aliisaacstoryteller

I haven’t taken part in many writing challenges recently. Quite honestly, its all been a bit of a struggle for a while, writing and researching for the blog, keeping up with all your lovely blogs and comments, writing books and all my motherly duties as well. Sometimes everything seems to conspire to suck the inspiration out of you, and it’s a downward spiral from there.

But Sue’s picture really spoke to me; it reminded me of all the old places of Ireland I love with my heart and soul and bones. I need to pay some visits. In the meantime, I wrote this, and added a poem I started when I was about 17, but only finished last year. It seems to fit the prompt. At least to me.

the glade

Beards of moss drape old stones with velvet softness. Stark-raw and already ancient, these great stone-bones once teased and tortured from the earth into grey new skeletons, wherein men danced and dreamed and viewed the stars, survive in hunched fragments of former glory.

Now tumbled and crumbling, they lie discarded, forgotten, memories of magic dormant yet still alive throbbing within them. You can feel it if you touch them, feel the vibration in the air on your skin. Be still.

The earth remembers. Time is meaningless here; there is no rush. She feels her way, creeping slowly over recumbent remains, claiming lost treasure torn from her flesh. She heals the hurt without reproach while no one notices.

ancient places
What cities lie buried beneath each hill?
Monuments born of ancient times,
Forgotten and lost but standing still,
Neglected, disconnected, these are our crimes.

What histories are etched into ancient stones?
Tales decayed with the fall of walls,
The sag of dynasty, the crumble of bones,
The march of ghosts through tumbled halls.

If we could learn to unlock the past
What shrouds would unfurl from our eyes?
Would realisation be ours at last?
Understanding the what, when, who and why's.

The power was strong, up on Shee Mor,
I felt at great peace, content.
At Moytura, where warriors fought their war
no harm for me was meant.

At Uisneach, by the lough where Lugh was drowned
I grieved for Eire's loss, watched Beltaine fires leap.
Then to Tara, where High Kings were crowned,
the Sacred Stone sadly lost in eternal slumber deep.

These places, their magic floods my soul,
washes me clean of the now.
Their stories surge through me, re-make me whole,
ancient voices tell of the how.

Ancestors sing and call me home.
I would go if I knew the way.
Under my feet, beneath the loam
stirs blood, beats heart of a by-gone day.

Head on over to Sue Vincent’s blog to take a look at the other entries, and if you fancy giving it a go yourself, here is what you have to do;

Use the image to create a post on your own blog… poetry, prose, humour… by Wednesday 25th May and link back to Sue’s post, not this one, with a pingback. Please make sure that the pingback works and if not, copy and paste your link into the comments section of  Sue’s post.

Don’t forget to use the new and shiny #writephoto hashtag in your title:)

Due to the volume of entries, only the first few posts will feature on Sue’s blog during the week and all posts will be included in a round up on Thursday 26th May.

Feel free to use #writephoto logo or include the prompt photo in your post if you wish or you can replace it with one of your own to illustrate your work. Have fun!


Get more mythology straight to your inbox. Sign up to my mailing list.
Or try one of these…

Fire and Water | Prose and Poetry

Fire and Water | Poetry and Prose www.aliisaacstoryteller.com

Fire and Water | Poetry and Prose
http://www.aliisaacstoryteller.com

First up, I tried Sacha Black’s Writespiration. This is what we had to do; Get a timer, set it for 120 seconds and when and ONLY when you are ready to do the challenge, scroll to the very end of the post to see the one word prompt. Write hard and fast until your time is up. The word Is ‘ARMOUR’.

Unfortunately, I had so many interruptions, that it took me over half an hour just to get a few words down, which kind of disqualifies me. So I decided to run with it, edit it and post it here, instead.

The date is November 3rd 1324. Drizzle falls like tears from a swollen sky, but it is not so grim without as within. I sit with Petronella through her last moments, in a cell dank with mould and ripe with the ghosts of its past inhabitants.

Her body is gaunt and bloody, her skin a mass of puckered welts and scabs, broken open and oozing, the souvenirs of her private torture and public floggings. She holds her head high, hands folded together and resting still like pale butterfly wings in her lap.

“Your pyre is built high,” I say. “They want everyone to see it.”

“I am the first,” she replies, “but I will not be the last.”

“But you did nothing wrong.”

“The truth is not relevant, only what people believe.”

“Why did you confess?”

She looks at me for the first time. “To make it stop.”

I bite back my impatience. “And now you will burn for it.”

