A Heavy Branch Fell


One day during a storm a heavy branch fell onto a little snowdrop plant. Later when the branch was removed the small tender stems, unharmed, were seen to have spread out and curled around as if to embrace the log. Less than an hour later, the little shoots had all but straightened out and, unimpeded, were growing upward toward their fulfillment.

Murshida Sitara Brutnell
The Sufi Way, England

From Prayers for a Thousand Years
(ed. Elizabeth Roberts & Elias Amidon, Harper San Francisco)


Lava Ferns

Lava flows settle and solidify
in sheets upon sheets of
brittle, porous planes, like
Phyllo dough for baclava,
left out to dry, now stuck

Cooled surfaces relent to
Nature's thrust, Persephone
rising from Hades lair, seeking
Demeter's embrace.

Fronds of ferns peak out of the lava's
cold darkness, curling back on itself,
like hieroglyph of hope ascending,
spreading slim wings of green.

Spores lifted by the moist motion of the
oceans pounding love against stone-fired shore.
Having broken through the molten manacle
made from within, ferns called forth other
greenings, prehistoric.

And the breeze carried their collective cry,
"It's time to begin again."

by Martha Koock Ward



When everything is over and all this is left on the floors of this
earth is Styrofoam, cockroaches and broken Apple products – what voice
will emerge from the dark? What wind will be left to tear and carry
the remains around and around in a stir of chaos? When all the books
have been torn from the shelves and there are no people left to testify
– what wound will infinity feel in her massive black claw? Which held,
for a time, a rise and fall of oceans, lovers who whispered poetry
about rain, chords on the piano that responded to what was missing in
the dark.
Will she, the dark mass, rise up like an oppressed beast? Will she
shake off the waste, bite into the blood of roaches who live off the
dead? What cry of disorder will spring out a lust for life, like the
voice in Genesis, which responded to the void with a word?
Some people say the earth will end in a fire. And then perhaps a
return to complete silence, with only the remnants of our life longing
to hold form. To re-create.
I hope that this is all that survives, old prayers echoing in
nothingness like particles of dust.

by Hallie Gayle

From Blossoms

Prompt: The poem is called "From Blossoms" by Li-Young Lee
Here he is reading it:


Photo by Janelle Curlin-Taylor (altered by Kim)



I had an idea that Rich might bring a prompt about flowers. Thinking about flowers, I had a flashback from about 50 years ago. My aunt Reggie, my wife, and I walked by some flowers in Reggie’s garden. She went totally ape over these flowers as she pointed them out to us. She started exclaiming how they were so beautiful ... And she started jumping up and down like gorillas do when they meet a long lost friend. Or when a dog jumps all over her long lost master. I had never seen any human so excited about anything. I am kind of a dead beat and often say to myself, “bah humbug.”

Isn’t that what Ebenezer Scrooge would say in that Dickens' A Christmas Carol?

My grandkids started calling me grandpa no fun, until I adopted the name myself and took the fun out of that.

Reggie's excitement about the flowers was especially poignant because she had experienced a couple of tragedies. Normally our family didn’t do tragedy. Experience tragedies, that is. One of Reggie’s sons turned out to be severely disabled and then Reggie had a surgery that limited the use of one side of her body. And yet she was all there, like a cheerleader, telling that flower how beautiful she was and how much joy that flower had given her. Joy to die for, as the curious expression goes.

I was in a store the other day and the free sample lady gave me some chocolate and said it was to die for. I said that if you died you couldn't taste it. At first she tried to object, but then she looked at me and said, “you're right... It is something to live for.”

I was jealous of how Reggie could get so excited over a flower. Part of me thinks that one thing is just as beautiful as another. I decided one semester in college to photograph the ugliest thing in my life. It was a beige coffee cup from the vending machine in our art building. Finally I started to make beautiful images by cutting it up (which I took as cheating a bit). The Dallas Museum of Fine Arts owns one of the prints. But never did I jump up and down over that not-so-beautiful cup.

My painting teacher at the time, who was a great influence on me, claimed his greatest discovery was that corners pick up dirt. He would get excited about that idea. I never saw him excited over flowers.Though Indian turquoise jewelry tickled his fancy.

