Hemingway’s Brush Strokes

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Ernest Hemingway thewritepractice.comWhen my English Literature professor, Marilyn McEntyre, told us Hemingway would write all day in small Parisian cafes and, afterward, take his lunch to the Musee du Luxembourg where he would look at Cezannes, it transformed how I looked at authors—and writing, for that matter—forever.

In college, I read Faulkner, Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy and all the other writers infamous among college students everywhere. The authors, if I had imagined them, were like statues in some museum, old cracked marble missing limbs, dust piled atop their heads. They were empty-eyed faces carved into cathedral stone, looking down on us to make sure we knew their names. If we misremembered, they would denounce us before God at those golden gates.

But Dr. McEntyre's story tore the veil. I saw Hemingway drinking cups of French coffee at a cafe with black and white pictures on the wall, writing slowly, with lots of crossouts. I saw him with his sacked lunch, made by his loving first wife Hadley, drinking out of a thermos (did they have those in the 1920s?) and tracing those bold brushstrokes with his eyes. He had intense blue eyes.

Writers, I realized, were somehow not part of the evil plan hatched by professors to torture their students, but real people, with real ambitions and insecurities. I've heard the point of art is not communication, but I realized then they were trying to give something to me, some greater perspective of the world maybe. Or even just an enjoyable afternoon.

Painting Transformation

On TheWritePractice.com we are looking for transformation. We don't want to give you just some good techniques. We want to transform the whole way you approach writing. When I began learning about Hemingway's life and influences, it helped me to realize that to transform the way I approached writing, I needed to see myself as part of the tradition. There is a great continuum in this art form, an inheritance that every writer can and should apprentice themselves to.

But there is a divergence in Hemingway. He didn't apprentice himself just to writers. He looked to a painter to transform his work. This week we're going to look at Hemingway's debt to Cezanne. What did Hemingway learn from Cezanne? And how can we transform our own writing by practicing these things?

Today, and off and on over the next couple of weeks, we're going to practice writing like Hemingway who practiced writing like Cezanne (wow that's complicated). We'll choose one aspect of Cezanne's style that Hemingway appropriated. Then, we will play with it, trying both to imitate it, but also just writing in our own fun way.

Technique Number One: Brushstrokes

Paul Cézanne Saint Victoire thewritepractice.com

Paul Cézanne's Saint Victoire

I wish I were more of an expert in art, but I do know Cezanne believed in using big bold brush strokes. His painting of Saint Victoire mountains could have been done with on an iPhone. Strong strokes construct the landscape like lincoln logs.

Hemingway believed each word was a brush stroke on the page. Some people have called Hemingway's prose childish and simplistic, but his genius was his use of a few strong words to do so much work. He used few adjectives. His prose is full of action, not decor, and so when an occasional bit of color is revealed, it fills in the whole image.

PRACTICE

Study Cezanne's painting of Saint Victoire mountain (above) for few minutes.

Then, write for fifteen minutes. Describe the scene around you, maybe even go outside with your laptop. Pick out the main features and describe them as tersely as possible. (TIP: My art teacher always told us to squint to see things simplified.) Post your practice in the comments and give feedback to other practicers (is that a word?).

And remember, you're writing. Have fun.

Joe Bunting is an author and the leader of The Write Practice community. He is also the author of the new book Crowdsourcing Paris, a real life adventure story set in France. It was a #1 New Release on Amazon. Follow him on Instagram (@jhbunting).

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44 Comments

  1. Joe Bunting

    The light floated into the coffee shop grey from the dank sky. It is morning, a Tuesday. A man sets up his laptop and scratches his scalp. His sweater is colored grey. He lifts his fork full of scone to his mouth. Grey cars drive by. The trees are the palest green, or else skeletal still, though it’s spring. Rot iron bars guard the patio just out the door. A man with a camo jacket and blue jeans opens the door for his wife. She is wearing a grey tshirt over a black longsleeve. Her hair is grey with white streaks. They order at the bar, slowly and full of sleep.

    Out the window and across the street, an old grey Lincoln is stopped at the light. Beside it rests a terracotta planter filled with yellow and pink and purple flowers, small and newly planted. The light turns and the Lincoln turns into the lane, blocking the flowers from sight. Grey cars follow it. The flowers disappear and reappear. Disappear and reappear.

    Until finally there are no more cars that go by. Only those three inch flowers. Yellow and pink and purple.

    Reply
  2. Jeff Goins

    Love this exercise!

    The slightly overcast clouds provide the perfect shade for a morning of coffee, email, reading, writing, and other distractions.

    The Border Collie pants heavily at my feet.

