11.1.2013 INVITE to WRITE #59 And Responses to INVITE #58
As a rocket blasts off to deliver a package to the moon, a frog is splayed against bright exhaust. Here, a family of life that lived long before the dinosaurs and still persists, is caught intersecting 21st century technology of the explosive sort. This NASA photo may sum up for you conflicts of our time such as the war on nature or more simply be a moment of personal disaster for a wild animal. Contemplate this photo and see where it takes your writing. Again, there is no right or wrong to a piece of writing. Try to capture your unique response when you saw and thought about the photo. You are welcome to use a pen name or nom de plume
Your responses to the cow and the photographer were wonderful, both hilarious and heartfelt. I am delighted with how many of you responded to this photo, this woman, those Alps, that wonderful cow. Thank you. If a piece strikes you as especially effective, please let the writer know by sending an email to me that I will pass on to the author.
A WALK IN THE ALPS STORED AS IMAGES IN THIS BLACK BOX.
Item; a grassy ridge grazed to a soft smooth green skin
by the teeth of herbivores.
Next photo is to the left of the ridge,
a bucolic vale of pasture and woods.
The distant lowing and tinkling of bells
won’t appear in the pan of developer.
Lens aimed over to the right.
The high meadow slopes down steeper,
steeper, steeper - vanishing into a dizzying vertigo.
A faint roar of raging glacial melt comes up from far below.
Across that valley sheer rock,
dark wet, rises to the sky.
Great valleys of rock have been scraped away by ice,
unburdening the sharpened peaks
so they can float up into thin air.
Seabed sharpened into stony teeth,
now slowly wearing away from water vapor
grazed out of the sky.
How can the flat images stored in this box
capture the exhilaration of that walk?
A low whisper says, you won’t find it in the camera, try the milk.
~~Dave Borchert, Minnesota
WILL MY COW GO TO HEAVEN?
Some would insist
that clumsy animals with long, wet tongues,
four hooves, four stomachs, swishing tails,
cannot gain entrance.
Why limit Heaven to the beastly few
with busy tongues, opposing thumbs?
Why not include Cow-Kind
and every other Kind?
We travel as One, thirsting for splendor.
Now and then, as we stumble toward Paradise,
we recognize ourselves in the Other.
Now and then
we lift our eyes
and understand that we have all
~~ Sara DeLuca, Georgia
My cow wonders what I am doing.
While I sit on the slant
of a Swiss mountain
she has joined my space
In that space there is companionship.
~~Emmy White, Minnesota
High atop a mountain peak,
The air crystalline and cool.
Two species stop to speak,
About the presence of God.
Being of love, male or female,
Essence of eternal good,
Tells us to connect this tale,
And live in a world made whole.
~~Shannon Fries, Minnesota
We’re one, this friend and I,
Having begun alone and come along
Now, looking down,
To the long
We’re one, and I hold her breath
In my palm. She holds my calm
Above the din of traffic, its volume,
The winding noise of useless motion
Going nowhere, trying to arrive
~~Judi Mosby, Virginia
THE COW WANTS TO SEE
Let me see how I look
Can we take it again?
I will smile more with my eyes
And keep my chin up
So you can see my bell.
~~Nancy Straw, Minnesota
SYLVANIA SUPERFLASH MOMENT
While Alps last Long,
Doubtless these two high-climbers
Long ago ascended Elysian cloud heights;
Leaving us with memories marvelous Kodachrome.
She of modest Bell and inquisitive Nose; plus
She of Man's eternal struggle w. Camera,
Equals sublime existence--
Past, present, future.
~~Frank Hawthorne, Minnesota
HEIDI THEN AND NOW
There is still beauty in these hills.
Once I ran and sang in innocence, my dreams
flowed abundant and unfettered in the clear air.
You were my special friend, my bovine Auntie Moo.
I told you all my thoughts while you chewed on them
holding me with your liquid brown eyes.
Sometimes, lost in the moment, frightened,
your bell called me home.
Now we sit and reminisce, my camera
ready for one last capturing of fond memories.
Your bell still echoes, reassuring me
me one last time that you understand.
