Write After Breakfast

Write After Breakfast: A writing workshop following the Breakfast Program at St. Andrews Church in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The Breakfast Program provides a free meal for anyone who wants one, every single day of every single year. Write After Breakfast meets every Tuesday -- right after breakfast.

Why do you write?

[I read a passage from Jeannette Winterson’s memoir, Why Be Happy When You can be Normal?, a memoir that posits that writing and reading saved her. It was a breathtaking passage of book-burning where the only words that are safe are the ones inside of you. And so I asked the group: Why do you write? When did words make you want to eat them? What does it mean for the health of your spirit to write? There were moments of honest confession that emerged, where we focused less on craft and more on our intentions, which can be refreshing.]


Bright Light

— by Philip

When as a young man I was
I remember growing up
Out of parts of you:
I look up the spell you left
As I was overtaken by your breathing
I have looked upon a gauzy curtain
To see the bright extraordinary features
    of her face
Beckoning, beckoning, beckoning.
Like a twilight in a shadowy horizon
I climbed ine lonely mountains
To find a mountain home
To satisfy myself with the prospect free
I climbed an Amazonian Seringa after infinite journey
And having looked for rain amongst the infinite deserts of the world
My grooved mind felt a Keatsian aberration from your sloppy snow
The exultation of a white comb across the golden beach
I shied from love like the unwilling stallion
I would not let that water touch my toes
I loved not the sun upon the hills
I let the winds be my counselor.


Why do you write?

— by Bill

I have lines inside of me
that nobody else can see.
The lines run around
chasing each other
like an insane game of tag

I have lines inside of me
that I can see
They block my vision
when I look outward
to interpret the world around me.

I have these lines inside me
that jump around
like little children wanting a turn
Leapfrogging each other
to pass the time.

I have lines inside of me
marching them together
like kindergartners learning
to hold hands
to have a single purpose.

Chasing each other playing tag
Blocking my view of the world
Leapfrogging because they can
Rippling my pond of consciousness
and troubling any untroubled day.

My God, It’s Full of Stars

[We read a poem by Tracy K. Smith, this year’s Pulitzer prize winner, called "My God, It’s Full of Stars." A gorgeous poem, an elegy to her father, and a grappling with the very biggest questions while referencing popular culture and including humor and dialogue. The writing in the workshop felt elevated by the intelligence of Smith’s poem. So much great work today. Photo: Stephen Warrington]



— by Philip

My, I saw a cosmic mother
    through a spray of stars
A bright light haloed by stars
Profound, in meaning, seductive, knowing, arch,
Inwardly saying we inwardly cohere
with all that’s built around us.
O How can we say what is simple or complex
The mother and the stars the maternal and the stellar
Cosmic dust is raised to personhood which then
    seeks out the edges of that cosmic dust.
Like a great chaos of being inward and returned and upward
    Our stars made ours by a cosmic
mother I fathom how far we’ve come!
The stars were (where once was) once Botticelli’s
Spring’s hair’s and like hair will be
    domesticated and conditioned and shampooed
Well, I thank my stars!

My God it’s Full of Stars, or Yeah, Well You’re not from Ypsi
— by Matt

We are not alone.

You may think we are, but we’re not.

In a universe, which may be one of many universes, it’s impossible to think we’re alone with millions of stars.

Being alone is the greatest sin you can commit.

In a universe of Fellowship. all I can think of is my next interaction with others.

Why we fight, and bicker for scraps is beyond me.

Why the poor starve, and the rich get famous is simply beyond me.

The worst form of torture is isolation, and I can think of no greater imperative thank to take care of each other.

Why, as mortals, don’t we realize that the most important thing is how we relate to others.

Get the Fuck off me with your nuclear weapon.

Get a job, or at least a hobby, or vocation, and the world’s problem with solve themselves.

Who is the next President to be elected.

I may stand alone, but I stand firmly in the resolve that it doesn’t matter.

The pendulum swings, left to right, and all we are left with is dealing with ourselves.

My greatest contribution, if you will, is the contribution you make to society.

