1. Debris

Here are random finds in our universe

of rubbish

made valuable by their journey:

Pellets of poison – unmade plastic,

plastic made and broken down,

plastic scattered, returned, remade by nature.


Glossy beans from equatorial forests.

Hard wood mined by white shelled molluscs-

ship worm. And faded flags.


Columbus crab on Goose barnacle,

tube worm building on tube worm on tube worm.

Tags from fisheries in Arctic ice.


Buoys in fish egg clusters

bleached by the sun on one side only.

Bleached bone of whale and cod and human.


On every island, atoll, shore.

The Hermit Crab


I love my shell,

I have grown into it,

But it fits too well

And I must leave.


He has a shell

Which is too big for him.

It would fit me well

So I’ll follow him.


I climb on his shell

And pull him out of it.

He fights back

But I am strong.


I’ve won his shell,

So crawl inside of it,

I forced him out

And it’s mine to keep.


I love my shell,

I have grown into it,

But it fits too well

And I must leave.



Don’t you think she’d had enough

of sailors dropping in

to waste her time,

saying they’d stay a few nights

but still there

months later, trampling

her Aeaea, her island home?


How old do you think she was?

Goddess. What had she seen

in her long life?

Year after year, men

abusing her and her women.

Screams in the night,

piss on the patio, vomit in the pool.


When she found someone messing with her loom

she snapped. The first time.

Potion in his bowl of morning milk

then ‘pooff’ he was a lion.

He had more dignity.

Her sister’s son, the Minotaur,

he WAS a fright!


What animals would other men make?

So many became pigs.

Tame in animal form,

accepting of their fate, happier.

Perhaps a side effect?

When Odysseus arrived

to save his crew of pork,


show her what a human man could be,

she thought,

‘he’s like a god’,

then found he used a potion

for protection

and that impressed her too.

They were almost equal.


So, for him, she released the pigs,

and put up with feasting

every night,


Odysseus said she’d made the men more handsome,

and taller.

That was a myth.


She was able to say, ‘sorry no vacancies’,

to passing ships

and family stayed away,

except Helios and Perse (an Oceanid),

her parents, obviously.

And it was good to have Odysseus

in her bed.


Did they learn to trust each other?

This was what she wanted

more than anything

it seems.


Who loved Penelope

in Ithaca?


Circe was goddess, he was enchanted,

she let that lie for now.

That was his excuse.

And when the men decided they should leave

she thought, ‘thank you gods! ’

and helped them

to get home, to have some peace.

Not Write Like Sylvia


I don’t know if I can write,

not write

like Sylvia, like acid engraving.


She who was mad

so wrote like hacking

at her leg


or thumb.

Cut back, fully held in torment,

don’t turn away,


lost centre so splintered,

pulling a needle in,

sewing her head back on


to her knee,


with words.


She wrote lost but she’s here.

I write here,


New Zealand.


Jim said, ‘drive Mum?’ so we changed seats

in the forest of tallest evergreens I’d seen

on South Island, or anywhere.

The automatic drove itself.


We passed roots in water.

Another bridge, another bridge, another bridge,

each numbered and named, description of the place

or the man who named it.


Following the smooth stoned river bed,

a line of turbulence through trees, twisting

in greying light, snaking away down,

as we went up.


We stopped in the bottom of a bowl,

The forest rose around us to last light,

trees gathered to make a being,

the god of green.


Waves of branches stirred the wind,

Birds and the cicada, whistled, crackled

murmured, filled up

the air between.


We ate as Sand-flies ate us,

slapped them off each other’s faces,

laughing in a roaring

sea of trees.


And as dark monochromed, the movement ceased,

we listened to the Tui calling

‘too we two’

Then silence.


In this Southern Hemisphere,

mirror of our own, but still owned by trees,

the forest

made us part of it.


Mother and son travelling to find a new,

had we turned back and found the old?

This was wilderness.

It felt like home.


