folktober #ekphrasticchallenge. Day Three. To celebrate the launch of my new poetry collection “As Folktaleteller” I am downloading 93 folklore art images, 3 per day in October and asking writers to write poetry or a short prose inspired by one, two or all three images. Please join Gaynor Kane, Ankh Spice, Jane Dougherty, Kyla Houbolt, Jessica Whipple, Jacqueline Dempsey-Cohen, Chris Husband, Eryn McConnell, Dave Garbutt, Merril Smith and I, plus those who react to the images on the day, as we explore images from folktales.

Pwca Stones

THIS for locking the loft,
soft with hay

THIS for marrying
the fair ones away

THIS for the empty dish
set on the threshold

THIS for the fire
you would point at our stronghold

THIS for the costumes
that mock our sharp features

THIS for your cat-guard
that gargles and snatches

THIS for the thankless
young maid you employ

THIS for the daylight
we may not enjoy

THIS for your poison pie
left in the sun.

THIS for a message
and THIS ONE for fun.

-Kirsten Irving

poc, poc, puca

hey crucible weather
clouds blackwool a goat-storm
stamp flat air south
I am under the blossom tree
we shiver prescience
only she does this with results
three soft white bee’s lures
three comet tail hairs
three fat plucks
of the rain-string
I keep telling you the exact
ingredients fall on us
all of the time
these for mortar-muddling
to rest in the crater
they’ll tell you is dormant
this forge is no old country
I keep telling you we are melting
our own sharp points here
all of the time
on a flat palm
sudden, perfect cherries
and the muzzling sky
weighs greed against the trick

-Ankh Spice – 3/10/22

Will O the Wisp (inspired by 2.3, Will O the Wisp)

The light darts and dances
In front of me, drawing my eye
And my heart whispers, follow!
I do, blindly pushing past
The undergrowth, heedless
Of the roots that snag and trip
Me as I walk, craving the light

The wisp may lead me onwards
On a fool’s quest, the unknown
Tipping me into danger
Begging me to reach for the
Impossible hope, the forbidden fruit
But I am uncaring of that

The light guides me on
My eyes are full, hypnotised
I walk in a daze, stumbling
The wisp is leading me
And I do not know to where
But I care not of that
The light is beautiful
And going in the wrong
Direction on a fool’s quest
Is still better than
Not going anywhere at all.

-Eryn McConnell

Will o’ the Wisp

Across the moor by night
walk! Stumble through heather
follow the ærie light \quad in hollows
there is the promise of pension justice:

forming a line —your ex-employers—
with backdated cheques
and adjusted contributions.

Just methane belches \quad igniting
to flicker
small phosphine lights in the dark
are not steady moonlight
are worse than carbon black
when you wake
and balance and compass kick-in.

-Dave Garbutt, 3 October 2022

Forest women

Forest women lived in witc- light,
drank the blood of children,
flew the night on crow-back.

Hags, unloved, lived alone
with their magic, grudgingly useful,

until the lean times and sick times
offered them up, wizened fruit
on unconsecrated branches.

-Jane Dougherty

Will-o’-Wisp (inspired by F1.3 Pwca, and F2.3, Will o the Wisp)

Black bog, clouded night
comes the flash of fairy-fire—
a ghost-glow, trickster’s beacon—
the pwca lures—and you follow

through shadow-swallowed shadows
where tree arms shake and root-feet trip,
you go, seeking the glimmer

not as ship rescued by a flare
but moth to flame, unaware,
attracted, caught

left in the dark
when the pwca leaves,
abandoned, alone—no reprieve

without ghost-light,
only spirits and sprites,
when the ghost-laugh comes,
you quiver and run

but there’s no escape—
not till after their fun.

-Merril Smith

Wear Your Amulet (Inspired “F 1. 3. Pwca_Wirt_Sikes_British_Goblins_1880.png”)

When worries, frustrations, and fears
throughout the mind
whirl in eddies
and begin filling to the brim
the Pwca starts bloating
leading your vehemence
in stygian
on the brink of a precipice
reverberating with the
menacing peals of Pwca’s
bubbling you in an
petrifying you

Put a full stop to overthinking
Burst the monotony
and follow the course that
the heart longs to meander
for it is an amulet
preventing you
slipping into the chasm

-ⒸSpriha Kant

Will-O’-the-Wisp stands guard at the swamp
Leading you in with his bioluminescent jack-o’-lantern
Lighting your steps; to where no-one knows.
Will he light your way forward?
Or trick you to your end?
He’s never quite there
Like some ocular mirage,
Skimming the dampness,
Glistening enticingly.
Then gone in the blink of an eye.

-Chris Husband

Bios and Links

-Jane Dougherty

lives and works in southwest France. A Pushcart Prize nominee, her poems and stories have been published in magazines and journals including Ogham Stone, the Ekphrastic Review, Black Bough Poetry, ink sweat and tears, Gleam, Nightingale & Sparrow, Green Ink and Brilliant Flash Fiction. She blogs at Her poetry chapbooks, thicker than water and birds and other feathers were published in October and November 2020.