    I can feel the wooden deck below me. I can even smell it. The cicadas chirp loudly. Haven’t they all died yet?

    The garden hose hangs over the fence. I need to put that away. But not yet.

    The sun is coming out. The day is beginning. This moment will never exist again.

    And I sit. In my sweaty, stinky clothes from the morning’s run. Waiting.

    The bitter, delicious taste of coffee lingers in my mouth, and my laptop’s battery blinks red. One minute remaining.

    I sprint to finish, counting today a victory. Not because I’ve written much or even profoundly. But because I’ve written.

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Nice jeff. Love the action of it.

      Hemingway would probably cut out the adverbs: slightly, heavily,profoundly.

      This is very Hemingway though: I can feel the wooden deck below me. I can even smell it.

      Good stuff. I’m impressed!

      Reply
    • Rosanna

      Ohhh, how can you do that, so easily, it seems!
      My heart squirms with envy.

      Reply
  3. Mark Almand

    Dust is everywhere. It coats the leaves and the houses and comes up from beneath the wheels of the trucks that growl along the road. It settles onto the table and the papers and the book, so that the pages feel of grit as you handle them. It sticks to his skin next to his collar and grinds away at his softness.

    He cannot escape the dust. Now as he looks out of the window and across the plaza and the road and the trees, across the muddy river and beyond the plain to the mountains, he knows. It is over. And the dust falls down and the world turns brown.

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Wow. Powerful mark. So deep and sad I’ve got to tell you to stay away from shotguns for a while.

      “and comes up from beneath the wheels of the trucks that growl along the road.” my favorite line. What rhythm!

      Reply
  4. Eric Hanson

    I wake up from my nap to find that a wave of grey clouds had moved in during my unconsciousness. I step outside and find the late afternoon warmth refreshing after too much air conditioning. Settling in to my beat up patio chair, I notice the first light drops of rain gently fill the air with soft, blank noise. It eases my spirit and I am happy to simply be outside.

    The worn, tired willow tree perks up slightly at return of the rains. My patio garden is thankful for a respite from the late afternoon heat. I sit. I listen.

    This is a golden moment.

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      This is nice Eric. Good job.

      Reply
  5. Carey Rowland

    Cezanne’s brushstroke mountain depicts one long sliver of green on its upper, flatter face; layered deep within that painted slash is a man who now types these letters you see on your screen. Squint hard and you will see him there–a man who actually lives, three quarters of a century after Hemingway, on a green Appalachian mountain that looms above patchwork American landscape, a third of a world away from Cezanne’s patchy vision. The little writer man, typing there in the slender brushstroke, takes time out from his workaday world and from writing his novel that deals tangentially with the same Spanish Civil War that Hemingway depicted in his Bell Tolls work. The microscopically small brushstroke-borne novelist takes time, fifteen minutes or so, to add a thread or a stroke to Joe’s online Bunting, even as he disdains Hemingway’s fondness for wine, which probably surpassed the writer’s fondness for coffee in those Paris cafes, and he pities the women who were left,strewn in love’s disarray along dear Ernest’s wayward path of searching for the right word, the optimum phrase, the fullest experience, the perfect woman, the days of Bordeaux wine and brushstroked impressionist roses, until one day Generalissimo Franco’s soldiers take him and his bravadoed protagonist down with a bulleted brushstroke as he tries to blow up a bridge in Pablo’s Spain, not far from Picasso’s Guernica pain, on the other side of the Pyrenees from Cezanne’s mountain, while the little man in the sloping brushstroke listens to the gently falling rain, as he adds a brushstroke to Joe’s train, of thought.

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Hey Carey,

      Thanks for practicing! This is really fun. It reminds me of Faulkner, how he jumped from one fragment of a scene to another in those long sentences. And this rhyme is hilarious, “As he tries to blow up a bridge in Pablo’s Spain, not far from Picasso’s Guernica pain.” Your repetition, your “patchwork,” as you said, is the word, brushstroke, which I though was clever.

      Hemingway would have cut all the adverbs (tangentially, microscopically, gently) and adjectives (bulleted, painted, patchwork American, slender). Faulkner might not have, though.

      What looming Appalachian mountain are you layered deep in? Anywhere near Gainesville, GA?

