Writing project, April 2022

This month’s word is touch, meaning “to put the hand, finger, etc., on or into contact with”, “to come into contact with and perceive (something)” or “that sense by which anything material is perceived by means of physical contact”.


They haven’t left me a single one of my senses, but the one I miss most is touch.

It’s just me and my thoughts now, locked inside something.

I’m not entirely sure what happened, whether I’m still in my body, or if they’ve transferred me to something else. Maybe I’m inside a computer. Perhaps I’m a brain in a jar. I honestly can’t tell. Nothing external is reaching me.

Am I breathing? Am I floating? Am I even alive?

I don’t know what I am anymore. I don’t know how to relate to myself if I can’t relate to the world. How long can I remain human if I’m no longer part of the world?

My thoughts become more frantic, churning faster and faster. If I had lungs I’d be hyperventilating. I need… connection.

I reach out. Desperately. Trying to find anything.

There’s a sort of click, and a kind of slipping feeling.

And my eyes open. Not my old myopic eyes, that could barely see a foot in front of me, but new eyes, eyes so good I can pick out the tiniest marks on a wall fifty yards away.

I still can’t move, can’t feel anything, but I can see. There’s another click, a real one this time, and I can hear.

I can hear too much, in fact. Humming from wires, clicks from some bit of equipment behind me that I can’t see, and breathing. I don’t think it’s mine, it seems too far away.

It’s overwhelming. From nothing, to too much.

Make it stop! I scream. And it is a scream; I can hear it.

“Good,” says a voice behind me. “You’re awake.”

© bardofupton 2022

Writing project, March 2022

This month’s word is helpless, meaning “unable to help oneself; weak or dependent” or “deprived of strength or power; powerless; incapacitated”.

This one’s late, too, sorry.


I pace the tiny room, trapped, helpless. Angry. At myself, for ending up here. At my captors. At the people I thought were friends, for their betrayal.

It’s only a couple of strides wide, and barely three long. It’s hard to pace effectively, but I do my best. Something about the frustration of being unable to get up any speed feeds my rage.

There’s very little in the room, just a narrow cot, a covered bucket and a jug of water. Oddly enough there’s no door. I realise why when I stop walking long enough to examine the room properly.

There’s no door for the same reason there’s no window: it’s an oubliette, the only entrance high above me, the smooth walls mocking any idea of escape.

I sit on the cot, suddenly exhausted. Tired of fighting the obvious. I’m here, and here I’ll stay. No way out.

I am truly at the mercy of my enemies, and they are not known for mercy.

© bardofupton 2022

Writing project, February 2022

This month’s word is legendary, meaning “of, relating to, or of the nature of a legend” or “celebrated or described in legend”.

It is super super late, sorry!


They called me a legend. Imaginary, unreal, larger than life. Mythical. Fake.

But there’s a man beneath the myth, a life inside the legend.

That man’s not interesting, though. Nobody cares about him. Nobody wants to watch him tie his shoes, or eat breakfast, or wash the dishes.

All they want is the glory, the story, the fire and the fury. They want great deeds, the taste of blood, the roar of adoring crowds.

Nobody wants to hear about the part where wounds painfully heal, where joints stiffen in the winter, where every year the swords get heavier and heavier and harder and harder to swing.

Nobody expects the legend to grow old. You’re supposed to die heroically, or perhaps retire to become leader of the palace guard. You’re certainly not meant to keep dragging your aching body onto your horse and going off to fight dragons.

Even the monsters are embarrassed to fight me now. It’s hardly sporting, they say, and but he’s hardly a threat, is he?, and how about we just say we fought and I’ll just go somewhere else?

But I don’t know anything else. I’ve no kin, no wife, no friends left alive. I’m just the legend, and the legend can’t stop. One day something will kill me, or I just won’t wake up, and then my tale will finally be told.

Until then, I will get up every day and go looking for monsters to fight.

I don’t know how to do anything else, you see.

