“Mysteries Within Pride & Prejudice” by Genevieve Jeanine Hersek

pride_prejudice_allen_thomson_cover-1Pride & Prejudice, Book by Jane Austen; Screenplay by Deborah Moggach;  A Response to Literature by Genevieve Jeanine Hersek

As the script opens, we enter a world of wealth and luxury in the midst of a vast manse, Netherfield Park, in Hertfordshire. Upon closer examination of the name “Netherfield,” one discovers a deeper sense of what the author was trying to say. According to Merriam-Webster, “nether” means “lower in position” or “situated down or below.” “Field” is an area of open land – typically bound by hedges; fenced. And “Park” is also an enclosed area of land, usually used for enjoyment or devoted to a specified purpose; or something halted. What we know of the county of “Hertfordshire” is that its name is derived from the Anglo-Saxon “heort ford” meaning “hart/deer crossing” (of a watercourse). The first British martyrdom, of St. Alban took place in Hertfordshire c293. In fact, his martyr’s cross, a yellow saltire on a blue background is reflected in the flag and coat of arms of Hertfordshire. (The yellow background represents the county and features the stag or hart.) Hertfordshire was the area assigned to a fortress during Edward the Elder’s rule. Nobility and aristocracy owned much of Hertfordshire. In a nutshell, Hertfordshire means a fortress of great courage, swagger & swank.

Interestingly though, what we discover when we string all of these symbols together, if one is so inclined to make such inferences, is that although this mansion belongs to &/or is being used by the aristocracy, ironically they are somehow being characterized as existing on some level in a “lower position” or “situated below” someone or something else. It could simply mean the position they currently hold is in a depressed valley of life’s verisimilitudes, going through a bleak season, or their position at this point in time is physically, emotionally, spiritually or in some other aspect lower than where they are destined to be. It is very likely it may simply hint to the position the occupants hold as beneath or in submission to more powerful influences – be it individuals, societal traditions or pressures. At this point we can only make an educated guess and watch the story unfold. Additionally, they are in some aspect fenced in, enclosed, & are in some measure constrained, being contained, or halted. Whatever the case, the idea strengthens the element of suspense, which fortifies and provides greater complexity to the conflict.

As Netherfield is being cleaned by bustling servants who are preparing the manse for its new occupants, a wealthy man “in want of a wife” arrives and exits a coach driven by four horses. Just then, the man’s identity is obscured by a white sheet that is “pulled from a spinet.” The coach assists in establishing his social class. During that time period, someone of a lower class position would either ride horseback, drive their own carriage, or would be fortunate to have one or two horses at their disposal. Hence, a coach driven by four horses is an extravagance and indicates wealth. Upon reading this, I asked myself: Why is he in this place to find a spouse? Why is his identity obscured? Why a white sheet? Why did the screenwriter specify the sheet is being “pulled from” something? And particularly, why is the sheet pulled from a spinet? The man’s obscured identity does extend our suspense. The white sheet foreshadows and symbolizes both marriage and a surrender of something crucial – perhaps some part of himself in order to marry, because we have been told he is “in want of a wife”. To “pull” is “to apply force to something, to cause or tend to cause motion toward the source of the force.” Or “to remove something from a fixed position; to extract.” So a marriage or the subject/s of a marriage are being pulled from some sort of fixed position – whether that be physical, emotional, intellectual, societal, other, or a combination thereof. Now the symbolic device, the spinet, as of yet remains a mystery.

