2/21/23 Workshop – An Excerpt from “Ordinary Deaths: Stories from Memory”

Excerpt from “Ordinary Deaths: Stories from Memory” by Samuel LeBaron

The next day, Mom leaves her cleaning and sits down on the floor

where I am playing. She looks into my eyes. “Do you know where your name came from?”

   “No,” I say. I don’t know what she means anyway. If my name came from somewhere that means that I came from somewhere. I thought my name and I have always been here.

She leans toward me so close I feel her look into the inside of me.

“You were named after your grandpa. My papa. But your name also came from the prophet Samuel. It means ‘called of God.’ When the prophet Samuel was a little boy, he woke in the night and thought he heard a voice call him. He tried to go back to sleep but he heard somebody call his name again and again. Finally, he got out of bed  and went into his parents’ bedroom. ‘Did you call me?’ asked Samuel. ‘No,’ his mother told him. ‘You heard the voice of God call you. Next time you hear that voice, listen to it and follow what it tells you.’

  “So, Samuel listened to the voice of God after that, and that’s how he grew up to become a prophet. I want you to always listen to the voice of God. If you hear it call to you, you can follow in the path of the prophet and become a great man like your grandpa.”

I stare into her face. She smiles, then hugs me, so I think I should
agree. I nod and say, “Okay.” Then she gives me another hug. It’s a
long hug. It seems like a pretty good thing. All I have to do is wait for a voice to call.

After that, I realize I often hear something call me. Sometimes it’s the wind in the trees or against the windows; sometimes it’s the cry of a bird far away. It comes through my ears, or my eyes or skin, the way I see colors or feel the sensation of cloth or wood or snow. I’m not always sure.

 Sometimes I sit still in the middle of the kitchen floor while Mom
is busy. Through the window I see leaves and tree limbs and sky.
Branches waving. The sky sometimes gray and cold, or full of rain
or snow. The more I listen, the more I hear whispers and voices.
Sometimes there are whispers inside the walls or the ceiling. Little
whispers in snowflakes that stick to a window.

When that happens, I look up at Mom as she washes dishes or stirs food in a large bowl on the counter. I wonder if she hears any of these voices. But she never turns to ask, “Did you hear that?” so I don’t tell her.


Reflective writing prompt:
Write about a voice or sound only you can hear.


2/2/23 – A Poem by Margaret Atwood

                 Siren Song

This is the one song everyone
would like to learn: the song
that is irresistible:

the song that forces men
to leap overboard in squadrons
even though they see the beached skulls

the song nobody knows
because anyone who has heard it
is dead, and the others can’t remember.

Shall I tell you the secret
and if I do, will you get me
out of this bird suit?

I don’t enjoy it here
squatting on this island
looking picturesque and mythical

with these two feathery maniacs,
I don’t enjoy singing
this trio, fatal and valuable.

I will tell the secret to you,
to you, only to you.
Come closer. This song

is a cry for help: Help me!
Only you, only you can,
you are unique

at last. Alas
it is a boring song
but it works every time.

Reflective writing prompt:

Write about a song that was utterly captivating
About an irresistible force

12/13/22 Workshop – A Poem by Emily Jungmin Yoon

Emily Jungmin Yoon

Between Autumn Equinox and Winter Solstice, Today

I read a Korean poem
with the line “Today you are the youngest
you will ever be.” Today I am the oldest
I have been. Today we drink
buckwheat tea. Today I have heat
in my apartment. Today I think
about the word chada in Korean.
It means cold. It means to be filled with.
It means to kick. To wear. Today we’re worn.
Today you wear the cold. Your chilled skin.
My heart kicks on my skin. Someone said
winter has broken his windows. The heat inside
and the cold outside sent lightning across glass.
Today my heart wears you like curtains. Today.
it fills with you. The window in my room
is full of leaves ready to fall. Chada, you say. It’s tea.
We drink. It is cold outside.

Reflective writing prompt:
Today I am…..

11/29/22 Workshop – Sudden Fiction* by Franz Kafka

*Sudden fiction – 750 words or less.

Give It Up – Franz Kafka

It was very early in the morning, the streets clean and deserted, I was walking to the station. As I compared the tower clock with my watch I realized that it was already much later than I had thought, I had to hurry; the shock of this discovery made me unsure of the way, I was still something of a stranger in this town; luckily, a policeman was nearby, I ran up to him and breathlessly asked him the way.

He smiled and said: “Do you expect to know the way from me?”

“Yes,” I said, “since I cannot find it myself.”

“Give it up! Give it up,” he said, and turned away with a sudden jerk, like people who want to be alone with their laughter.

Reflective writing prompt:
In 25 words or less, write about giving it up.

11/8/22 Workshop – A Poem By David Whyte

by David Whyte

if you move carefully
through the forest,
like the ones
in the old stories,
who could cross
a shimmering bed of leaves
without a sound,
you come to a place
whose only task
is to trouble you
with tiny
but frightening requests,
conceived out of nowhere
but in this place
beginning to lead everywhere.
Requests to stop what
you are doing right now,
to stop what you
are becoming
while you do it,
that can make
or unmake
a life,
that have patiently
waited for you,
that have no right
to go away.

Reflective writing prompt:
Write about a question or a request.