Ink Blot

Quill pressed to vellum
and the raven liquid bleeds
onto the page, seeping
into parchment as words impress
themselves on minds of those
who seek elucidation;

There is no turning back
save the alchemy of fire,
while a mere century later,
fingers snap plastic keys
as a chosen cypher spins
into centrifuges turning out
multiple languages simultaneously
in a virtual world where assurance
of retrieval is never warranted;

Still we tap away, searing mots
into memories like images
of aging film stars who can never erase
a thirty year-old face from the fantasies
of future generations.

image: Amanda Johnson

written in response to the prompt “quill:”




How can we hold harmless
the jealousy of poets,
artists of the mind who articulate
where others flounder,
dry-docking on their facts?

Words spoken burn daylight
and time cannot retract itself,
no excusing, bowing out.

Forgive us then, the endless pondering,
refining knee-jerks, transforming;
editing reserved for the pensive
turning corners with phrases,
rounding bends of the imagination.



What kind of honesty obfuscates anger

where allies become enemies in a heartbeat,

decimating one another with a smile?


How to winnow facts from confusion,

being truthful as well as kind,

increasing both wisdom and discernment?

Best to model intention and proceed from there.

If we’re not careful,

others become what we want them to be,

rather than the best of which they are capable.


Skin is thin.

People believe what they hear

and just as often hear what they believe.

We live in a hall of mirrors,

echoing one another’s sentiments.


Choose wisely, my friend,

for what is cast out will doubtless rebound,

the proverbial India rubber ball

resounding off the walls of a closeted awareness.



Beauty is indifferent to itself.


Largesse of spirit contrasts with strength

of jaws snapping to the indifferent air,

I don’t know what it ees, but every wanna

dese local boys, dey see one white woman

and dey tink she some kine goddess or somet’ing.


Grain of salt and all.


Until today, cycling by primary grades

out for recess in the unrelenting sun;

chubby brown boy with dimpled smile

joined by both hands

to a tall yellow-haired girl of eight

standing next to a diminutive friend,

gleaming waves of jet cascading clear and full

down her small perfect back.


Paper crown colored in crayon

quickly pilfered from the tow-head

to be placed atop the beaming stripling.

Darker girl looks on imploringly,

sparkling eyes inviting his to acknowledge;

her unfolding splendor remaining,

at least to him,


Into the Wild

I know a woman who labels everything. It causes me to smile sometimes and cringe at others, especially when she confers cutesy monikers upon wild creatures. It seems insensitive to me, to somehow expect the dwindling nonhuman free spirits of the world to be shackled with such foolishness as a human name.

In Riverwalking, author Kathleen Dean Moore speaks to how naming things, whether in nature or otherwise, somehow makes them real to us. I guess I understand this: bird. Lion. Chameleon. Yes. But Tobey the panther or Gertrude the python seem like cages or justifications to categorize and file the awesome and mysterious into alien environments where we condition them to depend upon us for sustenance so we don’t have to confront our fear of the feral. It reminds me of what society used to do to those too sensitive to live in a world unprepared for their visions and reactions to toxic surroundings: brick and mortar; drugs and electroshock meant to restrict ranging minds in a culture unfit for their consumption.

I’m sure there are those who will disagree, but it is to freedom that I owe my creativity, my sanity, and ultimately inner peace. Liberty from labels and expectations and managers and crowds. Classify me if you will, though kindly do so in private. I’m too advanced in age to allow restriction of my thoughts and emotions by any means, any longer. It is why I empathize so acutely with those who have no voice in the matter.



Blogging provides a virtual and sometimes therapeutic channel in which to pour one’s thoughts and feelings that, in turn, insinuate themselves into the collective like dye injected into a crystalline ocean. Slowly spreading, the new medium eventually becomes assimilated into the existing one, and a hybrid is born. We are changed and the world changes us.




As a writer, it seems I’ve come to this strange juncture of late, where words are beside the point. It’s not writers’ block, because I could always write about anything under the sun. It’s more like a space in time where I find I’m fatigued by the effort of using language. Has this ever happened to you?

I used to ‘hate’ math, or anything to do with numbers. Yet most of my life I have experienced deep encounters with the symbolic. And, similar to Carl Jung, it is toward these symbols that I feel compelled – especially the more I observe language used and abused, whether in conversation or in written form. Is this the sort of world Einstein inhabited? If so, I’ve missed my calling as a mathematician!

Words are powerful instruments that connect and lend us a common thread to follow. Yet if the pen is mightier than the sword, are symbols not more powerful than the locution we employ in describing them? Further, how are thoughts transmitted to begin with? Are they not formulated from a place essentially void of verbiage? Even if we label certain impulses feelings, it requires a secondary effort to interpret them. It removes one from the emotion, itself – which admittedly can sometimes be a good thing. And yet …

So here I am, writing about not using words! Perhaps I’m trying to excuse my lack of verbosity this past month or more. But honestly? I’m simply in the frame of mind I have described right now, not sure in which direction I am headed. Maybe, as Joni Mitchell lyricized in Woodstock, it’s the time of year, or maybe it’s the time of man – and I don’t know who I am, but life is for learnin’… I’m not experiencing distress, though I do feel a bit unmoored. Drifting off into an ocean of possibilities, it feels right to simply go with the flow.


Alone Together

Writing is often a solitary pursuit. Thus it is with strange irony that, in order to make a living, writers submit our innermost ponderings to public scrutiny. It might seem to compromise something within, but upon deeper reflection, we may discover this necessarily draws us out of our shells and into the world at large. We are, after all, crafting for the very community some of us eschew.

Who am I writing for, anyway? I never was a diarist, per se, rather I have filled notebooks with poetry, using metaphor to hide behind when I had powerful emotions I didn’t feel safe enough to share in any other way. For those of us who lack confidence or do not feel adequate or articulate in speech, the written word provides a powerful medium for the currents of feeling that flow, fluid-like, through our fingers and onto the page. Thus I guess I write mostly for myself. That I share these musings with others speaks to a sort of universal desire to belong and be accepted into a greater human community.

One of the most intimate experiences I have participated in as a writer is being invited into the safety of a clutch of like-minded souls with common purpose. To write and share and improve along with other talented wordsmiths is not something I gravitate toward naturally; in fact, I have only experienced its magic twice in my life. Before the most recent encounter, I had almost given up entirely.

I’d never considered myself a group person, and tended to outrightly reject the power plays and dramas that many gatherings engender. But lately I’ve been fortunate to fall into the company of a group of dynamic and gifted people who possess intelligence, heart, and a desire for understanding and support, one to another. And as long as it lasts, I will bask in the afterglow of these rare and precious encounters. Perseverence indeed  has its rewards.