Spinet derives from the Italian spinetta, which in 17th-century Italian was a word used generally for all quilled instruments. The major aspect of the spinet is its design. A spinet is a type of harpsichord with strings set at about a 30-degree angle to the keyboard. The strings are in arranged pairs. The jacks, which pluck the strings are also in arranged pairs. The two jacks in each gap face in opposite directions, and each plucks a string adjacent to a gap. In this device, the keys pull upward on rods and levers, which in turn engage the action. So, when we put all of these elements together, we find the identity of the mystery man who is “in want of a wife” is obscured from our view by a white sheet, a symbol of marriage & surrender, being pulled from a spinet, a device made up of arranged pairs. Yet through all of these foreshadowed adjacencies, arranged pairs and indirect engagements, we eventually discover Mr. Darcy’s Aunt, Lady Catherine de Bourgh has in fact arranged her nephew, Mr. Darcy to be married to her own daughter. Therefore, Mr. Darcy is being constrained by his Aunt and society’s influences. Darcy is then faced with the dilemma of how to gather the great courage it will take to surrender his pride & prejudice in order to stand up against all societal & his own wrong opinions, and social norms that would keep him bound in a loveless union, but one that is acceptable to others. He is faced with the predicament of being able to disregard societal pressures and choose for himself his own wife – even if that wife is someone who is unapproved by others, or someone who is outside of his own social class or position, or as he originally puts it, someone he initially says he: “loves most ardently against his better judgment, against his family’s expectations, in spite of the inferiority of her birth, his rank and circumstance.”

I view the entire screenplay as a giant spinet with all the characters, conflicts & plot twists being the strings, jacks & levers functioning in unison. The heroes are arranged in pairs, as are the secondary characters who are united during the course of the story: The Bennets, The Gardiners, Jane & Charles Bingley, Lydia & Wickham. The other inner mechanisms of levers & jacks include: the Intellectual Characters, Charlotte Lucas & Mrs. Gardiner who wisely advise Elizabeth, and Elizabeth’s beloved sister, Jane who serves as the Emotional Character. Lady Catherine de Bourgh would definitely be a pounding jack as the script’s Authority Figure; and surprisingly Elizabeth’s impetuous sister, Lydia turns out to be the opposite pounding jack, as the story’s Solution Character. As it is Lydia who reveals the true loving character of Mr. Darcy to Elizabeth when she confides in her that it was Mr. Darcy who searched out and found Lydia with Wickham and performed the selfless act of paying for their wedding, Wickham’s commission, and settled all his debts, as well as kept the entire situation private in order to save the Bennet family’s good name.

The luxurious image of the mysterious man’s arrival in the special world of Netherfield is juxtaposed with the more humble, ordinary world of Miss Bennet. From the script we only know our antagonist, Elizabeth Bennet is “good-humored, attractive, and clearly nobody’s fool.”  As she is introduced to us in the open air outside her family’s countrified house called “Longhorn” we see she enjoys the outdoors, reading, and walking. If we dissect the name “Longhorn” we’re better able to grasp the climate of Miss Bennet’s mindset. “Long” is defined among other things as being “considerable in duration of time or distance; extending; and experienced as passing slowly, because of difficulty or tedium; being against great odds; forward-looking; extending far, broad; having an ample supply or endowment of something; lasting a long time; thorough, and intense.” And “bourn” is derived from Old English burna (bhreu – Indo-European roots) meaning a small stream; a brook. Also Old French bodne, bourne, borne & Latin bodina, places it of Celtic origin meaning “a boundary marker; a limit; a destination; a goal.” “Borne”, the past tense of “to bear” means “to hold up; remain firm under something; support; to produce; to bring forth.” If we consider these definitions in conjunction with each other we may surmise that Miss Bennet, her family, and societal traditions may have held up and remained firm under considerable pressure for apparently a long time. More specifically, to find her walking alone leads one to surmise perhaps it is only she who has remained firm in her resolve in some aspect of her life. To a pessimist, or perhaps a realist, frankly, finding our antagonist, continually pensive on the rope swing and handling the rope in her hands as she does & around her neck tells me she’s borne about all she can bear. As an optimist, as I tend to be, the “Longbourne” scene  directly following the “Netherfield” scene of the mysterious man seeking his wife, provides hope that the long duration of tedium, difficulty, loneliness, and longing for the right life partner for both of them is potentially about to reach its end.

