Posted on 9th October, 2016


Don't forget to write in your diary or on your calandar - on Saturday 29th October at 2.00pm there will be a gathering of Livewires Writers and friends at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Centre at Caerlaverock, near Dumfries DG1 4RS - to celebrate the culmination of the project - brief readings (lots about birds), conversation, tea and cakes and a splendid meeting place. Come and join us !





 Landscape - watercolour  : Elizabeth Waugh


Prompt - Layers


Palimpsest (and an acrostic too : Ed)


Porous skin shimmers sensuously

As artists sit before the model's grace

Lightly etching her skin and smiling face

Imagining the underlying structure, her portrait

Measuring each limb to assess her

Physical beauty, breasts, belly, thighs

Seeking the underlying nature of her poesy

Extending metaphor and rhyme

Supplying the sense of rhythm 

Tracing vertebrae as her heart beats


Geoff Smith







Sunshine filtered down paths on either side of the kirk, the bulk of the building casting its gloom on neatly grassed ground in front of me. My bare arms prickled. I wished that I’d thrown on a cardigan as I walked past chill gravestones asking myself, why here? Why now? Why had he not been in touch months ago? And why could we not have met earlier on this day when the sun hung high in the sky? Then I might have had some small chance of reading an inscription on the stone where my footsteps had led to.

   He had been as precise with his instructions as he was with everything that he touched. I could see him sitting in the window seat, bent over the small table with a frown creasing his brow. He would stroke his trim little beard, choose his words, cross some out and neatly transcribe his message on to the plain white postcard. As if to imbue his request with crisp normality.

   His shadow bobbed down the path between hedge and church, elongated in the light of late day, and became absorbed in the shade of the square building. His trainers scrunched the gravel beside me. I looked resolutely ahead as I sought to decipher script dug deep into granite.

   ‘Found you.’ He spoke softly and I thought that I detected the slightest tremor in his voice.

   ‘You knew I’d be here.’

   The undergrowth gave a deep sigh as a puff of wind rustled laurel leaves.

   ‘Found him.’

   His words moved me to turn to him and with shock I took in his pallid skin, the shadows circling his eyes, such deep furrows either side of his thin lips. He reached out and took my cool hands in his, surprising me with the warmth of his fingertips.

   We turned together to look at the gravestone.

   ‘Our Father,’ we said.


Christine Ashworth



Two Bird Impressions

checked the clock - don't know why


10.58 sun on a hazy sky

tyres are warm and the roads are dry

singing along with the radio high


two fluttering finches


sky soaring

tree topping

hedge hopping

grass grazing

road running










Jazz Spring


spring blows

grey winter away


with rainbow notes

from a saxophone

bending light 

‘till crescendos of green 

tear brown canvas

and silk-soft petals

dance the mirage

of a cerulean summer


Tom Langlands



Brambling : Tom Langlands


Lindisfarne retreat           


‘Isn’t it peaceful?’ the pilgrim said, 

and I nodded, knowing what she meant


not liking to show the Fieldfare’s head

with plucked-out feathers by the path


or Brent Geese, squabbling in tidal pools

jabbing at neighbours with sudden wrath


or Peregrines, grappling overhead

and Bonxies, bullying hungry gulls


Grey Seals brawling at water’s edge

biting and chasing rival males


Barn Owls floating on silent wings

to pounce, on unsuspecting voles.


Barbara Mearns



Patagonian Vultures. 


Bump, bump, bump, bump, bump, thud. 

My coccyx reverberated against the bottom stair.  Heat scoured up and down my spine and my teeth rattled. My first thought was carpet burns.  I’d had carpet burns on my back once before: that time Joe and I drank too much and celebrated the laying of sisal in the squalid PVC conservatory mum had saved so hard for. Painful, a time I was glad to forget.  They ‒ the carpet burns and Joe ‒ were not a good memory. 

Ooooh….I opened my eyes; instantly the tiled floor upended itself, seemed to hang above me for infinite seconds, before it spun backward behind my head to land once again beneath my bum.   Impossible – defies natural law, I thought.   I closed my eyes to stop the spinning. 

Nausea pummelled my oesophagus. The black and white tiles of the hall floor stung chilly against my thighs, and my skirt, dragged upward in my descent, tourniquet’d about my midriff.  Without daring to open my eyes I moved each leg in turn; thank Christ, no breaks. I felt the heat of invisible burns on my back hammer staples into my eyeballs.  I gagged, swallowed sour bile.

After a few deep breaths I managed to open my eyes.  Some long-forgotten modesty reflex kicked in; I tugged at my skirt, felt something shift in the folds on my lap.  Forgetting the carpet burns, I stared into the beady yellow eye of my mother’s stuffed vulture, glaring balefully up at me. 

I blinked.  Shit, bloody shit, she’ll kill me.  Gingerly I loosed its claws from the confines of my skirt, and, wobbling a bit, managed to lever myself upright while clasping Cedric to my chest.  Feathers fluttered to the floor, one wing swung freely on a nylon thread and his disjointed beak squawked at me, ‘That was a fucking stupid thing to do.’ 

I was fuming. Me stupid? No way, it was all your fault, you cost a fortune to get stuffed.  You and my mother deserve each other.  We’d all told her she should get new stair carpet instead of going on that stupid holiday to see Patagonian vultures. 


Steph Newham








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