The stories we weave

Coming back on the north wind
to green shivering spring chill
dandelion-yellowed dappled and daisied.

Coming back from an antique time
bull-bronze blood and poppy-red
threaded with incantations
that blazed in torchlight to tympana
and the eerie fluting of the pipes.

Coming back leaving behind
dead children their wooden toys
and the brilliant brittle olive-groved light
of blue islands and baked clay.

Haibun for the brushers of pigs

It’s an odd thing about the Visual Verse prompts, but more often than not, the first impression inspires nothing at all. A complete blank. Then, like a blank sheet of paper, it starts to fill up with something I had no idea was waiting to be written. This piece was no exception.

You can read it here.

Restless night

Last night, for the first two hours after taking a pain killer, I dipped in and out of half-sleep, woken by the same imperative repeated over and over—don’t forget two threads of the story, the two characters in a boat, the other two on the mountain, remember how the threads pull together.

Two hours of this anxiety that I might forget the vital elements of the plot of the story plagued me before I woke completely, the pain too bad to sleep and the anxiety still there.

on the water

a boat with swan’s wings


But what is the story? Not one that I am writing. Who are the two people in the boat? What is their relationship with the two climbing the mountain? I wish I knew. Perhaps it is a story waiting to be written, the voice urging me to remember, the voice of what we call the Muse.

And what if I were to write the two wandering threads?


wreathes the mountain

swan’s wings

#writephoto: Earthward

Not a story to accompany Sue’s photo, just idle thoughts.

Screen Shot 2019-09-05 at 17.05.58.png

When down is the only way open, you follow the drifting leaves, down and down steps slippery with rain and fallen leaves, until the earth closes above your head, and the leaves become the smell of earth and leaf mould. Where the light ends and the dark begins might be safety, and it might be the start of a greater danger.

When down is the only way, and behind is a mass grey as thundercloud pushing you on, you follow the leaves, slip down with the rain and descend one step at a time, pretending this is a dream and not a nightmare.

Yet taking the downward stair into the dark is as valid as walking up to the light. Earth enfolds and protects, tunnelled with homes and sanctuaries, out of the wind and the cold and the fear of discovery, and here, where roots dig and plants and trees begin, is silence, the peace and calm of the great earth.

Here, at the beginning of things, is the place to learn and cherish what will grow, to cast away our fear of mystery, so when we follow the winding path beneath root and stone, and out the other side into the daylight, our eyes will be open. We will see the whole world as layers of one great living entity, all beauty, all goodness, not ours to meddle with or discard, to use and destroy, but to keep whole and integral, the silence of tree roots tangled with the silence of clouds.



I love the prompt, but it’s late and I’m tired so I shall probably come back and have another go at this tomorrow. Here’s a first attempt anyway, for the dverse prosery prompt.


It started at school, the taunts, the pokes in the back, the sly foot stuck out when I walked to my desk, the books tipped on the floor. All I ever wanted was to be like everyone else, to have a shiny new bike, the same way of speaking, a house with neat curtains and begonias in gaudy ranks in the garden. Instead I had a clatter of brothers and sisters, an old house with no curtains on the windows, apple trees and rabbit hutches in the garden.

I used to dream of being Prime Minister, or a super hero, or fighting poachers on a nature reserve in Kenya. I dreamt that people finally stopped laughing, prodding and poking and looked at me in awe. But the world is dark and unkind, and dreams never come true.

Then I dreamt I was the moon.

On striving


Wringing the last drops out of life

in search of a silver stream of happiness,

squeezing the juice from a ripe peach

hoping the sweetness will last,

we glean the scraps looking for gold.

Only those who want little,

whose desires are rounded by a trail of trinkets

will sigh and let seep into their blood

the red ink of sunset.

Wanting something words cannot say,

I grub and delve among dark roots,

while overhead, the dancing sky-flowers

call wistfully and race

over the edge of oblivion

without me.


A quickie for the NaPoWriMo prompt referring to an art form other than writing. The woman in the August Macke painting looks uncannily familiar.


If I could paint

a painter I’d be

but these things are decided

when fingers are still stubby tools

for grubbing in the dirt after earthworms and beetles,

forced to shape themselves to uncompromising ivory keys

to grip skinny slippery pencils

and form symbols of another’s creation.

If I could

I would

but paint is a river

an ocean too glorious and uncontrollable

too close to the rolling weaving

water and wind-swept tableau

of another’s creation.

Words instead tumble and trickle

salamanders from a volcanic pit

to be captured and shaped

before they scuttle back into their secret caves

pinned to a page where they glow


That’s the theory anyway.

WIP update

I’ve finished the second draft of my WIP. Chopped out a lot and added almost as much again. Maybe I ought to get straight back to the second part of the story, but the last three weeks of digging about in Medieval minds, speculating on motives and reactions, emotions and lack of them, has worn me out. I need a break from it, to get back to earth (this one, this time) and do something simple like dig holes to put flowers in.

‘On the Quilleboeuf, a man clings as the sea rages and the tide rises and falls. In the morning, he is the only survivor of the wreck of La Blanche-Nef, a butcher from Rouen. He knows nothing of what happened to the Adelin, but jabbers incessantly about a woman, dressed in white who stood on the shore, singing as the ship went down, a woman with the lower body of a serpent. Was it Mélusine or one of her kin, he saw, or the spirit of the vessel? He doesn’t know. But when the flower of the English nobility lies battered and water-bloated on the seashore, who is listening to the stories of a butcher?’


Progress report and story time

I started on the third and final volume of my latest series of novels 25 days ago. So far, I’ve done better than I expected, currently at 55000 words and roughly half way there. It’s true I haven’t been around much and haven’t been following the prompts, but it means I should have a first draught ready by the end of July.

To compensate for the lack of fiction pieces, here is my prize-winning story In a blue barque published in Lucent Dreaming magazine. It’s a lovely magazine visually too.

Erratum: It has just been pointed out to me that the ‘free online edition’ does not include my story which is apparently pay to view only. Sorry about that. You’ll just have to admire the cover 😦