Monday Morning Writing Prompt: Sacred Music

Graduale Aboense, hymn book of Turku, Finland....

Image via Wikipedia

The other day in responding to comments, I happened upon a blog that featured an article on Gregorian chant. This morning, during my personal quiet time, my mind was jumping around like a flea. I could not center or begin to calm down. So I went back to that site and let the music enter my soul, allowed my breathing to slow down and found a moment’s escape from the mad wanderings of my brain.

For today’s prompt, let’s reflect on sacred music. Perhaps you will want to play a CD of your own that helps you to relax and meditate. What rings your spiritual chimes? Gregorian or Buddist chant? New Age? Drumming? The sounds of nature? Or? Allow yourself to listen and then go with it, wherever the tones or notes or rhythm leads you. Then write, poetry or prose, whatever bubbles out of that moment.

Here’s a poem I wrote years ago that our local community college published in their literary journal. Truckee Meadows Community College, The MeadoW. (That W is not a mistake).




You’re the conductor.

Lead me.

Travel with me to the source

of  sound.

I’m a pliable instrument

in your hands,



You called me to theTruckee.

We sat together on the bank last summer.

You held me.

Water pounded, swirled,

tempered stones,

smoothing them.

You wrapped me in a blanket of rhythm

as the evening breeze chilled my soul.

I listened.

with a stick I stirred up a pebble

and pocketed it.

A reminder of the beat of drumming.

Sacred Songs.


We went to the Labyrinth

on a frosty Wednesday in November.

I wove my way along the path

through dormant shrubs

and plucked a single bloom found

amid the stubble—

 a survivor.

Benedictine monks

chanted latin hymns.

At the Center they intoned

Salve Mater, Misericordiae.

Hail, Mother.

At the mid-point of the Earth,


And here are a few links that might help to inspire:

Here’s how to join in: Write your response, access Mr. Linky below, then copy and paste your URL. Finally spend a few moments reading and commenting on other submissions.

Monday Morning Writing Prompt–November

NovemberHere in the northern hemisphere, November is a peculiar month. I often think of her in tones of gray, monochromatic, uninspiring. This year, however, autumn dwaddled, could not commit to color or cold until, at last, November charms.

For today’s prompt, let’s write to a November prompt. What does she bring to mind in your corner of the world? Weather? Elections? Boredom? Thanksgiving? Cold? Warming?

Remember, you’re invited to represent November in your own way, based on your own experience, using prose or poetry. Mr. Linky is not available right now–he’s undergoing maintenance. So to share your response, copy the URL and  paste it in the comments section of this post.

I will be posting a poll later this week. Because my soon-to-be-published novel (due out in December) is demanding some re-shifting of priorities, I will be combining MMWP and Wordsmith Wednesday into one weekly event. I need your help in determining which day will work best for you…which day allows you the most time to participate.

I look forward to reading your responses to this prompt and ask you to visit one another, as time allows. Have a happy writing week.

Wordsmith Wednesday–Sensory Description: Sight

Eyes of the predator

Image by piyushthacker via Flickr

Perhaps the most obvious and available sense for most of us is the sense of sight. You will find that visual descriptions in good poetry or prose abound. They are crisp and detailed. In prose, many of us use sight as a break in dialogue so that the reader will not become bored with back-and-forth bantering between characters. Visual stimuli often lend themselves to metaphors or similes, as well.

We spoke before about the usefulness of maintaining a writing journal, of taking the time to jot down particulars of things we notice throughout the day. A number of my poems have emerged in this way–especially those taken from nature. That’s a bonus of those almost-daily walks along the river with the dogs. Take note of what you see.

Another useful practice is to clip images from magazines or save photos in a computer file that will rouse the muse. I have an index box of these and when I have trouble jump-starting my writing, I can turn to my box and randomly pull out an index card with the attached image to get the words flowing.