Milkless now, yet you are full,
filled with my secrets.
So today I listen, and with my camera I will keep you forever
My Auntie Moo
~~Linda Leary, Colorado
My blue eyes almost closed
Dozing in the clear sunlight.
I can't say "cheese"
Will "moo" do?
~~Lou Ann Mock, Texas
peace comes from
with what you have
in those close to you
at what is before you
at the world around you
peace only comes from
shared and authentic connection
~~Hilary Ramsey, Minnesota
MAMMAL MEETS MAMMAL AT MOUNTAIN MEADOW
Oh, Holy Cow! How brown, how white, how
red in sensitive areas. Who worships who, and why
and with what blessed apparatus? Is false light
permitted in this high meadow, and under such
fickle clouds? And who did these shoes used to be?
And who allows disapproval to be ignored
in favor of a small black box that's supposed
to be for the purpose of recording our slow
behavior, our faulty apparatus for mending
our faulty memories and the holes in our curious
curiosity. Who wonders most about whom,
and whose species is most comfortable with
the other, and who could have the most to say
to the one most intent on bending the other's will?
Oh, Holy Womb-bearer, what do your eyes
communicate to the strangely covered female
come all the way up this daily path, intent on
keeping its green without attention to its nourishing
ignorance of commerce, intent on placing
kernels of light, one by one, by boxload by golly,
what a morning to be missing a meal that
less curiosity would have given sooner. O Milk Mother,
what are you learning here staring at a seated
beast whose odd hide hangs as loose as her head hair
is disciplined into a knot, and who wears rings
that cannot begin to whisper what a neck bell
says to the world downslope and nearly ready
for this wide open moment to become a taut knot
of dependance on silent watching that
will bring loud attention to painfully late
feeding of the next generation. Ow, Holy Cow!
~~John Calvin Rezmerski, Minnesota
The woman stirs her tea, stares silently at the photograph
Scene suspended in memory suddenly clear as yesterday
The wooden bench hard beneath her
Clouds moving close on a chill wind
She loading her camera with clumsy fingers
Never good at this sort of thing like he was.
He’d bought her a new flash attachment in the village yesterday
Even carried it up the mountain for her
In a box he’d tied with string, in his careful way
But it wasn’t what she needed then.
She’d named the cow Evangeline for devotion and perseverance
Always there when they left in the morning.
Always there when they came back to the cottage in the evening
Anna, he’d called.
That cow looks like she wants to put her head in your lap.
The warm beasty smell of her. Breath so close to face and fingers.
Iron bell surprisingly deep, reassuring
Sound anchoring woman to mountain
She didn’t see how she could move from this place.
They’d been there a week
Hiking in meadows near the Jungfrau and Eider
In a timeless landscape where their hours were numbered
Tomorrow they’d board separate planes
Fly to separate destinations.
She couldn’t quite believe this would happen
Couldn’t take it in.
Hold on there, Anna, he’d called
Then, the click of his camera and
The scene is fixed, belongs now to her:
The stolid mountains, the gray clouds,
The stubbly grass, Evangeline
~~Greta Ploetz, Minnesota
It's those shoes, June.
I told you not to wear them.
Go jump over the moon! you said.
And you clicked your heels!
And I did it, June!
Follow me, you said.
So I did, June.
Like I always do!
Back to the barn in Gaylord.
Like we always do, June.
Then you clicked your heels.
I need to be milked, June!
So check that GPS again, June.
We can't be in the Alps.
I tell you, we CAN'T be in the Alps, June!
POEMS BY KIDS
From Ms. Pat’s Language Arts Students, Denver, CO
The Cow and the Lady
The cow that was gold and white ate a lot
His owner was a male that was used to feeding him meals
Every time the cow ate he felt the urge to play
He played in the rain
Any kind of weather
Whether he was sick or tired
Playing was what he admired
THE COW : )
The mountains are wide and tall
The woman is short and small
Fixing the camera as she thinks of a banana
The cow looks and
Guess what she sees?
