Jane Dougherty’s Pictures and Poetry Challenge 3: A hope of home

800px-Joseph_Mallord_William_Turner_-_Norham_Castle,_Sunrise_-_WGA23182

The dry river bed shimmered, glassy with sun haze. A few cattle – bony as xylophones – followed tribesmen, nudging at rocks, chewing tufts of crisp grass.

The distant outcrops were scorched barren, a thicket of acacias turned khaki by weeks of drought.

He tugged his scarf over his nose to fend off a sand squall. So different from home. And yet….

Through squinted eyes, the dry riverbed became the River Affric, the cattle shaggy Highland cows, bellowing across the Glen. The outcrops were the mountains of Kintail or Mam Sodhail, the only Munro he was ever likely to climb.

In the sting of sand he felt pricks of snow, on the wind he smelt the heather, the tang of loch water.

He’d never imagined he would yearn to feel cold again, to chip at ice with the heel of his boot.

Sighing, he walked on. Towards the acacias and a hope of home.

***

Written for Jane Dougherty’s Pictures and Poetry Challenge 3. Really enjoyed this one. The Turner just reminded me of the dazzle you see in a extreme heat, a mirage of a longed for landscape.

NB

All the places mentioned – the River Affric, Mam Sodhail, the Mountains of Kintail – are in Scotland.

A Munro is a Scottish mountain over 3,000 feet.

The Highland Cow - More Than Just a Hairy Face | Rabbie's Travelfeels

And this beautiful beastie is a Highland cow otherwise known as an Aberdeen Angus.

Online anthology goes live

Ever stuck on the bus, longing to escape the nose to tail brake lights and cloud of body odour and halitosis emanating from the man pressed slightly-too-close beside you?

Tired of reading about celebrity cellulite/ nose jobs/ make ups/ break ups and seeing endless pics of your cousins’s perfect kids smiling on the beach/ in their school uniform/ at ballet, tap, taekwondo, Brazilian capoeira classes on your social media feed?

Would you like to escape to snow capped mountains/ run away to join the circus, travelling chainsaw jugglers, vacuum salesman/ find somewhere magical, terrifying or beautiful to hide, if only for a while? Then I’m delighted to announce, I have good news.

The tireless and tirelessly imaginative Sammi Cox has launched a new anthology on WordPress,

Outcast and other words.

The anthology has 52 themed chapters and brings together contributions from a year’s worth of her weekly writing prompts. There’s poetry and stories on every subject from Shadows to Colours, Remedy to Moonstruck, Ragtag & Wanderlust.

I’m delighted to say, I have two shorts in the collection – see Chapter 11: Guardian and Chapter 44: Fallen if you need a short fiction fix.

If your need is for something longer, Sammi’s Oathbreaker is available to read on Wattpad, in fact, it’s just been included on the Watty’s 2018 long list …

Eleri, priestess of the Green Lady, has waited for so long to marry her tribe’s champion, Celyn. Finally, the date is set for Midsummer’s Eve, when the tribes have gathered in the valley to celebrate the longest day at the stone circle perched up on the hill. But nothing is as it seems…

A glimpse of a bird circling over the stones foretells of doom…and maybe even death.

An oath is made. An oath is broken. And Eleri’s life changes forever…

Sounds good, doesn’t it?

And Sammi’s weekly prompt is ongoing, so if you’d like to join in for some inspiration, pop along to her blog, here.

Happy reading and scribbling, folks!

 

 

 

Maureen Cullen poetry on Amaryllis Poetry blog

 

My dear friend, poet and short story writer, Maureen Cullen has another of her poems – Strawberry Tarts and Swan Vestas – published today, this time on the Amaryllis Poetry website.

Maureen is a Scot, so there’s a smattering of Scots dialect words. If you’re a sassenach like me, you may not understand all of the words but you’ll get the gist. And truly, her voice is one of the many joys of her work.

Just sit back, read and let her imagery take you away to Clydeside to smell the pipe smoke and taste those strawberries.

 

 

Maureen Cullen : Poetry publication

Image result for dumbarton

https://www.airbnb.co.uk/s/Dumbarton–United-Kingdom


 

It’s lovely to share my own successes with you but just as lovely to share the successes of writer friends.

I’ve posted Maureen Cullen’s work on here before and for those of you who read any of these posts (Home Sweet Home, The Children’s Panel, Leaving Annalise, Primers Volume One) it will come as no surprise that Maureen has been published again, this time on the Ink, Sweat & Tears site.

Maureen’s poetry often takes the everyday, the grit and grist of life and pulls beautiful threads from it, spinning something that reflects and accentuates reality, making the mundane special. She’s a truly talented person.

Do pop along and read her wonderful work  – Alcluith – on the site or visit Ink, Sweat & Tears’ Facebook page.

