Natural Choreography

My trip to the nature reserve at Minsmere which I wrote about yesterday I now realise was curtailed too early. I had wondered why so many people were arriving at the RSPB reserve so late in the day. The clear evening skies were the perfect backdrop to see the glorious balletic murmurations of thousands of starlings above the reed beds.



It is estimated that there are tens of thousands of starlings in these groups as they perform these enigmatic shows.


Feather pillows in the sky

Sink and sway and undulate

Display of beauty to the eye

Swoop and gracefully gyrate

What instinct produces such a skill

That gives we onlookers such a thrill?

A Flash of Inspiration

An exercise at my writing group a couple of weeks ago required us to write a short piece of fiction where a character awakes to a bright day but then has a realisation of something dreadful about to befall them. I gave this a little thought and could not decide between a piece of prose or a poem, and so I experimented with an attempt at a prose poem which turned out like this…


Sunlight seeped its way through a slice of unclosed curtain, enough to tease my eyelids open. Amongst the bedside bric-a-brac, a clock declared another day. The shrug I gave was more mental than physical, drowned as I was in the downy depths of my duvet. Time really was now on my side: work had been side-lined, confined to history and the bottom of any to-do list. A perverse enjoyment of having no employment. Jobless but not joyless. I was free of the corporate yoke, the interminable chain of office duties. I dressed casually, not harried by the hurly-burly bluster to get out of the house, with tea and toast taken as a token breakfast. I drew back the curtains to breathe a new day into my life and choked as I looked below, and the shock of seeing the company car on the street, forgotten in the euphoria of freedom. A tangible asset I had owned and now owed. I recalled the arguments and the damage done: the result of an executive decision and the need now for reparation. And, most importantly, how to dispose of my boss’s body in the boot.

black audi a series parked near brown brick house

Photo by Alex Amorales on

© Wally Smith 2019

National Poetry Day

Since I describe myself as a partial poet, I thought that on a day like today I ought to at least post a partial poem.

Lots of
Even a

With the colder autumn days I think I probably saw the last of the butterflies to frequent my garden today.

The light flight of the butterfly,
the Buddleia’s buddy,
always continues to defy
the rules of aerodynamics.
To bob, float and weave
as though you might believe,
by some magical mechanics,
that it was tethered by its wings
to a puppeteer’s invisible strings.
Colour has no cultural consequence
in their special co-existence,
despite the white’s supremacy,
in all its bold transparency,
of the savaging of cabbages.

Write at the Start

Canal wi-fi

In my last post, Poetic Prompts, I wrote about how inspiration to write something can come from a prompt or phrase or an idea. Once a week I get together with a few writing friends ( to chat about works in progress, submissions and successes as well as the inevitable rejections. We have recently set ourselves a small exercise each week to generate a piece of writing upon which to comment. The exercise can be prompted by a phrase or word or some such, and I found that a recent small piece I wrote has given me the idea for a longer work.  The prompt for the exercise was an opening line: There was something quite different about the shoreline that morning.  For me, it has spawned the opening of a novella.  I just need to keep the momentum going.

In the Guise of Gaia

There was something quite different about the shoreline that morning. There had been no tidal change: the water’s edge remained at low tide, one hundred and fifty yards from the jetty. Schenk frowned. The gentle lap of surf barely made a sound as it lay a soft layer of foam on the sand. The crunch of boots across the shingle higher up the beach announced the approach of Walgar, Senior Gaiaductor.
‘Any change?’
Schenk shook his head. ‘None.’
Walgar looked across the water to the horizon. ‘The Druisards have taken matters too far now. They know that tidal inertia is contrary to every known law.’
‘Whose laws though? Ours or Nature’s?’
‘You should be careful of what you say, Schenk. Beware the blurred words of the wistful.’
‘Please don’t quote the Lexicor at me, Walgar. Anyhow, I doubt I can be heard here at the ocean’s rim.’
‘Take it as a warning from a friend. I would hate to lose someone of your ability.’
Schenk shrugged away the compliment. He had no doubt that reprisals would be taken, but in what shape he had no idea. ‘What happens next? The Druisards clearly know our reliance on tidal energy.’
‘And we know of their reliance on wind power energy.’
‘Surely The Chamber won’t vote for curbing the Eastern Coriolis?’
‘Don’t be so sure. Drain their energy reserves and we restore the tides. Drastic times call for drastic measures.’
‘Not another quote from The Lexicor?’
‘I believe it’s from the Greek physician Hippocrates, although he was talking in terms of remedies for diseases.’
‘The Druisards are certainly a disease.’
‘True, and just about the only one left on this planet.’
Indeed, all diseases had been eradicated more than two hundred years before, when Nature’s secrets had been harnessed and initially used for the good of everyone. However, the benefits of being able to control the forces of Nature became the ultimate strengths and weapons of nations, resulting in the one disease for which there seemed to be no conceivable cure: War.


