#writephoto – Swansong

birds-se-ilkley-2015-uffington-avebury-hackpen-worcester-3Sue Vincent’s weekly #writephoto challenge is one of my favourite writing prompts. Her photos are always evocative and inspire a wide range of responses, as though she’s captured a little piece of storytelling magic in each image. Perhaps she has…

Here is my response to this week’s photo:

Swansong

They call it a swansong

Our last brave moments

Like a song sung

on a dying breath, beautiful

Haunting notes across the water

A requiem

 

To me it is sadness

A lament for the end

A wish for things to stay

as they always were, golden

Sunlit glimmers on the water

Don’t leave me


If you enjoyed this post and want to read more, you can find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJ,  Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, A Thousand Rooms, is now available on Amazon.

30 Day Writing Challenge – Day Eighteen – Warning

IMG_2263It’s day eighteen of the 30 Day Writing Challenge, and today’s prompt is: Warning. When I read the prompt it made me think of the weather and how quickly it can change – in Melbourne they say you can experience all four seasons in one day, and when I lived there I soon learned to carry a cardigan, umbrella and sunglasses at all times.

So my response to the prompt is a cascade poem, and here it is:

Rain Dancer

Without warning

The weather changed

As we ran for cover

 

There were rumbles

From the west; clouds gathering

Without warning

 

Rain pelting down

Dark spots on bright cotton

The weather changed

 

She danced, arms wide

Rain cool on sun-warmed skin

As we ran for cover.


If you enjoyed this post, you can find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJ,  Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, A Thousand Rooms, is now available on Amazon.

30 Day Writing Challenge – Day Eleven – Stars

img_1468It’s day eleven of the blogging challenge and today’s prompt is: stars. Which I completely forgot about while at the British Museum today – no doubt I could have found something wonderfully starry there to inspire me.

So instead I wrote a little piece of poetry, and here it is:

Opalescent path,

Sprinkled salt-like upon the sky.

Velvet black,

Smooth infinity

Spinning out into the depths

I dance

Among the stars.


If you enjoyed this post, you can find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJ,  Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, A Thousand Rooms, is now available on Amazon.

30 Day Writing Challenge – Day Four – Mirror

img_3257It’s day four of the 30 day writing challenge, and today’s prompt is: Mirror.

I had a few different thoughts about how to approach this prompt, but the lines from Tennyson’s Lady Of Shalott kept playing over and over in my head, and so I felt I needed to share them. These particular lines describe Sir Lancelot as he rode across the river running past the mysterious Lady’s tower, his beauty and song luring her from her loom to the window, whereupon she was cursed. The Lady had a mirror as well, a magical one that showed her all the sights of the world as she sat alone in her chambers – when the (unspecified) curse came upon her, it ‘crack’d from side to side.’ Seven years bad luck indeed!

His broad clear brow in sunlight glow’d;
On burnish’d hooves his war-horse trode;
From underneath his helmet flow’d
His coal-black curls as on he rode,
       As he rode down from Camelot.
From the bank and from the river
He flash’d into the crystal mirror,
‘Tirra lirra, tirra lirra:’
       Sang Sir Lancelot.
From ‘The Lady of Shalott’, by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
While describing water as a crystal mirror these days can be seen (with apologies to Tennyson) as a rather over-used simile, I do think it apt. I love the effect of reflection on water, showing us another world in reverse. As above, so below. I’ve taken a few reflection photos in my wanders, so here are some more, courtesy of the ‘crystal mirror.’img_4273img_2093img_0150
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If you enjoyed this post, you can find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJ,  Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, A Thousand Rooms, is now available on Amazon.

Book Spine Poetry

img_4068I saw this on Twitter a while ago and thought it a fun thing to do – basically, you make a poem from book titles. Here’s my attempt:

I capture the castle,

The daughter of time;

Away with the fairies,

Memory and dream

 

The dark is rising

Whispers underground.

Foxglove summer;

The new rulers of the world

As to what it means, I guess that’s open to interpretation. 🙂 I know what it means to me – what do you think?

 

Circles Beyond Time – Release

This is the continued story of my weekend away with The Silent Eye. For the first instalment, please click here.

img_3545We left The Fox House in a small convoy of cars, heading towards Carl Wark. It’s a Neolithic site, designated a hill fort despite the fact it is like no other hill fort in the area. As we left the cars and started along the trail, we passed between two large stones. Though they were set far back from the path, they nonetheless felt to me as though they marked a gateway of sorts, the beginning of a path.

As we walked the curving path, talking among ourselves, the landscape opened up. To the right the stone was tumbled and jagged, evidence of more recent human activity, blasting into the natural rock for building materials. It felt unnatural, like a scar on the landscape when compared to the sweeping natural beauty to the left of us. Then the path changed, turning down towards a narrow stream that cut the valley in two. A low stone bridge was the only way across. But it was blocked.

img_3581A figure stood there in robes of wool, hair wild, a symbol bound on his brow, his staff held out to bar the way. We stopped. The figure looked like Stuart, and it sounded like Stuart, but there was an echo there of an earlier time. ‘Under the weather indeed,’ we muttered, equally entertained and enthralled by the spectacle. It was well done, as was the next part – each of us taking our turn to cross the narrow bridge and be welcomed into the land.

