The look by Kevin Murphy

This trigger was to use a one minute thought stream – yes we are thinking/dreaming all the time – as the basis for a piece of flash fiction or poetry. What can you come up with in, say, fifteen minutes?

The Thought stream:

Fay,  Grenley, Gringley Beacon, you can see 13 power stations from here, Boar’s Hill, you can see the city of Gleaming spires from here – or you used to, Greyfriars, Fr Peter, Ss Anthony and Francis at the foot of the cross – Oxford in the background. Boar’s Hill belvedere donated by a philanthropist – gone to seed, trees now overgrown the view. Huge waste. Gringley pace egging down the slope, bit easy.

I picked out the Gringley (Armada) beacon in North Notts and compared it to the Boar’s Hill Oxford Belvedere as captured in a painting in Greyfriars Oxford when I was a boy. Love crept in between.

The Story:

The Look

‘You can see the City of Gleaming Spires from here – or you should be able to.’

An overgrown clump surrounded by trees – could be anywhere.

She decides to raise awareness and funds to sort it out.

Compare and contrast: poor little Gringley, a beautifully kept beacon  ans you really can see thirteen power stations from there.

Rich Oxford, not bothered with the view which has provided its epithet. I’m visiting and see this girl who won’t catch my eye.

In a skinny rib, did they call it?

Hides her paperwork, back to me.

See her bra strap.

Likes the interest I’ve shown – told her about my village Beacon.

Hands me the sponsor form and a postcard view – it’s the one on the Greyfriars backdrop – I bet the artist used it. I wonder if this is his original, the basis on which  the Friars commissioned their painting?

Then the look as she goes to pass me.

I felt her bosom against the back of my hand as she squeezed past.

There really was no need, there was plenty of room.

Was that a kiss?

I don’t know. Was it? Did I dream it?

I make sure I get plenty of sponsors and a bunch of friends from college to join too. ‘Pace Egging? You’re joking!’ But they joined in anyway.

I thought I’d help her set up. She had a few there. I was a bit of a spare part. Most important thing is to be able to find your bloody egg, sorry, I beg your pardon, that sort of lang… won’t get me… who am I kidding, she’s spoken for?

She’s looking at them. She’s really looking at him. But it’s not the look – not the one I mean.

This beacon thing, this heap that the old boy had built – probably like us and bunch of fellow students he bamboozled into barrowing  … you couldn’t barrow up there. It was an engineering feat. Anyway, it’s all overgrown – couldn’t have been mown all last season. Two hunks have brought scythes. Scythes! Where on earth did they find them. They can work them too. Grass and weeds falling neatly in swathes, waves round the … tumulus, hummock, barrow … what is it?

Bet she’s got some lumberjacks on the city side … maybe that’s what the funds are for. There are full trees blocking the view.

But not my view.

Her back again.

Her arse.

Look away.

It’s not for the likes of you.

Look back. Such a figure. Petite with long hair, short and narrow waste. Shape. Auburn. Swishy. (That’s my brain I think.)

She turned and caught me. A nod. She knows. Looks away. Looks back. That look. Looks away.

‘… Oh and this is Darrel.’

Darrel. Oh. It is, is it? It’s Darrel.

I ache. I ache all over. It’s not ache, but I can’t describe it and it is all over.

It was that look.


MAKE IT STOP! by Cynthia Smith

This one in response to our trigger ‘Stop’


If I hide here will it stop:

The crunch of the shells,

The screams of the dying?

Will they forget about me

So I won’t have to go over the top?


The fields at home now are in full crop.

Shall I see them again,

Kiss Mother and Dad,

Hold little Elsie’s hand?

Or will my bones be left here to rot?


They felt such pride to see me atop

The bus, wearing smart khaki.

Thank God they can’t see this hell,

As so many men are mown down.

But where is God? Please make it stop!

Cynthia Smith


Poetry challenge – 2 word lines, must rhyme


Six days

Planet birth

Our earth

On seven

In Heaven

After test

Took rest

His plan

Make man

Did breed’n

In Eden

From rib

Massive fib

Snake bad’n

Temps Adam

Eats apple

Excites tackle

Erection caused

Adam scores

Eve preggers

Belief beggars

Poor Eve

You believe?




