Prompt #11

Image result for wildflowers growing out of old truck

I’m part of a local writers group and each week we write spontaneously for about 15 minutes on a prompt supplied by our fearless leader, Dave.  Here’s what I had to say about this picture one Saturday afternoon:

A quote from the poet Rumi was my voicemail greeting for a while, back in the days of landlines:

“Where there is ruin there is hope for treasure.”

At the time, I was grieving.  Seems like there is a lot of that in life.  Pretty sure I was born into a world that seems broken from the get-go.  Rust and ruin everywhere.

I’ve been looking for treasure in ruin for a long time.  It’s not quite the same as looking on the bright side of things…some shit is just dark.  But, the light green of life is wily–it has no strategy, no game.  A singular drive to be, to grow, in any setting, out of any crack, seems to be its only organizing principle and this simplicity of focus proliferates into wildflowers and poets, no matter the ruin.

Recently, I’ve been thinking about the odd an unexpected wildlife refuge which has appeared around the Chernobyl site.  Life plus time always equals something.

Frankly, I think that my problem–from conception–was that neither life nor time, components of this equation, are native to wherever souls come from.  The adjustment felt like fragmentation, like ruin.  Finding some treasure in the rusty truck of existence has been the defining mission and preoccupation and grief of life so far.  But, life is the only place where you can find wildflowers, and they are nice.   Some days they are almost enough.

Prompt #10

Yellow flower growing on crack street, soft focus

I am part of a local writer’s group, and this week we conspired to do our prompt writing a little differently.  When Dave handed out the prompt picture, we all wrote on an additional secret theme: how much we appreciate Dave’s efforts to keep our little group thriving.  It was a rather sweet and earnest tribute.  Dave smiled.  Here’s what I had to say:

A year ago this time I was in a grey world.  My eyes had filmed over with a lead colored layer of sadness.  Big, grey eyes looking out and big, grey eyes looking in, searching for signs of life, but seeing only a flat dull palate everywhere. A crack in this world appeared when I started writing.  Something, still vital, still lived, too deeply hidden to see, but still able to crack the surface world open through the tectonic force of creativity.  I showed up in a local writers group, run by the fearless leader Dave.  This group got water down into the crack, and reminded that buried piece that there is, after all, a world to inhabit with its own color. So here’s to Dave, who waters the colors of the world.  Watercolorers get their own gallery shows, but Dave is a color waterer, its own important art form.

Prompt #9

prompt-9

I’m part of a local writers group and each week we write spontaneously for about 15 minutes on a prompt supplied by our fearless leader, Dave.  Here’s what I had to say about this picture one Saturday afternoon:

Two very similar looking figures are gesturing at each other.  They are having a very meaningful discussion about the nature of truth and perspective and reality.  It could be a poignant reminder of a poster hung in my father’s office, which reads: Other cultures are not failed attempts to be you.  How true, and how important.  I love that poster, and the fact that my dad chose it.  What an opportunity to have a moment of sincere contemplation.  Why, then, am I distracted by the single main difference between the two figures?  One has the letters “gp” stamped in contrasting color at his or her lower trunk region, if you know what I mean.  I have to assume that it stands for genital patch, and lets me know who in the tableau is pro-shaving and who is pro-bush.  This strikes me as an odd controversy to obliquely reference in the middle of this otherwise rarified discussion, but let’s go for it.

Brazilians, man-scaping, laser hair removal, and all manner of very personal grooming has become the standard way people interact with one specific secondary sex characteristic.  The rest of them, the breasts and deep voices and whatnot, are welcomed but this fuzzy demonstration of adulthood has become yucky somehow.  Well, I see the debate raging on this page and I am firmly on the side of GP. With the time we save by not participating in this nonsense, we can eat more ice cream and read more books.  That means that whatever perspective we’ve chosen to get behind will be heftier (from the ice cream) and more well-informed (from the reading).  We are in it to win it, so I think we’re looking at a 9 here, people.  Fuzzy forever, bitches.

Prompt #8

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I’m part of a local writers group and each week we write spontaneously for about 15 minutes on a prompt supplied by our fearless leader, Dave.  Here’s what I had to say about this picture one Saturday afternoon:

I was down at the Waffle Hut, a knockoff of the Waffle House, just yesterday.  I know…how could there be a knock of the Waffle House, when it is itself a knockoff of the International House of Pancakes?  Won’t a waffle wormhole open up at some point?  And the answer is yes.  The Waffle Hut people are talking about a creating down scale version of their fine establishment, whose claim to fame already is unlimited ketchup with your hash browns, which are, themselves, partly made of ketchup.  Sloppy and red and moist, their hash browns already bring to mind liquefied roadkill, so a down market version is not going to be pretty on the face of it.  But, yes…the real problem is the impending waffle wormhole.  They wouldn’t listen to me.  My studies, self-funded so you know they aren’t biased, indicate that this may be how we all arrive at the end of the world.

