Blackberries’ end

Blackberries’ end

And when the blackberries are all gone,
the stalks bare, bearing only thorns,
where will I go?

This late summer’s afternoon I move, quiet, slow,
plucking the ripe berries, hearing the rustle
of wings, the quiet chatter of blackbirds,
the plaintive call of the greenfinches.

There is no anguish here, no distress;
the hand rises, arcs in grace like birdwings ,
reaching into dogwood, parting the hawthorn,
picking black berries from thorny canes.

So quiet and slow I move, in the alders,
following the stream, squirrels leap unaware
from branch to branch;
a deer drifts beneath the oak tree.

I breathe like birds breathe with no sound,
feet scarce crackle the dry grass.

But when the blackberries are all gone,
where will I go to find such peace, to join with the birds,
fluttering with my unfledged wings,

when the east wind blows cold,
and my hands are full instead
of the ephemeral gold of fallen leaves?



A miserable little number for the Daily Inkling prompt: Endgame.


Does anyone enjoy an ending

the final phrase

the final scene

the turning up of the lights

chasing the final image

or turning them off

and the darkness becoming all that there is


and will be

for ever and ever amen?

And who treasures

the flower wilting in the vase

the blossom falling from the tree

the last desultory words before your train left?

Night fell then

blinds were drawn all over the world

and the laughing yellow lights snuffed out.

The end of every day

is the sitting in the dark

for the call that never comes

the last reel replaying over and over

and I wish to be the cat

that walks out into the night

and never comes back.

99 word flash: Sky light


For months it was dark, the only sounds were the screaming of the wind and roaring of the ocean that used to be distant. Then the sky cleared and filled with a strange luminosity. Silhouettes appeared, stark angles and dead stumps against the light, holding out broken limbs still dripping. Water? Mud? Slime?

“It’s completely silent,” you said.

“No birds,” I replied softly. The broken limbs were empty and I recognised their gesture—imploring.

“And so dark.”

The sky had taken back the light, spread out its colours, safe and high, leaving us all that we deserved—the darkness.



Just got back, lots of prompts to catch up on, and the first is for the dverse prompt: The End.


I plant a shrivelled seed and watch it grow,

Sunlight, moonlight and a sprinkling of rain,

A flowered carpet lies beneath the snow,

Nothing ends they say, all things start again.


Though petalled heads will shrink and blow away,

Knotted like the knuckles of old hands,

Spring returns as after night comes day,

And moon draws up the tide upon the sands.


But as I stand upon the silver edge

Where moonlight ends and moonless dark begins,

The wind blows cold through withered paper sedge,

In this new seed-specked phase no blackbird sings.

Microfiction: Final splendour

This one was 200 words exactly unedited so I took it as an omen and left it at that.


When the reverberations of the last explosion died away, a dense pall of dust rose and enveloped the earth. In the darkness, all growing things shrivelled and died and with them, first the poorest of the poor then the middling rich, until the last resources were exhausted by the richest of the rich. The universe shuddered as the bright blue light was extinguished and darkness filled the space. Solar flares rose and fell in sympathy and comets deflected their orbits in sign of farewell.

The Earth cooled, and dust, glittering with radioactive splendour, settled on deserts and polar ice caps alike. In its shroud, the Earth still turned, a grey rock that would in time splinter in the freezing cold of space and scatter like the debris of a sand storm across the universe.

Earth breathed its last breath and its spirit gathered for flight, a thing of primal beauty, green and luxuriant, sweet-scented and loud with the rushing of torrents and the song of birds. Enfolded in the golden rays of its sun, the essence of Earth rose. Days and days turned until the moment arrived when the door opened, and Earth drifted, glorious and free, into the otherworld.

Microfiction #writephoto: Last colours

For Sue Vincent’s #writephoto writing challenge. Here’s the pic, that I find very sad.


When the last polar bear was shot in the suburbs of Edinburgh, when sand dunes swallowed Dakar and Cairo, and Lake Baikal was no more than a muddy puddle, the Earth began to shut down. There was no more wilderness to regenerate, wild animals were born sexless and dwindled. Disease and drought shrivelled roots and curled leaves. Doves and swans entwined in the wings of their mates slept and never woke again. When the last blackbird had finished his song, when he cocked his head and silence greeted the dying notes, he too put his head beneath his wing and slept a final sleep.

When the world and all that had made it beautiful was empty, Earth gave a last sigh, and winds stripped the last leaves, moved the last rolling dunes, and whipped the waves into walls of sterile water. Then she in haled, all the gases and fumes, the artificial perfumes, heated air and cooled. One last reminder of what had been lingered, charging the drops of moisture in the dull air with the colours of lost beauty. The Earth drew one last, deep breath and the rainbow sunk, a river of brilliants, into the bare ribs of rock, and darkness fell.

