Angel Skins

Angel Skins
© by Christine O’Brien

Spring’s beauty mocks a world at war.  Who said
the spirit which enters and leaves this form
is pure?  When spirt and form do wed,
the body knows no haven from the storm.

Flowers have dirty feet; petal discards
like fallen angel skins, garden compost.
Flower sprites leap into neighboring yards
searching for the soggy seed, their next host.

This spring season who shall pollinate me?
Which bee will hover round my glowing crown?
What distance do I hold this person, he,
so in his shining aura I don’t drown?

While wars wage and flower sprites do dare leap
we’ll mock duality, hold hands, dive deep.



Writing Prompt:
Spring and war don’t jive.  The new life forcing its way into being after a cold and snowy winter of retreat and respite.  Within and without there are forces shouting about the wonders of being.  What are spring’s messages to you?  Write them down in your journal–transform them into a poem if you choose.

In Retrospect (2)

Knoxville Tennessee
by Nikki Giovanni
I always like summer Best
you can eat fresh corn
From daddy’s garden
And okra
And greens
And cabbage
And lots of
And buttermilk
And homemade ice-cream
At the church picnic
And listen to
Gospel music
At the church
And go to the mountains with
Your grandmother
And go barefooted
And be warm
All the time
Not only when you go to bed
And sleep
Writing Prompt:
What season did you like best while a child?
What stands out in your memory as inherent
to this season?  Notice how the author uses “listing”
to write her Memoir Poem.
Connect with your “inner child.”
Write your poem or prose.

In Retrospect (1)

The next two posts offer poems that revisit the past to inspire present day writing.  At any stage of life, the past might have a new lens through which we view it.  Memories, good and bad, can become foggy, blurred or even dreamlike in retrospect.  Some things STAND OUT while others fade into oblivion.

Beneath the Shadow of the Freeway
by Lorna Dee Cervantes

We were a woman family:
Grandma, our innocent Queen;
Mama, the Swift Knight, Fearless Warrior.
Mama wanted to be Princess instead.
I know that.  Even now she dreams of taffeta
and foot-high tiaras.

Myself:  I could never decide
So I turned to books, those staunch, upright men.
I became Scribe:  Translator of Foreign Mail,
interpreting letters from the government, notices
of dissolved marriages and Welfare stipulations.
I paid the bills, did light man-work, fixed faucets,
insured everything
against all leaks.


How very real!  I love this poem.  I love where it takes me and who I meet!

Writing Prompt:
How about writing a copycat poem here?  Choose one of your ancestors and in the first stanza, disclose some of your observations about him or her. When you think of him or her, what thoughts pop up immediately?  Go with these.
In the second stanza, shift to yourself and relate something about yourself (back then).  What was the role you played in that family?  Describe it poetically.


Resisting the Sonnet

This poem celebrates my appreciation of the sonnet–would that make it an ode then? Several years ago, when asked to write a sonnet for a poetry class, I became somewhat resistant.  Was it a concealed poetic aesthetic that surfaced?  Doesn’t a sonnet need a stimulus of high ecstasy to inspire it?  Doesn’t a sonnet require passion to inflame it?  Isn’t a sonnet best when it rises from that depth that then overflows into this beautiful form?  I wrote this sonnet in a passionate response to the instructor’s homework assignment to “write a sonnet”.

‘Ode’ to the Sonnet
© by Christine O’Brien

One cannot demand a sonnet, voila!
It is conjured from the deepest ah ha!
Where’s the reservoir of unwritten poems?
Lying fallow beside unwritten tomes.

Sonnets conspire with sweet words unspoken
asleep in the depths waiting to be woken.
A prince’s kiss, the secret elixir
or is Shakespeare this poem’s fixer?

Loves lost and loves dreamed of afar or near
there lies the inspiration, the silent tear
sliding on to the page, now writer’s ink
connects the poem’s dots, the missing link.

Such inspiration cannot be contrived
the sonnet in its splendor from love derived.


