe

Through her 40-a-day habit

But she’s self-quarantined and

They are not



So who deserves the hospital bed?


The rage comes out

Oozing from me

Slowly and quietly

So as not to make a fuss



I hold my children tightly

And shield them from their






Day 3: My gift


The actor plays soft piano to a contented cat

And the musician sings with his morning voice

Too brash and quite rusty

With a grin and a giggle

The naturalist teaches about primroses

The artist teaches my children to draw monsters



Step outside your comfort zone

Be visible and be nervous





The Magic will flow



The comedian makes us laugh

And locked-down residents play accordion

Across Romeo and Juliet balconies

A friend made a card of golden, blessed bereavement

Because there is death, too



Forget your left from your right

Talk a little bit of gibberish if you need to

Fluff the lines



It’s time to give



I turn on the camera and I give

My gift is Yoga

For empowerment

and Truth and Balance and Patience with it all

I step aside and let the asanas do the talking


Every little cell in my body is happy

Every little cell in my body is well



Every little cell in my body is happy

Every little cell in my body is well



It all ends in the Corpse pose

After all





Day 2: The Turning of the Tide

The turning of the tide


out to the farthest horizon and

never come back

Keep going

shed all your skins,

your belongings mean nothing out there

where the edge meets the sky

I run and I run

out to that place

with my mind and soul and body

I run

Come back!


you’re needed yet at the shoreline

The high tide mark still holds

the detritus of your life

which you never



have managed to shed

I lap the flotsam with my watery form


to be turned again

Day 1: Not a soul to be seen

Not a soul to be seen

Except for Hare, Blackbird,

Deer, Wren




Many birds, tits great and blue

Chiff chaff

Green woodpecker and mallards laugh

And I breathe into the rhythm of my steps



Not a sound of machines anymore

Not a trail in the sky

I am alone in a returned world

That has been waiting


Squeezed out to the edges of dawn and dusk

Until now



Not a membrane to what is out there anymore

My ears attune to bird song

A rustle in the still-frozen undergrowth

The thud of a fleeting deer’s footfall

The pad of my own feet

Touching the earth



Not a natural sound

Throbbing grows

Somewhere out there

An out-of-place van appears

Bright orange van of a scaffolding man

I cry a little sob of pity

Go home, my eyes plead

He drives past me



Not her

I come home to hear a friend has it

Caught it on pilgrimage

Now she endures her pain and fear and has no breath nor strength

A ripple of pity

Widening into love

Flows through me into her

And all of us



Her once strong legs are mine today

What do we love this world for?

Unless for the days when the magic

We love

Turns on us and

Challenges us to breathe in


Stay with us

Are souls are being seen

Don’t go away