folktober #ekphrasticchallenge. Day Fifteen. 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, Kirsten Irving, 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 1.15. Aengus

F 1.15. Aengus

F 2.15. Mare John_Henry_Fuseli_-_The_Nightmare

F 2.15. Mare John_Henry_Fuseli_-_The_Nightmare

F 3.15. Banshee

F 3.15. Banshee

Still wandering Aengus

———- ““I think all happiness depends on the energy to assume the mask of some other life, on a re-birth as something not one’s self.””
————-William Butler Yeats | quoted on Poetry Foundation Biography page

I went out to the Hazel wood
but the Hazel wood was gone
there was a car-park and a dump
no sign of moths or stars at all
bright street lights shone yellow, not white
and the stream (Oh! River Fleet!)
gone to a culvert—if it flows
it is deep down in dark…

So there are no fish there
to turn into a glimmering girl
and no orchards on the sun or moon.

I am an older man
that the world changed from

but in my single garden pine
a Firecrest not a Goldcrest sings
and come Easter-tide the Serin
sings his flight and searches
the meadow patch for seeds.

-Dave Garbutt

15. The Keener’s Rider
(F 3.15, The Banshee)
Flowers, for what is a wake without flowers?
Well water (old) – like a cat she will know if it’s drawn from the tap
Rich syrups and sweets, for a smooth-walled passage of song
Charcoal for chewing, lest the song ring too fresh
A shroud, if you have it, though she can bring her own
Dry ice, or a fog charm, or several thin wraiths
Lichen and moss, always lichen and moss
A nice young apprentice (the dead girl will do)

-Kirsten Irving

Possession Denied (inspired by F2.15 John Henry Fuseli The Nightmare)

She succumbs to sleep,
Sacrificing body and soul
and wilting mind to the gods.
Her bare neck gleams,
a supplication
to the incubus
who sits heavily upon her.

Bathed in light too white, she lies
in chiaroscuro drama.
Warmth and menace
frame and claim her.
Somber black shadow
defying red velvet drapery.

A horsehead confronts her,
the incubus surmounts her.
Yet she seems relaxed.
Supine, yet unresigned.

A vision of obsession,
a tale of possession?
Is this her nightmare or his dream?

Men slaver over tales of women
embracing Lethe, lost in the thrall of sleep,
stretching out ripe and ready.
Supple, pliable and nicely lithe.
Possessed by lustful need.

Yet here she lies in slumbrous ease.
Robed and draped, impervious to need.
Deeply sleeping, access denied,
Hiding virtues and gifts
of which the incubus can only dream.
Possession denied.

-Jacqueline Dempsey-Cohen @boscoedempsey

Wake Up! (Inspired by 2.15, The Nightmare)

The night mare canters to my room
dark of mane, with eyes of gloom,
her rider with a wicked grin,
sits on my chest, strokes his chin–

he dares me to wake,
but I cannot shake
him, or shift legs or move arm,
though I sense he plans to harm—

“What time is it?” I ask him,
in hope (though somewhat dim)–
But he can only grumble and sigh,
now astride the mare, he calls goodbye,

“I’ll see you again, don’t you think?”
then gives me a terrifying wink.

-Merril D Smith

Aengus (inspired by F 1.15. Aengus)

Born of a god’s whim
and a woman’s one true desire,
his mind fluttered, a flame vacillating
between love and anger,

a man who would kill on a passion,
renounce his passion for his one love,
defy his king to protect other lovers,
his heart’s desire lost to the man
he thought of as a father.

Blood misted his love,
and magic mingled with his red desires,
a fire in his breast and in his hands.

No wonder his mind wandered,
following his footsteps
in the forests of the dark
and the mists of magic.

-Jane Dougherty


Bios and Links

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.

3 thoughts on “folktober #ekphrasticchallenge. Day Fifteen. 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, Kirsten Irving, 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.

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