Ritual can be as simple as a few spoken words or a silent acknowledgement – it does not need to be complicated. And so it was here, words spoken and a welcome given, along with a name – a reminder that she was stepping back in time. As she crossed the water and began to ascend, her mood changed, emotion running high. Her fingers strayed to two rings on her right hand, gifts from her two beloved grandmothers – they were quite valuable, but she had felt bound to wear them. Tears prickled her eyes as she touched the golden circles, reminded of their love.

img_3551We ascended through heather and bracken, the path boggy in parts, large stones seeming to mark the way. I was feeling more and more teary for some reason, and I turned to Sue, who was behind me. ‘This is quite an emotional place, isn’t it?’

She nodded. ‘So you’re feeling it too.’

Ah. Yes, I was definitely feeling something. Sorrow, but an old sorrow, as though I were releasing a pain long held. I told Sue, though I don’t know why, that I had brought my grandmothers with me. She responded by telling me that was a good thing, as we were going to be working with the ancestors. Hmmm.

img_3549As we neared the summit, the scale of the stones crowning the hill became apparent. Large blocks and shapes were placed precariously along the edge, including one that stood out and seemed to change as we approached – one moment a fish, then a bird, then a curling shell, it drew the eye from every angle. Finally, we reached the top, and were greeted by an extraordinary Neolithic stone wall. After taking a few photos, we entered the enclosure to find stones placed everywhere, shaped and carved, defining pathways and areas to sit and take in the views. Yet the large stone perched on the cliff edge stood out, and it felt strangely as though it were watching me.

…all at once she could see that the stone was a raven, wings furled, beaked head turned to greet her. She caught a glimpse of blue and cloth of gold, the raven’s eye following her wherever she went.

‘Kneel.’

The command came, and in her mind’s eye she knelt, weeping as two ravens, living feather and bone, flew past, black against the smoky valley below.

img_3561My eyes were full of tears, emotion rolling over me. Stu and Sue came back along the path and I whimpered something incoherent about ravens and grandmothers before wandering further in, gradually regaining my calm. Eventually, we gathered once more as a group, taking shelter from the wind among a cluster of huge boulders to hear more about the history of the place, and to share any poems or readings we felt might be appropriate. There were a few poems read, then one of the group gifted us with a song, his voice rising with the wind across the valley, a lovely serenade to the landscape. When he finished we all applauded, then Sue invited us into a meditation.

…the great stone seemed to rise and fall beneath her, a movement separate from the buffeting wind, from the rhythm of the song. As though she leant against the side of some great beast, breath blowing in and out, a creature of earth and rock. She spiralled back through the years, travelling out across the valley to the high ridges beyond, a silver thread connecting her back to the group at the rocks…

img_3576We were going to stay and watch the sun set, but the wind was growing stronger and the low grey clouds meant there probably wouldn’t have been much to see other than a darkening sky, so the decision was made to head back to The Fox House and see if we could get our reserved table any earlier. We headed back to the stone wall for a group photo, then started back down the slope. As we crossed the bridge over the stream we each paused, taking a moment in our own way to mark the sanctity of the place we’d just visited. I felt quite different than how I had when I ascended, something I had been carrying a long time released.

img_3570When we reached The Fox House, they were happy to accommodate us. Amid the good food and conversation, I mentioned to Sue that I’d written a poem for the weekend. ‘But it didn’t feel the right time to read it,’ I’d said, ‘plus I think there’s another verse.’ There was certainly another line – ‘Sleepers awake! Tell us your dreams.’ It turned round and round in my mind, and I knew it had to be included somehow. I pulled the notebook from my bag and gave it to Sue to read. She did, then passed it on to Stuart. He read it, then nodded at me.

‘We can work with this tomorrow, if that’s okay with you.’

Cascade Poetry Challenge – Longing

Waterfall painting

‘Silence, Waterfall and Forest’ by Arthur Bowen Davies. Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons

I really enjoyed Jane Dougherty’s Poetry Challenge last week, so I thought I’d give it a go again this week. This time, Jane has challenged us to write a cascade, which consists of four stanzas each with three lines, where each line from the first verse is the last line of each subsequent verse. Jane shared the above painting as inspiration, and here is my cascade poem:

Longing

Among pine-scented shadows,

As water falls

I hear your voice, beloved.

 

Clad in velvet we wait,

The deer and I,

Among pine-scented shadows.

 

Cool spray rippling silver

Across a darkened pool,

As water falls.

 

Bright hair, red cloak,

A flash of light.

I hear your voice, beloved.

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I found this form more difficult than last week’s kyrielle, yet just as enjoyable to write. I found I had to consider the story I wanted to tell in the first stanza, as it would shape the remaining three. Thanks to Jane for another interesting challenge!