Thursday, June 25, 2015

When God Is Silent...

It's been one of those years, let me tell you. Ups and downs. Highs and lows. I feel like I'm clinging to my grandfather's Cessna plane's wing and it's being tossed up-down-up-down by hurricane-force winds. I pray-cry-pray-cry-pray--and yes, God answers quite often with "You'll be fine," or "I'm going to do... (such-and-such) now, don't worry." He's actually been cluing me in on His plan, just to earn my trust. He opens doors and literally forces me inside them--as I've asked him to "please be loud with me, because I still don't know how to discern your voice; I'm kinda ignorant." Yes, for a good portion of this year, He's actually been quite loud.

But where does He go when He's silent? 

Grammy Audrey always said, "When God is silent, that's when He is the closest to us." And yes, I believe that's true. I know He's always here. But why, when He is so close, can we not feel His presence with us? I was pondering this very question, when He suddenly reminded me of this:

I was six years old and bursting with excitement. Grandpa Bill and Grammy had flown down to Roseburg to visit us, and Grandpa Bill decided he would take me up in his plane. I remember that I didn't have a care in the world as he carefully lifted me up, set me in the seat, and buckled me in. I had complete trust in him. I knew he wouldn't take me up in his plane if he didn't think it was safe. 

I felt so comfortable in there that I honestly don't have a memory of the take-off. It wasn't until we were at a safe altitude, and I was happily watching the cars below (smaller than those of my Fisher Price people, which were my favorite toys for some reason) driving down the seemingly unreal freeways, that Grandpa Bill asked me if I'd like to fly the plane. 

I shook my head, no. 

"Take the wheel," he said, pointing to the steering wheel in front of me. 

That's when I noticed there were two steering wheels--one on his side, and one on mine--in case the copilot needed to take over. As I looked at that wheel, my heart ka-thunk--kathunkity-thunked in my chest. There was NO WAY I was going to take control of that plane. I knew nothing about flying planes. I would certainly crash it. I shook my head, more violently this time, and screamed out an ear-piercing "NOOOOOOO! I can't do it!"

"Yes you can! There's nothing to it!" He laughed, and turned the wheel left, then right, to show me I couldn't crash it.

Still I wasn't having it. "No, Grandpa Bill, I can't do it! I won't do it! I want to go back down now. Take me down."

He laughed again, then took his hands off the wheel. He waved his hands above his head and said, "If you don't fly the plane, we're going to crash!"

For the sake of your eyes and space on the page, I won't type my scream. I'll let you imagine it for yourself. 

I felt faint. My eyes--which were bugging out of my head--were focused on the ground out the window in front of me, and I was just sure we were going to spin out of control, nosedive, then crash into thousands of billions of trillions of pieces all over the Roseburg Valley Mall parking lot. So out of desperation, I gripped the wheel. 

Although I was angry with him at the time, I realized that I had been ridiculous not to trust him. He wouldn't have had me take the wheel if he didn't think it was safe. 

But the truth of it really was (I found out, years down the road) that Grandpa Bill NEVER let go of that wheel. He only gave me the illusion that he did. Although he had lifted his hands above his head, he had been flying the plane with his knees! I was never in control of that plane. He'd only wanted me to feel like I was--so I'd learn--so I'd grow--so I'd be closer to him--so I'd have a sense of accomplishment. 

So I'd trust him.

That's what God does when He's silent. He wants us to feel like we're in control--to learn--to grow--to be closer to him--to give us a sense of accomplishment. 

To trust Him. 

So His hands let go of the wheel, and the whole time we think we're flying the plane, He's flying it with his knees.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Giving Thanks (a rather vulgar poem, I'm afraid...)

Warning! This one may make you lose your appetite, so read with caution.