Furthermore, the adjacency of the solitary image of Miss Bennet walking alone at Longbourne, places her alongside Mr. Darcy’s arrival, distinguishing them as co-heroes whose lives are about to change in some profound way. At first blush, the juxtaposition of the Netherfield and Longbourn scenes appear to be simply a mystery man arriving home, and a woman walking outside enjoying the day. We don’t yet know who the man is. He is simply a man. In the subsequent scenes it is only Mr. Bingley who is mentioned. Mr. Darcy is merely his friend. Yet upon further examination, the scenes are chock full of hints and symbolism, providing clues to his identity via personality traits, character, and social class distinction, foreshadowing the destiny of their relationship and unfolding mysteries.

When we meet Miss Bennet, she is walking through a field of tall meadow grass. While she’s walking, she’s reading a novel, First Impressions. The action specified by the Screenwriter and the Director’s loyalty to that vision and beyond, serves the character very well as we see Miss Bennet’s freedom of action & behavior as she enjoys the outdoors and literature so much she cannot put her book down. Childlike & free, she jumps up onto a wall, and walks the duck plank to cross the small moat encircling her family’s fairly time worn 17th century house. Instantly I was stricken yet again with several questions: Why does the writer specify the house has a moat? A moat is a deep ditch that surrounds a castle, building, or town to provide it with a first line of defense. As Miss Benett crosses over the small moat, it symbolizes her interior mindset. She crosses the moat while reading the novel, First Impressions, which foreshadows the fact that defensive guards may be up as she and her mystery man gather their first impressions of each other. Furthermore, to be reading First Impressions simultaneously as she walks a plank is noteworthy; as plank-walking is historically the practice of the forced killing of captives, making them walk off a wooden plank extended over the side of a ship to their deaths. Similar to the white sheet being used as a symbol of surrender in the previous Netherfield scene, for her to be voluntarily walking the plank is a mirror image of such surrender, but to me it is a very serious sign that she is at her end. She is now resigning herself to either death or being alone. Yet, with this resignation, unbeknownst to her, the universe is about to bring forth the desires of her heart. And then some.

With this story’s primary theme being Individual vs. Society, and the primary motif being Love Conquers All, it is easy to speculate about what is on Jane Austen’s mind. It must have been quite repugnant to Ms. Austen that during this era, the longer a woman was single it appeared to society that she was probably undesirable or unsuitable to marry. Furthermore, at that time in history women could not inherit property or houses. So for Miss Bennet to still be unmarried and without potential suitors (at only) twenty years old in that time period was serious cause for concern. Consequently, families of girls wished for them to marry early and well. The Bennet family is no different, except for the fact that they have five girls, hence cause for their unresolved state of fear about their future homelessness.

To compound the conflict, the Bennet’s cousin, the sycophant Mr. Collins, who is to inherit the Bennet’s entire Longhorn Estate arrives at their house seeking not only a wife among the Bennet girls, but also to look at their property and furnishings he is about to pull out from under them, leaving them all homeless and penniless. Reinforcing the conflict, Mr. Collins, a vicar, looks only at the two eldest beauties whom he has absolutely nothing in common with as potential wives for himself, and completely ignores the more serious, pedantic, piano-playing, Bible-scholar daughter, Mary who would be the most appropriate selection as a suitable vicar’s wife.

This concept of security is one of the principle themes of the film and falls under the umbrella of Individual vs. Society. Financial security is directly addressed by Mrs. Bennet who mentions it several times in conjunction with her nervous condition. It is clearly the reason she is continually trying to help her daughters’ matrimonial process along. Both of the younger Bennet girls also speak quite openly about finances. A conversation between Elizabeth and her best friend, Charlotte Lucas centers around Charlotte’s fear she will be “a spinster” and how that prospect frightens her. Soon after, it is out of that fear that she is prompted to marry Mr. Collins in a loveless but more financially secure union. Even the aristocratic men and women are all concerned, quite suspicious, and even meddling in each other’s lives over the ubiquitous topic of financial security.