Live greedy, and die apart from God himself.

If money is the answer, why has it caused so many problems for ourselves.

I believe the answers lie in the form of a toothpick, simple and small.

Light up, Frances.

Eat a carrot, and a stalk of celery, and the world will come to you.

Abuse others and the rest of those who inhabit the universe will come looking for you.

I wonder what Frank and Ernest are doing today?


After a Fight
— by Courtney

At night we walk out to the center of the field
and watch the pink of one town and the gray-pink of the other,
the stars at the center.

Not knowing a single constellation
and so language is nothing.
We only open our mouths to breathe.

Jet streams arc overhead, flight paths of DTW
to anywhere west of here,
our center. Airplanes blink back.

Black trees silhouette in a circle, fencing us here.
Stars pretending to be airplanes slide up the sky.

Sleep is where I go because I don’t know what else to do.

Henry says at some hour, I can see the twinkling stars,
too early to be kind I shush him
then kiss his temple: I had silenced him before
I knew what he was going to say.

The planets are multiplying, still
birthing fire balls quietly while others sleep.

The sun ball has not risen,
but it will, even though I am not happy.


— by Robyn

At night when I leave the gym the sky
is dark. There are no stars.
This is how I want it. Something
is broken. This is why I run
on the treadmill for an hour, then
an hour, then an hour. It’s not enough.

I like running, I tell people, because
I like to think, but this is a lie. I run
so that my head can empty. So I can
think only of time and miles and
the way my knee twinges and how
hard it is to have open eyes and
my heart. It runs alongside me,
pulsing in my wrists. Outside
it is starless and inside light
is everywhere: my sneakers,
the two hours I’ve run, the miles,
everything absolutely clear.
It’s not enough. I need farther.
Until every streetlight and porchlight
blinks out, until each star burns,
until I can walk to my car
surrounded only by the soft and unthinking night.

a video George made to accompany his poem, City Park.

City Park

I turn from things around me

The jogger stopped mid-stride

To do twenty pushups

The locust tree

The sound of hammering from a house

Just outside

The city park where I walk the dog

And where people come to turn away

To picnic under a mulberry tree

To wonder about ducks and geese

Some man eating a sandwich in a car

Some woman taking a nap

While the swan in the river

Turns its eye to me

Mrs. Hill

[For this week’s prompt, we looked closely at a poem by B.H. Fairchild, "Mrs. Hill." It is a narrative poem where we encounter the speaker’s neighbor who has come to his house as a boy with the fear that her husband will shoot her. It recounts a history of a boy’s life in Michigan with many concrete details that create a theme of futility. The discussion was lively and impressive, and the work more varied than usual in its themes and forms.]

City Park

— by George

I turn from things around me

The jogger stopped mid-stride

To do twenty pushups

The locust tree

The sound of hammering from a house

Just outside

The city park where I walk the dog

And where people come to turn away

To picnic under a mulberry tree

To wonder about ducks and geese

Some man eating a sandwich in a car

Some woman taking a nap

While the swan in the river

Turns its eye to me

Free Verse

— by Matt

Why do we always have to veer from abstraction?

Why do we always have to be organized to the point our brains are squeezing.

My favorite phrase over the last year is a saying, which says, “Let Go. Be.”

Why can’t our mere existence justify our well-being?

The accountants say: “Justify, justify, justify.”

While I may justify my margins, I may not feel the need to justify my work, or my life.

Why does there always have to be Roast Beef, when all I wanted, in the first place, was a sandwich?

I believe the telltales of life are simply based on how we relate to others.

No cosmic sense, no reason for being, no reason for even being here except that it is.

No cosmic sense or purpose, just a general sense of direction.

Why do the animals get things, while we ourselves seem to not get our purpose?

Formality is the death of the soul in the 21st century.

I believe a higher form of reasoning could spell the death of us all.

Smile, you’re on candid camera!!!

I believe if most of us were caught by surprise every day, rather than planning everything, a sense of reason would come to be.

