Pilgrim’s Prayer

That my eyes open and close.
That my breath move in and out.
That my skin remain permeable and protective.

For hunger and repletion,
for gladness and grief,
for apples both silver and gold.

And for courage
for the dear heart
whose only way of being
is open.

© LAC 2014

©Imogen Cunningham, 1931

©Imogen Cunningham, 1931


There Were Blackberries

It was all the first touch, the first taste.

There, on one branch–
the tight, sour,
unripened offerings.
Bright and
intent with potential.

But farther on, there was something dark,
something luscious,
something lovely.

It felt
almost full.
It tasted
almost possible.

And there, in between,
is patience,
something made of sun, soil, and sugar
that allows
whatever the fruit does
to become

© LAC 8/14


Six Words or Less: Could You?

A Six-Word Memoir® is the story of your life—some part of it or all of it—told in exactly six words. Could you tell yours this way?

In November 2006, writer and editor Larry Smith challenged fans of SMITH Magazine to describe their lives in six words. (See also illustrated examples of these “mini memoirs” in O Magazine).

Eight years later, this project is still going strong, and Say it in Six has grown to include over a million “short stories.” Check them out!

Better yet, give it a try and if you do, please share!

Some examples:

“Born innocent. Abandoned. Sorting it out.” (Terri Decker)

“Made, destroyed myself. Wash, rinse, repeat.” (Brad Severance)

“Feel asleep. Woke up. Staying awake.” (LAC)

“Breathe in. Breathe out. Don’t stop.” (anon)



“How important it is to walk along, not in haste but slowly,
looking at everything and calling out
Yes! No!”

–Mary Oliver, “Yes! No!”


The coils of this labyrinth remind me of the small intestine.  Vexing.  Walking the labyrinth is meant to be a spiritual experience.  Neither time nor place for unlovely images of the body.  I dislike the labyrinth.  It is too constraining, too tedious—all these looping, repetitive coils.  I hate the labyrinth–its pale, remote indifference.  If I am to engage with something, I’d like for it to talk back.  I have questions.  Some concerns.  And one or two issues with delayed gratification.


“I think serenity is not something you just find in the world, like a plum tree,
holding up its white petals” (Mary Oliver, “Yes! No!”).


“Watch how we encounter each other,” you say, and we walk, slowly, separately.  Around one turn we meet and you kiss me, your tongue muscular and wet.  Around another turn you say, over your shoulder, “Hello,” and keep walking.  It is hard for me to balance even though the path is smooth and flat.  I feel like we are in a Magritte painting.  Your white shirt glows softly somewhere to the left.  A voice not connected to your body says, “Do you like my hat?”  We are walking.  We are together.  We are not together.


“Imagination is better than a sharp instrument.  To pay attention, this is our endless
and proper work” (Mary Oliver, “Yes! No!”).


So now:
Quiet, quiet—the darkness is full.
Your skin is listening
to the night air.

In the center of the labyrinth, someone has placed a gift.

Quiet, quiet—someone is telling you a story.
The oldest story in the world, and his body hums and pulses
under your fingers.

In the center, there is a gift.

Quiet, quiet—this is not walking.
This is surrendering to the path, your body long and outstretched
against the stones.

In the center, someone has placed a gift.


© LAC 7/14


Creativity and Rebirth

What an exquisite time of the year spring is…the end of the season in which, as Garrison Keillor says, “Nature tries to kill you.” And the beginning of the promise of summer. I myself enjoy the winter here in the Midwest, despite the face and finger numbing cold. I find the barrenness of the fields calming, and often reflective of my inner emptiness.

But spring calls us towards life, and creativity.

If you’ve a writing project that is calling you forward and might use the support of a writing coach, I would be honored to hear from you.

For today, a few quotations on this most youthful of seasons: The first is from the early American writer, Anne Bradstreet:

“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.” (from Meditations Divine and Moral)

The second from the phenomenal writer, Pablo Neruda: “You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep Spring from coming.” 

And finally, a lovely sentiment from Victor Hugo, from Les Miserables: “If people did not love one another, I really don’t see what use there would be in having any spring.”

Come visit me at http://heartlandwriting.wordpress.com. It’s spring there too. And there are alligators.



The Love Poem Part

The Love Poem Part

Three of my gorgeous friends stood outside the restaurant
where I sat eating dinner with the poet
and made faces at me
through the window.
They were wearing red and turquoise
and pale green silk,
and with their ripe smiles
they looked like goddesses behaving goofily.
This is not what well-mannered women in their 40’s do,
but they did it anyway,
and I laughed and he laughed.
He raised his fork to them and laughed.

I wanted to talk about “Moon-Skin,”
and poetry and courage and mortality,
and we did.
We talked about all of it.
We ate steak and drank red wine,
and if I noticed that his hair did not fall over his eyes in the quite the same way it had all day,
or remembered—just for an instant—
the feel of his hand on my back as we came through the door,
or listened only to the sound of his breathing as we drove back to his hotel,
it does not mean that I hadn’t been paying attention
to all of the talk,
especially about mortality.

Some part of me finally woke up
to the awareness that mind and body together make poetry,
and I wanted to apologize to someone
for taking so long to understand

that I am required to pay attention to all of it,
to use everything,
and my God,
what have you been waiting for?

Yes, tell everything, even how he took the moist, red morsel of meat
from the point of my knife and put it into his mouth,
even this description—so flagrant and entirely lacking in subtlety,
I am allowed to say yes,
yes, it happened exactly that way.

copyright_symbol_small_sq LAC 3/13


Unanswered Questions from Dinner with the Poet

“What are you thinking about now?” he asked,

across the table, over the empty plates,
into the silence of an unfinished conversation.

“Is it normal to be terrified?” I asked silently.

And when
will writing not feel like working a jigsaw puzzle where all the pieces are gray?

With tired eyes and a precise, compassionate voice, he looked at me and said,
“Fear is a useful diagnostic tool.”

And then, when we got up from the table,
he took my wine glass, not quite empty, put it to his lips, and drank it.

copyright_symbol_small_sq LAC 3/13





“I’m unraveling,” she said.
“Where’s the thread?” he asked. “I’ll pull it.”

Pull a thread and this dense fear
lifts out and away
like bits of flying paper
like cyclones
like breathlessness.

Then my life floats down
like a clean white feather
like a line:
a declaration
a landing.

Exhaled, unraveled.

copyright_symbol_small_sq LAC 2/13




A Prayer

In the breath
of the forest
by the roots
of a linden
I say your name
to the wind
and my longing
gets wings.

copyright_symbol_small_sq    LAC 2/13


Winter Waiting


Deep in the cave
the warm heart beats.
Outside is stillness:
cold, silent–life suspended.

Inside the cave
a river pulses
and chambers echo
with a love that knows
what it is to wait.

copyright_symbol_small_sq LAC 2/13




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