Stop being superstitious. You do not

need a special pen or a blue notebook.

You do not need a tidy study with

a writing desk, or a corner table

in a dark café. You do not need to

drink anything but water, and any

cup will do. You do not need stars aligned,

flights of birds, a yellow candle, a white stone.

You do not need melancholy or fear.

You do not need to be in love or war.

You do not need an oracle or a muse.

All you need is a word, and another word.



You have to do something besides it.

Reading resembles it too much except

for books about the Civil War or bird-

watching. Birdwatching is good, except for

seagulls, who steal words. Robbery is okay,

but do you really need more things? Taking

care of things, in moderation, can be

helpful, except for electronic things

that claw out your eyeballs. Nobody wants

to read any poetry about that.



Silence is essential but not absolute.

Breezes are allowed, a bit of birdsong,

some water sounds—no seagulls or faucets.

The undertow of café chatter is fine,

but not the shrill of phone chat. Purring cats,

yes. Barking dogs, no. If your husband is

drilling or sawing in the next room no

matter how much you want a new tub surround,

you might as well give up.


November Writing Challenge #5

I don’t know how long I can keep this up.



November Writing Challenge #5


Joe Medien: an NPR style interviewer

Dame Julian of Norwich, whose speech is deliberate, gentle, courteous



Split stage. Joe in a sound studio, Julian in a small stone-walled room with a cot, a desk with a crucifix above it, a bench, a little window open to the outdoors. Cat optional.


Joe:  Good afternoon. This is Joe Medien, with Anchor to Anchor. Today we’re delighted to have as our guest Julian—at least that’s the name she goes by these days. For the past ten years, Julian has lived in a little room attached to the church of Julian in Norwich. This is, I believe, the first interview she has granted, and we’re honored to have her with us. Dame Julian, thank you for joining us.

Julian: Thank you for having me.

Joe: Dame Julian—or may I call you just Julian?

Julian:  “Just Julian” would be presumptuous, since God alone is truly just. “Dame Julian” is fine.

Joe:  Oh. Well. Dame Julian, I’m wondering how you came to be shut up in your—what is called? A hermitage?

Julian: A cell. I am not a hermit. Were I a hermit, I would not be speaking with you.

Joe: Thank you for clearing that up. So, how did you come to be there?

Julian: When I was a young woman, I desired more than anything to see the passion of Jesus. I also wanted to come very close to death, and I wanted to learn to long for God. After all of those things happened, I wanted to pass the rest of my earthly life in contemplation.

Joe: Can you describe what you have in your—cell?

Julian: A bed, a desk, a bench, and above the desk an image of my Beloved.

Joe:  Ah! So would that be your late husband? I understand that you were widowed in a round of the black death.

Julian: My Beloved is my dear Lord and Mother who holds me in his wounded side.

Joe: I see. . . . .But I’m wondering about your husband.

Julian: His life is hidden in Christ.

Joe: So, would you say that your belief in Jesus was a major factor in your decision to go live in a cell?

Julian: Yes.

Joe: May I ask how you spend your time?

Julian: I ponder what my Beloved has shown me, and as I can, I write down what is most clear to me. Now and then pilgrims stop by my window and ask for my prayers. I pray with them, and I pray for them. Prayer takes much of my time. And of course there is my cat.

Joe: I want to ask you about your cat. What can you tell me?

Julian: She is good gray cat who comes and goes through the window and feeds on church mice. Every day the woman who brings my food brings her a saucer of cream. She sits on my lap when I pray, and purrs her own prayers.

Joe:  Does God answer your prayers?

Julian: How can God not answer, when God is love and desires nothing but our happiness?

Joe: Pardon my ignorance, Dame Julian, but it seems to me there is a great deal of suffering in the world. How do you account for that?

Julian: When we are in pain, we hang on the cross with our Beloved.

Joe: Okay.  (an awkward pause)  Dame Julian, if you could give one piece of advice to our listeners today, what would it be?

Julian: Remember that our blessed Lord creates all things for your joy.

Joe:  Is that all? Isn’t there something our listeners can do to, say, get closer to God?

Julian: It is not possible to be closer to God, who is our very life, and the source and spring and quenching of all our longing.

Joe:  Well, I guess that’s all we have time for today. Thank you so much, Dame Julian of Norwich, for taking time out of your. . . busy schedule to join us.

Julian: You are welcome. You are most welcome.

Joe: We’ll be right back after a break.


April Prompt #17


Mary’s #4:  a rant on any subject of your choice




The white cat won’t leave me alone.

He sits on my lap, drooling,

shedding hair on my black sweater.

The dog awakens me in the night.


He stands on my chest, drooling.

He wants me to let him out in the porchlight.

I hate being awakened in the night.

to fill his bowl with fresh water


or to let him out to bark in the moonlight.

I cannot find coarse-ground whole wheat flour.

The kitchen faucet drips hot water.

No restaurant here has good vegan food.


I can’t find local whole wheat flour.

My glasses are dirty.

We have no good vegetarian diner.

The telephone is a constant annoyance.


I can’t find my sunglasses.

This yogurt isn’t low fat.

The telephone rings constantly.

That radio announcer has an irritating voice.


Is this yogurt really low fat?

My black pants are covered in cat hair.

That announcer has a seriously irritating voice

and the white cat won’t leave me alone.

April Prompt #15 Half way there


Janice’s #3:  My career as a killer




Two cherry trees,

one crabapple tree,

one plum tree.

A black cat

under the spruces in front,

a three-colored cat

under the old oak in back,

an orange cat

on the edge of the forest,

a black and white cat

under the arbor,

a gray cat (O, my Bucky!)

under my study window.

One dog

where the plum tree

used to be.

One dog

under the young oaks.


The garden

is built on vegetables

I’ve been killing

for years.



Isaiah 6: 9-13


I am listening over and over,

and looking. Still I do not comprehend.

How long? How long? I have no country here.

Vast the emptiness in the midst of the land.

Snow clings to everything. But for the wind

the forest could be a Christmas card.

Jays and chickadees crack sunflower seeds;

the cat in the window watches the birds.

Hew and burn and the stump remains standing.

What is required to open closed eyes?

Under the whiteness and wildness of winter,

garbage and excrement, treachery, lies.


Turn and be healed. Turn and be healed. Turn and

be healed. Turn and be healed. Turn and be healed.


December 10, 2014