#52weeksofnaturepoetry, Poetry

Pine Marten – Week 47 #52weeksofnaturepoetry (Fundraising for wildlife charity RSPB)

Cream bib, dark coffee face and fur;

initially, you might murmur, ‘Stoat.’

After all, martens are scarce now, rare.

Mainly lying low in Scotland,

favouring highlands

where their natural habitat remains;

once they boomed

well past its borders.

Look again, hone your focus, take note:

cat-like features and size,

bushy tail,

how comfortably it climbs trees!

(And leaves sweet-smelling, coiled scats,

blue in summer from bilberries.)

Curious, independent, nimble.

A social being?

Not so much, unless it’s time

to partner up.

But the season isn’t yet right

for yowling on the evening air.

Its stomach calls for food,

and to that it must attend.

There it goes, popping

from its resting spot

(snug tree cavities are wonderfully comfortable,

don’t you know?),

and wanders through the hectares

of rich forest

it’s claimed its own.

On the menu? Small mammals.

So beware those semi-retractable claws,

little ones!

A cuddly face masks our hunter’s prowess.

Underestimation

often leads to dinner.

This poem is part of a project I’m doing to raise money for the RSPB, a UK wildlife conservation and protection charity. If you’d like to help, please share this poem to encourage others to take joy in nature, and if you have the time and means to donate, you can do so here. Let’s help keep our wildlife wild!

#52weeksofnaturepoetry, Poetry

A Sadness Of Green – Week 46 #52weeksofnaturepoetry (Fundraising for RSPB)

Excitement livens my breath.

I’m headed back,

into the woods full of memories;

hours spent trailing behind our family pooch,

zigzagging, scrambling

through ferny tongues, thorny tangles

and thick ivy tendrils.

High-fiving trees that reached out to catch me

when I slipped, often, in the mud.

She rests at home today,

sun too determined

for her paws and dark, greying coat

to fend off.

Yet my longing for familiar adventure

isn’t dulled. 

That is, until I catch sight

of her favourite path.

Opened out, cut back.

Bare.

So bare and stark

that it’s a stranger, an unknown entity

I’ve bumped into

on the way to my actual destination.

Except this alien place,

with its look-alike trees –

reminiscent of beautiful oaks

I once paused                   to catch my breath by –

surrounded by dry, cracked soil

instead of elegant green skirts,

is no stranger at all.

Just a dusty, sad friend

I wish I could care for,

but who is being held, encouraged to fade,

by keepers I cannot reach.

This poem is part of a project I’m doing to raise money for the RSPB, a UK wildlife conservation and protection charity. If you’d like to help, please share this poem to encourage others to take joy in nature, and if you have the time and means to donate, you can do so here. Let’s help keep our wildlife wild!

#52weeksofnaturepoetry, Poetry

How Do, Mr Hedgehog? – Week 45 #52weeksofnaturepoetry (Raising money for RSPB)

Snuffling under a weeping hedge

(locals swear, each year, the council

trims it an extra inch or two),

a hedgehog emerges.

Spines pointiest of points, fur dusty brown.

His nose leads him onto a path

of tantalising, fat slugs,

glistening under lamplight;

perfect for a late-night bite to eat.

A single course in, raucous laughter snaps

across the evening air.

Hooting, shrieking, yowling two-leggers

stumbling ever closer.

Back into shadow he goes,

black-pearl eyes

reflecting flapping laces and muddy soles.

Clink!

An empty bottle hurtles

under the hedge,

lodging in the gap of a broken fence;

on the other side, a cosy stack of wood.

Tempting hideaway,

but not for him, not again.

Once, fumbling hands jostled and upset the stack,

woke him, sent him scurrying.

Lucky they did, for each branch

he’d nestled between

later blackened and popped,

licked by orange tongues

encouraged by cheers and whoops.

Sniff.

A pungent, delightful odour.

Next garden up, behind a tiny archway

(his size, no less).

He steps through into the dampening hush

of gangly grass,

sending a myriad of nocturnal insects

up to the moon.

No clunky boots or sudden staggers

to mind here;

free to venture to the odour’s source:

bowls of cooked potato, mealworms, crushed nuts,

sunflower hearts.

