Autumn Thoughts

One blown human flower

Three new poems by Carol Rumens.

Almost an Invitation

Come nearer, gentle green
monotone, let me discern 
Horsetail from grass, and the fine line between 
all grassy species.
Cow Parsley, bring your bright white coral crumbs,
and Meadowsweet, lift clouded silvery fountains;
grow tall as girlhood, hide the dark old mountains. 

Sun-yellow Lion-Tooth, toil,
bite back all that was taken
in hand by hands like mine that drove
iron into your soil.
Tell us the time again, blue Shepherd’s Bell;
forgive us the flocks we fleeced
for lotions, lagging, motor-oil:
and you, bold sapling Oak
and pioneering Birch, once dispossessed,
dig in, enjoy my field!
Feel free to stretch, to rise, but oh, don’t build
too near the sky, don’t poke
those high ancestral lines, the super-power 
which is my fire my light my song my sanction 
to love and live the multiple transactions

of one blown human flower.
Yr Wylan / The Seagull

The herring-gull’s pole-star is the telegraph-pole.
Big bird, thin neck, small head; up there, each eye

is measuring distances, the balancing
of gravity and air, the existential

goal – the grace – to eat and not get eaten.
Yr wylan swoops and, landing, seems surprised.

It pads flatly around the weedy paving,
on sea-clean feet that have never known the sea,

nodding, circling, darts a fish-hook beak
into the dish of cat-food, peeks again
left, right, left, right, exposed, shyly determined, 
settles to peck. Its mate sails in from nowhere. 

Their dinner-date’s a rapid decorous ritual,
concluded by paired lift-off, graduating

to under-belly shine, and white, perfected wingspan. 
Dafydd ap Gwilym’s sight-line caught the picture – 

‘light of the waves’, ‘sea-lily’, ‘silver letter’ – 
higher and farther away, sometimes resting

mid-sky, free-gliding sideways, gathering height in wide
pulsating arcs and then not there: beyond us.

At dusk, they’ll chortle back. They have a nest to furnish
and fill with muscle-memory’s tides and thermals.

To the Moon above Lon Carfon

Who now can see you straight 
and female in the world’s old way? Who’ll wait

for a lover’s sky? Your blurred development
from new to young, from young to waxing crescent, 

to waxing quarter, waxing gibbous, full,
will be your truth. Let’s not thumb any vehicle 

that leaves us metaphorically confused.
Linger only in cloud-light, dawn-diffused, 

theatrical, where house-trained conifers, 
CCTV-enabled lucifers

and nimby warning-signs are merely twinkles.
Surface the lane with ‘roughness, ridges, wrinkles …’
The lane’s your silver. I’m your gravity.
My shadow, taller, blacker, glides ahead of me. 

Carol Rumens poet

Carol Rumens lives in North Wales, and writes full-time. Her most recent poetry publications are The Mixed Urn (Sheep Meadow, 2019, USA) and Bezdelki: Small Things (The Emma Press, 2018, UK). The latter received the annual Michael Marks Award for best poetry pamphlet.

Author photo by Becky Rumens.

All poems copyright © Carol Rumens 2023.

Autumn Thoughts In The Nature Of

Seed pockets

Three autumnal poems.


Because they’re red
they say you cannot eat the haws
and call them ‘birds' meat’.

But we know better.
The haws and leaves
are bread and cheese
we chew in autumn’s glut

striding across the fields
to spit their pips
into the green of possible lives.
On the Bare Hill
Men have been up on the hills
burning gorse, razing bracken.
I stand in dark, dead hearths
blackening my boot tips
among broken bottles,
smelling ash
on a bitter breeze.
When I was young
we toasted wine corks on the hob,
daubed ourselves in ashy camouflage,
tucked ferns in our belts
and disappeared into the woods
to lie all day in undergrowth
smelling of soil, deer’s hooves,
adder’s underbelly.
Shall I take off my clothes
and roll naked in hill brack?
Smear a blue-black crosshatch,
break up my outline,
Step out of things.
Shall I walk away, grieving, in a fashion
old as red ochre and white clay,
following damp hanks of lily-white wool
snagged along barrow tracks of broom
Spared the fire?
I remember:
lime seas of bracken unfurling,
spiked fists of gorse erupting,
yellow flowers,
smelling of coconut.

In the water meadow:

an old man bowed
in a circle of black cows

lifts the fine tilth of molehills
into an old pail 

hums quietly to the seeds
rustling in his pocket. 