For today’s prompt, I’d like you to take a moment, glance around you and focus on something you will describe in detail. Go outside if you prefer, or go anywhere…just latch on to a piece of your environment, or a person, and describe it in poetry or prose.

If you like, take it a step further and use your observations to create a metaphor or analogy as I have in this poem:


He sits, unmoving,
front and center:
elderly, rough-hewn, used.

Dark striae traverse his visage
like ripples of a lake
kissed by wind.

Crumbs of food settle within
the crevices of his face.
Glassy eyes reflect candle-glow.

A crumpled sports page rests
on his lap beside the TV remote.
Scratches mar his skin.

He bears the weight of years,
unnoticed most of the time,
rarely caressed by loving hands.

He’s watched our lives unfold.
Strong, like us,
Our coffee table endures.

Ooops. Forgot Mr. Linky. You know the routine.

Monday Morning Writing Prompt–Let’s Have Some Fun

A dog doing its business.

Image via Wikipedia

Something about autumn invites us to think of death, loss and change. Right now, here in Reno, the sun is shining, the weather is nice, but the wind is trying its darndest to blow the first leaves off the trees. Beautiful cumulus clouds are bouncing around in a blue sky. In a word, there is a battle going on between the fair and the foul.

Let’s take a break this week from the sense of impending doom and have some fun. I invite you to write and submit a short story, essay or poem that touches on humor. Let’s work hard to make each other smile or laugh. For my part, I’m going with a short story I wrote a while back. It was published in a small literary journal and it has an element of memoir (just a touch) in it.

So let’s have some fun:

  • Write your short story, essay or poem.
  • Post it on your blog.
  • Access Mr. Linky at the bottom of this post and share your name and the link to your submission.
  • Go ahead, take time to visit other submissions, give them a word of encouragement and enjoy yourself.

Wordsmith Wednesday–Sensory Description, Hearing


Image by me'nthedogs via Flickr

Those of you who’ve followed this series for a while know that I have a fixation on sensory description. I’m not sure how many Wordsmith Wednesday posts have addressed this subject, but it’s right up there on top.

Whatever genre you write, sensory description will enrich your narrative. This simple technique allows the reader to engage, to become a part of the scene.

Today, I’d like to focus on just one sense…that of hearing. At a recent church service, a newly ordained lay deacon preached one of his first sermons. He spoke of a couple of men walking down the street when one of them said, “Isn’t that sound of the crickets beautiful.” The other replied, “What sound?” The deacon went on to tell of the first man dropping a quarter on the sidewalk and everyone in the vicinity stopped and looked for the money. He concluded by saying, “You only hear what you listen for.”

I’d like to suggest that, as writers, it will serve us well to form the intention to listen to the sounds that surround us in any given setting. Take time to jot down what you hear in your writing journal, then glean some of the richness of your experience to add depth and character to your writing.

For today’s discussion, look for an opportunity to listen carefully to the sounds around you, then write a short description, whether prose or poetry, to share with us through a post on your blog.

Use Mr. Linky to share your name and URL then take a few moments to read other submissions. You may get inspiration for your own writing.

Monday Morning Writing Prompt–Comfort Food

soup party (13/365)

Image by sleepyneko via Flickr

Autumn is a time of the year that seems to scream: “Write about me!” And there is so much to inspire: the beauty of the changing leaves, the melancholy sense of loss that accompanies the waning of warm weather, the smells, the holidays… And FOOD. The onset of cold weather, the conclusion of the summer harvest and the availability of various winter crops bring out soup chefs, bakers, stew-brewers and the rest of us who just enjoy the fruits of their labors.

For today’s prompt, you may be encouraged to write about a favorite comfort food, its harvest, preparation, its scent–whatever comes to mind. Feel free to write poetry, essay or fiction. Or maybe you would like to share a recipe. Have at it and enjoy the process. I’ve got to go get a snack now.

To participate:
Write your piece and post on your blog.
Access Mr. Linky on this post. share your name and copy the URL for your post.
Take some time to read other submission.