      Reply
  6. Rincon Stevie

    Every day I begin there is a little change. My office is wonderful…a kind of retreat sometimes, an operations center at others. When the desk is clean, stuff cleared to drawers, the office is restful. But most of the time, my space is crowded with paper and unfinished work. Projects that don’t get past the next phone call. Drawer open, paper laying on top of the work stacked into my desk.
    Years ago, I invested in office furniture that was both beautiful and functional. The basic furniture includes two desks which sit opposite each other. The larger with a display credenza has side shelves displaying impressive things I ignore, a meaningless award from a firm I do business with, a cup from an organization I belong to with it’s initials engraved prominently. A silver pen cup with no pens in it, from another investment firm I have used in the past. An urn, suitable for ashes with stale candy made by a pot maker I love. The other side has an brass eagle that belonged to a favorite uncle and an ebony elephant given to me by a friend who returned from Africa with more gifts than he had people to give them to. I think he bought all the gifts from a christian charity. A couple of glass plaques fill most of the rest of the space, given mechanically every year by my broker dealer for outstanding service, only because I hit a production goal.

    There are a pair of figures, given to me by my friend C, they were his stock broker father’s who he generally detested, but of course loved: a small silver bull and bear. The top center shelf contains two roaring lions, facing off, gifts from an appreciative client…well not quite client. They appreciated the free advice I gave them and wanted to say thanks. The bottom display is full of binders that I mostly use; software, paychex, Rotary foundation and portfolio information that maybe I use sometime.

    The top of my working desk includes a high speed scanner, two large monitors, my favorite picture of my wife, the phone and headset, a coaster and a pile of paper which goes up and down but almost never disappears. This is my “to do list”.

    The top of the other desk evolves into a swath of paper, down to nothing. Little piles spring up, stick around and then are either destroyed like grist to a mill, or banshied to a suitable drawer.

    And drawers are what make my desk cool. Lots of them. When one overflows, there is another. When that one overflows, there is still another. And then, one day, when the mood is right, the magic is in the air, I clean house and get rid of everything in a fireball of activity. I wish I knew when those days came along…I’d schedule them if I could…but they are hormonal things, days of passion and grief and great consumption of work!

    The rest of my office is nice. Green carpet, old and dirty, but comfortable. And lots of books on shelves, some I’ve even looked at. A few years ago I started putting interesting things on the shelves, like a bell, wind up mechanical toys, an amythest rock…things my grandchildren will delight in…or any child. The cabinets hide supplies, neatly stacked and drawers full of supplies and extra cables for something electronic that is no longer on the premises.

    I like my office with its messes and organization. I come here to get things done and when I am powering through things, it is a delight of organization and effeciency. And the truth is, I really prefer to work…which makes me boring sometimes…but there is no escaping who we are.

    Reply
  7. Rincon Stevie

    Every day I begin there is a little change. My office is wonderful…a kind of retreat sometimes, an operations center at others. When the desk is clean, stuff cleared to drawers, the office is restful. But most of the time, my space is crowded with paper and unfinished work. Projects that don’t get past the next phone call. Drawer open, paper laying on top of the work stacked into my desk.
    Years ago, I invested in office furniture that was both beautiful and functional. The basic furniture includes two desks which sit opposite each other. The larger with a display credenza has side shelves displaying impressive things I ignore, a meaningless award from a firm I do business with, a cup from an organization I belong to with it’s initials engraved prominently. A silver pen cup with no pens in it, from another investment firm I have used in the past. An urn, suitable for ashes with stale candy made by a pot maker I love. The other side has an brass eagle that belonged to a favorite uncle and an ebony elephant given to me by a friend who returned from Africa with more gifts than he had people to give them to. I think he bought all the gifts from a christian charity. A couple of glass plaques fill most of the rest of the space, given mechanically every year by my broker dealer for outstanding service, only because I hit a production goal.

    There are a pair of figures, given to me by my friend C, they were his stock broker father’s who he generally detested, but of course loved: a small silver bull and bear. The top center shelf contains two roaring lions, facing off, gifts from an appreciative client…well not quite client. They appreciated the free advice I gave them and wanted to say thanks. The bottom display is full of binders that I mostly use; software, paychex, Rotary foundation and portfolio information that maybe I use sometime.

    The top of my working desk includes a high speed scanner, two large monitors, my favorite picture of my wife, the phone and headset, a coaster and a pile of paper which goes up and down but almost never disappears. This is my “to do list”.

    The top of the other desk evolves into a swath of paper, down to nothing. Little piles spring up, stick around and then are either destroyed like grist to a mill, or banshied to a suitable drawer.

    And drawers are what make my desk cool. Lots of them. When one overflows, there is another. When that one overflows, there is still another. And then, one day, when the mood is right, the magic is in the air, I clean house and get rid of everything in a fireball of activity. I wish I knew when those days came along…I’d schedule them if I could…but they are hormonal things, days of passion and grief and great consumption of work!

