The cracks in the ground

are full of dead things

I hear them sigh

as I walk the fields

where jays patrol

to snap up whatever

life still moves

and the pied magpies strut


at a banquet.

Daily Shadorma: Deep tracks

There are a lot of frogs and toads around here, and we sometimes see dead toads on the road. They don’t move very fast, and the road is so quiet they probably don’t suspect anything unpleasant is about to happen to them. A couple of mornings ago I found a toad by the side of the road. I didn’t realise it was dead at first. It seemed frozen in mid movement, one of its front paws raised as if to ask a question, it’s head held high, eyes wide open. I’ve no idea what happened to it, there hadn’t even been a frost in the night.


Deep tracks dug

in the fallen leaves,

muddy pools,

no longer

crisp with frost. Dead toad, frozen

in mid gesture, supplicates.

Almost dead

This 100 word story is for the Friday Fictioneers photo prompt. Johnny is dead, I have a migraine starting, so what do you expect?

PHOTO PROMPT Dale Rogerson


Trees spangled with daggers crowd around the place.

Let me out! Let me back!

No one would hear, not even the birds. He felt the cold. Never thought he would. Nothing had ever moved him but blood, the sight, the smell, the taste of it, the beautiful tracery of veins and arteries he saw throbbing beneath the skin. He smelled it now, warm and sweet, pulsing through the cold earth. He couldn’t move, they’d made sure of that, before they piled the earth over him.

Sweet, warm.

A scuffle—night vision, he still had that—beady eyes in his. Rats.


Screech owl cries

A Rhyme Royal for the dverse prompt this evening. Prompted by the sound of hunting owls, so loud at nightfall here.

Image ©Art Siegel


The first stars wake in autumn evening’s sky,

The sun has set long since, and hushed the air,

Beneath the earth, the night-touched creatures lie,

And wait for dark to leave their hidden lair.

The weeping in the house, too hard to bear,

I listen, ’neath the stars as darkness spreads,

And shiver at owl’s cry, what each heart dreads.


The moving finger stops above the roof,

Feathered portent perches high and screams.

We quail, as if we needed no more proof,

Our worst fears come to roost above the beams,

Death walks among the shadows, so it seems.

But in the east, moonrise casts golden light,

A smile, a sigh, death will not come tonight.

Once you were quicksilver

This quadrille is for dverse. The word to include is ‘flicker’, and it is inspired by our little blue cat, the first of our Bordeaux cats to die, very young and unexpectedly.

Photo ©La Rose Tueuse


Once you were quicksilver,

a shadow seen through leaves,

a flicker of sunlight,

a streak of blue, polished like sealskin,

in the tree, leaping the wall.

The last memory cuts deepest,

of your eyes, their light,

a mere flicker

to say you were leaving.



Bitter happiness

July 16th is the birthday of my second child. It was also the 50th anniversary of the Rafle du Vel’ d’Hiv.



It was hot and blue, and we walked to the hospital hand in hand to birth a baby who leapt into the world with little help. On that day, fifty years before, hot and blue and full of terror, children were sent to their deaths for no reason other than to ingratiate the authorities with the occupier. We walked in the sun and crossed the river, free as gulls, a future building one new face at a time. In the ripples of river water, silver ghosts whispered of love and sun and lost happiness. On each stone where the light fell, a smile, a cheek streaked with tears, a hand reaching out from a distant past, said, remember, and be happy, for we who were not.


After rain, the sun

shines with joy at your coming—

the river runs on.

The cynic weeps silent tears of rage

Another bomb atrocity makes the headlines. This latest in Manchester where husband and I spent three years at university. It doesn’t make it worse. I don’t feel angrier or choked up because I once walked those streets. Murder is murder, wherever it happens, to whomsoever it happens. For the families involved, it’s the end of the world. For the rest of us, it’s just another nail in the coffin of humanity.


It gets harder to feel the pain; the outrage is dulled—we’ve understood, that’s what terrorists do; they blow people up. The reporters work harder, the footage is more explicit, the heart-rending accounts more tearful, because we’ve heard it so many times before. We listen to calls for prayers and sympathy and interviews with distraught people who once considered going there for a holiday years ago. Imagine! It could have been us!

Only hysteria works now, and only on behalf of ‘people like us’. It’s happening in the Philippines, all over the Middle East, Africa (do we still remember ‘our girls’?). The refugees fleeing war have seen all this too, but they don’t count. The world is sinking into murder, the food industry machine-massacres, the fashion industry enslaves, our excess pauperises.

Only hysteria brings tears. We have too much to cry for. The horrors jostle, snatching at our attention to be top horror, to make jaws drop, stir the inner ghoul, and extort more prayers. Where can I look and not feel guilt?


Wind blows sand blossoms,

parched and dry like the river,

and still the birds sing.



This 52 word story is for Sacha Black’s writespiration prompt, to write about ‘the girl that wore the black hood’. It came out as a poem. I found the illustration after I had written the words.

Photo©Nóra Bartóki-Gönczy


She drapes her head in black,

so no one sees her eyes,

there is no going back,

seawater never dries.


She left him in the waves,

eyelids and lips turned blue,

no prayer ever saves,

no pious words are true.


She sees no hope no light,

just one





Microfiction Three Line Tales: Meat shop

For Sonya’s Three Line Tales prompt.

photo by Cathal Mac an Bheatha via Unsplash


Behind the plate glass and the white coat, the shiny knives and the polished glass refrigerated cases, lies the meat.

Slabs and slices of flesh, dismembered, wings, legs, thighs, heads, ears, vital organs lie in clinical display, and in the publicity posters on the walls, lambs gambol, pigs grin cheekily and cartoon cows munch buttercups.

Behind the heavy doors at the back, where the carcasses hang in silence, ghosts linger in the cold air, and when the butcher opens the doors, with a flourish of his apron and his ghastly smile, you can hear a faint cry of terror and pain, if you listen.