The Quest

The Quest? That’s the stupid game my stupid brother plays. And half the boys in the school. And quite a few girls, too. My brother’s been playing it for a couple of years now. I know ALL about it – he never shuts up about it, that’s how I know about it.

He’s a Mage. An apprentice Mage. Everyone’s an apprentice. You do this test at the start and it puts you in a group. Like the Sorting Hat. Mage, Warrior, Trickster, Minstrel, Merchant.

There have been SO many fights at school about it. Like, last week two Warriors got into a fight over some gold, and then a Trickster came in and stole it while they were fighting, and so they both beat him up instead.

It’s not real gold. It’s all AR – augmented reality. You follow trails, solve clues, have magical encounters, collect gold to bribe goblins and trinkets to charm elves. Like, we’ll be on our way to the shops and he’s suddenly “Wait, wait, I have to collect that gold!”


I don’t know ANYBODY who’s completed it, but they say if you do, you go through The Portal and get some kind of mystical powers.

Double Mental.

My stupid brother talks about it ALL the time. Mum was tearing her hair out, he wasn’t doing any schoolwork, not a tap. He got straight As in the end of term exams though, so what can she say? He reckons it’s because he’s a Mage. As if.

It’s all got serious now, though. He went off yesterday, with a bunch of mates. They formed a Questing Company, apparently. One of each – Mage, Minstrel, all that. The final quest, he said, to find a dragon, and then they get to go through The Portal.


And they haven’t come back. Mum’s beside herself. The police are out there looking for them.

I’ve got a plan, though. I’ve signed up for The Quest. See – I’m a Warrior. Cool, huh? Warrior Maiden plaits and everything. What do you reckon? See, I’ going to follow this stupid Quest until I find my stupid brother.

This is for Mindlovemiserymenageries prompt The Quest. 


Apple tree – for dVerse

I have drowsed all winter,
dreaming my dappled dreams,
but now the sun has touched me,
and the lengthening days
and my dreams are all of leaves,
green flames. The sap rises
fire in my veins. Down there,
deep in the darkness, my roots
seek life. I catch the sunlight
in a net, carve my dreams
from it. It’s spring, and
the primrose says “Be glad, be glad!”
and the blackbird tattoos his song
of love and hate. It’s spring,
and I dream of blossom,
pink and pale, smooth as rain,
calling the bees to dance their weaving.

Each morning, the night ripens into day,
each evening, day autumns into night,
and I watch the stars trace
their slow pathways, and the shadows
grow and shrink their way
across the grass. I dream
of leaves, and flowers, and fruit –
heavy apples bending my branches –
heavier than the thieving finch, the blackbird –
“Be afraid, be afraid,” he calls,
but I know
that in the pale heart
of each glowing apple
shines a star.
I dreamed it so.


Mish at dVerseasks us to write a poem from nature’s point of view.  It was always going to be an apple tree. Or a rook. The apple tree won…

Those dVerse poets are a dverse bunch, but very friendly and there’s a whole world of wonderful poetry over there. Check it out. 

Balloon II – quadrille for dVerse

Love balloon

Pregnancy ballooned me
stretching my belly to bursting point,
rounding my face, spherical,
a marshmallow woman.

Yet, the movement
of your hands, your feet,
pressing from inside me,

your small heart beating
under my ribcage. A balloon
of love, carrying you
into the world.


Oh, dVerse, my thoughts are floating like balloons in a clear sky…

Advice for new troll owners – for Jane Dougherty’s Sunday Strange.

1024px-Theodor_Kittelsen_-_The_Princess_picking_Lice_from_the_Troll_-_Google_Art_ProjectMost people have no understanding of the level of maintenance required by trolls. They are in fact quite delicate, and require substantial amounts of care and understanding. Before you take your new troll friend home, please read this article. It could make all the difference.

Petrification: trolls are very susceptible to petrification – particularly the larger Cave Trolls. Be absolutely meticulous in applying sun block, and try not to let them out in daylight if at all possible. Twilight walks and early morning chases are much more enjoyable. Direct sunlight is the enemy of the troll!

Pests and parasites: trolls are prone to catching stone lice. These are nasty creatures, and can cause your troll companion to become listless and debilitated. The best way of removing them is employing a princess to pick them out of your troll’s fur. You can try this yourself, but centuries of experience do show that a princess’s delicate fingers are best suited to this fiddly task. If you can’t access a princess, any minor royal, aristocrat, or simply an overly spoiled teenage girl will make a reasonable substitute. NB: males are incapable of de-licing trolls, except for the Green-capped Mountain Troll.

Feeding: sedimentary rock forms the basis of the troll’s diet, but this should be supplemented with a variety of igneous rocks, moss, lichen, and bones. Human if possible. The calcium is very important for good strong teeth and hair.

Exercise: of course, your troll companion will require regular exercise. Mountains and moorlands are their preferred territory, but parks, playgrounds and, at a pinch, multi-storey carparks will offer acceptable alternatives.

Remember: a troll is for life, not just for Mother’s Day. Treat your troll well, and you will be rewarded with years of faithful companionship.

Happy trolling, everyone!


This is for Jane Dougherty’s Sunday Strange.  Go and have a look. It’s always good over there. 

Empty – #writephoto for Sue Vincent.