    The rest of my office is nice. Green carpet, old and dirty, but comfortable. And lots of books on shelves, some I’ve even looked at. A few years ago I started putting interesting things on the shelves, like a bell, wind up mechanical toys, an amythest rock…things my grandchildren will delight in…or any child. The cabinets hide supplies, neatly stacked and drawers full of supplies and extra cables for something electronic that is no longer on the premises.

    I like my office with its messes and organization. I come here to get things done and when I am powering through things, it is a delight of organization and effeciency. And the truth is, I really prefer to work…which makes me boring sometimes…but there is no escaping who we are.
    show less

    Reply
  8. Rincon Stevie

    Every day I begin there is a little change. My office is wonderful…a kind of retreat sometimes, an operations center at others. When the desk is clean, stuff cleared to drawers, the office is restful. But most of the time, my space is crowded with paper and unfinished work. Projects that don’t get past the next phone call. Drawer open, paper laying on top of the work stacked into my desk.
    Years ago, I invested in office furniture that was both beautiful and functional. The basic furniture includes two desks which sit opposite each other. The larger with a display credenza has side shelves displaying impressive things I ignore, a meaningless award from a firm I do business with, a cup from an organization I belong to with it’s initials engraved prominently. A silver pen cup with no pens in it, from another investment firm I have used in the past. An urn, suitable for ashes with stale candy made by a pot maker I love. The other side has an brass eagle that belonged to a favorite uncle and an ebony elephant given to me by a friend who returned from Africa with more gifts than he had people to give them to. I think he bought all the gifts from a christian charity. A couple of glass plaques fill most of the rest of the space, given mechanically every year by my broker dealer for outstanding service, only because I hit a production goal.

    There are a pair of figures, given to me by my friend C, they were his stock broker father’s who he generally detested, but of course loved: a small silver bull and bear. The top center shelf contains two roaring lions, facing off, gifts from an appreciative client…well not quite client. They appreciated the free advice I gave them and wanted to say thanks. The bottom display is full of binders that I mostly use; software, paychex, Rotary foundation and portfolio information that maybe I use sometime.

    The top of my working desk includes a high speed scanner, two large monitors, my favorite picture of my wife, the phone and headset, a coaster and a pile of paper which goes up and down but almost never disappears. This is my “to do list”.

    The top of the other desk evolves into a swath of paper, down to nothing. Little piles spring up, stick around and then are either destroyed like grist to a mill, or banshied to a suitable drawer.

    And drawers are what make my desk cool. Lots of them. When one overflows, there is another. When that one overflows, there is still another. And then, one day, when the mood is right, the magic is in the air, I clean house and get rid of everything in a fireball of activity. I wish I knew when those days came along…I’d schedule them if I could…but they are hormonal things, days of passion and grief and great consumption of work!

    The rest of my office is nice. Green carpet, old and dirty, but comfortable. And lots of books on shelves, some I’ve even looked at. A few years ago I started putting interesting things on the shelves, like a bell, wind up mechanical toys, an amythest rock…things my grandchildren will delight in…or any child. The cabinets hide supplies, neatly stacked and drawers full of supplies and extra cables for something electronic that is no longer on the premises.

    I like my office with its messes and organization. I come here to get things done and when I am powering through things, it is a delight of organization and effeciency. And the truth is, I really prefer to work…which makes me boring sometimes…but there is no escaping who we are.
    show less

    Reply
  9. Rosanna

    What a fresh insight on writing! It’s great that you are encouraging transformation – we can all be transformed as we write! I think that every writer should be a lover of words – and every word we write should express our love for our craft. And, oh yes, every writer would love to write like Hemingway!
    Nice article, nice blog.

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Thanks Rosanna. He was pretty talented, wasn’t he. Thanks for commenting.

      Reply
  10. Rosanna

    What a fresh insight on writing! It’s great that you are encouraging transformation – we can all be transformed as we write! I think that every writer should be a lover of words – and every word we write should express our love for our craft. And, oh yes, every writer would love to write like Hemingway!
    Nice article, nice blog.

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Thanks Rosanna. He was pretty talented, wasn’t he. Thanks for commenting.

      Reply
  11. Aaron Tackett

    The mallard, with his metallic green headdress and quarter sized eyes, landed so perfectly, it made the act look effortless. As if. Ripples announced his arrival. They distorted the mirrored water; exaggerated his image. He paddled with unseen effort. Gliding across the surface. With his head high I thought he appeared noble. He swan under trees engulfed by autumns fire. Yellow, gold, red and copper leaves shimmied in the cool breeze, appearing frightened by his unexpected presence.

    I huddle against November, a white feather danced above my mug. I held the cup with both hands. I smelled the mugs bitter, roasted fragrance. Silently, like a parasitic voyeurs we watched one another.