 

 

Beads beaming with her blood: the Ballad of Charlotte Dymond by Charles Causley

 

Image: Pixabay  Image: Pixabay

 

‘The Ballad of Charlotte Dymond’ by Charles Causley

It was a Sunday evening

And in the April rain

That Charlotte went from our house

And never came home again.

*

Her shawl of diamond redcloth,

She wore a yellow gown,

She carried the green gauze handkerchief

She bought in Bodmin town.

*

About her throat her necklace

And in her purse her pay:

The four silver shillings

She had at Lady Day.

*

In her purse four shillings

And in her purse her pride

As she walked out one evening

Her lover at her side.

*

Out beyond the marshes

Where the cattle stand,

With her crippled lover

Limping at her hand.

*

Charlotte walked with Matthew

Through the Sunday mist,

Never saw the razor

Waiting at his wrist.

*

Charlotte she was gentle

But they found her in the flood

Her Sunday beads among the reeds

Beaming with her blood.

*

Matthew, where is Charlotte,

And wherefore has she flown?

For you walked out together

And now are come alone.

*

Why do you not answer,

Stand silent as a tree,

Your Sunday worsted stockings

All muddied to the knee?

*

Why do you mend your breast-pleat

With a rusty needle’s thread

And fall with fears and silent tears

Upon your single bed?

*

Why do you sit so sadly

Your face the colour of clay

And with a green gauze handkerchief

Wipe the sour sweat away?

*

Has she gone to Blisland

To seek an easier place,

And is that why your eye won’t dry

And blinds your bleaching face?

*

Take me home! cried Charlotte,

‘I lie here in the pit!

A red rock rests upon my breasts

And my naked neck is split!’

*

Her skin was soft as sable,

Her eyes were wide as day,

Her hair was blacker than the bog

That licked her life away;

*

Her cheeks were made out of honey,

Her throat was made of flame

Where all around the razor

Had written its red name.

*

As Matthew turned at Plymouth

About the tilting Hoe,

The cold and cunning constable

Up to him did go:

*

‘I’ve come to take you, Matthew,

Unto the magistrate’s door.

Come quiet now, you pretty poor boy,

And you must know what for.’

*

‘She is as pure,’ cried Matthew,

‘As is the early dew,

Her only stain it is the pain

That round her neck I drew!

*

‘She is as guiltless as the day

She sprang forth from her mother.

The only sin upon her skin

Is that she loved another.’

*

They took him off to Bodmin,

They pulled the prison bell,

They sent him smartly up to heaven

And dropped him down to hell.

*

All through the granite kingdom

And on its travelling airs

Ask which of these two lovers

The most deserves your prayers.

*

And your steel heart search, Stranger,

That you may pause and pray

For lovers who come not to bed

Upon their wedding day,

*

But lie upon the moorland

Where stands the sacred snow

Above the breathing river,

And the salt sea-winds go.


Originally posted here last year.

Read more about the poet here. If you’re ever in Bodmin in Cornwall, there is a memorial to Charlotte near the spot where her body was found and a courtroom re-enactment of Matthew’s trial at Bodmin’s Shire Hall

Poetry Tuesdays: The Children’s Panel

Little girl in a garden

Image : Pixabay

 

Greetings and welcome to Poetry Tuesdays. Don’t worry, I won’t impose my own deformed haikus or mangled iambic pentameter on you. I’m going to hand you over to a guest who’s much more experienced and eloquent than myself.

Her name is Maureen Cullen, she’s a fine poet and an old writing group pal of mine. Last week and this, I’ve featured Maureen’s poetry on the run up to a reading taking place soon – details below.

One small note: Maureen’s beautiful words are written in Scots dialect and there may be some you’re unfamiliar with. My advice is go with it – it’s gorgeous, lyrical stuff and you’ll get the gist, never fear.

Now, here’s Maureen.

These are two poems from work in progress about my protagonist, Maisie, who is a child in foster care who is subsequently adopted and then, as a young adult becomes interested in her roots. The poems follow her as she grows. 16 other poems from the collection have recently been published as part of Primers, Volume One, a collaboration between The Poetry School and Nine Arches Press, featuring myself and three other poets, Geraldine Clarkson, Katie Griffiths and Lucy Ingrams. We will be reading from the book at The Albion Beatnik Bookstore in Oxford on 11th July . If you are in the area we would love to see you.

The book can be purchased at:http://ninearchespress.com/shop.html#!/Poetry-Books/c/8486213/offset=0&sort=addedTimeDesc


 

 

The

            Children’s

                                    Panel

 

hunker ower

ma papers,

two baldy heids an wan

 

wi loops

like her curlers ur still in.