Flood Tide On the North Coast of Cornwall            by Jane Darke


For a few days twice a month

the moon pulls back the sea

revealing everything

and leaves it there exposed, reluctantly.

Fish and lobsters are caught by this first tide

but by the second, which goes further back,

they have retreated if they can

to deep pools

and to the deeper sea itself.

Then this land craves the sea.


Time is



breathing, waiting.


Anemones resolve to glossy mounds

and kelp stalks stand two feet above the water

now with fronds hung limp.

Worms in their casts in grey silty sand

move as the slope dries

and water trickles down, everywhere and out,

to the Equator.

Limpets rasp on rock

and crabs tick away the seconds

listening for movement.


This is


lowest point

of tide.


Small cuttlefish, mating,

change colour as they drift.

Dark sea slugs sometimes in hundreds,

graze clear green sea lettuce.

Iridescent turquoise weed

lies over purple-red palmaria palmata.

Pipe fish, straightened sea horse,

slide through bootlace weed

almost unnoticed as eight lobsters,

one centimetre each, sit together in July.




arrive on

the sea bed.


Black neoprened bodies

with crushing feet queue to jump in pools,

turn stones and leave them turned,

take tiny crabs cooked at the caravan,

spear anything that moves

but somehow not each other,

converge with kayaks, lately paddle boards

and four metre grey and orange dirigibles-

unloading everything they own

for they have bought the wild.


This temple





And at the biggest out

when the sea pulls back further,

then further back and in six hours floods

to the highest line of strand

(a seven metre rise of ocean in six hours)

this flood tide fills the world.

At this turning the weight of ocean is measured

then trickles over drying sand

in eager reclamation

taking no time to soak in.


Waves break,

small pools


picks up.


The force of water swirls everything

together and apart and land animals must leave

as prawns drift in,

then sand eels and smelt shoals,

to see what died under the sun,

then big fish to eat them.

And all roads lead home

as mackerel breeze the surface

in great shoals, crush into rocks,

then head south fat for winter.



is filled.

All is

safe again.

Nairobi- Rift Valley- Masai Mara


Leaving Nairobi in a fast truck,

red earth after rain,

we banged down hard

over ruts and barrelled

on toward The Rift

climbing through viridian

and shanty sprawl.


Long lines of tin shack,

wooden one room shop fronts:

Tasty Treats Hotel,

Okonkwo Lubricant Oils,

Ntu Lele High- Vet- Agrochemicals,

roasting corn and Coca cola,

on the road.


At the edge we stopped,

amid tourist tat, to look.

Stretching below the hazy plain,

The Rift Valley,

ancient caldera either side.

A vast expanse swept down

where we would go.



Container trucks screamed

past as motor bikes

with three people

wove between. Then

green turned pale

and on the valley floor dust parted

revealing goats and cattle.


Zebra and gazelle stood

in scrub as we drove faster,

rain falling hard.


kicked across the track.

And last of all the tall men

turned and smiled.


Night fell like a blind.

Deep trench either side,

we slewed in mud,

a truck alone in wilderness,

when something in the axel broke

and we were quiet,

even the driver. This was Africa.



Each time I come I clear her garden,

a small yard with white walls.

Is it ten years?

I prune the pale pink rose

against the wall, now cracked

and dropping render.

Moss fills the non-slip grooves

in broken paving.

Worms slowly empty flower pots

through the hole,

weeds of bitter cress sit low inside.

I feed plants that survive

with pellets from the drum,

snip dead stalks off the lavender.

Self-sown fox gloves I move to fill the gaps

and bamboo to hide the window light

at night. The stones wander.


She liked the wood sorrel,

a plant she showed me when I was a child.

‘It just appeared’, she said.

Wood sorrel which drops its head,

asks so little,

lives bright and still in moss

on threads of stem,

returning every year

almost unnoticed.



New Zealand

New England

New South Wales

New York

New Brunswick

New Jersey

Nova Scotia


New Guinea

British Colombia

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