Three Line Tales: Anonymous

For Sonya’s prompt.

photo by Sunyu via Unsplash



I can’t write your story, but it’s written in your eyes, the days of tracking, the fear, the fatigue and in the end, the men with spades.

They dig until they reach the heart and drag it out, still beating.

I have seen them, the cubs still blind, tossed in the waste from the cowshed, and whenever in the cool spring night, I hear a vixen call, I think of them, and all the others.

#writephoto: Millrace

For Sue Vincent’s Thursday challenge, a sort of prose poem with WIP in mind.

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The millrace runs but there is no more a mill, and trees grow now where wagons once stood with their head-hanging horses, waiting to be loaded with their bolts of finished worsted.

The beck still babbles, its leaping waters clearer than they ever were in those days when wild nature served one purpose—to be harnessed to the fiery chariots of the fiercest of men.

Fierce and proud, with a blindness when it came to the suffering they caused, with their grasping greed for profit, were the men in paunch-vast waistcoats.

If they didn’t see the misery in the humanity around them, how could they have noticed when the mill streams fouled were running black or blue or cimson with dyes from the washings of the vats?

But their ferocity was puny in the face of wakened nature, when the stones had had enough of blood and desecration, and the sacrifice of beauty on the altar of greed.

The mill race runs forever, leaping crystal clear, sunlight glinting on the ripples and cascading woven water.

Where is your monument in stone, in black Millstone Grit, your dark, satanic symbol of industrial success?

We know where you are now, Mr Mill Owner the Mighty, you are in the deep dark hole where the dead men go.

#writephoto: Listening to the ripples

For Sue Vincent’s Thursday photo prompt.

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Still water holds memories, of love and loss, death and growing, peace and tumult. A cloud mirror sometimes, speckled with bird wings, and sometimes a raging, silent fire with the trampling boots of soldiers, flame-haired and steel-coated. Sometimes.

I can sit on the bank of any lake, toss a pebble and watch the ripples, knowing that in the tiny bore radiating out from a central force is a story in momentous movement.

Sedge fringes stories and water birds illuminate the margins. Listen and you can hear the voices of the past, the crying in pain and anger, laughter in the sunshine, weeping beneath the rain.

Wind bends the dry stalks, ruffling and rippling, but when the wind holds its breath, when I listen, watch, deeper than the drifting clouds, I see the faces with eyes the same as mine or yours.

Words, though the tongue is not one I know, roll into the ear and the story they tell is universal, never dies, a longing to be loved, to find peace, to find peace.

Lost moments

Two pieces for dverse this evening. The first is flash fiction, the second a prose poem, both are less than 144 words. The first responds to the prompt, including the line from Louis MacNeice:

There are moments caught between heartbeats.

The prose poem doesn’t, because it isn’t flash fiction and because I split up the quote.


For some people there are lifetimes of glitter and happiness, and for others there are moments. Caught between heartbeats were our moments, a brief time of happiness when the world stretched ahead into more futures than we knew what to do with.

I knew all about you, your name, the colour of your hair, how you would be wild and artistic and sing like a lark. It was for you that we took the apartment near the school with an extra room and bought a pile of useless things for you because that’s what people do.

Then suddenly, between one check up and the next, you had stopped being, the chain of heartbeats that linked you to me to life, a dazzling future had broken and the round pearls had rolled away into the dark place where heartaches gather.


There are times when there is no time to count the passing of seconds, when the world fizzes like fireworks with whirlwinds of wild happiness, the births and marriages, the fallings in love and the tumultuous giving and receiving of love, when the moments pass so fast there is nothing between them.

And there are moments that drop one by one, echoing loud as raindrops in a bucket, that we try to catch and hold, to pile them like stones, a dyke against the pounding of oceans and the suction of the ebb tide, the moments of single breaths caught between heartbeats until the last heartbeat misses, and the breath escapes on a fading sigh.


Bird control

Photo ©Sébastien Bertru



A hen harrier circles the ploughed field, circles and

circles then swoops, and a flock of pigeons rises in a


compact, silvery glittering flutter, wheeling circling,

compact and glittering. Pigeon panic circles and flutters


away from the field drawn back again by the knowledge

of food, circling, in silver flutters beneath the golden sun.


The harrier, having missed the kill waits circling and

circling, drawing a crow family, sensing a fight, settling


in noisy mob pose in the trees. Pigeons panic a silver

cloud over the poplars, wheeling away and back while


crows wait and harrier watches. Over the ploughed

field the silver circling cloud flutters, sinks and settles


and the harrier is there, a pale, ghost-winged presence.

Crow mob clatters into flight, their ragged wings


clutching the air like hands clawing as they pivot on

nothing, yelling and snapping six black-cloaked


mobsters rattling beak blows and claws, circling,

wheeling, rising up beneath dropping from above,


fearless and aggressive. The hen harrier harried

mercilessly spreads pale wings, black-tipped and floats


away, leaving the silver cloud scattered among the furrows

and the black-cloaked vigilantes masters of the winter air.