Not often does he find a banquet

for main course.

This poem is part of a project I’m doing to raise money for the RSPB, a UK wildlife conservation and protection charity. If you’d like to help, please share this poem to encourage others to take joy in nature, and if you have the time and means to donate, you can do so here. Let’s help keep our wildlife wild!

#52weeksofnaturepoetry, Poetry

Grey Dagger (Acronicta psi) – Week 44 #52weeksofnaturepoetry (a fundraiser for the RSPB)

The post holds us,

supporting a much-needed breather,

adjustment of senses.

Purposely planted gunneras

and bushy figs

surround the area;

giants giving shade to the nearby pond,

yet not quite stretching

to our increasingly warm necks.

A moment of meditation

with the flora’s soft sways,

blocking out chatter and unwanted closeness

of curious, clustered bodies

browsing stalls and workshop windows.

You spot it first, inches from your elbow –

luck that it was spared from our thoughtless lean.

Blending with the woodgrain,

a static figure an inch long,

grey forewings slashed

with dagger-like markings,

and, more prominent

than some of its fellows might display,

a whitish orb on each side:

moonstone pommels for its black blades.

The discovery of our quiet companion

rejuvenates some percentage

of our lost energy.

Moving on, smiles light yet true,

we leave it

to continue its camouflage practice.

This poem is part of a project I’m doing to raise money for the RSPB, a UK wildlife conservation and protection charity. If you’d like to help, please share this poem to encourage others to take joy in nature, and if you have the time and means to donate, you can do so here. Let’s help keep our wildlife wild!

#52weeksofnaturepoetry, Poetry

Here, the Dragons – Week 43 #52weeksofnaturepoetry (Fundraising for RSPB)

They’ve a fossil record

dating back

two hundred and twenty million years.

Small, flighty beings

with uniquely faceted eyes.

Zings of colour

punctuating ponds and wetlands,

exclamation marks zipping

from one spot                                                 to the next

as if they possess

the key to portal travel,

hidden somewhere on their slender abdomens

or in the creases

of their complex, veined wings.

Often confused with their damsel cousins,

whose comparatively petite bodies

glitter and spark just as bright.

But here’s a note

for telling these Odonata apart:

when it comes to good rest,

damsels prefer folded wings  –

no need to take up all the room

on those stems.

Though should it turn to a matter

of combat in flight,

you can be sure it’s a dragon;

damsels think little of brawls.

This poem is part of a project I’m doing to raise money for the RSPB, a UK wildlife conservation and protection charity. If you’d like to help, please share this poem to encourage others to take joy in nature, and if you have the time and means to donate, you can do so here. Let’s help keep our wildlife wild!

#52weeksofnaturepoetry, Poetry

Hare Affairs – Week 42 #52weeksofnaturepoetry (A fundraiser for the RSPB)

You’re likely to have seen their boxing skills

and zigzagging, daring sprints.

If not in person, then captured

in documentaries and photographs;

zoomed in on amber eyes

and tattoo-tipped lengthy ears.

You may have read about their likenesses,

woven into literature and myth.

But, if you were to ask yourself honestly,

how much do you truly know

about brown hare affairs?

A naturalised species,

harking back to Roman times

(possibly before!),

their litters are often frequent,

up to four wide-eyed leverets each,

never to be found in burrows

but shallow, earthy depressions

nicknamed ‘forms’.

Arable fields, grasses, hedgerows –

a mosaic of hares’ favourite spaces –

let’s not forget woodlands, either,

good grazing on young bark!

And those punch-ups they’re known for?

Not the macho tests you might think;

more a lady making her disinterest quite clear

to any amorous suitors.

So, for these serious-faced fluffy runners speeding up to forty-five miles per hour escaping predators,

keep in mind:

attending everlasting tea parties

isn’t the only thing they do.

This poem is part of a project I’m doing to raise money for the RSPB, a UK wildlife conservation and protection charity. If you’d like to help, please share this poem to encourage others to take joy in nature, and if you have the time and means to donate, you can do so here. Let’s help keep our wildlife wild!

