Does this poem have relevance for you?

The images in this poem remind me of a surrealistic painting.
Of Mere Being
by Wallace Stevens
The palm at the end of the mind,
Beyond the last thought, rises
In the bronze distance.
A gold-feathered bird
Sings in the palm, without human meaning,
Without human feeling, a foreign song.
You know then that it is not the reason
That makes us happy or unhappy.
The bird sings. Its feathers shine.
The palm stands on the edge of space.
The wind moves slowly in the branches.
The bird’s fire-fangled feathers dangle down.

Writing Prompt:
This is one of those poems that people read over and over trying to capture the relevance of it to their own lives.  Have you found something that is meaningful to you in these few verses?  Appreciating the imagery could be enough.

A Woman’s Best Friend?

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One day a few weeks ago,  I had a plan to paint a forest fairy.  What showed up on the canvas was the eye and snout of a dog!  I don’t paint dogs typically.  I was going to force it into a forest fairy!

Then I went out in the world and had three encounters of the strangest kind.

The first:
What do you do for recreation on a rainy day?  A friend and I went to the local museum to see two exhibits:  1) Mount Shasta: Mystery and Magic–Elevating the Human Spirit and 2) Tattooed and Tenacious: Inked Women In California’s History.  By the way, I highly recommend both exhibits.
As we stepped out into the parking lot, walking towards our vehicles, a young girl ran up to us.  Her message was urgent.
“Would you mind if our dog said hello to you?  He really wants to say hello.  It would make him so happy.”
Who could refuse?

The second:
Later on, the same rainy day, an acquaintance–one who seldom frequents the local cafe– stopped in to get a hot chocolate.
He explained, “I was taking my dog for a walk and it started raining.  He doesn’t like walking in the rain.”
I asked “What kind of dog?”
He answered “Everything. Would you like to meet him?”
Who could refuse?

I took both of these instances as a sign that I was to paint this dog.  I came home and started to bring him forward.  Then I got this text from my daughter.

The third:
“Just saw Isle of Dogs, Of course I liked it.”
I hadn’t heard of Isle of Dogs.  (I’ve seen it since and thought it was a work of artistic genius.)

As if I needed more confirmation.  I texted my daughter an image of the work in process.
She said:  “She/he is so cute.  Looks like a lil wolf dog and looks like a dog from the movie.”

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All of this to say, when the universe sends synchronicities, listen and follow them.  Paint the dog!

Creative Prompt:
Be alert to those messages, especially the ones that come in bunches.  Follow the intuitive hit, the creative impulse, the prompts that present themselves over the course of your day.

Degas as Inspiration

Looking through an art magazine, I came across the image of Degas:  Les Femmes Qui Se Peignent.  I have not posted a photo here due to possible copyright infringement.  However, I suggest that you Google it to get an image of where the inspiration for this short prose poem came from.

Inspiration is an interesting thing.  One gets inspired and then either does or doesn’t do something with that inspiration.  Once I engaged the inspiration, imagination took over.  And who can predict where the writing goes from there?

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She’d Get By, Right?
© by Christine O’Brien

There had been weeks of gray skies.
She’d get by, right?
In the meantime, dress simply
keep a positive focus
and send loving thoughts to everyone
you’ve ever met.
When memory slips in, turn away…

“Let me be your guide,” he said
as he tucked a sprig of gypsophila
beside her ear, already too familiar.
He isn’t practical she thought.
Yet, there is poetry in his eyes.
She told herself that she needed more space
but his teal eyes could too easily
dissuade her from that idea.

This relationship wasn’t going to be–
convenient.
He worked in a high rise
while she had earthy values.
The night sky had to be star-studded
not city light lit.

The morning they met,
she was sitting by the sea
combing her hair
while the gentle waves teased her feet.
He told her that she looked Indian
and asked if he could braid her hair.
What type of woman allows a
strange man with teal eyes to
braid her hair?

“In honor of the new moon”
he winked leaning into her resistance.
It didn’t take very long for her to realize
that she was falling for his line, his leanness,
his too too teal eyes.

These months later,
entrenched in weeks of gray skies
she asked herself if the heartache was worth it.

She decided that it was.

****
Writing Prompt:
Inspiration and imagination are never very far away.  Get your inspiration and take the time to follow it.  Write a prose poem or a prose piece.

dance with me

A dear friend had been diagnosed with cancer.  For three years, she fought this battle.  I remember her saying that she didn’t think that she had accomplished anything great in her life.  I reminded her of all the people that she drew to her, those she loved and who loved her in return.  What meaning was she looking for beyond that, I wondered.  And then she was…gone.

…dance with me
© by Christine O’Brien

Life came and took her
with a force
whirled her
around it’s dance floor.

