To a Friend

Post Date: May 6th, 2009

Hey, You.
Hanging on by a cuticle and various shreds.
This is not your freaky Future.
This is not your petty Past
or even the Present.
This is a test flight,
Apollo flaming up at ground zero,
and You racing out, hair on fire.

You got this.
You, like
Lucille say, a city of a woman.
No one can contain You.

The shadow artists,
the impostors,
the lazy victims,
scrabbling at the edges,
they may leave toothmarks,
graze the bone,
but they take no flesh.

They don’t know You.

Just so You know…

No one can stop the laughter,
Source springing eternal,
the beautiful madness and beauty within.
Crayzee was never this good.

See that funnel cloud on the horizon,
spinning your way?
Duck and cover,
and hold fast to that which bears loads
and carries our water.
And rise again,
Rise again!

— Dedicated to my friend Teresa

Today’s Word Count for the Novel: 117,688. 1490 words removed.
Page Count for the novel: 428

Last night I attended an inspirational talk at the Pittsboro Library, given by Ruth Moose, a poet, short story writer, and professor at UNC. Talk about effervescent! She is a role model for teachers everywhere. She reminded me that joy is what we must bring to learning and speaking, not pride or fear. She reminded me that every moment is a chance to celebrate, and poetry is a perfect choice. How lucky are we to have words to play with?

Poetry is also a way to console oneself and others. It’s a way to grieve.

Though I wouldn’t call myself a regular poet, I went home and wrote this first draft of a poem in tribute to a friend. I chose poetry as a way to love my friend and speak out against frustrations, pettiness, and sheer wrongs…all the ways that man has “bleared” and “smeared” things. I feel better when I see art take shape.

We all need to be doing daily poetry, before-bedtime poetry, in-the-car poetry, office cubicle poetry, rogue poetry, strange poetry, mouth-off poetry. I will stop calling myself a maybe poet and own poetry as art to love and try as often as I can.

I’m blessed to be in a women’s writing group that honors all kinds of writing. Last night we each brought our favorite poems, from You Are My I Love You, a children’s book by Maryann Cusimano, to Pablo Neruda reminding us of our “roots,” to Mary Oliver telling us how birds in a field of thistle tell us how to stop, to Thomas Merton reminding us our strength, all perfect celebrations with words, and we each wrote in response to whatever moved us. So much depends…upon poetry!

Writing Goal: Finish hard-copy edits on 28 more pages while entering edits electronically for the prior 22. My ultimate aim: 150,000 – 170,000 words and a complete fourth draft ready for hard-copy editing by the time of a retreat to consider the novel in a few days, to really get a glimpse of it as a whole.

I am also revising a short story and an essay.

Writing Prompts: Please note that writing prompts should always be pursued in emotionally-safe environments with the supervision of someone who interested in encouraging good writing, self-awareness, and reflection. A wonderful resource is Pat Schneider’s Writing Alone and With Others.

© Lyn Hawks. Writing prompts for one-time classroom use only and not for publication in any form elsewhere without permission of this author.


Option #1: Helping a Friend

Do you know someone who is hurting? Do you have a friend who needs some help?

There are many ways we can help another person. List your favorite ways to help someone else. What are you particularly good at doing that might help someone else? Can you crack a good joke? Can you do a funny dance? Can you help with chores or write a special note? Can you invite the person to share or do something with you?

Write about a time when you helped a friend or when a friend helped you.

Option #2: Making Me Feel Small

Has anyone ever accused you of something you didn’t do? Or has someone told you that they don’t appreciate or like you very much?

Describe how you felt. Choose one or more of the following sentences to get started:

“I felt so small that…”
“I felt as angry as a…”
“I was so confused that I…”
“I felt more scared than a…”
“I wanted to…”
“If it ever happens again, I will…”

How many ways can you describe how you felt?

If you want a bigger challenge, turn your story into a children’s book that teaches kids not to do what happened to you. Make up a story using animals, plants, or magical people to tell your version of the story in a way that children can understand.

Option #3: Strong as a…

There are many things in life that are strong. People might use expressions such as, “She’’s strong as an ox!” or “He’s a rock.” We often use things in nature to help us describe strength.

Draw pictures of all the things in nature you know are very, very strong. Perhaps they are

— unbreakable
— bigger than many other things
— heavier than other things
— able to destroy
— able to stand up to water or wind
— able to stand up to fire or heat
— able to resist damage

Write a note from the very strong thing to the rest of the world. Let this mineral, plant, animal, or other natural element have its say. The first sentence might be, “Let me tell you why I’m so strong. I’m so strong that…”

Secondary and Adult

Option #1: Helping a Friend

As we age, our definition of friendship evolves. What are all the ways we might help a friend?

Look at the list below. Choose one way of helping that reminds you of a moment of friendship. Tell the story of how this way helped you or someone else.

— speaking up when no one else would
— staying silent
— sharing an experience
— giving an object that might mean nothing to other people
— sharing a compliment
— telling the truth

Option #2: Making Me Feel Small

Why do people bully? Why do sometimes we wish to make others feel badly, or small? Why must we act superior?

There are many reasons, such as pride, jealousy, and meanness. Take a moment to think about someone who really bothers you, gets under your skin, and even haunts you. This is a person you really wouldn’t miss if he or she left the country. Wait a minute! How did your feelings get so strong?

Find what it is about this person that makes you “act small.” In other words, why do you find yourself unable to follow the Golden Rule, to be compassionate, to cut this person a break? This person does not control your actions, and yet, you act small when you think of the person or see the person.

Help yourself make sense of this.

Option #3: Strong as a…

We often use natural phenomena to help us describe strength.

Draw pictures of all the things in nature you know possess incredible strength. Perhaps they are

— unbreakable
— bigger than many other things
— heavier than other things
— able to destroy
— able to stand up to water or wind
— able to stand up to fire or heat
— able to resist damage

Be the voice of this element of nature. Write its testament, poem, or song of pride.


  1. Anonymous says:


    Your comments about poetry are very interesting. Maybe trying poetry during a “Day without screens” would be a invigorating change of pace.

    Loved your poem to your friend. It had special meaning.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Lyn, what a lovely tribute to your friend Teresa! You — Lyn — writer of stories and essays and academic curricula and a novel — and now — poetry (!) are so versatile and thoughtful. You use your influences so cleverly — I’m glad you sat in on Ruth Moose’s poetry reading and then shared your inspired thoughts with all of us! Keep writing!

  3. bobmust says:

    A nice poem, Lyn, especially for a first draft. Down to 117k words on the novel…almost a fit for the biz. I bet your novel prose is even better than the poem.