I Hunted Dragons Once

After Kitagawa Utamaro: detail of Pink Flowers with Butterflies and a Dragonfly (public domain)

I hunted dragons once. Courting danger,
Armed with nothing but a net, my hands, a jam jar,
I ventured onto wastelands alone, a stranger
To my primeval prey, a knight to war.

Winged beasties, flitting over hard-baked earth,
Seeking scrubby growth for landing strips:
I stalked them, watched them pause and barely stir,
Balanced on stalks of grass, suspended on the lips
Of pools (putrid, slick with slime like Grendel’s lair),
Their rainbow iridescence, blues and reds
And greens and mauves, upheld by filigreed air,
Their slender bodies capped by swivel heads.

I caught these wonders, cupped them in my hands,
Transferred them into glass-walled living rooms,
Grass-filled their glamorous future homelands,
Never thinking these would be their tombs.

I hunted dragons once, so wanting thus to be
Protective. But they wanted to be free.

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Ballad of the canal

Frozen stretch of Monmouthshire and Brecon canal, Dardy, Powys 2018

Brecon town is far and away
And much too far for me
And Newport city is not so pretty
Although it’s near the sea.

But as I’d like to see the sea
The next best thing would be
The waters of the Mon and Brec
That glide ‘neath sky and tree.

I dream a dream of days I’ll glimpse
The ocean wide and free
As I travel ‘long the Mon and Brec
From Brecon to the sea.

Though Brecon town is far away
And Newport dank and grey
I pray that soon I’ll go that way.
I will, I’m sure, one day.


The Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal is affectionately known as the Mon and Brec

An exercise for a creative writing class on composing poetry, in this case in ballad form

Burnt scraps in the grate

Remains of scraps of pages found among the ashes in the fireplace of the holiday cottage.

First scrap:

They say cats are inscrutable but this one has a better chance of getting back to the rest. Let’s do the same again and get a few more of them together in the next few weeks. I will also be able to get the money back from the bank.

Second scrap:

The paper was rightly ridiculed for its anti-intellectual stance and apparent misunderstanding of the process.

They called forensics in.


Predictive Text Flash Fiction

One-sided phone call

Why do you want me to be a 24-hour flash in the pan?

If not then I can see you on the way back from the airport.

Let’s do the same on the weekend.

You could have been a bit of a great book without saying why.

I mentioned that I was going to stop reviewing enjoyable books…


Predictive Text Flash Fiction

Not a sausage

It’s five, nearly time to return to the office.

He’s shown the last prospective buyers of the day the show home, and they seem possibles, even if a bit non-committal. She liked it, for definite, but it wasn’t his kind of thing. Obvs. Maybe she’d talk him into it.

Ease back into the car as you watch them drive off. Nope, body language not saying anything. Ah well, back to the office. Drive off the estate, past the last house, take a left towards town.

He suddenly takes another left down Shaftesbury Close. That house at the end, with the FOR SALE sign. It’s been on the books for a while. Lewis said the couple that last looked at it complained it was spooky, gave them the heebie-jeebies.

Let’s see what’s going on there it before I call it a day.

Russ parks the car in the driveway. Looks quiet in the cul-de-sac. He gets out. Nah, not that quiet, there’s a dog barking somewhere. He hasn’t got a key, but he’ll have a nosey round, see what he can see, find out what all this malarkey’s about.

Down the side alley between the house and garage. Could do with a bit of work, the pebbledash is cracking in places, grass growing between new cracks in the faux crazy paving concrete. Garden’s overgrown — not surprising, it’s been on the market for several months.

He peers in through the dingy kitchen windows. Nothing, not a sausage. Not a sausage, ha! It’s a kitchen, innit? Not a sausage, love it. Smiles at his own joke, and then …

He stops mid-step, craning his neck to listen intently. Is that a child crying? If only that damn dog would stop barking he could hear. Where is that bloody dog? And where’s that crying coming from?


Short story composed from a list with multiple choices. Elements chosen:
crying child — House for Sale — barking dog — 5.00 pm

We’re all stardust

Catch a falling star, put it in your pocket.
It won’t take you far: for that you’ll need a rocket.
Blast off into space, spaceman that you are. Just
don’t fall, in that case, right back to earth as stardust

Or I’ll catch a falling star …

Ten past ten

He was arrested as he walked by the shop window. It was full of clocks, their faces regarding him dispassionately. Each clock registered ten past ten. Their hands were raised in blessing, a gesture half enfolding, half disclaiming responsibility.

As he gazed at the display Time effected a rallentando.

He noticed the reflections of passers-by slowing to a pause. Is this how time ended, an elastic spring stretching out to the last moment of entropy?

He saw people’s faces suddenly turn towards his, as surprised and unbelieving as his. The window fell in on itself, the clocks leapt in shock.

He was wrong. It wasn’t Entropy at all.

It was the Big Bang.

_____

A piece reflecting on how time seems to slow down after a violent event while our consciousness labours to catch up 

‘Tis the voice of the whinger

 

Winter comes but once a year
Days of darkness soon to bring
Weather cold and storms so drear
Blessed respite brought by spring

But too soon it then gets hot
Summer days we’re bathed in sweat
Autumn’s next as like as not
Mists and storms to make us wet

Now it’s bloody winter come
Starts the cycle once again
Constant change, my brain’s gone numb
Each new season’s such a pain

Two Little Dickie Birds

When I was little our mum used to keep budgies. They were all colours – green, blue, yellow, white – but they were so noisy. My sister and I couldn’t stand it, chirpy-chirp-chirp all day, even at night until the cloth was put over their cage. But she loved them, our mum did, she talked to them, taught them sentences and rhymes, even recorded them on an old-fashioned tape recorder.

She gave them names, too. Georgie was one, and she taught it “Georgie Porgie, pudding and pie, kissed the girls and made them cry” – except it never learnt to say the last word and stopped with the words “and made them,” which was annoying.

Mostly they were called Joey. “Hello, Joey!” it would say to itself, and “Who’s a pretty boy, Joey?” This was very annoying.

After one of the Joey birds died she got a pair. She called them Peter and Paul, like in the nursery rhyme:

Two little dickie birds sitting on a wall,
One named Peter, one named Paul.

This didn’t make sense because one of them was a girl and should have been called Paula or Polly, but mum still called it Paul. Peter was blue and Polly (that’s what us kids called it) was green. Peter learnt to say

Fly away Peter, fly away Paul,
Come back Peter, come back Paul.

There was this trick our mum showed us when we were little, with bits of tissue attached to two fingers, but I thought it was silly teaching it to the budgies because I remember thinking it would give them ideas about flying away.

One day it happened. Peter managed to get out the back door while mum was hanging out the washing. It definitely wasn’t my fault. Anyway, mum started shouting and we all rushed out into the garden, me, my sister and my dad. “He’s flown into the trees behind the garages!” she said, and sure enough we could see a bit of blue halfway up a tree. Our dad got out a ladder but I could see he’d only frighten the bird so I said I’d go up it.

So I did go up, and at the top I had to leave the ladder and use branches for my hands and feet. I was just reaching out with my left hand, quietly saying, “Come back, Peter, come back,” when my dad chucked a stone. It hit the branch Peter was sitting on and he flew away. I don’t know why he threw the stone; maybe he was fed up with all the chirping about Peter and Paul flying away.

Anyway, soon after that Polly died – it was from a broken heart, mum said – and mum got another budgie, a yellow one. She called it Joey. It never learnt to talk, just chirped.

Dad seemed to spend more time in the garage after that, but I never found out why.


  • Written for a creative writing class homework on writing for children.
    Budgerigars are also known as parakeets