This takes me to the sirens that sang so beautifully that they'd lure the sailors into the rocks. Do flowers do that for some? Some find peace in flowers. Reggie, on the other hand, found ecstasy. I don't remember the flowers themselves. But I sure remember Reggie, and marvelled at her enthusiasm for these flowers of hers. Here’s a documentary on Reggie: http://jklabs.net/million.html

P.S. After everyone read their writing about flowers, and two women complaining that their lovers had been so inept at giving them the right flowers, and another saying that she and her girlfriends give each other flowers (because men don’t have a clue?)… I scooted over to Central Market to get my wife flowers… only to find that there was a power outage, and CM said I could come in, but could not buy anything. A week ago my wife had bought herself flowers and pointed them out to me, saying “look at the flowers I got from you.” I had the combined thoughts that I was glad she was getting what she wanted… and a little guilt that I wasn’t the one to get them.

P.P.S. Easy to please a woman? I asked her what kind of flowers she wanted today. She said carnations. But by the time I got to the store this morning, I wasn’t sure what she had said. So when I came home, I told her I couldn’t remember if she had said carnations or what. She said “carnations, but that she didn’t like all carnations.” So I took a picture of the ones “I had bought her last week” that were starting to wilt. She also said there were some other flowers she liked, but she forgot their name.

P.P.P.S. We did an exercise the other day at a Zen temple. We each took three minutes to describe a gift we had received in the past. What was surprising was that it was not the gift that had really touched us, but really it was the connection that had formed with the giver. The gift itself of little consequence in the interaction. What are we really saying when we pick apart the gift?

Kim Mosley


Childhood Furniture

Prompt: Think of a piece of furniture or an item from your childhood/young years and write about it or let it write about you.


I was very sickly and confined to the couch.  The couch was large as a house and had many rooms where I could seclude myself.  Sometimes a doctor would visit and listen to my lungs wherein dark waters sloshed.  When I was very still I could feel the tiny waves they made.  The doctor brought the medicine and I breathed it in through a mask while the noisy machine fed me through tubes.  I remained sickly for some time.  My mother vacuumed the carpet everyday while I received my treatment and this sound soothed me, her machine having a conversation with mine.  Presents were delivered to me to make me feel better but I was too weak to open and enjoy them.  When left alone, I retreated into the furthest rooms of the couch.  Where was my father?

There was a place called outside that I could see through the windows, but I was not able to go there.  The green waving things seemed friendly enough, but the light was too bright and harsh, and the dark seemed full of fearful things that I did not want to think about.

The couch was mine alone, unless my father was home, in which case I had to share.  Sometimes he would fall asleep during the day, with a thin quilt pulled all the way over his head.  He looked like a mummy.  I would quietly sneak over to where his head lay and listen to the strange sounds rattling around in his mouth and throat and chest; I imagined the bones of small animals were dancing in there and I worried he might choke.

I grew up into a big man, but I have carried with me the sickly little boy that I was, always providing for him the familiar comfort of a couch with many quiet rooms.  Despite the largeness of my frame and the strength in my limbs, I am still that boy, wondering where my father would go when he was not mummified on the couch, and what were some of the delicious foods served at my mother’s table, and when exactly did I grow up and shed my sickness, and how much of it remains dormant in me still, and what happened to the dark, magic waters that I could hear moving inside me?

Am I perhaps at this very moment asleep and dreaming on the couch, conjuring this world that I inhabit?  Did I slip into one of the moving picture shows on the big black box and forget to find my way back out?  Am I still there on the couch, too weak to raise my arms, delirious with noise and medicine and wanting, imagining that I grew up big and strong and capable of walking on fire without getting burned?


My couch is big enough for a family and I will make a fine father someday.  All the provisions we need for a good and happy life are right here in the folds and recesses and secret compartments.  I’ve amassed a small fortune in loose change and so we need want for nothing.  We will have a comfortable life.  We will host many wonderful guests.  We will live happily in a cuddle-puddle and no one will be forced to eat broccoli if the smell of it makes them ill.  All will be welcome on our family couch and no one will be turned away for arriving in an unshowered condition.  On our couch there will be room for all beings to find a seat that suits them; all honored and even the dishonored ones will find comfort and ease when their weary rumps come into contact with our cushions.

My couch is your couch.

We’re all couched in this life, together, so don’t be shy—just grab a seat and settle in next to me here.  Pull that lever right there by your feet and see what happens—ha!  I bet you didn’t think a couch could do that!        

—Ryan Stennet