Monday, 20 September 2021

The Druid at the Tree

 I wrote this for homework for a zoom writing class. The prompt was a man and a bird and a tree.

I also sent it to Paragraph Planet, as it is 75 words long.

The Druid at the Tree.

The autumn equinox rusting at sunset. The wheel of the year relentlessly turns. He stands quiet and alone on the high hill beside the ancient tree that is silhouetted against the rose-gold sky that is losing its light as the sun begins to fall. Out of sight and soon out of time in this still moment out of time. The blackbird startle

sings and captures his languid soul, taking it far away.

Monday, 12 July 2021

3 Haiku from 'Il est né le divin enfant ''

 I am taking part in a 3 session zoom course with Music and Writing as a theme.

We wrote a bit about a memory of a pice of music and ' Il est né le divin enfant ' came swimming up for attention.

For homework we had to write something from out piece of music.

3 Haiku.

Soft  snow gentle falls

disappearance of the day

winter overtones.


Voices rise as one

capturing spirit and soul

across time and space.


French court softening

oboe sounding through silk heart

receives the Christ child.

I chose to send them as part of an anthology the tutor is arranging.

The response of Ashley Banjo

We were given 'character' as a poetry prompt with Amanda White  on her Saturday workshop.
I wrote this with Ashley Banjo's response to the death of George Floyd in mind.
He saw it on the news that night
His eyes widened
He heard it on the news, again, again, again
His blood boiled, rage overflowing
The impulse to smash, to break.
He sobbed into the arms of his shaken wife
And yet his courage grew
Flowed through his blood, his muscles.
We must dance, we must show the young black men
There is a way through, a way through
And out.
Gather his dancers, gather his crew
The choreography of determination
Capture the anger, channel the fear
Way-shower- hope bringer for a nation
A generation.

Sunday, 4 July 2021

100 words - Zoom Fatigue

He looked at his diary. One more week of  creative writing classes on Zoom, then that was him done for the summer. . A ping alerted him to a text message, then another, and another. There must be 30 messages.

‘Can you help me with my writing, I’m a bit stuck?’

A knock at the door - postie with a sackful of manuscripts.

‘Can you have a look at this, tell me what needs editing?’

The back door opened, a stream of people came in, all clamouring for help with their writing.

What to do? He hastily clicked delete and  promptly disappeared.

Saturday, 3 July 2021

Visionary Art Retreat (a story)

Amy felt hot and uncomfortable in the the rickety taxi . She had been on the road for hours, a plane  from Heathrow, then the train and now this car that had seen better days. At least she had a safe driver, Joaquim who knew the way to the Retreat centre and was happy to do the long journey.

She would be in Portugal for a month, learning from the talented visionary artist Kuba Ambrose.

She had not done any painting with oils before but she had seen his work at an exhibition  and knew she had to take this opportunity while he was in Europe plus it was a welcome break from her Wealth Management job in Canary Wharf. 

She had got used to dealing with the rich and privileged who thought  money was their right but at least she  enjoyed working  with the  celebrities who came her way, wise enough to invest the money from their chart success or acting career instead of frittering it away on cocaine and fast cars. For the most part they were happy to take ethical considerations into account ahead of profit but since the beginning of the year new clientele had been steered  her way and she was ill it ease.

These new  Russian clients  were only interested in making a lot of money and  they did not care about the impact of their investments and were willing to put money into the arms trade, oil deals and mining in sensitive areas .

Amy liked her generous pay packet and the lifestyle it enabled her to lead, but her conscience was troubling her and was starting to doubt the integrity of the board of directors. Just who were they getting into bed with? 

Her reverie was brought to a halt by the rattling of the car and Joaquim shouting as it came to a shuddering stop. It  became obvious that  this part of her journey was over, and for a while things looked bleak as there were no cars on the road they could flag down for help.

After what seemed an age, they heard the sound of a horse and cart coming up behind them and after hearing her tale of woe the driver offered to take Amy to the retreat, which was near his village where his cousin, a mechanic would be able to help Joaquim.

They scrambled onto the dusty cart and  Amy was relieved as the hot afternoon  eventually turned into the cool of  evening as they arrived at the village .

It was not until Amy collected her luggage from the cart that she realised she had left her canvas bag with the  Sennelier oil paints and the new best quality paintbrushes on the floor of the taxi.

Luckily Kuba was willing to let her use his  art supplies that evening when they met for the first session.

He began with a guided meditation to explore the concept of visionary art and when she opened her eyes at the end of it she saw wonderful luminous imagery all around him, angels, ancient figures and sacred geometry. She saw similar sacred images around her fellow students, though theirs were less defined.

She wondered what was all around her . She glanced in the large mirror to her left and saw her aura filled with symbols, with the Flower of Life over her head the Sri Yantra over her heart. 

She picked up Kuba's oil paints and  effortlessly captured these sacred images on her canvas.. it was as if they poured down through the brush and onto the canvas like a stream flowing down a hillside.