Angst and mediocrity. Why does everything have to be at the vortex of civilization?

Cry, and the word will come to you. Pout, and everyone will sense your innermost being.

Rule others, and you will die to yourselves.

Live and let live, and the world will come to you.

I miss Dr. McCoy on Star Trek, who often complained of god-forsaken contraption and Vulcan reason.

Logic may be the death of our souls.

— by Bill

Drippy Wet
Near a lake
A log cabin
that guards its secrets
about its previous guests.

Love flowing from my frightened heart
There wasn’t much else to do.
We were so young
We chose this new path
To what end would it take us?

Drippy Wet
It kept us indoors
There wasn’t much else to do.
We make love.
That keeps us warm.

We make love
Near a lake
In our log cabin
Where will it lead us?
Neither of us knows.

The sun never joined us
Drippy wet
in that log cabin
Our son joined us
though he waited.

Drippy wet
in that log cabin
we became a family
Adding a heartbeat
to our lone twosome.

Life began again with that vacation.
My intrepid heart carried me through.
We were no longer just two
Our son joined us,
Deep within his mother’s womb. 


Remembering Childhood
— by Katharin

The edges are softened.
Immediacy gone.

The past is a country I rarely visit.

Misery? Certainly.
Comfort? Some.

Privileged. Sheltered. Uprooted. Wounded.
Faith shattered – in the permanence of possessions.
Faith demolished – in the majesty of mind.
Faith born – in what later proved abomination.

If I fail to learn, the lesson appears again.
If I fail to detach, the maelstrom sucks me in.
If I fail to joy, suffering bogs me down.

I am amazed I survived my childhood.
My brother didn’t.


Life is

— by Philip

[note from Courtney: I couldn’t decipher a lot of this, so there are many gaps in the transcription]

Life is growth, dynamism and spontaneity
Life is ended by serial killers
Life away from life there is no life
Life you are the other shadow of my life
Life a faith and feeling
Life a life in service college is a getaway
Life indents _____ apostrophe’s ____
Life pervades colon colonoscopies
Life ___ ___ bar
Life ___ _______ horsepower
Life ______ it hurts
Life I love you all is groovy
Life her ____ was groovy
Life in black and white
Life less the truth than making truth more real
Life has ____ to ___ fishing lakes
Life call me ______ ___ ____ __ ____ takes
Life starts from gases and ________ __
God has been revealed us.
Life is also sugar and sweet
Life salute graciously those in the path of life
Life what a lovely glower garden it has been
Life is sharper than vinegar; a ___ on the skin
Life’s discarded carapace of our past
Life the ______ that back to dust
Life is our unit of meaning.
Life consider the alternatives
Life how many universes are there?
Life start to number your friends
Life you get there by starting to get there
Life if you like rotten peaches it’s all right
Life she holds me by both hands and looks into my eyes
Life intricately climbing Mt. Fuji
Life what does it mean?
Life a nickel for your thoughts
Life paired sequences go by like querulous couples
Life of time of a river of life
Life a tree a rock a cloud
Life is today a ___ or a cows manure day?
Life what is a handicap or a challenged person
Life is it humiliating or challenging?
Life no two snowflakes are very much like nor very much dissimilar
Life are all men women and children dissemblers.
Life my life closed twice before it closed
Life twice of life would suffice to open my eyes
Life duplicitous because multivarious
Life duplicity is to say one thing and do another
Life is real life is ____ Life is so unreal
Life get your head together put some head gear on or take some off
Life am I better misunderstood?
life actions how consequences, clear
Life ____ is wisdom Aphrodite’s beauty

— by Courtney

Field feral domestic flurry collect.
A fight about bodies.
Husband feral terrible harvest.
There must be more than what I see. Tree.
Clutter hurry zero bath wrath.
Children rope you to your own heart.
Garden child feral straw.
Bodies flesh lungs chain zoom.
Postpartum flesh collection.
The boy pushes his finger into the baby’s cheek.
Inflate deflate breathless baby baby.
I don’t’ know how to be good.
Bath glass light fight sleep fight.
The orange sun ball, its particles of light overtake the trees.



