Music is general

Music is general over Ireland:

There’s a kid with a fiddle

On Grafton Street, and out

In the West, in Ballydehob,

There’s a German couple

In Rosie’s bar, who are playing

Bob Marley. Your parents

Are fox-trotting across the floor

In the golf club, and the army band

Is practicing “Faith of our Fathers”.

In Limerick the pipes, the pipes

Are calling, and in this little church

By the sea, there’s music dancing

Where the altar used to be.

There’s a ceilidh tonight

In the community centre

On Clare Island, and the pipes

Sing like a bad woman

And in Toners there’s a poet

Who suddenly bursts into

“My Lagan Love”, and high

Above Ben Bullen, there’s a

Skylark rising, rising, rising.


For Brendan, over at toads. We are asked to write a poem for St Patrick’s Day. It was hard to narrow it down. Toner’s is a pub in Dublin, if you’re wondering. 


Green – stream of consciousness

Green, obviously, is the colour of life. From my window here, most of the world is green. Maybe not most – there’s a lot of sky, but of the ground I can see, most of it is covered in grass. The trees are bare, but now, in March, there’s a shiver of green, a whisper that there will be leaves. Ivy, of course, dull, dark green, there all winter, and the laurels – which I hate. All that green is a miracle, a massive factory turning sunlight into sugar. That is the colour of life, out there. And death, too, of course – though that mold that disgusts us is just more life. We privilege human life – there’s a hierarchy of life forms, starting with us, working down through animals we can identify with, like dogs and lions and elephants and deer, and ending up somewhere down the bottom with molds and fungi and jellyfish – because no matter how much you can admire them and use them as a metaphor, you can’t feel that fondness for a jellyfish that you feel for a kitten or a puppy, or even a baby calf, all wobbly legs and big brown eyes. It’s easier to identify with something with eyes. Aliens are green. That’s a given. Little green men. And it’s the colour of the uncanny, the elfin, the leprechaun. This most fundamental colour, this background shade, mundane, disregarded, is the colour of the strangest things of all.

For Linda G’ Hill’s Saturday Stream of Consciousness. A 5 minute flow of words, unedited. Today, of course, is the greenest day of all. Happy St Patrick’s Day to everyone who is Irish, loves Ireland, finds their feet tapping to an Irish tune, or their heart swaying to an Irish poet’s words. 

Carrot cake is the way to a man’s heart.

Look at him. He’s gorgeous. And now, look at her – slim, blonde, elegant – and he’s all over her, begging eyes,  like a dog that wants a biscuit. Makes me sick.

Cappuccino and carrot cake for him? Black coffee for her? Worried about her figure, obviously. It’s all right – I’ll serve them, I say.

“Two coffees, and one cake”.

I set it down in front of him. He doesn’t even look at me. Not until the first mouthful, and then he looks around, and meets my eyes.

She doesn’t stand a chance.

99 words for the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge. Carrot cake. 



So, Level 1 of The Quest is all about getting kitted out. I’m a Warrior, so I need weapons – obviously – and armour, and all that. I haven’t told Mum and Dad. They’d go mental – I mean, they’re worried enough as it is. I told Bethany, though. She took the test yesterday, and she’s come out as a Trickster, which is cool.

So, Bethany’s my first partner. She’s really excited about it. I think she wanted to play, anyway, but it’s mostly boys. It’s harder for girls to admit they’re interested.

I told Mum and Dad I was going round to Bethany’s after school, to do some French. Our house is awful. Mum just wanders around. Like, she’ll have a cup in her hand, and she’ll just wander around with it, and then remember she’s supposed to be putting it away, like she’s forgotten where cups go. And she feels bad about me, I know she does. I don’t mind her neglecting me. She’s not neglecting me, really, she just has a lot to worry about.

We got our phones out on the way there. The Quest is totally lame, but it’s sort of cool, too. I mean, we walked past the supermarket, and on screen it looked like this weird rock formation, with people going in and out of this dark, creepy cave entrance. Bethany reckons we should explore it. She reckons there might be treasure in there, or some kind of magical weapon. We’re going to go back there, after tea, and see what we can find. It will be our first real quest. I’m kind of excited, and kind of nervous.

