Prosery: “The Rock cries out…”

In which Frank J. Tassone of the d’Verse Poets Pub invites us to post 144 words of prose inspired by Maya Angelou’s, On the Pulse of Morning, in particularly the line, “The Rock cries out to us today, You may stand upon me, But do not hide your face.”

Image result for on the pulse of morning quotes


I spent tenth grade attending Waipahu High in Hawaii.  Most of my classmates’ faces bore Polynesian or Asian features.  At first, they all looked confusingly similar, but I soon learned to distinguish individual attributes.  I didn’t notice my change in perception until returning “stateside” when, for a few disorienting moments, all white faces looked the same.  The experience affected me profoundly, underscoring other lessons I learned about being on the brunt end of racism.  Maya Angelou’s words, “But do not hide your face,” remind me how easy it is to refuse to see the reality of other people; to blank them out with our own misconceptions.  But also, how often we hide inside our own cultural identities for fear of not belonging.  At Waipahu neither locals nor haoles tolerated cross-cultural interaction, the ban worked both ways with consequences for disobedience heavy on either side.


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A Kind of Soliloquy: the Gasconade

Frank Hubney at the d’Verse Poets Pub  asked us to write a soliloquy with the option of selecting a poem we’ve already written.  I usually go write new poems for every challenge, but as it happens I feel very strongly about the gasconade because at a very low moment in my life, writing this boast really helped me empower myself.


The bourgeoisie frowns on boasting – especially for girls.  Good girls hide their light under a bushel.  Nice girls are modest.  We’re taught it’s impolite, vulgar, embarrassing and foolish to blow our own horn. (Though not those of the less fair sex!)  You probably think I’m referring to my generation, but no.  This kind of brainwashing still goes on.

Stifling the ancient art of boast is a fairly recent development.  Boasting has a long venerable history dating back to the long long ago campfires of our most ancient ancestors.  It still survives today in Rap and Performance Poetry.  Fiction writers often use the Badass Boast as a literary device to let the characters defy, taunt, bully, or bluff their opponents.  However, good guys may also boast.  Secretly, we love a good boast.  It calls up the rebel, empowers and cheers flagging spirits, inspires action and makes us grin.

Davy Crockett used his boasting skills to get into congress.  One of the most famous davy CrockettRoarers of his day he claimed to be “half horse and half alligator,” boasting that he owned “the roughest rocking horse, the prettiest sister, the surest rifle, and the ugliest dog” in the country.  Norse warriors in Beowulf count boasting as a necessary skill, a competitive art form used to establish their place in the pack and Isolated vector illustration of Viking Winged Helmet with crossed axeraise adrenaline during long inactive winters.  Victorian men roared boasting songs back and forth across the pubs of Victorian England, but for real boasting it’s hard to beat an Irishman.


The boast is a soliloquy on steroids.  I suggest we bring it back.  Make your soliloquy a gasconade and then read it aloud at the top of your lungs – with feeling and preferably outside.  Don’t lie – that can come later when you really get into the spirit of the thing!  Crow about your skills, claim your talents, and turn your vices into virtues, your flaws into something to crow about.  Spin your life positive and see how good it feels…

The Boast

Lovers of leaving



Come!  Hear my boast.

For on a night like this

when ghosts prowl the edge of the light circle

only a boast will firm your jelly knees

and warm the back you have turned to the cold.


I, Christine

can walk an extra mile

to the edge of the abyss

and dare a leap.


I can suckle children and grown men

and love in the face of loneliness.


I will walk head up, time after time

into the lodges of unfamiliar tribes

and hold my own.


I can make a home of tent, trailer,

tenement, cave, cabin,

mansion, automobile.


I can learn new ways,

adjust to novel patterns,

drop old habits,

and retain integrity.


These skills are mine.  Tell me yours.



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Last Line Poems

On Wednesday Mish posted a poetic challenge at the d’Verse Poets Pub.  As it happens it coincides with a prompt I gave to Kitchen Sync, an open mic I monthly run in my town, and due today, Thursday.  The prompt was the word “novel”.  Thus, I get to kill two birds at once.  I also passed along this end-line challenge to the group.  I love to envision our ideas as concentric circles rippling through the atmosphere and spreading everywhere.


My closest at hand book was “The Oasis This Time” by Rebecca Lawton subtitled:”Living and Dying with Water in the West” It is a collection series of beautifully written essays about how urgently human lives are shaped by the waters of their environment.  I oasis-in-the-desert-palm-trees-and-ustas7777777actually bought this for my son whose work is deeply enmeshed in the water system of rivers and delta surrounding Sacramento, CA.  He was supposed to receive it for Christmas, but I hadn’t finished reading it.  It is sitting on my desk waiting to be mailed.