You may be wondering what a breakfast food-fueled singularity looks like, and I’d love to give you the doughy, crispy specifics.  Knowing what to look for won’t help, but you’ll at least know I was right, and won’t it be comforting to know that?  I think it will be. Here’s what to keep an eye out for:

  1. About a week from the annihilation of all of life, the skies will start to darken.  This is because a slowly rising and yeasty substance created through the worm hole will slowly blot out more and more of the light sources.  Say good bye to your favorite constellations and hello to an infinity of carbs.
  2. The day before the end, you’ll feel kind of greasy and won’t be able to wash it off. It’s the bacon sweats, just coming from the outside in.
  3. At the last minute, in the now-entirely darkened sky, you’ll see a blaze of light and it will spell out “Waffle Shed”, the name of the knock off the Waffle Hut people are creating.

The end.  Of everything.

Prompt #7

Slide1

I’m part of a local writers group and each week we write spontaneously for about 15 minutes on a prompt supplied by our fearless leader, Dave.  Here’s what I had to say about this picture one Saturday afternoon:

The clouds were hanging low on that night. Our hands, reaching up, almost touched the tendrils of misty promise as we each stretched to our fullest height.  Each of us was so full of gratitude that our bodies automatically took on the largest dimensions they could, just to provide space to the feelings coursing though.  All except for Eric.  He had fallen to his knees.  A sensitive young man, he was beyond trying to cope with the relief we all felt and simply gave in.  It took him down to the ground, instinctively he put more of himself on the solid land we’d never expected to see or feel again, and it held him up, absorbed his tears, and it seemed to me out of the corner of my eye, whispered something to him.

The journey home after being taken from our homeland had been deadly.  We’d all lost someone to starvation or disease.  It took many years for new crops to take, new homes and barns to rise, old faiths to rekindle.  Nearly 20 years after the night of supreme thankfulness, I asked Eric a tentative question: do you remember anything about that night?  Do you remember the moon, the clouds and close they were?  He looked at me, and then at the hard packed soil which made the floor of my little house.  Yes, he said, kneeling down to place his hand on the ground.  I remember something  I was told, a secret my heart could hear from the very earth.  Quietly, I asked what he’d heard.  He smiled at me, keeping one hand on the ground, and motioned for me to bend down.  Placing his other hand on my heart, he smiled again.  Then I heard it, too.

Prompt #6

Image result for band in ocean at sunset

I am part of a local writer’s group and each week we write for about 15 minutes on a prompt provided by our fearless leader, Dave.  This isn’t actually the right picture.  I wound up giving that picture to a stranger in the airport as a good luck token; I was flying home but she was flying to Charleston to meet some friends for a week at the beach.  In the original prompt, the sunset scene included several people raising wine glasses and someone playing the drums, all of them out in the ocean enough to have wet feet.  So here’s what I had to say about that one Saturday afternoon:

Eight friends and I pooled our funds and bought an old sailboat.  We decided that getting formal training was a waste of money; we’d learn by doing and spend the extra money we saved on more duct tape.  Just as good as training, right?  It would cover up whatever holes we tore due to inexperience…holes in hulls, sails, clothes, relationships…duct tape should cover it.  It did not.  It did not cover any of these.  Even clothing can be shredded on rocky shores to the point of being irretrievable.

When we crashed during a mild storm in the Bahamas, we were close enough to a sand bar to keep from drowning.  The few things that floated along with us included a couple bottles of wine, and inexplicably, a snare drum, which bobbed with a cheerfulness that seemed bizarre in the circumstances.  The seas quieted over the course of the afternoon, eventually leaving all of us calf deep in the warm water and staring at each other with disbelief.  The two married couples who’d come along had closed ranks, now glaring at the rest of us as if seeing these single vagabonds for the first time, only now realizing that we must’ve put some kind of spell on them to lure them out into our stupid, irresponsible adventure.  Duct tape would not be enough to bind us back together.

As the sun began to set, someone suggested an ironic toast to the trip, the now ruined friendships, the complete failure we’d populated together.  Here’s to entropy, to the shipwreck of life, the mysterious impulse to crash, and to whatever comes afterward.  Only time will tell if shadow or wisdom, or both, has marooned us on this sandbar today, or in life more generally.

