18th November 1307

This is the date (according to quasi-mythical accounts by Tschudi and other Swiss historians) that William Tell (Guglielm Tell in Romansh, the 4th language of Switzerland) had to shoot the apple placed on his son’s head. I was also inspired by a recent exhibition I saw, with Swiss history recreated in Lego bricks. I couldn’t resist a little joke about Swiss love of rules, discipline and quiet…

From voyagefamily.com.
From voyagefamily.com.

Shot the arrow to the quick
the flip
the treat of being true
if blue
the running wick
of jokes askew.
No hat is worth
a bowed head
or bloodied brow.
Push through,
Guglielm Tell,
but in silence please.


Moving Beyond the Clichés

What is Love?                   

smells of linden-trees in bloom and girls in flower

the colour of the sky when you wear tinted sunglasses

taste of sweet-n-sour sauce at two in the morning

feels like repeated blows to your chest, strong-armed into breathless

sounds like the background buzz taking over the ear of the matter

What is Anger?                       

Sets in when love meets the acrid smell of hotel-room encounters

you bring back the scorched branding of cattle irons on my skin

the colour of migraine-inducing flashes of scarlet and indigo

sounds like hostile parrots trapped in a cage that’s far too small

feels like dim flickers of lightning about to flash from every pore

tastes of gravel mixed with ashes

What is Defeat?

semolina-pudding grey of school lunches

tastes like sand grains in your picnic

smells like clothes you’ve rolled into bed with for a day, a night, a day, a night

feels like pushing kettle-bells through mud

even the lampposts have been trained to catcall and taunt you

I’ll be away this evening, so am linking a bit early to Open Link Night at dVerse Poets Pub, where we are celebrating Diwali and you can enjoy many other poets’ offerings.

Angery by Kristin Elmquist, from fineartamerica.com
Angery by Kristin Elmquist, from fineartamerica.com


Haibun Monday
For dVerse Poets we are writing a haibun based on a lesser-known painting by Van Gogh. For more information about this poetic form, please visit dVerse Poets Pub, where you will meet many talented poets of all ages, experience and taste. As for the title of the poem: ‘postliminary’ is the opposite of ‘preliminary’ – something that occurs after the fact.

Post-holidays, post-weekend, the party’s over, the curtains drawn.
Sweep floors, fold laundry, sigh over undone homework and chores. The clatter clutter glitter mutter of video games on a loop and on sufferance. I don’t want to be the mother that forbids. I don’t want to be parent with the unpopular principles, old-fashioned moans, the terror reign of rules.

I dream of a walk in autumnal country fields, swish-detour through the leaves. I dream of a time when you sought my company, when ‘Mama’ was spoken without reproach. Our laughter mingling, our hands meeting, grubby faces to be kissed. Tell me of your hopes, your fears, the mere dull niggle of the everyday. Debate a book, a film or life, open up your eyes and mind to breathe in all, to question but love. In front, the distant hum of the village, fattened to post-prandial languor. To the right the church tower is but a squiggle, the bell tone playful not grave. Ahead of us a horizon I want limitless and full of sunrays for you.

Like the fields we stretch
away to gold and gray. Look –
how near how far the change!

Saint-Paul-de-Mausole-Vincent-van-Gogh (1)

The Rival

I’m linking this poem to the wonderful dVerse Poets Pub community. It’s Open Link Night, which means any kind of poetry form or topic goes!

The Rival

Google in grey-green dawn
search the directory for images of the rival
knowing only her profession and nationality
you stumble on pictures of doting mammas enclutched by wild-eyed bambini,
sunglass posers posting nothing but world travels and bliss
and Facebook status confirms indeed their elevation,
one splendour in tattoos and bikini against an anonymous beach background…
Which to choose?
Which one to spit?

You don’t know why you need to stick the thorn in deeper
or dig at the wound oozing with rank pus.
You let their names perform saltos on your tongue,
savour their multiple vowels, feel the firmness of foreign consonants,
their flesh, their purpose, their youth… and cry foul.
You cannot fixate on any one
so they form a togetherness, a ripple army
of seduction and accusation:
‘you neglect so he’s mine’.

Meanwhile your own dereliction
your ruin, your addiction,
howls night after night
in has beens, what ifs and too lates.


From eng.namonitore.ru
From eng.namonitore.ru

She needs to believe
in magic routes and jungle paths
wants full growth and roots piercing unshrivelled
a flash of silver on the Little Prince’s fox
being singled out as the most important being
to one other
music celestial or otherwise to braid into her hair
colours to skip to in early morning shimmer
words to gurgle out with mischief.


He deals in numbers
facts and proofs
and probabilities will show
that nothing stays untarnished
he can prove with simple laws
of gravity and rationality
that the weight of the world cannot
lie on her shoulders
so he need never lift a finger
to share a non-existent burden.


I am linking this to my wonderful poetic home, the Open Link Night at dVerse Poets Pub. Join me there for many poems and poets of note!

Life Endures

How tall we sink to stand up proud.
Snow drags us down, the sledge lies waste.
Rotting wood, rust-red stain
linger on the dank-wet smell.
We try to hide the holes
gnawed by hungry winged fiends
canvas-scraped death we look in the face
while knives tear at the awning
but scars are integral, scars mask our flight
the yearn in the fleeing
the shudder in mouthfuls
words carefully chosen
or else
swallowed deep inside.

How deep the well and murky.
How friable the shelter.
Find twinges before the gush ends
before the light fails.
When all is said, done, shuttered
how fiercely life remains in the picture.

Copyright: Bjorn Rudberg

Over at dVerse Poets Pub, Bjorn has us telling stories about the prehistoric stone carvings found in Sweden. I chose a snowy tale, of course, but join me over at the site to see many other pictures made by early man (and woman).

Japanese Death Poems

Today we have a talented guest host over at dVerse Poets Pub, Gayle, who is talking about Jisei or Japanese death poems. These messages to loved ones written in preparation of one’s death are particularly appropriate at the time of the autumn equinox (which was celebrated yesterday, Wednesday 23rd September in Japan), a traditional holiday for visiting the graves of your ancestors.

Shy sapling peering –
no stunted growth, shrivelled roots:
too late to catch
the warming rays of summer.
Will there be time to rise forth?

Oak-sapling-Quercus-robur-001A bit of background for the above: Minamoto Yorimasa in 12th century (Heian period) Japan was a sensitive, poetic soul who tried to stay out of politics, but finally found himself reluctantly leading the Minamoto clan into battle against the Taira clan in a messy period of Japanese history. He committed ritual suicide and his death poem below shows his bitterness at what he perceives to have been a wasted life:

Like a rotten log
half buried in the ground –
my life, which
has not flowered, comes
to this sad end.

My greatest fear is that when my life comes to an end, I will still not have got around to doing the things that are really important to me, nor lived as I wanted to.