Ekphrastic

I learned a new word yesterday. Stacey Guenther (her blog is at https://staceyguenther.com/) responded to Kreative Kue 370 with a Haiku, which I shall publish on Monday with Kreative Kue 371.

Whilst replying, Stacey described the post as ekphrastic – a word I hadn’t come across in the seventy-odd years I’ve been using and abusing the English language. I am grateful to Stacey for adding to my knowledge and for reinforcing my belief that life always has something new to teach me.

I know most of my readers (I use the term ‘most of’ in its loosest sense, not for a second implying that the numbers involved are more than, shall we say, modest) will probably be familiar with the word, but for those who may not be: The Oxford English Dictionary (hereinafter referred to, by me at least, as the Gold Standard) defines ekphrastic as: The use of detailed description of a work of visual art as a literary device

I define it as a challenge – a ten-letter word that lends itself to two verses of limerick in the form of a double-acrostic. So, just for fun…

Ekphrastic – a hard word to say,
Known by me for only a day.
Poetically sound
Haikus will abound
Rhythmic, descriptive (cliché).

Acrostics are also not easy,
Starting words near make me queasy.
The secret with rhyme
Is to hit it each time;
Constructed verse ne’er should be cheesy.

Agility

TopDog

Agility training, they call it.

Apparently, they’d seen some stuff on their moving picture box; something called Kruffs or something like that; and they fancied having a go themselves.

Not actually doing it themselves, you understand; they wanted to get me to do it.

There’s no end to what some people have their poor dogs do, just so they can get into this Kruffs thing and have loads of other people gawp at them and say how clever they are to be able to train their poor pooches to do these tricks — none of which, I can tell you, have anything to do with what a dog’s supposed to do; or what we would be supposed to do if we were still wild as nature intended instead of being fed with stuff that comes out of packets and tins and spending most of our time sleeping on their sofas.

In fairness, though, a sofa beats the pants off the forest floor any day, for sheer comfort alone. They’re warmer, too. And drier. But that’s not the point. The point is this. What possible use is there in running up one side of a seesaw and down the other? Or jumping onto a table and lying still? Or weaving in and out of sticks pushed into the ground? If you can tell me how any of those things can help me chase a rabbit down his hole or extract a lizard from its hiding place… or even see off a neighbourhood cat, then I’ll gladly do the training. If not, then I won’t.

Yeah, okay. I’ll do it. But only because the big biped tells me to and he’s my pack leader. And I certainly won’t do it gladly. I’ll be moaning all the time. Under my breath, of course. Big biped pack leader doesn’t like it when I grump and snarl out loud and I daren’t upset him.

Why not? Because he is pack leader, and you don’t go against pack leader unless you want to challenge for the job. And really, do I look like I want the pack leader’s job?

Well, I don’t. Too much responsibility for a start. And; and… pack leader is responsible for securing supplies of food and everything else and that’s all geared up for bipeds. I don’t even know where these packets and tins come from. And what do they, the bipeds, eat? And where does that come from? No. I can’t be pack leader. And it stands to reason that if I can’t be pack leader then I have to do as the current pack leader says. And if he says that I have to run up and down a seesaw, then I have to run up and down a seesaw. And if he says I have to jump up onto a table and lie still, then that’s what I have to do. For treats? In part, yes, but mostly because he’s pack leader and I either obey him or replace him and I’m not about to do that!

Hold on; new order incoming. What? He’s taking the mickey, surely. Jump over the female biped, he says. Jump over her? Actually over her? Oh, she’s bending down. That should at least make it possible. Watch this, though. I’ll pretend to be confused. I’ll jump up and sit on her back. See how he likes that.

I’m not defying him, though; I’m not disobeying. Not as such. I’m just misunderstanding what he wants me to do. Here goes.

Dammit! He thinks it’s brilliant and wants it as part of the routine.

Not sure herself agrees, though…


This was written in response to Kreative Kue 370 published on this site earlier this week.

 

Kreative Kue 370

Kreative Kue 369 asked for submissions based on this photograph:

SONY DSC
SONY DSC

John W Howell is a multiple nominated and award-winning author who blogs at Fiction Favorites. Details of John’s books can be found on his Amazon author page

Sale Today by John W. Howell © 2022

The morning paper has an ad that is hard to ignore. The headline reads;  Estate Sale Camelot Castle – Everything Must go.