Aside from the importance of her subject, I’m very happy to recommend Rebecca Lawton’s book for it’s articulate expression and deft storytelling.  We poets can learn so very much from well-written prose – particularly how to craft a consistent sentence-based  thought.  So many thanks to Mish for Rebecca’s last line, quoted below as an epigraph…

The Oasis

“I’d choose the world in which we shelter
the natural oasis that has long sheltered us.”
Rebecca Lawton, “The Oasis This Time”


No matter

how much I drink

thirst tortures me.


Throat, arms, legs, scalp

hunger for moisture.

Skin sloughs off like snow;

speckles shoulders, eyebrows

linings of leggings.  Oasis Spa

scrubs me raw, slathers me

in cool mud, smears scented oils

on every inch of epidermis.


But still lips thin, membranes thicken,

roughen, desiccate, itch, driving me

mad, forcing me to move, jog, run

until a green neon palm tree

sashaying with the Santa Ana wind

beckons me toward the Green Oasis.


Regulars line the bar, like a row

of surreal dolls, faces fashioned

from dried apples. They turn to stare,

watch me stand at the counter

to gulp a flight of Scotch whiskey.

My features, reflected in the mirror,

look more like theirs with every sip.

Mint and parsley save me —

two bunches in a jar behind the bar.

I order bloody marys and mojitos

for the room, their green aromas

moisten my mouth, restore a memory…


Box canyon, hidden spring,

a tamarisk and rustling reeds,

natural oasis I long for —

thirst quenching veriditas

sprung from bedrock

into this holy haven

wrapped in blue

floating on a sea of stars.



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Quadrille #94: Roaring in the New

Favored bartender at the d’Verse Poets PubDe Jackson, offers us the prompt “roar” for our first quadrille of the new decade.  A quadrille is a forty-four word  poem including the proffered word and excluding the title’s word count.



Purr precedes gurgle

gurgle gallops into growl

growl rounds into roar

and there’s no going back

when that holy sonorous sound

echoes “ENOUGH!” in a tongue

all creatures understand; even

as we fly, freeze, roll bellies up

in fearful subjugation, we exult.

We exult.

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A Winter Morning Mus-ing

Open mic at the D’verse Poets Pub hosted by  on OpenLinkNight.

Sunday Morning Kani-Ka-Pila

Sunday mornings I take a break

from global warming, pipeline stand-offs

and fractured politics, tune the dial

to an hour of Polynesian music –

tunes born of ocean swells

and breezy trade winds guaranteed

to move brain waves from beta to alpha.

kan ka pila

If the system breaks completely,

re-expands our shrinking planet

dousing lights, shutting down

the web, I’ll miss our strange

modern juxtapositions,

the surreal fusions of food

history, clothes, culture,

time and place; miss driving

through blizzards

safe, snug and warm

while fat white snowflakes

dance hulas on my windshield

to Hawaiian chords

played on a slack guitar.

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What Makes Me Call a Poem “Good”?

I came across a copy of this post in my notes today and think this one from February 2018 deserves a rerun…


As a poet I am always pondering what makes a “good” poem.   Of course, subjectivity plays a big part.  Nevertheless, some poems appeal to vast numbers of people of all ilk. What makes a poem or dance, a symphony or painted picture touch the golden cord /chord of universal appeal?  My daughter Kathleen Irving’s theory of enlightenment helped me figure it out.  Turns out it works for evaluating any kind of art.  Best of all, I’ve discovered it acts as a jump start when I can’t come to grips with a poem or when I lack inspiration.

Kathleen’s Buddhist perspective led her to think that enlightenment requires “a swan dive across the corpus collosum.” brain

The corpus collosum is the bridge in our human brains connecting the left and right frontal lobes.  Kathy says to achieve a sophistication of the spirit, heart and mind must connect.   But it takes more than a first fertilizing plunge.  Again and again the diver must cross and re-cross the distance between feeling and thought, strengthening the connection needed to carry the juice, the energy, of new creation.  The finished piece embodies the vitality of this surge.

Reading, touching, gazing at such work, observers experience swan diving between their own hearts and intellects.  They undergo two simultaneous experiences.; something like interacting with the famous picture where one can see both a young girl or an old woman in the same drawing; crone-300x158or the way a shaman sees an alternative dimension existing simultaneously with our everyday world.  Intuitive and logician, sensate and dreamer come together within the observer and both become en-lightened – made lighter and more whole.

Bringing the swan dive to consciousness has helped me grow as a writer; especially during the process of finishing my  book, Sitting on the Hag Seat: A Celtic Knot of Poems. 


