Mad Haiku

I didn’t enter Ronovan’s haiku challenge this week. Had no time to think about it. Now that the dust of this week’s activity has settled, I’ve written my haiku using the two words Mad and Guide.

As Ronovan has pointed out to me, yesterday was Saturday, not Sunday, so I have entered the challenge after all. If you go to his blog you can read the other entries.

Votivtafel_aus_Pilgramsberg_bei_StraubingWhen the mad guide fools

on the brink they poise arms spread

wingless they plummet.

In two lines read:

When the mad guide fools,

on the brink they poise, arms spread.

On the brink they poise, arms spread,

wingless, they plummet.


3 Days 3 Quotes: Day 3

Last day of the challenge, and a quote from my favourite poet, WB Yeats. It was hard to choose a few lines, there is so much beautiful imagery in Yeats. The following lines are from one of his best-loved poems, The Lake Isle of Innisfree.

The painting is by Akseli Gallen-Kallela


I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds on the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.

Thanks to Emily for nominating me 🙂 I’m passing on the challenge to Merril Smith .

Rules are simple (though I realise I haven’t followed them to the letter) to post a favourite quote a day for three days, and each day to pass on the challenge to three other bloggers.

3 Days 3 Quotes Challenge: Day One

One of the drawbacks of WordPress only providing a limited service at the moment is that I didn’t receive notification that Emily, of Emily’s Thoughts has nominated me to take part in this challenge. The title is self explanatory, so here goes with one of my favourite quotes from one of my favourite Shakespeare plays, Antony and Cleopatra

Let Rome in Tiber melt, and the wide arch
Of the ranged empire fall. Here is my space.
Kingdoms are clay; our dungy earth alike
Feeds beast as man; the nobleness of life
Is to do thus; when such a mutual pair
And such a twain can do’t. (1.1.34)


Yes, I know it’s Paolo e Francesca (by Anselm Feuerbach) but I do like this painting.
Almost forgot to name a victim. Jacqueline Nash, I’m asking you to give us your three favourite quotes.

Microstory challenge #4

I found this lovely painting entitled Wounded Seagull by Jules Breton. The challenge, as usual is to write a story in one or two sentences inspired by the painting. You can leave your story in the comments box with a link to your blog, or you can post the story on your blog and just leave the link here. Either way, you leave a visiting card.


Here is my interpretation.

He found her on the strand above the tideline, too exhausted to change her form, wounded perhaps—he held her tenderly, not daring to look and discover the worst. She had come back, found her way across the ocean, and his heart, his eyes, brimmed over with happiness.

Five photos, Five Stories Challenge: Day Three

This is a sort of prose poem about The Belem, a lovely old three-masted barque that visits Bordeaux regularly. She was here last week for the Fête du Fleuve, a biennial event. After an eventful life and several owners, The Belem is finishing her life in a dignified fashion as a sail training ship. She was on loan to the Mexican navy until recently but is now back at her home port of Nantes. You can read her history here.

To carry on the boating theme, I’m nominating Andrea Connolly to take up the challenge (rules here).

PENTAX Digital Camera

Skimming the waves,
a tree-crafted gull,
timbers soaked in Atlantic salt,
the three-master comes to rest,
to port,
the calm river waves splashing.
A ship’s lifetime
of ploughing ocean furrows
back and forth
back and forth
she folds her seamed and stitched wings
and dozes in the summer sun.
She dreams her dreams
of breakers and white caps,
glassy green troughs and the bo’s’n’s cry,
prow plunging gloriously, fending the ocean,
and the starless nights and the sheeting rain,
and the full sails straining.
Calm waters now she sails,
with boys for sailors.
She will hold these young men tight,
keep them safe from the towering waves.
She will lose no more fragile lives
in the vast indifference of the sea.

Five photos, Five Stories Challenge: Day Two

Second photo, same rules as yesterday (see here—I know, I’m lazy) and today I nominate a blogger, writer, poet etc etc who I only know as KittyKat to take up the challenge.


PENTAX Digital Camera



Dog rose,


Tangling, rambling,

Creeping and covering,


The links of the fence,

You raise your many faces to the sun,

Dropping stray pearls of beauty,

Pale and suavely scented,

As if all this wilderness,

Verdantly busy and bustling,

Belongs to you.


And the same subject as Haiku.

Dog rose claims the fence

the wilderness her domain

sun her creator.

Write Me a Story Challenge

Lately I’ve been having a lot of fun writing one or two sentence stories and finding suitable pictures to illustrate them. Occasionally I’ve done it the other way round; seen a picture and thought of a story to match it.

Today it’s your turn. I’m posting a painting that I’ve used before to illustrate a poem, Odilon Redon’s Flower-Clouds, and I’m throwing it open to anyone who wants to have a go at writing a one or two sentence story to go with it.

Post it on your blog and leave the link in the comments box below, or leave the story in the box if you’d rather.