How I write

It generally goes like this: the hare lopes by, unseeing; the kestrel crashes through the holloway roof; the old hawthorn creaks in a gale by the river. Into gaps left by these happenings,words flow and, if I am lucky, sometimes poems form. For me, poetry is the Grammatica Parda or ‘tawny grammar’ that Gary Snyder writes about in The Practice of the Wild. A direct, fleeting, fragile and magical result of minds crossing, blending for a second, leaving their impressions.

Uncertainty is essential. In the outdoors, I try to adopt a thoughtful, open stance – walking, sitting, lying – and then wait for something to happen; for co-writers of poetry to turn up on wing, foot or fin.

Hal Rhoades

Hannibal Rhoades is an anthropologist, environmentalist and writer. He lives in the Malvern Hills and works for Action for Conservation on the Penpont Project in the Bannau Brycheiniog.

Here he is with Igor in Northern Canada.

Poems copyright © Hannibal Rhoades 2023.

In The Nature Of Summer Thoughts

Rivers, rocks, air and rain

The Chained Swan

Beyond Watersmeet there’s a chained swan.
Above the thundering river, dipper-dipped,
heron-pierced, grey-wagtail flittered,
boulder-bounding down from Watersmeet,
an oasis of cream-teas at the fishing lodge,
yes, way above that densely oaked ravine
there’s a crowned swan in chains.

Beyond the pied flycatchers, flitting from
the oaks to stab the air on invisible strings,
the birches thin to a rising meadow where
crows congregate at cowpats and a path,
cresting the buzzard-cruised meadow,
descending to a dell and a church, leads
to an angry swan biting her chains.

Beyond the isolated church of Countisbury
the coastal path drops from Butter Hill,
high above the sea, balancing through bracken,
airy, loose and steep, towards the Lyn’s mouth.
Raven calls black-flap below. But from that church
echo the distressed cries from a medieval bench-end
of a swan chained to the crown slipped down her neck.
Countisbury church chained swan
The chained swan in St John the Evangelist Church, Countisbury, Devon.
The Singing Bus

for Clifden Community School, Connemara

passes the rising tide on its port side
along the rounding shore road,
whistling the otter’s lament,

bowing the strings of yellow kelp,
plucking at pink crayfish,
sounding the base of the turf,

its dark storied heat of hearts
and tears at the hearth,
beating always with flying feet

the bounce beating back against rain,
those ever changing clouds
that do not know how to end

their raindance the way school ends,
a lesson ends, a journey ends
in the singing bus until tomorrow’s

new sharing session in the old bus
of airs and songs of cart roads,
drove roads, sea roads, songlines.
Relics From My Father’s Greenhouse

Wood tamped earth flat over seeds
secure in their pencil holes, gently
watered by a can from the rain-butt:
flat wood, cracked along its grains
like old skin, as though eaten by sea,
has been screwed to new wood for
holding like a reduced board-rubber.

Stone broke earth for replanting:
sea-shaped stone for my father’s
fingers to fold around for his
potting-on after the pricking-out
of plants rooted in holes from
this dull pebble, its pointed end
whitened by fertilizer’s good wishes.

We’d joked that clearing his shed
of a lifetime of piled rusting objects
would be our grieving nightmare, but
my sister paid to pre-empt our pain.
From his greenhouse I have only his
two Neolithic tools, of aching wood
and that carefully selected cold stone.

How I write – by Terry Gifford

My notebook is essential. It’s hardback, pocket-sized and covered in waterproof tackyback because I write outdoors in it.

I’m a great believer in rewriting and rewriting to find the poem’s form. I try out my work-in-progress at a monthly workshop with fellow poets and I’m hugely grateful for their responses.

Every landscape, every flower, every tree, bird and animal are threatened in some way and climate breakdown and my own culpability are always at the back of my mind. My poetry needs to address this if it is to be more than personal therapy. I try to hint in an indirect, undidactic, way. I believe that the slow drips of poems can make something happen, accumulatively, communally, in the dialogue between writers and readers. 

Terry Gifford has published eight collections of poetry and is author/editor of seven books about Ted Hughes. His most recent book is D. H. Lawrence, Ecofeminism and Nature. He is Visiting Research Fellow in Environmental Humanities at Bath Spa University, UK, and Profesor Honorifico at the Universidad de Alicante, Spain. His most recent book is D. H. Lawrence, Ecofeminism and Nature. See

Terry Gifford poet

Poems © Terry Gifford, 2023.