On Saturday, the Ekphrastic Review published a short piece of mine based on this painting, Schöpfungsgeschichte II  (Creation Story) by Franz Marc. He painted it in 1914. By 1916 he was dead, killed by a shell at the battle of Verdun.

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Thank you Ekphrastic for giving my poetry and prose a home with a window.

You can read it here

A time of growing

This haibun is for the dverse prompt, a forest, natural, restful scene. An ode to peace, I suppose.

Sun through mist

Evening fills the bottom of the meadow with mist and the orange rays of the setting sun. Sky, turquoise, darkens, deepens, and the owls fly, broad-winged where buzzards soared. I sit on the untidy wall where the house ends and the field begins, and the trees bend and sigh in the breeze, and I listen. I listen to the eerie woodwind of the orioles fluting in the golden air, a music from another world.

At the bottom of the meadow, where the stream flows over shallow stones between the roots of willow and poplar, shadows grow. And in the shadows, the quick, bright, high-stepping dance of a red fox. Moon rises and the stars. As many as the leaves in the trees. The music flutters and fades and silence falls. Peace, in this place at least, rises like the moon and the river mist, and all things are in their rightful place.

A time of growing,

music sweeps over green shoots—

silent, the owl hunts.

Stringing moments

The dVerse prompt today is prose poetry. It seems as though it’s not too different to prose, so I’m giving it a whirl.


Take time as it comes, tick-tocking in its pre-ordained rhythm, the same for you, the salmon in the river and the robin singing in the tree. Raise your eyes from the clock and watch clouds form and reform and the play of light on dappling water. Count the irises on the bank and the clouds of celandine, watch the ripening of blackberries and the turning of the leaves, day by day.

Make a painting of the minutes, a novel of the hours and spread them about you, a bulwark against the slowing of the blood. Build climbing trellises for roses and string vines between tall trees for shade and fruit. String moments like pale-faced daisies on a chain of green. Shape your space and fill it with beauty.

In time, all things whither and die, so set your seed, build your mountains circled with soaring gulls, and sing the songs that whisper in the wind, strum the strings of winter sedge, and live each moment that the earth gives.


He told her it was over

I wrote this for the Brilliant Flash Fiction contest—a short story in less than 500 word on the theme: Aftermath. It was a bit of a cheat really since they specifically didn’t want poetry and this comes damn close. The phrases don’t rhyme, but they follow a strict meter that you can hear if you read it aloud. To spare you the effort, I’ve broken it down here into lines, so it doesn’t look like a story anymore, but you get the idea.

Needless to say it didn’t win and only made the long list, but I was pleased it was accepted at all. You can read the winning stories here. The first prize is about a fox, so you can’t say fairer than that.


He told her it was over, he’d be gone before the morning…


so she took him by the hand, and she led him through the garden,

and she sat him down beside her on the bank beneath the alders,

where the dog fox, like a shadow, slipped, and river water murmured.


She pointed through the branches to the stars that filled the night sky,

at the multitude that clustered, burning bright so deep above them,

and she asked him did he think they cared a jot that he was leaving;

would the light of even one of them burn lower for her grieving?


Then she listened to the river, to the lapping of the wavelets,

that the night wind brushed in wrinkles, running blackly through the rushes,

and she asked if when the whales roll through the green depths of the ocean,

and the seals guide lonely dead souls to the islands in the sea mists,

would his words then have more substance than the laughter of a seagull?


He sat in sullen silence, eyes cast down to where his fingers

twisted idle stalks of kingcups, plucked their petals, golden showers,

so he did not see the stars nor did he care how many watched him,

as he plucked the yellow petals, scattered gold among the rushes.


He could not hear the river, with her words that rang so loudly,

when he’d thought to see her flounder in the high seas of his leaving,

see the world he gave her crumble, dry dust blowing in the storm wind,

and her dull eyes full of weeping, no reflected light to bask in,

for he’d taken back his aura and the sunshine of his smile.


In the silence of his answers, she took from her slender finger

the gold ring and held its roundness, so she saw the stars behind it,

silver fish in inky waters. Like a well, run dry and empty,

it was hollow as a dead tree, and she cast it in the river

where the trout would nose the glitter of a circle made of sunlight

that was bright as any minnow but without a heart’s pulse in it.


She heard his parting footsteps through the rushes and the kingcups,

and she raised her head to count the stars that glittered in the sky.

Through her tears that made a sea of silver water of their glimmer,

not a one she saw was dimmer though his love had shrunk away,

so she wiped away her sadness, and she plucked a golden kingcup,

while a vixen called the dog fox from among the starlit alders.


She listened to the beauty of the foxes’ wild, sweet love song,

as eternal as the river running ever to the sea,

like the stars that guide the grey gull to the isles where dreams are mended,

and she set her face to morning with the fierce, red dawn light breaking,

kingcups twisted in her hair and all love’s sorrow stripped away.




Lost things

For Sacha Black’s challenge to write about Lost Things using exactly 52 words.


All that slips behind

separated by a night,

time, words, loves,

the quality of the clouds,

is gone,

forever unattainable,

and pours over the edge of the world

in a flood of memory, fiery red,

cool blue and mysterious green,

gold as sunbeams on summer grass,

silver as fish scales in moonlight.