quig6aShe was made to give
© by Christine O’Brien

The earth she says
I was made to give
take from my abundant larder.

and they took and returned to her
in intimate ways
and each was happy.

The earth she says
I was made to give
take from my abundant larder.

and they plowed and sowed her
to feed the many
who had set up villages
and put down roots
and they took and returned to her
in amenable ways
and each was content.

The earth she says
I was made to give
take from my abundant larder.

and they came with their heavy equipment
and modern ways
scavenged in her very bowels
bound her up in asphalt and concrete
rumbled heavy machines over her bare breast
constructed factories and buildings
increased their numbers
to populate these structures.

They said “We will make her subject to us.”
They worked the many to support the few
–a masked feudal system.
And they took
and they took
and they took from her
and it was never enough.
It was her nature to give
and though she felt dishonored
she complied.

The earth she says
I was made to give.
take from my…
however her larder was less abundant
and she felt a certain exhaustion.
To continue giving
to those who showed no appreciation
nor reciprocity
seemed a betrayal.

How much longer could she sustain them,
sustain herself?
Where she had once given
from her abundance,
now she was giving
from her personal storehouse.

“Ah, I am tired,” she said.
“I’ll shake these ungratefuls
from my empty breast.
I’ve nothing left to give.”

Writing Prompt:
One definition for ecology is “the branch of biology that deals with the relations of organisms to one another and to their physical surroundings.”  What is your relationship to your physical surroundings?  Write about it.


“…the book you can write…”

A few years ago, I took an online course on illustrating children’s books.  The course was peppered with interviews by successful authors of children’s books.   I was so impressed with one interview in particular that I wrote down some of the author’s wisdom verbatim.

From children’s picture book author, Maria Van Lieshout:

“Write only the book you can write. …when you define yourself as an artist, that comes through in your style or [through] your voice when you’re a writer.  It is all about who you are authentically and that is defined by where you’re from, where your home is, who your parents were, where they came from, what appeals to you, what you react to, what makes you emotional…[you ask] what is it about me that makes me respond so much?  Because the more I understand about me and where I’m from, the better of an artist I will ultimately become and that will shine through in my style in the books that I do….It is about who you are as a person as much as who you are as an artist or a writer that ultimately defines the book that you need to be working on…You want to find the story that is absolutely yours because you are the only one who could have created the story.”

I’m going to suggest that you read the above quote aloud, once more.  And listen to the words that you read; take them inside.

Though I’ve said something similar in earlier blogs, I find that it helps to have something of value repeated.  And, when someone says the same thing in a different way and/or with a different tone, it might be heard by a new audience.

Writing Prompt:IMG_9697
All of that said, what is the book that only you can write?
Or the poem?
Or the art piece you can make,
mold or build?
Or the painting that only you can paint?

Inspired by a painting

The Dive
© by Christine O’Brien

Diving Bird by Christine 2018

Feet plugged into the
sticky resin springboard,
I note the space between me and
the crushing water below.
The form I hold.
Buddha stillness.
The grace I invoke
as I design form
gliding through space.
The breath I hold.
The breath I take
like thunder in a canyon
fills my ears.
The shadow of fear
remains at the other end
of the platform
while I stand on the edge
in focused repose.

This is not my first dive
though my raised shoulders,
clamped mouth and clenched jaw
could be interpreted as fear.
There is always that
but with prayer and practice
it quickly transforms
as there is no turning back now.
The dive grooms the diver
in this conspiracy of grace, form and space.

Originally, it was a dare from friends
that sent me up the hot aluminum ladder
on that sweaty summer day.
Now, it’s a drive from within,
neither towards perfection
nor for judges’ scores.
There is no competition.

It is the ecstasy of flight
that sends me to this precipice.
Neither bird nor stone falling through space,
I am a wingless angel
who rejoices in
those few seconds of airtime.
Body imprinting space
air molecules conforming, buoyant.
I visualize the flex, fold, arc,
the straightening as
I neatly incise the water with my hands,
barely a splash.

I surface a few feet away,
a different sort of Phoenix rising.

I was invited to write and read a poem for an art gallery event.  The invitation was to choose a painting from the gallery show and write a poem to complement the painting.  I had two days.  I had been on a poetic hiatus and there is often the doubt “Do I have it in me to write poetry?”  I strolled through the gallery looking for a painting that resurrected my poetic voice.  There she was, the girl standing at the edge of the diving board.  I sat with her and asked what wanted to be spoken.  I took a photo and notes and went home.  This was not the first poem that came…the first poem was the process that lead me to this poem.

Writing Prompt:
Give yourself this challenge.  Go to an art gallery, stroll through and stop when you feel that gripping connection with a painting.  Then, sit with it for awhile, take notes, take a photo.  Go home (or to a cafe–make it an artist’s date) and write your poem.  This is such a special experience.  Do try it.

