How they kill the city.

They silence him, but his shadow shouts on – a nightmare scream that fills the room, echoes down the corridors. They shut the door, but the scream spills under it. They brick up the doorway, plaster over it, so that you’d never know the room was there, but the scream remains.

They leave the house. Ivy grows over the walls, blocks the windows, but the scream continues. They bulldoze the damn house, but still the scream is there. People move away. The street empties. No-one can live there.

The neighbourhood thins out. Empty houses can’t be filled. The scream just spreads, filling the whole city. It won’t be drowned by sirens, car horns, piped music. People leave their homes, their jobs – relocate.  The scream is alone, echoing down silent streets of boarded-up shops, empty apartment buildings. Dandelions split the tarmac.

Bjorn is hosting prosery night at dVerse. It’s our only prose prompt – 144 words, including a line from a poem. Tonight’s line comes from Maya Angelou’s Caged Bird: “his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream”. 

City house – for dVerse.

I will weave walls out of grey smoke
and bright mirrored neon
fallen shattered in puddles,
and all the windows
will look out over the  lights
that net the city. We will look down
from our high place
and drink the nightclub rhythm
from glasses that reflect
shop window glitter. Night will curl
in the corner like a stray cat,
and the ceiling will be saffroned
by streetlamps.
Dawn will come calling
before we sleep, and our
lullaby will be the clank
of delivery vans, and the footsteps
of early risers.

Another one for dVerse. I’m living in the country, so of course I dream of the city. 

City Haibun – for dVerse

Winter’s cold fingers are almost touching the city, and the guy who sleeps under the flyover is carrying an extra blanket. I try not to look as I walk past, pulling my coat around me. As the sun sets, streetlights glow brighter than stars, shop windows shine clearer than the moon. Each puddle holds a shard of city, a kaleidoscope of lights shine at my feet. There’s a couple already drinking outside a bar – I watch him light her cigarette, see how they laugh together, but I don’t stop. My feet beat in the commuter’s rhythm now. I’m in a hurry, stopping at the convenience store for bread and milk, a pizza and a bottle of wine. I want to get home, out of the wind that’s rolling down the street, and the rain that’s just starting. It’s been a long day, but the city will be up all night, drinking and dancing and carrying on without me.

Autumn’s open hand

Spills chilly moonlight, cold stars

Dance through the  puddles.


This is a slightly less traditional haibun than usual, because Bjorn at dVerse is a bit of rebel…He’s asked for something that captures the city, in all its sleazy, neon glory. If you head over there you can knock back a Cosmopolitan and try a haibun out for yourself. 

Far far away – microfiction#10 for Jane Dougherty.

In the city there is a fountain. Under the fountain there is a serpent.

If you can tell a good enough story the serpent will grant you a wish.

To reach the city you must walk over seven hills, ford seven rivers, and battle through seven forests. Don’t speak to anyone – not the beautiful girl who offers apples, or the old woman who asks for bread. Don’t turn aside to pick the roses that grow beside the path, or to warm yourself at the fires the woodmen make at night.

When you reach the city, the gate will be locked. Prick your finger 5 times and write your name on the gate in red blood. The gate will open for you.

You must enter the city barefoot, at dawn.

The city is made of glass, and shines in the sun as if it is made of fire. Buildings will shatter around you at times, cutting you. You must stay silent. As the sun strengthens, the glass will burn your feet.

When you reach the fountain, you must wash yourself and then tell your story. If the serpent offers you a wish, you must first refuse politely.

Then wish yourself home.

This is for Jane Dougherty’s Microfiction challenge. The image is by Theodore Kittelson, and Jane has asked us for a fairy tale. I don’t know if this is quite a fairy tale, but I started writing something else, and 200 words is JUST NOT ENOUGH. So this strange little thing emerged.

For anyone who’s interested, Stella is fine, but having a bit of a rest at the moment. I  have worked out a couple more episodes, and may well post them, but I think we all need a bit of a rest from her…