 

The mockit auld men

whisper tae Her,

the Lady Chair

 

whose pointy pink ears

twitch

tae the scratch

o her claws on the table.

 

Ah count tae ten,

an back again,

get tae three, afore the

phud

 

o Chair Lady’s

full stop.

Poetry Tuesday: Leaving Annalise

Little girl in a garden

Image : Pixabay

Greetings and welcome to Poetry Tuesdays. Don’t worry, I won’t impose my own deformed haikus or mangled iambic pentameter on you. I’m going to hand you over to a guest who’s much more experienced and eloquent than myself.

Her name is Maureen Cullen, she’s a fine poet and an old writing group pal of mine. This week and next, I’ll be featuring Maureen’s poetry on the run up to a reading taking place soon – details below.

One small note: Maureen’s beautiful words are written in Scots dialect and there may be some you’re unfamiliar with. My advice is go with it – it’s gorgeous, lyrical stuff and you’ll get the gist, never fear.

Now, here’s Maureen.

These are two poems from work in progress about my protagonist, Maisie, who is a child in foster care who is subsequently adopted and then, as a young adult becomes interested in her roots. The poems follow her as she grows. 16 other poems from the collection have recently been published as part of Primers, Volume One, a collaboration between The Poetry School and Nine Arches Press, featuring myself and three other poets, Geraldine Clarkson, Katie Griffiths and Lucy Ingrams. We will be reading from the book at The Albion Beatnik Bookstore in Oxford on 11th July . If you are in the area we would love to see you.

The book can be purchased at:http://ninearchespress.com/shop.html#!/Poetry-Books/c/8486213/offset=0&sort=addedTimeDesc


 

Leaving Annalise

The day ah’ve no tae greet or stomp

or squeal or huff

or pull at Sammy’s tail.

Mammy Annalise says we must be mice,

so we whisper, point, tiptoe an zip-it.

Ah hope firever’s jist a wee short while

cause ah’ll miss ma pals

an Missus Gordon

an even Sammy. Who’ll braid ma plaits,

make ma tum a bowl o cream,

tuck ma mittens in ma pocket?

Who’ll smell like wine gums aw day long,

an sing ma sums fir me tae learn? Whit aboot

ma snuggle place on Mammy’s knee?

Who’ll change ma sheet when it gets soaked?

Who’ll sprinkle talc on ma sore bum?

FFftPP:Close the Circle

ocean

https://pixabay.com/en/ocean-sky-sea-horizon-outdoor-316752/

She heard voices beneath the crash of the waves, whispers in the hiss of popping foam and spray. She’d make me listen, hoping to see the spark of recognition in my eyes, and turn away disappointed when they stayed dark.

Nervous of the answer, I’d ask what she heard.

‘Close the circle,’ was all she said, face aglow as if a ball of buttercups were pressed to her chin.

My instinct was to smother her words – hasten the oncoming silence – but my hands were cowards, cradled in the nest of my lap.

When they found her, she was all circles – a halo of bladderwrack wreathed around her throat: full moon eyes fixed on the sky.

Spine curled like an ammonite, she’d returned to the sea.

*********

Written for Roger Shipp’s FFftPP. See the pic, include or allude to the quote and all in 200 words or less. Good fun – do join in.

Poetry: Primers Volume One

printing blocks

Image: Pixabay

Now, I’m not one for blowing my own trumpet – I’m not even sure I have a trumpet to blow, to be honest – but I can recognise a fine musical instrument in others, if you know what I mean.

A few years ago, I enrolled in a creative writing course, chiefly as after completing a first draft of a novel, I realised I wasn’t actually very good at writing and if I was to suceed in becoming an author I needed to get a damn sight better at it – quickly.

As it was a distance learning course (thank you, Open University!) there were several online forums associated with it and through one of these I was introduced to a fantastically talented and enthusiastic group of fiction writers and poets. Together we decided to to write a charity anthology and with a lot of hard work and not a little chutzpah (especially on behalf of the member who managed to get a forward written by Downton Abbey creator, Julian Fellowes) Still Me was picked up by an indie publisher and has since gone on to raise a nice chunk of cash for the Alzheimers Society.

Why do I mention this?

Well, among the fantastic group of writers was the very talented poet and author

Maureen Cullen. 

I’m absolutely delighted to anounce that after a nationwide search for new talent, Maureen’s work will be published on the 14th April by Nine Arches Press in Primers Volume One.

Lightly comic, tragic, beautiful, and with a strong Scots lilt, Maureen’s poetry never ceases to dazzle me, and as she doesn’t have a social media platform of her own, I thought I’d stand on my WordPress rooftop and blow her trumpet for her.

And if you’re anywhere near Much Wenlock on 24th April, Maureen and the other talents featured in Primers Volume One will be reading at the Wenlock Poetry Festival.

