The ODE~~Anything Goes!

What better poetic form is there
to welcome spring than the ODE?  

According to Edward Hirsch, the ode is “A celebratory poem in an elevated language on an occasion of public importance or on a lofty universal theme.”  He further describes it as “…some inner feeling rising up in urgent response to an outer occasion, something owed.”  The odes used to be sung…the word is derived from Greek and referencing the word lyric.  And then it came to us through the Latin form oda. “The movement of the verse is emotionally intense and highly exalted,” according to Hirsch.

Aren’t those some of the feelings of spring?   Emotional intensity, exaltation, celebratory, feelings rising up, a sense of urgency.

Several years ago, I sat in a poetry circle at the local library. The facilitator of the group invited us to write a poem that inferred spring.  The following poem is what came to me…and it just happens to be an ode.  Hence the title.

© by Christine O’Briendaffodil.1

Tight fists
clenching their glory
beneath the earth
White coverlet
seeping cold
heads upwrd
tulips of pink
sunny daffodils
rambunctious rununculous
iris infatuation
a miracle of anemones
heady hyacinth
narcissus’ pride
stalwart amaryllis
calla and canna lilies
Reminders of
how grand
we can become!

Writing Prompt:
Is there anything at all in the season that you are experiencing (be it spring or autumn) to which you’d like to write an ode?  Celebrate it!  Write it!

In My Own Backyard…


Sonnet to the Cherry Tree
© by Christine O’Brien

If I were to write a sonnet to you
what words could convey what you mean to me?
The fidelity of this tree so true
reveling in what it is to be.

A sovereign tree, one hundred years old
leaves unfurled, from blossoms to cherries abound.
If trees could talk, what stories would be told
affinity with sky, roots in the ground.

Are my limitations making me deaf
to the voices that speak without words?
The winds carry fragrance and scents do waft
as cherries ripen, I race with the birds.

To eat the fruit from this generous tree
a gift that binds me to eternity.

Writing Prompt:
Go outside and take a look around.  What, in your own backyard, deserves a poem, a story or a painting?
Write it, draw it or paint it!

Spring Equinox!

Today is the first day of SPRING in the northern hemisphere.  Though storms are predicted for this week…rain and snow…the heart quickens to realize that Spring has arrived.

Spring Invitation
© by Christine O’Brien

In the midst of the inevitable retreat
prescribed by winter
with its grey wind and rain sheets,
frivolity doesn’t come easy.

Unlike the first green, renewed hope
of that undulating spring invitation
“Hurry!  Wait!”
This accelerated energy elbows me towards
Fae fun as exploding blossoms
stand up
beside the majestic mountain
where I now live.
Magical miracles happen here.

The perfectly sunny painted soul
inhales and exhales
when I pause and listen closely
sitting backbone to the faery well.

Then, twinkly toes twirling in dew wet grass
dance with spring’s first hummingbirds
in their startling altered hovering.

Family is all my relations–
this brings new meaning to family time.
Heal yourself amidst these
recreative connections–
earth, air, fire, water
the ingredients for balance, peace.

The world I know transforms during this
cycle of exhilarating expansion yet again
and I hear the spring breeze sighing
through the fragrant cherry blossoms “trust love”.

Fae by Christine O’Brien.2018

Writing Prompt:
How do you welcome spring?  Write about it.
Perhaps this season has a bit of frivolity in store for you.  Be alert to it!


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.


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.

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?