The sunset gown

She reached out and gathered up the sky, dipping the thread into a vat of it, hanging it to dry, so that the room was filled with blues and golds and that strange green you sometimes see fading away on a summer evening.

She wove a piece of cloth from her memories of that sunset. The deep indigo of the sky, fading to burning gold. She snipped and stitched until she had made a dress that billowed and flowed about her as she moved. Her needle whipped in and out, until the dress was emboidered with masses of clouds, all gold and peach and cream and pink – the glorious colours of burning, endless love.

She stood in front of the mirror. Her hair was a dark ocean, streaming over her shoulders, and the dress was a fiery memory of the setting sun.

The day of the wedding, she took her place at the back of the church in her burning dress. He could only look at her. The bride was fair, and pale, and drooped like a snowdrop as he took her hands, but it was the girl in flames that he gazed at as he made his vows.

For Sue Vincent’s photo prompt #writephoto




Grim Fairy Tales

“…the last petal fell, and the beast was a beast for ever. Belle blamed herself, and never recovered. As her looks faded, she lived only for the stray cats she rescued”.

“Cinderella sat in the kitchen, listening as the prince rode away. He hadn’t even let her try the slipper on.”

“When the dwarves wouldn’t sell him the glass coffin, the prince rode away.”

Maddie threw the book aside. Her stupid brother had managed to scrape two gilded letters off the cloth binding. That “m’s” had made all the difference. These new stories were just grim.


This is for Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers prompt. Photo by Mary Gail Stratford. It’s such a detailed shot of such an unusual subject. 

Poems about drink for dVerse


This most mundane,
most exotic drink,
prosaic rescue remedy,
trailing clouds of steam
and history, linking me
in my untidy kitchen with
an empress on silken cushions
wielding a bamboo whisk;
a bending woman in
a saffron sari, nimble fingers
picking. I am drinking
history and geography,
a thousand wars,
an opium addict
in a back street den,
watching the dragon smoke
drift like a dream,
I’m drinking gold
and death, and
porcelain cups,
and a ration book,
and a church fete,
and pigs grown fat
on an Irish island.
I’m drinking my
mother-in-law’s first welcome,
and my great-grandfather’s pot
kept warm all day,
my father’s heritage
in clay, and yet
I disregard so casually
the sheer improbability
of this drink
cupped in my hand.

The very wonderful Paul has given us a drinking prompt at dVerse. It is a pub, so I was going to write about gin, but it’s early morning, and I really need a cup of tea. 

Grey – haibun for dVerse

Today was grey from the moment I opened my eyes. Today was a day without colour – grey sky blurring into grey land. I spent the day in a cloud of grey, distances blurred and lacking definition. A day of minor problems, mild irritations, a day of bland foods and tepid drinks.

first blossoms appear
I am still feeling winter
cold against my skin


A grey haibun for Bjorn at dVerse. Usually I try to flip the prompt and come up with something unexpected, but today was so very grey…

The mound

Clare looked back at the hill. It was hard to believe they’d been inside it just an hour ago. The burial chamber was amazing  – so well preserved. Once they’d dug down to the entrance, and moved the great stone that blocked the passageway, they’d been able to crawl right into the heart of the hill. They’d been the first people there for 2,000 years, or thereabouts. It was every archaeologist’s dream.

Dave had gone down there with her. He was completing his PhD – he would have so much to write about now. Clare smiled. She could envisage the papers they would write: Dr C Paget and D Anderson. There would be lectures, maybe newspaper articles, maybe a television series. This was a major find.

There were runes carved into the chamber wall. She’d copied them down, and made a rubbing. The papers were stacked in her backpack. Once they got back to the department she’d have a go at interpreting them. Probably an invocation to the gods – though sometimes you found a curse on desecrators of tombs. She grinned. She quite liked the thought of being a desecrator of tombs – a bit Indiana Jones. Usually she was just boring Dr Paget, lecturing on bronze age burial techniques to students who just wanted to be out in the field.

She looked back again. The pathway was obviously part of the tomb complex, and there might well be more remains. She turned fully, shielding her eyes with her hand, and looked at the hill again. Her hill, she thought, with satisfaction.

The path was longer than she’d remembered. An hour later they still hadn’t reached the car. Clare looked round, confused. All these fields looked so similar, and, bizarrely, the hill seemed just as dominant on the skyline as it ever had.

It was much later.  Clare didn’t understand it, and even Dave had lost his usual chilled demeanour. They had been giong in a dead straight line.They couldn’t possibly have come the wrong way, but the sun was starting to set, and they still hadn’t found the car. And the hill was just as close as ever.

The papers in the backpack suddenly seemed very heavy. 

The stick

Maddie approached the stick, fascinated. It had just been left, jutting out of a snow drift, glowing softly – as if it wanted to be noticed. She picked it up and shook it.

Snow started to fall, gently at first, then faster – snowflakes whirling under the street lights. Maddie laughed, delighted. She waved the stick like a conductor’s baton, wanting more snow, but it stopped almost immediately.

She shook the stick again: snow. Waved it: no snow.

She tried over and over again. It worked every time.

Maddie grinned. She was going to have a lot of fun with this…

Photo prompt by Dale Rogerson. 100 words of flash fiction For Rochelle, at Friday Fictioneers. 

The city

She pinned the city to her hair.

I mean, she wore it. Or maybe
it wore her – the river a
glimmering scarf around her neck,
and her eyes like pavements
in the early morning.

She wore the city
like a brooch, and her voice
had the throb of Friday
traffic, and she moved
with all the grace
of a wheeling flock
of city pigeons.

Today, Lillian is running the bar at dVerse, and she asks us to be inspired by art. The painting is by Catrin Welz-Stein, and Lillian shared some of her gently surreal paintings, asking us to choose one as a starting point for a poem. 

Catrin Welz-Stein - German Surrealist Graphic Designer - Tutt'Art@ (24)




I have heard murmurings
and disregarded whispers
and a thousand

soft insinuations

but now the murmurs
are louder, they rustle
in the hedgerow,
they scratch at the windows

of this house.

I have heard an owl
hooting in the silence

and I have waited.