Tuesday, May 25, 2010


A hundred possible skies
vanish from
my country's silences.
Every other cloud
brings a roaring,
a ground of storm
that emerges after
its one bright minute
has faded into
hours of fog
and mystery.

Nothing is more
than atmosphere.

--lks May 2010

I wrote this as a sort of found poem, using words culled from Dave Bonta's Morning Porch blog and an article from the April 2003 issue of the middle school-oriented magazine Odyssey: Adventures in Science. That issue focused on the aurora borealis, but I didn't use many of the words I borrowed from it.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Write to the Prompt

Write a story about the time you left your sister’s jacket on the bus, and about the girl who found it, and how she wore it to the fair, even though it was much too big for her. Include details: how the seams enclosed her in a cave of sagging navy cotton, and how she filled the pockets with barrettes and Jolly Ranchers. Tell us about how the heat melted the Jolly Ranchers onto the barrettes, and how the girl, let’s call her Sylvia, dug a cocoon of blue raspberry stickiness away from the clip that held her bangs away from her face. Show us her expression when the candy came away clean and she could see again.
Write a research paper, if you can, about the difference between Ramen noodles and Campbell’s chicken noodle soup. Explain the exegesis of both forms of nourishment, and allude to the special ways you can address the inherent salty sameness of their bases. Tell us about the first time you made egg drop soup from that dry crackling package of Ramen and how good it tasted with a dusting of paprika across its skin as it cooled. Explain how, when you need to make more than one meal out of something, such a soup can become a casserole of sorts overnight, and how black pepper, when dusted across the surface of this second dish, works its way down into the soggy filaments of noodle, giving the whole thing a deceptive saline freshness for just a moment.
Write a poem about the imaginary creature you built from other animals you knew, back in the fourth grade. Tell us about the fine silver veins that flowed across the wings of the animal and how it had a voice, but one seldom heard, like yours. Tell us about your brainchild's feet, how nimble and creaturely they were, and about the animal’s tail. Tell us how it looped through your dreams as you first imagined this beast, and how it danced and darted like the tail of the Cowardly Lion, off balance and in rhythm with its own inner ley lines, a barometer of all the fears and energies its owner carried through the world. Give it a name, and have it roar.
Write a descriptive paper about a flamingo. Explain the flamingo’s perspective on life and show us all its needs and problems. Let us feel what it’s like to have knees that bend backwards. Have us see the river water it lives in through your new flamingo eyes. Take us with you when you fly away, and have us reach the horizon along with you, a part of one big wing, a rising of color from mud into sky, a departure, a choice, a leavetaking, and a joining, a cacophony of birdvoice dangling down along the joints of flying legs so that all the other animals still hear it, long after the migrating flock has left them behind.

lks 2007

Dream Broth

The seeds of all my seasons come together in a soup of something I could once taste but hold in my mouth now like water. Everything is here: sweetness cupped in kernels that distill its flavors down like some old mill. White corn gone to tassel late in summer, hot from fire and swimming in some kind of honeyed brine that tastes like weathered wood and nothing I can name, a leftover solstice mix fierce and slow with underpinnings of rot and adventure, a taste of singe and lakewater, of a wet moon and its spell. It carries too the haunted pucker of October, the sour whimsy of collapsing things in ruined little gardens. A mystery, sliced in half when I wasn’t looking and offered with one hand out and one hand hidden. Pepper plays with it well and coaxes it into almost giving itself up. When I try to figure it out it almost leaves. It tickles like I imagine the folds of snowflakes’ edges would, a tumble of melting angles in my throat. Most times too it trails a residue of spice---shyer than nutmeg and wilder than something like paprika. I can’t name it but it has its own way of warming me, a heat gentled by the ways I get to know it and by the slick and chilly film of spring, of cool things breathing water as they birth. It wants to be raw but simmers. I don’t season it but wait for it to tell me what it needs. Sometimes it’s cream to cradle it and make it younger, to soften up its brazen twiggy heart. It might be a sprig of rosemary, nipped from the bush by the train tracks, or the green of wild young onion, raised up from feral earth and brought inside. Other days I’ve sensed a flush of rosehip, much too sweet for its own good, a blast of death inside it like the blasphemous hymn I found myself humming at dusk in April as a child. I’ve needed it for days now but it won’t come. There’s nothing written down for me to go by. I play and add and mix and stir but nothing lets me name it, and there I am again with that drink of simple water, limned by none of the grit and gruel I’m used to getting. I cradle it against my tongue and then it’s mine: an emptying fix for all my angry fullness, a hex of chaliced shadow warm as earth, my only season now its gulp of dwindling sun and ragged twilight wind.

--lks March 2009

Friday, May 14, 2010

xiii ways of looking at some prayer flags

Despite the cool spring wind
The prayer flags hang motionless.

I see their soft gray cloth
With the skin of
My feeling mind.

The prayer flags make friends
With the weathered gray wood
They rest against.

The travel of hornets
Is all one thing.
The way they buzz
The tattered flags
Is part of that thing.

The old dragon’s mauve jaws
Carry age and the droop of solitude
In the prayer flags’ upper
Left hand corners.

The prayer flags turn pink
In the softening light
Of April dusk.

Once a merry string of
Primary color,
The prayer flags take it easy now.

