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Updated: Feb 11

I picked it up

To have a look

Dusted off,

What life it took

Perhaps a miss

Perhaps naught

A story told

A story bold.

A lucky charm

Ages old

Its flinty shape

A collector’s desire

Or simply the object,

You see,

In a game of chasey

Played by our

Aged Ancient Ancestors

And their families

Round night-darkened flickering fire.

tom tenbrunsel


Author’s Note: This poem was written as a challenge response from my creative writing class to start with the phrase, “I found and object and picked it up to have a look….” the photo was chosen so as not to give the poem’s secret away. I went down to the brook behind my house, where there is a plethora of Cherokee arrow points. They used to inhabit my land/their land. They gave it the name “Dry Ridge,” before being wrongly shipped off along their devastating Trail of Tears by an immoral untrustworthy US Government under the command of drunkard, president Andrew Jackson - a shame curse put on all our shoulders for illegally violating a Sovereign American Indian Nation.

Back to “Ancient Object,” I can imagine a serene scene, where neither radio, nor TV, nor infernal iPhone existed, where eagles, not planes, filled the sky. Tribal families gathered around a “flickering fire,” for storytelling, song, dance, laughter and games like hide-and-seek and “chasey” were played by children and adults alike. It perhaps was the way it was meant to be. And I merely stumbled across it by assignment serendipity. Amen.

A word to the wise for those teaching or critiquing creative writing: start off with the positive points the author has made. Be encouraging, careful not to discourage creativity. Look to the beauty and meaning in the author’s poem or prose. Read and re-read it again, read it aloud, until perhaps you better understand the author’s true meaning and message. Look for that elusive “ah! ha!” moment of discovery. Unlike some claim, in my opinion, there is only ONE interpretation of a poem - that of the author‘s. And it’s the reader/critic’s job to discover that meaning. When in doubt, ask. Ask the author before critiquing the work. Try NOT to impose one’s beliefs on the author. Celebrate creativity, don’t stifle it. The critic should be open-minded and positive in offering suggestions.

The poet’s background may be legitimately culturally different from yours. Respect it. See it! Feel the author’s intent. Learn from the author. Oh, and be sure to THANK the author and always, always end on a positive note!

Be positive and kind and please don’t discourage creativity with “the rule book!”

Might I simply suggest instead of critiquing, that perhaps discussion of a poem’s content and meaning might better serve the creative writer, than nit-picking. Open your mind to endless possibilities of creativity, for endless possibilities is what creativity is. In my work, like that of the late Appalachian poet, James Wright, every comma, punctuation, lineage and shape are intentional to the meaning. A whole lot of that simply belies the rules. The title and photo are part and partial to understanding my poems.

Many thanks to the persons from class that made comments and suggestions. As a result, I made some corrections for the better. I find that many of my poems are works in progress, and I often make changes weeks later.

Writing and poetry are fun. Read, re-read, read the author’s notes, then read again, Ah! Ha! You’ve internalized it. Now read it aloud for a friend. Enjoy!

”Uh, thank you. Uh, thank you very much, Uh!”

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