I push you gently


and you swing out from the edge.

You are floral against the blue beyond the cliff


after a moment

of suspension

of disbelief

swing back.


I catch you firmly


and wrap my arms around your waist.

I kiss your neck and you half-twist.

Your dress is thin cotton in the temperate sun.


I push you again

and again

you swing out

toes pointed

legs straight out from the worn wooden seat.

The rope knots squeak

the tree imagined on the edge of the drop.


You swing out above the clouds





my hands on your shoulders

each time you return.


Again I hold on to your waist

and we swing out

above the emptiness

my feet hang down

cutting through clouded air.

Your back is warm through the cotton

my arms are tight.

We swing together

the sun to our side

soft clouds below.


And then we are back on the grass

and you turn

and look in my eyes

and I raise my eyebrows

and you nod

and I nod

and I walk backwards

holding you firm

until I am standing on tiptoes

and then I run forward

and as we swing out


up and out

and I am not sure how

but you let go of the swing and

we are




through the soft warm air.


We fall

and we fall

and I do not know why

but I am not afraid of the height or the falling

and you are with me

and I am with you

and you smile and I smile.



No comment

Many people saw him running along the top of the crag, outlined against the sinking sun, “leaping and bounding”, “like some big old deer”.

After the fall, a very few wondered, for no more than a moment, where he had gone. “He’ll have gone down the path by the side of the burn”, “heading down before the darkness”.

He lay there a night and a day and most of another night, thinking he was shouting and screaming but making noises like “a feart wee dog” or “a morning gull beside your chimney”.

The media were interested for a day or two, only because of who he was “loving and leaving”, who he had been “kissing and telling”.

Now only the chemtrails believers think he was tripped both that time and this, now that he has “slipped on the stairs with his crutches” and “gone to meet his maker”.

The thin man looked at the report and today’s front news pages and smiled. “No comment.”


Night storm. Tree falls.

Night storm. Tree falls. In the morning swingball stands disdainful, tosses its haughty mane. Of a single dog-chewed tennis ball on a frayed fluorescent nylon string. Tree stays down. Lies with lime-green plastic bats on the grass-green grass. Vanquished. Drums its twigs on the neighbour’s fence. Fence tilts but doesn’t fall. Tree sighs and settles. Waits.

Based on original observation by @johnhiggs

The birds fell (updated)

The birds fell, one by one. At first Ian thought they were diving but they were not, they were falling, some backwards and down as if cuffed from the sky, wings spread like crucified angels, others tilting and tipping, heads heavy with emptiness, falling and falling, wings folding. Their distant fall ended somewhere through the shimmering air. He thought of stories that had started and stories that would never. His story ended.

(www.paragraphplanet.com 21 October 2013)

The birds fell, one by one

The birds fell, one by one. At first Ian thought they were diving but they weren’t, they were falling, some blown backwards and then down as if a hand had cuffed them from the sky, others wings spread as if crucified, then tilting and tipping, their heads now heavy with thoughts of death and endlessness, then falling and falling, their wings now folded. He couldn’t see where their fall ended. It was too distant. The air shimmered.

He thought of stories that had started and stories that would never start. His story ended.