Sunday, April 14, 2013

A Photo of a Boy ~ a poem called Loneliness

The human brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than it processes text 


Goodness, how do they measure something like that?

Still, it does seem obvious that it is far easier to "read" a picture than it is to read the cryptic black marks and  squiggly lines that constitute text.  Show a picture of a smiling face to an infant and the infant often will respond with a smile of its own, but a picture of a frowning or angry face is likely to elicit tears.  It will take a few years and a lot of teaching for that same child to be able to read text.

Furthermore, pictures lend themselves to a wide range of possible interpretations and responses. That's why I love using them for my own creative writing.  It's like an immersion in inspiration.

Below, I present one of Hank Kellner’s photos of a young boy sitting on a ledge, seemingly reflecting on something. What could he be thinking?  Almost anything, really.  He seems relaxed – perhaps he’s daydreaming, or trying to solve a problem.  Or perhaps he’s simply lonely.  We all know what that feels like. 

Here is my response to the photo - the "text" produced by my imaginings about what this picture might portray.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~

     ~The young man sat alone outside the cabin high in the mountains—his family's mountaintop retreat—the surrounding woods so still, his ears seemed deafened by the silence.  A suffocating loneliness engulfed him.  The weight of his father's death sat heavily on his chest—a solid mass of sorrow.  It had been six months then.  Six months of grieving isolation.  Walled off from the world around him even as he walked through public places, no one knowing, no one realizing, no one seeing the raw and gaping hole where his heart used to be, he was truly alone.

      There, in the deafening silence of that remote mountaintop, he examined the nature of his loneliness as it felt at that moment.  And he sought its deeper meaning.



loneliness is loud—                                                                                 
a white noise roar                                                                                               
a tinny taste that’s swallowed                                                                                      
like a solid lump of air

it turns the green soul brown and dry
with edges sere and crumbled
it stretches thin and bare
its taut threads tug

it seems to sit so loose
a prison with an open door
through which one cannot pass

and emptiness fills one's every space—                           

to eat it and yet live
and even laugh
is one's greatest test of faith.

              ~Elizabeth Guy

"So lonely 'twas that God himself / Scarce seemed there to be."
~ Samuel Taylor Coleridge
     He composed the poem for himself.  And as he wrote, birdsong lilted in from somewhere. Somewhere there among the green-leafed trees, a small bird sang out its joy.  It settled on him like a promise of healing, and a testament of love.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Have you seen photos that capture a mood about which you could write?

 Coming next week~                             
A happy chair!

Also, visit my co-author's blog at
See his ten-part series on photo prompts to inspire writing at

And Don’t Miss…

            English teacher Mara Dukats and writer-photographer Cynthia Staples’ poems “white on white” and “The Absence of Color.” They’re in Part Four of Hank Kellner’s  twelve-part series THE POWER OF PHOTOS TO INSPIRE WRITING at the Creativity Portal  website,  as well as Anna J. Small’s writing assignment in "Viewing and Writing about Photos from Around the World"
            Also, read more about Reflect and Write in the SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL
                            A Helpful Source for Inspiration
For more photos and information not included in this blog, please visit Reflect and Write contains more than 300 poems and photos; keywords; quotations; either “Inspiration” or “Challenge” prompts; a “Themes to Explore” section; a “Twelve Ways to Inspire Your Students” section; a special “Internet Resources” section, and more. Includes CD with photos and poems from the book. Reflect and Write: 300 Poems and Photos to Inspire Writing by Hank Kellner and Elizabeth Guy (Prufrock Press, 2013), 153 pages, $24.95.


1 comment:

    --Prof.Jaydeep Sarangi,Kolkata,India
    e mail:

    I learnt that each small thing has a complete life
    Of its own, its own way
    Nourishing hours of sour-sweet thoughts.

    You know, I’m to report to the mind’s
    Notice board that tickles fast.
    How good is it ? I never asked that.
    Someone told me
    ‘You are passing through a phase; silent days.’
    I take what others say
    I count them in a close quarter
    When I really don’t have any leisure time to spare.

    It is true and fair,
    I’m waiting for an announcement,
    Fast losing my long cherished red rose
    Its charm and colour
    In daily gospel of preparing my face;
    What are really my native and loving own.
    Shall I ask the woodcutter
    To cut my shadow as it is difficult to wait for sunrise.