In The Nature Of Spring Thoughts

Make me ready


They leave by detachment
one by one and in clusters, layering. 
A seeming fragility.
Pollen grains and their microspores 
are one of the most resistant substances 
in the plant world.
Under anoxic conditions, they linger 
in ponds and fens for thousands 
to millions of years.
They mirror the past in the future. 
A story of earlier vegetation 
and climate status. 

Pollens waft through me.  
They intersect my white 
the mesmerising orange-blue flight 
of the kingfisher and the bee-eater 
on the Bacchiglione. 
Absence wafts through us. 
Our persistent morphology 
gradually degraded. 
Walls and apertures 
to indicate our structure.
Lie down on the ground 
with me like a layer. 

The woolly soil teasels 
the substratum and the soles. 
Moisture wets palms 
holding the leash.
It’s so windy lately.
Make Me Ready

Make me ready 
for the arrival of the rain
which is expected heavy 
but needed.

Show me 
what I can get rid of
pruning shrubs 
along the fluvial corridor.

And if we must leave 
the fourth industrial revolution behind
this augmented social reality 
to repair our notion of mortality

help me not to falter.
We may remain one day
one last day.
Red Giants

What if this is the time 
the non-negotiable self, the sacred.
The line we already crossed.

Nothing is more real than the wind 
in the winter when it cracks the skin and
clenches the throat, when it forces 
each frequency. On the riverbank, it lashes 
the floodplains and then it pauses.

You told me about these years
the fatigue, and I do nothing
but ponder over our presence.

Where were we? What are we 
bringing along? History is
a tale within a tale 
a series of omissions, hypotheses
and mitigations. 

And we may desecrate remembrance
and contaminate our becoming
but the urge to outlast the death
of the sun slams us. 

Entrenched in the anxiety to get lost 
evolving away from the main sequence 
like red giants.  

A few decades down the line
we will meet, I will sit down 
across from you and 
I’ll ask once more
do you know my name? 

Ilaria Boffa: How I write

My artistic work is mainly based on observation, research, experimentation and language “contamination”.

For me, observing subjects and objects, living and non-living beings, means to pay attention, listen, care, and look with an open mind, compassion, tolerance and curiosity. This entails asking questions and raising doubts about the Anthropocene era.

I write in Italian and English. My sono-poetry combines poetry and field recordings of natural and human-produced sounds that I take with a zoom H6 recorder during trips around the world, or in the Euganean Hills in Italy where I live.

pic taken in the Euganean Hills (Italy), 2020, by Ilaria Boffa

Ilaria Boffa is an Italian poet and sound recordist. She writes bilingual poetry and has published three poetry collections to date. She is one of eight authors included in NeMLA Writing in a Different Language Vol XL 2018. Her sono-poems, which combine poetry and field recording, have been broadcast on Radiophrenia Glasgow radio art festival and Clyde Built Radio Glasgow. Three of her collaborative audio-video installations have been exhibited at Mahalla Festival Murmuration 2021 in Turkey, Nature&Culture Poetry Film Festival 2021 in Sweden, !Flick! International Film Festival 2023 in the US and MK Architektur Exhibition 2023 in Germany.

LinkTree,  IG , SoundCloud , FB )

Header image

All images, text and recording copyright © Ilaria Boffa, 2023. Images taken taken in the Euganean Hills (Italy) by Ilaria Boffa.

Spring Thoughts

Standing in a pool of daylight

I am to be found outside, where I love to be. Half of my life is spent as a carpenter, working with hand tools on timber I have felled, cut and seasoned. I fell trees in the winter and mill in the spring, so that the sap is down in the roots when the tree comes down and the wood dries in the gentle warmth, avoiding damp winter moulds or harsh summer heat. It’s a seasonal activity, driven by the reality of biology. In this way the weather, the landscape and life are all bound together in rural craftwork.

The Turning Year

She, the giant,
limbs deep-set in geology,
folded in landscapes ridge-wooded,
cranes her neck unmovable, 
turns her mind unknowable
to catch the view.
He, the golden sun,
tugs the earth
and slowly,
they turn the year round.

I do most of my woodwork outside in the open air, rather than inside a workshop. I don’t like headphones or ear defenders. I don’t listen to the radio or podcasts and I avoid power tools, cordless or otherwise. Instead, I let my hands get on with the job (they know what to do) and allow my eyes and ears to take note of the world. Birds abound now after the dark and stillness of winter: birdsong and bird chatter are everywhere at this time of year. There’s a lone song thrush atop the tallest oak, facing west in afternoon sunshine, and blue tits darting among the shrubs, busy with nest-making.


