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Model Analysis : How to Maximize Your Writing Potential 

You may have heard it before: read like a writer.

What does that even mean? What if I just started writing? What do I look for? And if I find something that a writer would find (whatever that is), what do I do with it?

If you were anything like me when I started out, you probably read kind of mindlessly, absorbing stuff blindly as you went along for the pure enjoyment of it.

Honestly, it’s hard to slow down in the middle of an engrossing novel and be like oh, the alliterative phrase in paragraph 2 really contributes to the rhythmic flow of the prose. Trying to juggle attention to technique and dramatic structure and recurring motifs is a little overwhelming.

But there are ways to break it down.

I will explain how I put together a creative and scientific approach to reading like a writer through methods of deconstruction, modeling, and self-reflection.

 

The Model

First, I suggest finding a piece of writing (whether it be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, whatever) that…

  1. Deeply moves you on an emotional level
  2. Reflects the kind of style you are aspiring to
  3. Is either a Pulitzer prize winning novel, best seller, award winning story or somehow acknowledged as a great piece of writing (so you start with the very best material)

*For models that have the highest amount of insight, I suggest getting invested in a novel because of its scale and breadth. You can really get a sense of the writer’s artistry over a longer span of story. 

In artistic genres like music and art, students practice Mozart’s etudes or sketch work of Michelangelo to learn the master’s approach to brushstroke or musical harmony. Models figure prominently in the visual and musical arts so…why not apply the same principle to writing?

I decided to model Frank McCourt’s memoir Angela’s Ashes. A young Irish immigrant’s story about his family, the poverty they endured in Limerick, and his dreams of coming to America.

When I read his writing, I experienced immediate empathic entry into the story. I could smell the stench of the chamber pots, feel the cold rain on my skin, and taste the satisfaction of lemonade after his days of hard work. I asked myself why.

I spent time pouring over the pages of his book and found his style was marked by straightforward language, repetition of certain colorful terms that reflected the culture, detailed layering of images, and skillful arrangement of scene.

 

Model Analysis Under the Hood

Second, highlight, write in the margins, and engage physically with the text itself. This stage involves more architectural scrutiny. We’re just looking at the mechanics of the sentences and paragraphs.

For example, I underlined concrete examples of each abstract writerly thing I noticed in Angela’s Ashes so that when I flipped through again for a second impression I would read only what I highlighted.

And I flipped through a third and fourth time to imprint what I had highlighted into my unconscious.

Re-reading is critical in this step. The first read-through is purely for the feel/mood and overall impression of the story, paragraph, or section. The following read-throughs are for deconstruction. (This is also training for revision of your own writing. You will need to know how to self-analyze.)

Look for:

  • Repetitive phrases. Does the repetition of certain phrases deepen the first occurrence of them in chapter 1? Do I feel more grounded in the world of the characters because their terminology for things is consistent?

 

  • Jumps in time. When does the author leave the present scene? Why does the author leave out the part about walking to the door and plant the reader inside the room in the next scene instead?

 

  • Dramatic structure. What is the sequence of events? If I rearranged events, how would that change the story’s meaning/flow/logic?

 

  • Stylistic choices. Does the author vary sentence length? How does that contribute to the narrative flow? Does the author use a lot of the word “and” in longer sentences for a stream of consciousness effect?

 

Model Analysis Molecular Structure

Third, begin to address your chosen section of writing in smaller chunks. Here’s where some cool creative stuff comes in.

Write down words that you feel are most emotive in the sequence in which they occur on a piece of paper. Then assign them colors. Yep, take out those Crayola markers from third grade. This is what I call interdisciplinary immersion. I believe the more we engage our different senses simultaneously in interaction with a two-dimensional passage, the more we experience the life in the words on the page.

Once, you finish your synthesthesia exercise then study the individual words (verbs are a good place to start) for their connotative meanings, moods, and tones and how their subtle meanings interact with each other. Say them aloud.

For example, notice the words I highlighted in this passage from Angela’s Ashes:

“The room had a fireplace where we could boil water for our tea or an egg in case we ever came into money. We had a table and three chairs and a bed, which Mam said was the biggest she had ever seen.” (I didn’t include colors.)

Interpretative analysis: The room, a bare disembodied description, is said to have a fireplace instead of the fireplace being in the room. This room is where they do most of their living. It is a place where they boil water, a place of warmth and heat. For tea or an egg sounds like they can have one or the other, whichever they could afford, when they come into money. See how the room at the beginning contrasts with the phrase came into money like money is a much preferred room or place.

