Well water

For the dverse prompt. I wrote a first poem, and it was too long so I wrote another. The first poem below is the quadrille, the second is same theme but just a poem.


I dip a bucket fill it full

Of dancing, silver mirror water,

Ask the silent fairy’s daughter

For a seeing, bright or dull.


In the mirror-silver deep,

I see my love upon the field,

Lying on his broken shield,

Willow, clouds and blackbirds weep.




I dip a bucket in the well

And fill it full of silver water.

On my tongue are rowan berries,

Sailing clouds a story tell


Of wishes granted, curse stones cast,

Of mad hares leaping in the meadow.

Yet are these clouds of future dreaming,

Or are they clouds of dreaming past?

What Cilla did next

A short story inspired by August’s Visual Verse photo prompt.


When Cilla saw the ad, she recognised the cottage she and Jason had invented. It was exactly what they had talked about owning one day, when his divorce came through. They would lie in bed, in her bed, and talk, dream, pretend. The asking price was far more than she thought they’d be able to afford, but on a whim, she phoned up about it. The estate agent told her it was probably sold, the couple who were interested wanted just one last look before they agreed on the price, but if she liked, he would squeeze her in that afternoon before they arrived. You never know, he’d said, hedging his bets.

It was perfect, old red brick with roses round the door, stone flagged floors, mature cottage garden. The visit was rushed; she was shuffled out of the kitchen door as the couple arrived ahead of time, striding in a proprietorial sort of way up to the front door, happy, smiling, enchanted. He picked a rose and handed it to his wife. She smiled and kissed him on the cheek. They didn’t see her, but Cilla saw them, and the fabricated yarn of divorce unravelled into a shoddy tissue of lies.

That was two weeks before the holiday—he had told his wife it was a business trip—a week in the Greek islands. She kept the image of his wife in her head though it made her sob in hopeless fury. She saw his gallant gesture repeating over and over, their smiling faces. It wasn’t going to be enough to confront him with his lies. She wanted to make him feel as much pain as she did.


Jason took her hand and showed her the island, as if he owned it. Praised the scenery, the locals, the wine. There was magic in the islands, he said. He said a lot of other things too. She talked about the house they would buy after the divorce, described the brick cottage in detail, the roses round the door, the stone flags in the kitchen and smiled to herself as he shuffled and his gaze drifted uneasily. He had wanted to eat out that first evening. She insisted on cooking at the rented apartment. Just a simple meal, she’d said, stuff from the market and a bottle of wine.

He didn’t guess, she was sure of that. He lacked the imagination, but he was worried. She smiled a lot, more than usual. She was aware of it, the euphoria going to her head more than the wine. She wanted to laugh. Afterwards, she insisted they go down to the sea. It was evening, almost dark. He probably thought it was the uneven path making him stumble, low branches making him bend almost to the ground. By the time he was running on all fours, he had no idea who he was anymore. She picked up a stick and whopped him on the back end, laughing as he squealed and trotted off in terror into the wine dark sea.

It’s Saint Patrick’s Day…


Today, I shall be celebrating my country’s national holiday, but not Saint  Patrick. Just for the record, Saint Patrick was not some gentle, avuncular Saint Nicholas type figure. He was a colonialist, Christian supremacist, who wasn’t even Irish.

He wasn’t sent by Rome to convert the Irish since the job had already  been done by Palladius. Most of them were quite happy with their old beliefs, thank you very much, and Rome was happy to leave it like that. Patrick though, went on a one man crusade to forcibly convert the non-Christian Irish, and was probably responsible for the mysterious mass ‘deaths’ of unarmed worshipers of Crom Cruagh.

It is quite possible the yarn he spun about being captured by Irish raiders and held captive as a slave for six years (before his extremely improbable escape) was complete fiction. He had a shady criminal past which possibly explained the need to disappear for six years.

He was accused by the Irish of extorting the inheritance of noblewomen who he then herded into convents (best place for women), and ‘converting’ noblemen with the inevitable kickback for the church of a portion of their wealth. In fact, we don’t know much about what Patrick really got up to, where he came from and what his agenda was. He made up all the stuff he’s famous for, like converting the chiefs with his shamrock and the holy trinity analogy. It never happened.

And don’t get me onto Leprechauns! With the dispossession of the Irish aristocracy by the seventeenth century, the suppression of the Irish language and the corruption of the mythology by the priests, the old heroes and historical figures were debased to mini figures of fun and ridicule. That Christian and English colonial heritage again.

At the end of a week in which the British government after a mere 47 years of cover-up (or investigation, depending on your view point), has announced that one (yes, just one) soldier is to be tried for his part in the Bloody Sunday massacre, that his name is to be kept secret, the British taxpayers are going to be paying all his legal costs and aid to himself and his family, I don’t feel much inclined to celebrate any more re-writes of history.

I shall be eating a festive meal, draining the local supermarket of its very meagre stock of Guinness and thinking about family and ancestors. Not leprechauns, and not Saint Patrick.



#writephoto: Omphalos

This is for Sue Vincent’s #writephoto prompt.


The omphalos of the world slowly fills with water. Rainwater collects in the sacred stone, and though animals and birds drink from it, the sun evaporates it, green growing things siphon it, the level rises inexorably.

If the omphalos overflows, the stories say, it will be as if an ocean of tears pours over the world. We will all drown in a welter of sadness. But who remembers the stories these days? Who, beneath the rainbow-coloured sky knows how to stop the rising of the waters of oblivion? Who recalls the lighting of the fires to celebrate the return of the sun, the leaping flames that dry the sadness of the waters and fill their smooth, unruffled surface with the dance of life and the song of firebirds?

Perhaps, somewhere, the memory lives on. Perhaps it will awake and we will remember.

Meanwhile, the waters rise, the omphalos fills with tears, and the earth sleeps.

#writephoto: Snow giants

This short piece is for Sue Vincent’s Thursday photo prompt. It’s a really beautiful photo, but somehow it didn’t inspire a specific story, just this rather general disaster scenario.


Once it was a land of rich meadows, but the mountains are cruel. Each winter the snow giants hurl tempests of ice and snow into the valleys and the meltwater floods the plain in spring. The meadows are full of water now. The cattle’s hooves rot in the damp mud and the wind sings, unbroken across the plain where nothing grows except marsh grass.

Every winter, the mountains stride closer, and in the spring their heads are wreathed in freezing mist that the sun never warms. The lands of men shrink inexorably and their children die of damp fever. Soon, perhaps, the winter will come that will never end, spring will never thaw the ice that covers the plain, and the snow giants will inherit the earth.