Darkness visible

A quadrille for Monday’s dverse prompt, with a nod and thanks to Milton.


Would we know peace

in river flowing unencumbered to the sea

amid lazy sand banks golden in the sun

and willows bending over trout-cool shade,

without the moving shadow,

the half-seen fear that flickers in the tail of the eye,

darkness visible?


There is no easy path

This cascade poem is for the Secret Keeper’s weekly writing prompt. Sorry it’s a miserable one.



There is no easy path through this cold world,

No stream that never floods or bursts its banks,

The fear of what’s behind us drives us on.


I used to think that, at the tunnel’s end,

Everything would bask in golden light,

There is no easy path through this cold world.


No life that will not end in lonely death,

For us, no vast sky ever calm and blue,

No stream that never floods or bursts its banks.


That light receding faster than dawn grows,

Draws shadows round, and only looking back,

The fear of what’s behind us drives us on.


Last night I was woken by the rain, and in the silence that followed, I heard someone whistling. Nobody whistles anymore, not even workmen. Maybe because songs don’t have tunes these days. Not that you could whistle anyway. My thoughts went to the film, The Night of the Hunter. If you don’t know it, go and watch it immediately.


In the deep, dark night after the rain,

The sound of whistling wafts, a low refrain.

Footsteps pad where no one walks,

Through gardens full of sleeping birds,

Yet I hear a piping tune that has no words.

Behind the ragged clouds, the moon glows pale,

A water lily on a stormy sea,

Shines on nothing that the eye can see.

And then the wind comes,

Slams with gusting fist,

The windows fling and shutters clack,

Doors bang to and fro,

And I push the window closed against the night.

Morning light shows willows bowing low

And broken boughs that sigh and moan,

The wind blows through the hazel leaves,

That flutter, pitter-patter, light as rain,

But none screams louder than the poplars,

Waving supple branches in the cloudy sky:

This night the hunter stalked,

And somewhere in the shadows waits.

Night hunters

For the dverse prompt to write an ottava rima poem.


When wandering cloud obscures the full moon bright,

The hunters prowl in shadows dark and deep,

While vixen in her lair far from the light,

Curls round her cubs to keep them safe in sleep

Until they pass—the dangers in the night,

With stealthy tread, her secret night paths creep.

And in this world of silent, withheld breath,

The stars are still, for nothing stirs in death.

The ever-present storm

The dverse haibun theme is fear. Fear is a big thing, and it never goes away. An easy one to write since it’s something I think about every day one way or another.


What do I fear? I fear what might be. I fear the child’s fever that won’t descend, the late train, the doorbell that hasn’t rung, the telephone that won’t pick up. It’s in the blood, a gift, the anxiety that walks beside me like a second shadow, crouching close to the wall where the rubbish gathers and the pigeons scavenge, picking at every trailing, frayed edge of my nerves.

It’s in the blood. Grandma lost two children and refused to go to their funerals, destroyed the death certificates, and now no one even knows where they are buried. Lost grandad too after only twenty-four years of marriage, had a nervous breakdown and wouldn’t let her youngest leave the house. Followed her grandchildren around as if only her watchful eye stopped the claws of death snatching us away.

Deeper than worry is the visceral fear of loss, and it nags and gnaws at the merest hint of trouble, the barest bones, like a famished dog. If I should find myself adrift, with the phone in my hand that never answers, waiting at the barrier for the passenger that never arrives, and for the doubt to become a certitude, my world would shatter, blow away like the thistledown that fills the bright spring air.


Wind blows through the leaves,

spring-brisk and blossom-scented,

heralding the storm.


Escaping the dark

A villanelle for the Secret Keeper’s writing prompt. The words this week are:


painting ©Feliks Paszkowski


Dark falls the night outside this hall,

The stars bestrew its unseen skies,

And fear grows teeth beyond the wall.


Across the moon, a silver pall

The eye can’t pierce, although it tries,

Dark falls the night outside this hall.


Upon the strand, tossed by the squall,

Our barque still floats, it won’t capsize,

But fear grows teeth beyond the wall.


I see the swell of waves that fall

On silver sand, our barque their prize,

Dark falls the night outside this hall.


If only thoughts were not in thrall

To bleak despair and hope’s demise,

But fear grows teeth beyond the wall.


Grey gulls drift, I hear their call,

And wait in hope, the sun will rise,

Though darkest night falls on this hall

And fear grows teeth beyond the wall.

Microfiction: To the lighthouse

For Sonya’s Three Line Tales photo prompt.

Photo ©William Bout



“They’re coming! Run, to the lighthouse,” they cry, so we run, along the narrow causeway above the angry waves towards the light that sweeps every ten seconds across our terrified faces.

We count, ten, fifteen, twenty, thirty, sixty, but the light is dead, the night dark as a whale’s gullet, and the lighthouse a single pale tooth against the starless sky.

Hearts pounding in fear, we listen to the darkness, straining against the wind and the crashing of the waves, until we hear it, up ahead, the sound of screaming.