There is always a project (to write about)

A Strange New Cottage In Berkeley
by Alan Ginsberg

All afternoon cutting bramble blackberries off a tottering
brown fence
under a low branch with its rotten
old apricots and miscellaneous
under the leaves,
fixing the drip in the intricate gut machinery of a new toilet;
found a good coffee pot in the vines by the porch, rolled a
big tire out of the scarlet bushes, hid my marijuana;
wet the flowers, playing the sunlit water each to each,
returning for godly extra drops for the string beans and daisies;
three times walked round the grass and sighed absently:
my reward, when the garden fed me its plums from the
form of a small tree in the corner,
an angel thoughtful of my stomach, and my dry and love-
lorn tongue.

Isn’t there always a project?  One thing checked off the daily list and ten more crowd into view.  Just walk from one room to the next and see what you are confronted with.  The endless to-do list.

Ginsberg takes us on a garden tour as he cuts back the blackberries and makes his discoveries.  He ends his poem with delight.

Writing Prompt:
Write your own prose or poetry describing something that you did today, a project from your list.  Is there a reward in it?

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When I was the Forest

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When I was the Forest
by Meister Eckhart

When I was the stream, when I was the
forest, when I was still the field,
when I was every hoof, foot,
fin and wing,
when I was the sky
itself,

No one ever asked me did I have a purpose, no one ever
wondered was there anything I might need,
For there was nothing
I could not
love.

It was when I left all we once were that
the agony began, the fear and questions came;
and I wept; I wept.  And tears
I had never known
before.

So I returned to the river, I returned to
the mountains, I asked for their hand in marriage again,
I begged–I begged to wed every object
and creature.

And when they accepted,
God was ever present in my arms
and He did not say “Where have you been?”
For then, I knew my soul,
every soul has always held Him.

Writing Prompt:
Over the course life, there are things that we lose and things that we  find.
Perhaps we’ve been left and/or we’ve left others at times.
Is there something in your life that was “found” then lost and was there a yearning and then a returning?  Describe it in prose or poetry.

 

Possible, Impossible

Dove1

Living in a somewhat “remote” area, there can be a tendency to imagine that we are unaffected by what goes on in the outside world.  This is definitely a false bubble.  The decisions that are made by those in roles of leadership trickle down to affect everyone.  Following is the third poem in my hexalogy of poems.

Sonnet #3 in the hexalogy of poems.

Possible, impossible, a constant weave
Do we have control over where we go?
When the powers that be cause us to grieve,
Can we grab the reins, redirect the flow?

When so-called leaders don’t know how to lead
When ambassadorship, isn’t their forte
Why do we entrust what we hold sacred
to those who lead us to certain “muerte“?

Resources are finite, global warming, fact
Denial has been a way of life too long
We are coming up against our earth’s lack
How can she provide when we ignore her song?

This regime cannot withstand the earth’s dream
She will have her way as they sit and scheme.

****

It can feel scary to hold views that oppose the systems that are in power.  Poetry written and then poetry that is shared are creative ways to express our views.

Writing Prompt:
Are you more comfortable voicing your concerns or discontent in a poem or prose than in your daily conversations?  Then write the poem or prose and share it (or not) when you so 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
Barbeque
And buttermilk
And homemade ice-cream
At the church picnic
And listen to
Gospel music
Outside
At the church
Homecoming
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.
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Firewood Delivered

There are certain harbingers of a season.
In the mountains, one such winter’s messenger is the delivery of firewood — a cord of oak or lodgepole pine cut to size, left in an unwieldy pile in the driveway near the house.  Below is an unpolished, unedited poem from my writing journal.  I don’t have a woodstove now…I have another type of heat.  But I remember very well that sense of gratitude and a feeling of wealth when the firewood was delivered.  These were my poetic thoughts while stacking wood.

Stacking Wood
© by Christine O’Brien

I don’t know what it is
to witness a tree falling
toppling hard upon the earth
vibrating with a thunderous curse.
Was it ready to give up life,
spirit sap, seamless strife,
surrendering to weapons
which sever, protest unheard.
Who will house that lonely bird
which once kept home within these leaves?
Does the bird fly to another hovel or
descend with the tree in a graceless flutter
like flower petals
though not so gently.
Perhaps they remember
the earth from which they’ve come
and rise again in a new form.

****
Now I stack it in imperfect piles
heat of my hearth
blazing and wild
challenging me
to be so used
The wealth of all that one life can be
standing small am I beside this tree

Writing Prompt:
What is a harbinger of the season in your hemisphere?  Choose one thing and write about it uncensored in poetry or prose.  Be real, be silly,  be serious, be ridiculous, be imperfect, just be.

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with relish

with relish
© by Christine O’Brien

in the land of white bread

and red kool-aid

where secular thoughts

are proscribed

there’s bologna sandwiches

for lunch

and mom makes

chicken pot pie for dinner

we believe what they teach

at sunday school

and that the president is

a wise leader who really

cares about his constituents

where blind trust is rampant

and you get only one true love

the happily ever after package deal

hollywood endings are gospel

i swallowed such lies

with Relish

****
Writing Prompt:
Preview the landscape of your childhood.  List a few memories that quickly come to mind–the ones that generally symbolize something that seemed to be true then or that you wanted to believe.  Let any of these memories be the prompt.  Write a poem or prose following this lead.  “Present the thing”, that is the experience and within it, guide the reader to the feeling.

Note:  What is the feeling behind my poem?  I would say it is “cynicism”.

flower

Quigley on the Klamath

quig1.jpgThis past summer, I decided to explore some new places within proximity to where I live, to take “day trips.”  A friend told me about the Quigley General Store with a little cafe on the Klamath River.  “They make the best pies,” she said.

The Klamath River flows 257 miles through Oregon and Northern California.  Quigley, itself, is about 1-1/2 hours from where I live.  Arriving at the little cafe, I immediately noticed the extreme quiet.  This particular day, there weren’t any exciting pies in the pie case, so I ordered a turkey sandwich.  And a water beverage with quinine?  I had never had quinine before, but my mind dredged up the idea of it being an elixir of sorts.

I wandered out to the back deck, the only customer.  The plants in pots were dead.  The river itself was hidden with overgrowth and there wasn’t the expected sound of flowing water.  I had brought a favorite magazine to read and sat in a chair with a wet pad.  I changed seats and then got comfortable.  It was a warm day.  The type of heat that penetrates and forces welcome relaxation.  Sigh.

One of the scraggly young men in the cafe brought my lunch out to me.  I thanked him.  He and a heavyset fellow seemed to be either wandering around aimlessly or plopped themselves in chairs indoors as the woman, presumed owner, worked busily behind the counter.  I found myself thinking that they should be helping her.

The sandwich was exceptional and so was the coleslaw.  At first, I was disappointed in not having a slice of the “best pie.”  And that I couldn’t hear the river running?  And that the plants on the deck had died because the owner had been away and no one had watered while she was gone.

Then, a sense of deep calm came over me.  A feeling of settling down inside.  And I thought I could sit here all day, reading this magazine and being with this unusual feeling of palpable peace.

Driving home from Quigley on the Klamath, I recognized how much my life lacks this type of peace.  I considered how often I fill my moments with noise, hyperactivity and distraction.  I wondered why I had to go somewhere else to sink into that most beautiful space?

Writing Prompt:
When was the last time you experienced deep quiet?  Is it something that you can invoke by choice?  Or does it, at rare times, take you by surprise? Write about it.