The sun slowly climbed over the horizon, bringing a welcoming warmth to the animals living in the jungle. As the rays filtered through the trees, their shadows lengthened across the clearings, looking like green striped carpets.

A sloth, slowly stretched and yawned as it hung to a branch by its long claws.

Tongue flicking in and out, testing the odours in the air, a green, yellow and red snake eased out from under rocks, searching for an early meal.

The deafening cries of a group of howler monkeys, echoed through the canopy high above, drowning out any other sounds in the vicinity.

Responding to the pangs of hunger, a large monkey decided he must search further afield for his favourite berries, nuts, and fruit. This essential food supply was becoming ever scarcer in this neck of the woods.

Minutes after reaching the ground, he happened upon one of the local hyenas.

“Good morrow to you, my fine friend. Where might you be heading on such a nice day?” enquired the monkey.

“Me? I thought I’d take a leisurely stroll before breakfast to give mean appetite. Then, I might fancy one of those giddy, tail flickinggazelles that frequent the hippo lake, for a drink every morning.” Helaughed. “I need something to get my teeth into.”

“Well don’t look at me!” the monkey told him.

“You are certainly not on my menu, my friend. I don’t fancy gettingmy teeth into that manky, flea infested coat of yours.”

“Oh charming!…anyway, I enjoy scratching immensely. I find it quite therapeutic.”

“You see.” continued the hyena. “I relish the chase. One gets more of a thrill, than just knocking off the odd lazy monkey.” He raised his nose in the air. “One must keep up ones reputation, mustn’t one?” “Reputation?….What reputation is that, may I be so bold as to ask?”

Sticking his nose in the air again. “Well, it does so happen; that I am the bravest animal, in this entire jungle.”

Now it was the monkey’s turn to laugh. “You, the bravest animal inthe jungle!….l should cocoa….I’m braver than you!”

“Who are you kidding?….I’ve heard fairies fart afore.”

The monkey stood erect. “Are you trying to say, you are braver than


“Sure am, old chap.”

At that moment, the grass parted to reveal an extremely angry lion. Teeth showing, it roared as it headed straight for the pair. “Oh my God!” cried the monkey. With a c-chunk, he was up the nearest tree in a flash.

Meanwhile, with the hyena mesmerised with fear, the lion latched onto him. Its teeth ripped into the poor animal, tearing a massive hole down one side.

Then, as if nothing had happened, the lion licked his lips, shook his mane and padded off, back into the jungle, from whence he came.

Carefully, the monkey began to shin down the tree, peering all around for any potential danger. “Are you alright?” he called down to his friend.

With a hole in his side and guts spilling out, he looked up at themonkey through a blood filled eye, hanging out of its socket. “Am I alright?….Am I, all bloody right?….Do I look alright?….Do I?”

“I thought you were supposed to be brave?” reminded the monkey.

“I thought you were brave too. Why didn’t you come and help me?” pleaded the hyena.

“Well replied the monkey. “The way you were laughing, I thought you were getting on top.”hyena for Pete

Free Verse by Barrie Purnell

Barrie told the group that he didn’t really get poetry without rhyme, but gave it a go. Hope you agree it works well. Ed

Free Verse by Barrie Purnell

They said to me forsake your simple rhymes

Free verse is what describes a poet best

Those arbiters of taste those powerful men

The editors who publish poetry today

That which reminds them of childhood nursery rhymes

Is no longer a measure of a poets worth

Look more to the poems of Walt Whitman who,

Using assonance and alliteration,

Ensures his verse flows smoothly from the tongue

And if prose is good enough for some of Shakespeare’s work

Then who would speak against such sage advice

But we know the poetry remembered best,

By those of us who enjoy rather than judge,

Is that where rhyme implants it in our brain

We all recall verses by the likes of

Hardy, Shelley, Browning or John Betjeman

Are they and all their kind damned as mere rhymesters

Because some words tend towards a single sound?

While Wordsworth’s Daffodils is oft on someone’s tongue

His unrhymed Prelude comes less readily to mind

Yet I cannot escape the need to understand

The secret of writing in this free verse form

Maybe I could use some sort of subterfuge

And intertwine a rhyme within each line

So satisfying my urge to versify

But this would simply be a fools deceit

To disguise my inability to use

That hidden art which gives free verse its form

They say my verse must have no set length of line

No rhymes and no set rhythm too

They say beware the iambic pentameter

Unless your verse is to be blank

So I ask what can I use to drive my words

To the bottom of my still empty page?

