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A different game of writing prompts: Invisible Pain

The scars. I lay here in bed, at once trying not to see and trying to make out every detail.

Wondering what other people can see.  Wondering what they think.

It has been over a decade since any have been added.

Who was that young girl?

And why did she first decide to cut into her skin?

They all said: She does it for attention.

In high school anything anyone does is for attention.

Now, aged, aging, sight changes and blurs without these lenses:

The other night, a former lover became upset with me for suggesting that maybe she was dependent on the pain medication she has been taking for months now. I was not speaking to her pain—I could hear its presence in her voice through the phone and over one-thousand miles. I was responding to a conversation in which she confided in me that she was afraid to have the pain relieved. She had lived with it so long, taken the meds so long, that her identity became one with it.

Who would she be without pain?

Though I tried to explain that I believed she was still in pain, tried to explain that pain and dependence could coexist, she became desperate to illustrate her pain to me. To prove it. She wished pain were visible, she wished there were colors that corresponded to the number and face charts the doctors used.

What color is beyond 10?

I felt: Yes, I wish pain were visible. I wish you could have seen the collage that comes after 10 each time you dismissed my emotions and demanded that I stop crying. Every time you left me alone in the depths of it, like the pain was my choice and you were opting out.

I thought: Cutting is this desire to be understood in action. Proactive. An attempt to prove pain. Redirecting the wound to what can be touched, to what can heal.

They all said: She does it for attention.

I say: Attend. Tend    her wound.


Who would any of us be without pain?


Prompt: Write an American Sentence.  Choose another group member’s American sentence.  Use this sentence to begin your piece.  Leave it through the revision process.  And then delete it.

The beautiful sentence I chose: “In the dim dusk I could still see it there, the emblem of my mistake.”

Wednesday Writing Prompts: If my girlhood bunk bed could talk

Rough. Draft.

If my girlhood bunk bed could talk

When I first arrived, I, entirely disassembled,
clanky, awkward, fragments
blood-red inside
a giant rectangle box
Their mother had ordered me new
and not together I understood
that I was somehow different from
the secondhand kitchen table and the
plaid chair that was great-grandma’s
before she became second-
handed off to the nurses in the home.
The first night the tall girl pushed
me and my big box
across the room
blocking the door, with the flash
light on my side. I didn’t understand.
Then he came in. He opened the door and
knocked into my box and the heavy
light fell onto the tall girl
who was resting with her back against my box,
so tight against me, like a someone cornered against brick
in an ally way, no place left to run.
The short girl under her arm.
He laughed. A laugh that shook me and I clanked.
“Is this for me?” He asked. I still didn’t understand.
Later, together, I understood.
That laugh like a reverse aftertaste, for
shadow. Dark.
Me, metallic and crimson,
supporting the bodies of these young girls,
but useless. I came with a guardrail
for the short one who sleeps on top
but for the tall one, nothing. An oversized exposure
extending out beyond her sister’s crib.
I am nothing.
Cold metal. Blood red.
I am her witness
as he returns night after night.
I try to shake free,
to gather the strength of the little girl
our first night together when she shoved
and yanked my giant box
but I only wiggle myself loose, clank,
and drop my bars on her
the nights
she actually looks peaceful, safe there,
finally asleep.

– – –

Personify or animate a building. Choose a subject from a project you have been revising.

Wednesday Writing Prompts: Not the brink, but the nexus of insanity

No one wants to go insane. In heavy moments we joke that we are going crazy. In desperate times we worry that we have become mad. We label other people loony, crazy, mad, insane. But for ourselves we note when we are on our way there, at the brink of it. It is a journey, a process. We find ourselves going: insane, crazy, mad. But how do we get there?

And why do we fear it?

Will you come with me now?

I am reaching for your hand.

10 Ways to Insanity:
(Not the brink of it, but the nexus)

1. Fall in love.
2. Go to a place where your strongly held belief, your reality, is a minority belief. Or a sin. Use your voice here. Speak your truth.
3. Be born with a vagina.
4. Make a decision based solely on feeling. List all of the rational reasons not to, and list the consequences, if you cannot help yourself. Do it anyway.
5. Take on the responsibility of the survival of another human being. Give birth. Adopt. Serve in a war.
6. After completing step #5, decide that it is also your responsibility to ensure that that person thrives. Is happy.
7. Choose a theme of our culture: Capitalism, Patriarchy, Christianity, Monogamous Marriage, Misogyny, Homophobia, Racism, Colonialism… Now, decide not to participate. Live your life in this way.
8. Choose a theme of our culture that negates who you are: Capitalism, Patriarchy, Christianity, Monogamous Marriage, Misogyny, Homophobia, Racism, Colonialism… Understand that even though this ideology is aimed to keep you down, you also participate.
9. Hold yourself accountable to what is right, even when it doesn’t serve you. Even when it hurts the people you love.
10. Let go while you are still in love.

At the brink we are at the edge of our truth and theirs.
Who are they?

Here at the nexus, the core, we hold our own truth.

We are no longer going, at risk of. We have arrived.

Prompt: Explain how to get from where you are to:

1. Nonsmoker
2. Employed
3. Partnered
4. Outside your house
5. Good job/wealthy
6. Mars
7. Your conception
8. Loving yourself
9. Ability to say no
10. Highly educated
1. Jupiter’s outer most moon
2. The edge of a fairy’s wing
3. Not the brink, but the nexus of insanity
4. Well-being
5. A field of exquisite 4-leaf clovers with only one three-leafed one
6. The appreciation of elevator music
7. A new understanding and state of acceptance about the consequence of beheading
8. A grave of a stranger who shares your name
9. A back of the bus on the last day of school
10. The place where a mermaid’s dagger is kept
11. You choose

Wednesday Writing Prompts: Signs of Humanity

Moonlight in the kitchen is a sign of God. We don’t blame God for the empty cupboards in the kitchen. We blame ourselves for hardship, thank God for miracles. Are we capable of miracles? Is God responsible for hardship? The Christian God created the world in seven days. There are seven days in a week for working. After working six, God rested. After working seven, are you rested? Are you working? On the radio last night you told us that she told you: “Idle hands are the sign of the devil,” so you kept working through your disability. Have you noticed there are many signs of God, always “a sign” of God, but when it comes to the devil it is absolute, “the sign” of the devil? Absolute, but we don’t capitalize devil. There are a million ways to capitalize, just tug on your bootstraps and climb up to the glass ceiling. At the top, pressed against the glass, who do you see? Do you see God? Is this success a sign of God? Take off those old boots and thank God that you made it, glass top. Drop those bootstraps, now you need to find a way to hold on to that glass. Grip, slip, drop. Get a grip on those bootstraps but they are gone now– you are barefoot. Barefoot, and pressed to the bottom, who do you see? Do you see the devil? Are empty cupboards in the kitchen the sign of the devil? Is capitalism, busy hands, making your way up, up, closer to the heavens a sign of God?

Where are the signs of humanity? Absolute signs like the devil? Varied and mysterious signs like God? They created them both, God and the devil, in our image. They say we climb to heaven if we work, keep working. Rest–if we don’t work hard enough, absolutely the devil they say. They, on the other side of the glass.

Prompt: Begin this exercise with the sentence: “Moonlight in the kitchen is a sign of God.” which is from Anne Carson’s poem: “God’s Work.”

Then, write something in which each sentence has one word from the previous sentence and is a reexamination of the previous sentence and that crucial word. And on and on.