For the dverse prompt, including the lines from The Song of Wandering Aengus by WB Yeats:
‘I went out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head.‘
I went out to the hazel wood, because a fire was in my head, but the fire, I took with me, and the rushing stream couldn’t quench the flames. I listened to the blackbird, but his song was out of kilter, and the sun streamed slantwise through the pale green leaves.
They say the world is spinning to its end, the heaving oceans empty of their fish are filling with our discarded plastic. I listen to the blackbird but his song is not for me.
They’re shooting in the chase, I can hear the horns and the coarse voices shouting, coarser than any dog giving tongue. As if we needed more blood. The world is drowning in it.
Listen, blackbird, to the pale-winged moths, their song is more in keeping with these end times. Hush. I hear the ocean rushing over the world’s edge.
A short story for Sue Vincent’s weekly photo prompt. You’ll have to go to Sue’s blog to see the prompt as WP refuses to upload it here.
The river flows as it always did, in turbulent pools where the bank is broken by the deep stone walls. Impregnable, they always said, with the cliff behind and the river before, and my father laughed at the notion of siege.
“We have stores enough for two years within and the wells never run dry.”
When he said I was to marry the neighbouring seigneur to make our joint lands the wealthiest in the county, the fort became a prison. You vowed you would come for me, as I vowed I would be here when you did. No walls would keep me in if your arms waited on the other side.
So I was here where the river rolls, with its whirlpool of autumn leaves carried round and round in the current, trapped between buttress and bank, when you guided your boat with muffled oars silently beneath walls. I was here when you raised your sweet face and opened your arms.
You were there, below, when I climbed the parapet, a cord about my waist and tested the strength of the knot about the merlon. And I saw your face, smiling, one last brief moment before my father’s archers leapt from the tower and your smile turned to a grimace of pain and despair.
Only I am here now, watching the river. My father believes women have no courage and doesn’t even think to put a watch on me. The FitzHugh is coming tomorrow to finger the goods, the prelude to my sentence, but by then, I will be where you fell, among the autumn leaves carried round and round in the cold, clear river water beneath this wall.
For Sonya’s weekly photo prompt.
photo by Raychel Sanner via Unsplash
The turbulence gathered, the spiralling winds whipping forests to a blaze, oceans to rolling mountain chains of water, and the earth opened to receive it.
All the dark matter of pain and suffering concentrated in one huge desert sucked dry of concrete and living things, drawing all roads towards it inexorably.
When all our works had hurtled to their meeting place, with wild laughter or howls of despair, and the sky poured all of its anger into the last great electric storm, the vengeful mouth yawned, drank deep and snapped shut.
Procrastinating again. For Sonya’s Three Line Tales prompt.
photo by Jonny Caspari via Unsplash
On the highest mountain peak on his stone chair, the Great God sat, a sceptre in his hand pointing at the Earth.
The needle that was to burst her fragile bubble, let her life-giving air leak away, was poised, an army of lesser gods ready to leap into the breach.
But Earth had no need for such hypotheses, and the fantasies broke, flaming torches against the scientific reality of the atmosphere, falling like stars into the blue oceans.
Because it’s Sue’s prompt, and because I like the image.
There’s a lonely hill above a lonely valley, and no one treads the high paths anymore. Once there were forests they say, latterly herds of brown cattle and flocks of sheep, but the soil thinned until the grass grew brown as the cattle.
No one treads the high paths anymore, and in the valley the sheep have gone, the cattle long since bones beneath the bracken.
Only I go there at times, when the air is not too sharp and the glare in the sky not too fierce. I stand on the hill and try to remember what green looked like, the smell of gorse flowers, and the song of the skylark above the heath.
I strain through my mask to hear that music of a dead time, but the only sound is the rattle of the wind in the heather’s dry bells.
For the dverse prompt. 144 words exactly.
The egret picked its way through the reeds to where the open water of the lake began, the stately progression of a Medieval princess dressed in white samite performing some mystery. He shifted his weight; the movement frightened the bird and it launched itself in a shower of droplets into the sky. Envy made her want to weep.
“Oh to have that freedom, those white wings.”
He shrugged. “It’s not freedom. It’s just following nature’s orders.”
“Sometimes,” she said, “the great bones of my life feel so heavy, I could drown in these shallows.”
He took her hand. She knew what he was going to say, the platitude about how he’d always be there to carry her. She pulled her hand away.
“The shallows call with more passion than I’ve ever heard from you.”
“I know,” he said and turned back to the house.
I have a short piece in this month’s Visual Verse. You can read it here.
Thanks to the editors for selecting my entry. Please read the mag from the beginning; there are some really luminous pieces, especially the poems.
This is for Sonya’s Three Line Tales prompt.
photo by Diana Aishe via Unsplash
Come back, they shouted from the far bank, the wild woods are no place for a little girl, but the little girl stopped half-way across the river that was supposed to be the river of forgetfulness, the river of no return, and she remembered.
The clamour on the far bank grew louder, imperious, and she heard the words, school, homework, cleaning your room, tidy, respect, obedience and duty.
The wild woods whispered and reached out gentle hands, and she saw they were full of life and beauty and peace, so, she put her hands over her ears, turned around and ran straight back.
For Sonya’s Three Line Tales Prompt. Don’t ask what it means. It’s just one of those days.
photo by Ashley Byrd via Unsplash
Paint the things that aren’t there; fill in all the unseen spaces, leaving blank walls pristine.
Shuffle the anxious worms that suck and strip the joy from life into the slippery tubes,
stopper them up, close your eyes and breathe only the white purity of thoughtlessness.
For the dverse prompt.
I often see things in this house, fast moving blurs, fast as mice, out of the corner of my eye. Birds I think, flitting past the window, casting their small shadows into the dim light of the room. I often think papers have been riffled, but then my desk is always so untidy it’s hard to be sure.
Sometimes there are lines written in a poem I left off half-finished, strange lines that don’t sound like me. Sometimes there are slight breathless noises in the night or in the day in empty rooms where dust motes dance. Sometimes a shadow slips into a room. When I look there is only light.
This evening, the rain is pouring in torrents. The shadow is in the bureau, reading what I have just written. I now believe, not in ghosts, but in dead poets and restless words.