top of page
Abstract Background

Poems and Microfiction

Read some examples of Jane's poems and microfiction below.  There are further examples of her work in the News section of the site:

Abstract Background
The Quiet Spy Cover 180px.jpg
Enter GHOST.webp
Abstract Background

Mary Macarthur's Visit
Cradley Heath, 1910

On that dark, mizzling afternoon

I took a bone-rattling ride       past

stinking canals, heaps of black soot, sunken creatures.

When we pulled in at Cradley Heath, I looked down

on a long, low shed

where through an iron-grate, I glimpsed

the molten rage of a forge fire

dim shadows of toiling workers

a torture chamber from the middle ages.

I pulled the blind, closed my eyes

but heard the ghost voice of a little boy

I dolly, ommer, blow.  I've med chains since I wer four

and like a flickering Pathe reel

                                        on a loop

I saw a baby kick and scream

inside a wooden crate

beneath the anvil

where red-hot sparks

lit on her pallid arms and face

her mother sweating at the forge.


The train trundled on

twisted links, swivels, hooks


a scrap of ash clung

inside my mind 

the sweating trade sets jeth in the folds of a babby's robe.



Note: mizzling - raining;  blow -blowing the bellows to  keep the forge fire going; ommer - hammer; dolly -a pivoted tool used to finish off the chain-link;, jeth - death; babby - baby

Mary Macarthur was the Scottish trade unionist who led eight hundred Cradley Heath women chainmakers to

victory in their 1910 strike for equal pay.


Abstract Background
Enter GHOST.webp
The Quiet Spy Cover 180px.jpg

Like a Hokusai Wave

Just off Bayerischer Platz, in the Jewish quarter,

morning light diffuses the boudoir

of the tall, pale young man in a silk kimono

His finely drawn profile reminds me of a bird

in a piece of Japanese embroidery.

With a slight deprecatory gesture of his hand,

he offers Earl Grey tea and warm crumpets

and in beautiful English asks after my family.

He pours the tea with nobility; his body still

as a carved ivory figure in a shrine.

Dark eyes potent with the kindness of a child,

he shows me the twelfth century sandstone head

of a Khmer Buddha at the foot of his bed,

keeping watch over my slumbers, he explains

and in that moment my courage swells

like a Hokusai Wave.

Abstract Background


Sweep through the wide lime-

tree avenues, the stucco-coated squares

past the Ku'damm with its window displays

of ermine and mink, to the outskirts

of the city where the air is grey flint.  Here,

frostbitten potatoes and ground acorn coffee

are doled out from makeshift kitchens

to endless queues of grey men in tatty threads.

Breathe in the nicotine-steeped smoke

of their rancid cigars rolled from cabbage

leaves. Mark the men's narrowed eyes

and marked faces as it starts to rain

one hundred thousand Reichsmark notes.

Abstract Background

The Weightlessness of Love

—After Promenade (1917) by Marc Chagall 


He flew me like a bamboo kite on our first date. Buoyed up by two glasses of Beaujolais and a slice of amaretto cake, I took his outstretched hand, spread my arms wide, and soared. As he gently let loose the line, the wind caught my petticoats, clouds rushed past, the earth whirled in a kaleidoscope of viridian and malachite. How light I was!

There was no stopping me after that. I asked him to fly me on all of our dates. High above the harbour of the quaint coastal village where we day tripped, I floated. The fishing boats below me shimmered like jewels on glass. In the magnificent gardens of the Versailles Palace where he proposed, I hovered over fountains and paths, their intricate patterns a brown, green, and blue Maori tattoo from my birds’ eye view. One time, audaciously, I asked that he fly me over the big cats’ enclosure at the ZooParc de Beauval. With the gossamer breeze in my hair, the lions’ roars were mere kitten purrs, their snapping jaws mechanical wind-up toys. How I loved the thrill and romance of it all!

I guess he liked to boast because word soon got round about the man and his amazing human kite. People in our neighbourhood started to ask favours. Would I replace a broken roof tile? Unblock a guttering? Rescue a cat stuck up a tree? The excitement of flying began to wane.

My man tried to cajole me. Took me to Paris for the weekend and promised to fly me from the Eiffel Tower at sunset. But my heart wasn’t in it. We took a deadly dull night cruise on a bateau mouche instead.

In a last-ditch attempt to ignite my passion, we visited the Alabaster Coast. As the pink sun rose over the chalky cliffs, he once more unspooled my silky cord and watched with pride, as I lifted high on a thermal. I reached into my pocket, took out my dressmaker’s scissors, and snipped.

His cries soon blended in with the squawks of gulls, the rush of squall.

Story first published by MacQueen's Quinterly, March 2022; nominated for 'Best Microfiction 2023', October 2022

Abstract Background

Image: 'The Promenade' (1917) Marc Chagall

courtesy of

bottom of page