“So how could I win?” She smiles, a broad glowing smile, as footsteps echo distantly on stone. She gets to her feet, raising a hand to smooth the tangles from her hair.

“How can you smile?”

The key turns in the lock with a rasping, metallic protest, and the door begins to swing open.

She pauses. “Armour, isn’t it?” And then she is gone.

Next, I tried a bit of poetry for Jane Dougherty’s challenge. This is what we had to do; I leave you to choose the form and use the Munch painting, ‘Moonlight’ as your inspiration. I’m adding a selection of words for you to use—verb, nouns, adjective and adverb—that you can use if you want to add a bit of a challenge to the prompt.

winding – moonlight – follow – heavily – path

I didn’t use her picture, but I did use all the words she gave us, and tried an English sonnet.

Where does she wander on this starry night?
A wraith, a shadow, she’s frail as a sigh,
Woven from stardust and strands of moonlight,
Feet tripping dainty as she passes by.
Discarding my fear, I follow her path,
A winding trail through glistening grassland,
Over rounded hills, past the fairy rath
To the foaming sea, roaring on the strand.
With greedy hands, the salt wind tugs her hair,
Waves throw themselves heavily on the shore,
She lets her robe fall, stands tall without care,
She is the shape of my love, form I adore.
White flesh gleaming, she wades into the deep,
Slips beneath the surface to endless sleep.

Writing that made my head hurt! Have a great weekend, everyone! Ali

A Witches Lament | A Poem for Samhain www.aliisaacstoryteller.com

A Witches Lament | A Poem for Samhain
http://www.aliisaacstoryteller.com

I wrote this poem for Samhain last year, and decided to re-post it, because it fits with the season so well, and also with the atmosphere of last week’s poem, The Princess on the Hill.

They hide the truth,

these gaudy costumes,

the carved lanterns,

the trick or treat.

Reality is macabre,

glossed by lies and pretence.

They fear the truth.

*

Once, I was revered.

Earth’s power rose within me,

I cured, I foretold,

I held in my soul

the key to life’s mystery,

and the Goddess spoke through my voice.

Once, I was adored.

*

In those days I could fly…

Yes, really.

But superstition and ignorance

stripped me bare.

Instead, I turn away

and I hide.

Oh, but I could fly!

*

Fires honoured the dead,

they blessed summer’s end,

witnessed the birth of a year

dark and terrible and new.

They brought light, warmth, hope

to where the darkness was.

Now, they consume the living.

*

Women like me,

we burn in the flames,

we drown in the bog,

held down by the weight

of our skills, misunderstood.

They hunt us, they hate us,

women like me.

*

What once made us powerful

thus renders us weak.

The old ways can’t prevent

the onslaught of

the new convictions.

The danger of zealots

makes us only fearful.

*

I was beautiful, then.

With youth on my side,

and the knowing of the universe

filling my heart.

I was invincible, or so I thought,

until I watched them suffer and die.

I am withered and empty, now.

A Poem for Tlachtga


Éilis Niamh and I were recently challenged by Jane Dougherty to write a circular poem. You can read their circular poems by clicking on their names. It being the season that it is, and the big event drawing ever nearer, my mind has been wandering over the tragic legend of Tlachtga, and so this poem is inspired by her, and dedicated to her.


She lies upon the hill, ragged and torn,
Borne of the night her three sons bold.
Told a story heartless and cruel,
Fuel for revenge of an act most foul.
Howling like wolves that feed on death,
Breath-whispered curses, plotting and schemes,
Dreams of justice wrought by the sword.
Ward, the hill is known as now,
Samhain the festival held there still.
Hill of doom whereon lies her tomb,
Womb-like shelter of a princess wronged.
Prolonged her suffering, glad her end,
Transcend beyond her mortal ties,
Dies. But perhaps she watched them, proud
Vowed and geisa-bound to serve with combat,
Begat in violence, ruled by the blade,
Shade in their eyes,  and hearts ice-dipped.
Worshipped as a Goddess in her still, dark mound,
Drowned in silence, residing only in memory,
She lies on the hill.


thank you for visitingWant more mythology? Sign up to my mailing list!
Or get one of these!

Original image Philipp Reichmuth (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

They are dragged up the hill like beads on a rosary, their guide droning, words buzzing in one ear, dripping from the other like honey, to make room for the three other sites they will visit today.

They want to look through glass, sit in comfort, with information shouted through a mike, like on the bus in Dublin.

Instead, they trudge with shiny shoes over springy grass, bespeckled with sheep droppings, to gaze at bumps on a hill.

They want interpretive centres, toilets, cafés and shops. They want a monument reconstructed, like Newgrange, something physical created for them which their own minds cannot build.

