Thousands sailed

For the dverse prompt, music, poetry and (in this case) protest.


Thousands sailed or walked or crawled

From barren fields with famine scrawled

Across the ocean, desert sands

Or mountains capped with snow.

They left behind their loved ones

And the only life they knew,

Because to stay was death

And that was all they had to know.

Thousands still are sailing

Fleeing hunger, they believe

(Their children like ghosts wailing)

They have no choice but they must leave,

No one leaves his home

If there’s any way to stay,

Whatever hatred’s shouted,

Whatever politicians say,

For the waves they swallow children

As they swallow up the sun,

And we pack up our humanity

Then we turn our backs and run.

We turn our eyes from suffering,

There’s nothing we can do,

Our house is full, no room for more,

Though we know it isn’t true.

We sing our songs of how it was

When all the world was green,

And paradise a cabin

At the end of a bóithrín.

And the songs that they are singing

We know them, they’re the same,

About love and land and leaving

And they should fill us all with shame.


Famine and feast

The Daily Post prompt is: Feast.


Feast and famine, we live,

the great cycles of life and death,

the yearly dearth when reserves run out

because the summer was wet,

the winter precocious,

or the spring is late.

Those blustery springs

when, the crops not ripe,

we watch the shoots with empty bellies

and avid eyes.

Cold sun and rain on rain,

and the bones arch across childish chests

like buttresses.

In the big house, the lords and ladies,

the bishop and his priests,

are fat and greasy with mutton and beef.

So it was, and so it is still.

We wait for the grain to swell,

the turnips and the chestnuts,

envying the grass grazers, the beasts.

While in the short spring twilight,

shaking off the winter cold,

the fox follows the mice,

lingering in the warming sun,

and makes a royal feast.

Microfiction: Fishing



No waves on the sluggish river, like thick soup, green with algae. In the dawn that never breaks along the banks, the delicate tracery of fishing lines arcs into the silent waters. Hunched along the banks, left and right, an army of watchers sit hunched over slender rods, intent upon the least quiver, the slightest trembling of the lines. Behind them, the city rumble changes tempo. Never ceasing, it hums through the night, but in the grey hours of the dawn the pace changes to a relentless march. The fishermen shuffle uneasily, listening for the heavy tread of the patrols, rounding up shirkers, but the promise of something, anything to supplement the famine rations is too strong to keep them away.

A rod jerks. Along the bank, a score of pairs of eyes turn, fixed on the taut line. He hauls in his prize, quickly, his eyes restlessly moving from one hunched back to the next. Still listening for the patrol, he seizes the shapeless, colourless object he has hooked, and darts away with it up the bank, his teeth already tearing into it before he has even looks to see what it is. River slime and stifling algae coat the object that gives with the sickening soft sponginess of putrefaction beneath his teeth. The taste is foul and he gags.

The thud of pounding boots breaks into his consciousness. Still trying to swallow, he runs, making for the trees at the top of the valley. A rattle of gunshot rings out and he stumbles, falls, his back blossoming red, his arms outflung. The boots approach, kick him over onto his back. The putrid hand, missing several fingers, drops from his dead grip.

“Filthy cannibal,” the guard says and spits on the stricken face.

Two sentence story #5

Painting by Mikhail Nesterov


The spring has finally come, and the slow, ancient men sit in the pale sun to give silent thanks that winter is over and soon there will be enough to eat for everyone. The fox, skinny and weak, approaches on trembling paws, the pungent smell of new bread and cheese drawing her stomach though her brain screams to stay away; her ancestral terror of man, even the ancients with their gentle gestures, scattering her thoughts like mice caught in a barn.