-Eryn McConnell

is a poet originally from the UK who now lives in South Germany with their family. They have been writing poetry since their teens and is currently working on their second collection of poems.

-Spriha Kant

developed an interest in reading and writing poetries at a very tender age. Her poetry “The Seashell” was first published online in the “Imaginary Land Stories” on August 8, 2020, by Sunmeet Singh. She has been a part of Stuart Matthew’s anthology “Sing, Do the birds of Spring” in the fourth series of books from #InstantEternal poetry prompts. She has been featured in the Bob Dylan-inspired anthology “Hard Rain Poetry: Forever Dylan” by the founder and editor of the website “Fevers of the Mind Poetry and Art” David L O’ Nan. Her poetries have been published in the anthology “Bare Bones Writing Issue 1: Fevers of the Mind”. Paul Brookes has featured her poetry, “A Monstrous Shadow”, based on a photograph clicked by herself, as the “Seventh Synergy” in “SYNERGY: CALLING ALL WRITERS WHO ARE PHOTOGRAPHERS” on his blog “The Wombwell Rainbow”. She has been featured in the “Quick-9 interview” on by David L’O Nan. She has reviewed the poetry book “Silence From The Shadows” by Stuart Matthews. Her acrostic poetry “A Rainstorm” has been published in the Poetic Form Challenge on the blog “TheWombwell Rainbow” owned by Paul Brookes. She also joined the movement “World Suicide Prevention Day” by contributing her poetry “Giving Up The Smooch” on the blog “The Wombwell Rainbow”, an initiative taken by Paul Brookes.

-Gaynor Kane

from Belfast in Northern Ireland, had no idea that when she started a degree with the OU at forty it would be life changing.  It magically turned her into a writer and now she has a few collections of poetry published, all by The Hedgehog Poetry Press Recently, she has been a judge for The North Carolina Poetry Society and guest sub-editor for the inaugural issue of The Storms: A journal of prose, poetry and visual art. Her new chapbook, Eight Types of Love, was released in July. Follow her on Twitter @gaynorkane or read more at

-Dave Garbutt

has been writing poems since he was 17 and has still not learned to give up. His poems have been published in The Brown Envelope Anthology, and magazines (Horizon, Writers & Readers) most recently on XRcreative and forthcoming in the Deronda review. His poem ‘ripped’ was long listed in the Rialto Nature & Place competition 2021. In August 2021 he took part in the Postcard Poetry Festival and the chap book that came from that is available at the postcard festival website.

He was born less than a mile from where Keats lived in N London and sometimes describes himself as ‘a failed biologist, like Keats’, in the 70’s he moved to Reading until till moving to Switzerland (in 1994), where he still lives. He has found the time since the pandemic very productive as many workshops and groups opened up to non-locals as they moved to Zoom. 

Dave retired from the science and IT world in 2016 and he is active on Twitter, FaceBook,, Flickr (he had a solo exhibition of his photographs in March 2017). He leads monthly bird walks around the Birs river in NW Switzerland. His tag is @DavGar51.

-Merril D. Smith

lives in southern New Jersey near the Delaware River. Her poetry has been published in several poetry journals and anthologies, including Black Bough Poetry, Anti-Heroin Chic,  Fevers of the Mind, and Nightingale and Sparrow. Her first full-length poetry collection, River Ghosts, is forthcoming from Nightingale & Sparrow Press.  Twitter: @merril_mds  Instagram: mdsmithnj  Website/blog:

-Jacqueline Dempsey-Cohen,

a retired teacher and children’s library specialist, considers herself an adventurer. She has meandered the country in an old Chevy van and flown along on midnight runs in a smoky old Convair 440 to deliver the Wall Street Journal. She is a licensed pilot, coffee house lingerer, and finds her inspiration and solace in nature in all its glorious diversity. Loving wife and mother, she makes her home in the wilds of Portland OR.

-Kyla Houbolt’s

first two chapbooks, Dawn’s Fool (Ice Floe Press) and Tuned (CCCP Chapbooks), were published in 2020. Tuned is also available as an ebook. Her work has appeared in Hobart, Had, Barren, Juke Joint, Moist, Trouvaille Review, and elsewhere. Find her work at her linktree: She is on Twitter @luaz_poet.

4 thoughts on “folktober #ekphrasticchallenge. Day Three. To celebrate the launch of my new poetry collection “As Folktaleteller” I am downloading 93 folklore art images, 3 per day in October and asking writers to write poetry or a short prose inspired by one, two or all three images. Please join Gaynor Kane, Ankh Spice, Jane Dougherty, Kyla Houbolt, Jessica Whipple, Jacqueline Dempsey-Cohen, Chris Husband, Eryn McConnell, Dave Garbutt, Merril Smith and I, plus those who react to the images on the day, as we explore images from folktales.

  1. Pingback: Folktober Challenge, Day 3 – Yesterday and today: Merril's historical musings

  2. Pingback: Folktober Challenge, Day 3 – Spriha Kant

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