June 2021 Prompt Me Poem

Welcome to my monthly blog feature, Prompt Me, where I read a new poem I’ve written inspired by a prompt offered by one of you, my wonderful blog followers! And to say thank you for tuning in, I send special gifts to the person whose prompt inspired my poem.

June 2021 Prompt Me Poem Recorded Live!

This month’s poem was inspired by Ciel Downing’s prompt “between hope and despair.” Thanks, Ciel! Please leave me some prompts in the comment section below so I can write next month’s Prompt Me poem. Thanks for taking the time to visit. See you in July.

May 2021 “Prompt Me” Poem

Welcome to my monthly blog feature, Prompt Me, where I read a new poem I’ve written inspired by a prompt offered by one of you, my wonderful blog followers! And to say thank you for tuning in, I send a special gift to the person whose prompt inspired my poem.

This month’s prompt “beyond reach” was offered by Karen Keltz. Thank you, Karen! I’ll be sending a thank you gift along soon. My poem is called “Here in the Time in Between” after Jack Ridl.

Thank you for stopping in. Please leave a new prompt for me in the comments section so I can write a poem for June. If I select your prompt, I will send a thank you gift.

April 2021 Prompt Me

Welcome to my monthly blog feature, Prompt Me, where I read a new poem I’ve written inspired by a prompt offered by one of you, my wonderful blog followers! And to say thank you for tuning in, I send a special gift to the person whose prompt inspired my poem.


Please leave a new prompt for me in the comments. If I use your prompt next month, I’ll send you a special thank you gift.

Prompt Me! New monthly blog feature.

I hope you’ll help me write new poems every month by posting a poetry prompt in the comments section of my blog.

The first week of the month, I’ll choose one of your wonderful prompts, write a new poem and post it, offering a special thank you to the person who provided the inspiration.

So let’s get started right now–Prompt Me! by posting your poetry prompt in the comments.

Thank you for participating.

Update: Red Riding Hood’s Real Life

For those of you who have read my contemporary story of Red Riding Hood and the Wolf, Red Riding Hood’s Real Life ~ a novel in verse, here’s a little pandemic update. Special thanks to G.G. Silverman for her workshop “Way of the Wolf” where this new poem howled into being.

Available at Indiebound.org https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780997083477
Available at Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Red-Riding-Hoods-Real-Life/dp/0997083476

Spoiler alert!!! If you haven’t finished reading my novel-in-verse, you may want to hold off reading this poem until you have.

 Lana Hechtman Ayers © 2021
The Wolf’s Pandemic Report
Mornings after breakfast of Earl Grey
and freshly baked bread,
dough mixed by Red,
risen, kneaded by me,
she confines herself to the bedroom
of our three-room cabin by the sea,
where she plays
with a kiln-less sort of clay,
shapes absence
into kaleidoscopic moons,
while I, in the living room
delve into pastels,
not my usual palette,
but with the pandemic draining joy
I’m forced to employ
Pepto-Bismol pinks
 and Mickey-D yellows
to do the bidding
of my once feral imagery.
This is how we pass
molasses minutes
of daylight,
but the nights—o the nights—
remain our delight,
cloaked only
in slinky shadow of overcast
or in adoring lunar glimmer,
we smolder with desire,
light fires
within the hearths
of one another’s haunches.


For Marvin Bell

Poet Marvin Bell died last week. I had the opportunity to meet and work with him several times. He was always kind in his feedback and upbeat, excited about poetry and life in general. Rest in peace and poetry, Marvin. Here is a poem I wrote for him fourteen years ago, after his famous Dead Man poems.

The Dead Man and Haystacks

by Lana Hechtman Ayers © 2006

for Marvin Bell

1.The Dead Man At Haystack Rock, OR, July 2006

The Dead Man knows Haystack Rock is not one of the eight wonders of the world.

Still, he half-expected (his alive half) that it would be like another World’s Biggest Kielbasa in Chicopee or Half Dog-Half Deer outside Des Moines.