Also, see how McCourt says the room had versus we had. The room seems to figuratively possess more important things than we: a fireplace, a space for boiling water and drinking tea or eating an egg as opposed to a table, three chairs, and a bed though Mam prizes the piece of furniture with a simplistic observation: the biggest she had ever seen.

Now, you are experiencing just two sentences on a much deeper level, reading like a writer, peering into the structure of the writing as it shares its secrets.

 

Model Mimicry Replicating

Lastly, copy. But copy meaningfully. If you have an existing project, you are working on, create a prompt from your model analysis that also addresses a theme, scene element, or recurring image in your piece so you can sort of mind meld with what you just studied.

If you want to generate something new, the method still applies. Fashion a prompt from your model.

As just a hypothetical example, using the two sentences previously mentioned, I would write about the bed and what it means to the narrator versus Mam.

Focus on honing one of the techniques you admired in your analysis while you write like keeping the prose straightforward and unencumbered by too many adjectives. Keep your model nearby and reference it frequently.

If you are really struggling, copy the text word for word and go back in replacing nouns with your own. Expand from there. Substitute characters, add imagery, cut out a sentence, etc.

Keeping your model in front of you is KEY!

Don’t worry about losing your own voice in this.

  1. You chose to model something that appealed to your unique sensibilities.
  2. You are picking out things that speak to your individual emotional make-up.
  3. You are equipping yourself with the skills of masters so that you can learn how to best express your originality.

In conclusion, though I am still refining the method, I do feel it can work wonders for your writing practice. It has for me.

My writing was, to be blunt, completely over-wrought. I was operating from my own myopic view of what sounded good without referring to the huge canon of great work that came before me.

That’s a lot like trying to paint a portrait that without having studied the techniques that others have mastered and passed down throughout time.

Give it a try. See what happens. Be open to whatever you uncover.

What Holds Her Back?

What Holds Her Back?

What holds her back
is damned to be back-burned
and, God willing, will be
thoroughly ash by the time
her daughter outgrows
the artifice of “content” and learns
Mother has been tangled to a
caravan with no rope,
hitched and switched,
back faced to debt notes
at full gallop.

Her usual hayride
is a static ballot of
loose limbs and listless feet
or an unfaithful jump
to jolt the knees.
She stiffens as she wakes
to the road between,
back-casting
in dust and stories:
“Mom, I’m living my dreams”.

But the backfire
is unforeseen.
It’s slow coping from
the dear voice of
a daughter’s new daring
and a spirit she tried to choke
years ago, both in spark –
the pain’s still flaring.

She cannot lighten her eyes.
The wagonload weighs
too much like scarecrows
hankering after permanent stakes,
likely to burn:
“Come with me?”

Mother chose a purgatory
that singes any innocence from her
mistakes and takes to the scald
of fault, condemned to be
distraught by the reconciled.

“Child, quiet now.
You go.”

Her usual hayride hauls
ramshackle and shamed.
It deals in wheels of
dependency.

She averts her eyes
after a frail smile goes up in smoke
of scarecrows laughing at the back,
where I can see.

“Don’t do the things I did. Please,
live your dreams. Little sunflower,
do it for me”,
she whispers as she chokes.

My tears breathe deep in the chest,
behind a resolution to bring her hope,
God willing,

let light kiss her
where what holds her back
stokes the most.

What Sycamores Remember

I often fail to forget
what took too well to my memory.
Whenever I forfeit will and relent,
my walking trips over its lone pair
of steps and upsets the solitude
at the first catch of itself.
Path stones jab into the sole,
too familiar,

the batch of old Sycamores we kept finding,
they miss the touch of the dancing pair
that brought them an early essence of Spring,
flirting into spins a smitten wind
we made at their toes.

You pointed to
the branches renewing themselves.
Maybe you know, they’ve been
shedding their skin ever since
we detached hands by the river, now,
all too shimmery of a draw
for my inconspicuous
slide into evening.

I caught cold absences of you
from the things we loved together,
things hacking an unpleasant blame
at me in reeling wind.

I do believe the trees
are throwing an angry
din my way,

too familiar.

Will I forever self-condemn
though we both agreed to
only “friends”?

The Sycamores are trees that
don’t like dwelling on the loss
of bygone seasons and their
ruthless reasons.

