The Story of Pandora’s Box

I’m guessing you’ve read this Greek myth.

For the writer, writing has a quality of opening Pandora’s Box. When I write, I’m opening up more than my journal or notebook, I’m opening the unknown.  In the unknown, everything, all possibilities, exist.  What is going to be roused in me or you remains to be seen.  That which has remained hidden to yourself is given an opportunity to emerge. This can feel scary. Feelings can be tweaked, excavated trauma (I’ve referred to this in an earlier blog).  You decide if it’s worth bringing up again in this unearthing.

With writing (especially fiction and poetry) and art-making, there is nothing straightforward.  You don’t just sit down and write and remain unruffled.  You are taken places.  You volunteer for this journey a bit unwittingly.  “Yes, I’m a writer therefore, I write!” What you soon come to realize is that you have gone down a rabbit hole and you are being compelled as much as you have chosen the journey.

Who or what are you going to meet along the way?  White rabbits, card soldiers, tin men,  fairy queens, purple people eaters.  You don’t know.  It’s yet to be discovered.  Which Pandora’s lid is going to be opened in you?  What is going to leap out from your own inner underworlds and scare the heck out of you?  How did that get in there?  You can turn tail and run; slap your journal shut and find another interest.

Or you can continue the venture of discovery and inner sorting through the writing process.

Writing Prompt:
Consider how you manage your own writing journey.  If you are writing Non-fiction, are you less likely to encounter the unknown?  Or, in your research, do you uncover something that sends you there–into the unknown–regardless?  If you are writing fiction, do you get thrown off course when you are diverted down the rabbit hole?  What does getting back on track look like for you?  Or is the diversion where your writing really wants to go?  Is there a best way to sort the chaff from the gold and carry on?  Scan_0004

 

 

 

 

 

Opening my journal…
opening to the unknown.

Dream of a Legend

IMG_9912One of my first poems, written over twenty years ago, was a copycat poem inspired by Gregory Corso’s poem,  Dream of a Baseball Star.  I call my version…

Dream of a Legend
© by Christine O’Brien

I dreamed of Maid Marian
sitting at daybreak
on the steps of the whitehouse, singing.

She was in a flowing gown
and her longbow lay at her feet
–wood and taut.

“Gloria Steinem says you are the Legend,” I cried.
“So do I.  I say you’re the Legend!”

She picked up the bow and with nimble hands;
stood there primed as she would in Sherwood Forest,
and smiled; flinging her schoolgirl irony
towards some invisible foe
–awaiting the cue, all the way from Nottingham.

It came; hundreds came!  like fireworks!
She drew the bow and let fly and let fly and let fly and hit
not one single target nor bullseye.
A hundred misses!
Friar Tuck, dressed in a tuxedo
Shouted:  TO HELL WITH YOU.
And the “merry men” bellowed their dismay
dispersing the ghostly noblemen from their palaces.

And I shouted in my dream:
Marian!  send the arrow:
Open the hearts of the men:
Hooray for the equality!
Yes, the woman the peacemaker!
Let a minstrel’s song praise the true Legend!
Glory the truth be told!

Writing Prompt:
Borrowing someone else’s poetic form and inserting your own content (or passionate plea) is often a great way to find inspiration.

Note:  Whether or not you are a baseball fan, do Google and read Gregory Corso’s original witty poem!

 

Galana…part two

elephant.1I am elephant
© by Christine O’Brien

I am elephant
–wild–
tough of hide
wide of eyed
beneath my trunk
a semi-smile,
and knowing wise
retreating eyes
glazed in trauma.
Little body,
floppy ears,
these wide eyes have
cried their tears.
Take me back to my mama
remove from me all the trauma
of mama lost.

My shrieking cries
could topple trees
and echo louder
than a gaping mouth
collapsed on the forest floor.
Mama,
bloodied and beaten by men
who neither see nor care
–the fear implanted.–

It’s her tusks they want
though I don’t know why
my cries go inward
and I want to die.
I become a whimper,
a shiver,
and charge in circles
while they carve
my mama to free her tusks.

— who will feed me
teach me how an elephant behaves
show me how I’m naturally brave
that ours is a way of respect
and pride
that though my hide is tough,
my heart is not?

Elephant, noble and proud,
…and left to ourselves,
there is wisdom
How do we live free and safe?
Our mothers, their young?
–freedom to roam the forests
and forage?
–freedom to play
in an elephant way?
–to watch the sunrise, the sunset
with neither fear nor dread.
today I watch as my mama
lays dead.

Writing Prompt:
Creating art is an ACTION.  A strong feeling response  can be expressed through poetry, prose, painting and other art forms. Through this expression, we help ourselves by taking an appropriate action.  And, perhaps, we reach others by sharing our art or writing.

 

 

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.

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.

Aldo Leopold–ecologist

blackberrythorn

“One of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds.  Much of the damage inflicted on land is quite invisible to laymen.  An Ecologist must either harden his shell and make believe that the consequences of science are none of his business, or he must be the doctor who sees the marks of death in a community that believes itself well and does not want to be told otherwise.”

Also Leopold, A Sand County Almanac

We desire this not to be the case.  We want our immediate environment to feel secure.  Then we can reach out and help the world beyond our doors.  Unless we become comfortably complacent or apathetic.

Sonnet #4 in the hexalogy

She looks upon the land and she just knows
that things could be much better than they are
we daytripping visitors blink and doze
while wise ones see into the future, far.

When hindsight and foresight fall by the way
and the lessons offered aren’t learned
as “media-hype” says what it may
promoting fear, their paychecks are earned.

What else is new across this span of strife?
Human burying their heads in the sand.
We hear past echoes and we join the chime
“I can’t make a difference, one small life.”

Remember, holding hands, we are many
infused with earth love, we are not puny.

℘℘℘℘℘℘℘℘℘℘℘℘℘℘℘

Writing Prompt:
What does your one small voice want to say?  Grab a pen, your paper and write.

Anna Swir Talks to her Body!

“Anna Świrszczyńska (also known as Anna Swir) (1909–1984) was a Polish poet whose works deal with themes including her experiences during  World War II, motherhood, the female body, and sensuality…She also writes frankly about the female body in various stages of life.”  Wikipedia

The body is a storehouse of information in the form of memories, holding and revealing stories and lessons.  Sometimes, often, it seems like I need a translator to understand what the body is relating to me.  Listening to the body, I learn a lot about how to live in harmony with our natural world, this planet earth.

I Talk to my BodySpring1
by Anna Swir

My body, you are an animal
whose appropriate behavior
is concentration and discipline.
An effort
of an athlete, of a saint and a yogi.

Well-trained
you may become for me
a gate
through which I will leave myself
and a gate
through which I will enter myself.
A plumb line to the center of the earth
and a cosmic ship to Jupiter

My body, you are an animal
for whom ambition
is right.
Splendid possibilities
are open to us.

Writing Prompt:
Using the prompt of Anna Swir’s line
“My body you are…” write for ten minutes.
Is there more to be said?  Write some more.