Unless otherwise attributed, all content, text or image, on this site is © TaunaLen 2005-2011.
All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution is prohibited without prior written consent.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Say it Succinctly with Six

EDITED - 1/25/09

Just got an email from the assistant editor on the Six Word Memoir site. They will be featuring my submissions on the front page for at least a day. YAY!


from a prompted writing exercise at A Cup of Words, Monday night Writers' Group

Six Word Memoirs - Not Quite What I Was Planning

I free wrote several of these, then arranged them into a couple of makeshift poems:

Stranger stares back from my mirror.
I look younger and feel older.
I am learning to let go.
When I wasn’t looking time flew.
Wonder whether you really see me.


Give me pen and I’ll write.
Ink like blood flowing from pen.
A blank page is an invitation.
Stories captivate and draw me in.
I hear voices, I talk back.
Hot tea, black ink, white page.
I like words better than candy.
Words like succinct make me smile.
My muse hates deadlines. She hides.
One more line, and I’ll stop.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


*From a writing prompt, Monday night, A Cup of Words writers’ group.

Peeling an orange for me has become a sort of challenge, as I pierce the thick skin with my thumbnail and carefully tug away the outer layer, to reveal the sweet, juicy fruit beneath it.  I try to remove the skin in one, whole, unbroken piece as the pith stains my fingernails yellow, and that citrusy spray fills the air with pungent scent that reminds me of Christmas morning.  Throughout my childhood, I can’t remember a Christmas when we didn’t get a stocking stuffed with oranges and apples, mixed nuts, in the shell, and old fashioned ribbon Christmas candy.  Mom told me recently, that Mimi used to put the orange in first, way down in the toe of the sock, so that it stretched out long and she could stuff in all sorts of goodies on top of them.  That’s how I remember it, too.  I’d dump all that stuff out and reach my hand way down into the bottom, to get to that fat, heavy orange.

Today when I peel an orange, I lay out a napkin on the table, and go at it like it’s a science experiment.  I inhale the aroma of the fruit, and peel in circles around and around, careful to make the skin into a spiral.  If I’m lucky, I end up with what looks oddly similar to an orange-peel-snake, coiled on the napkin before me.  I feel like I’ve really accomplished something when I succeed.  Yes, Mama taught me to celebrate the small victories.  The love of orange smells is something I’ve carried with me, into adulthood.  My kitchen deodorizer spray is orange-scented-citrus-something-or-other.  It’s a brand I can only find at May’s Drug store.  I learned from Mom as well, to put orange peels down the garbage disposal, letting the blades chew them to bits in order to freshen up any lingering odors in the sink. 

I’ve recently developed a love for the aroma and flavor, of orange spice tea.  In fact, I found a tin at Akin’s the other day.  It’s small and round and pocket-sized, made by The Republic of Tea.  I love to sink a round, unbleached tea-bag into a mug of boiling water, and watch it turn from pale to amber in just a few moments later.  There were six bags in the tin when I bought it.  I’m down to two now, and I catch myself pulling the tin out of my pocket to pry it open and inhale the aroma of cinnamon, cloves and orange peel.

I tried the peel-in-one-piece feat with a hard-boiled egg once.  I’m still working on that skill.  But you can’t make boiled-egg tea, or spray egg scented room deodorizer in your kitchen.  I don’t think it would have the same pleasing effect.  So, maybe I’ll just stick with the orange.  It’s always been good to me.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Text-Message Poetry

*written on my cell phone, as I stood outside the stadium, one summer night after a ball game and fireworks.





of light


in red



and green



the sky

and leaving






as it fades

to an inky

summer sky

and I

can’t help

but think

where are

the fireflies?

Friday, January 9, 2009

Sensory Spill?