Further down is a description of the items being offered. Reading the list makes attendance mandatory.

For sale: Large round table reportedly used for meetings and late-night dinners. A sword still in its original stone. Antique chairs, tapestries, beds, tables, and sideboards too numerous to mention and detail. Two crowns (One king-sized and one queen-sized) 12 suits of armor size 38 regular, (Some polishing needed), chainmail, Longbows, crossbows, broad swords, spears, lances, maces, daggers, and knives. Wagons, tumbrels, horse halters, saddles, and feed bags. Cauldrons, catapults, rocks. Antique goblets, tableware, pewter forks. Original candelabras, sconces, and torches. Complete magician’s kit including, hex instructions, hat, and powders. 

Refreshments available for purchase, major credit cards honored, all sales final.

Want to go with me?


Raymond Walker offered this moving tale. Raymond is a prolific author whose main web site is at http://raytwalker.com/. Details of Raymond’s books can be found on his Amazon author page

Peredur by Raymond Walker © 2022

I have not crossed this threshold in a thousand years, not since Peredur died, in the last defense of this place which looked so different then, not stone but a wood palisade stood here, the smell of oxen and dung hung heavy in the air, flies suicidally buzzing my eyes and ears as Cei, the traitor dragged me, protesting into the castle. Many men stood around the gates and Cei pushed me through to the centre and the graveyard that lay beyond the keep. 

Ar Tur’s body lay burned and headless on the ground among the bodies of his once proud, Knights and Peredur stood before them weeping.

Cei, once a knight of Ar Tur and of the table cast me to the ground amid the dead, the cats, rats, and carrion and said, “look upon proud Angharad and weep for she dies here with you”. I tried to rise but Cei placed his boot on my back and ground me to the mud and dirt. I saw Peredur fall to his knees and raise his hands in prayer. The Jackals grew closer, spears pointing towards him, mean men, traitors all, vain with victory, forgetting who they held at bay.  Once he had killed powerful witches, nine they said, eight in truth. Peredur had gained many other names, in other languages, on his quest through Albion, Alba, Waleas, Frankia, Daneland and Eire. The Irish and Foimore called him Percival, The Picts; Galahad and the Saxon; Lancelot. Peredur had battled his way across this many sceptered isle and was not named by enemies and friends without reason.

My name roused him from his stupor and slowly he stood, eyes still downcast but no longer filled with tears. I could barely see him pressed to the ground, but his eyes seemed no longer Ice blue but black as though the pupil had spread to cover everything.

Upon standing his assailants had hedged him in a ring of rough-cut wooden spears but they were scared, poking at the air around him rather than trying to kill. But they forget that he is the Lance lord. His arms stretch suddenly, and he pulls the spears from two warriors, smashing the younger one in the face with the butt of the spear. Killing the elder with a thrust to the stomach. Screams fill the graveyard as men die but there are too many even for such a skilled warrior and Peredur is wounded over and over till he sinks to his knees. Exhausted and badly hurt he stares only at the ground sucking in huge breaths which whistle out through wounds in his throat, neck, and chest.

Blood flows, my love is already dead, air heaved in and whistling out as Cei takes his foot from my back and walks towards Peredur. “You fool” he says as his remaining men move back, glad to be doing so. “Ar Tur was a lost cause, a silly dream, men like you and me do not need a cause, we need power. We were allies, we could have been friends, but you had to stay with the old fool till the end”. I saw Cei drop the head of Ar Tur before Peredur. The head rolled before my love and a howl left his slowly dying body. Cei smiled at this despairing sound before my Peredur drew himself to his feet, drawing his huge bastard sword from behind his head, knocking aside Cei’s futile attempt at a defensive position. My love struck his head from the body as he fell over the still spasming corpse; dead before he hit the ground.

Now I am back here before the stone walls, slower than those following the tour and ready to say goodbye to some demons of my own for I had to make a deal with a particularly vicious daemon to flee the slaughter when Peredur killed my sisters. I took the mind and soul of Angharad for revenge upon the murderer that slew my siblings but with time I found that I loved him.