    I stood. He turned his head. With only one eye fixed on me, he either blinked or winked only he will ever know. In return, I saluted the King, and left him alone to rule his world.

    Reply
    • Aaron

      Thanks Joe

      Reply
    • Sandra

      I like how the first paragraph that has a cool feeling with the word Ripples and distorted mirror water. Then toward the end of that paragraph you mention the trees, as autumns fire, changing the tone to something more fiery.

      Reply
  12. Sandra

    My room is a room. It has the things an office room has. No art on the walls though. The art is stored on my computer. I have four plants. I always liked having plants. I feel like having something alive near me means I must be more alive.

    An empty bottle of CostCo brand diet green tea lays on my desk. I can’t look out the window, cause the heavy curtain blots the light out. The walls are white. Other rooms in the house are not white. This may be the only room in the house that is. Before I met my husband all the walls were white in my house. But a family and children need color sometimes.

    I stare up at the light of my computer screen. I recently read a lot of motivational blogs on writing. So much motivation, and maybe hope.

    I go outside. The sun and trees, all of their colors are so bright to me. I am taken aback and overwhelmed somewhat. Part of me wants to go back inside, seek shelter in the walls. But I stand there and look out and try to think about what I feel. The cherry tree is infused all over it with pink blossoms. And the grass has the color of the new green of spring. A lighter shade and more tender as well. This is the best grass for cows I think, the first grass. It is pretty I guess. All alive like that. But does it infuse in me anything?

    My son comes outside too. He is 2, running in the grass with just a blue shirt on. I tell him that he knows the rules, no pants, no outside. I grab his small hand and tug him towards the house and shut it behind us. You want pants so you can go outside? I ask, my voice is sweetened a little for a childs taste. But he is not biting the bait.

    He grumbles, “No pants, no outside.”

    -Timer-

    Reply
  13. Sandra

    I love Hemingway’s writing style. I have not read that many of his works. But writing in a short descriptive way has a real poetic feel to me.

    Reply
  14. David

    Hemingway wrote in the morning, generally from 6 to 10 or 11, not all day, then had lunch and began drinking and socializing. Each sentence was a brushtroke, to carry the analogy correctly, not each word. No thermoses yet. On an historical note, Hemingway “invented” the coolie, wrapping his drinks with a napkin and using rubber bands to hold it in place to extend the life of the ice.

    Reply
  15. Angel Prideaux

    I can see the tip of the mountain through my window. It’s early. The clouds rest against the mountaintop, while the sun rises, warming them all. Below, the trees begin to glisten— light seeping through the sleepy clouds onto each leafy branch.

    My Momma always said golden hour was her favorite. It’s mine too.

    “Mmmm, golden hour— when the earth shines and all is fine,” Momma would say.

    I don’t ever miss a sunrise. Momma and I would watch the magic of golden hour every Sunday. Since she’s passed I watch the magic every day.

    I can feel her there with me. I can almost see her there, next to me. Her eyes closed and nose level to the sun, and the way her hair caught the light, like the wheat in the fields. I can hear her soft inhale, followed by her sweet “Mmmm,” as she exhales.

    I’ve never met another human that appreciates golden hour the way Momma did.

    Reply
  16. Sidney

    A fly persistently bothers the toes of my right foot. The fly swat’s lying within reach, but I’m ignoring it.
    I had to pause to swat it. Its body splattered, part falling in between my toes and the other bit flung across the tiles. The wind’s making rustling trees. Last night it made clattering shutters; I thought about what you’d hear if there was nothing for it to buff and I figured no, you can’t actually hear the wind – except you’d have to be there to listen, so there wouldn’t be nothing.
    The kitchen bin is ugly frog green. It’s an exhibitionist bin. The dog could be dead in the corner. Still. Calm. Reassuring. He’s a peaceful dog, who clearly smells less enticing than my feet. Another fly’s arrived. They never stop. I should wash my feet, see where they land then. I heard one of the horses cough up dusty hay phlegm and it reminded me that I shouldn’t be here. I should be swimming in the sea. I should be snorkeling or surfing or sitting on a rock paddling my feet. That’s what I do when I can’t write. That’s what I do. But maybe it’s time for a change.