Stop; let the breeze which has blown over this grassy knoll for a thousand years lift your hair and whisper in your ear. Listen; it is rich with the voices of people past. They are glad you are here. Look; they lived lives great and humble here, your very feet tread where did theirs.

Open your heart; feel their joy, their sorrow, their courage. Open your mind; fear not and let them in, for they are fierce and true, and their land we borrow is more than old stones and leprechauns.

A Bealtaine Poem | The Old Ways

the old waysSun has slipped beyond the rim, and

on the hill,

fiery petals unfurl,

a towering blossom of flame,

summer’s herald,

an omen of peace and plenty.

*

Around the Beal-fire maidens sway,

yellow wrapped with starry strings of gorse,

their eyes light filled,

heat leaping in their blood,

summer’s song sweet on their lips

*

while men compete at warrior’s sport.

They attempt the hero leap

over the fire,

urged on by mead, camaraderie, bravado,

a lover’s glance, and

the need to prove their own prowess.

*

Children run between the fires,

soot covered, laughing,

or listen, slack jawed,

to the tall tales the fili tell.

*

And then the cattle drive,

no small feat of a man’s skill

to manoeuvre that fire-crazed stampede

successfully through the inferno.

*

Eriu’s eye has opened. She sees all,

as the fires rise and fall

like the washing of the tides,

the wax and wane of the moon,

the wheel of life and death,

*

scattering ashes into the dry earth beneath,

wherein her pulse beats

cadence with the bodhran

and the dancers feet,

*

and life quickens

in the dark warm recesses

of the feminine.

 

Winners of #Grámochroí Twitter Poetry Competition

clover heart on wooden backgroundIt wasn’t easy. We had a lot of entries, and Jane and I had to short-list them down to only ten. The lovely Nina of #Fieryverse then chose the winners. Without further ado, here they are, the glorious shining stars of the #Grámochroí twitter poetry competition!

1.
Deep water forests
of kelp and the moss
green bones of lost ships:
your city of silence
whose streets I cannot walk.

By Yvonne Marjot ‏@Alayanabeth

2.
She writes her love on the wind
In light upon the water
In the pure line of a tern’s dive
From blue to blue
Reading, he smiles.

By Harriet Goodchild ‏@HMGoodchild

3.
the warship left.

in hawthorn trees
yesterday
he twist a twig ring

now in grief,
hand on the back
of her neck

it became gold.

By John Feaster ‏@JohnFeasterB Feb 9

In addition, we felt that there were others of an equally high standard, which were also worthy of a mention, so here are our four runners up, too.

1.
She meets her love by starlight
A shiver & a shimmer
Two swans rise from the black water

By Harriet Goodchild ‏@HMGoodchild

2.
In a howling wind
the hunt goes past,
wild geese in skeins.
Herne himself,
writhing in mist,
shakes his spear

By  Yvonne Marjot ‏@Alayanabeth

3.
Arise with me
Before dawn
Awakens with its golden flame
Alone together
We’ll weave a fire
So bright it puts the sun to shame

By Éilis Niamh ‏@EilisNiamh

4.
Niamh wept emerald tears
for her lover of so many years
she kissed his lips
bid him farewell
the isle of Eire
his death knell

By Merry Maiden ‏@QueenofCups99

Thank you to everyone who took part; it was quite addictive and a lot of fun passing poem tweets back and forth of an evening! This is not the end of #Gramochroi, so please continue to send in your mythology love poem tweets, and don’t forget to include the hashtag.

neverlastingThank you to Nina of #fieryverse for judging, who was very busy in the final stages of publishing her new book, Neverlasting: Poetry of Love Lust & Lechery, an anthology of love poems which includes three from our very own Jane Dougherty, so please be sure to follow the link and check it out.

If you fancy a bit of extra reading, you can find all Jane’s books at Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com, and mine are here (uk) and here (us), and you will also find Grá mo Chroí there, if you haven’t yet got your copy.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Grá mo Chroí | Tweet Your Love Poem! Just for Fun Competition

Grá mo Chroí 'Love of my Heart' Love Stories from Irish Myth

Grá mo Chroí
‘Love of my Heart’
Love Stories from Irish Myth

So, unless you have been holidaying in an alternate universe, you will no doubt be aware by now that the lovely Jane Dougherty and I have written a collection of love stories based on tales from Irish mythology, and we’ve called it Grá mo Chroí, ‘Love of my Heart’, Love Stories from Irish Myth.

