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


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


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


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


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.

Prompt #1


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:

Families.  Is there anything so interesting or confusing?  I met my husband, a tawny, stocky pitbull, when we were both at a dog training class at some random PetCo.  It’s the one in town that smells like cat food instead of dogfood—you ‘ll know the one I mean.  Ridiculous priorities of management there.  Anyway, he’d been brought by a man who was called Paul for a long time, but he goes by Honey now.  I was brought by Lucy.  I know perfectly well that her name is Lucy, but Honey calls her Deario.  As I say, families get confusing.  Just for the record, my name is Lulubell and I roll with Duke.  One day Paul, or Honey, or whatever his name is, brought home a little creature named Jesse and I’m not exactly sure how she fits in, but she is family, too, now.  I don’t know how that happens, exactly.  One minute you’re strangers and then you’re related.  That’s kind of the story of how Duke and I met, too.  We met in the parking lot, headed into the same class.  He was obviously here to help curb his impulse to pull and jump and generally be a nut.  I was there because Lucy told me I needed to get to know some more dogs, like I was too shy or something.  Not true, by the way, but most dogs are just not that interesting.  This guy, though?  I don’t know…have you ever seen someone and known that your life would be divided between before today and after today?  I just got that Duke was desperate to connect because his heart was too big to fit inside him.  If that’s not husband material, I don’t know what is.  So, we just insisted on being by each other, all class, every class, until Paul and Lucy scheduled playdates outside of class and then just moved in together.  I think they could tell that Duke and I were a match, so that was nice of them.


By way of explanation

The Disaster Hut Hermitage is the tiny bungalow we live in.  Its current inhabitants are two humans and two dogs.  There is also a howling toilet, a cadre of broken down cars, an intermittently leaking roof, and a lot of rose bushes.  It’s nice, if you like things a little run down and an atmosphere tinged with assorted mental illnesses, both human and canine.  If that happens to be your vibe, you’d probably love the Disaster Hut Hermitage.  It works for us for now, although it wasn’t originally intended to be either a disaster or a hermitage.  These things developed over time…