But I am an effigy –
no better dressed than in
the dead skin of a winter
I cannot divest – a target for shame,
hands tied and agonized
by their valid protests.

One Recurring Winter

My life has
one recurring winter,
one hundred days wither,
where one man shivers,
incurring cold
Sibylline, Sibylline

For I read into dreams
he never knew he had.
He gave me his past
in present of an offering
I re-read yet could not accept.

I’ve been cursed
with a fate and
a perception
of prophecies
I did not ask for.

This man,
I cared for him at first
and then realized the worst,
I fell too soon.

My eyes turned away
from what would have
saved me pain
that, now, stabs in
retracing his going.

Though I did ignore what words
spelled into an ending early on,

I just wanted someone.

Now he cries, Sibylline, Sibylline
from the bottom of the stone tower
but I had nightmares of his last hour.
And I vowed never to be
the damsel in distress,

doesn’t mean I loved him any less.

But now, I am one tear away
from letting down the lost rope
to silence this dirge of lost hope,

Come back to me

But this curse of wisdom knows
having him close would destroy me.

So I die, broken immortal,
as what’s left trails away
every century.

So I grieve, eternally,
for the last vestiges
of our melody,

slipping into memory,
incurring cold

Sibylline, Sibylline

The Oracle and her Reader of Dreams

Sibylline
forgoes her empty weaving,
unwed and hanging
locked in a sad devotion’s
dank room.
Bells making racket aloft
in a chapel’s belfry –
her disdain swears in low breath:
Chastity in vain saving dictates
an evil affliction.

Her heart has cankered
borderline blasphemous
before when just a girl,
once betrayed by
misinterpreted dreams
for a lecherous, holy King.

Deities are leaving her
in dusty vapors
and frankincense
to vacate their vigil.

They’ve heard
no invocation,
they have no vacant time
for haunting comforts,
they can see his voice is
enough of divine for her,
a softer cover over her sins
when she slumbers,
the only Reader of her dreams.

Sibylline
casts her lots in eyes silent,
pining as do statuettes,
through simpler villages
to the north face
of the mountain.

Mute,
classically trained
for ritual chant,
she surrenders words
and rather harps on in strings,
the conditions of a prophecy
eluding her. But, these
uncertain things won’t give.

Moored to her bedpost,
swing shreds from
torn away mornings.
She wars a siege alone
she always loses

to a fortnight’s standstill,
a past King’s undead plan of ill-will,
and demons her Reader’s intimacy
with conquering nightmares
could even darkness kill.

But he’s got Beowulf’s blood,
back to ousting his monsters at sea.
She misses his legends terribly.

The urim and thummin
trundle through an uninspired roll,
portending the same dank room.

After cursing damnation
and groveling back
to its imprisoning,
chanting words into a
scripture’s semblance
is a coarse grinding,

yet finally, Sibylline
pricks belief:

“Love may be
a thorny blessing,
between
a curse on the Devil
and a prayer to God
but it was worth
the mortal
bleed.”

Indigo Child

Behind blue nightshades, the Indigo Child suffers
a bedeviling hex from the Moon that mangles his spine.

He must dissipate his skin by dint of fracture as bonesetter
for breaking the broken in his own hunkered blades.

His shaky columns exposed and heart doubled over –
he came to bare, to compose his wounds prayerfully,

“God may be seeding wings tonight”.

If he cannot extract their tines, deafening Furies
will wolf down his spirit’s gilded wares and bellow
his remains into ashen wisps, as would elegies tell
the death of Orestes at sunrise.

So the boy poet authors his ravages and
slithers out bad spirits before his desk
for the bludgeoning of his pen.

I felt his wings in the mist,

The Indigo Child who fiddles folklore and myths
beneath his bloodied fingertips before darkness fades,
for something to show come morning, though,
Blue behind nightshades.

