Microfiction: Avalon

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When the tempest blew in the big picture windows, spraying the customers with broken glass, the tea rooms emptied in a gale of screams and the undignified flurry of black coat tails. Within moments, no one was left except the big man in the fur-collared cloak who seemed to find the whole scene amusing. She was transfixed by his gaze, the laughter in his eyes, and was ready to cling to his huge frame as to a life raft. He beckoned to her and strode outside to where the ocean swept over the promenade and the boulevard was just a memory.

At the door, she blanched and leapt backwards, waves curling over her shoes. A sharp cry escaped her. “It’s coming, just like the prophet said it would. Nothng can stop it. The world is ending!”

He laughed, a rich, deep laugh that drove back the night, the fools and the monsters. And he took her hand.

“Come with me,” he said and stepped out into the foaming, swirling flood. She hung back in fear and shook her head. The horizon was barred by the jagged white mountains of icebergs and they sailed, frozen battleships, closer and closer. No human voices were heard over the whine of the wind. The world had disappeared beneath the raging waters. Mute, she shook her head again until his laughter worked its magic. His face was red with the cold, and his lips, pulled into a brilliant, white-toothed smile

“Is this a dream,” she asked.

“Perhaps,” he said. “Who knows? Shall I show you where the black pearls grow and starfish light their lamps?”

This time, she laughed with him and took the offered hand. Together they stepped into the flood and he led her to where the waves became wild white horses and the icebergs the misty shore of a green island.

Perchance

Not poetry, but you have to go with the flow. This is for Ronovan’s Friday Fiction prompt: a dream.

The illustration is one I used the other day.

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Perchance to dream. To sleep would be enough, to shut out the shadows that dart and creep from corner to corner while the moon hides among the clouds. Pain, dull and persistent is all there is, chasing sleep, banishing the bliss of oblivion. All is ache and tossing unavailingly, except the fear that the shadows might be real. There is noise in the fuzzy darkness, unaccounted noise like paws padding or nails scratching, but is it in the room, or in my befuddled head? The window is uncurtained and I see the sky, a shifting mass of rolling blackness, but clouds do not speak nor pad about a room.

The pain of loneliness joins the pain that the drugs are fighting and I sob in bitter anguish, wishing I could howl like a wolf. As if in sympathy, a vixen shrieks in the wood, and I reach out of my sluggish torpor to her, run the fields with her, slip silent and russet through the bracken. Click, scratch, scrape. I am not free, nor do I sleep. The fox is in a dream of her own and I fight the fear in the shadows.

Beyond the window, the cloud breaks, moonlight floods the room full of silver paws padding, and the shadows are not shadows at all. If I were a vixen, I would scream.

Dreaming

The Daily Post prompt is: dream

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Waking from a dream is hard,

When morning brings a bitter light,

And nothing calls beyond the sill.

 

At night I join the starlit dance,

Among the hopes that still shine bright,

Waking from a dream is hard.

 

The hollow ache beneath the ribs,

Begins as dawn-chased shadows fade,

When morning brings a bitter light.

 

No one holds out waiting arms,

The blackbird sings for other ears,

And nothing calls beyond the sill.

A vision

Still trying to catch up on the prompts. This is for today’s Daily Post prompt: Vision.

painting ©Georg Königstein

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What do I see amid the swirling hues,

Coloured sand, sea mist in mauves and blues,

Or a vision of a dream not meant for mine?

 

Dissolving faces, scenes of noise and light,

Happiness and laughter in the night,

Twist and curl and climb, a flowered vine.

 

I tip the misty contents on the sand,

They seep away, I touch with trembling hand

The stain they leave as blood red as dark wine.

 

A gull screams at the racing tide,

I search but there is nowhere I can hide,

The dream has left me at the high tide line.

Poetry challenge #30: Peacock garden

The image plus a handful of words prompt is one I like a lot, so I’m doing it again this week. Tell me if it’s getting boring, but I have the feeling it’s a popular idea. First, I found this painting, which made my skin crawl just a little. Is it a dream or a nightmare? Are the birds welcoming or defiant? Is it dusk, dawn, a gloomy day or a moonlit night? Why is her right hand half-raised? You decide.

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Then I thought of a few suitable words to go with the image:

indigo, cry, night bird, fleeting, forbidden

and I came up with this poem.

Peacock Garden

 

The cry of the peacock, his raucous voice warning,

Shaking proud plumes in the indigo night.

She enters regardless, the forbidden night garden,

Fluttering feather heart beating in time

To the ripples of anger, the seething bird fury,

Snatching her courage in hooked beak and claws.

The vision is fleeting, the glitter of starlight,

Falling in cold waves on dark distant shores.

His familiar stride, arms swinging, retreating,

Tossing behind him a handful of blooms.

She knows from the sound as they fall by the wayside,

The brittle, sweet fragments of love she will find,

Scattered like tears on the indigo storm wind,

Useless and vain as a peacock’s gold crown.

