#folktober #ekphrasticchallenge. Day Five. 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.

F 1.5. Leprechaun_ill_artlibre_jnl

F 1.5. Leprechaun_

F 2.5. 220px-Francisco_de_Goya,_Que_viene_el_coco_(Here_Comes_the_Bogey-Man),_published_1799,_NGA_7459

“F 2.5. 220px-Francisco_de_Goya,_Que_viene_el_coco_(Here_Comes_the_Bogey-Man), published_1799

F 3.5 Grey Lady 600px-Dark_Hedges_near_Armoy,_Co_Antrim_(cropped)


The Dark Hedges (Inspired by F3.5, Grey Lady, Dark Hedges)

This beech tree grove,
an arboreal monument,
a tribute to grace
at midday, delight in its dappled light

but even then,
there’s a sense of something not right
in the tunnel of magnificent arching branches,
shadows form

unsettled and unsettling. Watch now at dusk,
the grey mist in semblance of a female shape
and though you cannot see her face,
you feel her tension and her grief

to wander each night
in the gloaming
through the dark hedges
till at the last tree, she goes–

but on Halloween, she’s joined by others.

-Merril Smith

We hear ghosts but not what lives here

How easy a breathfall eerie
wraiths from the cave of a mouth.
To move that word a human tongue
pushes a road through a tunnel
of veined architecture. It is far
from an arterial route: the trunks
of huge and close red trees root up
from the source, but if they bled
into this culvert—terror. Imagine pulsing
out your life fixed in one accidental place,
reaching your hands out
to all you love, frozen around you.
Only fleeting, unpinned beasts dare
to story this, rush through
treading a cruelty of barricade
they laid. Any wonder what lives here
leans hard in to twig support
across the void. Fearful
ambulants, nothing haunts you here
but this—a yearning to connect,
to shadow into softest grey
the hard, decisive lines you draw
between like bodies: one side, another.

-Ankh Spice – 5/10/22

The dwindling of greatness (inspired by F1:5 the Leprechaun)

They had faces like the sun,
hair black as midnight
or bright as spun gold.

They had magic in their blood
and every bone, bird-bone, hare-bone
and the long bones of the deer.

They were feather and star-light,
proud as the antlered hart,
wise as the oldest salmon,
and flowers sprang in the prints of their feet.

They were music and poetry,
sweet as honey, dark as the ocean,
and their words shaped the world,

but they shrank in the cold
sin-washing of the priests,
twisted by the conqueror’s mockery.

They took their magic to another place,
bright, green and blue as river water,
and in their place, they left a gnome.

-Jane Dougherty


White Lady at the Dark Hedges

Some say I’m mist
and others —fog
just not substantial
(as I should be)

some say I’m mourning
some say chasing
a child, my faithless man,
my cruel father

(ask yourself first
why would those people
see that in me?
I’m a projection.)

Choose your poet
as carefully as your coming out dress
I saw this one on a windy Friday
and as he looked through his lens
I whispered
“It was my favourite walk
especially in fog
don’t you want to do that sometimes?
I mean—disappear.”

-Dave Garbutt}{04 October 2022}


Gray Lady (inspired by 3.5)

The silver birches lean together
Over the road, a shadowed tangle
Of branches to block out the light

You come at twilight, they say
Slipping in and out of the trees
Faster than a will o’ the wisp

Do you dance with the trees
In your quiet dreams, lady
Or is your soul entwined in them?

Why do you not rest quiet
In your graveyard sleep
But instead flit at night
Among the silver birch trees?

-Eryn McConnell

The Choice (F.1.5)

A voice whispers:
Do not stand at the crossroads
for too long, waiting for a sign.
All the signposts are gone, and
the wind is neither yours nor mine.
I say, oh never mind, these
paths go two ways only.
I’ll take a third, thanks ever so,
my own two feet know a way
untrod. My roots go down
pretty far. And here come the
leprechauns, unshod cobblers
every one, skipping, limping,
following along. Pots, gold,
rainbows — all lost and gone
but now? Now, never mind.
Daybreak glimmers through
and a new sun singing
begins to shine.

-Kyla Houbolt

F 3.5 The Ballad of the Gray Lady

I walked alone that ghastly night
My pulse a pounding drum
The twisted branches sighed and moaned
And the wind began to hum

The leaves hung pale like ghostly hands
Their fingers dangling near
I quaked beneath their eerie dance
My wits grew dim with fear

The moon sailed out, the sky blanched white
My skin froze bloodless gray
When suddenly I knew such fright
It chased my breath away

As silent as death she rose
An absence of the light
Her face obscured, her eyes aglow
She galvanized my sight

Like leaves before a bitter gale
She floated swift away
Her limbs befogged in gauzy veil
drear amorphous gray

She shivered the air, stilled my breath
Silenced the hunting owls
A stillness born and bred of death
As fey as a wolf’s low howl.

How long she stayed I do not know,
my thoughts are still unhinged.
For still I feel her touch like snow
Deep within my skin.

~Jacqueline Dempsey-Cohen @dempseycohen

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 https://janedougherty.wordpress.com/ 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 feversofthemind.com 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 www.gaynorkane.com

-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. https://ppf.cascadiapoeticslab.org/2021/11/08/dave-garbutt-interview/.

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, Medium.com, 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: merrildsmith.com

-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. www.MudAndInkPoetry.art 

-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: https://linktr.ee/luaz_poet. She is on Twitter @luaz_poet.

2 thoughts on “#folktober #ekphrasticchallenge. Day Five. 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 5 – Jane Dougherty Writes

  2. Pingback: Folktober Challenge, Day 5 – Yesterday and today: Merril's historical musings

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