My Penance and escape; I would seed the ground where a hero died with my loves blood to be free of my obligation and I wish to be free of it for Peredur showed me that purity and loyalty can be enough. I wish to be free from that chain and as good a person as my Peredur could be.

It is an easy thing to fall back from the group, find the graveyard, say goodbye again and drip his blood upon the stones after all I am fourteen hundred years old and have learned a few wiles. 


My effort was:

When the ringing stops

There are some things we are not meant to know; things ‘they’ don’t want us to know; things that ‘they’ go to great lengths to ensure we never find out.

It wasn’t always thus, though. In earlier days, the people in power; the politicians, the religious leaders and the leaders of major corporations acted in the interests of the population. I’m including in that those responsible for forming or directing opinion: the so-called media barons who own and run the information sources; the newspapers, television stations and social platforms.

It all changed when a new breed of … I can’t use the word leader, though that’s how they think of themselves … appeared. Instead of telling us what we needed to hear, what we deserved to hear, what we were meant to hear, these people started telling us what they thought, or decided, we wanted to hear.

But it didn’t start there. Oh, no. Their first move was to condition us to want to hear what they needed us to want to hear. We wanted to hear that our nation was pulling its weight in granting safety to those fleeing war, famine or persecution. They wanted us to prefer to hear that our fair land was being invaded, to our detriment, by hordes of freeloaders. That way, they could come to our rescue by making it difficult for anyone to arrive safely and along an ‘approved’ route and deal harshly with those who dared to try.

We wanted to know that if we, as a people, felt strongly about something, we could attend a peaceful demonstration or protest, and that the powers-that-be would see and take notice. They preferred that we believed that so-called protests were no more than orchestrated anarchy designed to prevent normal peaceful people going about their normal peaceful business. That way, they could come to our rescue by making it illegal to gather and make any noise and deal harshly with those who dared to try.

Do you see where this is going?

The Oxford English Dictionary defines populism as a political approach that strives to appeal to ordinary people who feel that their concerns are disregarded by established elite groups.

And yet populism is espoused, directed and promoted by those very established elite groups against whom populism is supposed to be a counter.

But I digress. Let me go back to the beginning. There are some things we are not meant to know; things ‘they’ don’t want us to know; things that ‘they’ go to great lengths to ensure we never find out. One of the chief amongst these is this: what exactly is in the blackness beyond the second arch?

I’d been watching it for several hours; not, in itself, an unpleasant task – the surroundings are nice, the weather most pleasant and the little restaurant around the corner does a panna cotta with raspberry jus that is to die for.

During the time I’d been watching the place, I had seen no less than fifty-three people enter the darkness, but none leave. I checked the chart on the wall – you know, the one that has a big arrow pointing to the words ‘you are here’ – but there’s no indication on it of a one way system and, worryingly, the map doesn’t go beyond the second arch. I asked a few of the staff in the café – the one that does a panna cotta with raspberry jus that is to die for – but they all changed the subject in a very hasty manner, so I was none the wiser.

I suppose there’s only one way I can find out what’s beyond that arch, what exactly is in the darkness, and that’s to venture through it myself.

Here goes, then. I’m approaching the first archway. I’m keeping a firm grip on my bag as there’s always a risk of pickpockets and their like. A family of four is passing into the darkness now. I’ll give them a couple of seconds to clear whatever it is and then I’ll follow in their steps.

It’s eerie. There are a lot of sounds behind me. I can make out the hubbub of the café, the calls of the shopkeepers and street traders, keeping their shops and trading their streets. I can hear the calls of gulls and the songs of other birds. And children. Some shouting in excitement, other crying in frustration. In front of me, I can hear nothing. As I enter the darkness, all I can hear is the familiar screeching of the tinnitus that has been my constant companion for so many years that if it were to stop now, I’d probably miss it.

It just stopped…


TopDog

Using this photo as inspiration, write a short story, flash fiction, scene, poem; anything, really; even just a caption for the photograph. Either put it (or a link to it) in a comment or email it to me at keithchanning@gmail.com before 6pm on Sunday (if you aren’t sure what the time is where I live, this link will tell you). If you post it on your own blog or site, a link to this page would be appreciated, but please do also mention it in a comment here.

Go on. You know you want to. Let your creativity and imagination soar. I shall display the entries next time.