— by Robyn

You think of it: the heart burning.
Flickering yellow tongues of it.
The way it would singe your throat
black. It is so hard to want anything
except quiet and water with the heart
smoldering like this, skewered
over the campfire of your chest.

Who set it ablaze? Who gathered
the kindling and lit the match?
It must be me, it could only be me.
Arsonist of my body, pyromaniac
of the blackened bones of my ribs.
Last night while I slept, I gathered
dead leaves and branches and I
poured gasoline down my throat.
No wonder I can’t breathe.

Something with Music Inside of It

[We read this gorgeous poem by A. Van Jordan, "Que Sera Sera." The prompt was inspired by something David said the previous week about music. And so I wondered: What would happen if we put popular music into our poetry? A. Van Jordan’s poem does. It locates the action of the poem inside of a scene where he is listening to a song. Can we do something similar? Or put lyrics inside of our writing? Our would our own voice and experience interact with the greater world’s music and voice? ]

Boom Box

— by Matt

I don’t understand why people have to listen to music so loud.

And my favorite bumper sticker says “Kill your television.”

Before I go to bed, every night, I put on my sweats, take my medication, and turn on the radio.

I’ve had the same radio since 1993.

A social worker once told me “you seem over-stimulated.”

This might be true, but it may have been because I was drinking eleven cups of coffee a day.

Why does everything have to explode to entertain us?

Somehow, it seems, the simplest things make my life easier.

At the risk of sounding ridiculous, why can’t we be satisfied by things
like kittens, or other soft things, which can simply entertain us by being around.

The world has too many politicians, and definitely too many nuclear weapons.

And definitely, too many smart phones.

I’ve often wondered what life would be like if we simply simplified.

No television, no radios, no phones, no cars, no electricity, no plumbing, no computers, etc.

Maybe if the world ends as the Mayans suggested, we’ll be put in a place where we have to relate to others, and then to God.

Whose idea was it, for us to have all of this crap?

Why can’t we be satisfied by the things we have simply before us?

In the meantime, I listen to the radio and wait for others to catch up.


Breathe, a song says

— by Robyn

Once we drove through the fields
and a song say breathe me and I did.
We were going to have a child. His name
would be Jacob and he would have
your eyes and he would run. In the field,
all the corn stalks bobbed their heads.
Just breathe the song said and we did.

Now you are gone and the son is gone
and the sky turns gray at six. The fields
look so dead. I am tired of cars.
Tired of song, of you, of the stupid boy
with his running shoes and blue eyes
in my head and nowhere else.
Breathe a song says and I say no.
I won’t. I will leave the car running
and follow the dirt road until it ends,
until the song ends, sound ends, until
there’s only the corn stalks in the fields
with their open unliving arms.


(Do something with music in it)

— by David KE Dodge

So I make my normal departure from the prompt, but I promise I’ll make my way back, before I’m done.

            I have recently been exposed to “The Fire of Drift-Wood,” by Longfellow.  He has no right, Longfellow and his fellow classic poets- they have no right to keep such beautiful works to themselves.

            I want to do that.  I want to write in verse, totally faithful to strict rules of meter and rhyme, and I want to make it look to the reader- easy.

            So that is what I will do.  I will write four lines of exactly eight beats each, with the third line perfectly, exactly compliant to the rules of rhyme, with the first line, and the second and fourth lines will perfectly rhyme, and the lines will comprise at least one perfectly grammatical sentence, perfectly, simply diagrammatical sentence(s), consistent with classical English grammar, and each sentence will have its own independent meaning, as though it were an integral part of a piece of technical writing.

And now I get back to the prompt.  The verse I will write will show myself capable of making a work that is developmental of an arbitrarily assigned or chosen theme.  My verse will be something with music in it.

            Those classical poets will be put in their place.  I’ll show them poetry!