*from a poetry exercise during Monday night's writers' group  


corner made of
blood red walls
splashed with light
illuminated photos
in white and black
of coffee mugs
red, brown

book store
coffee shop strangers
quiet and thoughtful
loud and talkative
whisper soft and
resonate loudly
see me hear me!

sounds of Russian
in the distance?
near the magazines
short man bearded
brown and scraggly
‘neath a black knit cap

overhead in neon
the café sign
a coffee cup
orange and white
will it spill
hot coffee out
over magazines
and patrons
how to say
a Russian ouch!?

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Spinning Questions

There’s an escape

A diving into the words

A swimming deeper

Until the world outside

Disappears, and fades


There’s a knowing

A recognition

A challenge to move

Beyond my own reality

Into possibility


And I dance

On the edge

With words

Where is the determination

To fulfill my purpose

To finish what I’ve begun


I dive into it,

then close my eyes,

run and hide,

afraid that someone

will see, me,

and that nobody will see me


I know I know there is more

More to accomplish more to say

Words stories to write, to tell

More to say, more of me to reveal

And yet…I opt for easy,

this mask, this persona,

this expected me



Who is she,

who am I, questions,

flood, fill, overtake

I know what I want


Am I addicted to the ink,

to the words,

to the sweet saccharine

aftertaste of this habit.


What if I threw off

the disguise

and wrote the raw,

the focused

the if I finish this

I’d have to

do something real

with the stories.


What if I challenged myself

instead of playing

Dancing with words

Spinning yarns that go

nowhere but my head

my imagination


And can I trust myself

to separate the two

Should I

Can I

Maybe not


I feel so out of control,

it’s like watching myself

wondering why

I’m being strange

Stepping outside of my head

and away from my heart


Who are you,

what is your story?

Are you willing to be read?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Overheard in a Coffee Shop II

*from a poetry exercise during Monday night's writers' group.


nights are so cold

can I have

a glass of water?

one cup of vanilla

one cup of hazelnut

would you like

whipped cream?

you’re welcome


I was trying

to beat the elevator

we should probably

press the button

right above it

now that you’re gone


can you read this?

but you can’t look

inside of it

it’s for girls

is it about snakes?

okay so, whatever!


I think

we should talk

because nobody

is talking

lets see if there

are any others

It feels like being

left behind



Tuesday, January 6, 2009

In With the New

Out with the old.

And in with the writer’s block? 

That is certainly how today feels to me. 

I do not like the word ‘resolution’ especially when I find it coupled with the words ‘new’ and ‘year’.   Still, this 'two-thousand-and-nine' beckons me to evaluate and make changes.  So, I’ve given it some serious thought, and among other goals, I am determined to write a steady stream of pieces that I can publish to my blog.  I did get a late start, considering that today is Monday, January 5; but I began the day with a fairly decent free-writing journal entry, and have since been pondering a new blog post---in between laundry and lunch and a random jaunt across the internet universe, looking for an application that will let me twitter my blog posts automatically. 

In the midst of all this wheel-spinning, I’ve discovered something.  My brain is not as practiced as it used to be at gleaning details and images, and keeping a reserve of creative ideas to blog about.  I find myself staring at a blank page, wondering, ‘why does this seem so hard, when it is usually so simple’?  I find that I’m breaking all my own rules for writing, stickling over grammar when I should be following my pen, stumbling over pebbles, because the ideas seem to have settled in for their long winter’s nap. 

So, I must shift my focus.  

Instead of peering into the vast whiteness of a blank page, I turn and eye the Christmas tree.  It is, after all, nearly mid January (give or take a week) and its branches have been dark for far too long.  It did its duty throughout the holiday season, drawing the eyes of all who stepped into the room, and guarding a modest pile of gaily-wrapped gifts.  Today, it stands quietly in the corner, perhaps leaning a bit dejectedly to the left.  

That could be my imagination.  

The ornaments are still nestled between branches, looking a bit tired, probably hoping I’ll hurry up and slip them into their divided trays with a bit of soft stuffing for cushion, so they can each bed down for their ten-and-a-half-month hibernation.  