We spotted another Questor, too. A kid in the year above us. I think his name is Jake. He was wearing Minstrel clothes when you looked at him through the screen. He had a blue sash, so I think he’s Level 3, but he didn’t have a badge, so he’s not part of a Fellowship. I don’t think he noticed us. We need to start thinking about our Fellowship, though. Bethany reckons we should keep it as an all girl thing, but I’m not sure. I just want to get through these early levels as quickly as possible. I’m not just on a Quest, I’m on a Mission.

The Quest is a augmented reality game, involving role-play, quests, problem solving and battling. The aim is to build up resources and form a fellowship to complete the final level and pass through The Portal. A Fellowship comprises one of each possible role – Mage, Warrior, Trickster, Minstrel, Merchant. And nobody knows what happens when you pass through the Portal. 

Another piece for Sue Vincent’s #Writephoto challenge. It’s a continuation of a piece i wrote a while ago – follow the Quest link if you want to read that piece.


The green chapel

Winter sleeps in a cave in the mountains, on a bed of ice. She creeps in there as the snow melts, and takes her long rest, lulled by birdsong and the scent of green, growing things. She wakes as the leaves fall in showers of gold and red, and emerges, scattering frost around her. She walks under winter skies pierced full of stars, and dances in wild December storms.

If you find the cave, and enter it, you will see her sleeping there, pale as a snowdrop, lips like holly berries, hair as black as the bare branches of the beech tree in January. Don’t wake her – one touch of her white hand will freeze your soul, and leave you bound, another stone sentinel to guard her bedchamber.

For Sue Vincent’s #writephoto prompt.



The invisible woman

She slipped invisible
between the pages
unnoticed, finding her own way,

invisibility is a curse,
and a power –

I mean, it’s terrible to be

and yet, invisible, you can
work your way into
the heart of things.

She wore invisibility
like a cloak,
used it to hide

hair unbrushed,
comfortable shoes,
hands untended,

slipped between
blades of grass,
between sheets
of plate glass,

sipped coffee
watched the world.



For Lillian, a very visible woman, at dVerse. We are invited to think about superpowers, real, imaginary, whatever.  


Uncle Steve’s Photos

There was a film left in the camera, the night Uncle Steve disappeared. We had to send it off to be developed – his dark room was a mystery to us.

When the prints came back, we clustered round the kitchen table as Aunty Barb opened them.

She never said a word. Her hands shook more and more as she went through them, and her face froze. Then, suddenly, she got up and left the room.

She never mentioned the photographs, or Uncle Steve again, and we never asked her what she’d seen.

Ninety three words for Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers. I could have added the days of the week…image by Ted Strutz, words by me, prompt from Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. 


Fire II – quadrille

How many times have we
Watched as the sun expires,
Gathered beside the sea
To watch the waves catch fire?

Then as the glory fades,
Night shifts across the sky,
Hand in hand turn away
Leaving the darkening tide?

Day drifts away
Starlight remains.


Another fire quadrille for dVerse.


Fire – quadrille

Fire the gun.

Silences must be shattered.
Races must begin.

Fire the gun.

You created this suspense
This glass sphere hanging

Leaving you untouched

You created this

That aches to end

You are holding the gun

Fire it.

Fire it now.

a quadrille for De at dVerse. Forty four words to fire you up and fire you out…



So Far

Well, so far it’s been a bit of a disappointment, this journey. I thought by now we’d be getting somewhere, getting a glimpse of what it’s all for – True Love, Endless Riches, Cloak of Darkness, something like that. Inner Peace.

I left everything for this, you know – soft bed, fresh bread, sitting by the fire reading – left it all. It’s been so long now, I hardly remember it.

How long has it been? I don’t remember. Weeks. Months. Years, maybe. We spent weeks crossing the desert, and months in the mountains. And now this forest. I’m scratched and torn, and dirty. It’s endless. Walking, foraging, battling to light a fire. Some nights we sleep in a barn, next night under a tree, once we were fed by a village, once by a farmer. Some nights we’re boiling roots to make soup.

I’ve seen things I never would have seen otherwise. Snow topped mountains catching fire at sunset, raindrops gathering on pale green leaves, the desert like snow in the moonlight.

Some of the old ones say that is enough. Not for me, though. I want more.

For Linda  – a Stream of Consciousness. Unformed, unedited…