Wednesday, April 11, 2018

The Cornice

photo credit

We thought we were far enough
from the edge of the snow-covered ridge
that hovered above a glacier-carved ravine,
yet when Annica tripped on her shoelace,
we gasped until she was on her feet again.
We had entered this high point riddled with caution signs,
chose to walk along this finger pointing to an imminent death,
even paused to eat our lunch perched atop its severity,
haunted by ghostly implications inhaled as cold mountain breaths.
I feared the sound of snow cracking beneath my feet,
the beginning of a fall, my stomach lodged in my throat,
gravity pulling the rest of my body down,
these two parts of me a rubber band
stretched to its breaking point.
I feared the awareness of death
that would surface
in such a moment.

I find myself again at the abyss,
this time on a cornice of my own making.
This is a fall that will begin when she is born and last my entire life.
People tell me about their own plunges, what they found below, how they felt.
I can’t know this expanse from looking over its edge,
not who she is, how I’ll feel, what our connection will be.
I only know this gravity will take me somewhere deep.
I’ve come to this cliff precisely
for this unknown.

How rarely in life I’ve created my own precipice,
walked past the caution signs, stepped onto the edge
not by accident, but excited by a vastness I can never contain,
nervous for the fall, for all is unknown.
Yet here I am leaning
toward mine.



Sunday, February 4, 2018

The Way of the Rose

The Way of the Rose

I.

When I live to be an old lady, 105, get dementia,
the last thing, the one thing that will dodge memory loss-
how to draw a rose looking straight at its center
learned from “How to Draw Flowers” when I was 10.
I’ve been sketching this image my whole life.
I can do it eyes closed, even reach out of a coma
to render this rose on paper.


II.

One. Begin with 1 small circle.

Two. Draw 2 lobes around it,
a lima bean dissected in Biology class.

Three. Draw 3 lobes, flat and long
hugging the previous two.

Four. Lose the symmetry.
Let your next choice be ‘maybe 4 or maybe 5’
but grow this number steadily
so your next maybe is ‘5 or 6’ or ‘6 or 7,’
some petals flatter, some wider.

Five. Fall in love with seashells
but drop Biology class.
Take 2-D Art instead.
Don’t memorize the kingdoms.
Draw their shapes.


III.

In 5th grade, I had team teachers. One wanted to plan a birthday surprise for the other. We each were to bring 1 yellow rose – the color of friendship- so she’d have a bouquet of 50. My dad suggested I paint her a rose. “But all the others will bring real roses,” I said. “It would be something different and special,” he responded. So I grabbed my paper, brushes, paints, and fell under the Wabi Sabi Trance. Oh, to be the one imperfect petal of her bouquet – not 3-D, soft, slippery, fragrant, fleeting, but 2-D, crisp, bold! My whole life I’ve been trying to give this gift to everyone I love.

IV.

The more difficult daffodil you don’t draw
by looking straight at it.
Discard Fibonacci.
Where the rose could go on forever,
the daffodil has its limits-
the weight of its trumpet,
the reach of its song.
The petals anchor
the exclamation, encircle it
to announce its music.
The confluence of corona and base
is the most important moment
in the daffodil’s life.
Capture it from an angle,
center its seam on the page.


V.

Never end
one petal
where the petal
of an older layer
finished.
This false rose
is a cancer,
petals feeding
off each other.

A true rose
spirals,
burgeons
from a circling
of breath
teasing out
one petal
at a time,
the rose’s joy-
a shiver,
surrender.




first published in Hartskill Review: A Journal of Contemporary Poetry and Poetics. Eau Claire, Wisconsin: Threw Line Books. Vol. 4, Issue 1. Winter 2018. Print.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

The Curious Creative: Week 52

Dream Board

This is the fifty-second and final installment of The Curious Creative, weekly 10-minute writing exercises for busy individuals interested in exploring their creativity. For the complete rationale, click here

My Thoughts:

“Each sound that we emit travels through the air, but it always returns to us. If we want the right words to resound in our ears, all we have to do is pronounce them beforehand.” –Laura Esquival

Dream boards are collages of words and images that represent one’s vision or hopes for the future. They operate on the law of attraction, that by consciously “pronouncing” your hopes and dreams, you will attract them into actualization. Since this is the last of The Curious Creative exercises, number 52, you will most likely be doing this at the turn of the new year. What a fitting time for our creative play to consist of our dreams for the coming year!

Your Turn!

  1. Gather some scissors, and a stack of magazines, old books, newspapers, etc. from which to find your images.
  1. As you leaf through the magazines, etc., cut out pictures and words that catch your eye or speak to you. Envision what you want the coming year to look like for you. At this point, it’s better to gather too many words and images and then when it’s time to choose which to include on your dream board, you can make more careful selections. What’s important at this stage is not to think too hard or long about why to cut out an image or word. Trust your intuition.
  1. Choose a blank piece of paper as small or as large as you want your dream board to be.
  1. Look through your words and images, and again without thinking too hard, arrange them into a meaningful collage of what you hope the coming year will bring. You can also use markers, colored pencils, pens, etc. to write and draw images yourself.
  1. When you are finished, hang the dream board in a place where you can be reminded every day of what your vision for the future is. I like to hang mine in my closet so I see it every morning as I start my day.
How did you do? Were you able to shut off your thinking brain and choose words and pictures from a relaxed state? Did any of the things you chose to cut out or draw surprise you? Check back on your dream board in six months or so- which things came true?