See how the flags resist
They hang like pale strips of soft iron
From ten-penny nails.

Beneath the prayer flags
And boards of smoke-gray wood
A strip of metal
Collapsed in last summer’s
hot June rain.

I tell the prayer flags
A couple of my best secrets.
The gunmetal dog with the fat jowls
Keeps quiet
While I talk.

I don’t see the prayer flags
In the inky air of this
Thick summer evening.
If I listen and hear
What’s behind them
I can see how their edges
Catch light.

A thick goldenrod cord
Takes care of all the prayer flags,
Marigold bright
Like a sign
On a highway,
Pinning them to
A buckled gray rail.

The storm has taken a long time
To gather.
When it does
It takes the prayer flags with it,
Squares of ash and rose
Cut free
By a big green wind.

--Laura Sorrells
January 2010


"That's another thing we've learned from your nation," said Mein Herr, "mapmaking. But we've carried it much further than you. What do you consider the largest map that be really useful?"
"About six inches to the mile."
"Only six inches!" exclaimed Mein Herr. "We very soon got to six yards to the mile. Then we tried a hundred yards to the mile. And then came the grandest scale of a mile to the mile!"
"Have you used it much?" I inquired.
"It has never been spread out, yet!" said Mein Herr: "the farmers objected: they said it would cover the whole country, and shut out the sunlight! So now we use the country itself, as its own map, and I assure you it does quite as well."

--Lewis Carroll, from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Those Shoes

I’ve been thinking about getting rid of those shoes. Last week I had to have a pipe fixed in my basement and I went down there to clear some space for the plumber to get through. As I walked through the door, just over to my left was the sagging, cracked plastic barrel of laundry basket where the last ones live. There was a pair of dark blue Keds on top, a tiny fraying eye of hole appearing just below the big toe on the left one. I tear up my canvas sneakers the same way. Or used to. I don’t really wear them anymore. My feet are too tough on things. I sometimes wish they could be more delicate, less determined. My mother’s shoes show those things too. There aren’t any high heeled stilettos in this beige plastic latticed broken barrel. Heelless Clarks loafers, yes, and Birkenstocks with the soles going soft. And a pair of burgundy New Balance walking shoes with the laces knotted short and tight. I wonder if she pulled those off over her ankles, the way I do? One of those heedless rushing habits we might have shared.
When I saw the basket of shoes I began to pull them up out of each other. I kept coming back to the blue Keds. They seemed to strain mutely to go back into the heap. A spider turned out to be living in the arch of one of them. It scuttled out when I dropped it, a comma of legs and fat round center angling for safety under an old chest of drawers. For some reason I waited for a skittering confetti of spider babies to come after it. I’d read about that happening and about how infant arachnids will fill up all the space around them like a pulsing carpet of potential web. When nothing showed up I shook the sneaker vigorously, but only a furl of graying lint, shaped like some obscure piece of punctuation I didn’t recognize, fell out. I plucked at the hole in the side of the left shoe and threw it back into the barrel.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

a poem by Chase Twichell


Above the blond prairies,
the sky is all color and water.
The future moves
from one part to another.

This is a note
in a tender sequence
that I call love,
trying to include you,
but it is not love.
It is music, or time.

To explain the pleasure I take
in loneliness, I speak of privacy,
but privacy is the house around it.
You could look inside,
as through a neighbor's window
at night, not as a spy
but curious and friendly.
You might think
it was a still life you saw.

Somewhere, the ocean
crashes back and forth
like so much broken glass,
but nothing breaks.
Against itself,
it is quite powerless.

Irises have rooted
all along the fence,
and the barbed berry-vines
gone haywire.

Unpruned and broken,
the abandoned orchard
reverts to the smaller,
harder fruits, wormy and tart.
In the stippled shade,
the fallen pears move
with the soft bodies of wasps,
and cows breathe in
the licorice silage.

It is silent
where the future is.
No longer needed there,
love is folded away in a drawer
like something newly washed.
In the window,
the color of the pears intensifies,
and the fern's sporadic dust
darkens the keys of the piano.

Clouds containing light
spill out my sadness.
They have no sadness of their own.

The timeless trash of the sea
means nothing to me—
its roaring descant,
its multiple concussions.
I love painting more than poetry.

--Chase Twichell

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About Me

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Georgia, United States
I live at the edge of the forest in a little town in the north Georgia mountains. I teach sixth grade Language Arts and am writing a memoir of sorts about family, spirituality, and narrative. I am also exploring a possible writing project having to do with contemporary lay contemplative experience and how it might be informed by the Desert Fathers and Mothers of early Christianity. I am a relatively recent convert to Roman Catholicism and an admirer of Pope Francis, Leonardo Boff, Joan Chittister, and Richard Rohr. I'm a Lay Associate of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Monastery in Conyers, Georgia. I am interested in indigenous cultures, narratives, and spirituality, especially how these can inform my spirituality as a lay contemplative. I write, read, take pictures, play around with creating ephemera from paper and cloth and other organic things. I cook, hike, watch wildlife, and collect random bits of interesting oddness, both tangible and abstract. I am a seer of smallness and a caretaker of ridiculous minutiae. If you want, e-mail me at riverrun67@gmail.com or lksorrells@hotmail.com.