Note:  Remember the first poem may not be the final poem (nor the second or third).  Allow yourself to be in process with what wants to be spoken referring back to the painting as inspiration.

Note 2:  The artist is Jan Wurm.  Her painting is called “The Dive.”  I was hoping to include an image of the painting.  However, I have not received permission from the artist to date.


The Poet Responds to Herself/Himself

When I write a poem, it often stands alone.  However, there are times that it becomes a poem that sparks another poem and another and another.  A trilogy or quadrilogy or pentalogy or even a hexalogy of poems.  Don’t you love those words?  Who dreamed them?

When I wrote the first poem, To the God of Sunlight, it became just that for me.  Actually, it grew into a hexalogy of poems, that is six interconnected poems.

These poems toppled out, one after the other.

Here is the second poem:

The Eleventh Hour
© by Christine O’Brien

Not to say we shouldn’t desire more
of that which feeds the hungering soul.
For such yearning, it seems, opens the door
as we stare out upon a distant knoll.

Comfortable complacency is fine.
We all need pauses in our quest for more.
Grateful for the banquet upon which we dine,
fingers laced, beside the fireplace, shut the door.

But when the bell tolls the eleventh hour,
mustn’t we from our sedentary rise
step into our uncomfortable power
–this before our comforts become a vise?

The hungering soul feasts on freedom.
Quick! They are capturing the kingdom.


Writing Prompt:
Have you had this experience–a poem that arrives in segments?  Give yourself a poetic few hours writing about something for which you have passion and see where you go.

The Enchantment of New Inspiration

In an earlier blog, “keep a door or window open,” I encouraged the artist to stay open so that more inspiration enters.  However, there is such a thing as Inspirational Overload.


This is dangerous territory for me.  I am a great creative idea generator.  There are people who get paid for being “Ideas Men/Women.”  Innovators!  That is their job title.  They do not have to bring the idea to fruition…they just have to keep coming up with new and viable ideas.  Then, a team of creatives runs with the idea, developing it into a product.

When I get a new idea, I want to run with it, abandoning all of the other great ideas that are in various stages of development.  This is troublesome for me because, then, I don’t bring an earlier idea in process to completion. I surround myself with puddles of incompletion. Recognizing that I’m only one person with a limited amount of time and energy, I tap into my own frustration and immobility.

In such times,  I have learned to choose ONE THING that won’t take more than a few days to complete.  I follow it from start to finish while quieting the niggling voices that tug at me from every side.  I play my favorite music and get busy doing that one thing.  Whenever I am tempted to leave it in a state of partiality, I don’t walk away.  I stay with it.  I see it through to the end…completing the tiny details of it whether it is a piece of writing, a painting or a fabric creation.  I get it to that state where I can say with absolute finality.  THIS IS DONE!

Hooray!  I’ve completed something.  I’ve moved the paralyzing energy of inspirational overload.  I’ve created a piece!  It’s important to take time to bask in that feeling for a little while.  (Isn’t bask a great word?)

I’ve proven to myself that I have the focus and follow-through to bring something to completion.  In bringing a project to completion, there is fulfillment of the promise that was sparked with the original idea.  Now, I feel ready to go forward with whatever is next having renewed faith in my capability to complete something.

Creative Prompt:
Have you had this experience of the enchantment of new inspiration?  What is your method of dealing with this?  Do you have too many unfinished projects?  Try working on and completing one small thing.  What is your feeling afterwards?

Please feel free to share your own thoughts under the comments.

Note:  Why not gather a few friends and give yourself a party to show off your creation…toast yourself with apple cider, champagne or your beverage of choice!


Synergy–Song Lyrics are Poems

Synergy definition:
“the interaction or cooperation of two or more organizations, substances, or other agents to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects.”

When I discover something I appreciate or admire, I like to share it with others.  So today, I share Bedouine’s Solitary Daughter.

Recently, I heard this song, this artist, Bedouine, on the radio.  I marveled over the synergy of her voice, the lyrics, the music–all coming together to create this work of art–a song.  As the words take me into the story of her song, her hypnotic voice entrances while the music gives the song wings.

Synergy is an interesting concept…reminiscent of the old adage “…the whole is greater than the sum of its parts…”  While Bedouine has a beautiful voice, while the music itself is lovely, while the words (story) are engaging…their effect when combined feels whole and inextricably bound to create the perfect effect.

The whole is then, greater than the sum of its parts.  What do you think?


Valentine’s Day


© by Christine O’Brien

The heart wants to love,
that capacious muscle
to open outwards
in trusting embrace
to loosen its tight grip on pain
to soften.

The heart wants to love
free of constraints
of fear, past hurts, rules–
to break apart
releasing butterflies
like an open air arboretum
fragrances floating lightly
on sweet spring’s breath
turning one around
towards love.


Do you have a love poem?  If not, find one or write one.
Share a love poem with someone this week.