She sees a man, John Lee
Her hair tied up
She is confused and stuck
She doesn’t know what to do
She is hungry for soup
The cow is filled with milk
The woman with silk
Try to figure out what’s next
What way is the best
A different way than the rest
The cow is brown and white
She sleeps outside at night
The cow is bright
She knows what’s right
I like the pic of the cow
‘cuz there’s a good view of the mountains
The cow’s face looks funny
It looks like the cow is trying to look at the camera
To see what the lady is doing with the camera
That’s why I picked this pic
From Tim Deyle’s 5th Grade Class, North Dakota
The cow is near the lady.
Her name is Aunt Sadie.
Beautiful mountains behind her back.
What is in her little sack?
The cow’s bell goes ding, ding, ding.
The whole scene makes me want to sing.
The cow is white with brown spots.
The lady is fixing her camera so she can take a picture.
She can do it with just a click.
The cow will be milked,
After the camera is fixed.
Dear lady don’t you understand,
Don’t just stare at the box in your hand.
I’m hungry and in need to be milked,
You still haven’t given me that blanket made of silk.
I am thirsty and cold,
Please don’t leave me alone.
I am standing right here,
Don’t you see me my dear?
Look at this view,
It is a good place to eat some food.
I wish I was a mouse,
But the prairie is my house.
I still wish I was a mouse,
So I could fit in small places,
But to the smaller cows,
That might sound races.
Is it me or are the clouds drifting.
My owner looks at the box right in front of her.
We cows call it “our owner’s mystery box”.
SHE apparently doesn’t need to be milked.
I have been waiting all day.
I can’t believe people these days!
Cow on a mountain with a bell on her neck.
Woman on a mountain with a camera in her hand.
Together on a mountain, bell on neck, camera in hand.
This should be as good as it gets,
High up in the gorgeous Alps.
With the pillowing white clouds,
Drifting slowly in the distance.
The fresh air as crisp as the morning dew.
There she sits looking at her box,
While I patiently wait in agony.
Does she not know that I need to be milked?
Humans are such simple and selfish creatures.
~~ Mr. Deyle
Backlit in south-angled sun
the edges of red oak leaves
sharpen their own shadows
Winds across cattails
twist lost ferns
front to back, paint
points of frond tips
brown upon gold as if
toasted by autumn light.
Beak blithely inclined,
a Nuthatch pauses a moment
in its scurry down tree
where it searches bark
for insects and their eggs
torpid in the cold.
His beak, long and narrow,
was made to insinuate and pry.
When white winter nears
this red arrests our eyes,
attests to hope through time.
Birds eat wild rose hips
and pass the seeds
that lie still two winters
before thorned canes sprout
to flower and fruit
red against cold winter.
Beak sunflower stuffed
Chickadee leaves the feeder
To grasp the black seed between its feet
And happily hammer it free
In the oaks
brown has chased the last
of chlorophyl green
and anthocyan red
from stubborn leaves
as sap retreats to root
and browns prepare to fall
Once on soil
brown will sink to black,
sharing again minerals that roots
sucked from subsoils
dissolved and pushed into leaf buds
riding spring sap resurgent
The last of the first snow
drips from leaves
suddenly magenta, curled
and curved in surprise.
Velvetfoot mushrooms fruit in hard freeze
A whole pack sprouts up through
one crack in bark,
Thrusts into the bitter.
Each amber parasol shelters gills
like spokes in bone-marrow wheels.
Aster seedheads gather light
as they wait for winds
for their spheres to be plucked.
From fluff will each seed dangle
to waft to snowbank or soil
to quicken next autumn to flowers.
As vibrant leaves fade brown,
winter’s palette of lichens
on a dropped oak twig
soaks up plain snow
turns it gold and gray-green
to spark life’s winter eyes.
As Earth rolls around Sol again and the tilt brings freeze,
Frost on fern fronds casts me into Deep Time,
How some creature’s eyes saw ferns in the Carboniferous,
Maybe Frog’s great-great ancestor that never really saw
Unless a thing moved and never could notice the architecture
of frost crystals because where it lived then was always warm,
and how I’m loving Frost at the same time
I’m wishing I could hop into the warm.
A cylinder of snow engulfed a red twig one night
and that was that until the sun came out
and the snow relaxed into ice that decided
it was strong despite the sun and just hung on
but who do you think won?
