folktober #ekphrasticchallenge. Day Sixteen. 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 Jane Dougherty, 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 1.16. bodach

F 1.16. bodach

F 2.16 Elf-Rib

F 2.16 Elf-Rib

F 3.16 The Headless Nun

F 3.16 The Headless Nun


I stand here awaiting you
Walk towards me slowly until
You can see me unhidden against
The trees that shelter my form.

I’m here in plain sight daily
But do you listen?
As the Bodach awaits you
Do you think I cannot see?

What do you expect as I encompass
Your being, first left, now right
Lifting your face to mine
Your body shaking in fear of a fate
But it cannot tear itself away from me

My eyes see into you through you
shiver at the Bodach’s understanding
Wish that you were not called here
This day, time, hour into the forest

Day has turned to night
Seconds into hours and you will
Yourself to leave and yet
Until the Bodach says aye ye go

You are here at the Bodach’s Will
Never after this can you jest
At the power he holds as you did once
You shall smile weakly knowing

The Bodach shall bring to him
All and any he wants
Those woods become his army
You are less than an ant under him
You no longer doubt his power.

-©Ailsa Cawley 2022

A Parent’s Prayer (F1.16 Bodach)

Powers of darkness, spirits of light,
protect us please on this dark night.
Pray, keep our children safe inside,
for from the bodach they must hide.
He lurks outside the window sill
he crouches by the splintered door.
His wings stir up a ghastly chill
his fangs are sharp and drip with gore.
Our babes are young and often roam
So hear our plea, please keep them home.

-Jacqueline Dempsey-Cohen @boscoedempsey


Elf-Rib (Inspired by image 2.16, “Elf-Rib”)

Proud king,
denier of the cross,
dies unbaptized.

Pagan king
in death reborn
a demon.

Skeleton King
dwells in ditches, wails from the water
snatches children who walk outside.

Victors tell the story,
raise their own glory–
even the mighty fall.

Proud king,
pagan king,
skeleton and bogeyman—

children, heed this well,
listen to authorities, or
you will end in hell.

-Merril D Smith

The bodach is wild water (inspired by the Bodach, F1 :16)

There is a reason for the twisting of words, diverting their natural path, as we channel river water between concrete banks and call it canal. From wild water following its own destiny it becomes domesticated, placid, bridled with locks and ridden by shipping.
When peasant, the lowliest of the land, becomes bogeyman, there is also a reason. And it is the same one.

Call it by its name
the hallowed name
that poured from the earth’s mouth
spoken by the first tongue
call it by its true name.

-Jane Dougherty


It’s the direction tells the story.

Old Irish: Malevolent spirit— Is it how the poet lived?
As mystical spirit walking through hazel woods
dulling axes and swords
making bullets (fired at hinds)
fall too fast to the ground
—Hunter’s Bane, springer of bow-traps, eater of bait,
puller of snares—
Layer of confusing trails for baying hounds
defender of the fox, protector of their earths,
a handy man with super glue and
BP’s railings.

Scots: Boorish Old Man: reports spoke of a Boorish Old Man,
perhaps a judge, or CEO
who only walked on golf links
who swung his clubs at reporters

US: An old man (affectionate). And now just an old man
with a pencil in an attic, wondering,
was it the other way?

Did I start too old
and now I’m headed off to the railings
and back to the Hazels?

-Dave Garbutt

—- A water spirit that pulls people in. Elf is Eleven in Dutch/German. Not all people have twelve pairs of Ribs.

One of the 5%, they chased me,
drowned me.

Now they say to children
“He’ll pull you in,
beware of the steep canal’s edge”,
mistaking my caring for the hurting ones
as death.

Come to ease,
I too had eleven pairs of ribs
down here be normal
find your people
Look! Here is the handle!
reach it!
Hold on!

-Dave Garbutt

Bios and Links

-Ailsa Cawley

Ailsa was brought up in the North East of England, and now lives on the Isle of Skye. She’s always been fascinated with myths, legends, faery tales and folklore whether it’s horror or local legend. She’s currently in editing stages of her first novel which includes some ghostly characters (surprise, surprise!) and has a story in the Red Dog GONE anthology in November.

-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 Sixteen. 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 Jane Dougherty, 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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