Thursday, April 8, 2021

April Prompt: Abandonment

 Fear of Abandonment

The following poem imagines what is in my trashcan and lets those items stand as metaphors for the sense of loss and abandonment that led me to use alcohol as a “solution.” Notice that the poem ends with a wine glass.  I did not intend this image when I wrote the poem, which was before I went into recovery.  I realize now that I “knew” alcohol was hurting me even before I went into recovery. This is an example of a poem telling the writer something they didn’t know they knew. 

Taking Out the Trash

Gritty coffee grounds

Crushed and wet

Release morning’s breath

Grapefruit shell

Pink pungent taste

Small close compartments

Eggshell’s jagged edge

Embossed with shiny film

No longer home

Ragged edge of newspaper

Curled into itself

Forgotten admonitions

A half-smoked cigarette

Lipsticked cherry red

A moist pink tongue

Broken wine glass

Slender stem intact

Aftertaste of loss


1. Write about what is in your metaphorical trashcan, car, basement, attic or anywhere where there are unwanted things, or perhaps things you are holding onto that you know you should get rid of.  You can put people in there too!

2. Try to work with concrete images rather than "story" or "narrative." If you begin with a story, look for the images that appear in your story and "unhook" them.  See what happens.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Response to March prompt: Where have you had a spiritual experience?


 "Northwest Coast" 

        by Marcus H.


hands of the earth

fingers of lava that dance with the ocean

wind, water, fire, earth

etched in basalt faces

Elephant Rock wades into the spray

Stone Whale blows its spout

Giants stand seaward,    no ship can pass

beach above my head  

wave polished stones 

frozen in crystal rock 

that flowed a thousand years ago

a beach of black marbles 

that sing with the waves

a beach of boulders 

that I must leap across 

a boulder

a pebble 

a grain

how big am I?

where do I end?

I can feel that....

rounding the headland

beneath the cliff 

under the arch




where the ocean pounded 

an hour ago

listen to moon’s tidal heartbeat

and don't wait too long



see the world in a bowl 

an animal?

no a plant?

no a rock? 

squirting water

out of lips 

closing tight 

until the ocean kisses it again

ant crawl 

over the finger

animal trail through vaulted forest

ocean murmurs of cliff edge 

thick with bushes 

enter through their tunneled vein

scramble down a rock bed 

to water’s edge

sea peeks

through wall of pillars 

that touch gray cloud ceiling 

waves do not enter here

inches from the depth

I stand upon a table stone 

dinner scraps discarded there

am I alone?

whose house is this?

a head emerges

from still ocean


as my boyhood dog

with talking eyes 

speaks to my soul

We are all one.

Monday, March 8, 2021

Response to February Prompt

 Here is a Recovery Writer's response to the February prompt by Molly.  Each month, I will post a sample of your work.  Please Reply if you would like to comment on this piece.  I love the feeling it evokes! The poem is by Molly L.  The photo comes from 

photo: Patrick Reithboth on

Saturday, March 6, 2021

March 2021 Prompt Where have you had a spiritual experience?

 Recovery Writers March 2021 Prompt

                                            Margo Brodowicz on Unsplash

Capturing a Spiritual Experience.

I had a sponsor who suggested that I list the places where I had had a spiritual experience and “visit there regularly.” Initially, I got caught in the burning bush scene—where, I wondered, had God been speaking, even if I defined God as a voice within me?  I have found that if I ask and keep asking, the moments will appear.  They lend themselves beautifully to a “list poem.” 

Here and There

My hospital room, my first baby wheeled in, her tiny baby face aglow with mystery—the mystery of me and not me, who she will become, and I think, God, yes. There you are.

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir, a man, the single black face in a sea of a white, singing: God Be With You Til We Meet Again.  And I think: God.

The window with organdy curtains, outside white fences, horses grazing. The grandfather clock ticks, ticks, chimes. I long for that clock like our puppy, her first night bundled at our hearth, nestled with a clock, to remind her of her mother.

The doctor’s scale that said my anorexic daughter had gained 10 pounds in a month, impossible. My daughter, returned to the living, her desperation to be thin outweighed by the demands of marijuana.  Thank God for marijuana.

At my tenth wedding anniversary, my husband whole-heartedly recited vows before a God he privately called a maggot.  For me.  For our two daughters.  For the third, who unbeknownst to us was even then, stirring.

The hymn in church, “Is it I Lord, I have heard you calling in the night.  I will go Lord, where you lead me.  I will hold your people in my heart.” I don’t know yet who these people will be. The call a mystery.  I’ll find it years later in a church basement.