Now to the task:

“There once was a woman from Hell”

Eight beats.  Perfect.  Next line:

“Making her way through the world”

Seven beats- I need to change something, to add a beat without changing meaning:

“Making her own way through the world”

Perfect. Eight beats, and the meaning is improved.  I can go on to the third line; that needs to develop the message, while containing eight beats, and  rhyming with “Hell.”  And I need to weave in the theme of music.

I’m out of time, but I won’t give up.  I will continue the task until the verse is completed, at some other time, and will do no other writing, except as the demands of mundania require, until my verse is completed…

Titles (The Trees The Trees)

[Our first writing workshop of the semester! It was wonderful to be a part of this community in this way again, and to get to think about writing in the way that I do when I’m workshop leader — trolling for prompts where I read, thinking about writing in terms of teaching it and not just writing it. 

Often with our writings, they get returned to me without titles. This fine, but I feel funny when I’m posting it online to write ‘untitled’ so often when I know that, if we thought about it, we would want titles for these pieces. So the prompt today was TITLES. We read an interview in the Believer magazine by Heather Christle about titles, then we used her title of her most recent book, “The Trees, The Trees” as our prompt — though titling our outcome something other than that.]

Back off, Dork, I’m A Scientist

— by Matt

This was a line, from Bill Murray of one of my favorite movies of all time, “Ghostbusters.”

Why are we so obsessed with what we call ourselves?

Titles make me want to puke.

In Journalism School, at Michigan, we learned to keep things simple.

Instead of “Executive Vice President in charge of Accounting” we learned to say, simply, “Accountant.”

I think titles obfuscate the obvious issue that people are paranoid, and insecure with themselves.

I like AA, where people are simply called “Bill W” or “Bob this.”

One of the reasons I like to shorten things, is for brevity’s sake.

In other words, avoiding the exhaustion of complicating things, when what we really need to do is simplify.

I like how God is simply labeled “God” in the Bible, with some add-ons sometimes.

No need to get long-winded when dealing with the creator the universe.

Put up, or shut up!!!

I think this is what my Journalism professors were trying to say, when they admonished people to simplify.

Why would you want to eat a whole cake, while a simple cookie would do?


— by George (writing in from New York)


A division

Crickets. Toads. Snakes.

They find their way

Birds swarm.

The flowers close bloom

At night


The grass grows

The trees are quiet

The bats find a cave

The hummingbirds fly south

The starlings call


Stephen Kills Our Trees

— by Courtney

The blasted black walnut that Stephen

constricted in the eastern field with purple

fluorescent lights he let choke the trunk for a year —

until nothing worked, neither the fluorescence nor the sap.

The yellow little leaves that tumble from it now

so the boy asks if it is fall and I don’t have an answer

in this house where we don’t say dying.

To draw a human being in, that is the point.

To preserve the lightness of a child’s heart

we say “withered,” we say “sleeping.”

But when we spell out to one another K-I-L-L and D-I-E

 it sounds like a drawn-out version of the words we’re trying to avoid.

Big hickory in the front with the sap inside the shaggy bark.

Small oak int he back we want to transplant to give us shade.

The buckthorns piled up, withered,

stacked, ready for a bonfire;

I have agoraphobia without limbs above me.

They were junk trees, Stephen says, but I say

they never gave us junk shade.

Thirteen Ways

[We responded to Wallace Stevens’s "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird" — a classic poem with a recognizable, list-like form. Some took to the form, some to the content of birds — being that it’s spring, after all.]


Ways of the Red Winged Blackbird –
Anon but Many –

— by Mary

Trillie Trille sing
ye Red Wings Trille

How stack their awakening
Trille it’s Spring

Perched atop reeds a-many
arching sprouts their
call—it flies my

Eye swings up and All
is blue     sweeten by white

Sparkling lights aquamarine
so blue    so black the
body black – the circle
mark of Red – Pronounce

Spring Alive     Now
Alight the trails of high
pitched notes – As they
embed my mind with
so unforgettable trilleies

Be it the game of first discovery
or be it the claim of being
the first – the fact being
Spring sweeps us all

in lushing folds the
red wings of lone
blackbirds     bring
our hearts pounding
faster to the crescendo

