Profit and loss

Profit and loss

No grass in the pastures
brown-crisped by the sun,
too many mouths to feed,
too many mothers and their young to keep,
too dear the hay, too cheap the milk,
too little, too much, not enough.

So the cows low in their sunless sheds,
in their shackles, and each listens
for the voice of her child
as the truck pulls away.


When the heart


I will ignore the black and bitter,

watch the moon,

silver light on the rain-dripping roses,

and let the hushed rain-patter

become distant footsteps,


and I will send

a thousand petalled, feathered words,

silent as sympathy,

and the way the grey dove

leans in to her mate.


These are ugly days and days of beauty,

foulness filtered through light,

beauty marred by misery,

grief rocks the world to the core,

fissuring my heart.


Watch the moon, she says,

not the red sunset, and remember,

looking into the cool ocean depths of sky,

who we once were

and perhaps still are.



News drops silently,

the opening of a mail,

barely a click from the keyboard

and a reality forms that was not there before.


The day fills with holes,

thoughts slip through

and come back reluctantly,

distorted, lacking limbs.


The day becomes the news,

the news is sung in the hedges,

strummed by crickets,

but nothing stops the ache.


Loss is like that,

and the staring into the void

that has opened up before the feet,


and the fear grins and grows,

that all the colour in the world

will pour away into the hungry dark.

In springtime

spring clouds


I always think of them in spring

though they died on the sill of winter.

I sprang from them, was formed by them

in the shelter they built of gardens and painted quiet.

I think of them when the flowers start to open

and the leaves,

when the breeze is brisk but the sky is haphazard blue.

I think of them beneath this sky,

so far away from where they called home,

but the sky is the same everywhere,

and the blackbird’s song.

Microfiction: Time machine

This short story is for Rochelle Wisoff’s Friday Fictioneers writing challenge. I went slightly over limit at 106 words.



When the watchmaker learned that his wife had at best three months left to live, he spent the first of those months building a giant timepiece.

“I won’t let you go,” he whispered to her at night when he finally left his workshop and climbed into bed beside her. His wife smiled weakly and patted his hand.

When the machine was ready, the watchmaker climbed inside and began to peddle. Backwards. He would turn back the clock to the time before his wife got sick.

After the funeral, they took him to the psychiatric hospital, but they let him keep his time machine. He’s pedalling still.

A Month with Yeats: Day Ten

A third of the way through, today’s quote is from ‘The Host of the Air.’

‘And he saw how the reeds grew dark
At the coming of night-tide,’  W.B. Yeats.


In the rushes by the bank, she glides,

The swan on the empty lake,

From the gold-tipped points of morning

To the dusk where shadows break,

And she lays her long neck sadly

In the hollow of her wings,

For the tide brings only night time

And the dark, when no bird sings.

Microfiction #Friday Fictioneers: Remembrance

This 99 word story is for Rochelle’s Wisoff-Fields’ Friday Fictioneers prompt.

Photo courtesy © Janet Webb


My grandmother’s house was full of pretty and mysterious things, coloured glass, silver and brass, lace and slightly faded watercolours. There was never a speck of dust, and each pretty object sat in the same place, catching light in the same way every day. I envied that she was able to surround herself with such carefully chosen beauty with no clumsy, disrespectful brothers and sisters to disturb it. It was only later, after her death, that I recalled the way she would stare into the garden, seeing nothing of her pretty objects. All she had ever wanted was Granddad.


Microfiction: Gone

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers.

PHOTO PROMPT © Sarah Potter



It would have been a perfect place to work, looking out into the garden, windows open to the breeze and the swaying branches of overhanging trees. The wisteria perfumed it in spring, roses in summer. You put my desk where the light fell in dapples and waited for me to charm the words into stories. It would have been perfect. But you went away, and left your touch in the soft grain of the wood, your face framed in the fluttering leaves, your voice in the breeze. Perhaps another could have borne it. Not I.

On this day

I haven’t done this before, and it’s still hard, but this is a few words in remembrance of this day fourteen years ago when my mother died.


This day was dark

That saw me fly to my mother’s side,

To hold a hand that did not know mine.

So quick her bird flew,

So hard to find the thoughts among the tears.

She had already gone,

Retreated to the place of half-being,

One foot in the doorway,

One hand reaching out to those beyond.

In her steady heartbeat

I heard the whispered words,

All the words left unsaid,

That would never now be spoken.

Tears could not open those lips,

Loosen that garrulous tongue.

The clock ticked but time had fled.

Were you there, Dad, to take her hand

And lead her through to the other side?

Did you give her that lop-sided smile and ask,

‘What kept you?’

I like to think you were,

She could never find her way without you,


Microfiction: Pretend

For Sonya’s Three Line Tales

The photo©Ben Rosett


It was a peaceful place of cool, dappled summer shade, a place for a lonely child to play quietly and think quiet thoughts.

She spent the afternoons swinging to the rhythm of a hummed tune, until at dusk they came to call her home.

She’d turn and smile a sad goodbye to the bandstand and the ranks of empty white chairs that she had built in her head from the rows and rows of white crosses that filled the military cemetery on the hill.