She sidle’s next to him at the cocktail bar. Tempts him with a challenge, shows him her new car.

But he is a wordy poet who has seen her type before. He bandies words that were meant to anger. Soon she is heading for the door.

The poet sips his nectar, ashamed at his poorly chosen words. Notices the sky, thick with feathers, his ears filled with squawking birds.

He puts it down to the liquor and gulps another drop. Wobbles on the stool, leans to swallow a final shot.

Wipes drool from his chin, straightened up his shirt. He puzzled, when last he drank enough, to make his body hurt.

Then he hears a sultry voice as if it’s in his ear. As he hails a passing taxi the sky suddenly is clear,

Quietly, he wishes, he’d not behaved like a clown, He may have dozed, the way that drunkards do. But wouldn’t be wearing a frown.

That devil can not get you, no matter what she may think. Your soul is spread far and wide, inside the words you think.

It has been scribbled on cardboard cartons. Etched on an Angels wing. Put inside birthday cards and in every song you sing.

Your soul is in each thought you think. It is dribbled in your poetic Ink.

You see, the devil doesn’t stand a chance. So pour her a final conciliatory drink.

Painting of Crow by my sister Anne Maxwell. No one other than myself has permission to copy this painting in any way, without express permission from A.M. Maxwell or myself.


This came about when I was set an exercise By Sophie Hannah of Dream Author Coaching. The task was to take a random dream and write. Nonsense and theatre included.

Thanks to Esme for allowing me to join her Halloween spooktacular press to join in.

The Devil failed to take the soul of a poet.

Sheets tangled, tightened and stuck to the flesh of his flailing legs. It took, what felt like hours to realise the grating and rasping breath was his. Tom steadied himself, the race of his heart slowed,  eyes screwed as his fists clenched,  he said out loud. “I woke up and realised it had all been a dream.” He voiced that statement, many times over during the coming hour, never making it true; but desperately wanting it to be.

Ping! his eyes opened, he was wired, the squeak of a floorboard, a turn of the handle. Once more his chest pumped his legs violently kicked. Why couldn’t he free his legs? A screech of a rusted hinge, the chaffing of wood; made him still. Play dead, play dead, he mumbled to himself. Kate’s face pushed the door wider, her hands holding a deep tray. Her perfectly straight but yellowed teeth on show. “You’re awake, well that’s good.” She slowly nodded. Her hand swiped items on the dresser with one push to the floor, putting the tray in their place. Tom watched her shaking palms, press into the grubby denim covering her thighs.

“Kate, What? (he stuttered) what the Fuck is happening?” Slowly she raised her eyes.  “Happening? Happening … what, is, happening?” She approached the bed, wide-eyed, sneering. Her mouth smelled sour, her clothes grimy. “Tom, Tom, Tom. Think!” she poked a finger at her own temple. He flinched, snatched his head back and gulped at the stagnant air. Not wanting to make things worse he looked back and forced a smile in her direction, and asked. “I am a bit lost in this, my mind is confused. Please, Kate, why are we here?

“You passed out, on my Nan’s bed. She is not best pleased. In fact, she was gonna call Gramps, until I arrived.” Think yer sen lucky I was about. Now lay still while I takes a closer look.” Kate tugged the damp sheet, untangled it from his calf’s. A sharp suck of air whistled, Tom, lifted his head as his bare belly was exposed. “What a numpty, jeez this is worse than,” …  she stopped mid statement, shook her head. “You are such a prat.”

Tom heaved, the smell of burned flesh and hair filled his nostrils. That was when he caught sight of his abdomen. “N,n,n,n no tell me it’s not true.” He roared. Gramps burst through the door,  face like thunder, his fists as big as young Tom’s head. “Shut yer mouth, you good for nothing clown.” He threw Tom’s shoes and jeans at the white-faced boy, picked up the empty whisky bottle as if to strike him. Kate grabbed her Granddad’s arm and crooned gently in his ear. “S’okay Gramps it’s okay, come, I will sort this, I got this, go sober Nan up, she stroked the old man’s shoulder and she led him from the room.

Kate gave him a few minutes before going back in the room. Tom trembled, sat on the edge of the bed staring down. She put the tray next to him and began to clean the area and cover it the way Nan had shown her so many times before. “You’re a fool Tom.” she cleared the swabs and put the rest of the dressings on the tray. Kate turned at the door, smirked, “you’ll not live that down,” she nodded “there are reasons people retire, and reasons you have to be over 18.” Tom clutched at the Jeans covering his groin, tears threatened, but never fell. The jeers, he knew would come from his pals rang in his head on the walk home.

He carries the tattoo to this day, an exquisite snake, rising up to his belly button, fangs on show. Poor demented Josy had long since gone, but Tom, … well, he wears her last tat. His stupidity stays with him still today?


The story above is a writing exercise from the Dream Author Coaching Programme I am taking part in. To use the statement “I woke up and realised it had all been a dream” within the body of a story. Use it in a way that is refreshing, surprising and or interesting, to delight the reader and not disappoint.

Let me know in the comments if I succeeded or not. I am thick skinned be kind but honest.

Was He Living A Dream Or Paying For His Stupidity.