We were delighted to read over 100 responses to our Halloween Ekphrastic Challenge. We called for writers to respond to the painting above in a Halloween-esk manner! Thank you to everyone who entered. There were so many other pieces that we would have loved to have published if we could have. Congratulations to everyone who made it into the top ten!
Lying on the dark side: Brid McGinley
Lily, the aptly named cat. So white she dissolves with daylight, slinks through her haunts, invisible, feeds well, makes offerings of mice and birds on her mistress’s doorstep. A good cat, dutiful, independent. But with the night, she becomes herself. Moonlight speckles her white fur, and as she glows, like a negative transparency, Lily’s dark side becomes manifest. She performs as she wishes, lies crescent shaped against the dark trees, legs batting fireflies, indifferent to judgment from wide-eyed owls and astonished cats. Lily sees only herself, her pleasure is all. Darkness becomes her theatre and she becomes it’s star.
Brid McGinley lives on the Inishowen Peninsula in Donegal. New to writing, she enjoys the challenge of flash fiction, and how a story can be revealed on a small canvas.
Screecher of the Cemetery: Molly Twomey
I’m convinced each crack of a twig
is my neck, every caw of a crow, an omen.
While they chew shrooms,
hallucinate. They’ve eyes like scythes
but death does not scare them.
On their backs, they wiggle at the sky
as if to say, come get me,
and I am wasting my life.
Molly Twomey holds an MA of Creative Writing. She has been published by The Irish Times, Headstuff, Banshee, educate.ie and elsewhere.
Jekyll and Hyde: David Braziel
They slink in from the night
leaving parcels of picked bones
secret death beneath the bushes
brittle blood in the borders.
Back into the kitchen
lapping up puddles
of purest white.
David Braziel is a poet and spoken word performer and not a cat person.
When the veil between the worlds is thin: Pat Childerhouse
one owl’s wings folded back look like the arms
of a man who clasps his hands behind him
the better to survey a scene on which he must pass judgment.
But those round eyes give him away. He’s not impartial –
he’s shocked to see how cats relax yet still stare back,
unblinking, at whoever’s watching them. It’s the full moon
that lets this man transmogrify. Next time, he’ll slant his eyes,
curl a cat-tail question mark and catch a firefly.
Pat is a great-grandmother and gardener, who lives in a city by the sea so she can swim in the summer and walk in Nature all year. She has loved poetry all her life, but came late to writing it.
The Night Allowance: Barbara McVeigh
If you wander lost on Halloween night, find us on the path that’s lit with the green pulse of fireflies. See, a bonfire already awaits. You spot us, a coil of women caressing the flames. As you approach, our hairs wisp away into smoke and we shrink into feathers and fur. We know you are here to witness our transgressions, child. That’s why you’ve come. Open your mouth. Let us hear your first howl or mew. Daylight only allows the ordinary ambitions of pearls. Move towards the threshold. Melt until you’re just a set of eyes gleaming in the dark.
Barbara McVeigh is a writer and teacher-librarian living in Canada, with occasional sojourns in County Down, Northern Ireland. Her most recent work has appeared in Pithead Chapel, Ellipsis Zine, and Unbroken Journal. Connect with her on Twitter @barbaramcveigh.
Luminesce: Kathryn Sadakierski
Sliding down the tree, in the whimsical way of a child,
He was a slice of moonlight itself,
As though the shadowy silver strands of a ghost had smiled.
Dancing by the light of stars and fairy dust,
The petals make their flight into the gossamer-edged turquoise sky,
Ringed with purple, the moon like a dandelion, free as a sprite,
They swirl towards that smile in the sky from whence they came,
The cratered rock that has observed many a Halloween,
By the tree, gold-tinged green like a gourd,
Under the song of owls, and the cats, those children of autumn nights.
Kathryn Sadakierski is both a creative writer and artist whose publications are forthcoming in Teachers of Vision Magazine and in a Zimbell House Publishing anthology. She graduated from Bay Path University in Longmeadow, Massachusetts summa cum laude with her Bachelor of Arts degree.
Night Vision: Anna Murphy
If I had eyes to chase the dark
like Feisty-cat who hooks a moth —
hail mystic shine — tapetum lucidum.
See barn owl swoop from crooked branch,
scan woods where vole and field-mouse dance —
if I had eyes to chase the dark
I’d chase the ghosts of Halloween
faraway from children’s gleeful screams —
hail mystic shine — tapetum lucidum.
Anna Murphy loves poetry and is pleased to have a poem published this autumn in a new poetry anthology to raise funds for the Alzeimers Society.
Strigiformes: Amy Barnes
was cursed at birth. By my twelfth summer, my head turned 180 degrees. Only after midnight. First just a tiny spin past my shoulder. And then all the way around.
wanted to control it. I visited the ones who’d cursed me. Watched me born under a squall sky, my tiny neck already moving too far.
eyes tried to hypnotize me, spinning circles of night.
like this.” They taunted with flip of feathers.
didn’t know I’d learned the curse. Embraced it even.
fell from branches as midnight passed. I returned home triumphant, draped in feathers.
Amy Barnes has words at sites including McSweeney’s, The New Southern Fugitives, FlashBack Fiction, Flash Fiction Magazine, Lucent Dreaming and Lunate Fiction. She reads for CRAFT and Narratively and is Associate CNF Editor for Barren Magazine.
Waiting to strike: Marie Studer
Under the cloak of milky moon
sprites frolic on cobalt canvas
content in the curve of lichen limbs.
A fleeting silhouette-
and all at once, they gaze at the baton
steered by the sorceress
and join the cacophony of toot, mewl and hoot
and wait the strike of witching hour
to prowl, avenge and scavenge.
Marie Studer lives Co. Limerick. She has had a short story published in the Limerick Writers Centre Anthology Opening Doors and has read her poetry at the Open-Mic in Limerick.
The Owl and the Brexit Cats: Siobhan Twomey
His name is Boris you know, the white one,
lying on his back attempting to paw Faeries.
Sweet Faeries that lure him, cast sweet spells,
jumble his brain with bumblings, map directions
he should take. He does take.
From my mossy bough I watch Arlene
the female felidae. I shudder to see her
turn purple, my eyes enlarge
as I prowl for resolutions to transmit
at this veil thin transference time.
Siobhan Twomey is an acupuncturist living in Lismore, Co. Waterford, Ireland. She enjoys reading and writing poetry and has been published in Poetry Bus magazine.