Some small 
aimlessly circling feather,
picked up by a bird, 
transferred to its legs,
held fast in its nest, 
with an eye to the weather,
cheery chit-chatting,
thinking of eggs.

My experiences are powered by natural light; for working, but also emotionally. The quality of daylight and the colour of sunlight changes in so many ways during a day. With it, animals and plants come and go in as if in beautifully rehearsed choreography. Heraclitus said: ‘You cannot step into the same river twice, for other waters are continually flowing on.’ The same could be said of standing in a pool of daylight. When Imbolc arrived a few weeks ago, I began to feel the warmth of the sunshine on my hands and cheeks. Very gentle, very subtle. It’s not like June, September, or any other time of the year. I love the soft, milky light of late February and early March. It is beguiling and fragile – and then the wind picks up and everything changes.

March by Robert Somerville
‘March’, watercolour by Robert Somerville.

March is a month that sometimes goes backwards,
It’s in with a flurry, then flat as a flan. 
Seedlings are bursting as hard as they can, 
then buffeting winds, reversing the plan.
The sun’s gentle warmth like milk in the pan,
yet late frosts nip off the high hopes of man.
If it’s in like a lion, it’s out like a lamb.

Working closely with natural materials, aware of other forms of life all around me and being governed by the weather is tough at times. But this sort of co-existence is a visceral participation with the living world. I feel not so much connected to nature as participating in it. There are so many moments in the day when something catches my eye as I work, like the brilliance of light on a tree on an early winter morning, or the discovery of a wren’s nest in spring. So much is fleeting, on the move, sometimes funny. You just need to be there, outside, observing.

Robert Somerville

Robert Somerville lives with his wife Lydia and their daughter in a self-built eco-house on a smallholding in Hertfordshire.

After studying engineering and architecture at Cambridge University, Somerville ran a design and building business, utilizing local wood, stone and earth. He now works with local woodland owners and foresters to source local elm timber and hand-build timber frames with the help of a group of volunteers known as the Barn Club, dedicated to rural crafts. You can watch a video of them raising a traditional elm framed barn here.


Words and images copyright © Robert Somerville, 2023. Header image is ‘February’ by Robert Somerville, watercolour on paper.

In The Nature Of Winter Thoughts

Another Year

Another Year

The bare trees are veiled in static mist
under a white sky
and the air is somehow airless.

I cannot work out where we are.
We’re beyond Epiphany – well beyond
the stir of Christmas. 

But the slender lilac crocus spears have broken ground, 
just as last year, so tender 
it seems unwise. 
Their simple plan just to live 
is bold and exciting.

And eight long-tailed tits – buff and black 
full teaspoons of bird – zee zee and whirl past me
like a flight of hungry schoolchildren.

A trickle of snowdrops
hang their neat heads, shielding pollen
like a thinker shields thought.

Nothing is full of this 
quiet force.
Crocus bud in snow by poet Nicola Healey

‘how beautiful they are, / as though their bodies did not impede them.’ 
                                           – ‘Messengers’, Louise Glück

One year, a deer appeared on Christmas Day,
as though it had stepped out of a story,
broken free from the night-before sleigh.

It lay down by the garden fence, and we
gazed through the window like children,
feeling watched over, almost chosen.

It left behind a ‘deer couch’: a faint imprint 
of its whole weight in the grass, resonant
as the empty chair of someone you’ve lost.

If I hadn’t seen the deer, I would have thought
nothing of this space, not sensed this
warm airy cast. The unbodied – 

they leave imprints everywhere.
Robin Interlude

After your ragged moulting, on one sudden
day of sun, you broke the darkening autumn
with a song so pure and plaintive, the pained
cochlea collapsed around molten silver, pouring

into my ear. Your encore: that other sound
beyond hearing: with me so still and you
so close, I felt the trill of your wings
beat through my neck as you flew on.

Listen to Nicola reading ‘Robin Interlude’, ‘Imprint’ and ‘Another Year’.

How I write – by Nicola Healey

‘Many of my poems begin accidentally outside in the garden, sparked by small or fleeting, yet concentrated, impressions – defiant, quiet or peripheral forces of nature that take me by surprise. Though it can be desolate, winter feels a deeply pensive and poetical season, its bareness perhaps reflecting truth and the unknown, as well as revealing a haunting, crystalline beauty through its exposed lineaments.