When this sharp oak leaf let go the tree and fell
it spun around and landed exactly stem down
in an inch of snow, just enough to hold it up,
so when wind blew, the leaf spun a circle
on its stem and became for a time
the world’s first oak leaf wind vane.
A finch still gold in winter dress
has shelled the black sunflower seed
with a beak made clever by uncounted
generations of small birds that crunched
shells, then slid in tip of bill to twist
and shove away the broken shell,
all for this mouth-watering moment
of tossing the head back to swallow.
11.22.2013 INVITE to WRITE #60 and Responses to INVITE #59
This photo is a strange Prequel to Winter. It shows a plowed highway in the mountains of Japan. In the background is a line of cars apparently waiting, and closer, two cars have apparently decided to go ahead. I barely recall poled snow of similar depth after the Armistice Day blizzard of 1940. (I may be recalling family photos.) What precise cutting these snowplows did. This photo gave me the willies when I saw it, and I’m used to snow, but it does have an eerie beauty. Please contemplate this photo and see where it takes a piece of writing.
Email your writing to email@example.com by Wednesday, Dec. 4.
all responses will be published Friday, Dec. 6. No attachments please.
The frog caught in a rocket blast generated interesting poems, as you will see. But when I reminded you on Monday of INVITE due Wed., I confused some of you, who wrote from the frosted fern photo of Monday Nov. 19. Sorry about that—it’s confusing time of year. You can find both kinds of poems below.
When a poem grabs you, please let the author know. Send me an email- firstname.lastname@example.org - and I will forward it. When people risk and succeed they need to hear it.
I can't get that frog out of my mind.
He looks bravely into my simple life
While technology rumbles
And politicians mumble,
The frog and I admit
We know nothing
Nothing at all
~~Emmy White, Minnesota
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE RANA FAMILY
In 1865 Mark Twain broke into print with his story
The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County
Relating the amazing jumping prowess of Jim Smiley's frog.
Taking nothing away from the great Mark Twain,
He never found out much about the frog or his life.
The frog's true name was Salientis Rana.
He was the greatest of a long line of jumpers.
Smiley threw him back in the pond after losing
His bet through trickery. Rana went on to live
A long and outstanding life in the amphibian world
He bred only with females from jumping stock
And soon his progeny could outjump him.
He was still revered as founder of the jumping clan.
They came to call him King Rana or Rana I.
His dicta soon became the lore and law.
Soon proper pride began to verge on arrogance
And Rana MXIX decided he was too big for Calaveras,
So, in a series of hops, he moved the clan
Across the continent to Canaveral,
Where he knew folks sprang above the earth.
He hoped some author would appear to write
The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Cape Canaveral,
The story of the contest between himself and NASA.
He trained hard, practiced and placed his bets,
Sure that, on the day, he'd soar above the atmosphere.
But, on the day, NASA did not seem to know
He was there. They grabbed the launching sites.
And when they blasted off with flame and roar,
Rana jumped the biggest jump he ever jumped....
And fell back into the welcoming sea.
A leap of faith
Against all odds
With no mercy intended.
~~Marcia McEachron, New Mexico
A Frog in the Air
A frog in the air is really quite rare.
Is he enjoying adventure or in despair?
Is he tempting fate by not opening his chute?
Are the astronauts cheering or are they mute?
Is he upstaging a flight into outer-space glory?
Is he seeking to steal a front page story?
Does anyone see this fateful occurrence?
Has the audience moved to a more tragic abhorrence?
Does he yearn to return to his natural home?
Does he regret his decision to be brave and roam?
A frog in the air is really quite rare.
Is he enjoying adventure or in despair?
Big Bang Theory Croaked
Big Bang, Little Bang, all banged up.
I was told that we may be the result of
this phenomenon that gave life to all we know
and don’t know.
This bang incites power and greed to be first to
find other realms we can overpopulate.
No one told the little frog prince.
For today we destroyed one of the early ones who crawled out
of the primordial slime and evolved.?
I am not sure what I feel- except-
I wish I didn’t.
