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.




It’s not spring, yet in winter, I long for the promise of spring.  I
force a few bulbs to grow indoors.  They give me hope.

If you are a poet, you are likely familiar with the couplet…two lines that make a stanza, usually with an end rhyme.  And, couplets can be strung together ad infinitum. Can’t you picture strings of couplets linked together dangling off the edge of the world?!

“We call a couplet closed when the sense and syntax come to a conclusion or strong pause at the end of the second line…giving a feeling of self-containment…We call a couplet open when the sense carries forward past the second line into the next line or lines…”
from Edward Hirsch book:
How to Read a Poem

Here’s a couplet expressing my own sentiments about the image at the top of this page:

A bed of earth below which lays
a startle of forceful green relays

a message that beneath tamped earth
there is the promise of rebirth.

This is my example of an open couplet.  It is obvious that at the end of the first stanza, there is more to be said.  At the end of the second stanza, there is a sense of closure.  That said, I could go on and add more if I felt so inspired.

Writing Prompt:
Let this image of a hyacinth bulb bursting through the soil be the inspiration for a couple of your own couplets…or more than a couple.

Share a few of your couplets under comments if you dare.

Art Quilts–Making a Statement

Terese Agnew is one  of the featured artists in the PBS Documentary Series, Craft in America–THREADS.  Agnew is an example of an artist who, on becoming aware of a serious injustice, is called to action–to make a statement through her art of quilting.  Listening to the news on the radio, she hears about the inhumane working conditions of the textile workers in Nicaragua.  As she is walking through a department store, she notices the signs advertising the various fashion designers.  That recognition partners with an idea on how to illustrate this injustice through her art of quilting.  And, it became a community collaboration in a surprising way.  Take two minutes to listen to Agnew relating her process below.


As a writer or an artist tuning into these challenging times, you may find the inspiration to make your own artistic statement. In taking some elements of your outer reality, threading them through your art, you draw attention to an injustice.  Sharing your work engages community as you plant the seeds of awareness in those who see your art or read your poem.  As an artist or writer, you cannot fathom what may awaken in another through your writing, poetry or painting.  Your art could be the catalyst for someone else’s call to action!

Does this statement feel true for you?
“Artists have what I call  an alchemical responsibility–to transform the dross into art (gold) and to offer it to others in a provocative way.” 


“Nobody Understands Me”–Wayne White

A week ago, I viewed the documentary film, Beauty is Embarrassing.  This film features Wayne White, “an American artist, art director, puppeteer, set designer, animator, cartoonist and illustrator.”  He is a modern day renaissance man, a bit irreverent at times.

One thing that White grew to realize over the course of his career is that the artist’s expectation to be understood is unreasonable.  Art that follows the trend of having to meet the criteria of a select community or of what is currently popular is art that can become stagnant for the artist.

To be in one’s artistic unfolding,  you have to be willing to go where your muse leads.  You don’t have to have a logical reason…other than this is your current curiosity and inspiration as exemplified by the course Wayne White’s life and art has taken.

In viewing this film, it became apparent that in his later years, Wayne White shows up as an artist of impulse…he follows through on the inspiration of the moment.  He allows his creative curiosities–when he doesn’t know how to do something, he studies, practices and learns.

When someone says to me “I don’t have an artistic bone in my body,” what they are really saying is that they are comparing themselves to a standard of art.  Anyone can fall short of that standard and then think “I guess I’m not an artist.”  They have slammed the door on discovering the artist within that wants to COME OUT!

Watch the film Beauty is Embarrassing.
Afterwards, consider what creative expression wants to bubble up in you.  What have you always wanted to try your hand at but considered it a foolish pursuit?  Hey, try it.  If not now, when?

Go and discover!

The Motel

night3The Motel
© by Christine O’Brien

Light plays

with the dark

dawn’s quarter moon

night on the wane.

A single star

winks at the motel’s safety light

flickering between night duty and day.

Street lamps create harsh silhouettes.

Anticipating returning home,

I rise early

tired of my sparsely blanketed complaints and fears.

The building light blinks on again;

the too-early drone of a tv from another room.

Hot water burps from the coffee pot in the bathroom;

the score-less tennis courts below.

The Motel 6 sign flirts with a  Quality Inn sign.

I eat my granola,  drink my tea,

load the car

–an early start home.

Always headlights north and south.

Six in the morning.

I’ll leave him a farewell note.

Writing Prompt:
Travelling gives the writer an opportunity to gain a new perspective.  I actually was at this motel on a solo trip…but I played with the ending of the poem to add a twist.  Poets and writers sometimes like to add a twist.  On your next trip (or shopping expedition), in poetry or prose, take time to describe a setting.  Then add a surprise twist.

Origin of a Poem–Kindness

Many years ago, a friend introduced me to the poetry of Naomi Shihab Nye.  He appreciated how she occupied and read her poetry.  So do I.

Naomi Shihab Nye’s poem, Kindness, is widely read.  And it’s no wonder.  In this video clip, she relates how she came to write this poem.  Then, she recites her poem.  Regardless of how many times that I read or hear this poem, I am deeply moved.

May I bring the message of this poem into my encounters today.

How prepared are you to take down a poem when it presents itself to you?  I’ve been driving, walking down a path or in the shower when a poem comes to me full blown (and sometimes without the need for editing)!  I am the scribe, available to the recitation whenever and wherever it comes.  Maybe I need a bumper sticker “I brake for poems!”

Note:  Carry your pocket journal and a pen with you.  You truly never know when a brilliant idea is going to cross your path.


Scan_20160308 (2)
Too Small Alice

This drawing is my copycat drawing based on
an original illustration by Sir John Tenniel
and then water-colorized by me.


Some stories are timeless.  When you were young, did someone read to you from the classic tale, Alice in Wonderland?  Or, did you pick up the book and read the story yourself on a rainy Sunday afternoon? Perhaps you’ve seen one of the many film versions of Alice in Wonderland.

A few years ago, artist Jane Davenport offered an online watercolor painting class, Wonderland.  I had no experience with watercolor painting.  This seemed like a fun way to get my feet wet.

I also decided to read the book, Alice in Wonderland, from start to finish. I am certain that reading this book in present time, I had greater comprehension than when I read excerpts in the past.  That is the thing about some stories, they have the capacity to reveal something new when viewed from a different vantage point of age.

Have you found this to be true?


I wonder what gives a story this timeless quality.  As a writer, does one set out with the intention to create a classic tale that spans generations?  What do you think?
I believe that a person writes for the love of writing, an inner drive, compelling inspiration, his/her own particular circumstances and the outer stimulus of the times. Add to this their commitment to follow this particular tantalizing muse.

How could Lewis Carroll have imagined that his story would leap across continents and into our present time?

feel it’s important to note that Sir John Tenniel’s original illustrations bonded with Carroll’s words in such a way as to pop the story off the pages.  When I think of Alice in Wonderland, I see Sir John Tenniel’s “Alice”.

Note: This classic tale has had many illustrators over time.

The quote below, from Alice in Wonderland, is a popular, often quoted one.  Applying this to writing, isn’t it an advantage for a writer to stay open to where the flow of thoughts, words and emotions want to take him/her–that is, not knowing where they want to go? If you have a goal in mind for your writing, how do you react when your writing wants to go in another direction?  How can you align with your goal and yet stay open to rerouting?

“Would you tell me please, which way I ought to go from here?”

“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the cat.

“I don’t know where,” said Alice

“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the cat.