Mr. Darcy & Miss Bennet, and Jane & Charles are clearly all falling in love & in their own worlds, yet false accusations creep into their minds with continual attempts to divide our heroes by most of the secondary characters. Because there are five Bennet girls and their mother is nervous & pushy to see them married off, everyone incorrectly assumes the girls are all seeking “advantageous marriages” for themselves. This is evidenced via: The gossip of Colonel Fitzwilliams about Jane being unsuitable for Charles Bingley; the lies Wickham tells Elizabeth about Darcy; the insistence by Lady Catherine de Bourgh that Darcy marry her daughter. No sect of Society is overlooked by bold Ms. Austen, even the vicar, Mr. Collins is a grasping, greedy beast. The secondary characters’ concerns primarily swirl around a financial focal point: Who is gonna get what, how much, and when?

It is interesting to note, that if a person with little means desires to marry someone who happens to have greater financial security, it is viewed as the person with little means is seeking an advantageous marriage for herself/himself. However, when a person with significant means marries another person with significant means, without love at the forefront, but rather in order to stay within their own social class, that union is not viewed as being an “advantageous marriage.” Even though the advantage in the latter case is to keep the money and bloodlines within that social class. Technically, both could be considered “advantageous.” Although it is only when a person is outside one’s social class that his/her motives are questioned. And all the questioning is done without any consideration of a person’s potential for future financial success.

In the case of Miss Bennet, I feel the action throughout the script lends itself to understanding her character through more than merely her words. We may speculate that where she spends her time says a lot about who she is and where her heart rests. The manner in which she stands up for herself to others; her refusal to compromise; her dogged belief that she will either marry her soul-mate or remain alone; her bold attempts to engage Mr. Darcy in conversation, asking him if he likes to dance; and her continually standing up to him, all show a great deal about her courage, confidence, candor, and thoroughly modern mind-set. They also speak volumes about her trust in his feelings for her. Her insistence to walk all the way through mud and rain to Netherfield in order to check on her beloved sister, Jane while she is ill indicates her sincerity of heart and lack of vanity. Her subtly, yet firmly and politely standing up to Caroline Bingley as she attempts to publicly mock her sister, Mary indicates her compassion. Miss Bennet’s warning her parents about her young sister, Lydia’s outrageous flirtatiousness indicates she has foresight & wisdom. Her standing up to Lady Catherine de Bourgh, and keeping Darcy’s engagement to her a secret proves her wisdom, discretion, constancy & fierce loyalty. For our feminine protagonist to be given all of these bold character traits during that time period, Jane Austen is, to me, one of the world’s finest feminist authors of all time.

Likewise, Mr. Darcy’s character is also displayed through his actions even more than his words.  Out of respect for himself and Miss Bennet, Darcy’s reserved manner toward other women who throw themselves at him, provide us with a clue about his character. His great selection of Charles Bingley as his best friend, is another clue. Darcy’s initially warning his friend Charles against marrying shy Jane Bennet due to his misguided belief she was somehow not as interested in him and the union would be an “advantageous marriage” versus one of genuine love, does show Darcy is a very loyal, honest friend. The fact that Darcy visits his Aunt, Elizabeth & the Bennet family, and he invites Elizabeth’s Aunt & Uncle to stay, fish, and dine with him at his estate; the fact that he buys his sister, Georgiana a piano forte; and counts Elizabeth’s concern when she visits her ill sister at Netherfield as a credit to her, no matter that she is covered in mud, and her hair & clothes are a scruffy, all of these among many other things show he is a sensitive, non-vain, caring, kind, gracious, hospitable, generous man who sees past the superficial.