Composed in the glow of my pilgrimage to Ireland, the first few poems almost wrote themselves. The second tier took a little more thought.  Delving into memory, reliving the journey, I thought deeply about the personal significance I found in places and events I had witnessed.  More poetry transpired, but soon enough the moment came when I felt I had written all I had to say.

The problem was that I had made a pact with Ireland, or rather with the spirit of the place we call Ireland.  I had promised it a book.  I am not a superstitious woman, but I know the oathramifications of breaking such a promise.  It was a sort of geas, an oath undertaken knowing that to forswear meant I would be haunted forever until the promise was fulfilled, possibly in some unexpected and unpleasant way.  Besides, I like to keep my promises.

So, I began to research the places I had visited, delving into myth and folktales.  I looked up every archetypal symbol that presented itself, explored Irish history, traced the lineage of its kings and queens.  I widened my focus by including my family history, former visits to the Ireland and even far-fetched associations,  Ireland’s appellation, The Emerald Isle, had me googling emeralds.  I ended up with a wealth of topics to write about, but everything I wrote was forced and artificial.  I kept crumpling, discarding and erasing before remembering the swan dive.

In order to write an authentic poem, I needed to find a heart connection with the ideas on my list of topics.  For instance, in the book into thematic sections it occurred to me the sacred trees associated with Ireland’s ancient runic alphabet would be a good choice. tree alphabet

Sadly, I had few personal connections with the fourteen trees I had chosen.  Back I went to their specific myths, stories, etymology and dendrology.  I began making mind maps with my chosen tree drawn in the center, adding associations and memories as they arose. Soon enough some visceral reaction would occur and I’d find myself mid-dive.  Take, for example, my poem:

 Beith – Birch – Ogham Letter B

Night forest reflects the moon

in intermittent silver streaks,

slender threads of argent

woven through dark tapestry,

each filament a guardian birch,

tree nurse, soil minder,

Lady of the Woods,


preparing soil, venturing

in barren places ravaged

and laid bare by flame.

First tree to follow after ice,

mammoths nibbled her limbs,

aurochs sheltered in their shade.

Her branches drive out evil

sweep away detritus.

Leaves heal, sap sweetens,

wood burns bright against the cold.

She is the beginning place,

herald of the New Year

reviving, replenishing, restoring

and Beith is her beautiful name.

My way in here came through Beith, the word for Birch in Irish and the letter “B” in the Ogham alphabet.  Beith looks like Beth, a shamanic friend of mine who reminds me of a birch tree.  She is tall and slender with a wild cascade of long silver hair.  Beth became the heart connection, linking my idea about sacred trees to a person I care for.  The birch in the poem, incorporating aspects of the real tree, became a metaphor for her dear self.  A birchfurther correspondence exists, between the mythical and magical attributes of Birch and Beth’s spiritual path, deeply embedded in the mystical aspects of our natural world.  Though I don’t mention my friend in the poem itself, the truth of my affection for her translates into an authenticity that informs the poem and gives it vitality, power and tenderness.

This process of purposefully searching for the connection between my idea and a corresponding personal meaning evolved out of trying to define “good” writing.  By incorporating my daughter’s “swan dive across the corpus collosum” I found a means, through research and association, that precipitated my own swan dive and its resultant poetry.

Acts of creation seem to arise from the meeting of intellect and heart.  I’m reminded of Kierkegaard’s leap of faith across the abyss of the absurd.  Perhaps, ta artist needs both an abyss and the willingness to engage with nonsense to manifest something  original.  Perhaps only the void, the space between the things that are, can generate and contain the spark of creation that precedes the birth of new life.





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Another Kind of Echo

So many kinds of echoes in the world. It’s no wonder the story of Echo and Narcissus has lasted so long.  We humans have more than one archetypal resonance with that word.  I can almost hear it echoing through my unconcious sending out uncanny vibrations that contract  pores, cause hair to stand on end.

I mentioned in my previous post that echo is an idea I’ve played with before.  I also referenced my book The Naked Man.  So today, on Open Link night at the d’Verse Poets Pub, I’m responding to host Grace by posting a poem that deals with both the shadowy underworld  in which every player is thought to be an echo of some aspect of ourselves, and  also incorporates the idea that everyone has an exact double somewhere in the world.  The name for that eerie twin is so onomatopoetically perfect in German we have imported it directly into English.  I used it as the title to one of the poems in my book.

Naked Man Cover 01



The Naked Man hunts shadows

in the forest, chasing down rumors

overturning rocks.  Today he found one

hiding in the honeysuckle, pulled it out

and named it Cynic; dressed the thing

in torn jeans, shaved its head

and gave it a southern accent.


