Evolution stutters.
Stuff banks up, then cartwheels suddenly.
Boys become men. A woman dies.
A red leaf spirals down.
The rain starts – did you feel a drop?
I think I did – and then we’re running
under cover. Apples ripen.

These empty streets –
are they tomorrow
or a week ago? I couldn’t say.
Sculpted skies, birds calling,
spring morphing into summer
morphing into autumn.

How much do memories cost, then?
They sink into the soil,
red ice-pops melting sticky
the ground mouth-gaping,
gulping at ersatz cherry juice.

Stuff banks up. A pushchair and a rainbow dress,
sunshine on water. Piles of books,
things fluttering through my fingers.

Wait. I scribble in a yellow notebook,
tap on a keyboard,
then a typewriter,
I paint my phrases
onto parchment, vellum,
press letters into clay,
I chisel words into the rock.

I draw a horse head
on a half-lit wall.

Tell me a story. I’m all out of words.

It’s Peter’s first night hosting at dVerse, and he’s given us an exercise in editing. You can read the details here:

I don’t do much editing. I spend a lot of time working a poem out in my head, so I think I edit before I commit anything to paper. However, I regularly write for Brendan’s earthweal prompts and I find those poems tend to be a bit more relaxed and free-form than my dVerse poems. This was originally an earthweal poem. Do check earthweal out.


Ghosts at my table

there are ghosts at my table tonight
I write, not mentioning that
my table is a pale rectangle
of wood, so that perhaps
you picture your own table,
round, white, plastic –
or a dark mahogany oval,
and your ghosts are
the dark ring left by
a wine bottle, the last time
you had dinner with
a long lost lover,
or the scorched place
where you set down a pan
too quickly, the day
you heard that news
about your sister, while mine
are the assorted stains
and scratches left by my
children as they leave their
childhood, not quite ghosts,
waiting to fade.

Metafictionfor the Toads

The Journey – microfiction for Jane Dougherty

Sometimes he wondered at how heavy they had become. At first, when there were just one or two of them, they had each seemed as insubstantial as mist, and he had hardly felt their cool hands on his arms or neck, had scarcely heard their whispers, that moved through the air like wind through sedge grass. Now they clung to him like ivy to an old wall, and all he could hear was their insistent murmurings – “The princess, the princess” they whispered, pushing him on.

“We are her dreams” they told him, “Her memories. We are the stories she tells herself. How can she be herself without us?” And they cling to him, begging to be carried, to be taken on the long journey to the lost princess.

In the beginning, he had trusted them, but with the passing days he grew to hate them, and to fear them. There were more each night, holding out pale arms to him, and he couldn’t refuse them. He wondered if the princess would welcome him, and his strange company – if ever they should find her – or if she would turn from them, preferring her forgetfulness.

But still he journeyed, as if this forest had no end, and his destiny was to walk these twisting paths for all eternity, seeking a princess who had forgotten her own story.

This story is for Jane Dougherty’s microfiction challenge. The image is by John Bauer. Check out her site – her entries are really great stuff.996px-john_bauer-ha%cc%88sten_ledde_han_vid_betslet

NaPoWriMo 12 – an index poem


See also: Amnesia
Of course – for love, see also hate,
For joy, see also despair.

Ageing effects
I forget the pub we first went to
But I remember you asking me
If I wanted a drink.

Anaesthetic effects
And I remember your smile
And the way your eyes shone

I remember the flat we stayed in
And the meal you cooked

Biasing recall
I remember a bar in Madrid
And the sun on the tiled floor

Biological basis
I remember the fireworks
One New Year’s Eve
Reflected in the water

I had forgotten the light
In the early morning
In the desert
But I remember it now

Confusion with reality
I remember the smell of incense at night
Mixed with the smell of flowers

And the smell of heat
Rising from the ground

Déjà vu experiences
And I remember the stars,
Those clear, clear nights

Of dreams
But I can never remember the smell of bluebells
Until they are there

Dream function
I remember drinking cider
In the sun, falling asleep,
Waking up hot and sweating

I remember the flames

I remember

Long term
I remember the colour of the kitchen
And the colour of turmeric
Spilt on the slate floor

Loss, dissociations
I remember walking home at dawn
With the sun rising

I remember streetlights
In the rain

I have forgotten his name
But I remember the coat he wore

Short term
I left my sunglasses
At the beach.
They are long gone.

Skills, learned
I remember the sand on my skin.
I remember the dust.

Sleep, enhancement by.