    Reply
  17. Lauren Timmins

    P { margin-bottom: 0.08in; }

    The world is still. Nature is frozen,
    sound and motion dispelled from the universe, so silence reigns. A
    near perfect silence to match the blank white void burning into my
    eyes. Small, delicate, ivory flowers billow down from a stone gray
    sky to join their companions on the ground. Water is frozen on the
    branches of bushes, individual rivers roaming over leaves and buds
    born far too soon. The air itself feels like ice; it is brittle,
    crisp, and cold. I shiver, the motion rapidly tearing through my body
    in a hopeless attempt to keep warm. The winter is a beautiful and
    terrible temptress, with her frozen daggers and icy trapdoors that
    lead to near frozen still water. I am alone. And in this tragic
    wilderness, the wind sensed my sudden realization, and raised a
    mournful howl that echoed through the woods. It roused the fir trees,
    their invulnerable needles shaking with disgust. They were far better
    suited for this wilderness than I. Snow-capped reapers, watching over
    the dead and dying foliage below them. A sigh fills my lungs with the
    poisoned air, ice fills my lungs, and I decay. The wind ceases to
    howl as frost envelopes my body in a frozen white veil.

    Reply
  18. Martin

    Urban Wilderness

    The earbuds emitted a melody that aroused my senses. Morning sunlight stretched over the horizon, warming the peaks of the man-made mountains. I sat lazily, like a lion,
    surveying the scene as a sipped coffee in silence. I glanced at a nearby
    building. It stood erect like a great oak, rooted deep in the concrete soil. Far
    above a plane spread its wings and soared through the air with the tenacity of
    a hawk.

    I rose from my resting place and strode towards the urban
    wilderness, ready to attack the day.

    Reply
  19. Kiki Stamatiou

    Prompt #7: The Sky Whispered To The Mountains
    By Kiki Stamatiou a. k. a. Joanna Maharis

    The sky whispered to the mountains so grey with their ruggedness. Sensual as the earthly rampant waves of the homes caressing the earth with the smile they bring. The mountains fortify the whole of the truce the atmosphere screams out in remission of all fires brewing in the soul of the clouds.

    For the heavens speak to my consciousness, ever flowing with vibrant colors speaking tones of rustic homes camouflaging each linear sign the decadence of the night is coming among the fire burning up in my soul.

    Grassy hills align themselves against the wholesomeness of the homes in this village of camphor truths. For the sky speaks volumes to the wind. The faithful approach with their souls singing praise to the clouds filling their hearts with a passion. For the ignition of these beings is released by the browns, greens, blues, grays and whites
    streaming from human consciousness.

    A wilted flower speaks to my spirit the wounds brought about in the intrusive means of the mind struggling to capture illusive winds. I have never heard of the mind calling out to the song of the sky to finish the deeds of the day, but when all is humbled by the grace of the mountains, a new song is sung by the choir of angels living in wholesomeness surrounding the valley with the light of hope. For burning up the sky with beautiful musicality of the streams filling my soul, there is the word of God being
    transcended on the mountains overlooking the village, and caring for the souls who run on their own rampage.

    It is about making the heart full, such as the sky with a mixture of emotion in the colors serenading my heart. For to bleed out the soul of the bluish grey skies offers up the light of the moon to heaven on earth.

    Notwithstanding is the platitude launched by the green grassy areas surrounding the homes with their love of light, and true word of true word, dancing before all holy vessels understood by man’s emergence from the grave, ascending into the clouds where heavens bring abound a new home.

    For the path we walk serves as the rival of the sun when villagers play indoors, singing and dancing, in their celebration of life.

    There is the emergence of the day when shifting grails move the mountain to commune with the sky and the earth of all man brings in his holy attributes during his hour of prayer, and withholding all sanctified channels to be walked by the meek.

    I am the bold, looking to the bluish grey skies for the answers I seek in light of the future. For I have become a part of a new whole.

    © Copyright, Kiki Stamatiou, 2015

    Reply
  20. Thomas Furmato

    I don’t know how to tell you this. Let me start by saying that I’m totally not equipped to give you all the details, I was never told them myself. But, and this is probably why I’m the one telling you, and not someone more involved, I know the big picture. I can step back and see the broad strokes of the situation. So, here it goes.

    You’re here because you are a danger to everyone else. You don’t need to know the details of how, or even why, but you’re not gonna be let loose into God knows where, just to live up to some fanciful idea of what freedom is. You’re a menace, to some, but mostly, just not really needed out there. I don’t know what you might remember, if it’s all coming back to you or not, but try to keep it to yourself. Chances are, nothing you can imagine even remains anymore. Frankly, it’s a mess out there, no thanks to you.

    See, you didn’t get a sophisticated spokesperson to greet you when you woke up, just me. Think of me as the janitor. And you stumbled into a darkened building will all the doors locked. I got the keys, and the mop. So just relax and enjoy the quietness. We could be here for a while. And, that’s not a bad thing you know. As a matter of fact, every moment that we remain alive, we should be really thankful for. And, just imagine that some day, in the distance, there is another mountain to climb. But, that’s for another day.