I am not in any hurry.

A cheerful collection of snowmen sits atop my beloved antique hutch, their round bellies shining in the soft overhead light.  Each one peers down at me over their carrot and button noses, mocking the warm, January weather just outside the back door.  They have probably given up all hope of seeing any snow this year, more than ready to return, to their box-beds in the attic.  

I am beginning to wonder myself.  

Although I do not relish the thought of icy roads, downed power-lines and falling trees we had in the Great Ice Storm of 2007, I would not mind having some real cold weather come and stick around for a while.  I long for the taste of a snowflake melting on my tongue, and the crunching sounds of fresh snow beneath my feet---as long as those feet are wrapped in a pair of thick socks and a some warm boots.  Today though, it is warm enough to check the mail the postman just left in my bare feet and short sleeves.

There is an awesome space, where the wall meets the ceiling in this room.  Being the daughter of a carpenter, you would think I would know what to call it, but the term eludes me---perhaps is it the eave?   Shortly after Thanksgiving, I fill that space with greenery and white lights, preparing for Christmas.  The room looks so pretty with those branches lined up and the lights twinkling merrily.  I would love to leave them up year round.  In fact, I seriously consider the idea every January---though I suspect evergreen branches from discarded Christmas trees would somehow lose their charm come the first of June, even if they are filled with twinkling lights --– Knowing me, I would probably be ripping them down by the end of April.

I sigh, and let my gaze wander.  

Scattered about the room are various candelabras with candles in red and white and green---pillars and tapers and votives used to light the December nights as we read by the fireplace, (though it was rarely cold enough to light a real fire). Wicks all stand, tall and dark, ready to be re-lit, and ward of the non-existent chill. Piles of Christmas books cover the coffee table---Dickens and Capote cavort with modern tales and poetry about the season.  I should really return them their shelf in the library.  The time for Christmas stories is past again.

Several other surfaces around the family room hold finely detailed crèches.  Marys and Josephs, shepherds, and wise men, gather in a lowly stall with sheep and donkeys and an occasional cow, to marvel at the advent of the newborn King. It is an historic moment in time, captured and frozen, like a grandfather clock whose spring has come unwound and is waiting for the clock-winder to come along and kick start the tick-tock rhythm once again. 

I sigh, and realize, that is just how I feel.  I’m eager to kick start January, to sit at my desk, or here on the sofa, and write until something worth reading spills out of my pen.  I am determined to do it.  To keep scribbling away, until I actually stumble upon something I can work with.  It may take me a bit longer than I had hoped it would, but I will not give up. 

Then, when I feel I have spilled enough words to work my way into a decent piece, I will set it aside to simmer and wait for revisions.  I suppose, after all that, I will give in, and drag out the ornament boxes and the spools for the ribbons and the Christmas lights; and eventually I will take down that leaning tree.  I suppose ‘tis the season for change. 

Out with the old.

 In with the new.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Escalating Noise

*from a prompted writing exercise at my Monday night writers' group, A Cup of Words

use:  skin of the page, ink like blood, “Behind her, the noise escalated.”


Behind her, the noise escalated.


She crept deeper down the steep stairs, not sure where they led, but unwilling to head back the other way, preferring the unknown to the known evil.  The walls against which her hands sought guidance were damp, and rough to the touch.  The deeper she climbed, the more the air seemed to catch in her lungs and cling to her skin.


The manuscript she had ‘borrowed’ from the monastery library whispered in her pocket, the thin parchment bending as she climbed lower and lower.  She had seen him through the window, knew he would follow her here, but had hoped for more time to be sure.  To verify the authenticity of what she’d quickly folded and stuffed away, just in time to slip out of sight into this passageway.


She closed her eyes---she sure didn’t need them in this suffocating darkness.  Images flashed across her eyelids; and she recalled the skin of the page, the ink like blood, and the strange characters penned around its edges.  Could it be?  If she really had found it, she knew her questions would all be answered, if she lived to board her plane. 