A Dragonfly Elegy

A Dragonfly Elegy

Dragonfly

Ellie, a three-year-old little girl
The rose garden – her magical world
Lady butterfly elegantly strides across the sky
Clumsy June bug, into windows he collides
But who is that dainty creature, with such peculiar features?
Four translucent wings curiously investigating
Every flower with inquiring eye
Joyously flitting among gusts of wind
Beautiful soul, may you always fly
Here and there and back again
With the swiftness of a childish whim

Glide upon the breezy tide
Fly dragonfly, fly
Sail to the heavenly height
Fly dragonfly, fly

Imagination brimming with an insatiable
Hunger for experiences of awe and wonder
She fancied him to be a fearless soldier
Fighting against the forces
Of that most frightening thunder
Fancying him to be a sort of airborne sprinter
Racing in a marathon where airplanes
And clouds compete for the coveted trophy of winner
Dodging them all, zooming right and left
Then up and down
A ball of bursting energy
Bursting forth with the elation
Of sheer celebration

Even dragonflies grow weary and eventually tire
And so to regain their cheery animation prior
They seek stones, lily pads, or the ends of tall grasses
To judge them worthy or undeserving of such regal landing
Belonging only to the dragonfly, perfected, it far surpasses
Any hovering or winged settling of any beetle, of any bee
There! Dragonfly has come to rest upon twinkling Sun refractions
Reveling upon the surface of burnished greenery
How it welcomes playful light!
He feels neither fear nor fright

Ellie, wee child, three-year-old little girl
Reaches out her darling hand
The excitement, her heart can barely stand
And she gently caresses the sleek glistening of his wing
Her eyes open wide for she has felt the sumptuous robe
Of the valiant sailing King
He retreats into the distance down the daisy laden path that
Leads down into the brook
Stepping around each stone, carefully she followed –
The course of her lifetime’s fairytale,
She unknowingly took

Of the cattails and the company of their leafy fronds
That would sleepily droop over the banks of the pond
The dragonflies were especially fond
How convivial they were to greet, so eager to meet
Their curious, new friend
“A guest, a guest! Our manners and conduct
Will be their level best, for she deserves nothing less!”
She imagined they would say,
“Let us welcome our visitor
Although our stature may be miniature!
We shall say, ‘Good day! Good day!’ ”
Hospitably inviting her into the Royal Courtyard
The bullfrogs blew their trumpets, summoning
The minnow concerto underwater
To commence their bubbling
Dragonfly hosts rested upon her shoulder to give her a tour
Traveling o’er the pond’s pebbled, mosaic floor
“See there dear friend, the Beaver’s log fortress
If you’ll look there too into the distance, you will see
A parade of the humorous waddling gents
Who take pride in their quack philosophies, just off the shore
And there, beware of quick-tempered Spider who hides behind the door!”

Lost she soon became as she ventured further and further
As she soon discovered that this adventure uncovered
More, more….. and more!
“I’ve never seen a fairy, I’ve never heard the mermaid’s song
But I have flown with dragonflies all day long!
The creatures that bring a smile to the face of the Sun –
The reason it shines
Why everyday it still finds reason to merrily rise
And so I do wish you remain nearby to

Glide upon the breezy tide
Fly dragonfly, fly
Sail to the heavenly height
Fly dragonfly, fly

As years went by, curious Ellie became terribly shy
None of the children could understand why
Why she would take every measure to avoid
Trampling a single ant
And if asked to swat a fly in class,
Why she desperately cried
“I can’t, I can’t!”
Strange Ellie, who made friends
With the klutzy rolly pollies
Giggling, as their small feet were tickling
The skin of her arm
She dared not bring any one of them harm
Strange Ellie, who counted
The black dots on the ladybug’s shell
Who knew all there was to know about dearest Dragonfly
The subject of every project and report – the mannerly dukes
Of the cattailed court
And she recounted the memories of the pond almost too well,
Yet so eager to tell
To share the magic she had seen in that garden of roses

But so hurtful the others were who thought her ramblings absurd
They turned up their noses, scoffing and rolling their eyes
“Ellie, dragonflies aren’t magical. Get real!”
Turning their shoulders with no care to feel
“Pshh, whatever, come on you guys!”
So alone, poor Ellie could sense her awkwardness
And many tears she shed
Until Daddy came and tucked her into bed
But images of dragonflies would never leave her head
Daydreaming despite thoughts of how weird she was seeming to
Other kids, who could not comprehend nor appreciate,
Finding all the more reason to poke fun, to cruelly tease, to bitterly hate
Instead, of being overcome with hurt feelings that no one could abate
To herself these words she repeated and always said:

Glide upon the breezy tide
Fly dragonfly, fly
Sail to the heavenly height
Fly dragonfly, fly

She took to the brook
As she would her home
To watch the dragonflies soar and roam
There she new she was always welcome
In their company
For they embraced her and inspired her to do what she loved
The jeers, the derision – in her mind no more
Dragonflies nudged her, whispering in her ear
“Ellie, explore, explore!”
Creativity imbibed, invigorated, and renewed thanks to
The exuberance of her favorite six-footed companions
“Tell me, oh dragonfly, what should I write?”
And there began a never-ending pursuit
Of words that could never be mute
A lifelong career was ever near