Spring – morning light
dizzy puffs of clouds
small the tiny threads of
peepers Re sound the
Red Red spot of shining
blackness –

Reflect my hope Reflect
despair persistent
Joy break free

Aligned I am to be
one with Spring – its
messenger the Red
Winged Blackbird

Hark did I hear – Yes
below the mud
bulbs of oxygen    pop

Squinting I peer out
where is the sound
Alerting me it’s there
I see the one – effusive
blue-black gently rolling
waving shape – A bird – Red is

it of course I know Memory
first the end the
beginning – the timelessness
of Spring –

Perfection illusive
trilleie trillie
the one the lone celebrated
messenger – Red Winged
soldier gloried be you
The Red Winged Blackbird
    of Spring


Thirteen Ways

— by Matt

What the heck.
I was talking to Blackbirds outside social security yesterday.

If this makes me mentally deranged,
then so be it.

I would like to someday find out the
Native American phrase for “Friend of
the Birds.” This is what I’d like to be.

Ever since the Fall, man has seemed to
have a hard time getting along with the
animals, obviously because of our own hostility.

This is the fault of man, and nothing
else, because animals are simply afraid of us.

I’m afraid of us, too.

If we live in a world where it’s impossible
to stop and give someone the time of
day, I believe hope is lost.

The problem with sin is not that it means
somebody had simply done something

The problem was it signaled an alienation
of ourselves toward God.

I want “stuff,” but I’m not going to do
this at the expense of reason.

I think the litmus test of man is whether
we can simply get along with animals.

If the Lamb is to lay down with the Lion,
we will first have to do every part of

I think Fear is the greatest enemy
we have.

I think striving after perfectionism makes
things impossible.

Letting go, on the other hand, makes
things easy and lets us realize the
things we could become.

My former Landlord, Kathy McHugh, once
told me to “Slow Down.”

I think this is the best advice anyone
has ever given me.

Speed is for the Dead, because it
symbolizes the effort to catch up to
things we should probably never attain.

Easy is the byword for everything that
symbolizes usefulness.

I think “Blackbird” is my favorite Paul
McCartney song.


Thirteen Moons
— by Courtney

Touching my fingernails: where is the moon? the boy asks.

The moon makes bird shadows on the sand in front of us streetlight-bright.

By moonlight I photograph sand in his hair before he cries.

I want to photograph the orb of everything against my uterus mountain.

The girl displaced from China posts photographs of the moon so close-up I think she is in orbit.

If we could know the future our hearts would crack at what we will be required to bear. In this moment and in this one all is well.

The composition of a circle can only work beside or inside another circle (flower-center beside moon inside womb).

The boy’s book: Against the moon’s face shines the sun – with a line drawing of saffron stars.

Moon womb whom doom broom room.

I circle the days the moon is full like hospitals and firemen do.

I have never seen a moon while flying and I have never seen it while underwater. I have never drawn the moon.

In the schematic of the sky, the moon was as significant as Jupiter and Venus lined up below, but our eyes and the ocean at our feet disagreed: a moon argument.

Dark matter and white matter flip through one another at the black hole, which is not dead space after all; rather, a moment of creation that burns and is extinguished and burns against like people do.


Nine Ways…
— by George

From the passenger seat
Through the car window
I took a picture
Of a wind farm
Central Illinois

The dark loamy soil
Saturated with chemical

Hands upon the wheel
Ten and two
Avoid the trash
Blown from the truck
In front of you

Somewhere near dead center
Looks like one big freeway

When talking
I turn my head slightly
And look in the rearview mirror
Hoping to connect with
The eyes of my companions

We are moving
Someone must be driving

Maps: Rt. 94 to 80 to 65 and back
These red and blue lines
Blood pulsing through my body

A café for eggs and coffee
A peanut butter sandwich
Two apples
Nourishment drained
By the all night party

It was raining. Then the sun showed
There was rumor of a tornado
We were driving
Between Michigan and Missouri
Blind to most everything
Listening to each other.