Fern Brook, the perfect peace of a perfect summer afternoon, children chirping among smooth stones, the minnows, the waving leaves. Everybody flowing in the same direction.  

A sleeping granddaughter, nestled near my neck, breathing in her baby smell, of soap and milk and skin, her tiny fingers grasping one of mine.  

My dog Belle, never more than ten feet from my feet. Dozing, waiting, leaping at the jangle of the leash. Always at the door when I return.  Yes.  There you are.

The first violets of spring when I am eight.  I reach down each tender stem and pinch, gather in a silver urn, a surprise for mother.  Each year.  A surprise.

The Madonna of Justice, a painting with Mary and a giant book, a Latin inscription. She calls to me. Mystery. Law. Rules. Books. Babies. Angels.  She wants my help. She wants to help me.  

Three kittens, all black, using me as a playscape on a sick day, the delight of kitten fur, pink tongues. Suddenly, they tire, drop, sleep. And I think: Yes. This is what you feel like. 


1. Write a list of the different places or situations where you have had a spiritual experience.

2. Consider odd coincidences.  Consider music that has affected you deeply. Consider moments in nature that felt profound. Consider both moments of high drama and what seemed ordinary, but looking with the eyes of recovery, perhaps profound.

Connection to Recovery:

I need to write down places where I have felt the spirit or I risk forgetting them or robbing them of their power.  My disease wants me to "forget" or to say "it's no big deal," "how important was it?" My naming those places and writing them down, I see that I have been a spiritual seeker all my life.  I also see that the spirit of love, connection to others, and the natural world are all connected. 

Taken from "Beneath the Steps, A Writing Guide for 12-Step Recovery", by Christine Beck (available on

Saturday, February 27, 2021

 Here is the REAL City Lights!

zoom for Recovery writers is: 443 381 9966 password recovery

Saturday, February 6, 2021

February prompt


                                            credit: Pauline Loroy on

Losing Our Identity

People-pleasing is one way we lose our identity, our True Self. As we conform our conduct to

what we think other people want to see or hear, we ignore our own wants or needs. It’s not

uncommon to begin recovery with no idea of what makes us happy, what our gifts are, or what

our true calling the world might be. As we begin to explore our feelings we can see that even as

children, we had talents and gifts. As a young person before recovery, I was attracted to the

lives of other people that I found in books. Even as a child, I would hide from my father’s anger

with a book behind the drapes on a window seat. I can see that books were my parents for

much of my life.

City Lights, San Francisco

Damp as a sodden bathing suit,

beaches driftwood gray, fog obscured

the Golden Gate, North Beach, Angel Island.

On Broadway, neon lights blessed a strand

of strip joints. The barker at the Condor Club plucked

my coat, urged me to try my luck in the topless contest.

Around the corner, I escaped to City Lights --

a bookstore bathed in shades of black,

home to Ferlinghetti, Ginsburg, Kerouac.

I wandered empty aisles, picked up a stack,

found a threadbare chair, settled into acrid pages,

searched for a plot that I could fall into.


1. Write about any escape you made as a young person or one that you now wish

you had made.You will see I escaped from the barker at the Condor Club. Did you

ever encounter a person who urged you to do something you knew you shouldn’t


2. Think of a place, such as City Lights bookstore in San Francisco, where you could

“be yourself.” Write about that self.

3. Try to use imagery, such as the fog in stanza one or the empty aisles in the

bookstore that reflect something about your identity. Check your words, such as

sodden, obscured, urged, wandered, fall into to make sure they match the tone

you are striving for.

4. Why do you think the neon lights “blessed” the strip joints? Was there something

attractive about them, some alternative to the bookstore as a place to find


Sunday, January 31, 2021

Latest Recovery Writer Poem!


The ratted birds nest on the ground

Handknit, by a mothers love

A broken egg- inside

Its blue….so am I

The death of promise to its flock…

Sad, grief

I wonder, did bird mommy know her babies fate? Does she know baby died?

Is she soaring with the others in acceptance of what is….

Mommy, are you there?

Did you know that I, or...when I…. fell from your nest?

I was tangled in the leaves…I held my breath

I smoked and toked and drank so numb

I believed you when you called me dumb…

That immaculate nest… was a messy mess...

Shells smashed with shame and blame-

A daily coup upon our souls

"Do not break a bowl!!!! Do you hear me? “

The youngest did indeed die…..

Ssshhhh don’t -

Don’t talk, don’t trust, don’t feel.....

that was the deal

In November you passed … at last...

I have no tears,  less fears…

Mommy….dont blame, that I have no shame

From somewhere I hear You say, 

Oh Sandee!!! “how uncouth to tell the truth”

Sandee B