Paintbrush in bloom feeds swallowtails,
and feeds childhood memories of folks
always calling it “Indian” paintbrush.
Back then, that made the flower exotic,
linked to what all deemed a romantic past.
Mainstream culture then ‘knew’ Indians
were done and gone, except in Hollywood.
But they were here, undone, shoved low.
Each June, this flower still grants me
that frisson of romance,
and whispers me that shame.
The red-spotted purple butterfly
basks on a warm gravel road,
a midsummer omen once again.
This darkness, these scalloped rows of blue,
at wing’s edge embroidered white.
Each year this iridescent gift,
this quick catch breath.
A glance, a pretty bumblebee,
another look—a robber fly
that stole bumblebee fur
to delude unwary prey.
Wolf in sheep’s clothing
injects a fast neurotoxin
in its food: grasshopper, bee,
dragonfly, stunned. Small or big,
it takes on any insect. But
it is not a perfect mime:
what bumblebee hangs out
on a leaf instead of a flower?
So far across the pool that swans are small
a trumpeter pair raise their cygnets two.
Bless the rain that keeps the water deep
that fox choose not to risk,
bless the muskrats who built the island nest.
We all depend on help with no intent.
A new widow skimmer dragonfly
meets a new tendril of wild grapevine,
well met in Earth’s increase.
Skimmer gold and vine chartreuse
Colors of both tender bright.
The dragon has never flown before.
It wants to snare prey in basket legs.
the tendril never touched a host,
it wants to curl and capture slow.
A gentle season to be new.
A bush of wild rose,
petals five surrounding gold
release fragrance sweet
not only to your nose,
but more vital to the rose,
to the antennae of the bee.
Harebells look pastel fragile,
tissue-paper bells may swoon in rain,
thin stems submit to summer storm.
But harebell is subtle, strong,
her bells chime soft in rain
too soft for you or me
her supple stems do bend at need.
What caught and feeds my eye
is the bells’ delicate display
against lush midsummer green
Daddy longlegs takes the sun upon a leaf
after last night’s hunt and meal.
The shadows of some legs go wiggly in the bright.
When he’s not asleep, he explores his world
with the long front legs where his senses live.
He lifts and taps, lifts and waits, as if savoring a taste,
taps again, lifts and waits. I wonder what he learns.
Note: “Harvestman” is the term internationally, and increasingly here. In the States, the vernacular has long been “daddy longlegs”. They are arachnids but not spiders. Non-poisonous, they do not bite.
Along a gravel road, an unlikely pair
of wildings shine: phlox and columbine
bridged by a long grass blade.
Phlox would look more blue
without the red of columbine.
Chance met along the road,
together they look good,
like some couples
you did not think would.
7.12.2013 INVITE to WRITE #57 and RESPONSES to INVITE #56
INVITE #57 is a photo by Norwegian photographer Andrea Gjestvang.
A girl and two dogs It looks simple, but it is richly evocative. The woundedness of teens. The comfort of animal contact. What does the girl’s expression share with the mastiff’s? Does the photo take you back in time? Does it connect with your child? Contemplate the photo and see where it takes a piece of writing.
Email your writing to firstname.lastname@example.org by Wed. July 24. All submissions will be published on Friday, July 26.No attachments, please.
Responses to INVITE #56 were especially varied and intriguing. If a piece strikes you, let the author know. Feedback is important for those who take the risk of sharing. Send me an email and I will forward.
i am afraid
of the 'quintessential'
this seeking to define
by labeling the inherent
or naming sameness
determination and ingenuity
problem-solving against struggle
she insists on shaving rocks
admiration and aspiration
goal-setting and self-realization
the idol (r)evolves, soars
self bits, mirrored
tucked away in dark niches,
i too, cherish my own almost-seeing
imagining when i'll dart to swallow
doubt with all its crunchy bones
~~Chelsea Rae Prax, New York or Washington D.C.
I AM OWL
"To know, look through this stone:
as you gaze through this image,
your eyes become mine,
and my wisdom becomes yours,
then suddenly you understand
what it is to see into worlds
that others say do not exist.
For time compresses into the place
where I was created,
and you stand
and together, we are the wisdom of the world."
~~Janet Stevenson, British Columbia, Canada
Cavity, not cave. I don't nest in caves.
It's you who hides your talent
on the bedroom wall. Hours at a time,
spying. Eyes hooded, watching me.
Slightly different shape, years back,
but so were you. I forgive you.
You are fourteen. Half your life
is gone, on the Neander cliffs.
You have caught the feather-pattern.
My four-way head fascinates and scares you.
Creepy—like a closed circuit surveillance
camera. We invented those.
You daubed a quick-sketch—ran away.
Girls are forbidden to paint. Was it my
eerie voice, source unseen? Did it send you
hiding, to scrawl a talisman for protection?
You didn't hear me follow. Mine, the silence
and invisibility. Draw me again. Do not give up.
Narrow shape, arrow ears. Nearly right.
Try at night—when the globes of God are wide.
~~Denise duMaurier, Washington State
Carved wet, clay slapped upon rock
watches, fingers having gouged its prophetic stare,
owl eyes fixed above winged back, signaling
no man can replicate.