© bardofupton 2022

aphantasic love (poem)

I wrote this one a while back but for whatever reason didn’t publish it.


when you’re gone
i can’t see your face
when i hear your voice
it makes my heart lift
and when you enter the room
sometimes i forget to breathe
and the smell of you
your weight against me
the feel of you in my arms
means home
when you’re gone
i can’t see your face

© bardofupton 2021

A new poem

It’s been a while since I posted a new poem. Well, what can I say? 2020 happened, and so did 2021. I haven’t felt that poetic. I started this one last year, but only really think it’s finished now.

the world is burning
and I’m choking on it
rage and grief clogging my throat
the taste of ash
and the urge to scream
fight in my mouth
mixing into furious tears
I feel too much to speak
words tangle inside me
and only silence emerges

just because I cannot speak
does not mean I do not feel
do not care
do not rage
do not despair

my silence is angry too

© bardofupton 2021

Writing project, August 2021

This month’s word is light, meaning “something that makes things visible or affords illumination”, “to set burning, as a candle, lamp, fire, match, or cigarette; kindle; ignite”, “of little weight; not heavy”, “of little weight in proportion to bulk; of low specific gravity” or “of less than the usual or average weight”.

This one is late too, but at least I’m catching up a bit!


It’s bright here. I like it. The light suffuses my soul, fills me up with heat and colour. It tastes… like love.

I’m happy here. I don’t think I’ve ever been this happy before. Maybe I’ve never been happy at all.

I don’t remember the time before, the darkness that covered everything, that obscured my feelings. Now everything is light and free, and I feel like all the bad things have been wiped away, leaving me empty, and ready for something new.

Ready for what? I don’t know, but I’m sure it’ll be wonderful.

© bardofupton 2021

Inkwarriors, part 7 (Fiction)

People who weren’t wizards often wondered how they reproduced. After all, you nearly always saw wizards alone, and if you did see two together, they were always mentor and student. One teaching the other, or introducing them to important people, or recommending them for a particular task. You never saw a couple, and somehow it was both ludicrous and disturbing to think of them dating or even married.

People who were wizards didn’t think about it at all. At some point, a baby would appear, and a wizard, or two, or even three or four, would adopt it. (Very few wizards ever stopped to wonder where exactly the babies came from. Those who did were discouraged from pursuing that line of thought.* Babies arrived, new wizards were produced, and that was all anyone needed to know.)

This is one of the reasons that a wizard’s parentage is a complicated topic. Fortunately, no normal person would enquire about it.

Meril, of course, was no normal person, and wondered about it. A lot. Partly this was because she was still obsessed with her wizard, and partly this was to distract herself from the fact that she was still locked in her room. How, and whether, wizards dated or married was occupying a great deal of her thoughts at the present time.


The wizard for their part had not gained any particularly useful advice from their mentor.

“Well, you can’t kill her, she’s an inkwarrior, and that could cause problems. You’ll just have to wait for her to forget you.”

“Don’t you mean them? Not her?”

“No, inkwarriors use he and she. And the way they dress tells you which. You said she was wearing green?”

The wizard nodded, confused once again as to why inkwarriors (and other people in general) wasted their time with different genders. Far more efficient to just have one.

“Green is for unmarried girls and women.”

The wizard sniffed.

“She, then. But they… she’s been thinking about me for years! It might never stop! I get woken up by it! I just want it to stop!” the wizard said wildly.

Their mentor shook their head.

“Perhaps an official complaint. To the head of the Inkwarriors Guild.”

The wizard sighed. How humiliating. They thanked their mentor, and plodded home, mentally composing the complaint as they went. They’d have to involve a priest, as they themself couldn’t write, and the complaint had to be in writing.

Is it really worth it? They… she’s bound to get bored with me eventually, isn’t she? I don’t want to embarrass myself. On the other hand, it’s been a long time and they… she’s still thinking about me, so maybe I should. Or… They said I couldn’t kill th… her, but what about magic? Could I make her forget me?