Any support you can give to a very gifted poet and lovely person, will be amazing.

 

 

 

Love Nudge Competition Winner

background-2360_1920

Image: Pixabay

 

The judging is over and what a tough week it’s been for me here at Shamble Towers.

I received so many submissions of such high quality and in such a wide range of styles, it felt almost impossible to choose between them. If I could afford to send you all a prize I would.

I was impressed by what an emotional lot you are – you covered everything from pure joy and passion to twisted loathing, blackmail andstalking finally nudging towards jealousy-fuelled homicide. The full gamut of the love experience.

Poetry was a big hitter in the competition and I’ve been introduced to forms I’d never heard of previously – haibun, senryus, shadorma, rondelet, gogyohka – and each one a sparkling gem of brevity and beauty.

Before we go to the result – and because this was about reading people’s work and discovering new blogging pals as much as a finding a winner – I thought I’d share some of my favourite moments from each entrant.

All writing below is the author’s own and merely reproduced to show how clever they all are.

 

***

Kittykat-bits and bobs

The dressing room door stood open, revealing rows of designer clothes. Her perfectly manicured fingernails caught the sunlight in the mirror as she applied foundation to cover the bruises. The price of security.

***

In Medias Res

From to love to loathing
a step down a twisted path
thorns prick, bleed insults

***

Making it Write

when you try to leave he’s filled with remorse
and you don’t realise that it’s par for the course.
his claims of regret bring you back to his arms
but once you are there he drops the charm.

***

Life Lessons

New love blogs extreme attraction.
Experience posts a retraction.

***

Cherrytartblog

Why are women jealous when I talk to their men, thinking I’ll steal them away. When really it’s the men who should worry, when I talk to the girls.

***

What the Woman Wrote

stay away
from this broken heart
nothing else
makes me sick
more than watching you pretend
that you give a damn

***

F Dot Leonora

it was like a fire at first, but she put it out. the warm remnants ignited again, and she could not help but savor the wamth, the feeling, the draw…it reminded her she was alive…

***

Only 100 Words

The collection of Max and Olive’s drawings has you stumped for hours. He gets the children, he’ll get more drawings. So you should keep these. Then you think of the children – they might miss their masterpieces.

***

Merlot Bookbinder

Instant attraction.
Love at first sight.
Jaw dropping beauty,
Feel as high
As a kite.

***

Waltbox

The bell rang, but he waited as she collected her notes, her book, and zipped her backpack. It was how he said goodbye each day. But he couldn’t let her leave him again. This time, he chose to follow her.

***

Olivier Fiction

Observing obscure overtures optimistically. 

And

Obnoxious?  Obtuse? Oafish?  Officious? Obliterated outright. 

And

Jibing, jeering, JERK!  Just you judge your jugular, junior, for jagged joints.

***

A Word Adventure

Sure she was no longer young or beautiful but was it reason enough to cheat on her, to leave her and the kids for a Barbie doll?

***

And now to the prize giving. 

I wish I could give you all a gold star just for finding this competition and for being here.

Honourable Mentions

I send a big, electronic hug to my blogging pals Kat and Sonya and to all those who spread the competition on social media – they know how rubbish I am at Twittering and without their help no one new to this blog would have heard of Love Nudge at all.

More Honourable Mentions

To those who submitted every day – thank you, you’re amazing. And for those very clever souls – Jane at Making it Write, Walt at Waltbox and Sonya at Only 100 Words – who not only posted for each prompt, but also made each a chapter in the same story: a nod of admiration to you talented group. Also special nods go to Annie at What the Woman Wrote for being so proficient at so many beautiful poetic forms and to Jonathan at Olivier Fiction for torturing himself by using only alliteration in his submissions.

And now to the Winner!

Firstly, let me explain the reasons behind my decision. Not only did the winner post every day, they used a poetic form – the haibun – which combines prose with a haiku ending. They also weaved all seven segments together, making one story, beginning at the height of a passionate affair, passing through its souring by jealousy, stalking, attempted blackmail, separation and a high profile trial. I was by turns gripped, saddened and angered by the way the plot developed, the writer making me care for a protagonist that was foolish, selfish, but strong and witty – someone who was manipulated and could have become a victim but emerged a survivor.

And all this written in the rather tricky second person POV.

So, first prize and a copy of Still Me by All Write Then goes to Sonya at Only 100 Words for her exceptional work. My email is on my profile – if you’d be happy to send me your address, I’ll wing a copy to you in the post as soon as the Royal Mail will allow.

Thank you, again, to all of those who took part. It’s been a joy to meet many of you for the first time and to be introduced to your writing – a pleasure to know such a talented bunch of people all across the world.