folktober #ekphrasticchallenge. Day Twenty. 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, 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 1.20. The far darrig

F 1.20. The far darrig

F 2.20. LEGEND OF THE TUIÚIÚ (JABIRU STORKS) folklore_tuiuiu


F 3.20. The Blue Lady

F 3.20. The Blue Lady

The Jabiru Storks (Inspired by F2.20)

Even with upturned beaks they always look sad.
Forever with their naked heads bowed
to the ground. Long legs raking dirt
where legend says, that long ago, a kindly couple
who fed them grain from the palms of their hands,
are buried now beneath the dust.

Like children, they return looking for handouts,
then sulk and pace in circles, like weaned fledglings
chasing worms; expecting food to jump right in
to their black and swollen throats

-Gaynor Kane


The Blue Lady (Inspired by 3.20 “The Blue Lady”)

Perhaps this one is different—
in blue, the color of hope.

Perhaps she is distinct,
unlike the spectral women
of grey, white, and red—

the scorned and deceived
set on revenge, the victims
who incited lust.

Perhaps she’s only set apart
by youth, a maiden still—

perhaps she wanted more–
prejudged, condemned,

perhaps you see her,
perhaps you don’t—

she’s trapped between
what was and what might have been.

-Merril D Smith

Pearls for a baby (inspired by the Blue Lady of Temple Newsam)

Who would give pearls to a baby,
a string of bad luck,
too much to hold in tiny fists?

And then the highwayman,
at gunpoint
in the lonely dark,

took her pearls
and her mind, they said,
but perhaps

that was not all
he took, she lost,
she searched for,

in the round and round
of madness, the spiral that
could only end in death.

What did he expect?
Giving pearls to a baby
and a lifetime of bad cess.

-Jane Dougherty

20. The New Baby

(F 1.20 Far darrig)

It wasn’t hers, she said. There’d been a mistake. I said, you were out of your mind when you birthed her. How would you know? She said, the red dent on the forehead. The forceps, said someone. It’ll hammer out. Give it a day. A day? said she. By then the far darrig will be far away with my baby. And I am ashamed to say I did not believe her. The red cap, she said. The red – I should never have married an Englishman. As I rolled my eyes at another new father, beeping screamed out. Several machines on the ward began glitching, then harmonising, like laughter. The child in the cot that bore my name turned happily, soothed by the circuits’ shrieks. You know, said a nurse, post-natal dysphoria – my wife’s eyes shot her like a blowdart. The baby, of course, was my baby. We all say a lot of things when we’re weary. Rested, home and familiar, my wife was love itself, all-surrounding, a nourishing canopy. Years went on, and the baby stretched and groaned into a version of me. We joked about that first day, but truly the far darrig’s victory lay in my scrutiny. Trained on my son, euphoric with relief, I missed the trick entirely. Followed the hand and the patter, tracked the wrong cup. Missed the switchling who opened her shirt to him, smiling.

-Kirsten Irving

Far Darrig

Of course you’re a changeling
I should know, I did it myself,
for a laugh. I took a boy
now ‘he’s awa’ with the fairies’.

Oh, happy, they love humans,
so well behaved and loving—
their own are not that,
souring breast milk, hobbling kine
beating up the non-fae kids
strangling cats, running dance marathons.

It’s a laugh a minute
watching lives collapse
air out of tyres, brake fluid drips
rewiring plugs, relabelling fuses.

-Dave Garbutt.


wind sighs through the wingtips
the sibilant hiss of formless sorrow
stirring the fringe feathers in whispers
endlessly dripping, drooping,
scooping the wind
and sifting for familiar familial sound
-chattering, scattering seeds, sharing feed-
those who came with sustenance and smiles
now gone – the wind is suddenly silent.

-Jacqueline Dempsey-Cohen @boscoedempsey

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 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.

2 thoughts on “folktober #ekphrasticchallenge. Day Twenty. 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, 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.

  1. Pingback: Folktober challenge day 20 – Jane Dougherty Writes

  2. Pingback: Folktober Challenge, Day 20 – Yesterday and today: Merril's historical musings

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