J. J. Brown, Wordslinger

"I Sling Words As I Go Along."



So, every morning, I get to do the most amazing thing…….

………I get to feed horses and bask in their grounded presence.

While with the horses, I’m also privileged to see real magic in this world – nature.

Nature just is.

Just a couple of blokes, hanging around…..

There is no good, there is no evil.

Just pure instinct in motion – like a red-tailed hawk capturing its breakfast or a hummingbird taking a long drink of water from a puddle.  Or four turkey vultures unwittingly re-enacting a scene as the Fab Four in The Jungle Book (1967).  Or a four-foot long gopher snake sunbathing before slithering off into the bushes for a quick snack.

There is so much more that I’m witness to and I wish I could have you see what I see.

A young red tail hawk.

I truly feel like I’m living a Disney movie – sometimes the G-rated cartoon (because it does get silly and whimsical), but most of the time, it’s more organic and earthy, like Middle-Earth.

Nature is magic.

It has both light and shadow.

It is primal and ancient and has no regard for you.

Treat it with respect and you will be granted more than you asked.

The Horse Tree

A fierce wind sweeps through the tree,
Stirring branches with restless ease,
Leaves dancing wildly, playing
In coltish movement.
A low creak emanates from the depth of the tree,
As its massive trunk shifts with the wind,
Its uneven fork listing from side to side.

The stallion leaps forward,
Snorting loudly, ears flicking back and forth,
Tasting the wind,
Its coal black coat glistening in the sun.
Tossing his head, elegant and proud,
He trots,
Light as air,
Yet controlled, deliberate.

He spies his shadow –
It grows long, then short
As the breeze dances along the tall grass.
Striking out a foreleg,
He kicks up dirt,
Shrills out his challenge in a long, piercing note.

It hangs in the air, then fades to an echo.
Whirling to face the sun,
The stallion bolts,
His silky mane streaming out behind him,
His long thick tail a banner in the wind.
His strides come
His freedom.

He revels in the wind
That caresses his skin,
His heart swells with joy
And he turns his muzzle to the sky.
Glorying in the beauty of the day,
He heralds his presence to the world,
His pace slowing to a mile-eating trot.
He half-rears, snorting, blowing furiously,
Sees the distance he has come,
And the distance he yearns to fly.

He hesitates,
The fields’ grasses and wild flowers
Beckoning him forward,
Teasing him, whispering to him
To come, play with them, forget the time passing by.

Shaking his head, he nickers, deep in his throat,
Wanting to play,
Wanting to stay,
Wanting to forget that time passes.
He looks again at the sky,
Turns his nose to the wind,
Scenting the air,
And knows that his time grows short.
For the hot yellow of the sun begins
To smolder into burnt orange,
Shadows into bruised purples as daylight fades.

Head and tail high, he dances forward.
One step
Two steps
Three steps.
On the fourth, he rears to his full height,
Screams his dominance,
Then whirls, gallops back to where he had come,
Knowing full well,
That he will return.

His limbs grow heavy,
Thick, as if he had traveled thousands of miles
Instead of a paltry few.
Nostrils swelling as he sucks in air,
The stallion put forth a final burst of speed,
Sweat marking his haunches with the effort it took.
Nearing his starting point,
He whistled his triumph,
Having bought his freedom
For one more day.
He slides to a halt, scattering dirt and pebbles,

Rears high, reaching to touch the sky,
Twisting his body,
His coat begins to harden into rough grooves,
Joining his hind legs,
Growing solidly one with the earth,
Thickening into a single part,
Becoming the trunk.

His forelegs branch out,
Supporting smaller branches,
Bearing leaves.
He throws his head back,
In an eternal cry,
Which the wind will carry
For all time, past and present,
And into the future
As he stands, frozen,
Caught forever in the guise of a tree.


Running horse.
Running horse.

So, Maya Angelou once said……

……“Everything in the universe has a rhythm, everything dances.” If you go hiking in the woods, or sit at the beach (or wherever your favorite outdoor spot is), and you sit and be still, you can hear nature’s music. By music, I’m referring to the calls of animals and birds, the wind as it whispers through trees and the gurgling of rivers. That is the music of nature and it is that rhythm that grounds us once we stop thinking so much and just allow ourselves to be present in that moment.

I’m thinking about music as I write this. While driving along the freeway home from my favorite getaway spot, I had a CD of the Eagles’ greatest hits on. The last track on that CD is Hotel California, which was the inspiration for my writing a two-act comedy sending up the gods and goddesses of ancient mythologies. I hit Replay on that song several times, because in my imagination, I could ‘see’ the opening scene play out. Due to bits of dialogue and action later on in the script, I knew that these new details established immediately at the beginning would foreshadow what was to come.

Music has been a major source of inspiration for me – I would create soundtracks for my novels and screenplays. This helped me focus on what kind of story I was telling. Is it romantic? Scary? Funny? Dramatic? From groups like The Temptations and the Stray Cats to individual singers like Natalie Cole and Cyndi Lauper, I found my story’s voice. I would jump from rock and roll to jazz to blues to Big Band, searching for that right piece of music that fit the rhythm of my current writing project.

My most productive times as a writer is when I have music playing in the background. This is true for any creative endeavor, whether it’s cooking or sculpture or painting. Even musicians, I suspect, listen to music, to experiment on what they are hearing and give it their own interpretation.

Music is the muse that inspires. How do I know? The word Mus-e builds the word Mus-ic.

Find your muse-ical inspiration and go forth with art in your heart.

Editor’s Note – this blog post is published concurrently on Citizens Journal VC



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