Poem no. 8 Drawn from Basho

The lines I am using in my own haiku (below) are taken from a haiku written by Matsuo Basho. I am including the complete haiku here (it’s beautiful!) but will be using only the words in the final line of the poem for my own piece.

No one travels
Along this way but I
This autumn evening (Matsuo Basho)

How sad to know this;
summer changes to autumn
morning to evening.

Poem no. 7 Cross Country

There’s a moment when, in the desert south of Vegas,
I turn up the music and begin to sing.
The broad, flat vowels lie heavy in my mouth like stones
but these notes dance up into the open sky.
She is handsome, she is pretty.
She is the belle of Belfast city
She is courting’ one, two, three.
Please won’t you tell me, who is she?

That day, I recall, I sing my way across the desert –
bare toes curled up against the dashboard
tanned arm braced against the window
skin sprinkled with Nevada dust and salt and sweat.
My eyes stay narrowed against the unremitting blue
and I am carried near and far from home.

Early next morning at the desert truck stop
I lift my eyes from my first strong coffee of the day
to see huge rigs around me smoking like prehistoric beasts;
or mighty dragons that have fallen –
their great chrome wings folded tight and close –
out of a darkly-starred and icy pre-dawn sky.

Poem no. 6 Spring Song

Let spring exhale and breathe colour into me;
unfurl its petals, rippling leaves and thick, sweet green
until I am heady with the beauty that envelops me
and my heart blossoms in reply.

Poem no. 5 Hunger

We pushed our eager way through the stormy November dusk
to keep our father company on his evening walk.
The cattle that he went to check that night
moved slowly through a sloping, generous field
once full of rich grass, thickening hedges and bright summer sun –
now scuffed and bare as it emptied with the year.
Winds whistled low through febrile, bony hedges,
hulking, beast-like, in the shadowed corners of the field.
We knew this sound for what it was – had grown with it –
chose to be wary of it but not to fear.

It was the phone lines – taut as webbing in that bitter, darkening sky –
that trapped our childish fear then set it scrambling free.
Plucked by the prowling breeze, the lines began to hum;
a chorus of howling voices vacillated with the wind
and seemed to echo the approach of some unholy things.
It was the voice of lost and lonely souls caught high in the web of night;
a hungry legion that capered in the sky above us –
that sought to fall upon us and then take their fill.

We children recognised the sounds of hunger –
and we ran.

I remember turning from my father in that night-time field,
to race, dry-mouthed, in pistoning, thick, fat steps for home;
the heavy rubber of my muddied boots
slapping against my calves as I shrieked and ran.
Three small girls raced each other to outrun the siren song –
we ran towards light, towards safety and towards what we knew.

The night closed fast behind us – hungry, dark, unfed.

Poem no. 4 Careful Coffee

I sip my coffee carefully in the small cafe.
Carefully lift my scone, cutlery and napkin in turn.
I arrange them to my liking; I organise my space.

I sip my coffee carefully in the small cafe.
Shopping bags lean persistently against my ankles,
Heavy as small friendly dogs on the edge of sleep.

I sip my coffee carefully in the small cafe.
The waitress notes a fine young man easing his way into the queue.
I see her look away and smile as she tucks her hair carefully behind an ear.

I sip my coffee carefully in the small cafe.
Observe two ladies push unspoken thoughts across their plates
Then lift sweet-crumbed fingers to their mouths; tasting the words they have not said.

Poem no. 3 Drawing down the light

It suited you to walk the beach in autumn;
our friendship should not finish – you’d decided –
in the bright ebullience of a summer’s day.
You knew you’d find a better moment
in the clustering shadows of an October afternoon
so you waited patiently and drew us both
to walk, instead, the cool blue edges of an autumn shore
where the rippling light of a full moon
broke in pale lines along the unravelling waves.
I watched the sea melt and darken to the sky,
not understanding that as we left the beach that night
our friendship would remain, derelict, behind.

It is a sad thing, this drawing down of friendship;
and sadder still, to choose a time to end.
But autumn is a time for emptying and for letting go
And autumn was when I lost my friend.

Poem no. 2 Ash

One day you will turn your face back to the sun;
what you yearned for in your darker days and could not find
will shrivel in the unforgiving light of day.
All that has burned so deeply and so painfully within you
will drift slowly down, then – light as breath, soft as a feather –
an echo of ash falling close behind you;
a ghost shadow imprinted
after your fire has burned.

Poem no.1 Sometimes love is like water over stone

Sometimes love is like water over stone.
The precious memories we have gathered up and made our own
lie quiet and still like small, cool pebbles
in each cupped palm.
Then love, like water, trickling clear across the skin,
washes the surface of each small clear moment
eases into every nook and cranny
and fills the spaces that we cannot see.

Poem no.24: Dark Days

Darkness slips silent, tight to the ground
On velvet paws
A cat
Is absorbed into the shadows
Of an ebony hedge
Which rustles
And is loosed
Into the dark air
In rough-winged flight
A crow
Murky clouds cluster
In a brutish sky

Flitting before me
Above me
And beyond me

Sometimes the darkness stays

© Anne McMaster 2016

Poem no.23: Recovery Time

Poem no. 23: Recovery Time

Sometimes the day casually raked its claws down her
And they did not understand
That she would withdraw
To silence and to peace
Waiting for the wounds to heal.

© Anne McMaster 2016