Come, dance with me
it said more softly;
waltzed her into a corner
pinned her against the wall
with its direct stare
so close
she knew it’s musky smells.

Come, dance with me
as she dug her fingers into dark earth
played with her cats,
dared to love, again. 

And friends,
she could never have too many.
“I don’t know the dance,”
one naively sighed.
“I’ll show you,”
she said
as she twirled her
around the dance floor.

Come, dance with me
life winks
extending a crooked finger,
signaling,
“I’ve got something more to show you.”
She peeked inside the keyhole
“There’s no great lesson to learn,”
life whispers– “it’s the dance.”

greatblueheron2

Writing Prompt:
Dance is a great metaphor for life.  Do you have a style of dancing that suits you?
Think of something in your life to compare the dance to and write about it using
metaphor.

Earth’s Advocate

Through my writing and painting, I feel a call to service.
My blog is a virtual soapbox where I get to express what’s on my mind.  I try not to be overtly political.  That said, the personal is truly political, so my views are woven through what I write about or might be reflected in what I paint.  This can’t be helped if we are authentic in our expression.  What we write, paint or draw is in the context of the times and circumstances in which we live…is that true?

⇔⇔⇔⇔⇔⇔⇔⇔⇔⇔⇔⇔⇔⇔⇔

#5 in the hexalogy of poems

Earth does not need us to advocate for her.
She has ambitions that outshine our own.
Though it could help us if we hear her roar
she does communicate if we would hone…

to practice connection daily is wise
to stop and listen and learn her true ways
it’s in the wind where she speaks and sighs
“My children, you are numbering your days.”

“Is waking a painful process” you ask
rubbing the sleep from your lightblind eyes
surfacing from slumber a painful task?
Though not to awake could be your demise.

She rocks the cradle and out you will fall
let it be because you hear her sweet call. (to life!)

Writing Prompt:
Do you have a favorite fictional or nonfictional character (in books or films) who exemplifies a “call to service” by the way he or she lives her life?  (It could be Wonder Woman.)  What qualities in this character do you most admire?  Why?

Let’s Do An Edit Challenge!

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Have you ever sent a Letter to the Editor?  One of the requirements for the local newspaper is 300 words or less.  You have to say what you want to say, make your point,  in 300 words or less?  Typically, I write a letter to the editor when I feel strongly about something.  Whether it’s something in local politics, of personal concern or global impact, I feel passionate enough to grab my pen and paper and scribble something down on the page.

When I do this, I can write up to 1000 words easily.  I bet you can too if you are riled enough.  And then, I have the challenge to whittle this down to only THREE HUNDRED WORDS.  I’ve learned to love this type of editing.  And as a writer, I believe it’s good to learn to love this process.  Because now you get to craft, refine and chisel to create a lovely sculpture of what you truly want to say having chosen the best words in which to convey your message.

Writing Prompt:
Give it a go!  Is there something in your community that you have a “gripe” or otherwise passionate energy around?  Write a letter to the local newspaper.  First, say everything you could possibly want to say about the topic.  That free-writing that we’ve discussed before.  Walk away and then come back and begin the whittling, refining, crafting process.  It’s a great practice for other types of writing.  Enjoy it!

Writing About Mom

ROSES!2014

This is one very complex relationship.  Following is an excerpt from a little book I self-published a few years ago.  I wrote about this relationship in third person.

Emily opened her mother’s dresser drawer.  Lipstick.  Emily removed the cap and screwed the glossy stick up and down several times.  Red, red, red.  She dabbed a little on her lips and smeared it on with her little finger, almost instantly grabbing a tissue to blot it away.  She plied open the powder compact and puffed some on the back of her hand.  The rouge–everything so red.  She stared, trance-like, remembering how she once peeked through the crack of her mother’s bedroom door as she got ready for church on a Sunday.

****
Severina stood there in her white slip, slightly full of figure, pretty.  Her black, thick, chin-length, waved hair did not fall forward as she leaned to pull on her nylon stockings.  She always wore white gloves when she put on her nylons.  Once the stockings were buckled onto the garter belt, Severina smoothed her slip and drew her navy blue and white polka dot dress over her head.  The dress flattered her rounded figure.  Severina leaned into the mirror and carefully applied the red lipstick; blot and then reapply.  She outlined her lips creating the perfect bow mouth.  

****
Emily closed the rouge case and returned all the makeup to its proper place.  She slid the second drawer open.  Before she could finger the pearl necklace or inspect the sapphire ring, she heard the click of the latch downstairs.  Quickly, she closed the drawer, shut the bedroom door and returned to her lower bunk bed in the shared bedroom at the other end of the hallway.  She feigned reading her book.
Who was this woman she called “mommy”, she wondered.

mom1

Writing Prompt:
Have you written about your relationship with your own mother?

Blessings to all the mothers…their work in the world is priceless.