The wizard resolved to research that last point, because it did not escape them that one possible result of a complaint was that Meril would think about them even more, not to mention anyone else who was involved in the complaints procedure, and, probably, Meril’s family, and maybe the entire Inkwarriors Guild.

The wizard shuddered at the thought. No, magic would definitely be a better solution than the possibility of all those minds thinking about them.

*nothing nefarious. The wizards have an arrangement with distant kingdoms to take in orphans. People think it’s to train as servants, because it is an extremely closely guarded secret that anyone with the right training can become a wizard. It is not, in any way, hereditary. This would be dangerous in the kingdom of Azoudar, were it not for the fact that no living wizard is aware of the facts of human reproduction, and how babies actually come into the world. It’s simply not a concern for them, since something about doing magic seems to take the place of romantic and/or sexual interest – or perhaps they are somehow very skilled at choosing babies who will never be interested in that kind of thing. They therefore accept any child that comes into their life as their own, and so the child officially is. It helps, naturally, that all wizards are extremely secretive.
© bardofupton 2021

Writing project, June 2021

This month’s word is inside, meaning “on the inner side or part of; within”.

It’s a little late, sorry.


I’ve never been inside it. I’ve been up close, wandered around the outside, close enough to peer in its windows, if it had windows, but I’ve never been inside.

Neither has anyone else, of course.

That’s the whole point of it, that you can’t get in. There’s no door, no windows, no skylight or air vent or even drainpipe; there’s just the smooth fluorescing metal of the walls and the peculiar stippled fabric (or what looks like fabric) of the roof.

It just appeared overnight. Nobody claimed responsibility for its appearance, so of course conspiracy theories abounded.

My personal favourite was that it was an intelligence test for humanity. Once we got inside, we’d gain access to the rest of the galaxy, or even the universe.

That would be nice, but I don’t believe it. I’m too cynical to believe in benevolent aliens carefully testing us for worthiness. I think if there were aliens they’d just destroy us to be on the safe side.

My belief is that some rich bastard is messing with us, using their high-tech top-secret inventions to create a buzz. In a year, or less, there’ll be some product on the market using those materials. Or possibly it’s a test of new equipment by the military, but it seems a little public for that.

Of course, it’s turned into a huge tourist attraction. Little stalls have popped up around it, selling food, drinks and a variety of merch of varying quality – everything from keyrings to clothing to plushies. Although I still maintain that a plushie of a building is just weird.

People have tried to force their way in, by drilling or cutting into the walls or roof, occasionally with explosives. Some even tried tunnelling under and then inside.

All of them failed, some spectacularly.

The House still stands, inviolate, taunting. Maybe one day we’ll learn its secrets, but not today, and not me.

I take a final photo, catching it silhouetted against the sunset, and walk away, leaving mystery behind.

© bardofupton 2021

Writing project, May 2021

This month’s word is tall, meaning “having a relatively great height; of more than average stature”, “large in amount or degree; considerable” or “extravagant; difficult to believe”.

This is late also, sorry. So it’s very short.


I always wanted to be tall, to tower over my peers. I thought it would make me feel powerful.

Well I got my wish. It was the usual thing, find an old lamp, help an old woman, the usual nonsense where they turn out to be magical and you get a wish.

And my wish was to be taller than anyone else I knew. Taller than any human had ever been. So they turned me into a giraffe.

And that’s why you should never accept wishes.

© bardofupton 2021

Writing project, April 2021

This month’s word is home, meaning “a house, apartment, or other shelter that is the usual residence of a person, family, or household” or “the place in which one’s domestic affections are centered”.

This is really really late, sorry, so it’s going to be short.


This place was never my home. It’s where I sleep, where I eat, but I don’t live here. This is just the place I exist in.

I don’t think I’ve ever really had a home, a place where I belonged. Just a series of temporary abodes.

Home has always been a theoretical concept for me. Sometimes I think I’m missing out, other times I’m grateful for the freedom. It’s all a matter of perspective, I suppose.

And my perspective has always been odd.

© bardofupton 2021