Live Write Words

Workshops for Emerging Writers

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new poem

The Butterfly Poem

I

Stop beating your wings against my windowpane!
Wings are more fragile than glass, you know.
You don’t have long to live, you know.
Stay out here with me.  Help me write this poem.
You and I belong out here, not trapped inside.

Like all poets I write about dying,
not death.  Dying is harder.
We need to wake  to love and pain.
But you who have such little time,                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              don’t try to go too soon below.

Painters look around to see what’s here,
find butterflies trying hard to die.
Sometimes paint what they cannot see                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        in colors bright or dim, or hardly there.
No, I won’t bore you with my woes today.

Your wings so shiny black!
How you power them no one knows.
Where you come from no one knows
or where you go–or even I–
oh, if you could only teach me to how to fly!

II

We poets usually find another time
to die, not by giving up like you.
The old refrain we hear inside
pushes us on or gives us pause.
Music and love is what it’s all about.

And you, do you hear sounds of love?
Hear my heart right now, beating low?
Hear quiet thoughts inside my head?
Maybe you know much more than I,
or do you flutter about unconsciously?

“Art for art’s sake!” a painter shouts,
knowing his life will sputter out.
But what he does will stay and stay,
keep him alive beyond his day.
Flutterby, take a lesson from him today.

III

Could you be more than beauty robed in black?
Can butterflies be souls of loved ones lost,
come back to lift a troubled lonely mate
at times like this when feeling all alone,
remembering our headlong rush to love?

If so, I bless thee, mute angelic friend,
wish Godspeed on your trip back home,
memorialize your visit in heartfelt words.
Dare I say your name, my lovely wife?
Dare I whisper, come to me tonight?

Stephenson         Fall, 2017

What’s this Golf Workshop?

What’s This Golf Workshop About?

A friend talked me into offering it, not to teach new swing thoughts or achieve lower scores, but to discuss what few golfers do–why they obsess over the sport. Our discussion book would be M.Scott Peck’s Golf and the Spirit. The idea sounded good to me, so I added it to the website listings and scheduled workshops for March and May.

No problem back then, but when March loomed, finding me not one bit closer to knowing why I obsess, I started to worry. Fortunately something happened in early February.

The lady I’d met in tango class told me she loved golf, and we agreed to an exploratory nine holes. They went fine–she has a natural swing, and I did ok–so we moved to eighteen… securing a 2:30 tee time that would probably pull us up short before dark. Oh well.

Before continuing, a word about my game. I’ve been playing for twenty years, ten seriously, but still feared the risky proposition of getting clobbered by a woman I still barely knew who’s been playing only five or six years, not ten or twenty. That could easily happen; such things do in golf. But hopefully not to someone who’s already scratched out on the tango thing.

Fortunately, something good happened. Despite the extremely slow foursome in front of us, people who should be confined to putt-putt golf, not real golf, we started relaxing and just having fun. No wicked swing thoughts or troublesome fears of pulls and shanks. After a while we just walked up and slammed the ball where it was supposed to go. Fairway woods, so-so; irons, pure magic. (She even hit her five iron 20 yards farther than usual, over a pond to the far side of the green.) Greens, unbelievable. Once, having gained confidence from somewhere, I showed off before my new partner by putting from fifteen feet off the fringe, not with a putter, but with a #5 rescue hybrid, a shot my son had taught me and I’d practiced the week before at the range. Things like this can also occasionally happen on the golf course.

On the front nine she got one of her best scores ever, and I couldn’t believe my 39. It got even better on the back nine. Not the scores, but the game. Our adversaries in front disappeared and the afternoon stayed warm and beautiful. Didn’t that magical Arizona sunset turn skies red, and didn’t it stay light enough to finish? We launched our drives on 17 and 18 right into the dark, but they magically showed up on the fairway when we drove up, and the light held out to the last putt. It was all too much.

About this time I discovered what had happened that later allowed me to answer why I loved golf so much. We’d been playing intimate golf.

Who’s ever heard of intimate golf? It’s not that we’d been thinking about our bodies, except to make reminders about staying square to the target or keeping head up, but just that we’d left behind all small talk, guarded talk, or worst of all, political talk, and were just in the now. Mainly we laughed and joked. Somehow managed to get free of the thousand mental, physical, emotional, and–according to Scott Peck–spiritual traps that golf springs on unsuspecting souls. We were playing intimate golf, that was the difference. Scott Peck calls it playing in the zone, playing intentionally yet relaxed, playing humbly. I guess I’d just say playing in joy. We smiled and laughed all afternoon and all the way home.

At first I’d decided to confine the workshop to men, but now realize that was silly. Everyone can profit by occasionally playing and discussing intentional golf…particularly when it’s intimate intentional golf.

Your Presenter Speaks

Four Pivotal Moments in the Life of Your Presenter,  Bill Stephenson

One

Before taking his last run on Bradley’s Bash that cold March afternoon in time to catch the ski train back to Denver, he scanned the distant mountain range and thanked the invisible powers that be, which he didn’t think he believed in, for Colorado’s beauty and for having been granted the good fortune of being able to ski nearly every weekend from when he was nine up to now, his last winter before leaving for the remote Southern California college.

He told himself he’d remember this moment the rest of his life–repeating what he’d said for absolutely no good reason eleven years ago while standing outside the city dump he and Herbie used to build cardboard forts in–and pushed off with his poles.  Life was good.

Two

Somehow managing to complete four years of Pomona College, one day he woke up and sadly realized he hadn’t been cut out to write the world’s next great novel.  He didn’t know what to do except keep going to school.  Another eight years loomed ahead, first at UC Berkeley and next as underpaid TA at the University of Minnesota while raising two kids.   One day he hoped it might be teaching English literature, not just Freshman English.

That day did come, down in Austin, Texas, where he tried hard to turn students on to Keats, Wordsworth, Shelley, and Blake.  He couldn’t believe he was actually getting paid for discussing great books.  And he loved Austin in those early Willie Nelson days.  Life was still good.

Three

His life started confirming the theory that males freak out in their late thirties.  After his marital crisis and getting disillusioned over the way English departments had turned into politically correct factories, he’d headed back to his beloved Colorado, lucky to find a new career as a bureaucrat, of all things, with the new Solar Energy Research Institute in Golden.  Would it be possible for America to change before running out of fossil fuels, he wondered on the day that Jimmy Carter came to announce the short-lived solar decade?  And would it be possible for his two kids to survive the marital crisis?

America managed to survive, continued to pump out big V-8’s and maxi-vans.  And his two kids survived, would go on to produce four wonderful boys of their own.  And, amazingly enough, the invisible god he still didn’t know whether he believed in or not brought him another beautiful woman who would become his soul mate for the next 34 years.  Life continued to be good.

Four

Looking directly south to Mt. Evans 20 eagle-miles away, he again thanked the invisible god that he’d finally decided might exist, and returned to his task of stacking one log on top of another. That task took the better part of six years, six wonderful years of living off the grid while surviving on bread and stone soup.  Unfortunately that idyll had to come to its end, but life continued  to be good in Wisconsin, Arizona, and Texas.  

Suddenly, after the century turned, life’s inevitable tragedy had to hit,  ultimately taking away the love of his life.  He tried to let go of everything he held so tight, as all the spiritual masters teach, but instead found himself running away from the North Carolina dream house back to the west of his youth.  Maybe he would settle down–not in cold Colorado but warm Arizona; try to build a new life and simply retire to play golf forever.  That worked until someone convinced him he needed to help others survive their grief by learning to write their way through it.  Thus was born LiveWriteWords.

 

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