A candle shines out bold

A cascade poem for the dverse Halloween monster prompt.


A candle shines out bold into the dark,

The sign that beckons, leading dear ones home,

For some were never dear that still are dead,

Not all the dead who walk this night find rest.


I shuffle down the lonely lane this night,

The night the veil drops between life and death,

I search for warmth to chase the dark earth’s chill,

A candle shines out bold into the dark.


I feel them flutter past to sit once more,

Among their loved ones, drawn like moths to flame,

I follow, shambling in their phantom steps,

The sign that beckons, leading dear ones home.


I howl with pain that no one thinks of me,

With anger that all doors are bolted, barred,

Against the likes of me, shunned from the feast,

For some were never dear that still are dead.


I paw the door and beat the window pane,

Cajole and whine, the dogs bark, none will come,

Take care to leave no casement wide for me,

Not all the dead that walk this night want rest.

No fear of the dark

Today is the first of Colleen Chesebro’s November prompts. The words to use are Night and Fright—or rather their synonyms, not the words themselves. Since today is also Samhain, or Halloween if you prefer, I’ve written a seasonal haibun, and dedicated the first haiku to Colleen.

Today marks the turning of the year into the dark, the beginning of winter, hunger and cold. We build our fires high to symbolise the sun, and send the flames high into the night as a token of our faith that light and warmth will return. Tonight, the walls grow thin between this world and the other, and we listen, avidly, for the voices of those who have already gone through the door, hoping to entice them back among us for this one night of the year.

No fear of the dark

except for the trembling mouse,

waiting for fox pounce.

Do not listen to the words of the priests who took away this day from our lost loved ones and gave it to their worthy saints. Ignore the candles they light to chase the fearful shadows in their gloomy churches. Tonight is Samhain, when the dead reach out a hand to the living and say, live, love, and remember.

Owls will hunt tonight,

silent-winged, keen-eyed, with souls

gathered in their wings.

Microfiction challenge Isle of the Dead: the entries

I had a feeling this painting would get the horror juices flowing, and it did! Great stories this week, very much in keeping with the season. I enjoyed reading these stories very much and hope you did too.





Lorraine (Frilly to some of you)

JD’s Microfiction Challenge, Isle of the Dead: Amphitheater of the Spirits: revised – My Frilly Freudian Slip


Microfiction Challenge: Isle of the Dead – Ann WJ White E


Microfiction challenge #20: Isle of the Dead | Morpethroad


neelwritesblog/microfiction-200wordstory/isleofthedead/#02/29/10/2016 | neelwritesblog


Isle of the Dead: Microfiction | Yesterday and today: Merril’s historical musings


Jane Dougherty’s Microfiction Challenge: The flight of Little Wren – Word Shamble


Isle of the Dead – Leara writes and other creative things…


Regulation 14/234 of 96 #microfiction | TanGental


The Isle: A Microfiction – Clockwork Clouds


Microfiction: Last rites – Jane Dougherty Writes

And Bill gets left until last place again because of the spooky white space he trails after his link.

Moon Watch


Microfiction challenge #20: Isle of the Dead

A nice cheery subject this week. That’s the title of the painting, which I think is eerily beautiful. It’s a pretty small island if it’s meant to stock all the dead ever, so maybe it’s like the Tardis? Or the portal to another dimension? Where is it, and who is in the boat?

There’s lots to get your Halloween teeth into with this one. What I would suggest, if you want to keep on good terms with me, is not to mention pumpkins, or werewolves, or vampires. Keep it classic, please.

Post your stories in the comments below before next Thursday, and have fun!


Poetry challenge #3 :the entries


The third challenge on the theme of Samhain attracted another beautiful crop of poems. Darkness, death and the otherworld/afterlife obviously have great appeal.
Here are your sept poems, in order of appearance.

Peter Bouchier was first (again!)

then Jim, who I’m pleased to say has left a twitter link this time—thanks Jim 🙂

fest we leave
gifts to Aos Śi
to protect
our foods

@the _release_101

Ben Naga created a whole sequence. Spectacular!


Samhain’s come
The Dark Season
Breathes a chill

And yet
Has no warmth
I’m shivering
What’s that sound?
A door

T’is the sidhe*
The Otherworld

Oh my
May I dare?
Go find her there
My heart’s love
Passed on


*pron. shee.


Kat Myrman’s contribution

Kris the Bard. His blog link is here.

You play
Lost in time
While I await
My love’s

This one is from Deuxiemepeaux

Of the
Flame, find them,
Raise them, once more
To life, lust,
Thirst for

Sky darkens
While flames flicker,
Hearts flutter,

You can visit Damien’s blog here for more poems.

Jennifer Knoblock’s entry is here

Next Elusive Trope:

Mound of Hostages

of fog
shape of man
passage denied
this one night


A trickortreater from rivrvlogr
rings your bell
on Halloween
he’s there for
bars from


Ali Isaac contributed two septs, very originally titled 1. and 2. 🙂

leap high.
As sun slips,
darkness hovers
with the ghosts
and lost

rode the
sky, laughing.
Queen of the night.
But no more.
Now she

Another classic Halloween entry from vhosking for whom I can’t find a link 😦
And I now have a link! https://vhosking.wordpress.com/about/

Pumpkin carved
Shapes create

A scary duo from Janice

bass strumming
warns danger lurks,
Rain lashed strings

figure lurks,
Eerie chimes bend,
bell rings


Finally, The Secret Keeper sent this one in

Thank you all for the fun and the beautiful poems. The next challenge will be posted tomorrow. See you then.