To encourage each other and grow a community of Curious Creatives, sign in from a google account so you can share your creation in the comment box below. Also, if you subscribe to this blog (submit your email address in the "Follow this Site by Email" box to the right), you will get an email update whenever a new exercise is added. Thanks for playing!


Tuesday, December 19, 2017

The Curious Creative: Week 51

What-Ifs

This is the fifty-first installment of The Curious Creative, weekly 10-minute writing exercises for busy individuals interested in exploring their creativity. For the complete rationale, click here

My Thoughts:

What would happen if…? What would it be like if…? Science fiction writers explore what-ifs. Mystery novelists play with how one event affects the natural course of things. Poets and essayists can also use such questions to inspire their writing.  Writing from what-if questions requires analysis and imagination, a meeting of both brain hemispheres, and so it can be a great source of creative play.

Your Turn!

  1. Start this creative exercise by getting out of the house. Take a walk down your street and comb your surroundings for salient details. Maybe you will notice a car that’s lost its side view mirror or a single shoe in someone’s front yard.
  1. Choose one of the things you noticed as your idea starter. From imagination, create a flow chart of the events leading up to it.
  1. Begin a story or poem that describes the unlikely phenomena leading up to the detail you noticed on your street. 
How did you do? Did getting outside, taking a walk, and paying close attention to your surroundings put you in a different mental state? Is there anything worth excavating from your started poem or essay? Did the exercise remind you of playing pretend as a child?

To encourage each other and grow a community of Curious Creatives, sign in from a google account so you can share your creation in the comment box below. Also, if you subscribe to this blog (submit your email address in the "Follow this Site by Email" box to the right), you will get an email update whenever a new exercise is added. Thanks for playing!


Inspired by: Michael C. Smith and Suzanne Greenberg’s “Implausible Causes and Unlikely Effects,” Everyday Creative Writing: Panning for Gold in the Kitchen Sink, 2nd edition, p. 170-172.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Curious Creative: Week 50

Childhood Play

This is the fiftieth installment of The Curious Creative, weekly 10-minute writing exercises for busy individuals interested in exploring their creativity. For the complete rationale, click here

My Thoughts:

I came across this Friedrich Nietzsche quotation when I was a teenager and I held on to it tightly: “Man’s maturity: to regain the seriousness he had as a child at play.” At the time, it was a reminder to stay young and playful, to hold off on “adulting.” Nowadays, as a writer, I often think of creativity as a harkening back to the state of childhood play. As Nietzsche pointed out, play was neither half-hearted nor frivolous; it had intensity and focus perhaps unrivaled in adulthood. When in the flow of creating something, it’s that same dichotomy of intensity and playfulness that often leads me to an inspired piece of art. For this week’s Curious Creative, we’ll do a simple listing exercise to bring us back to our childhood worlds of play.

Your Turn!

  1. Open your notebook to two empty pages side by side. Create seven columns and label them: BOOKS, OBJECTS, FICTIONAL CHARACTERS, TEACHERS, GAMES, ACTIVITIES, and OBSERVATIONS. 
  1. Spent 10 minutes filling in each column with as many examples from your childhood as possible. My own example: 
BOOKS
OBJECTS
FICTIONAL CHARACTERS
TEACHERS
GAMES
ACTIVITIES
OBSERVATIONS
-Anne of Green Gables
-Little House on the Prairie
-Forever
-Where the Wild Things Are
-rock collection
-butterfly net
-pogo stick
-stilts
-Barbies
-Cabbage Patch Kids
-Jem
-Ariel
-Belle
-Anne

-Mrs. Donohue
-Mrs. Brandt
-Mrs. Hofgesang
-Mrs. Polio
-Kick the Can
-Capture the Flag
-Super Mario Brothers
-Tetris
-Man Hunt
-Candyland
-I made clothes out of paper and tape for crickets I collected from the garage.
-I raised Painted Lady Butterflies from eggs my mom ordered.
-People liked hanging out with you if you were funny.
-Playing video games for a couple hours was fun, and then all of a sudden it wasn’t.
-I was the fastest girl runner I knew.

How did you do? Did you enjoy reminiscing about your childhood? Did it feel playful to remember? Did remembering remind you to be more playful?

To encourage each other and grow a community of Curious Creatives, sign in from a google account so you can share your creation in the comment box below. Also, if you subscribe to this blog (submit your email address in the "Follow this Site by Email" box to the right), you will get an email update whenever a new exercise is added. Thanks for playing!


Inspired by: Linda Barry’s Syllabus: Notes from an Accidental Professor (Drawn & Quarterly, 2014)