And so Ellie spoke through pages of rhyming phrases
Then the others no longer felt any fear
Instead, were moved to the tear
By her heartfelt eloquence
And Ellie has been writing ever since
Quite busy telling her stories in many places
Miles from home
But she always returned, for the yearning burned
To revisit those memories she thought to be so close
So very dear and when the sky was exceptionally clear
Where there was a backdrop of unblemished blue
She could see the dragonflies rejoice
And as they flew
There, she watched as she reminisced of younger days
Whispering in the softest of voice:

Glide upon the breezy tide
Fly dragonfly, fly
Sail to the heavenly height
Fly dragonfly, fly

In time Ellie became a wife but more importantly
A mother, to one child
The lovely Rosy Rose
In honor of the garden which first stirred her
Enchanting reveries and musings of prose
The lovely Rosy Rose
Who bore her same curiosity-sparkled eye
All the rules and boundaries she defied
For how she loathed to be confined inside
Oh the grass, so soft to the touch
Like Mother’s long hair beneath her little feet
Delighting her giddy soul
And oh, the rhythms of the gurgling stream
“Mother, take me here! Mother, show me this!”
How Ellie loved to share in her daughter’s youthful bliss
While walking through a meadow of bountiful tulips
Together, they caught butterflies in mesh nets
And with the magnifying glass, they would carefully inspect
Upon each detail they would spy
But, look, look into the distance!
“Can you see, can you see?” asked Ellie,
Whose mellow tone was warm and motherly
“That wonderful creature, soaring through undulating
Currents of draft, flying so very free, do see Rosy?
Do you see?”
“Yes Mother, I do! I see, I see!” she cried out so excitedly
“Come dear, let me introduce you. Now, follow me.”
Ellie showed her the way
To a small pond – a lily pad reservoir where dragonfly revelers
Make up all sorts of characters
Those few over there are having tea
And there, dragonfly playmates
Playing tag up the tree
While still others engage in a game of charades
With such jubilee

Rose, just a four-year-old little girl
The lakeside shore her magical world
A world where imagination was allowed
To run free and unboundedly wild
Ellie new that every child
Must be granted the chance to let
Their inventiveness loose
And be permitted to ride in nature’s caboose
To breathe air alive through its windows
As life passes by,
They must be invited to test, to try,
To find a self that fits best in nature’s boutique
Experiencing sights and sounds unique
To the fields and streams that nurture
Childlike fancies and dreams
So Ellie stepped aside without a word
To observe, without reserve
Trusting Rose would venture not too far
Chasing dragonflies
As she would shooting stars
With her unspoken wishes
And Ellie graciously received her friends
As they came to blow and bestow their dragonfly kisses

Glide upon the breezy tide
Fly dragonfly, fly
Sail to the heavenly height
Fly dragonfly, fly

As time elapsed, so too
Did fleeting childhood pass, bittersweet
And Rose became a woman
Indeed, all grown up
She had proven herself to be a
Gifted artist, how she loved to draw
Just like Mother, of dragonflies
She was perpetually in awe
Pictures of them in frames
Or hung up by pieces of tape
All over the walls, the doors
And Mother’s desktop drawers
Eventually Rose too became married
But memories of yesteryear, she faithfully carried
Where her happiness beamed
Like dragonflies, years continued to fly
Away so fast it always seemed

Mother continued to write
Her dragonfly inspired poetry
As her fame spread throughout
The country – the beloved poetess
Who could coalesce any series of words
Into lyrical verse
No matter how diverse, transforming them into
Poems of the deepest emotion
Evocative yet affectionately positive
An otherwise unattainable beauty
Was hers to command, within her hand
So she would write, write, and write some more
It was far from drudgery,
More like pleasure and play
Far from a chore but Ellie had a secret you see,
For the dragonflies she left open her door
During the spring, and in return
They brought with them songs to spur the mind
To creativity and sang their melodies
Serenading her into the genius of originality