‘When I was writing ‘Another Year’ in January, I was struck by Emily Dickinson’s enigmatic lines: ‘“Nothing” is the force / That renovates the World’, which harness the hidden power within apparent nothingness, linking it with the potential to make things new.

‘I find a poem-in-the-making can feel unlikely, fragile, and then inevitable, as though it has to be, like the crocus bud that pushes through frozen ground. These poems try to respond to, recreate and find solace in isolated aspects of nature in an often inhospitable world.’

Nicola Healey’s poems have appeared in The Poetry Review, PN Review, Poetry Ireland Review, The Rialto, The London Magazine and Wild Court, among other places. She won the PBS Metro Poetry Prize 2021, was a runner-up in the Ginkgo Prize for Ecopoetry 2020 and was longlisted for the inaugural Nature Chronicles Prize 2022. She is the author of Dorothy Wordsworth and Hartley Coleridge: The Poetics of Relationship, a revision of her PhD which she gained from the University of St Andrews.

‘Robin Interlude’ was commended in the Resurgence Poetry Prize 2015.

Poems and images © Nicola Healey, 2023.

Poet Nicola Healey

Nicola Healey.

In The Nature Of

Three poems by Elspeth Wilson


Gorse punches out
the winter, leaving

it dazed and glowing
on the crags as the 

yellow spreads like a
rash over rock and 

bog. It encases narrow
pathways, creating

bowers of gold, turning
hikes to catwalks as

spawn sits like jelly 
for a children’s party 

in the murky pond. As
the tadpoles begin 

to eat one another, 
the jaundice starts

to fade, to be taken
over by Ribena

coloured buddleia
but it knows that it

took the crown.

Mum's sunflowers stopped
turning when the dog 
died and dad drank
non-alcoholic beer 
seven days a week.
You can plant a garden 
but you can't make it 
grow, can't make anything
face something it doesn't
want to, even if that thing 
is good for it, even if 
that thing is life 

It's true that they can hurt, especially 
when surprised, especially when caught
in a glass or down a top or a pair
of pants. It's true that it helps
to carry a weapon 
on your person - it's true
that we are taught self-
defence. But just like an insect
with a sting, we’ll get 
blamed for using what defences
nature gave us

Listen to Elspeth reading ‘Turning’, ‘Regal’ and ‘Wasp’:

How I write – by Elspeth Wilson

“When I’m out and about – whether that’s in my garden, in a park or on a busy street – I’m always noticing small details about the lives going on around me, both human and non-human. I try to write these details down in the notes app in my phone, pretty much straight away, otherwise I forget about them. Then later I return to them and sometimes they grow into something new and unexpected: that’s what happened with these three poems.

“I took details that I’d observed – like the way the gorse turned the hills near me golden and how the buddleia was the same colour as the Ribena my grandad used to give me – and used them to free-write. In this way, the poems arose much as plants and insects do themselves; unpredictably, organically, intertwined with humans and the built environment.

“For me, the landscape and non-human animals form a crucial part of both my creative process and how I think and write about the world. These three poems are part of the debut collection I’ve been working on which explores what it means to be in a certain body in the natural world, seeking to find a home in a particular environment.”

Elspeth Wilson is a writer and poet who is interested in exploring the limitations and possibilities of the body through writing, as well as writing about joy and happiness from a marginalised perspective. Her writing has been shortlisted for Canongate’s Nan Shepherd Prize and Penguin’s Write Now scheme. She is currently working on her first collection. She can usually be found in or near the sea.

Poet Elspeth Wilson

Elspeth Wilson.

Hazel Authors

The Last of Their Kind

Maggie Wang’s, The Sun on the Tip of a Snail’s Shell takes its inspiration from the sixth mass extinction – an event encompassing destruction of colossal proportions and thoroughly entangled with what it means to be human. The poems touch the lives of a snail in a terrarium in Hawai’i, a bat in a tunnel in Sussex, and a turtle in a lake in Vietnam. At once deeply personal and historically and scientifically grounded, these are poems not just about the species we are losing but also about the world we have created and the ways in which it has, in turn, created us. They are poems of mourning coupled with celebration, of meditation coupled with urgency, of outrage at the havoc we have wreaked on our planet and of faith in all that remains.

In The Nature Of

Wendover Woods

In this recording, poet Ruth Padel offers sounds and senses from her lifelong connection to a familial forest touchstone.  The place and pulse of her poem is somehow umbilical, the wind and birdsong become her breath and feelings.