Writing Prompt:
What are your feelings about this poetic form?  Be honest.  Have you read any sonnets lately?  Have you written one or more?


The reactions to this name run the gamut.  Memories of being assigned to read Shakespeare in high school are resurrected from a gallery of memories.  What was your reaction to reading SHAKESPEARE back then?  Has it changed today?

While I recognize the genius in Shakespeare, it it is a real mental gymnastic for me to adapt my mind to reading the archaic language of his time and place.  How is it for you?  When I do follow the impulse, I discover once again the genius and the relevance to our times, to the commonality of the human condition across time.  His writing encompasses the human drama, comedy, satire, fantasy, romance, politics, etc.  I am not a scholar of Shakespeare, not nearly.  However, I have enjoyed the BBC films that rendered Shakespeare palatable.  I admit to especially enjoying the comedies.

One thing that is of note…Shakespeare’s works are plays.  Therefore they lend themselves better to being spoken than read.  When his words are enacted, they have the dimension that they were intended to have.  A play is meant to be performed.  Therefore, if you get a chance, either watch a film or see a play.  Do you notice the difference yourself?  Do you feel engaged in a different way?  Does viewing a play (or film) give you an expanded appreciation for his genius?


I have viewed  A Midsummer Night’s Dream more than once.  I am always delighted and inspired by the wit of the story.  The cast of characters are engaging, enthralling, mischievous. I’ve enjoyed Michael Hoffman’s version of this tale.

“Having once this juice,
I’ll watch Titania when she is asleep
And drop the liquor of it in her eyes.
The next thing then she, waking, looks upon
(Be it on lion, bear, or wolf, or bull,
On meddling monkey, or on busy ape)
She shall pursue it with the soul of love.”

A trailer from Michael Hoffman’s 1999 film.




Tell the truth…Do you now or have you ever read ROMANCE NOVELS?

They certainly do have a big audience in our culture.

There was a period of time in my life when I read Danielle Steel’s novels (though brief).  On occasion, I’ve read other romance writers…I’m sure that I sought them for escape and to bring some sort of a balance into my life in the moment.  Leaving a long term marriage many years ago,  I watched romantic comedies to get a glimpse of how people conducted themselves in the world of dating.  I’d been out of circulation for so long.  Of course, these films weren’t the best resources.  However, if they were well-made, they were enjoyable.

My favorite all-time romantic film is A Room with a View.  I consider this one to be a classic art film.  For some reason, whenever I feel downcast, I gravitate to this film for comfort.  I think it is the beauty of the settings, the well-chosen actors, the actual idiosyncrasies of the scripted characters, the intelligent and witty dialogue and the unfolding story with an ending that is pleasing to me.

Following is a well-loved and classic scene from the film.  Less than two minutes long, it captures that spirit of romance.


Do You Want to Share:
Your favorite romance book, story or film?  Have you written one yourself?

Ode to My Jeans

An ode can convey gratitude.  This ode also employs the use of figurative language.  My sister, Kathryn, wrote this ode to her jeans several years ago.

Ode to My Jeans
© by Kathryn O’Brien

you always hug me
in just the right places

I remember
flipping through pages
slinky skimpy girlie stuff
Victoria’s Secret
catalog of glossies
the kind Joe liked

I sipped coffee
in bored fantasy
until you appeared
pure cotton denim
so out of place
like me in Joe’s life

you were hidden beneath
a one-size-fits-all
cotton sweater
but just my style
I sent away for you

stretched snugly over my limbs
you highlighted my form
holding me up
where I might have buckled
always there to slip into
when nothing else fit

stuffed into clunky hiking boots
or finished with delicate heels
mickey mouse sweatshirt
or silk camisole
I remember how it never mattered
who I was inside of you
how Joe never noticed either way

so here we are
faded and worn
sagging around the hips
loose at the waist
six years gone
Joe too
your left knee exposing bare flesh

Writing Prompt:
What in your life would you like to elevate into an ode?  It could be a n y t h i n g.