Posted on 26th October, 2016



Reminder  : to celebrate this month of creativity there will be an actual gathering of bodies in the lecture room at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, Caerlaverock, Eastpark Farm,DG1 4RS on Saturday 29th October from 2.00 - 4.00 pm - entry free but buy your own tea and cakes. There will be brief readings, mostly about the birds, and a chance to meet and talk with each other - bring your friends and family - come early and stay late to enjoy this beautiful sanctuary and winter home for birdlife. Please let me know if you would like to read and I'll make a list.




Puffins - Tom Langlands



To Trieste & Back


James Joyce speaking through his proxy, Stephan Dedalus, in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, talks of flying by the nets of social and cultural expectation. He was also implying the flight from Ireland to Trieste, in 1904.

            For the past ten years a friend and I had discussed the possibility of making a literary pilgrimage to that city. I fancied walking past the statue of Joyce which I knew to be there, and having my photograph taken seeming not to notice our great literary forebear. As it turned out my camera broke a short while before we left and I had to take an old digital video camera – the complexities of using which defeated my friend at the crucial moment. 

            I’m a fan of The Image, a history of pseudo events..’ by Daniel Boorstein, in which the replaying, staging, falsifying and fixing of what has happened by what is appearing to be happening was explored. Should I go back over the Grand Canal Bridge and seem to miss Joyce again? Instinctively I decided not. So my friend’s movie footage – which I still haven’t looked at - will record a real event, off camera of the intended event, a comic irony that I hope Joyce would have appreciated, especially in light of the umpteen hundred kilometres of drive that led us to it!

            Joyce, in bronze, looked wistful and distracted to me, leaning slightly it seemed, against the side of the bridge; loitering, is one description I have seen applied to him. Perhaps he was thinking of Dublin, or of Molly Bloom! A couple of streets away there is another statue: an altogether fiercer character strides along, dressed in boots and flat cap and long overcoat, his collar turned up against and the hem of his coat flapping in the fierce, cold Trieste breeze which blew all of the time we were there. Not Joyce again, this is the poet Umberto Sabo, of whom I knew nothing, and know precious little more as I write!

            Joyce’s migration to Trieste lasted sixteen years, ours lasted not much more than that number of hours! Yet a journey there and back is a journey there and back. Joyce never returned to Ireland. His, ultimately was an emigration. We were more like the birds that fly from my telephone wires in the autumn, and return to them in the spring. 

            I wonder if they return changed by their journeys, or if that is a purely human conceit? I wonder if they find the places they return to changed. Even after ten days we feel the friction of our changed selves against the changed places we return to. Nothing holds still. Nothing living remains exactly the same. 

            And there is the matter of changed ideas, ideas of renewals and of other journeys to be made on our return; dreams and expectations built on our memories and perceptions of where we have left, projected onto our assumptions of to where we shall return. 


Brindley Hallam Dennis



Seasons prompt




The day lengthened as the tide closed

Over the strand, shortening time, paddling

Close, gull prints on the damp shore, closing

The peaceful circle between sky and sea


Contrasting with the straightness of the road

The aggression with which our hearts respond 

To the challenges, there the fluidity is meditative

Here the fixed is stuck impassive unmoving


Out there clarity, light, a clear and fine day

Here melancholy, darkness of thought

Out there just the freeing possibility of being

Here the heaviness that bears down unfeeling


As the day draws inevitably to its close, each

Day now shorter than the day before, night falling

So we settle for the lessening of time and space

Embracing the nights tranquility if such is granted


Geoff Smith





Dog Violet - Leonie Ewing



Cat Fish


Barbate, Spain: we went out early to see the sardine boats come in and unload their catch; a smelly business. The fishermen sung as they swung the boxes of fish from the boats up onto the harbour. Then from behind and between crates and lobster pots, cats started to appear; slinking and slithering, ears pricked, noses quivering, they came one by one and each took just one fish from the piled up boxes.. Then they slunk away into shadows I hadn’t noticed. We came back the next day and watched the scene play and replay itself. I was fascinated by the cats' ritual and restraint.


A sardine is a small fish, surely it would be possible for some cats to manage to snatch two fish? But no. Each time we wandered down to watch what had become the cat-fish fun, we only ever saw a cat with one fish. Did these scavenging cats have a code of conduct – were they thoughtful of the well-being of the feral group? Were they more altruistic than we humans? we wondered as we meandered along the harbour in search of coffee. 


Steph Newham.



Fire Prompt




Small flames adore

Creep, explore, leap,

Crackle with affection;

Their attention kills

The thing they need,

Embers fall beneath

Maintain a bed of fire

To feed the greedy

Upward reach of tongues;

Heat grows until

Log’s hollow glow subsides

In clouds of sparks;

Even as they die

Flames flow round

Last charred coals

Of their yearly feast.


Anne Micklethwaite





Apples with shield bug - Hazel Lowther


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