We began tweeting little poems  to each other, just for a bit of fun. Jane kicked off with this stunning little gem;

From the sea she came

&the sea took her back

restless

he follows the wave

but the sea is ever empty

to which I replied with this;

On Aonbhar’s back she did ride

Hooves trod clouds in the sky

Her passion is the wild ocean roar

Sorrow, the grey gulls cry

That was it! We were hooked! Since then, thirty mini poems have flown back and forth across the ether between us, which some of our lovely Twitter-friends have kindly re-tweeted. It’s been fun! You can see them all on our hashtag #Gramochroi, but here are just a few of my favourites.

The surf roars

waves crash

Caibhan cries

but his love is gone

her golden hair

trails of sunlight

on the water

Jane

Yew boughs twined together

Lovers’ limbs interlace

Twisted, tattooed with ogham

In the bark, an image of a face      

Ali

Dawn fell silent

on snow

blood splashed

and in the black shadows

I thought I saw your raven hair

Jane

Men chase boar on Benbulbens back

noble creature, a fine kill

it turns to spear in frenzied attack

hunter shudders& lies still

Ali

He left her sleeping

her hair about her face

his last sight

Later

the sand mirror smooth

mocked his tears

Jane

Chalice bears a potent brew

Deception to disguise

Forbidden love will blossom

Hid from Fionns eyes.

Ali

Ok, I think you get the idea. Well, this is where you come in, because we’re opening the #Gramochroi hashtag on Twitter to all of you in the hope that you’ll join us in writing some love poetry for Valentine’s Day!

All you have to do is Tweet your mini poem as you would any message, but don’t forget to add the hashtag #Gramochroi at the end. If your poem is short enough, and you add mine or Jane’s Twitter name, we might even Tweet one back at you!

This competition will run from today, Wednesday 4th February, until the end of next Wednesday 11th February. At the end, we will publish our Top Ten faves on our blogs. We’ll even throw in a couple of Kindle copies of our books for the winner!

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day and true love, please please pretty please come and join in the fun on Twitter and Tweet your lovely love poems! Don’t forget the hashtag #Gramochroi!

Winter Willows | A Poem

winter willows

Snow falls

Feather soft

For the robin, no perch here.

*

Across the field

mournful cattle low.

Too cold, the dark end of the year.

*

Soft hues of Eire

earth-brown, grass-green, sky-blue,

overcome by stark monochrome.

*

Diamonds sparkle

but the sun’s rays fail

to pull the beast from my home.

*

Silent falls the snow,

No choice but to endure.

Yet the trees hold up strong branches for more.

Grá mo Chroí, Love of my Heart

Grá mo Chroí 'Love of my Heart' Love Stories from Irish Myth

Grá mo Chroí
‘Love of my Heart’
Love Stories from Irish Myth

Grá mo Chroí, ‘Love of my Heart’, is a collection of love stories that Jane Dougherty and I have put together based on some of the most beautiful and tragic tales of Irish mythology.

What started out as a little hobby of a project, initially just to boost and support our other existing titles soon snowballed into something with a life and energy of it’s own.

Why? We wanted it to be the best we can make it be. But also because we love the old stories, they’re in our blood, and we need to do them justice. Besides, as we decided on which stories to tell, as we emailed various drafts back and forth till we had honed them into something sparkling and gorgeous and ethereal, as they deserve, the characters became friends reaching out to us through the centuries, expressing their sentiments through us.

So between us, we have created a book of love stories… whoever thought I would do that? Working with Jane has been a pleasure and an inspiration, and it has been so much fun sharing the experience of writing a book with her, instead of going it alone.

More details and cover reveal will be coming soon. In the meantime, I want to share one more thing with you. Yesterday, Jane tweeted the following poems to me, in reference to two of the stories in the book. They were so lovely, I didn’t want them to be lost in Twitter-Land, so here they are. (She’s a very talented lady, if you didn’t already know!)

She watches the stars

through the rowan leaves

plucks berries red as blood

& memories of her blackhaired love”

******

“From the sea she came

& the sea took her back

restless

he follows the wave

but the sea is ever empty”

Today I tweeted two poems back.

“Yew boughs twined together

Lovers’ limbs interlace

Twisted, tattooed with ogham

In the bark, an image of a face”

 ******

On Aonbhar’s back she did ride

Hooves trod clouds in the sky

Her passion is the wild ocean roar

Sorrow, the grey gulls cry”

Grá mo Chroí 'Love of my Heart' Love Stories from Irish Myth

Grá mo Chroí
‘Love of my Heart’
Love Stories from Irish Myth