Microfiction for Samhain: Candlelight

Painting by de La Tour

Night falls and the wind rises. The poplars along the stream bend and whisper, and night voices in the wind catch her attention as she sets the table for two. The room is silent except for the crackle of the fire in the hearth and the even ticking of the clock. She prods the potatoes in the pot with a fork, while the bacon waits patiently for the pan to heat. Six rashers—he always had a big appetite.
The candle on the window ledge gutters, bending in a sharp draught and straightening up again. The cat on the chair by the fire bends one ear, half-opens narrow eyes. The dog by the door whimpers. Night deepens. Darkness thickens beyond the window, and the wind rattles the latch on the door.
Tap tap tap.
The cat’s eyes open wide. The dog stands, tail wagging. She opens the door, and the night enters, warm and soft and gentle. The cat leaves him his place by the fire, the dog curls up at his feet, and she takes the cold hands in hers, holds them as she used to. Just for this one night of the year, they are warm again, warm as her heart.



The weather was strangely warm for the end of October. Blustery winds shook showers of golden leaves from the trees that were only just beginning to turn. Songbirds still sang their summer songs but the wind snatched the tunes and scattered them among the branches. The sky, paler than summer blue was flocked with untidy cloud, strips and blotches of fuzzy white. Across the open spaces, purple buddleia spires nodded gently beneath the fluttering of butterfly wings.

The impetuous wind from the sea brought the smell of salt and ruffled the water on the river that the strong autumn tide swirled in an unappetising murk. Jim sat on a plastic mac spread on the damp grass and stared—at nothing anyone else could see. Before his face, willows and alders bent over the riverbank, but he saw nothing of their graceful tracery. The evening was bright, the fitful sun dappling the grass and sparkling on the wavetips, but he saw only darkness. And a pale face.

He had moved a long way from the place of his birth where his own dead walked. Back home, his mother would put a candle in the window after the vigil to light the lonely path from the road to her door. The trees around the farmhouse would be bare now, their leaves a damp puree, and the wind would have the cold bite of winter. She was welcome to her ghosts. This was not his country; here, the door to the otherworld opened to foreign dead. His dead were not beneath this soil.

He had come back reluctantly to this spot, on this day, just to be sure nothing had changed. The river ran over her face now, her body weighted down with heavy stones. She would lie on the river bed until there was nothing left of her, her bones picked clean by catfish. She had no grave, had nothing to rise from. No door would open to let her through. No one remembered her, no candle would shine to light her way home. He shivered and the pale face in his head opened wide eyes full of sorrow and puzzlement.

He gritted his teeth, refusing to let remorse take root. She had been a mistake. Unwanted. Lacking the sense to see that everything she did annoyed them. They had been perfect as a couple, needing nothing more, a circle; complete and sufficient. Then some foolish friends of Mary’s and her interfering old mother had persuaded her that her life was lacking in purpose. So the child had been born, and the mistake could not be indone.

Yet it was undone. They had undone it. Nothing was left now, no trace, no memories. Too young to have started school, the child was on nobody’s radar. Everything was as it had been before.

The light dimmed; the wind rose. Cloud thickened and covered the last brightness in the sky. He shivered again and prepared to go home, to Mary and the house that contained his world. He picked up the mac and shook the dampness from it, then folded it  and pushed it into his backpack. The plastic crackled with the sound of breaking twigs. He listened. The river murmured and slapped against the bank. The wind hissed through the leaves with unsettling persistence. He listened harder and stiffened.

Mishka. Mishka. Mishka.

The wind whispered, the leaves fluttered and repeated the name.


The plastic mac crackled again, or else it was twigs shifting beneath a stealthy tread. He spun around. At his back now the river ran, a ribbon of darkness. Before him the trees of the river bank huddled thickly, swaying in the rising wind, their voices louder and more insistent.


He peered through the shifting darkness looking for the path, but the trees seemed to have moved and thick bushes grew where he was sure there had been nothing but scrubby grass.


­He shouldn’t be outside at this hour. The coming storm had chased away the light and darkness had fallen too quickly, catching him unawares. He pushed into the bushes, his clothes snagging on brambles, tangling around his legs. He swore violently, as he tore his hands on the sharp spines. Wind bent the supple birch trees, lashing his face with spindly branches. And the voice of the wind was a low growl.


The wind had risen to a fury and he brought up his arms to shield his head from flying debris and plunged forward blindly. He could see no path away from the river; darkness was total. Total except for the glitter of eyes caught in a stray moonbeam. He froze as terror crept up his spine.


He put his hands over his ears but the wind, the leaves, the air hissed the name, over and over. He had buried the dog in the garden. Mishka had been attached to the child, had attacked him like a fury when…it was done. The dog had seen and would not forgive, so he had killed him and buried him in the garden. Mishka.

On this night graves opened and let the dead pass to this world. She had no grave, lying on the river bed.


Below the tumult of the wild wind he heard a snarl. She was nothing, just a heap of whitening bones washed by the ceaseless power of the river; she had no grave.

But Mishka did.