It’s not easy being green
~~Linda Leary, Colorado
A cloud to capture
A frog, wishing it could hitch
Find a place to sing
and swim in pleasant
(no poisons introduced)
To charm the children
with its stories,
To worship a glorious
Just a place where a
frog can sing.
~~Mary McConnell, Wisconsin
Bullfrog, bullfrog sultry night
Doin’ the swamp, and doin’ it right
A real frog free-for-all
Bullfrog Susie, Bullfrog Sam
Amphibian Lady and Amphibian man
And they shimmer
Susie’s a swimmer
And they flip and they skip and they cuddle
Hopping in rain and mud puddles
Waitin’ for a rocket to roar
Make ole Sammy soar
Nibblin’ on crickets, chewing on bugs
Sammy says Susie you are my main hug, and to top it
I will out jump
Now she’s teasin’ his ego
And pinchin’ his pride
Sammy is grinnin’ and spinnin’ inside
As they tumble, the ground starts to rumble
And the earth all around is a shakin’
Fire fills the night and it’s bakin’
Sammy leaps as high as a dove
It looks like bullfrog love, oh yeah...
~~Bruce Peck, Minnesota
KIDS’ POEMS from Timothy Deyle’s grade 5 class, North Dakota
The metal tube is on its way,
To find the things up in space.
Maybe they’ll find life.
Why is that frog so high up above?
Oh well, let’s get moving.
We will be back soon,
And we will send you pictures from the moon.
See you later and we will miss you.
~~Emma, North Dakota
Space Ships and Frogs Don’t Mix
How is it on a sunny day,
I wake up and get caught by a frog hunter.
He put me on the side of a space ship.
I felt movement and heard it run.
It was ready to take off!
Would my family miss me?
I jumped off the ship.
I felt like I was flying.
Then I landed with a splat.
Ouch, I never thought it would end this way!
~~Mia, North Dakota
The rocket is about to blast off.
I’m scared!! 10, 9, 8, I might die.
7, 6, 5, five more seconds.
4, 3, 2, 1, blast off.
I feel rumbling.
I’m pinned to my seat.
Gravity pushing me.
I feel gravity letting go of me.
I am in space
~~ Summer, North Dakota
1 0 9 8M m m m m
7 6 5
~~Vienne, North Dakota
FROM THE FROST FERN PHOTO or ITS CHILL
And then there is the pattern of the season
frost, early frost,
gives us patterns
the human imagination
to wonder and
~~Deborah Randolph, Minnesota
Mother with needle
Mother with thread
Scraps to gather
And some to shred
Mother with fern
Mother with frost
Fronds to knit
And some embossed
~~Hilary Ramsey, Minnesota
A successful campaign
Clocks are incessant – these days
Engineers have dulled
Their annoying tick, banished tock –
This morning, after two nights
Of stealth and temptation
I captured our first verminous
Intruder – like clocks, engineers
Have evolved humane traps –
Mus musculus spent a busy night
Muscle flexing, confined space
But peanut butter and potato
For comfort in confinement –
As I pulled on my boots I read
The bulletin up my spine – ‘Hunter
On the Prowl’! I strode tall away
From door and gate, the unknown
Wastes of road and car-park,
Municipal bin – I shake the tube
And shake my head – something
Tells me, winter on the way, frost
On the air, my prey, object
Of compassion, will be back –
A nose like science itself; maybe
A week from now small marks
Of long teeth will break the skin
Of a King Edward in the dark.
I check my watch to log
‘Time of Disposal’ and set a mark –
Clocks are incessant – these days
Engineers have dulled
Their annoying tick, banished tock…..
~~Bert Biscoe Cornwall, Britain
Caught unawares, the last marigold
finds new beauty and deep color in cold.
Caught unawares, this old human goes pale,
like a dry leaf curls, pretends he is frail.
The edge of a frostbit leaf
tagged by below-zero night.
Ice spicules fringe its rim with light.
Crystal shells dot the leaf’s skin
grown from air’s veiled sea.
Oak leaf rests next a deep ice crack--
Calm starry night outlined it with frost.
Within the bay of leaf
One cold seed caught.
Crow grasps frost
Crystal white in beak
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