The flavor of blood is evident 
in meat—no matter the kind of meat: 
turkey meat 
chicken meat
pork meat
meat—no matter the amount of salt 
it won’t cover up

chewing each fibered 
morsel tender, carful 
not to bite bones—grinding 
meat in clenched 
teeth, swallowing—

the meat came from somewhere else—
someone else hacked it—
we didn’t have to watch, so we chew, 
forgetting until the metallic iodine 
salty blood hits the tastebuds and we chew 

ignore the plasma on the tongue, pretend 
it wasn’t once 
a bird
a cow
a deer
an elk 

that would cluck or suck- 
up slop in the fields 
forget it once had 
a face 
a mother 
a dream—

while giving thanks 
sitting around thanksgiving 
tables with thanksgiving 
forks thanksgiving 
knifes digging into thanksgiving 
thank the soul with the life 
stolen from it—its carcass 
slipped between 
lips to a grinning


~ by Caroline Adele O'Brien

Nightmare America

Woke up with this first line in my head, unsuspecting that the whole poem would follow, but out it came! Here is the stream-of-consiousness prose poem:


Death sneaks in like an old lady in her bathroom slippers—her silver hair tied up in curlers, robe flowing torrents behind her, she tiptoes through shopping malls in this old-western-America—a gunslingin’ grandma in her pink freshly fluffed slippers, slept-in curlers flopping on her forehead—the shoppers’ll never suspect a little old lady—it’s christmas time death’s hungry for a feast and no one expects an old lady in her bathrobe to slip a .44 from her bathrobe pocket, pop-off a few kids in the food-court while they wolf down burritos and pizza, blood dripping into their high-fructose corn-syrup fizzy-pop beverages to fizzzzzzz fizzz out

Pins in her footsteps she detours east curlers falling about her blood-lust eyes, breaks a window of a nursery school with her knitting needles—enters in through the office and BAM-KaBANG! the school nurse falters backward clutching her heart—the grandma grins her upturned jowls and SLURP! laps up blood then turns for more—the children duck beneath desks too late—BAM! BANG! KaBANG!—gushing blood flows across the floor ’til—Ka-RACK! The vacuumed classroom life falls—

Still—bathrobe hiked up she crawls back through the glass to wander America, pay the south a visit—finds a rippled ice rink full of twirling skaters sipping hot chocolate and cider through straws as they glide in-out-in-out from the center of the rink they grip one another for support—granny glides across the ice in slippers curlers falling around her eyes the clasps snap-pop! open silver hair tumbling out blood-shot-eyes wild and POP!—the first one down, the others scream—crashing into ice from fallen skate, slicing up the ice with razors and BAM! the glowing red ice pulses the last life of drip! No one suspects a little old lady in a bathrobe

And when her feast is over her belly bulging from all the blood she slides down into her covers dormant for another few days—'til the news cries out on-air pleading for more telling the world granny is a hero telling the world granny should rein supreme; death is a good bedtime story after all, one to tell the kids when they’re all snuggled down in their nightcaps covers pulled up to their chins—and when the kids on the street curled in trashcans beg for mercy—when schools and shopping malls once again thrive with life—when people no longer suspect a little old lady in her bathrobe with her curlers and her pink fluffy slippers—when the hunger starts again and her belly churns the blood rumbles and quakes—her blood-born eyes open to stir in the covers the media blanketed her with. 

~ by Caroline Adele O'Brien

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Turtle's House Was Vacuumed Innocent

Was going through old files on my computer, when I came across this gem. It's a poem I wrote in college, though I don't think I ever shared it with anyone--at the time I thought it was terrible. Now--ten years later--I actually kind of like it. Thought I'd share:


break a window slice your toes claim 
inability to walk deny crutches leave one sleeve to dangle it no longer exists

weak stout heartiness isn't a forte mix up oatmeal dump it in clumps in bed let 
scent of apple cinnamon or maple sugar evaporate with evening mold into covers

fool thermometer light a lamp place it to forehead hold ten seconds drink  
fire fluid heated above ninety eight degrees

steal house key walk out front door with book bag and goulashes squeaking 
in puddles hide on side of house until vacated

have friend call pretend they're principal teacher was kidnapped being 
held ransom for possession of narcotics no hope for bail class eternally canceled

remove car key from chain unlock secretly let parent believe
they've won enter the car key is gone dad goes inside run away

sunday in sprinkler find red and green shiny bushes mocking 
oak climb within fragrant branches wake within the rashes and blisters