 

Leave the link to your poem, any style, any form, in the comments and I’ll post all the entries next Tuesday as usual. You have one week from now…

NaPoWriMo: In the violet depths of midnight

Yesterday I responded to four different twitter prompts with a four line rhyming stanza. This poem is the result of stringing them all together.

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In the violet depths of midnight,

Beneath the dancing trees,

I am caught in a tangle of moonlight,

Enthralled by a magic breeze.

In a dream I hear you calling,

From a place I cannot see,

Beyond the dark horizon,

And the tossing, purple sea.

Though the garden’s full of roses,

Perfumed climbers full of grace,

I cannot part their curtain,

Their thorns obscure your face.

A mess of blossom frothing,

Where rose and jasmine weave,

With the scent of spring’s swift passing,

Hides the path you took to leave.

Flash fiction: Pine cones

As an introduction to this story, an explanation is probably called for. Like most families, we have quite a few traditions. Some of them are complete fabrications, like husband’s pine cone fire tradition. All year he collects pine cones. There are lots of pine trees hereabouts so by December we have a huge basket of them. We shake out the pine nuts, and on Christmas morning, husband burns them in the fireplace while the children open their presents. He does this every year. So, pine cones…

For months now I’ve been sleeping badly with hours of wakefulness in the middle of the night. For the last ten days my head has been full of big brown cats, strange houses and David Bowie songs. Branwell and Bowie are obvious; the strange houses is because we’re house hunting and every so often I think we’ve found ‘the one’ and can’t stop thinking about it.

Last night was no exception, waking about thirty minutes after putting the light out, then lying awake until five in the morning. When I did drift off eventually it was into a most peculiar dream. The night before, I’d woken up screaming because I’d had the nightmare again of something horrible standing in the bedroom doorway behind me. Last night’s dream was just…strange. Here it is in the form of a short story.

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I wake and stare at the low, bare beams of the roof, through a hole in the tiles at a scrap of pale grey sky. Who’s in the bed with me?

Husband.

Where am I?

New house.

Where?

No answer. I throw off the pile of white sheets and heavy quilts. There’s a noise, a scuffling, scrabbling sound, an animal with claws, coming from…the roof.

Under the moonlight

I stand on the bed and climb out through…a skylight onto a flat roof with a concrete block bird nesting box about two feet by three feet by two feet high, and on the far side, over the guttering, a big hole for the birds birds? to get in.

If you say run

Hanging over the lip of the hole is a large, black, reptile skin glove. The scuffling is coming from inside the box. I reach out a hand

If you say run

and the glove whips back inside the box and is pressed against the hole.

They don’t want you to see.

Let’s sway

If you should fall

I fall backwards, into the…bathroom. Bathroom? Don’t make me laugh. There’s an enamel tub, the same low, dusty, cobwebby beams as in the bedroom and a howling gale through the broken, dirty window.

Put on your

The floor is covered in mouldering cardboard boxes and pieces of broken furniture. My breath makes clouds of vapour. I get in the bath.

While colour lights up your face

Oh my God, am I really doing this? I get in the bath and sit in the water going numb.

Put on your

There’s a soup tureen perched on one of the boxes. A white porcelain tureen covered in dust and bits of plaster. The lid doesn’t fit because there’s a plastic bag full of something stuffed inside.

Pine cones.

Of course, why wouldn’t there be? I watch as the lid wobbles.

I’ll run with you

It wobbles because the contents of the plastic bag are moving. I stare. A scaly, clawed foot sticks over the edge. A bright black eye stares back at me. Whiskers twitch. The lid tips onto the floor and a creature bounds out of the tureen, a cross between a pineapple and an armadillo. I scream.

Run

Pine cone.

Pine cones, says husband coming into the bathroom and letting out the animated pineapple pangolin. He’s holding a box with a pair of black, reptile skin gloves hanging over the edge. He shows me the wriggling, scaly creatures inside, with yellow teeth and twitching whiskers.

Pine cones.

The pine cones roll onto the floor and sprout legs. We open the door to let them outside into the garden. For, thank goodness, there is a garden.

I see the pangolin scuttle into the hedge. Then I take husband’s arm and squeal with joy. Creeping back through the hedge there are more pine cone pangolins, a mother and two…kittens.

Tremble like a flower

The mother pine cone is…a large, beautiful Bengal cat/pangolin and the kittens are just plain ordinary honest to goodness brown cat Branwell kittens.

Can we keep them? I ask.

They live here, husband replies. Pine cones.

Let’s sway under the moonlight, this serious moonlight.

If there was a place

If there was a place

In this corner of space

Where we could grow

Not know

Want, fear,

Not hear

The sound of guns

Where mothers’ sons

Lose their humanity

To a faceless insanity.

If there was a place somewhere

We could dare

To stay, not flee

Take to the sea

Watch gentle waves lap

Not sap

The life blood

Drown in the flood

Offer to the shore

The fruits of war

I swear

I would take you there.