5/22/24 Workshop – An Excerpt From “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho

From: Prologue, The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho

The alchemist picked up a book that someone in the caravan had

Leafing through the pages, he found a story about Narcissus. The alchemist knew the legend of Narcissus, a youth who knelt daily beside a lake to contemplate his own beauty. He was so fascinated by himself that, one morning, he fell into the lake and drowned. At the spot where he fell, a flower was born, which was called the narcissus.

But this was not how the author of the book ended the story.

He said that when Narcissus died, the goddesses of the forest
appeared and found the lake, which had been fresh water,
transformed into a lake of salty tears.

“Why do you weep?” the goddesses asked.

“I weep for Narcissus,” the lake replied.

“Ah, it is no surprise that you weep for Narcissus,” they said, “for
though we always pursued him in the forest, you alone could
contemplate his beauty close at hand.”

“But… was Narcissus beautiful?” the lake asked.

“Who better than you to know that?” the goddesses said in wonder.
“After all, it was by your banks that he knelt each day to contemplate

The lake was silent for some time. Finally, it said:

“I weep for Narcissus, but I never noticed that Narcissus was beautiful.  I weep because, each time he knelt beside my banks, I could see, in the depths of his eyes, my own beauty reflected.”

Reflective writing prompt:
Write about the beauty reflected in your own eyes.



3/13/24 Workshop – Sudden Fiction by Miloš Macourek

                                  Jacob’s Chicken – Miloš Macourek

A chicken is a chicken, you all know how a chicken looks, so go ahead and draw a chicken the teacher tells the children, and all the kids suck on crayons and then draw chickens, coloring them black or brown, with black or brown crayons, but wouldn’t you know it, look at Jacob, he draws a chicken with every crayon in the box, then borrows some from Laura, and Jacob’s chicken ends up with an orange head, blue wings and red thighs and the teachers says that’s some bizarre chicken, what do you say children, and the kids roll with laughter while the teacher goes on, saying, that’s all because Jacob wasn’t paying attention, and, to tell the truth, Jacob’s chicken really looks more like a turkey, but then not quite, for it also resembles a sparrow and also a peacock, it’s as big as a quail and as lean as a swallow, a peculiar pullet, to say the least, Jacob earns an F for it and the chicken, instead of being hung on the wall, migrates to a pile of misfits on top of the teacher’s cabinet, the poor chicken’s feelings are hurt, nothing makes it happy about being on top of a teacher’s cabinet, so, deciding not to be chicken, it flies off through the open window.

But a chicken is a chicken, a chicken won’t fly too far, hence it ends up next door in a garden full of white cherries and powder-blue currants, a splendid garden that proudly shows the cultivator’s love, you see, the gardener, Professor Kapon, a recognized authority, is an ornithologist who was written seven books on birds and right now is finishing his eighth , and as he puts the last touches to it, he suddenly feels weary, so he goes out to do some light gardening, and toss a few horseshoes, which is easy and lets him muse over birds, there are tons of them, so many birds, Professor Kapon says to himself, but there isn’t a single bird that I discovered, he feels down, flips horseshoes and dreams a love-filled dream about an as-yet-unknown bird when his eyes fall on the chicken….

….to be continued

Reflective writing prompt
Write about using all the colors, or
draw a chicken.


2/28/24 Workshop – A Poem by Rita Wong

flush by Rita Wong 

awaken to the gently unstoppable rush of rain landing on roofs,
pavement, trees, porches, cars, balconies, yards, windows, doors,
pedestrians, bridges, beaches, mountains, the patter of millions
of small drops making contact everywhere, enveloping the city
in a sheen of wet life, multiple gifts from the clouds, pooled
over centuries and channelled to power us, rain propels our
water-based bodies that eat other water-based bodies, mineral
vegetable animal. when i turn on the shower, i turn my face and
shoulders toward post-chlorinated rain. the tap releases free rain
to slake our thirst, transformed through pipes and reservoirs.
anonymous agent of all that we, unwitting beneficiaries, do.
refusing the inertia of amnesia, i welcome the memory of rain
sliding into sink and teacup, throat and bladder, tub and toilet.
bountiful abundant carrier of what everyone emits into the
clouds, be that exhale or smoke, belch or chemical combustion,
flame or fragrance, the rain gives it all back to us in spates, a
familiar sound, an increasingly mysterious substance

Reflective writing prompt
Write about life without rain

2/14/24 Workshop – A Poem by Pat Schneider

Pat Schneider

The Patience of Ordinary Things

It is a kind of love, is it not?
How the cup holds the tea,
How the chair stands sturdy and foursquare,
How the floor receives the bottoms of shoes
Or toes. How soles of feet know
Where they’re supposed to be.
I’ve been thinking about the patience
Of ordinary things, how clothes
Wait respectfully in closets
And soap dries quietly in the dish,
And towels drink the wet
From the skin of the back.
And the lovely repetition of stairs.
And what is more generous than a window?

Reflective writing prompt:
Write about the reliability of ordinary things.

1/24/24 Workshop – A Poem by Wing Tek Lum

Wing Tek Lum


Warmup Image:

Co-constructed poem:

a tree in winter
A tree without leaves—-a winter tree
graceful trunk, twigs with the promise of hope sprouting
craggy branches
The tree's life is being challenged by weather. But it thrives.
Veil, interweaving of delicacy and strength
The skeleton of the tree. A winter view


Plum Blossoms by Wing Tek Lum

Cold mountain winds scour the valley.
A hush descends upon the hard earth,

betraying no tears.
The gaunt plum hugs the river.

Its branches, shorn of leaves,
reach out like stark cries

in the Winter night, a spider’s agony.
Yet nubs of blossoms

nudge through the crinkled bark
on one twig, then another.

Buds nestle in crooks and crevices,
white as frost, grudging smiles,

a compassion nourished from within,
seeking air, seeking light.


Reflective writing prompt:
Write about the harbingers of Spring.


12/6/23 Workshop – A Poem by Al Zolynas


Trompe L’oeil- Al Zolynas

Perhaps because my near vision is so good,
I could take up painting miniatures
and see how much of the world
I could capture on the smallest canvas.
Begin, say, by managing a midwestern cornfield with its farmhouse, barn and
onto a postage stamp.
Eventually get the scene from the north rim of the Grand Canyon down
onto a polished grain of rice, or maybe
render Notre Dame Cathedral
with particular attention paid to the famous stained glass windows
onto the secondary wing of a baby gnat.

And thus could I trick my eyes
into seeing great distances again, those distant stars I remember from
childhood days,
galaxies really, untold light years away.
They could show up again as pulsing points of light,
charming details
in my vastly important life.

Reflective writing prompt:
Write about a trick for seeing great distances.

11/15/23 Workshop – A Poem by Ada Limón

Before, by Ada Limón

No shoes and a glossy
red helmet, I rode
on the back of my dad’s
Harley at seven years old.
Before the divorce.
Before the new apartment.
Before the new marriage.
Before the apple tree.
Before the ceramics in the garbage.
Before the dog’s chain.
Before the koi were all eaten
by the crane. Before the road
between us there was the road
beneath us, and I was just
big enough not to let go:
Henno Road, creek just below,
rough wind, chicken legs,
and I never knew survival
was like that. If you live,
you look back and beg
for it again, the hazardous
bliss before you know
what you would miss.

Reflective Writing Prompt
Start writing with “Before….”