This was, in fact, how I managed to kick start writing one of my novels, Empirical Evidence *, a few years ago.

*[Available on Amazon:

Empirical Evidence 001b


Poetic Prompts

The new writing group which I joined over a year ago meets once a week. The thing I enjoy most about it is the feedback that each participant gives to other group members’ work. An exercise is set at each meeting and homework is given, usually in the form of an idea or phrase or some such, which provides the prompt for a piece to be written; either prose or poetry.  There are factions in the group whose allegiances lie in one or the other of these camps, so that when a story is set as a task, inevitably a poem will be produced by someone, and vice versa of course. Tolerance is the watchword and it is a joy just to be given the opportunity and the impetus to create a piece of writing, be it poetry or prose.  I am one of those people who thrive on being given a ‘prompt’ to begin writing, or else I stare at the blank page for an age before inspiration comes.

My poetic inspiration was recently given a boost last month when I was fortunate enough to attend a reading by the new English Poet Laureate, Simon Armitage, at Grasmere in the English Lake District, a short walk form Dove Cottage, home for many years of William Wordsworth  (1770 – 1850).

See the source image

One of the poems that has been spawned from this experience and from a musical prompt from the writing group:


Rite of Spring

Crash and the kinetic clamour

of orchestrated chaos flies

from flutes to strings,

around the rostrum, where the baton

thrashes waves of sound

into some sort of form.

A cascade of intermingled

Majors and minors

infests the auditorium,

stunned in catatonic cacophony.

String sections thrum an angered beat,

as brass tramples everything before it.

Serene moments merely lure the unwary

to where aggressive energy erupts.

A pure rage of furious pagan ritual

depicted in a kaleidoscope of sounds.


© Wally Smith 2019

Shakespeare in Suffolk

My local theatre group, Circle 67, as the name suggests, have been around since 1967, and in that time have produced quite a number of plays. Traditionally, in the summer months it has been their practice to produce a shorter Shakespeare production for performance in various pub gardens around the region. Oh, and I must not forget the castle grounds at Bungay: a superb backdrop.

My involvement with the group has only been in the last few years following my move to Suffolk. I have had parts in several productions, and it was quite a surprise to be asked to direct this year’s Shakespeare:  The Merry Wives of Windsor. This is  delightful comedy to put on, especially for summer holiday family audiences in pub gardens.  Performing in the open air dispenses with the need for a stage and scenery but is, of course, reliant on good weather. Of our six performances, only one had to be cancelled because of rain. Another performance finished only minutes before a heavy storm of thunder and lightning and torrential rain arrived.


Even more exciting this year was the prospect of performing in France.  Every few years Circle 67 take the Shakespeare production to France and perform in three different locations.  The performances are always well received and the audiences are a mixture of ex-pat Brits and local French people, for whom a synopsis of the play in French is always provided.  No entrance fees are stipulated in any of the venues, although hats are passed around for the audience to express their appreciation by donations. The receipts suggest that they quite like what we do.

The backdrops of the performances in France are sublime and this is a picture of the performance at the ruined Abbey of Boschaud. Sublime.


For my directorial debut I could have wished for no better outcome.  Next up is the winter production with rehearsals starting next month. Indoors, naturally!

Untypically Tropical


The unseasonable February heatwave has caught many by surprise, not least the wildlife and those hibernating creatures that may be emerging too soon and finding food in short supply.  We can only hope that there will not be any severe frosts or snow which will wreak havoc over plants lured into growth by the seduction of warm sunlight.


March Orchid.jpg

Three Haikus for March


Soil has been let loose

By strange February warmth

Surprised shoots appear


Birdlife is bemused

Fearful of sudden frost

Small seedlings cower


In sunlit windows

Orchids flaunt their flamboyance



Country Craftmanship

The springlike weather lured me out today and a walk towards the East Anglian coast. The villages along the Suffolk coastline are mostly unspoilt and preserve a quality of a bygone era. Small terraces of cottages stand alongside larger red brick mansions and merchants houses. The charm and beauty of such places can only be maintained with the craftmanship that still exists and is especially the case with thatching. Examples of exotic designs can be seen in many places, although the one seen on my walk today has to rank with the best.



A dog, a hog,

two hares,

a cat and a rat.

Country creatures

all captured in thatch

unable to catch

one another.