He’s building his shadow a shady cage

in the corner of the parking lot-

makes a nice change from that other one Romantic

chained to a tie-dyed tent beside the riverside.


Perhaps he’ll put his shadows side by side

in a makeshift corral made of boulders and manzanita

let them duke it out with fisticuffs to see who wins.


He doesn’t know they’re doppelgangers;

twin brothers who would own him.

If the Naked Man wants to break free

He must claim them – call them family,

but that’s another story.

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Reflecting on Echo

So the challenge for Tuesday, December 10, thrown down by Merril D. Smith is to write  about echoes for our lesson on Poetics at the virtual pub for poets I like to frequent.  As it happens, I’ve written a couple of echo poems in the past (also mirrors), so I was tempted to cheat.  But I didn’t , and the poem I came up with, on the spot, this evening, tells the story of Echo.  She’s not really a girl I identify with, though I’ve met her a few times.  Truth to tell I’ve had my own Echoes follow me around.  I was much younger then and less compassionate and didn’t treat them as kindly as I might have, which is undoubtedly the reason they still annoy me so.  Narcissus has also occasionally come my way.  In fact,  I wrote a whole book, The Naked Man about a Narcissus I once knew.  So it’s a story I know first hand from both sides, and on both mythic and personal planes of existence.  Besides, deny it though I will, the myth endures because we all harbor these two exaggerated aspects of personality inside ourselves.  Happily for most of us they make up only a small percentage, but as always, if we fail to honor them – deny … deny … deny … We may find ourselves in trouble.


Object of Affection


Narcissus bends to his reflection,

learning to see himself reflected in all nature;

learning to love himself

before rising,

thirst quenched,

to love the world.


Echo cannot echo him

Lost in love’s echo

she wanders mindlessly

among cliffs of despair.


Rock fall echoes back and forth

between stone walls

sounds like footsteps

sounds like his footsteps.


She fills her pockets with pebbles

to prove to him how far she’s come

how faithfully

she followed




Finally, she finds the dark pool

he’s long since left behind,

projects his fading face

onto her own sad features.


Reaching to embrace him

she slips into the water

arms thrash arms, legs kick

weighted pockets pull her down.

A ring of ripples

echoes her demise.



Posted in Archetypes, Consciousness, dVerse, Love, Myth, Poetry, Psychology, Storytelling, Writing | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment



Image result for Stallion with mares wild horses


Flash Flood


Thunder in the mountains.  Stallion herds his mares to higher ground.  Vision stretches to miles on this calm cold morning.  Prairie dogs pop from holes, sentinel  forms alert, ready to run, but there’s nothing new to see.  Sunlight delineates each whisker.  Cattle dot the far horizon of a deceptively flat basin floor.  Not even the stallion stands high enough to see the many declivities that cut the landscape into a maze of washes,  dry creeks and gulches.  Without warning, silence turns to sound, a rushing, roaring, boiling, cacophony of confusion.  Tiny rodents crouch against the ground ready to run, but the noise is everywhere, rising rapidly to fierce crescendo, fading away as quickly as it came.  But quiet does not return.  Across the arroyo, a cow is screaming.  Her leg bone is shattered.  She will take a long time to die.


Prompted by  in Prosery  Prompt was a line from Jim Harrison‘s poem “Cow” from his book  Dead Man’s Float, A cow is screaming across the arroyo.”

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Responding to Gospel Isosceles iMeeting the Bar: Critique and Craft  at the d’Verse pub for poets, I have very little to say, except this poem wouldn’t leave me alone. It insisted on being written.  Nothing to do when the muse makes demands – however clumsy she may feel, the poet must answer…

The Final Word


I. The Banishment

Fear, be gone! I curse you!

I inscribe your name on lead tablets

melt them over flame, recast your

dark foreboding into pellets

I toss into the sea.   I scribble

your name on paper,

consign it to the fire,

turn you into ashes

tossed upon the wind.


You, who bedevil me

with unfounded anxiety

who plague my mind with fantasies

of imminent disaster, the dire

consequence of paths not taken —

Make tracks!  Take off!

I banish you.


II. The Departure


Don’t be so quick to wish me gone.

Across millennia I’ve saved your kind.

Don’t blame me for the failure to discern

reality from electronic projections

of danger, violence and sex.


You are the one who moved indoors,

shutting down your senses, substituting

the adrenaline rush of physical danger

for hyped-up stimulations played out

in darkened rooms on flattened sheets of glass.


Have you forgotten you are animal,

equipped with fear to keep

your soft sweet body safe from wolves?

Don’t bother with your curse.  I’m gone.


Beware the [real] jaws that bite,

the [sharpened] claws that [really] catch


Final epigraph taken with apologies  from Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky
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