City Girl Grooms Horse

 her manicure is the first to go –

two nails broken and dirt

driven deep — she cannot resist

scratching the graceful arc

of his neck, then little scritches

around the ears –

it’s so good for her heart

 

she leans her body against his

solidness, sinking

into the warm scent of his

flesh — when he sighs, she

feels her tension flow outward

into the whispering cottonwoods

 

it’s so good for her heart

to look deeply into the dark mirrors

of his eyes — she glides her palms

along his back, his coat a glow

of copper satin — her hair is mussed

by the breeze — her pulse slows

 

no thought given to the dust

on her boots, the grit sifting over

her bare arms — he’s eager for the

treats she shares with him — apple

slices and peppermint discs

sweetening both of their breaths

 

they breathe in unison — he rests

his heavy head on her shoulder –

they stand like that, together,

eyes half closed

 

it’s so good for their hearts

 

Linda Barnes

16 August 2014

 

 

 

WRITING PROMPTS:

  1. Write about a time you spent near a horse. If you’ve never been near a horse, write about being with a dog or other animal. Capture with your words the sensory experience of being at one with another being.
  2. Perhaps it is time spent in nature that takes you out of yourself and into a larger awareness. Go back and re-experience that time, then write about your feelings of being in the moment.

 

 Copyrighted material. Reprinted for educational/therapeutic use.

Writing Prompts Copyright © 2015 Featherstone, All rights reserved.

Categories: Uncategorized

The Mississippi River Empties Into The Gulf

the mississippi river empties into the gulf 

 and the gulf enters the sea and so forth, 

none of them emptying anything, 

all of them carrying yesterday 

forever on their white tipped backs, 

all of them dragging forward tomorrow. 

it is the great circulation 

of the earth’s body, like the blood 

of the gods, this river in which the past 

is always flowing. every water 

is the same water coming round. 

everyday someone is standing on the edge 

of this river, staring into time, 

whispering mistakenly: 

only here. only now. 

 

Lucille Clifton

 

WRITING PROMPT:

Respond to the poet’s pronouncement that we “mistakenly” whisper “only here. only now.”

 

Copyrighted material. Reprinted for educational/therapeutic use.

Writing Prompts Copyright © 2015 Featherstone, All rights reserved.

Categories: Uncategorized

One More

He rose early, the morning tinged with excitement,

eager to be at his desk. He had toast and eggs, cigarettes

and coffee, musing all the while on the work ahead, the hard

path through the forest. The wind blew clouds across

the sky, rattling the leaves that remained on the branches

outside his window. Another few days for them, and they’d

be gone, those leaves. There was a poem there, maybe;

he’d have to give it some thought. He went to

his desk, hesitated for a long moment, and then made

what proved to be the most important decision

he’d make all day, something his entire flawed life

had prepared him for. He pushed aside the folder of poems—

one poem in particular still held him in its grip after

a restless night’s sleep. (But, really, what’s one more, or

less? So what? The work would keep for a while yet,

wouldn’t it?) He had the whole wide day opening before him.

Better to clean his decks first. He’d deal with a few items

of business, even some family matters he’d let go far

too long. So he got cracking. He worked hard all day—love

and hate getting into it, a little compassion (very little), some

fellow-feeling, even despair and joy.

There were occasional flashes of anger rising, then

subsiding, as he wrote letters, saying “yes” or “no” or “it

depends”—explaining why, or why not, to people out there

at the margin of his life or people he’d never seen and never

would see. Did they matter? Did they give a damn?

Some did. He took some calls too, and made some others, which

in turn created the need to make a few more. So-and-so, being

unable to talk now, promised to call back next day.

Toward evening, worn out and clearly (but mistakenly, of course)

feeling he’d done something resembling an honest day’s work,

 

he stopped to take inventory and note the couple of 

phone calls he’d have to make next morning if

he wanted to stay abreast of things, if he didn’t want to

write still more letters, which he didn’t. By now,

it occurred to him, he was sick of all business, but he went on

in this fashion, finishing one last letter that should have been

answered weeks ago. Then he looked up. It was nearly dark outside.

The wind had laid. And the trees—they were still now, nearly

stripped of their leaves. But, finally, his desk was clear,

if he didn’t count that folder of poems he was

uneasy just to look at. He put the folder in a drawer, out

of sight. That was a good place for it, it was safe there and

he’d know just where to go to lay his hands on it when he

felt like it. Tomorrow! He’d done everything he could do

today. There were still those few calls he’d have to make,

and he forgot who was supposed to call him, and there were a

few notes he was required to send due to a few of the calls,

but he had it made now, didn’t he? He was out of the woods.

He could call today a day. He’d done what he had to do.
What his duty told him he should do. He’d fulfilled his sense of

obligation and hadn’t disappointed anybody.

 

But at that moment, sitting there in front of his tidy desk,

he was vaguely nagged by the memory of a poem he’d wanted

to write that morning, and there was that other poem

he hadn’t gotten back to either.

 

So there it is. Nothing much else needs to be said, really. What

can be said for a man who chooses to blab on the phone

all day, or else write stupid letters

while he lets his poems go unattended and uncared for, abandoned—

or worse, unattempted. This man doesn’t deserve poems

and they shouldn’t be given to him in any form.

His poems, should he ever produce any more,

ought to be eaten by mice.

 

Raymond Carver

 

WRITING PROMPTS:

  1. What keeps you from writing in your journal?
  2. Write what would you like to say to Carver in response.   

 

Copyrighted material. Reprinted for educational/therapeutic use.

Writing Prompts Copyright © 2015 Featherstone, All rights reserved.

Categories: Uncategorized

Brooding

The sadness of our lives.

We will never be good enough to each other,

to our parents and friends.

We go along like old sailing ships,

loaded with food and drink for the long voyage,

self-sufficient, without any outside contact

with the world.

 

The truth faces me

all the time.  We are in a world

in which nobody listens to anybody,

in which we do as we please

until we are stopped by others.

We live our whole lives as in a husk,

keeps us separate from any influence.

While those who reflect the influence

of others are either idiots, or people

who never gained consciousness.

 

David Ignatow

 

 

WRITING PROMPTS:

  1. Sorrow is something we would prefer not to face. Notice the places in Ignatow’s poem that speak most poignantly to you of the sadness of the human condition. How do you express your sorrow?
  2. Do you “reflect the influence of others?” In what ways?
  3. Write a poem back that contradicts this message.

 

Copyrighted material. Reprinted for educational/therapeutic use.
Writing Prompts Copyright © 2015 Featherstone, All rights reserved.

 

Categories: Uncategorized

Notice What This Poem Is Not Doing.

 The light along the hills in the morning

comes down slowly, naming the trees

white, then coasting the ground for stones to nominate.

 

Notice what this poem is not doing.

 

A house, a house, a barn, the old

quarry, where the river shrugs–

how much of this place is yours?

 

Notice what this poem is not doing.

 

Every person gone has taken a stone

to hold, and catch the sun. The carving

says, “Not here, but called away.”

 

Notice what this poem is not doing.

 

The sun, the earth, the sky, all wait.

The crowns and redbirds talk. The light

along the hills has come, has found you.

 

Notice what this poem has not done. 

 

William Stafford

 

Copyrighted material. Reprinted for educational/therapeutic use.
Writing Prompts Copyright © 2015 Featherstone, All rights reserved.

Categories: Uncategorized