Despite the vigor Ellie felt within
The ailments of old age
That accompany hair of white and gray
Showed her no remorse
One day, she experienced a dreadful
Cough, terribly hoarse
A coughing that only got
Worse and worse
Until the day she became deathly ill
Upon the hospital bed
Fed pill after pill
She lie bedridden but still
Undeniably smitten with dragonflies
And dragonfly memories that brought
Her dying heart much comfort and ease
The windows to the four-walled room were
Left open as she had requested
Despite what the nurses suggested
Patiently, awaiting the gentle touch of dragonfly feet
But not one day did the dragonflies visit or stay
Just the noise of cars below honking and beeping
On the street, three stories below
Yet Ellie did not worry nor did she fret
For she was well aware of their love
Of lily pad ponds and cattail fronds
Rather, she trusted they would not forget her
A friend they had so adored
A friend who loved them unconditionally
From the first time she explored
The rose garden, that magical world
And memories, in her heart, stirred and swirled

But this sickness would not go away
This illness could not be undone
Taken from her home unwillingly
To become another number,
146371
Here, she could see no trees
But at least she could feel that familiar breeze
Barely able to speak, she reached for the doctor
Taking special care to closely watch her
Who stood just outside the door
Passionately arguing with the oncologists
Who had made their decision he tried to implore
They left with nothing more
Ellie gathered enough strength to ask him
With her outstretched and severely gaunt limb
“Doctor, tell me honestly, how long will I live with this cancer?
Please, do be truthful in your answer.”
Sorrowfully looking away with such grieving eye
A sadness throbbing in his chest, he struggled
To come forth with a response, deeply troubled
So with a sigh trying not to cry, he managed to relay the feared news
Of a fight she would inevitably lose
“Of you, I am exceptionally fond
I believe everyone you have met
Has formed an unbreakable bond
With you and your tenderness
But Ellie… in all truthfulness
Our therapies have failed…
And the cancer spread
And your body is jailed
Within its ravages
It has already made irreparable damages
…I cannot answer your question
Of how long life will grant you to live
Ellie I sincerely regret that this is all I have to give…”

Gazing into her melancholy eyes,
He grasped her hand so very softly
And all he could say was
“Ellie…I’m sorry”
Clearly upset, he quickly left the room
But she did not cry, nor was she overcome with gloom
Surprisingly, she did not weep
Instead, she smiled with the widest of grins
For the remembrance of the dragonfly
Of her jovial friends,
She had promised to keep
As a matter of fact, she thought
She could almost hear the beating of his rotating wings
But Ellie was not imagining,
In came a dragonfly, beautifully iridescent
And when in the Sun’s rays, illustriously fluorescent
“Dragonfly?!” she cried
“Have you come to see me, dear one?”
But he paid no heed to her inquiry,
Meandering through the room,
Surveying the foods upon her tray
Obviously, having loads of fun
Rummaging here spying there
She softly chuckled,
“You’re a nosy one”
In blissful circles, he vibrantly spun
To rascally dragonfly, everything in sight
Was a toy like a mischievous little boy
“Wonder what this button does? It might
Make a funny noise. Hmm, sounds like a plan
A crafty ploy.”
All the while, how Ellie enjoyed his company
Until it seemed that he was going to leave, probably
Out the same window in which he came
But suddenly, it became harder and harder to breathe
She could feel a Death’s chill beginning to creep
Enticing her to sleep, to sleep
Panicking Ellie refused to let go
And loudly cried, “No, no….NO!”
Her suffering soon became agony as she writhed
And thrashed against the bed to contend
With the terror of demise that would force her to
Begrudgingly end
That would steal
Treasured breath from out of her chest

Finally too weak to move any further, she found a calm
And something amazing happened before the light became
Death-blackened
Dragonfly, who had never even left
Descended the air-blown stairs to lightly
Rest upon her frail, open palm
Murmuring in her ear, “Ellie, do not fear
And please do not be stressed
I will be here, so be relaxed for this will pass
Breathe in then out
In then out”
Tears of astonishment rolled down her cheek
And she tried to speak but life already escaped her
Sickly body
Dragonfly remained perched upon her hand
He continued to lie
While doctors came rushing, responding to the alarm
Down the corridor
And when they burst through the door

Up and away into blue skies
They watched the dragonfly fly
Until they could see him no more
And there Ellie lie
With motionless smile
Who had peacefully closed her eyes
To envision the wonders of dragonflies
Once again,
To revisit the memories of her greatest friends