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  21. Alayna

    I’m late to the party, but I haven’t written in a while and this seemed like a fun prompt! Getting back into the swing.

    The denim of my duvet contrasts against the serene and stormy Aegean blue shade of the current sky at 8:30 pm. Fog casting its mark on thin panes of glass, and droplets of fresh rain’s gentle touch stroking upwards. The grass, greener than it has ever been, and the mixed smell of fall-spiced wax and nature’s downpour from my open window mingle with grace. It is early autumn in late spring. Just beyond my home is one of the largest flat top mountains in the world, with roots from Aspen trees tangling for miles. Up there, at an elevation of 10,500 feet, the clouds stampede. The world moves twice as fast as it does from down below. For today, quiet pattering subdues the busy mind. Tomorrow the sun will show.

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  22. kwjordy

    The room feels cozy. It is my sanctuary from the summer heat. The air conditioner does its work almost silently; emitting only faint sounds of air pushing through the vents. It sits near the top of the textured pea-green wall, sending waves of cool air throughout the space. Below, the television, black, silent, waiting. An old wood desk, recently refinished and showing its fine wood grain anew. Leftover flecks of green paint refuse to give up their place on the pock-marked surface. It gives no sign of how it feels to be useful again rather than relegated to a storage room to hold old cans of paint, but I like to think it feels a renewed sense of pride that its life continues in such beautiful fashion.

    Just to the right of the desk is a cheap, plastic storage unit. It is a portable closet with double doors on the front that are always half-open and askew. Sitting as it does between the wood desk and another refinished wood piece, it looks scrappy and out of place. (I know how it feels.)

    The oak drop-leaf table in front of the plastic bodega shouts out its heritage, but need not try so hard; it is once-again solid and majestic and ought only stand in its place to warm the cement-tiled gray floor and bring a touch of history to the room. The turned legs and beveled-edge top make for a much-loved piece in a house of people with not a lot of assets.

    Just to the left of the TV hangs a hammock on one of the hooks imbedded into the cement wall. The material droops in folds, the green and white cotton strands undulating up and down, following the contours of the hammock that loops up and down and through itself, finally resting on a large, soft knot.

    The rest of the furniture in the room seems completely out of place: a wicker coffee table filled with business receipts and project drawings, four naugahyde footstools, two of which are used as end tables, and a gray, tubular-aluminum futon covered with an old, bright red bedspread.

    I write, I slouch into the futon and watch TV and movies, I take reservations and answer emails, I keep our business financials, and I sleep – fitfully, but I sleep. I am away from guests, away from the noisy street just outside our B&B, and am able to set aside the days doings.

    Steve joins me on the futon and we binge-watch and binge-eat, sometimes sans clothing due to the unbearable heat that permeates even this air-conditioned space. I prop feet upon the footstool and place my computer on my lap and call up today’s crossword puzzle before attempting to finish my work for the day.

    The heavy textured drapes do their best to block the sun’s relentless 94-million mile journey that ends at my feet. This room is solid. It allows me to stop being me, to unwind, sit back, lie back, fall back, unfocus – a cocoon I weave each day.

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  23. grantburkhardt

    My fingers are on the computer keys, my wrists are on the table. It’s a small table, meant for two people playing cards. If a third person wanted to pull a chair to the side and play, the portrait would become quite intimate. No one else uses this table because it is too small or too uncomfortable, but those are two good reasons for frequenting a bar or a coffee shop or a bed, so I’m glad no one sits here. It’s a heavy table because of its metal legs, carved into shapes to give the appearance of some far away culture. Where they touch the floor they bend a final time, curl over themselves like cold toes. They curve from bottom to top, and a slab of wood lays flat there for card players to play or writers. The wood has been varnished, thick on the edges and light in the center.

    Behind my computer screen I know there are three Hemingway stories. Two of them, the shorter ones, have highlight marks on them. The third, The Snows Of Kilimanjaro, is only white and black.

    There is a charging port for my electronics. It’s a lovely bit of engineering, although my engineer cousin would scoff at me for suggesting everything I like is “good engineering.” The power orb is black and round and has four sliding levers. Each corresponds to a region of the world where a traveler needs different shapes to fit power-needy things into wall sockets. I recently used the Europe side. When fully erect it looks like the two protruding horns on the front of a forklift.

    There is also a journal on the table. The pages are not quite white and they are lined, which is kind because I do not write straight. It’s a simple black journal with five or six entries in it. One of those stories details every event for three weeks and takes up twenty pages or more. Much of the writing I’ve completed in there connects to the past. There is also talk of affecting dreams and of love, even moreso.