I haven’t gone out to recruit more participants in this prompt…perhaps you will invite someone to join us?

Monday Morning Writing Prompt–Labor Day

United States or Soviet?

Image by Jo Peattie via Flickr

Today, in the USA, we celebrate Labor Day–a day that honors the role that work plays in our lives and a festivity that marks the end of summer vacation.

For today’s prompt, write a poem, essay or short fiction about work. Perhaps you would like to write about your own job, or your dream job. You may want to honor the value of work.or share your experience of unemployment. If you’re a student, how do you envision your life in the work force? If you are a stay-at-home mom or domestic engineer, tell us about your contribution to your home and family. Do you want to gripe or tell us a funny story about your experience at work? The field is wide open for plowing.

Please link your poem using Mr. Linky and take a few moments to visit other participants. Thanks for joining and happy Labor Day.

Monday Morning Writing Prompt–Back to School

The hustle and bustle of Back to School

Image by usag.yongsan via Flickr

In our part of the world, children are preparing to return to school today. Last week, I hazarded my way to Wal-Mart–a daunting experience under the best of circumstances–and the store was crawling with Moms and kids, gathering school supplies and clothes. I spoke to a few of them and they were all looking forward to starting a new school year.

I guess that, in southern hemispheres, the school year is preparing to wind down.

For today’s prompt, write a poem, essay, or short fiction about school. It may be an experience you have had, or preparing your own children or grandchildren. Perhaps you’ll choose to write a child’s poem or maybe you’ll tackle the three R’s–reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic. Do you want to describe an old school house or a chaotic classroom? If teaching is in your background, try writing from the point of view of a teacher.

Have fun with this. Now, go buy a package of nice sharp pencils. And please, Link up and share with one another.

Monday Morning Writing Prompt–Contrast

Rothko zoom in

Image by maureen lunn via Flickr

For today’s prompt I would like to turn to a tool that painters use in creating visual art: contrast. Contrast refers to the differences in color, value, texture, shape and so forth that add depth and excitement to the work. Without contrast, the outcome would be boring, monotonous. And so it is with life, don’t you agree?

I invite you to write a contrast poem or short piece of prose. You can work with color, opinions, light and dark–any two opposing concepts that you choose. Here’s mine:


Under a shade tree
the Buddha laughs. Sunspots dance
on his fat belly.

*Chiaroscuro: the artistic use of light and shade: the use of light and shade in paintings and drawings, or the effect produced by this.

Please link your poem in the comments section of this post and visit others who participate. Have fun with it.

The painting in the image is by abstract expressionist, Rothko.

Monday Morning Writing Prompt–Art Inspiring Art

Low-resolution reproduction of screenshot from...

Image via Wikipedia

Oftentimes, art of one genre will inspire another form of art. Think of novels that have morphed into movies, mythological stories that have inspired opera, painting or art, or just about any art form that tickles the poet’s muse.

For this week’s prompt, I’d like to invite you to go to the movies, listen to a symphony or visit an art museum. A trip back in your memory will also do. Take in the experience with all your senses and let your inner poet loose and see what comes out. Ventures into prose are also welcome.

Here’s a poem that I wrote after watching an old movie on Turner Classic Movies. In it I tried to capture some of the elements of the film noir genre:

Film Noir

Radiance cuts through
a haze of smoke.
The room is full of bad guys.
Heads turn
when you walk in.
Evil disrobes
itself of ugliness—
evil masked
in moonlight.

We inhabit a world
cast in black and white.
of gray.
Life in shadowed frames
by the moon.

Femme fatale,
a leaf tossed about
in the wind,
I hand myself over to you
and wind up
in the gutter.

Convoluted roads
we follow.
Convoluted plots
shaded in deception.
left to die
next to a pile of garbage
in the corner
of a stinkin’ alley.

Because of you
I accept
my wasted life.

Don’t forget to link your work in the comments section of the post. I will be offline this week but will respond as soon as I can.