By the end of the month Amy had painted 30 canvases, all filled with scintillating, luminous imagery. Kuba placed them for sale on his website and they sold instantly.

Amy would never have to return to Canary Wharf. She had a new kind of wealth to manage.

Monday, 14 June 2021

Fairy Tale


The rooster crowed but he did not sound  enthusiastic about his job. Matilda stirred in the still warm straw,  reluctant to get up, but rise she did and went to see if the hens had laid.

Just a few small eggs for her to collect. This had been the case for for many long and weary months.  Not many eggs to gather and the milk from the goats and cows was hardly enough to feed the family. The rest of the villagers fared no better and people were getting hungry and despondent , worried about their crops. The youths and maidens were listless and many were too ill to help in the fields or look after the young ones.  Matilda's friends were wasting away. No women were with child.

The streams around the village where once the young ones would play all day  had dwindled to a trickle.

The children were too scared to go out with their friends as big black crows swooped down on them, leaving many with scratches on their arms and faces. Their laughter and shouts no longer rang through the village.

 No-one gathered after sunset to sing or tell stories of the day , women returned from the market  with wares unsold and the pedlars and bards had long stopped their visits.

The future looked bleak for the villagers.

It was full moon and that night Matilda asked her ancestors  for a healing dream.

An old woman with deep grey eyes, long white braids and dark green linen cloak came to her, joined by a  bright eyed hare with a silky coat.

'You must go on a journey to the Ancient Tree and bring back stories for your people before they pine away and the village is no more' she said.

Matilda was willing to whatever she could to lift the murky pall that lay around the village and rose before dawn.

She gathered some bread and cheese from the paltry store her weary mother had tucked away and crept out of the hut, trusting the ancestors to guide her way. 

No one saw her leave. She passed the ever dwindling stream at the edge of the  forlorn village and felt guided to walk through the woods, on and on she went until she came to a fork in the path.

Should she turn left or right or go straight ahead. She heard a rustle off to her right and caught a glimpse of the  twitching ears of a hare..surely that must be the way.

She walked and walked and came to a cold hearted marsh. How could she cross it?

She felt a shadow by her was the hare..'just take a step' it whispered.'.all will be well.'

Matilda put her foot out and flat white stones appeared in the marsh providing her safe foothold.

And on she walked for miles and miles.

She found a cool and friendly stream and stopped to drink and rest then just as she was about to take a bite of bread a large black crow flew at her, claws outstretched. A hare appeared out of nowhere and threw a net over it, stopping it in mid flight and bringing it to the ground, too stunned to fight.

Relieved and replenished Matilda continued her seemingly endless walk until she came to a huge gnarled old tree in the middle of a cool clearing.

At the centre of this Queen of the Woods was an entrance into the solid trunk, filled with rough stones, dead wood and piles of dried mud.

Matilda set about clearing it all away until she could step inside.

Hare with fur of silk  joined her and showed her how she could climb up the inside of this magnificent tree. She climbed and climbed, pushing through a band of opaque resistance that yielded and allowed her up and out into a whole brightly new world.

The old woman was waiting there at the entrance to this luminous new world.

Matilda offered her some bread and cheese as a gift and the old woman and the hare guided her to a circle of people.

She walked around the outside of the circle passing the story holders of many nations until she came to a young man holding a lute.

He invited her inside the circle and took her to its centre where there was a golden ball of twine.

'Here are all the stories' he told her.

'Take hold of the end of the twine and pull'

Matilda did so, then the young man took her to each of the people in the circle.

Each one told her a story and asked for one in return.

When she had shared stories with each one the young man took her back to the ball of golden twine and cut a length of twine for her then wrapped it around her waist.

'Here are the stories spoken here today. Take them back to your village and speak them to all.

Ask all the elders to share stories from their youth.

Ask all the maidens and young men to imagine stories of their own.

Matilda was guided back to the entrance to this world, where she climbed back down the centre of the tree.

Hare was waiting for her.

She made her way back through the woods , and at long last arrived at  the stream, now burbling and full of children playing.

She heard the men at work in the fields , she passed her friends with a smile on their lips.

She asked the children to gather wood to make a fire to burn in the centre of the village that night.

That night she shared a new story and asked the elders to share a story.

Each night from new moon to new moon she shared a new story and each night she asked the villagers to share theirs, old and new.

As the days passed the women came back from the market where they had sold all their wares and returned home with bread and vegetables aplenty. The men began to make things from wood to sell .

The hens began to lay , the cows yielded more milk than ever before and the rooster woke everyone with his loud enthusiastic crowing at dawn.

No one minded.

The following year many babies were born, and the pedlar visited the village once more- sure of a happy reception with the maidens wanting his ribbons and trinkets and the grandmothers wanting his cloth to make new clothes for the little ones born from the gathering of stories.