    The chair across from me is empty except for the one pillow, colored like the muted cape of a Spanish matador. The windows next to the table have been cranked open. They are hinged at the edges and open like doors. It is August and an October breeze is flowing in through the screens that are the boundary between suburban house and suburban lawn, both of which are controlled in one way or the next. The wind carries with it the sound of kids playing far away. There are three or more kids playing. School starts in a week or less for the kids and they are likely driving their parents mad by never sleeping because that’s why eighth grade algebra exists. The wind has turned and so the children are now silent.

    There are other things to my right inside the suburban house, but they do not ever move and have little life so they are not rushing to be written about.

    It is just past noon on a Tuesday. I am describing the objects in my family’s home, this comforted place with all of its still, bought things that becomes more soulless each year as all of us change and leave and change again. Perhaps that is also happening as I become more aware. My bank account is not accruing anything, and the market has my “retirement” money hooked onto it as it rides a toboggan down a hill packed with a thin layer of old snow. My coffee is disappearing. I am at peace by the scene I’ve drawn for myself because I have one month of these days remaining and I will bathe in this restfulness until I once again leave for another life.

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  24. Will

    A closed room, white. On my desk, laptop, books, phone, pencils. A paper stuffed folder – blue squares over black make up the covering. My towering stacks of books – undulating like waves, some higher, some smaller. Their earthen scent hangs about them.

    My sweater, red and warm. Thick socks on my feet – they itch slightly. Better than the cold wood underneath.

    Outside, darkness. Rain falls, mist rises to fog over my windows. Street lamps glimmer, distant. The occasional whoosh of a passing car. Other buildings rise, white against a dark sky. Clouds billow over them, cold pillows.

    A pencil, on my palm, pink and green tipped with black. It glitters in the light of my lamp. It’s about to be put against paper.

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  25. drew leahy

    Coarse and bristled. Fickle and tired.

    We named her, Riley.

    In two months, she’ll turn two.

    In two months, that collar will too. (At least it seems.)

    Up and down. Down and up. Left and right and down.

    Hum. Up. Then down.

    Creek. Up. Then down.

    Erk. Up. Then. Down.

    Her bristle: a black so black that the glare of the sun turns it white. Syncopating. Curled. Asleep.

    Bang.

    Down and up. Up and down. Down and left and right.

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  26. bah

    the freezing air crept into my shirt. maybe a run there will warm me up.
    the sweat turned cold. i shiver in the waiting. the sun is nearly out.

    Reply
  27. Karla Phillips

    The waiting room is a mix of people, young and old. Ellen is playing on the TV on the wall. Some people watch the TV, others are on their phones or laptops, like me. There’s lots of fidgety movement. The atmosphere is friendly due to Ellen; people laugh at her skits. It’s not the worst waiting room I’ve ever been in. At least I brought plenty to do.
    The table in the center of the room holds magazines, free pharmacy cards, and an empty box of tissues. More people come in through the door. Empty chairs are spaced around the walls, and no two are together. I wish I had internet in here, but there’s no point. I couldn’t put my headphones on anyway because I need to listen for the psychiatrist to call me back.
    I wonder how many people in this room are in the same situation I’m in: having to fight themselves, watch their moods, stabilize their moods every day or more than once a day.
    The TV changes to the news. There’s news of Trump signing executive orders to begin building the U.S. – Mexico border wall. I try not to listen, but feel like there was no point to avoiding Facebook and Twitter today. I wanted to avoid the news today. Looks like it didn’t work.

    Reply
  28. Noname

    The room is small and yet somehow manages to accomodate the lives of three people. They sleep on bunk beds so that precious space is saved. A quarter of the room consist of wirings and machines.

    There’s no desk to write on, no sofa or chair for guests to sit in. Though it’s sometimes hard to believe, there are people who live in such conditions. It goes to say, no matter how bad you think your life is, there’s always someone worse off than you.

    Reply
  29. vinod koul

    I was sitting on the foothills and feeling the silence of the soul awaking breeze. Again I open page to complete the remaining chapter. My views again caught the sight of arch bridge over the still water beneath.
    A bouncing sound pierced my ears as kids were playing down the field along the marshy road.
    They were thrilled as enjoying the victory over the another team.
    As I tried to again read , my sight caught the bus crowded with passengers with top gear on the road beneath. Kids crossed the fields quickly to catch firmly the iron pedestals on the back of bus.
    The bus stopped and bus conductor come down but before the kids disappeared from the scene. But before I could gone further on portrait. I found myself in the room before the desktop.and somebody calling me to come down for the lunch.

    Reply

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