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.


What I Take for Granted

Making my morning smoothie.  I lay out the ingredients–apple juice (the apples were from my apple trees), aloe vera juice, flaxseed oil, bananas, yogurt, cabbage, berries, cherries, cantaloupe–whatever fruits and vegetables that are organic and in season–protein powder…the list goes on.

This smoothie has become a daily ritual.  As I add the realfood
ingredients, I am aware that not everyone has these
vibrant fruits and vegetables available to concoct
a nourishing and delicious smoothie.  Yet, here I am,
gazing out the kitchen window at trees and mountains while doing this morning ritual.


Writing Prompt:
What do you take for granted?  Write about it.
Give it some recognition and appreciation.

“Um…do we need paddles?”

Where on earth did these three cuties come from?  I set out to practice painting a small grouping of women, meditative and emanating peace.  My painting took a turn which I was compelled to follow.

Was it because life had become too serious once again, dragging me along in the wake of  too many challenges at once?  On a bit of overwhelm, perhaps?  I needed something whimsical, fun and colorful.  There is definitely a story here. Fellow artists offered captions for this trio.

Writing Prompt:
What caption would you give this little painting?  What is your first response?  Or, what’s the story behind this scenario?  Write it.  For the fun of it.

Share your caption under comments if you like.

Note:  Don’t writers see the story in everything…the story behind what is on the surface?

I want to write, but…

Recently, a friend sincerely expressed how she wanted to write.  However, she didn’t want to write about what isn’t working in her life.  She was fearful of creating “more of the same” by putting it on the page.  I suggested that she give herself permission to have the rant in order to get to the good stuff.

Anyone, including me, can give themselves “reasons not to write today.”  A good way to address this is to take a reason not to write and write about it.  For example, I don’t want to write todaybecause I don’t want to put on the page how upset I am about my daughter’s choice of boyfriend.  I feel fierce and want to steal her out of this relationship and magically make her life better… 

Giving yourself permission to feel and say what you feel in the moment is important to your writing process.  You could write your rant on a piece of scrap paper which you later toss rather than including it in your journal.    Give your rant a time limit, five or ten minutes. Then, shake it off.

Once you’ve done your rant, what does your passion want you to write?  Can you return to the book, the poem, the prose or the painting and immerse yourself in what you’re here to do?

Yes, you can!

Writing Prompt:
If something is “up” for you, write a rant giving yourself about ten minutes to express it.  How did that work for you?
Or, do you have another ingenious way to creatively handle what is distressing you and then to get on with the writing you deeply desire to do?mermaid8

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.




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.

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”.