Sweet poison

When I first started selling wild honey
the price was extremely high. Then someone
in Korea ate too much and died.

This year’s harvest: quarter of a teaspoon.
You have a few minutes before
you are overcome with an urgent need
to defecate, urinate and vomit.

After the purge, you alternate between
light and dark. You can see and then
you can’t see. A sound, jam jam jam pulses,
like the drone of a bee hive, in your head.
Then you lose all motor function.
The paralysis lasts for a day or so.

Normally we have to see a doctor
to get bad things taken out of our bodies,
but the honey does this for us.

(From a National Geographic photo of wild honey caption)

The burn

Boredom makes us do it, that and the chase.
The sun whitens the grass until it’s ripe
to burn and then we light it, watch and wait.

The flames take the land, they come and we run.
Us in our shorts, them in their gear, too
clumsy to run but fast because they’re men.

We’re laughing and falling, stumbling and rolling
safe if not caught, too young to worry
about the dead birds and black landscape.

From Gawain Barnard’s photography exhibition, as previewed on A Fine Beginning: Made in Wales, BBC News In Pictures, 14 March 2014. Words omitted: ‘and then’ (line 4), ‘and’ (7), ‘from the burn’ (8), ‘broken land’ (9). Submitted by Gabriel Smy.

Of the farm

The shrubbery
in the terrace gardens
has so many
great contrasting colors.
The yellow barberry
has turned a russet shade,
the boxwood is browning a bit,
and the teucrium remains dusty green.
Most trees have dropped their leaves,
but there are still some holding on.
The orange trees in the distance are gum,
whose leaves stay on quite late.
All of the boxwood will soon be
covered over
with burlap
for the winter
to protect them
from damaging winds
and heavy snow.

Photo captions from the blog post More Stunning Shots Of The Farm by Martha Stewart. Submitted by Kelly Jones.

Images of earth

The sky is clear over the Sahara Desert
It seems I am leaving the planet forever

The bond between Earth and its inhabitants
must be defended like a holy relic

I used to have dreams when I was a kid
Like an infant in the womb of my spacecraft

The night before you went up – did you sleep?
the rustle of my muscles moving over each other

The Earth was absolutely round
I could hear the sound of pipes whining below me

moving further and further away from the ship
and you are yourself a satellite

Only in my soul is there something unquiet
Enhancing our pleasure in these shapes

Then, of course, the realisation hit me
I waved to her, she didn’t see me

(From astronauts’ translated comments accompanying space photographs in The Home Planet. Submitted by Winston Plowes)

If this is love


Back when I was five, I used to stick yellow Hula
Hoops on my fingers and pretend to be engaged. Tiny
hands all salty, our big maroon-grey rescue Mastiff
– a girl, like me – licked them clean. Bundled in duffel
coats and balaclavas we’d meet Dad at Seal Sands
after work, watch the black-footed Little Stints wade
in the froth by the pipeline.

Dad had a stroke in the year that Lady had her first
litter. The nurse taught me to inject Lovenox (“if this is
love,” we’d grimace) straight into his stomach. He
was so angry, that’s what kept him with us so long.

But last year, we threw Dad’s ashes on the Estuary,
and skimmed stones after him.

I love walking by water, talking to him.

In pink jeans, walking Lady’s daughter (all grey now)
by the chilly inlet off Scotts Road, I catch a sapphire
sparkle – steel hoops and a furled wire net – “Planet’s
Biggest Public Art Project”, the Gazette said. Far
across the water, in silhouette, one giant loop is a
half-inch circlet. My ring finger fits right inside it.



Gallery texts written to accompany an exhibition by Annie O’Donnell, taken from a conversation with Becky Hunter. Submitted by Marika Rose.

An anemone also

This is a whelk.
When it dies its shell lies
On the sea bed until……

A growing hermit crab
Takes up residence.

In his new home
The hermit does not
Feel the arrival of a ragworm,
Which crawls into the same shell.

Later, an anemone also
Settles on his shell.

So the ragworm, anemone and
The hermit, all live together
In an old whelk shell.

When the hermit feeds,
The ragworm takes his share
And the anemone clears up
What is left on the floor.

If attacked, the great claw
Provides an armour-plated door.

Taken from a display in an aquarium on the Cobb in Lyme Regis. Submitted by Nathan Lechler

Grey on red

The great squirrel, I call it. Lovable,
energetic little bounder that brightens up
any walk in the woods or park.
Not only agile and sweet, but industrious,
planting acorns that grow into mighty oaks.

They didn’t want to come here.
They didn’t swim the Atlantic.
They were brought in, probably reluctantly,
by British gentlemen who thought they’d look cute
in their estate grounds, gardens and deer parks.

Is it their fault the smaller reds took one look,
turned tail, and fled somewhere safer?
Grey squirrels do not physically attack
red squirrels. They don’t even chase them.
They might frighten them a bit, who knows.

The words of ‘Bill Oddie, Wildlife Enthusiast’ accompanying the BBC News article Black squirrels’ slow scamper to dominate, already laid out almost as a poem. 5 October 2010, submitted by Gabriel Smy.

By Saturn’s Moons


An aurora, shining high above
the northern part of Saturn, moves
from the night side to the day
side of the planet … tall auroral
curtains, rapidly changing over
time when viewed at the limb, or edge,
of the planet’s northern hemisphere.

A large cloud formation swirls
through the high northern latitudes
of Saturn near the top …

Appearing like eyes on a potato,
craters cover the dimly lit surface
of the moon Prometheus …

Cassini looks down on the clouds
in the upper atmosphere of Saturn,
just over the shoulder of the moon

Helene … Saturn’s rings, made dark
in part as the planet casts its shadow
across them, cut a striking figure
before Saturn’s largest moon, Titan.

The shadow of Saturn’s largest moon darkens
a huge portion of the gas giant planet.

Titan’s golden, smog-like atmosphere
and complex layered hazes appear
to Cassini as a luminous ring
around the planet-sized moon.

Saturn’s moon Dione passes in front
of the larger moon Titan … Enceladus
continues to spew ice into space …

A closer view of a feature
on Enceladus called Baghdad Sulcus,
one of four tiger stripes that cross
Enceladus’ south pole … Cassini

is on the night side of the moon,
viewing brightly-lit plumes
of ice being ejected from fissures
at Enceladus’ south pole.

Saturn’s moon Rhea looms near
its sibling moon Epimetheus …

Irregularly shaped Calypso is one
of two Trojan moons that travel
in the same orbit of the larger moon
Tethys, traveling ahead and behind.
Calypso’s smooth surface does not appear
to retain the record of intense cratering
that most of Saturn’s other moons possess.



Compiled from NASA’s notes on photographs taken of Saturn’s system by their spacecraft Cassini. The photos were collected at The Big Picture 21 May 2010. Submitted by Gabriel Smy.