~~Judith Mosby, Virginia
Carved Owl at Chauvet
The symbol of wisdom
—and of woman—
forever hidden in the darkness,
where life originates
again and again,
time giving birth to time,
the umbilical cord of life
a womb encompassing
the story of humankind,
a cave sheltering
the secret of consciousness
—a sign, a stroke,
a flash of reason
the instant of grace.
~~Natalia Giannini, Minnesota
I love the word ancient, and you, owl
are ancient against that ancient wall.
The wide eyes that should be there -
expression of wisdom that we humans
have assigned to you down through time.
I see the gouge beside you, those little
threads adhering still,
and wonder if your artist groaned
at attempts to give you the expression
you deserve, and if his tool
found purchase there, so as not
to deny the total of his portrait.
Indeed I see small indentations
near the top of your ancient face,
you would surely have found a way
to project what you wanted to say,
after your maker had tired,
and gone away to bury his
which are ancient now.
~~Mary McConnell, Wisconsin
A halloween pennant dragonfly
prepares to leap from the flowering mullein
where it rests and looks out for prey.
Its banded wings are flags in the wind,
now flat, now raised, beats balanced, leaps.
A half-grown katydid
explores a garden lily.
The nymph’s green
leaps against red as if
sprung from its long hind legs.
I hope that no bird
locks its bead eye on this
morsel so tasty green.
A tiny meadowhawk new arrived in air
is still pumping clear blood into its left forewing
so it will fully unfold and dry as the blood withdraws
It has flown to this leaf from its birthplace, clumsy
with a half forewing, but no kingbird swooped.
No hunt, no food until this wing completes.
In birth and rebirth we are all so vulnerable.
A clubtail dragonfly splendid on plain
mud where night rain last week pooled,
blue eyes, body black and bold gold.
Sun so strong it gifts to the dragon eight wings.
Can you split shadow from original?
The acrobat suspends herself in air
while pulling nectar from cat mint
with her long tongue.
Her trick is almost invisible, clear wings
beat around two hundred times per second,
faster than eyes need see.
Bumblebee sweetly burns herself out
for the little wigglers in the nest.
Papa barn swallow turns his head to stare
as I approach his fledglings at rest.
In his eyes I see what parents share:
the need to teach and to protect.
His eyes say come no closer.
I pause and take my last exposure.
A new slender spreadwing damselfly
carries water mites upon his thorax.
They scrambled from his nymphal husk
onto his emerged adult
with the aplomb of long liaison.
Damselfly or mammal,
we carry early burdens unaware:
Some, like these, will not kill
but will wear fitness down.
A flower spider captures a honey bee
who gathered nectar for the colonys
from the cat mint flowers blue,
but the contents of this gathering
will fuel the great white spider who
like all us predators, must eat.
A half-inch toadlet navigates leaf litter
where it tongues up tiny critters.
This survivor has climbed from water
up the long hill, dodged heron beaks
and escaped the garter snake
to find this depth of woodland leaves.
With luck,its patterns will blend to eyes that
also hunt the layers, and toadlet will survive.
Note: the photo is enlarged about 2X.
7.26.2013 Responses to INVITE to WRITE #57
It must be the heat: I received only three responses. It is clearly time for a break. INVITE to WRITE will resume in September or October. Writers, If you have druthers, let me know.
The girl with dogs was one of the survivors of the massacre of 70 teens in Norway last year. None of the writers knew that, but they all did somehow feel something of that. Judi Mosby’s line “they stare into years where nothing severed souls” is astonishing. All three deeply engage me with their human accuracy. Enjoy! Please honor writing this strong with your response. Send me an email and I will pass it on to the writer.
The dog I never had would
Become a pillow for me, would
Listen with gentle ears, would
Stay as long as I would
Need him, would
Breathe with me, would
Teach me slowness, would
Teach me rest, would
Close out the sharp sounds.
~~ Ellen Collins, Virginia
Pantoum for My Granddaughter
Today her world is such a dismal place.
He doesn't call, he doesn't text or tweet.
(How can the child show this pouting face
while birds are making music in the trees?)
He doesn't call, she says. He doesn't tweet.
She loves him more than I can understand.
I tell her birds are tweeting in the trees
and lilacs call us: Spring is here! Let's dance!
She's hurting now. Why can't I understand?
I am too old, she says, to know her grief.
If lilacs call, then I should go and dance
and make believe that everything is sweet.
Dear girl, I hope you never know tall grief
or deep regrets that crease your pretty face.
Life moves too fast; hold fast to what is sweet
and help to make the world a joyful place.
~~ Sara DeLuca, Georgia
Girl With Dogs
Layered, they stare into years where nothing severed souls
And all their journeys were tandem, packed together, moments
Surprising spontaneous love.
~~ Judi Mosby, Virginia
The long legs of Daddy Long Legs
mirror the dangling flower stems
of the milkweed called poke.
Daddy’s after little insects
in turn after flower sweets.
For the camera’s eye and mine
an upside-down panoply of surprise.
The widow skimmer dragon
mature in his powder blue,
poses with a corsage of
pink & white tick trefoil,
sweet against the frost
and burnt amber of
old bird-bit wings.
The dance goes on.
Secret in the cattails
wild turkscap lilies
dance upon six stems
that ascend from a calyx
of elegant green sepals
that lifted them to flight.
A cattail leaf threads through,
weaves them to the marsh.
top of page