#folktober #ekphrasticchallenge. Day Seven. 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 Kirsten Irving, 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 1.7 The Kelpie

F 1.7 The Kelpie


F2.7 Dromedary

F 3.7. Page_158_illustration_in_More_English_Fairy_Tales Cat. Sidhe

F3.7 LOBISOMEM-COBRA NORATO (Brazilian folkore)


where the curious, grotesque, bizarre,
horrifying and tremendous squirm, and
none held the ancient eye more so
than the objects of desire.

What darkness we lived in then,
illuminated only by the sinuous serpent-light
in the margins of gospels,
full of weasel words, wolf-famine words,
and the fiery sword of sin-reckoning.

What darkness we live in now,
spotlit by celebrity glitter, the dazzle of power,
glimro of corruption, and the falsities that drop
from pulped and white-toothed mouths.

Then, now, the darkness seethes,
the abyss yawns, and all our yesterdays
drop one by one into the jaws of the beast,
never seen, that curls, waiting,
in the heart of humanity.

-Jane Dougherty


The lake is clear and calm
Nary a ripple on its surface
Like a mirror in the sun
It’s quiet. Tranquil.

A black shape breaks out
Water snaking from the back
Of a creature who leaps
From the still waters
Mane tossing, hooves flying

The Kelpie, Lord of the Loch
Power radiating from your form
His head turns to seek out
A victim, another sacrifice
He craves blood and limbs
And fear and screams.

Children flock to the Kelpie
Hypnotised by their beauty
But when they climb onto
Its powerful back and entwine
Their small hands into the mane

Their fingers become tangled
And they cannot remove them
And the Kelpie dives deep
Taking with it the terrified child
Who is consumed under the waves.

The Kelpie, Lord of the Loch
Dazzling in beauty yet deadly
The shapeshifter from horse
To human form, indistinguishable
But for the waving water weeds
That you can spy in their hair

Kelpie, Lord of the Loch.
I sit at a safe distance away
As I watch you run along
Hooves flying on the waves
And it’s so quiet. Tranquil.

-Eryn McConnell

F 1.7 Kelpie

Born of the sea,
She lounges, lightsome,
on sun-washed rocks.
shoulder dipped, poised,
scribing a psalm of
rose-tipped breasts and lissome legs.

While oceans of color
eddy and swirl,
singing beneath her feet,
reflecting in her pearly skin

Does she name these colors,
hold them on her mermaid tongue
to pour forth in waves of words?
Melodies liquid and alive,
mellifluous as the tide?

Does coral hum on her tongue in a minor key
What timbre croons cobalt in her throat?
Does she sing harmonics in aquamarine,
add piccolos of yellow, black ink of bass notes?

This chorus of color,
kaleidoscope of song,
This luscious lilt
Her siren song.

-Jacqueline Dempsey-Cohen @boscoedempsey http://www.MudAndInkPoetry.art

MacCodrum of the Empty Bay

I saw you singing on the beach

I stole
your neatly folded fur and took
it home. It slipped between the stones
above the door.

I wanted a trace of you
I could touch
I wanted it for winter nights
and summer under stars,
smooth and warm to fold in the echoes
of you with your friends.

At dusk you came to my door
naked, left behind, asking

“Have you found my lost skin?
I live in the water, without it
I can’t get back in.”

And I knew I could keep you—
not live on my own
start a new clan
never sleep all cold—
I saw what quivered
in your eyes would never leave.

My salt-weathered hand reached up
gave you back your fur.

Will you sing here
for me
one day every year?

-Dave Garbutt


(Inspired by the Image “F 1. 7. The Kelpie”)

The silent Loch says a lot about that menacing spirit— rumoured or real, no idea.
There is no trace of any chunk on the edge of or nearby a river¬— either that menacing spirit is no more than an imaginative dark character in that story or all the entrails have been skeletonized.
But I have seen no trace of any skeleton anywhere yet.
No black horse is standing nearby the edge of the river either.
I have spotted
a handsome man
with water weeds in his hair
having feet with hooves
reversed to that of a normal horse
a rough and hirsute man
An unearthly wailing
from the river
has just started
gliding in my ears
Now climbing the steps of the sound higher
Shivering down my spine!
Oh! no! I do not wanna be devoured
like delicious food.
I can’t do anything
but can just run away!
Suddenly, a hand from the back on my shoulder!
Shivering down my spine!
And I shouted,
“I beg you to not devour me, Kelpie
for my parents will become living corpses
if my entrails will become my vestiges.”
Then, my face splashed with water
And I saw my mommy who was
waking me up for my college.

ⒸSpriha Kant


(Inspired by the Image “F 1. 7. The Kelpie”)

Beside a river
on the edge of
nearby the edge of
a river
If you spot any voluptuous woman
then don’t get attracted to her
like an iron piece to a magnet,
my son
for she may be an aquatic menacing spirit “Kelpie”
stygian intents
crawling like spiders
weaving webs
for trapping
men to deaths.
Take a reverse gear, my son
if any waterweed in her hair
her feet with hooves
reversed to that of a normal horse
is/are will be spotted.

ⒸSpriha Kant

Shapeshifting: Two Shadorma (Images 1.7 and 3.7)

dwell in the in-between,
nightmare beasts
given form
by our baleful innermost
demons. Darkness freed.

calls, shameless siren,
and female,
of course. So,
hobble her, keep her locked-in
house and mind. But then

the murk-minded who
fear women,
abhor cats–
toss independence, bring plagues,
rivers of dark dread.

-Merril Smith

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.

3 thoughts on “#folktober #ekphrasticchallenge. Day Seven. 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 Kirsten Irving, 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 7 – Spriha Kant

  2. Pingback: Folktober challenge – Jane Dougherty Writes

  3. Pingback: Folktober Challenge, Day 7 – Yesterday and today: Merril's historical musings

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