If Vetrius had any say in the matter, the scrap in her pocket would soon be a smoldering pile of ash, and her lifelong quest a wasted effort.  She quickened her pace, ignoring the risk of falling headlong into the darkness.


Soon she came to the bottom of the steps, and could feel the soles of her sandals soaking in liquid like a sponge.  The air smelled wet, but not as stale as it had fifty steps ago.  She hoped it was water squishing between her toes, as she hurried along the passageway.  She felt her way around a corner in the wall, and in the distance saw a glimmer of light, like a candle guttering in the wind. 


Behind her, the noise escalated.


She pressed on toward the light, and was soon standing at heavy wooden door.  A small window at eye level gave her a view of a cobbled alleyway, and sunlight spilled into a puddle at her feet.  She pressed her shoulder to the massive oaken slab, and tumbled onto the street.  Her knees skidded across the stones; but she didn’t slow…instead she stood, and ran toward what she hoped was the front gate.  

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Love Your Depression and Your Double Chin

*From a prompted writing exercise at my Monday night writers' group, A Cup of Words

Prompt:  I love your depression and I love your double chin:


of all the eyes

in the world

I am comfortable when

yours rest on me


see me as I am

naked, unashamed

you know me

you’ve been learning me

more than half my life.


and still,

you love me

accept me

you see me


my double chin

my silly jokes

morning grouchiness

goofy sense of humor


you find me

when I’m hiding

in my book

in my writing

wake me gently

from my sleep


you see my mess

and don’t complain

don’t try to change

recognize my passion

love me for it

believe in me


you know my weakness

my depression

my insecurity

you wrap yourself

around me

and I am safe, loved


you see me

even my darkness

even my selfishness


you have been hurt

wounded by my words

my actions

yet you forgive

you love

you accept me

as I am


I don’t understand

but I am grateful

for this gift

only you could give







Thursday, January 1, 2009

Welcome Into Me

welcome into me

come into my mind, heart

into the darkness,

the light that is me

I want to show you

room after room

to discover myself

and maybe yourself


welcome into me

put your hand in mine

I want to walk

across the thresholds

to gaze into the mirrors

and out through the windows

I want to whisper

shout and sing and hear

my voice, your voice

echoing off of the walls


welcome into me

come see the colors

dancing light and shadow

the cluttered closets

mismatched furniture

fixtures, crown molding

explore with me

spaces beneath floorboards

where I’ve hidden treasures

my inexpensive trinkets

and my priceless jewels


welcome into me

see half-begun paintings

in my studio gallery

splashes of color and light

the brushes and rags

paint splattered drop cloths

smell the aroma of turpentine

and stretched new canvas


welcome into me

come into dark corners

sweep out the cobwebs

stir up the dust with me

draw the curtains open

let in the moonlight, sunlight

pry open the groaning sash

push open the windows

welcome the wind, the rain

capture fireflies in a mason jar

and carry them into

the darkest places

beneath the kitchen table

under the squeaky bed

into the musty attic

or the cluttered cupboard

to illuminate the imagination

of my innocent inner child

then unscrew the lid

watch them wing their way

out the window

into the warm night air


welcome into me

come whisper secret words

in the cavernous great room

then stand and listen with me

as they echo into the rafters

and puddle in the corners

and whisper back

the sweetest music


welcome into me

come hear the echo

of your footsteps

on the creaky floorboards

run your fingertips over

the silky folds

of the drapes

know the flutter

of butterfly wings

dance with me on the patio

beneath a velvet sky

filled with diamond stars


welcome into me

come hear the music

beating with the thrum

of the bass line of my heart

and surrender yourself

to the rhythm of your blood

I promise you won’t regret

making your home inside

exploring these places

forever with me

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Unless otherwise attributed, all content, text or image, on this site is © TaunaLen 2005-2009.
All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution is prohibited without prior written consent.

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