If there’s a good response I’m make it a regular challenge with a set day and I might even pick a weekly winner. If nobody’s interested I’ll forget I ever mentioned it.

See what you can come up with this week. I’ll leave the challenge open until Sunday.

Take it away, Odilon.


Flash fiction: Narrow Ships

Darksilvertree sent this link to Chuck Wendig’s flash fiction challenge, to write a fantasy piece under 1000 words on one of five themes. The theme I chose was: a charming watchman is engineering the downfall of the Empire. Here it is.

Narrow Ships

Sigurd pulled himself lazily to attention. Dusk was falling; the long autumn night was beginning. Wulfgar Blood Hands tramped through the gates of his little kingdom, his huscarls in tow. As he passed, Sigurd presented him with one of his beaming smiles.
“All quiet out there, Wulfgar? No sign of the terror from the sea?”
Wulfgar glared through his thick brows. “Just keep your eyes peeled and your mouth shut, Sigurd.”
“I will watch the river like a hawk, silent as a dead dog.”
Wulfgar glared again, unsure if he was being mocked. Two of the huscarls pushed the gates closed and barred them with a heavy oak beam. Sigurd climbed up to the parapet that ran along the inside of the palisade, and took up his post.
The evening was calm, but cloud had bubbled up along the western horizon, where the river ran into the sea. Soon it would be dark, the lights in the night sky hidden behind raincloud. The wind would blow the narrow boats landward and hide the sound of the landing party. Sigurd chuckled to himself and looked down across the little burg with its untidy thatched houses, and the pigs rootling between them. Wulfgar had come to this place as a conqueror. He had driven away the tribe settled along the river and built his burg, thinking he had done a fine thing.
Sigurd found Wulfgar too funny to despise him, too stupid to defy. Wulfgar had never understood that the barbarians who lived along the river knew more than he ever would, should he live to be a hundred. The huts Wulfgar destroyed were flimsy, makeshift affairs without complicated defences, because the barbarians never intended to defend them. There had been no treasures kept in the huts by the river, no rich halls or temples. Those were in their settlement on a hill, much further inland, behind a high palisade of pointed stakes, behind a wide ditch filled with more pointed stakes. Long before Wulfgar, the raiders from across the sea had found the river, and no one left anything of value within the dragon ships’ reach.
Children ran here and there with sticks, driving the pigs into their pens for the night. An older girl tried to round up the children. Cattle lowed in the byres, and a group of drunken men called after the girl, making her duck and weave to avoid their wandering hands. Sigurd sat up, the grin wiped from his face. Elsa. His eyes followed the girl as she grabbed a small boy by the back of his shirt, calling out at two older ones to finish with the pigs and get themselves inside. The boy struggled. Elsa slapped him hard and he yelped. Sigurd nodded approvingly. Elsa had spirit. She would make a good wife.
He watched as she herded her brothers home. She stopped before the house door, and turned to scan the palisade. Her eyes lingered on the lone sentinel, and Sigurd could almost see the blush spread across her cheeks, feel her racing heart. He raised a hand in salute. Shyly, she waved back and disappeared through the door beneath the thatched eaves of the house. Sigurd would visit Heremod’s house later, when it was time.
Until then he watched the river, still gleaming faintly with the last of the daylight, and the sombre woods beyond. Beyond the bend in the river lay the sea, and on the sea were the narrow ships. A sharp smell made his nostrils twitch. He turned back to the huddle of wooden houses, his gaze instinctively resting on the hut on the edge of the burg, the völva’s hut. Smoke rose from the chimney hole, pale green and pungent. The freshening wind caught it and flattened it across the thatch, then snatched it away into the darkness. But Sigurd saw, and he knew what the old witch was up to.
* * *
Urdar threw another handful of dust, dried and ground nameless things, onto the fire. Her old eyes watered but she saw what she wanted to see. Narrow ships on the black sea: a red-haired chieftain in the prow of the largest. Clouds and rain, and Wulfgar’s hall with bloodied walls. Wulfgar with his huscarls about him, sleeping their last sleep. She saw other things in the smoke too. She saw her sister’s man stabbed while he slept. She saw her sister taken by Wulfgar’s men time and time again, until they slit her throat and ended it. She saw the baby stabbed in his cradle and the maid child stabbed as she ran screaming from the house. All that Urdar saw, without the help of magic.
* * *
The green smoke died, and Sigurd saw the wiry silhouette slip out of the door. He leapt down from the parapet and unbarred the gates. Urdar pulled up the cowl of her cloak as the first heavy drops fell, and looked at Sigurd from the depths.
“They are coming,” was all she said, and disappeared into the night.
Sigurd watched her leave, watched the silent river, and the trees beyond that sighed in the wind, listened to the rain clattering on the leaves. Only he heard the narrow ships riding up the strand, and boots crunching through the pebbles. Only he had been shown the vision in the flames, of the red-haired chieftain and his bloody sword. It was time to get Elsa.