#52weeksofnaturepoetry, Poetry, Uncategorized

Hello, My Name Is Dandelion – #52weeksofnaturepoetry Week 29

Let me start

by saying I sprout anywhere

that needs my help,

and I leave only when my job is done.

Fight me all you want,

I’m a stubborn one.

You might consider

calling me ‘Magical Nanny’ of flowers,

for all I do to help others;

my head of closely-packed florets

is plenty big enough to take the title.

Not convinced I deserve it?

Well, take a peek at my résumé.

Item One:

My tough taproot easily pierces

compact soil, splitting it apart like a geode,

loosening clumps, aerating,

making space for weaker roots

to settle in.

Item Two:

I can survive with few minerals –

in fact, when my leaves wilt

as I snuggle close to the earth,

they leave a healthy stock behind

so new seedlings

won’t taste hunger.

Item Three:

Every spring, up I pop,

(even if your soil’s a touch acidic),

offering both pollen and nectar

to ravenous emerging insects.

I’m quite popular with them, you know.

Item Four:

Though my blooms may close on chilly days,

waft some warmth my way

and I’ll stretch, blink open my golden lashes.

There, aren’t I glorious?

Item Five:

Need to make a wish?

Blow on my seed head, observing how many

fluffy white parachutes break away,

and it’s sure to come true.

(Okay, that one might be a myth.

But you’ve got to admit,

it’s a cool myth.)

Now, have I stated my case enough

for you to let me grow in peace?

This poem is part of a project I’m doing to raise money for the RSPB, a UK wildlife conservation and protection charity. Being autistic, nature is often my only place of solace, and I want to do all I can to protect it. As I’m not very comfortable around other people, most of the standard ways of helping out (volunteering, social fundraisers etc) were not a good fit for me, so I came up with #52weeksofnaturepoetry, where I have to post a nature poem here on this blog each week for an entire year without fail.

If you’d like to help, please share this poem to encourage others to take joy in nature, and if you have the time and means to donate, you can do so here. Let’s help keep our wildlife wild!

(You can also become a member of the RSPB and support them month to month. Members receive Nature’s Home magazine and seasonal guides for what to look out for when out and about. Details are on their website.)

[Apologies for how these poems are formatted. I do write them in stanzas, but WordPress rarely decides to keep them, no matter how much I argue with it.]

Uncategorized

It’s World Book Day! Here are a few of my favourite books and series of all time!

These aren’t in any particular order, but I will say that Howl’s Moving Castle is probably my favourite book. It’s utterly marvelous. (Plus my partner and I have a long standing joke that I’m actually Sophie Hatter.) I’ve treasured my copy for many years, and will treasure it for many more. The rest of the books in this list are ones that have sucked me in so completely that I had no idea what was going on in the real world at the time, and I often had dreams about them too.

Howl’s Moving Castle (there are actually two sequels, written many years after it came out: Castle in the Air and House of Many Ways):

HMC

“How about making a bargain with me?” said the demon. “I’ll break your spell if you agree to break this contract I’m under.”

In the land of Ingary, where seven-league boots and cloaks of invisibility really exist, Sophie Hatter attracts the unwelcome attention of the Witch of the Waste, who puts a curse on her. Determined to make the best of things, Sophie travels to the one place where she might get help – the moving castle which hovers on the nearby hills.

But the castle belongs to the dreaded Wizard Howl whose appetite, they say, is satisfied only by the hearts of young girls…

 

The Crisanta Knight series:

Crisanta

The next generation – the children of Snow White, Cinderella, and others – have lives and stories of their own. And not just long ago and far away but (sort of) here and now! Enjoy!

I was going to be a great protagonist. At least that’s what my mom, Cinderella, kept telling me. I, however, had my doubts. Unlike most main characters at Lady Agnue’s School for Princesses & Other Female Protagonists, I was opinionated, bold, and headstrong. Moreover, for a princess, I had a lot of issues. I’m talking vicious nightmares about people I’ve never met, a total stalker prince, and a Fairy Godmother for an enemy.

