#folktober #ekphrasticchallenge. Day Twelve. 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, Ankh Spice, Jane Dougherty, Kyla Houbolt, Jacqueline Dempsey-Cohen, Dave Garbutt, Merril Smith and I, plus those who react to the images on the day, as we explore images from folktales.

F 1.12. Faoladh Werewolves_of_Ossory

F 1.12. Faoladh Werewolves of Ossory

F 2.12. Changeling

F  2.12. Changeling

F 3.12 Moll Dyer Leonardtown,_Maryland_-_8146403314

F 3.12 Moll Dyer Leonardtown,Maryland_


burned as a changeling burned as a fetch burned as a witch and left in a ditch burned like an offering burned for her wise burned right in front of her children’s eyes burned as a temptress burned as a snake burned for a secret they couldn’t take burned as a demoness burned for a sin burned for the marks he left on her skin burned for her tongue or burned for her silence burned for her quiet lack of compliance and how we tell stories is a kind of a weapon and how we tell stories is a kind of an unveiling and how we tell stories is how we’re still failing and how we keep doing this and telling it slant and she’s always a monster and we always aren’t and here is the story where we just call it murder and here is the story where every six minutes

a woman

sparks to myth—

-Ankh Spice

Weep for Moll Dyer: A Scottish Habbie Poem (F3.12 Moll Dyer)

Unholy rock, this shrine should weep
for poor Moll Dyer whose restless sleep
Shall torment guilty men who reap
upon all who preach and teach and keep
wild merriment.

Little roses – unfurl, bloom, arise
Strew waves of glory, scent the skies
with praise for witches, good and wise
oppressed, abused
just like poor Moll, as heaven cries.
Hounded, misused.

Bedeck this grave in scared light.
Invite the larks to pause their flight
to perch and warble tunes ’til night
to soothe her soul
and bring relief, the sweet delight
her neighbors stole.

-Jacqueline Dempsey-Cohen

“some grow up and forget they are changelings”

I knew my parents!
what is your eaarliest memory of them?

Oh at five when I learned to write runes
from a book and my little sister died in her cot.

What did you write in runes?
Messages to my imaginary parents.

What did you do with the messages?
I made them into boats, floated them down a stream
or I wrote them on bark and hid them in the firewood.

Did you ever get a message back?
Once a piece of bark was under my pillow.

What did it say?
Sorry about your sister. She’s in a better place.

Where did you think that was?
Oh i asked my warm mum, she said it was heaven,
but I always wondered how she knew.
She said I musn’t go there, or keep looking.
I didn’t, but one day I heard her calling
over the garden wall, “Come! Play ball”.
But I didn’t go, she sounded cold.

-Dave Garbutt

Give and Take (Inspired by F1. 12 and F2.12)

Do they approach on battlefield, or appear
in rooms in darkest night?

Do they take, or do we give,
then glibly fib and flitter, cry “no,”
or ask why?

Does it matter when or how?
Werewolf, beast, fairy, or something else that bides
to pull our children from our sides—

we shut our eyes and let them go,

a sacrifice for king, country, gods–
a barter for food or fortune,
peace sans grace.

-Merril D. Smith

The King of Ossory and the wolf scam

One time, during the reign of Donnchad mac Gilla Pátraic, a pack of wolves took up residence in the Kingdom of Ossory. Bishop Fogartaig of Kilkenny claimed they were not ordinary wolves but the suitors of Donnchad’s daughter Órlaigh, turned into animals by her womanish magic. He placed Donnchad under an obligation to hand over Órlaigh, as only by her death could the hapless young nobles be released from their enchantment.

Now Donnchadh had a deal of affection for his eldest daughter, who, to his certain knowledge, had not been pestered by half the eligible young men of the province asking to marry her, as the bishop suggested. She had, in fact, already chosen Ruaidhrí, the son of Cearbhall mac Domnall, king of the smaller part of Ossory.
The marriage was opposed by the High King, as it would make Ossory one of the most powerful kingdoms in the land. Donnchad had designs on Leinster, and had already won significant battles there. Leinster was the High King’s strongest ally, and Bishop Fogartaig was the High King’s brother.

Donnchadh called Órlaigh to him. “I see what the old fox is after. The disputes within the family keep Ossory divided and that suits the High King just fine. A marriage between you and Cearbhall’s son would seal a pact.”
“And I’d marry Ruaidhrí,” Órlaigh said, “even if I hadn’t given him my heart, just to see the High King’s long nose put out of joint.”

So Donnchad organised a hunt and captured the wolves as they were eying up a flock of sheep, without killing a single one of them. He had the wolves taken back to his fort at Kilkenny and had one of his nephews, a certain Fergal, have a look at them.
Fergal was the prior at St. Canice’s monastery, and Donnchad had a mind to make him the next abbot, and perhaps, once all of Ossory was in his power, the next bishop.

Fergal studied the beasts as they huddled together in the back of their pen and asked to have the gate opened to let him in. Archers, one for each of the wolves, stood at the ready to intervene should Fergal’s guess prove wrong. The wolves eyed him suspiciously, fearful as he knew them to be of all men, and waited to see what he would do. First of all he spoke to them.
“If you are truly men, I have a gift for you, to pay for the harm done to you by King Donnchad’s daughter.”
He tossed a purse full of gold towards the wolves and watched as they crept towards it, sniffed, and slunk back in disgust.
“But if you are truly wolves, I have something else.”
From another purse at his belt, Fergal took something round and held it up for the wolves to see, for the breeze to carry its strong scent. The wolves pricked their ears and sniffed the air. Fergal waved the treat about then tossed it to the nearest wolf who snapped it up and licked his lips. Fergal took another treat out of his bag and held it up. The pack stepped forward in unison.
“Sit!” Fergal commanded. The wolves sat. He approached one of the wolves and said, “Paw!”
The wolf held up a front paw and Fergal tossed him the treat. He went to the next wolf. “Paw!”
The wolf held up a paw and Fergal tossed him the treat. The third time, Fergal took a gold coin from the purse and held it out. “Paw!”
The wolf obeyed, sniffed and slowly lowered his paw in disappointment. Fergal turned to Donnchad. “Órlaigh is guilty of no crime. There’s not a man among them; they are dog to the bone.”
“And I have a pack of wolves that I will have to slaughter,” Donnchad replied.
“I have a better idea, Father,” Órlaigh said. “The bishopric has rich pastures. Why not take this fine band of young nobles to sniff around Fortaig’s fat sheep. I’d like to see how Bishop Fogartaig welcomes them.”
“If he agrees that they are wolves and not men, he will be able to kill them to defend his flocks,” Fergal said. “On the other hand, if he insists they are royal scions, he will be bound to give them hospitality.”
Needless to say, Bishop Fogartaig swallowed his holy principles and set his men upon the wolf pack, Órlaigh’s reputation was cleared, she married the pulse of her heart, Fergal was appointed Bishop of Kilkenny when Fogartaig fell out of the High King’s favour, and Donnchad mac Gilla Pátraic became the scourge of Leinster until a more ruthless chieftain united the kingdoms of Leinster and drove him out.

In the dark,
all cats are grey,
all dogs are wolves,
and it takes a laughing monk
with kindness in his hands
to call them brothers,
sisters, even in the lean times.

-Jane Dougherty

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 Twelve. 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, Ankh Spice, Jane Dougherty, Kyla Houbolt, Jacqueline Dempsey-Cohen, 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 12 – Jane Dougherty Writes

  2. Pingback: Folktober Challenge, Day 12 – Yesterday and today: Merril's historical musings

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.