Sun sets in beauty

Inspired by the Ekphrastic prompt, Fin de la Jornada by Emilio Boggio.

Congratulations to Merril and Kerfe on having their poems selected for pulication!

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Sun sets in beauty, bursts colours of heaven,

Phoenix-intangible and oh so far away,


the golds and reds, jewels filling the clouds like

rain drops, blue, pink-tinged, colour of rose petals,


flame, scarlet, crimson, vermilion, burning up the

river with molten glory. The air sings with beauty,


birds, winged marvels, flock homeward lifting their

voices in praise of the changing sky, the sleep-time,


and workers walk, heads bent to the mud, dreaming of a day

of rest, dark churches candle-lit where shadows lie in wait,


and the mumbling sing-song of the priest promises eternal

rewards, the sinking, one day, back into the indifferent earth.


Microfiction: Lost temple VIII

Final episode.


Tears of rage and of sorrow blinded the acolyte. He knelt at the edge of the pit and wept until the images faded and he became aware of the whispering of hundreds of voices.

I hear.

He wiped his eyes on his sleeve and got to his feet. The pavement rippled, and the monk’s body slid into the pit. The acolyte watched, and, full of shame for all it represented, he undid the beads about his own waist and tossed the rosary after Brother Constantine. The shadows returned, soft as doves’ wings, to fill the space. The ravens wheeled, sending the darkness swirling, like giant wings, and departed, their silhouettes black against the moon. He took the amulet and hung it around his neck. The amulet spoke.

Go now and keep the secret. This is a holy place. Let not the barbarians return to profane it.

The acolyte nodded, his face set, a cold glitter in his eye. The dove wings, children’s hands, touched his hands, his robes. Older hands stroked his face, gentle as a summer breeze. Moonlight filled the ruins, softening the rough edges, washing the pavement with silver.

The acolyte made his way back to the waiting horses and turned their heads towards a new life.

God is the answer

Painting is by Caspar David Friedrich.



“God is the answer,” said the sky.

Silken water over the weir,

Glory of sunset-coloured clouds,

Different ears, different questions hear.


“There’s too much sorrow and pain if,

God is the answer,” said the sky,

Fish, bird and red fox ask no more,

Than to live, grow and in peace die.


Holy men mumble in their beards,

Gazing at sacred temple ground,

“God is the answer.” Said the sky,

“The sun spreads light and life around.”


The earth provides for the red fox,

Fish in the oceans, birds that fly,

What need have men of bloody war?

“God is the answer,” said the sky.

Flash fiction: Lipstick

This piece of flash fiction was prompted by Sacha Black’s writing challenge. If red lipstick is your thing, why not enter a story?

NATO - International Security Assistance Force

Esma slid the lipstick up her sleeve. There were no security tags on little things like that, and it was only a cheap one anyway. She cast a furtive glance around. The security guard was busy searching for bombs in backpacks. The girls around the makeup stand with their gentle pushing and jostling, laughing and joking covered the awkward movement as she wriggled the lipstick safely up past her elbow. The in-store music covered the pounding of her heart. Settling her headscarf straight and tucking the ends tighter beneath her jacket, she pushed out of the shop as swiftly as she dared.

The pedestrian street outside was full of Saturday shoppers. Esma melted into the crowd, only letting out her breath when she was certain the security guard was not going to shout after her to stop. The illicit chunk of plastic bored into her flesh with each step she took towards the bus stop.

Even seated at the back of the bus, Esma remained rigid with anxiety. As if there were security cameras on buses! Only in the silence of the room she shared with her two younger sisters did she dare shake the lipstick out of her sleeve, stroke the shiny case, slip the smooth, blood red lipstick out to admire the lusciousness of its colour, its unctuous taste and texture.


She shivered and touched it with the tip of her tongue. So many things were forbidden. The taste shot through her, a bolt of pleasure. The familiar pervading household smells of coriander and harissa evaporated, and her nostrils flared as she breathed in the cosmetic’s faint perfume. Red lipstick encapsulated all that was bright and exciting in the world outside. A world she was not allowed to enter.

The sound of the front door opening startled her, and she fumbled with the drawer, her drawer in the shared wardrobe, and pushed the glittering, fabulous object beneath a carefully folded pile of scarves and gloves.


Two days later, as she turned into her street coming back from school, a small figure leapt out of the entrance to her apartment block and ran towards her. Farida. Her face was pale, lips pinched, and her eyes stared, wide and fearful.

Esma knew. Her little sister didn’t need to tell her.

“Ommy found it. Abu is… wild.”

Esma stared into the distance, not seeing the apartment blocks, the paper blowing in the gutter, the grimy, anonymous cars that flicked past. Already the street belonged to the past. She smiled and hugged her sister, held her close for a moment. Then she turned and headed back to school. Someone among the advisors and social workers would know of a place where she could stay.




Once I bowed my head with all the rest

Breathed in the scent of incense by the candles’ flickering flame

Fearing death almost as much as I feared life.

Now I raise my face to the rising and the setting sun

And wonder at the silver light of the moon

And how it soothes the ugliness out of every scar.

Instead of tuneless soulless words

Chanted beneath a sky purged of mystery and the deep unknown

I let my soul soar on the wings of the blackbird’s song

Into the morning where every hue of feather and petal and leaf is born.

And when it is time for night to fall

I will fade into the soft darkness between the stars

With the song of the blackbird rippling in my ears.