A funeral service was given in her remembrance
Her ashes were to be bestowed unto the lake
Where she most often spent her time
Adoring dragonflies sublime
And Rose was in attendance, mourning
Of heavy heart, for it was her turn
To offer words of farewell
But where would she start
There, just over the water’s surface
She saw dragonflies light-heartedly tussling
In the wind, and now she new her part
To say, where to begin and where to end
“Here,” she spoke with a newfound sense of hope
“My Mother stayed to play with dragonfly
Companions, the dragonflies they gave impetus
To everything she would write and author
And I, as her daughter,
Share her wonder too
And so I wish to read to all of you
My favorite poem of hers
For I have always preferred
To recite it aloud
For I am very proud
Of this one
Of my mother’s greatest prose
And so it goes:

‘If someone were to honor me
With words of praise
Of how I spent and shared my days
I’d want that person, that special someone to be
My dearest child, my little Rosy
For she is the only one who ever really knew me
And understood my undying love for dragonflies
And how they frolicked through meadows exalted
Then dashed into the embracing skies

Dear Rosy, will you tell my story true
And send a word of love up above
Yes to God, but don’t forget dragonflies too
I ask for a dragonfly elegy
A dragonfly elegy just as brief
As his swift maneuvering and
Masterful brevity, a celerity beyond belief
Oh, and Rosy
Please do express to all the rest that are present
The way in which I never lost
Curiosity just like inquisitive Dragonfly
Whose two observant eyes don’t miss
A single thing
But most of all dearest Rosy
Tell them how the dragonflies bring
Happiness to every soul that may take the time
To behold their beauty unmatched
And not to mention how easy it is to become attached

Yes if someone were to honor me
With words of praise
Of how I spent and shared my days
I’d want that person, that special someone to be
My dearest child, my little Rosy
Who would know exactly what to say
In my exact same way
When reciting my dragonfly elegy
A dragonfly elegy preferably
Because dragonflies in all their reveries
Have brought me the greatest happiness
Please tell my story oh my beautiful Rosy
With sensitivity but most importantly,
Most thankfully’

Rose closed the book very slowly
Smiling with tears of joy
“So we have come to the end of your
Story Mother,
But know that I have loved you
More than any other,
I thank you all for listening
And may we say goodbye
And thank the dragonfly on high:

Glide upon the breezy tide
Fly dragonfly, fly
Sail to the heavenly height
Fly dragonfly, fly

The End

Down Asheville’s Streets

Catch on quick, ride ‘till the stop, step off into the bustle, and

Hustle through the metropolis!

I look back and watch the bus wheels roll by, accustomed to the route, nothing new,

Memories of an elder’s adage inform my cool exterior…“Kid, realize the world will go on without you”

Conforming my foot-beats to the traffic’s pulse but minding thoughts elsewhere…

City sidewalks are comic strips of caricatures, characters, and the characterized:

Well-suited young men strut on airs as if theirs was the Land of the Sky, cautiously switching their briefcases to the other hand as they pass, raising eyebrows, their hidden disgusts sneering behind hints of scowls

At the counter-cultured hippie in beat up tie-dye tee, dog tags round his neck, and ripped jeans who chuckles beneath his white beard, “Just wait, life’ll knock the breath out of their pompous chests, have’em gaspin’ for breath.”

He’s laughing and nudging a friendly elbow alongside the invisible man blind to the cue, troubled by an introspection, visibly homeless in predicament,

Shaking his head, “They’ve never had to relive their death,

Every time a white man walks by, on high airs bloodied with shed breaths of people who look like me – black skinned, no grin, numb ginned, brown bag and bottled in as the littered ghosts of meritocracy that still haunt these streets…”

Hippie and hobo, brother to brother, meet teary eyes and shake hands in embrace of hearts coming to understanding – friends that keep learning from each other:

Downtown Asheville, vibrant of histories and drum circles of cultural mingling,

A saxophone serenades and flirts melodies with lovely ladies blowing kisses to the player that winks,

Oh Jazz, 1920s Harlem reminiscent, notorious for hypnotizing its listeners into unity, sends out hope for empathy among diversity in blue tones and honest love notes

And I love the open door policy of local shops that play music strictly from the Motown oldies, revolutionary rock of the 60s, 70s, The Temptations and the Grateful Dead

And the lyrics said are there to remind my generation from where we’ve come, to awaken our drums from going numb…

I caught on quick, rode ‘till the stop, stepped off into the bustle,

And stopped amidst the metropolis…

Now listen to the music, give attention to the street corner storytellers,

And yes, notice the sold self-glory sellers…

Call out the cry: Peace to Asheville!

May the Land of the Sky live on in its humble city dwellers.