— by David

Like Mr. Frost, I came to a fork in the road;
thirteen ways to go forward; I see
    one to Buffalo; too much rust.
    one to Boston; too preppy.
    one to New York; too much hustle.
    one to Virginia Beach; too South.
    one to Charleston; far too South.
    one to Miami; far, far too South.
    one to Brownsville Texas; far, far too South;
        far too laden with memories.
    one to Tijuana; ok, but can’t speak Spanish.
    one to Los Angeles; too flaky.
    one to San Francisco; far too burdened with memories,
        even from afar.
    one to Duluth; the possibilities are unknown.
    one to the Soo; Michigan again.
    one back to Ann Arbor, the default value;
        why travel?


[March 20, 2012: The prompt was rhyme: I read and passed out a poem by Rebecca Wolff called “Parkeresque.” There are so many rhymes in this poem with such short lines that the rhyme drives the poem with an insistent beat. I have had trouble finding poems that move me these past few weeks, and this was the first one that did so I thought others might be moved, too. I was nervous for the prompt — usually I do ‘content’ prompts instead of ‘form’ prompts, and it’s sometimes more difficult to come up with content on the spot when there is only twenty minutes to write. But the conversation and the writing was so fascinating, I think it was a success.]


by Matt:


Dig it.

Keep in mind, before there was rap music there was funk.

I can dig it you can dig it, we can dig it, she can dig it.

Why is it children seem to get things better than full-grown adults?

I think I need to spend more time in the nursery.

Black limos. Condos. Mountain chalets.


Why can’t there be more simplicity?

I think there should be a constitutional amendment that our next president be under the age of 8.

If I hear another lecture about maturity, I’m going to scream.

Christ said, “Let the children come to me.”

I wish children were simply running things.

Political science should be banned.

Maybe the reason we have too many wars is because too many people have their thumbs up their asses.

The simplicity of a poem is the most calming thing I can think about right now.

This morning, I called out to the birds outside my window.

People said I was crazy.

Fuck off.

Why is it that birds seem to understand rhyme, and people treat them like dearth were some virtue?

I believe nature is highly underrated.

I think I want to be a swami when I grow up (and this may never happen).

I once saw a killer dancing to Earth, Wind and Fire.

Get your funk on, get your groove on, and let it go.

If more people were poor, I think the human race would finally have a chance at survival.

Money is the answer to almost none of your problems.

I think I’ll have fudge for breakfast.


by Mary:


Fence me –
No way Jose

Trail a can
    behind my Bentley

Maybe then
I’ll let you in

Marvel Jose
Furry limbed diamonds within

Canned they be
rounded for the Jubilee

Come Come
Off we bee

Dazzled, Praised
All within, All Awhile

The party’s soon
to begin –


High mirrored in the sky
Float by panels

Tipped in silver
Weathervanes of cows

North by Northwest the
Eastern light casts

In silhouette upon the
cow prefaced by wagon trains

booted to a sluggish crawl
envision purpeled rawness of the Now

good bye good bye
Soakey handkerchiefs wave forlorn

Sweet sadness
drip and drip goodbyes –

I love yous I miss yous
Must you     go?

Be brave    be strong
Wishey would be’s

Aside courage
Awakens my steady grief.


by Amy:

Suspended in flight:
the clustered balloons;
in time with;
the full moon;
A green lager
poured the father
over the sky;
I fly,
I try; but,
the stalactites
of malachite
flood my sight.
Pants green neon
shirt yellow neon
outrageous combination
like hot and cold;
The tornado that folds
over the night.


Death Rhyme
by Courtney

Ready steady go
the boy says, and down the slide glide
head – we have only one head per life
his life, my strife.
(I will not rhyme with dead.)

Connect me to telepathy
a prayer for knees, the beekeeper’s
blessing of skinned trees
no way, not my trees (on my knees).
(The movie with the bees that took a child away.)

As he sleeps I can’t sleep unless I see
his chest his breath a lightning rod
a sign that there is gold in my house that the gods want
Fruit rot death not burial plot not sought breath shot heart hot.
(Rain, rain, go away.)