They say follow the rhythm of your normal speech

And listen to the sounds made by your words

That is when your free verse poetry will come

This must be the most difficult of tasks for

Those of us taught to live life within the rules

Experience tells me no rules lead to chaos

It is anathema to the ordered mind

That must be the secret of this free verse construction

To bring order out of chaos with no set rules

If no rules exist then how am I to judge

If any of the lines I have written here

Amount to poetry in free verse form

Or just the scribblings of a bored old hand?

But all the while those damn rhymes form and drip

From the corners of my mouth onto the page

Searching for a line they can complete

But there is no place for them in my free verse

They drift away homeless outcasts on my breath

What is this more advice you give me now?

You say it doesn’t really matter anyhow

No please don’t tell me after all this time

You liked it better when I made it rhyme !


DON’T TELL ME by Cynthia Smith

Cynthia’s piece inspired by our Trigger ‘Don’t tell me’.
DON’T TELL ME by Cynthia Smith
Don’t tell me your life is hard,
Your promise unfulfilled,
Your prospects marred.
Have you really had to try
To make ends meet,
Just to get by?
Perhaps your laziness is to blame
For the fact that you’re unhappy.
Who else is in the frame?
Don’t tell me you’ve been unlucky.
You could have reached your goals
If you had been more plucky.
I think it’s just a case of “Oh, poor me”
That you think you’re hard done by:
“’Twas not meant to be.”
In fact your life is one of carefree ease,
No traumatic dramas –

‘Crying out’ by Kevin Murphy

Here’s Kevin’s piece from the 3rd March trigger ‘Gear change’

‘Crying out’ by Kevin Murphy

We were playing in the sandpit, Little Madam and me.

Somebody was crying.

I went to the back door. ‘Mamma. Somebody’s crying’.

Mamma came to the door. She could hear her.

‘Daddy!’ she shouted, ‘somebody’s crying, out over Jarvis’s.’

Daddy stands at the back door. ‘That’s “Help, Help” isn’t it? Sounds like a woman.’

He runs to the back gate. Mamma runs after him.

We run after Mamma.

Daddy can’t get the gate open. He throws my train. He throws Madam’s trike.

Daddy’s in the lane.

We are all at the gate – I stand against the post and Madam holds Mamma’s pinny.

All down the Lane, men at their gates, listen to the cries for help.

They run. The run across the lane, across the field, towards a point in the big hedge along old Jarvis’s farm.

The first one disappears in the hedge.

A shout. He runs out. The men all shout and run along the hedge to get to the farm-gate.

Mums and kids stand in the lane.

I cry for the poor lady.

Madam laughs at me.

I poke her.

Mamma lifts her up.

She looks at Daddy running.


The lady still cries, but we cannot see the fathers any longer. They have disappeared along the boundary fence and probably clambered into the farm. Mothers gather up the little ones and move together into huddles. There is some whispering and more attention and concern is displayed to the infants.

A mother sidles towards the side lane to improve her view of the men, to gain first impression of safety … or menace.

The rescuers reappear and the first couple give a wave to the gathering on the Lane.

The lady still cries out so the women look from one to another. I see Daddy and Mamma lets me run towards him.

I career into his arms. He gathers me up into his arms, laughing and kissing me.

‘Stop laughing at the poor lady, Daddy,’ I say patting his head.

‘What a ridiculous father you have Kevin.’ He looks around and shouts at the other men who are all panting and laughing and waving to their arriving wives and families.

‘We weren’t to know!’

‘Naagh, we couldn’t chance it.’

‘So frightening – real wasn’t it.’

‘ ’ark at the stupid thing – took no notice of us!’

‘Old Jarvis shoulda told us.’

‘Told you what, Daddy?’ asked Mamma.

‘That he’s been and gone and bought himself a blinkin’ peacock.’


‘What’s happening to the lady, Daddy?’

A true story. Mr Jarvis had a farm, now a scrap yard, across the field from Meadow Lane, on Jackdaw Lane, Oxford. My sister was actually called Madam by everybody until she got to secondary school. Clark’s got the idea for their shoe advert from her.