Microfiction: Endings

This photo, for Sue Vincent’s #writephoto prompt, gave me a hard time to begin with. I thought I’d post both pieces as an interesting study in how a piece of writing can change and develop as new ideas and angles impose themselves on the original thoughts.

This is the first response to the image, which I saw as the sun rather than the moon.


Once the sky was bright, they said. Once the world was the colours we see in films. Once things grew outside, beneath the bright blue sky, and birds flew free, and there were animals that lived their lives in the growing things beneath the blue sky. People were different then, they didn’t know how to make their world safe. They allowed birds that were not edible to use up resources. They allowed wild animals that carried diseases to wander near human settlements. They allowed wild things that were of no use to proliferate, savage and dangerous.

The big change was the fault of the sun. It upset the climate with its rays, sent tidal waves and droughts, freezing winters and baking summers. Then it began to die, and we had to learn how to do without it. Now we manage the planet so much more efficiently. There is no waste, no disorder. Our crops are protected, beneath an artificial sky, lit by artificial light, from all harm and disease. Our animals live safe beneath the ground, fed and watered and butchered in a humane and sanitary way. The parts of the planet that are useless are abandoned. The people who proved unable to adapt, we abandoned. We have kept only the best.

They say the sky in the day was the absurd colour we see in the films, and at night they claim we could see the stars! They say people dug in the dirt for pleasure and listened to birds calling. They didn’t mind that the earth was creeping with wild animals, and they even kept unhealthy tame animals in their homes. People loved all these things and protested in their millions to preserve them. It’s hard to believe people were so stupid once.

Looking at the picture again, just before I went to bed, I wrote this. I know which version I prefer.

On the plain beneath the black sky and the pale light of the cooling sun, the grass withered and died. No colours glowed to mark the end—the reds and rusts and yellows of distant autumns gone with the light, and dust blew across the crumbled dirt and desolate stone. When the last mouse had been eaten and the last cricket, and nothing more stirred in the dead earth, the last vixen curled her brush about her nose and drifted into a place of ancestral memories, where long grass brushed her glowing flanks as she padded through morning dew, where moonlight fell from a clear sky where stars glittered, where the earth swarmed with warmth and life and food. She shifted and curled tighter. In that place, there were bundles of warmth huddled close beside her, cubs, fidgety and quick, sleeping only when they were sated. Slowly, she let go of life, taking with her the last vivid splash of colour in the world. In her darkening mind, the cubs wriggled, and the grass bent beneath drops of dew, and the pale gold sun rose on a new morning.




The Daily Post prompt is: mountain.

Photo ©Paco Gomez


They said it would be simple. They said just follow the road. There would be sunshine and rain and enough to eat for everyone. Just keep moving, stick to the plan, stay among the trees, climb.

They said there was nothing to fear, no obstacle, no trap. First the oak trees then the pines, the larch and the spruce. Then just bare rock and raptors soaring. The mountain.

We followed the road, then the track through the trees, climbed through the oaks and the spruce, the scented gorse. We moved, bent against the incline, used hands as well as feet, over the bare rock, over the mountain. And just before the pass, before the land beyond came into view, the green valley they had told us of, the air exploded in gunfire, screaming and gouts of blood. And I saw that the raptors that soared overhead were vultures.

Dust of ages


Feet drag through the dust of ages,

Gutters filled with greasy ash,

Scribbled verse on yellowed pages,

Grave spot-speckled, rusty rash.


Gutters filled with greasy ash,

When sun sets on the final day,

Grave spot-speckled, rusty rash,

A white gull calls to lead the way.


When sun sets on the final day,

There’s no more moon to light the night,

A white gull calls to lead the way,

Beyond the doorway bathed in light.


There’s no more moon to light the night,

Concrete dust and crumbled stone,

Beyond the doorway bathed in light,

Left behind when gull has flown.


Concrete dust and crumbled stone,

Like sands washed on the farthest shore,

Left behind when gull has flown,

I vow that I’ll see you once more.


Like sands washed on the farthest shore,

My heart in fragments longs to follow,

I vow that I’ll see you once more,

Borne on the swift wings of the swallow.


My heart in fragments longs to follow,

Golden light falls, beckons onward,

Borne on the swift wings of the swallow,

I’ll leave behind life’s treasure hoard.


Golden light falls, beckons onward,

Feet drag through the dust of ages,

I’ll leave behind life’s treasure hoard,

Scribbled verse on yellowed pages.


The Daily Post prompt is: saga.


Waves curl green upon the glassy sea,

Wind blows the pearly foam across the strand,

And murmurs low the tale of you and me.

Waves curl green upon the glassy sea,

Crashing round my ears—let me be free!

As light and love seep dark into the sand,

Waves curl green upon the glassy sea,

Wind blows the pearly foam across the strand.