The fiercest wind

A protest poem for earthweal.

The fiercest wind

The tiny feral cat gave birth
in the warm spring,
her first two kits.
I put out food,
but the kits stayed small,
then there was just one.

I saw it after the deluge
in the track up to the house,
a dead bird,
a tuft of brown oak leaves.

It trembled,
raised itself on long bones of legs,
stumbled away from the offered food,
mouth open in rage,

and from its empty stomach
rose a deafening roar
against the abject cruelty
of this world.


Different worlds




The river is ripped from side to side, V-shaped water scars opening to the shore, a swarm of mini jet boats buzzing like brainless bees. Toys for rich kids intent on wide-grinned entertainment, they tear up the quiet, stir up the river mud where silent fish swim deeper, suffocating in water suddenly airless.

On the bank, a boy sits surrounded by his dog’s pups, blind and seal-fat, newborns. His belongs are scattered about a sleeping bag—plastic carriers of clothes and a sack of dog biscuits. Dope fumes smell sweet. Life runs its course. Seven pups dead already, six left to fight their corner. Mother watches, wary as life runs its course, here, rounded by a puppy’s sleep. Laughter from the boaters. Fun floats like clouds of dope fumes. The boy watches his pups. Another life.


Joy in a soft day,

birth and any mother’s love—

precious quiet falls.


And in the doorways of the town,

with skulking cats and litter blown,

a world of drawn and withered men

with roughened hands and wine blown skin,

and raddled women wrinkled red,

sit in silence waiting for

the wind to cease, the sun to shine,

and one of all the passing crowd,

the rushing faces turned away,

to stop and smile and say, hello.

Three line tales: Let them eat cake

This three-liner is for Sonya’s weekly photo prompt.

Photo ©Stephanie McCabe


The baker’s window, with its display of fancy patisserie, always attracted the tourists, but they weren’t free with their spare change, too afraid of being mugged—as if only rich bastards have spare change to give away.

When the sun moved round, he’d follow it to the other side of the street where there was a supermarket and ordinary people who wouldn’t mind slipping him enough to buy a sandwich.

He looked down and met a pair of brown, questioning eyes and glanced contemptuously at the grinning, self-satisfied cakes in the window. “We don’t even like that crap, do we?” he said, with a half-smile and bent to scratch his dog’s ears.

Microfiction: Lola

The Daily Post prompt today is ‘sacrifice’.

Photo ©Canudo1024px-Sans-abri_Bruxelles-DSC_6408.jpg

The boy shuffled about on the piece of cardboard. Better than sitting on the ground but he was still frozen. The dog raised her head from her paws and looked at him. He reached out and scratched her ear.

“Yeah, I know. I’m hungry too.”

Lola let her head back down wearily. She was patient, he thought. She’d wait all day, and then some. The thought wrung his heart, squeezing out tears. He wiped a hand over his face, pulled himself together. He shivered and pulled his jacket tighter.

He had nothing. Not the price of a packet of fags or a bottle of wine. If he was lucky, he’d get a bed in the hostel. Not much better than sleeping rough. He glared at the sky and hunched back into the doorway. But he’d be out of the rain at least, and the other dossers would leave him alone since he had nothing to pinch. But they wouldn’t let him bring Lola. He’d done it before, left her in the park while he spent a night in a bed. Just once. She’d been frantic. Running round town all night looking for him. He couldn’t do it again. Wasn’t fair.

He stifled a cough. Lola raised an eyebrow. He looked into her eyes and he made the decision he’d been putting off for weeks. There were hardly any leaves left on the trees now, the nights were cold as fuck, and he was sick. It wasn’t fair. Lola was his only friend, but he couldn’t do it any more. He got stiffly to his feet and slung his backpack over his shoulder.

“C’mon, Lola.”

He tied her lead to a post outside the supermarket. There were always loads of people around and it was a poor area; there were lots of people liked dogs. Lola had a nice face. He turned away, couldn’t bear it, knowing how she would be standing with her head on one side, her ears raised, asking herself, what the fuck’s he doing now? He didn’t want to watch, to see who unhooked her lead and took her home. But he had to. He wouldn’t let some shitbrains take her for dog bait.

He turned the corner and slumped against the wall. It felt weird not having Lola’s warmth against his leg. He wiped the tears away with the back of his hand and watched. He watched until one of the checkout girls on a break noticed Lola. She said something to a grey-haired fella come out with his shopping, untying his own dog. The old fella looked at Lola and scratched her ears. The girl stubbed out her fag and they both waved their arms a bit, looking around. The boy held his breath. The old fella unhooked Lola’s lead.

The boy closed his eyes tight to stop himself floating away in the empty space his world had become.



Christmas shopping and why I hate it

Shopping is something I hate. I get claustrophobic in shops, overheated, and lost. In the street I plough through the crowds as if I’m on a special mission with M breathing down my neck. Christmas shopping is the worst of all. I have a list of the things I want to get, the shops I need to visit. I take the back streets to the shop I’m after, dive in and dive out again. Flying squad tactics.

Yesterday I couldn’t put it off any longer and ventured up town. I made two shops then came home. Sorry everyone about the presents, but I couldn’t stand any more of it. I wrote this instead.

Too many

So many

Are those who sit by the wall

Between shop fronts

Next a dog

Curled asleep

On a piece of cardboard.

So many who see

Each passing face

And search it with insistence

For a friendly sign.

So many are those,

Hand resting

On the head

Of a curled, sleeping dog,

For whom the brightly coloured, shiny things

Behind the window glass

Have as much significance

As a grey rock

Shed by a dead planet.

Photo credit Benjamin Brock
Photo credit Benjamin Brock

The old man and the river



The old man sleeps rough

and stands for hours watching

the play of light and half-light

on the ripple-patterned water.

Banks of leaves of red and gold

drift crisp and dry against his shoes

as he stands to watch beneath the clouds

the ripples in the river.


Along the bank the squabbling gulls

dip and dive to snatch at bits of bread.

Their noisy brilliance sleek and white

hangs bright against the grey of rainy skies

a short-lived dance that curtseys to the wind

while the dimpling water ripples on and on.


Seasons change and chill winds blow

and sunlight’s pale as ice and glacier-cold.

Still he stands among the leaves

to watch the endless river pass

with wind-drawn patterns on its skin

and narrow shadows cast by drifting birds.


Above his head beyond the blue

in the silent darkness filled with stars

the great wheel turns and turns and turns,

rolling from sky to unseen sky

with rivers of comets in its wake.

He stands and watches time flow by

his feet the pivot of the universe.