A dab hand: #dVerse Quadrille

She dabbed her lips with the handkerchief:
Her lipstick stayed in place.
I couldn’t think why she had used it:
her lips were moist and not a trace
of food upon them.
Then I saw the bloodspots:
blood-not food-not
from the lips
but teeth.

© Experimentsinfiction 2021, All Rights Reserved

Written for dVerse quadrille, where De is hosting. She has asked us to use the any form of the word ‘dab’ in our poem of exactly 44 words. ‘A dab hand’ is a colloquial British expression for someone who is particularly good at doing something, e.g. ‘She was a dab hand at writing quadrilles.’

The idea behind this very short poem came from the lyrics of the Rolling Stones ‘You can’t always get what you want,’ in particular these lines:

I saw her today at the reception
In her glass was a bleeding man
She was practiced at the art of deception
Well, I could tell by her blood-stained hands

– Lyrics by Keith Richards / Mick Jagger.

Here’s the full song, in case you’re not familiar, though I’m sure most people are, as it’s a classic:

76 thoughts on “A dab hand: #dVerse Quadrille

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  1. Ingrid, I had never heard the phrase “dab hand” before, even in my “dab” research for the prompt. LOVE learning something new! And I love the inspiration you found from the Stones. Just wonderful. There is so much story here. The reader yearns to know more.

    1. I wasn’t sure if I needed to explain it as I didn’t know if that expression had made it over the Atlantic. Now I’m pleased I did!

  2. Lyrics are excellent for finding inspiration, Ingrid, I love the use of ‘a dab hand’ and the way you incorporated both into your quadrille. She must be a vampire.

  3. Wonderful inspiration… it just shows that I listen too little to the lyrics when listening to a song that I have even sung the refrain from when I saw them live… I feel that there is a vampire reference too.

  4. This is absolutely brilliant, Ingrid! Love the usage of the phrase, “Dab hand,” here and the reference to “lipstick stayed in place.” She sounds like a powerful character who knows what she’s doing. 💝💝

  5. I love the poem, and the inspiration. As many times as I’ve heard the song, I don’t think I ever listened to the lyrics very carefully. Like others, I wonder what the story is here, too. It is chilling, whether she’s a vampire, or something else.

  6. It’s what isn’t said that is the most intriguing. Great but suspected to be sad story. Yes, I love that song and The Rolling Stones in general.

  7. She strikes me as a Succubus, or a banshee witch who can appear beautiful; a man-eater indeed. You certainly sparked a lot of inquiry and conversation; hard to do with only 44 words.

  8. You dab-handed this one fer sure, Ingrid. And I thank you for the inspiration to put Mick & the boys on the turntable while I read the rest of the dabbers. Well-done!
    (Yes, it’s true: I have vinyl!)

  9. Dab hand is a new term to me. I love learning new terms and phrases. The lady sounds a good one to avoid!

      1. Well done! I appreciate poems with multiple interpretations and hearing and reading how those poems are interpreted by different readers.

  10. Well, this is a strange coincidence… with the Marilyn-mouth-style theme both you and I had going on, sight unseen… !! Didn’t you think it odd, when you commented on mine? I was surprised to see this. Funny where comments lead us, around WP… You have a cunning mind, Ingrid. Experiments in fiction, indeed!

  11. I always thought of the lyrics as referencing a wound of deception. Your character seems poised but, there is an underlying current of trouble. Interesting post.

  12. Wonderful piece Ingrid – left me wondering what happens next? and before? and thanks also for the Stones – took me back (Ha!) – some things just stay fresh…(BTW dab-hand made it to Australia too…)

  13. One of my fav’ Stones songs Ingrid, off the “Let It Bleed” album, yep I’ve the vinyl (1969)… and your poem is appropriately tasty and suspenseful

  14. Had never heard the expression “dab hand”. I am always learning something new at dVerse!
    Oh but this is a chilling tale….dabbing her lips with her handkerchief….blood on her teeth. Has she just had her feast while nuzzling some poor unsuspecting man’s neck?????

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