They’d just got the big field cut when they were called away. My dad and my brothers headed off to town one Tuesday morning, in the early, misty morning. They were just going to a meeting, they said, but they didn’t come back. By Saturday the corn was dry, and the men still gone. We hadn’t heard anything. Our nearest neighbour came over on Sunday, and told us her husband and nephew had gone, too. Not a man left over 14 and under 70 anywhere from here to Plymouth, that’s what she told us, before she headed back the couple of miles to her own place.
Mam rolled up her sleeves, then, and headed out to the field, taking me with her. We spent the afternoon raking and piling up the dried stalks of corn, ready to load them onto the cart. It was hot and dusty, and we didn’t talk much. Mam looked out over the hay meadow and shook her head. That needed cutting, too, and drying. Losing a week’s work at this time of year was disastrous.
When we went back to load up on Monday, we found the hay had been cut. Someone had been in there overnight. There was a strange shadow lying across the field, which wafted away as we approached. On Tuesday the hay was ricked up, drying nicely in the sun. Thursday morning, it was piled in a great stack in the corner of the meadow. The shadow was there again, running up the field ahead of us, seeming to float up into the blue sky.
“Thank you”, Mam shouted, seeing no harm in it. There was no reply.


This is for Sue Vincent’s #writephoto challenge.

Go go go GloPoWriMo

I’m in. This blog was set up for NaPoWriMo/GloPoWriMo 2016, so I’ll be celebrating a year of poetry by doing it all over again. And I’m really looking forward to it. Except for the risk of sonnets.

I enjoyed April 2016 so much that I kept on writing. I discovered a couple of prompters who I liked and respected, I found some friendly poets online, I got some kind feedback, I started reading a lot more poetry, and I kept on writing. I pushed myself with different forms, I surprised myself sometimes, and I’ve generally discovered that it’s true: if you want to write more, write more.

So be warned. April is on its way…

The best meal ever – haibun for dVerse II

If you ask me about the best meal I ever had, I’ll smile, and think of Sydney. I’ll tell you how we sat on the waterfront, by the place where the seaplanes dock, in a restaurant called the Catalina. We went for lunch, six of us, and ate and drank and laughed and talked. We were so young, life was an adventure, the sun was shining and the food was so good.

Don’t ask me what we ate. I only know it was delicious. And there was lobster. Lots of lobster. And a different wine with every course. I only know we stayed there all afternoon, and the waiters were lovely, and the sun was shining, and the food was so good. We stayed on, while everyone else left, after pudding, after coffee, watching the sea birds and the sea planes, and the sun on the water. I’m sure we drank champagne. We definitely drank champagne.

If you ask me about the best meal I ever had, I’ll smile, and think of Raj, who always knew the best restaurants, the best wines, the best cocktails. I’ll smile, even though there are tears in my eyes, because now there are only five of us, and the bravest of us is gone. The one who ordered the champagne. The one who made every meal a celebration.

Catalina calls
Sun on the water, shining,
Bubbles rise in fun


This is my second haibun for this prompt. It’s fortuitous – I’ve written about Raj before, our fun-loving, brave friend. It’s her birthday today, and she was there when I had the best meal ever. 

Yum yum -haibun!

Sunday slipped through my fingers, lost in a whirl of rugby and rowing, mud and river water, friends talking, kids being delivered here and there, growing washing piles – all the detritus of family life.

On Monday, then, in the gaps between school runs and riding and skittles, I cooked our Sunday roast, served it up in pans and roasting dishes, and we sat and ate together. Suddenly, my husband spoke: “I think this is the best roast dinner you’ve ever cooked” and my daughter chimed in “It’s the best roast dinner I’ve ever eaten.” My son agreed with them, nodding with his mouth full and helping himself to another roast potato. I laughed. And then I smiled, in sheer pleasure.

I don’t know if it was the best roast dinner ever. I suspect there have been better ones…I do know that this is what makes a family – sharing the rituals, and the times when we do something a little unexpected. Sharing a meal together, enjoying the food and the company. Taking the extra potato.

Winter mud, spring rain
Outside our golden circle,
Inside is our home.


Toni at dVerse is asking for a haibun on the best meal we ever had. This is a bit of a cheat, but I’m trying to use this year’s haibuns as a journal, keeping it in the here and now. Like I say, I don’t know if it was the best meal ever, but we enjoyed it. I suspect this week’s haibuns will be about company more than menus…get over to dVerse and see if I’m right. 

Impression – for dVerse

Star bear
Swinging low
Honey smear
Silver sky
Jasmine scented
Air weighted

Your eyes

Your throat

Candle flame
Flickers warm
Light fingers touch
One rose
Red lipped

Your mouth
Shining lantern
Your lips

Grapes roll silently spilling from a blue dish rolling across the white cloth casting soft shadows lavender lilac violet in the dim room rolling across the white cloth that is itself a sheet of paper snow fall the skin of your inner arm now a flurry of cherry blossom apple blossom almond blossom

My glass is full
Dark wine
Red lipped
Rose held
In the curve
my hand

Your skin

Your cheek

Weighted air
Scented jasmine
Smear honey
Sky silver
Low swinging
Bear star


Bjorn has set us an artistic challenge for Meet the Bar at dVerse. This is my attempt at Impressionism.