All the Living

[March 13, 2012: As the prompt I read an excerpt from C.E. Morgan’s novel, All the Living. This novel contains the real pain of being alive on earth, the small ways we all must suffer in our daily life and in our relationships to one another. It is a beautiful book, despite or because of its sorrow. It begins with this quote from Ecclesiastes that really struck a lot of the people in the workshop:

This is an evil in all that happens under the sun, that the same fate comes to everyone. Moreover, the hearts of all are full of evil; madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the dead. But whoever is joined with all the living has hope, for a living dog is better than a dead lion.
                    —- Ecclesiastes 9:3]


All the Living

— by Mary

All is black at any
    Given Moment of the Night
but scratch – A sound
erupts Furiously soft and sharp
the flap
        of a moth’s
wings increasingly fast to FRENZY

All because Another soul’s
Agony insists on visibility

Must we all see the Feathering
curl of toasted moth wings – Against
        the white bulb’s heat
Artemis leave your wars past
Allow the peace of darkness
    gross it’s
    time to heal

    in Repair for
    the glory of
    dignified death

x x x

Justify the Anger
if one can

realize whatever point
defined is

Already sealed in my the mask
of death’s

lost skin –
young death and
        New sprouts

Pop through
        the mold
of grassy greenish blue

whitened chips of Fallen
Trees give way –
Small eggs brown and blue
speckled exposed


All the Living
— by Matt

I’m sick and tired of talking about death.

Why don’t we give more credibility to
the living.

If life sucks so bad, why do people
treat it as if it were the only thing
to which they were clinging.

Solomon also said, “I saw the dead,
and congratulated them.”

This might be true, but I’ve never so
much wanted to cling to life as I do

I once knew a grave digger, and I
envied him more than anyone I knew.

Why, if life is so important, do we
treat the dead as if they’re running
for President.

They say if you’re an alcoholic, all you’ll
ever need is a Big Book and Black suit.

C’mon, Lighten up. Life isn’t that bad.

I once had a History teach who said
she had her bullshit meter pushed up to

Why, then, are there so many people
running around sad.

And why is there so much fighting.

I think “Peace, Mother Fucker” is the most
profound thing anybody ever said to me.

If life is so precious, why do we fight
like there’s nothing better to do with our

And why do we watch so much crap
on television.

If I never see another rerun of
“Law and Order,” I’ll be truly satisfied.

And why if life is so precious have we
devised so many clever ways to kill ourselves?

I used to believe in mandatory vasectomies
for some people.

In some way, I still do.

If life is so bad, why can’t you just
end it, and leave the rest of us the
fuck alone.

I think I’ll do whatever it takes to be
kind to animals today.

The End.


All the Living
— by Courtney

He is in the garden. Working like an ox, though I’ve never seen one.
He doesn’t stop even for a drink of water.
“When I’m done digging this section,” he says.

I don’t know how we haven’t killed each other,
All this strength inside, made acidic by the fury of circumstance.
Our grip on our childhood arms have stopped us.
(Hitting is wrong and words are right.

But these words aren’t right.)
To assuage the animal, to transport the pain,
he digs. He digs
until his face is calm and his muscles uncalm,
trembling like a dog in thunder.

This is his garden. It is soil he fights for,
this square of soil that he fills with basil now.

The basil tells me what home smells like.
When hitting is wrong and words are wrong
there are the smells that right me.

Cedar pencil box husband,
Rosie’s flowering shampoos,
Rosie’s mother’s detergent on Rosie’s clothes,
Genovese basil juicing in my fist.


Somewhere in Illinois
— George

To all the living
Somewhere in Illinois farmland
Down swaths cut
In thick Midwestern dirt
Great clumps of it stick to my boots
Heavy, the bulk of it making
Me wish I were dead
And think if Dick Nixon
A man whose death I laughed at
Firmly planting my feet in hell
No, I’m not coming back
Buried here as I am in Illinois