Roadside attractions and tourist destinations often turn out to be the way some enterprising folks bilk the low-intellect Americans of their not-so-hard-earned bucks.

The Kielbasa wasn’t much bigger than a picnic table.

The half and half dog simply had a bobbed tail and graceful stature.

But Haystack Rock takes the Dead man by surprise, he who’s seen so many rocks, above and below ground.

If he were a pre-teen he’d dub it Awesome.

At his wizened age, whatever that is, he calls it Awesome.

Despite all the photos, postcards, and paintings of it—its presence in person is awe-inspiring.

The scale, he thinks it must be or maybe that old Hebrew notion of the rock as God.

Whatever it is, it feels good sometimes to feel small.

With a perfection such as Haystack Rock before you, it lessen the burden of having to try to be

so perfect all the time.

It becomes obvious how fool-hardy the quest for perfection is for anyone, especially the Dead Man.

2. The Dead Man At Chailly, Sunrise 1865

The Dead Man finds himself in front of the most gargantuan haystack he’s ever seen—hay not rock.

The sun has already climbed midway, so that the haystack casts its shadow over him. 

The Dead Man is confused.

He knows he was just in Oregon, thinking about the shape of the stone and how it reminded him of something else he’d seen.

The Dead Man notices there’s something odd about this place. 

The sky seems to comprised of tiny dots of paint.

The haystack too, the green ground, the shadow, the distant blue mountains, all dots of paint.

Am I in need of glasses, am I going blind, is this a seizure? the Dead man wonders.

Just as the Dead Man is about to faint with worry, he remembers Monet, the painting.

This is the one that Monet painted before all the others.

It took Monet 25 more years to do that famous series of wheatstacks.

This is the haystack that started it all.

The Dead Man realizes he is standing inside the painting.

The Dead Man checks to see if he is also made of tiny dots of paint.

He is not.

Somehow the notion of art has transported him inside it.

The Dead Man decides Monet’s obsession with the scale and proportion and color of haystacks was more than justified but wonders about the 25 years of not painting haystacks.

A tribute to Pat Schneider

I’ve been grappling with the death on August 10th of Pat Schneider, founder of The Amherst Method of leading writing workshops. She was my workshop mentor, and taught me everything I know and love about facilitating groups for generative writing. But she taught me so much more than how to be an empathetic leader. She forever changed my life and how I thought about writing, including my own words. This poem is for Pat.

All Pat Schneider Taught Me

by Lana Hechtman Ayers

You never know at the time,
or at least I never have,
when a chance encounter
will change the course of your life,
and in my case, the flow of generosity,
not only away from the heart to others,
but back toward.

Having been writing since
I could manage a crayon between
my chunky thumb and index finger,
those words rushed and sloppy
were my life raft, a way of testifying
that was surviving daily assault
and still breathing, still willing
to keep breathing, but barely so.

Until I discovered the Amherst Method
casually perusing ads at the back of
a writer’s magazine, I was certain
my words had no use to others,
artless and overwhelming,
without value, and beyond that,
a waste of precious trees.

In that training circle
in the Amherst Writers Method
Pat Schneider’s living room,
I learned how to listen deeply,
not only to others, but to my own soul.
How its voice could raise a bell
in celebration with and for others.
How its lonely distant train whistle
on the night breeze could help
relieve others’ suffering.

In that sacred Amherst circle,
the voices around the room,
were as much my own as their own.
I learned listening is
the most active verb
and speaking is an act of generosity.
I learned forgiveness
of self and others
begins with the words written
on the page, then breathed out
by the lungs, flowing liquid oxygen
into the veins and every organ.
My life with words transformed
from despair to joy,
becoming charged with vitality,
with a soul-renewing energy.

In those precious days with Pat
in her cozy home,
my breath changed,
my heart changed.
I became a writer welcomed into
the family of writers,
as grand and myriad
as every human who has ever
spoken a syllable of their own truth.
And I learned to believe
my own truth could be art
as well as power.