But I digress. Because here’s the thing about living in an enchanted realm of fairytale characters, crazy junk you never planned on happens all the time. One minute you could be practicing fainting exercises in Damsels in Distress class, sword fighting in a field, or flying on a Pegasus, and the next, BAM! Your book has begun and you’re saddled with a prophecy that changes everything.

I still don’t know if I will be a great protagonist one day. But I know one thing about my fate, for certain. Despite what The Author and the antagonists have in store for me, whatever it costs. . .I’ll be the one taking charge of my own story…

 

The Abhorsen/Old Kingdom series:

Sabriel

Sent to a boarding school in Ancelstierre as a young child, Sabriel has had little experience with the random power of Free Magic or the Dead who refuse to stay dead in the Old Kingdom. But during her final semester, her father, the Abhorsen, goes missing, and Sabriel knows she must enter the Old Kingdom to find him. She soon finds companions in Mogget, a cat whose aloof manner barely conceals its malevolent spirit, and Touchstone, a young Charter Mage long imprisoned by magic, now free in body but still trapped by painful memories. As the three travel deep into the Old Kingdom, threats mount on all sides. And every step brings them closer to a battle that will pit them against the true forces of life and death — and bring Sabriel face-to-face with her own hidden destiny.

With Sabriel, the first installment in the Abhorsen trilogy, Garth Nix exploded onto the fantasy scene as a rising star, in a novel that takes readers to a world where the line between the living and the dead isn’t always clear — and sometimes disappears altogether.

 

Lockwood & Co. series:

Lockwood

When the dead come back to haunt the living, Lockwood & Co. step in . . .

For more than fifty years, the country has been affected by a horrifying epidemic of ghosts. A number of Psychic Investigations Agencies have sprung up to destroy the dangerous apparitions.

Lucy Carlyle, a talented young agent, arrives in London hoping for a notable career. Instead she finds herself joining the smallest most ramshackle agency in the city, run by the charismatic Anthony Lockwood. When one of their cases goes horribly wrong, Lockwood & Co. have one last chance of redemption. Unfortunately this involves spending the night in one of the most haunted houses in England, and trying to escape alive.

 

The Legendeer trilogy:

ShadowMinotaur

“Real life” or the death-defying adventures of the Greek myths, with their heroes and monsters, daring deeds, and narrow escapes–which would you choose? For Phoenix it’s easy. He hates his new home and the new school where he is bullied. He’s embarrassed by his computer geek dad. But when he logs on to The Legendeer, the game his dad is working on, he can be a hero. He is Theseus fighting the terrifying Minotaur, or Perseus battling with snake-haired Medusa. It feels as though he’s really there. The Legendeer is more than just a game. Play it if you dare.

 

The Karmidee trilogy:

otto

Otto is our endearingly bewildered young hero whose world suddenly becomes very odd. Going with his father, Albert, to the FireBox Launderette, Albert is called to help with ‘failing machinery’ and is seen by Otto calming a purple dragon in the back room. When his baby sisters start to fly, his grandmother becomes a unicorn, and street waifs fly along the street at night on magic carpets pursued by the new Normal Police force, life becomes odder and scarier. Otto learns – often riotously – that his city and his family are very special indeed. Here the last remaining magical people – the Karmidee – are living as an underclass of pedlars and tinkers, known as the ‘magicos’. But legend tells of a King, birthmarked with a butterfly, who will save the Karmidee from extinction. Particularly from the new Minister for Modernisation, Councillor Eifina Crink. With her Impossible List and Normal Police, she is determined to stamp out the Karmidee spirit. As repression intensifies, the Karmidee and their powers go underground, but their magic bursts out in the most unexpected places as a bid for freedom, with surprising, hilarious and extraordinary results.

 

The Wind on Fire trilogy:

wind singer

In the city of Aramanth, the mantra is, “Better today than yesterday. Better tomorrow than today.” Harder work means the citizens of Aramanth can keep moving forward to improved life stations–from Gray tenements and Orange apartments, upwards to glorious mansions of White. Only some families, like the Haths, believe more in ideas and dreams than in endless toil and ratings. When Kestrel Hath decides she is through with the Aramanth work ethic, she is joined in her small rebellion by her twin brother Bowman and their friend Mumpo. Together, they set the orderly city on its ear by escaping Aramanth’s walls for an adventure that takes them from city sewers to desert sandstorms. Guided by an archaic map, they know that if they can find the voice of the Wind Singer, an ancient and mysterious instrument that stands in the center of Aramanth, they can save their people from their dreamless existence. But the voice is guarded by the dreaded Morah and its legion of perfect killing machines, the Zars. Are three ragtag kids any match for an army of darkness?

