It Starts with Pheasants

By T. J. Dennett



Father found them first, while I was sleeping

through one of his midnight rambles. Creeping

like a fox between hazel and hawthorn,

he overheard – above him – the flutter

of a pheasants wing, and then another,

and then another that flew up airborne

into the night; a helium balloon

that seemed to rise towards the crescent moon


until the whip-crack of a tripwire

sent him spiralling like a spitfire.

He landed with a thud, ankle twisted

and headlamp crushed under the weight of his

fall. He knew there was blood, he could taste it

on the roof of his mouth, and on his lips.

At this point he tried to haul himself up

by his fingers, but wasn’t strong enough.


Hours passed before I found him, by which

time all the pheasants had long since vanished.

As we struggled out of the woods he told

me of his plan. I mentioned the raisins

and the sleeping pills. I swear a lightbulb

shone, momentarily. A flash blazing

like a lightning strike above our heads.

At least that’s what I remember of it.





T. J. Dennett is a writer and performer from Northamptonshire, England. He lives with his wife, daughter and their Labrador.