The Moth’s Return: The Endless Bowl of Porridge

“Why is it called the Endless Bowl of Porridge?” asked Icarus eventually.

“Because it never runs out of porridge, obviously.”

“I know what it does; I’m asking whether the name is a good one. Shouldn’t it be called the Bowl of Endless Porridge?”

They heard Cat chuckling from his position at the front of the line.

Owl looked stumped for a minute. Icarus almost thought that he was going to admit intellectual defeat, but then his friend brightened.

“Of course it’s an endless bowl. It has to be to contain an endless amount of porridge. I suppose it could have been called the Endless Bowl of Endless Porridge, but really, no-one likes to have more than one epithet attached to magical items. It makes talking about them… clumsy. Can you imagine the Poisonous Burning Sword of Doom of Wyrnach the Giant King? It’s preposterous! And on top of that you start to wonder whether the sword will be the doom of the giant king, or whether it is his sword, and the doom is merely incidental…” The owl trailed off, lost in the convolutions of his thoughts.

Icarus, old man, don’t be upset
that you couldn’t have what you wanted to get.
A poet is a miserable chap if he’s trapped in a wish –
I remember a time when I wanted a fish
from a fellow on a pile of glistening cod.
With the briefest of smiles, I condescended to nod
and demanded he hand me his catch.
There was a millennial pause.
An’ who’re you to be askin’ like that?
Of course I stormed the beach and clawed out his eye
and he gave as good as he got.
He threw a crushing left hook and stuck a knife in my side
and we rolled on the ground, and blood and fur flew,
until his wife appeared, like an angel of doom,
and thrashed me to death with her broom.
I lived, luckily, but it just goes to show
Contentment, at times, is a good skill to know.


The Moth’s Return: Icarus Inconsolable

The Adventures of Jaundice and Euripides

A new story I am working on. Probability that I shall finish? Zero to five percent. Nevertheless! here is a piece of it:


“J-jow- how do you pronounce it?” mumbled Mrs. Primula. She looked up. “Jaun?” Everyone shifted in their seats. A clear voice said,


There was more shifting. Neck-craning, too. Mrs. Primula said, “You go by John? Did I pronounce that correctly?” All eyes shifted from the front of the room to the back, where, in the corner, a dark haired girl dressed in yellow was sitting very straight.

“Yes,” she said crisply. “It’s short for Jaundice.”

“Sorry, Janice?”

“Jaundice,” the girl corrected.

Mrs. Primula thought, oh dear. She thought, her hair is like a birdsnest. She thought, but what good posture!

It is hard to say what the class was thinking. None of them laughed. Out loud.

The roll call continued, in no particular order:

Zachary. Neufield. Zack for short.

David. Green.

Alisha. Bergen.

Ben. Sikorski.

Maria. Sanchez.

Euripides. Woo.

“Euripides?! Is this a joke?”

“No,” said Euripides.

This time there were muffled snickers. Mrs. Primula looked hard at him. He coloured and looked away to the back corner. Jaundice was writing furiously in her notebook. He thought, ah, she is the notebook type. Finally Mrs. Primula asked if he had a nickname. He said no. More snickers – too quiet to earn a shushing, but audible nonetheless. The calling of the roll resumed.



All at once,
a drawn sword!
It comes swinging in a slashing arc.
Dark blood springs where
the singing blade stings.

The porter meant to move,
but his feet would not.
I am half-sick of service,
thought Sir Lancelot.

For Thelma Lou

“You’re the cat’s” – Barney Fife

There is a glorious riot of frogs in the ditches
and the birches tonight are black:
their wet trunks spoked with crooked spindles,
glistening the same as the asphalt.
The streetlights are overflowing orange;
it drips and joins the rivulets and trickles on the road.
A little goes a long way
but not too far.
The secret darkness and the pattering rain

 Will you walk with me?
The night’s music is meant to be shared.
Listen. The wind is singing in the trees.
And to hold your hand
is sweet.


So this is peace:
each and every wavelet washed up the beach at last,
rounded rocks for testing the new glass of the quiet lake,
eyes for following the flight of skipped stones til
night shortens sight.
In the dim light pebbles become troubles become
the fluid snap of arm extended and the sweet sound after
you flick your wrist like this.

Excerpt from Return of the Moth: Ontzlake Rakes

Raking leaves, Sir Ontzlake reflected, is much overrated, especially in the wind and rain. He’d been trying to read, but the maples outside the garden kept throwing down their soggy leaves one by one, like gauntlets, and so, with knitted brow, he’d taken up his rake and gone forth to meet them like a man. He was bundled up under his armour (a good knight is always prepared for attack) but some of the rain got through, and it was the kind of rain that had no right to be rain – snow in rain’s clothing, he thought. It was unfairly cold.

He raked furiously for a while to keep warm. After a while a gust came up and he swooped down with his rake, meaning to corral any escaping leaves from an existing pile. The pile was duly squashed, but the leaves bunched up on the end of the rake, as wet leaves will. Shaking the rake is no good, he thought, The leaves are all wet and they won’t come off. But he shook it anyway, and frowned when it made no difference. Every book he’d ever read that mentioned raking leaves made the activity seem joyous and frolicsome. Some of the illuminated books even showed depictions of children jumping into piles of leaves. Like jumping into a garbage dump, he grumped, while he raked up slugs and poisonous mushrooms with indiscriminate swipes.