tie arms in television claim inadequate learning tv cures minds from disastrous 
thinking must watch pinwheel the world will end must be prepared

at midnight make hollow distant noises of screaming at dawn hide in closet hunter appears leave tape playing sounds of abduction peter pan says never grow up

say cooks conspire against good nutrition they serve parsley 
on oreo cream pie pudding custard and marmelade mixing in poison ketchup or pickles

glue red circular candy to face arms and neck say it's deadly said so on puf'n'stuf very contagious talking mushrooms and trees play with freddie flute why can't it be so

let them know the body was renovated into a turtle's home it was vacuumed 
last night no one is present to attend won't return without video games

make cardboard tv with windup news unplug actual appliances broadcast sun threatens 
mankind children in danger of bus exploding from overexposure to rays must stay in

bury legs in the garden covered in green body paint with yellow on the face tie 
red balloons to head and stand in flower stance hope to be overlooked

knowledge is sin use bible as proof jesus said only children may enter 
heaven must be safe to remain ignorant teachers are the anti christ

~ by Caroline Adele O'Brien

Friday, November 29, 2013


I felt like playing around with sounds in my poetry today, so here I have a creepy (at least I hope it is... that was the intent, at least) poem, SNAKED! Enjoy!!


shattered window glass and swinging chains
ccc ra ck! 
snake slithers through vines—abandon—sssss
winding path to crocked
house and leafless trees
blood on porch—dribbles and drops
the wayward night with rumbling crack!
door creaks drifts on dangling hinges—rrrrrrrr
chandelier swings in ruddy night—lit
whispering candles
they cry out
wailing—the blood-born moon
And in the foyer, listless—wrist vein
droplets weave through vines
candles flicker

-by Caroline Adele O'Brien

Friday, November 15, 2013

From the Mixed-Up, Lost Files of Caroline's Brain...

sometimes my mind speaks when my brain doesn t

sometimes i wonder—wonder why people spend so much time wondering—wondering who they are as if life s glistening—glistening retracted tears are swirling—swirling through twisted clouds of eternity churning—churning sunbeams into butter meltingmelting dew drops on rabbit s heads while hiding—hiding within suspended grass burying

Burying secrets deeply within the mind

i ve seen green balls floating—floating through liquid gelatin and red balls sinking—sinking away from sleep when filling—filling giant tornadoes who are scuttling—scuttling across the rooms while yellowing—yellowing gray and white stripes are running—running around as though they were leaping—leaping off his empty flesh and spreading

spreading like wings all the colors of my brain

life is emptying—emptying the thoughts of lightening—lightening our brilliant storms of cobalt feathers dancing—dancing with time clocks clicking—clicking parallel to our heels on pavement sounding—sounding empty as my heart beating—beating silence into bodies surrounding—surrounding tunnels of bleak thought disheveling

sourly disheveling my brain
i m way too conscious for this

sometimes I wonder —wonder why people spend so much time wondering


~ Caroline Adele O'Brien

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Of Waterfalls And Eyes

It feels like home when I see you behind my eyelids—with my eyes closed to the light—where you sit at your writing desk, books in hand—tearing out pages in the sienna-film that projects behind my lidded eyes—in the glow of candlelight—where you rip out pages, begging me to read those words—the words you wrote—behind my eyelids—the whole dark-haired-hunk blue-eyed perfection of you—in your striped shirt—your plaid shirt—your flannel striped plaid shirt—all buttoned up with pockets and notebooks spiraling—over the top of that white T shirt—and the immensity of it—with your sad-pout lips upturned—and your eyes crinkling—peering into my soul from the other side of my eyelids—telling me it’s going to be ok, that it was meant to be this way, that there will never come a day when you’ll leave, and when the time comes to die—you’ll be there to take me home—to that same budding, pregnant-Earth-place you wrote about—deep in the darkest woods—in that page you tore out—the one you showed me behind my eyelids—in the candlelight—the one your eyes begged me to read—the place with the deer in the violets—where we follow the sheep—and you sing to me by the waterfalls.

~by Caroline Adele O'Brien
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