Another barbaric murder in the name of obscurantism and religion. How do we combat the darkness inside the head?

We are one beat away,
on the forest path that skirts the cliff,
from sea of leaves
and sea of cold and rocky waves.
We are the sail
that brushes the edge of the storm,
in the wind veering to reefs or harbour.

We are all one beat away from the void,
the untying of the threads
that bind us to all living things,
and yet there are hands in the wind,
and along the cliff path they loiter,
those who would decide in our name
which way we fall.

Love conquers all/some

Apparently it was a very moving sermon about all you need is love.


Have they not heard

that every marriage starts in love ?

Have they not heard

that love incarnate, gentle bird

covers the earth in thought and word,

and cruel death despite the dove ?

Have they not heard ?

Three Line Tales: A family affair

This story is inspired by the photo of Sonya’s Three Line Tales prompt. Congratulations, Sonya on keeping this great challenge going for 100 weeks today.

photo by Manu Sanchez via Unsplash


The military presence on the Place de la Concorde reassured the tourists, even though any one of the innocent-looking passers-by could be a fanatic wearing a belt of explosives.

The man watching the Christmas crowds from his window snorted in derision, as if fanaticism or despair, cruelty or an unhinged personality could be neutralised by a band of soldiers.

After all, he glanced at the destruction in the room behind him and the lifeless arm dangling over the back of the sofa, they hadn’t stopped him righting a few family wrongs, had they?

Microfiction: Fire

Having thrown out the challenge, the least I could do was write something myself.


Felix ran, his lungs on fire, like the fire he had left behind. Groucho, the village half-wit stumbled in his wake, muttering about pretty flames and snapping his fingers in memory of the flint and the sparks that flew into the dry tinder. He should have pushed the useless lump of meat into the inferno, would have done too, but the idiot had a use. The villagers would be on their trail soon enough, and they’d be more than pleased to string Groucho from the nearest tree. Felix would be well away by then.

The valley opened out. A river ran unseen between willow-clad banks. He’d find Groucho a nice place to sleep and leave him there. River mists rose and made strange shapes in the evening air, uncomfortably like smoke. Uncomfortably like Herr Kessel and his lady wife. Felix looked over his shoulder at the red glow on the horizon. If he listened hard he could hear the shouts of anger and distress from the burning buildings. His lips formed a hard line. Tough. They should never have given him the sack. If he’d dipped into the takings once or twice, wasn’t it only because old man Hessel didn’t pay him correctly? Groucho caught up with him, his flabby lips moist with drool. His back was bent and his right leg dragged. He’d be pleased to be told to lie down and go to sleep.

Felix led him to a hazel tree and pointed to the long hair grass beneath.

“Sleep now. You’re tired. I’ll keep watch.”

Groucho didn’t need asking twice. In a few minutes, the monster was snoring his monstrous head off. Felix turned, scanned the valley. The first torches were forming a bright sinuous stream, heading his way.

Bye bye, Groucho.

He tossed the tinderbox onto his companion’s ragged coat and drew a deep breath, bracing himself for the long run into the trees and across the river. The mist curled around his feet, rising to head height and wrapping itself round his shoulders. He shrugged, but the mist clung. Herr Kessel whispered in his ear. Frau Kessel tapped his hand in admonition. Little Bertha skipped ahead, tut-tutting.

From the trees along the valley ridge came the sound of owls hooting. Wings fluttered before his face. An owl swooped out of the dusk and looked at him with Frau Kessel’s face. He ran. Behind him, six owls perched on the hazel tree where Groucho lay sleeping. Mist floated around the tree trunk and covered the recumbent figure at its base. The owls fluttered and deep shadows fell beneath the branches. The mob, their torches held high flowed past.

“There he is!”

And the river of fire streamed after Felix as he stumbled and fell into the tangle of willow roots and the mud of the flooded water meadow.

Blackbird on her nest




Blackbird on her nest,

bright eye watching.

Cat in the sun basks,


Sun splashing anemones,

paper pink,

the air, a spring symphony,

breeze singing

to the rhythm of the rolling clouds.

Sweetness falls,

caught in gentle hands,

turned this way and that

to catch the light

and the first notes of the robin’s song.

And somewhere,

a hand,

driven by the sterile mutterings,

the dark promises

of a calculating brain,

drained of the least shred of humanity,

flips the switch.




Another hapless victim died today, slaughtered like a sacrificial lamb in the dark days of man’s inhumanity. There are no words to express my disgust and my shame at belonging to the same species as his butchers.



There is a monster in men’s souls

That feeds on their inadequacy

The man whose soul is a desert waste

Becomes a hero when he listens to the monster’s words.

Murder and be saved

Take life and live forever.

Modern vampires

Preying on the helpless the hapless and the random.

Their god is just the same as all the rest

Silent and indifferent

Accepting the sacrifice of blood as well as any Baal.

I ask my god in the greenwood tree

In the light that grows in the east

In the flower that unfurls with the light

What can we do against such ignorance and such hate

That destroys life with such relish and with such fierce joy?

Crush it without pity, comes the answer in the wind

As I crush the nerveless rose chafer

That would eat the heart of my precious rose.



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.