 

The Belgariad series:

belgariad
Long ago, so the Storyteller claimed, the evil God Torak sought dominion and drove men and Gods to war. But Belgarath the Sorcerer led men to reclaim the Orb that protected men of the West. So long as it lay at Riva, the prophecy went, men would be safe.

But that was only a story, and Garion did not believe in magic dooms, even though the dark man without a shadow had haunted him for years. Brought up on a quiet farm by his Aunt Pol, how could he know that the Apostate planned to wake dread Torak, or that he would be led on a quest of unparalleled magic and danger by those he loved – but did not know? For a while his dreams of innocence were safe, untroubled by knowledge of his strange heritage. For a little while…

Uncategorized

The IW Story Festival and my anxiety

On Friday, I had the pleasure of giving a workshop on writing poetry about dragons at the Isle of Wight Story Festival.

However, as I have quite severe social anxiety and get easy overloaded by sensory stimuli – some of the more negative things about being autistic, I was dreading being at the festival and talking to people while I waited for my turn (I went a few hours early, as my partner’s brother was giving a talk on butterflies, which I’m really glad I attended as it was utterly brilliant, but also meant that I had two hours spare until my own workshop).

I ended up hiding in the green room, with other authors and illustrators in there with me, and though they were lovely to meet and listen to, I was so unsettled and not sure what to do that I didn’t feel comfortable enough to say much or eat my lunch until they all left. I also had to wear my ear defenders as the kids attending the festival were shouting excitedly and running around – not a bad thing, as it meant they were enjoying themselves, which is what the festival was all about, but the sound was a little too much for me to handle.

Still, I had a decent amount of kids attend my workshop and they all wrote some brilliant poetry. I wasn’t sure if they were enjoying it much, as it was a quieter workshop than some of the earlier ones, and was very much based on their own creativity, but when we finished, most of them came up to me and said they did. The parents did too, which was nice, and I was even asked to have my photo taken. I also did a giveaway of some of my books, so I was able to sign those, along with some of the bookmarks I had on hand.

Part of the workshop was making a group poem, where I asked the kids to write a single line of poetry, which I then wrote down and, while they were busy coming up with their own individual poems, I used those lines to craft a complete poem. We also voted on a title for it, too. So below is a photo of the completed group poem, made entirely of parts from the lines they gave me. (Apologies for my handwriting, it’s always terrible.)20200223_111600

I’m not sure if I’ll take part in the festival again, as being there has completely drained me (I expect for the next week, as it usually takes a while to recover from events like this), and it weighed so heavily on my mind during the few weeks before it that I couldn’t focus on any other work. But listening to the poems the kids wrote was a really wonderful moment, so I do feel greatly privileged to have had that opportunity.

characters

Character Profile: Lizzie

Full name: Elizabeth Jimmson (Despite being married and then widowed, she always kept her maiden name, with the view that loving someone dearly need not change your entire identity.)

Next of Kin: Eric, son (missing), and Inspector Jimmson Jimmson, brother.

Age: That’s not a very tactful question for anyone to ask, in her opinion.

Favourite Colour: Does one need a favourite colour? She believes it changes depending on her mood, yet the brighter, the better.

Likes: Gardening, baking, teaching, hands-on work. Helping Thordric reach his magical potential.

Dislikes: Being addressed formally and treated differently simply because her younger brother is the Inspector of the local stationhouse. People who like to complain for the sake of complaining.

Life goals: To be reunited with her son, though she knows after so many years it is unlikely. Also to discover what the cause of her husband’s death really was, even if the truth is dark.

Most embarrassing moment: She doesn’t have embarrassing moments, only mild hiccups in her daily routine.

Books featured in: Half-Wizard Thordric Trilogy