Prompt #5

hale750

I’m part of a local writers group and each week we write spontaneously for about 15 minutes on a prompt supplied by our fearless leader, Dave.  Here’s what I had to say about this picture one Saturday afternoon:

Castles made of words surround the perimeter of our land.  We built them of the strongest words we have words to let would be invaders know what they are up against.  Each castle, and there are nearly 20, is built on a theme and has a foundation word.  Unity.  Faith.  Defiance.  Courage.  The turrets reach up from these words, with sentences written vertically and bound into their shape with crosslinked commas and apostrophes, each carefully planned to both hold their shape and to express the heart of us.  For generations, the marauders from distant lands have come to throw themselves against our borders, always being turned back.  They stab, they shoot, they set fires, but these cannot penetrate our defenses.  Then, last week, something new happened.  A small band of gypsies arrived, clearly more hungry than bloodthirsty.  They walked from castle to castle, sounding out the message of each castle and then walking onto the next.  When they got to the castles whose foundation word is “family,” they began to whisper amongst themselves.  Finally, they lined up facing the tower of words and in one voice said, “We greet our family on the other side of this wall.”  The drawbridge lowered and they were welcomed in.

Prompt #4

cliffhangers

I’m part of a local writers group and each week we write spontaneously for about 15 minutes on a prompt supplied by our fearless leader, Dave.  Here’s what I had to say about this picture one Saturday afternoon:

Cliffhangers are so charismatic, with their easy strength and near dominion over gravity and friction.  I’ve watched them since I was a child, their fingers clinging to the rock face and their bodies continually unfurling as each new hand hold allows them to lower themselves down, always having the appearance of free fall held in place by their own grace and precision.  No wonder the whole village looks on the cliffhangers as our special ones.

Today my brother will climb and try a descent.  I will watch and hope that he will find himself in the focus of a cliffhanger’s movement.  He will carry more than his own weight as he hangs in the air–the grief which has recently found him makes him heavier, slower in every way as its leaden sorrow pulls on every joint, every thought, every breath.  Some deep interior wisdom told him to take this weight to the cliff, to hang it in the wind, to feel the extent and the limits of it.  If he can make his way down safely, he will be welcomed into the small elite group who have learned to carry desolation within their bodies.  He will be my brother, the survivor, the brave, and a shaman for our people.  I know he will make it down.

Prompt #3

stone750

I’m part of a local writers group and each week we write spontaneously for about 15 minutes on a prompt supplied by our fearless leader, Dave.  Here’s what I had to say about this picture one Saturday afternoon:

A massive mountain range rises in the background, jagged but indistinct.  You’d assume it had always been there.  It has the illusion of inevitability, of existing outside of process, or twists of fate, as if it weren’t every bit the results of how things happened to go.  Break out any tiny piece, any single moment of interaction between one rock, one surface, and it shows up: that it could’ve gone another way.  The wind could’ve cleared the track left behind a moving stone or the sun might’ve baked it well enough to form a channel that grew deeper with each light rain.  The path from plateau to cliff seems grand to us, whose sensory apparatus recoils away from anything of such timescale or immensity.  The single rock, the single track of friction, we can see, touch, conceptualize this and understand that these things could impact on another, could make changes we can conceptualize.  We just can’t really scale that understanding to anything much larger than our own moments.  This is a reminder to me that I write one letter, one word, at a time and this is not a failing, it is a design limitation and one that can offer focus and delicacy and detail if I let it.  Small, clear, moments pulled from the morass of my hulking backlog of experience are my assignment for now.

Prompt #2

flamingos750

I’m part of a local writers group and each week we write spontaneously for about 15 minutes on a prompt supplied by our fearless leader, Dave.  Here’s what I had to say about this picture one Saturday afternoon:

Please.  I saw some warnings posted about pink flamingos and just laughed.  You know what that reporter must not have heard about?  The passive aggressive squirrels who are decimating my neighborhood.  It’s violent, it’s dangerous, it’s fuzzy.  How is this not the lead story?  There is this one squirrel who has acquired the name Bitter Alan.  He wanders around giving every resident the side-eye of judgement.  This direct indictment from the natural world has caused some ugly outbursts—people running uselessly after Bitter Alan, full of defensive excuses for whatever they assume he’s found wanting.  This nearly always ends up with the person running full tilt into massive tree trunk when Alan goes vertical.  Many residents have been bloodied in this way.  I would like to challenge any T Rex out there to come try to live out its days when there are roaming packs of rodents who will scatter across a lawn, exchange looks of disgust with one another, and roll their little eyes in unison as if to say, “That T. Rex has really let itself go.  How embarrassing.” Those stupid squirrels never come right out and say anything, though.  At least the flamingos are straightforward.  They will destroy you from the outside.  Any idiot can see them coming in their fluorescent predatory glory—what we need is news coverage on is the scourge of passive aggressive squirrels.  I think I’ll start a blog.