Though the two were raised worlds apart, Mr. Darcy & Miss Bennet are shockingly similar. Together they gracefully withstand and even grow closer through a myriad of obstacles: separation over time and distance, societal & familial pressures; conquering personal issues of pride & prejudice; ongoing flirtations by others; as well as continual attempts to discredit, bold-face lie about, and divide them. They withstand it all. And Darcy eventually chooses the one who is his equal on all levels even though by society’s standards she is disregarded as lower than he. Yet by Miss Bennet’s opinion, such a prejudiced view brought about by the apparatus of class distinction is disdainful, and therefore reins as the true low position. Both Mr. Darcy & Miss Bennet desire to be in a loving marriage with their soul-mate, but all of their issues of pride and prejudice had to first be overcome before the two could be happily joined in marriage; thereby providing satisfying, symbiotic symmetry within the conflicts of our two heroes.

It is noteworthy that Miss Bennet’s surrender of her own pride & prejudice encompasses areas farther reaching than just social class struggle. She holds biases against Mr. Darcy, the rich, and men in general, for that matter. Elizabeth’s scathing prejudices are made abundantly clear at the onset of the ball when she speaks of men: “They are far too easy to judge,” they’re “humorless poppy cocks, in my limited experience,” & “painted peacocks.” However, upon encountering Mr. Darcy for the first time, she completely eats all those words.

The Point of No Return occurs when he notices her and catches her eye in the midst of all the other women. She is also quite taken aback and “stares at him with a kind of surprised shock.” There is a sense that something has been awakened in both of them. Although Darcy quickly averts his eyes away from Miss Bennet, seeming to be completely bored & disinterested in her. Following this brief encounter with Darcy she inquires about him to her friend, Charlotte Lucas as: “the person with the disagreeable expression.” She even calls him a “Poor soul.” It is clear that Miss Bennet is quite puzzled by Darcy’s behavior, as it seems he is somehow being held back from fully enjoying & expressing himself. She remains confused, because although he is showing her attention, he seems to not want or be able to get to know her better on a one-on-one basis by dancing or engaging in extended conversation and leaves her walking around the event alone instead of being with her. Still she makes the best of it by joyfully dancing and enjoying conversation others. Her biases are particularly engrained when her pride is wounded upon overhearing Mr. Darcy tell Mr. Bingley that Jane is “the only handsome girl in the room” and that Elizabeth is “perfectly tolerable” “but not handsome enough to tempt me.” This seemingly initial rejection of her brings us back to the novel she was reading in the opening scene, First Impressions. Throughout the entire script, Darcy mystifies Miss Bennet. She truly has no solid idea about Mr. Darcy’s feelings until he voices them to her. These unexpected emotions seem to be equally puzzling to both parties. Though these repressions of feelings and spurts of intensity during their limited communication create an effective sensual tension that grows increasingly satisfying throughout the script.

When we consider the character development of our heroes, Miss Bennet & Mr. Darcy, we find a fascinating mystery that is ordinarily overlooked. A clue to the mystery may be found in the gift Darcy gives to his sister, Georgiana. It is a pianoforte, in all its glory. Intriguingly, it is also a pianoforte Miss Bennet is asked to play when she is a dinner guest at the Rosings Estate of Mr. Darcy’s Aunt, Lady Catherine de Bourgh. And another clue about this mystery is the fact that Miss Bennet does stand up for herself quite assertively during the dinner conversation when grilled by Lady Catherine about her upbringing. Subsequently, Elizabeth is gracious and does play the pianoforte when urged by Lady Catherine & the Collins’, but only after several protests confessing that she “does not play well.” Though after her rather dreadful debut, we come to find that Elizabeth was honest and objective about her abilities, she does not play the pianoforte well. But still the question begs, why a pianoforte?

Upon researching it, the pianoforte was invented by the famous harpsichord maker, Bartolomeo Cristofori of Florence, Italy. I was amazed it was originally referred to as a “fortepiano,” which in Italian means “loud to soft.” It was Jane Austen who boldly changed the name of the instrument to “piano forte” meaning “soft to loud”. And because Jane referred to it by that name in her writings, the name stuck. To this day it is still referred to by most as a pianoforte. But there’s more to this puzzle. Why did Ms. Austen alter the instrument’s name in the first place? And given the clue that no details are included that do not move the plot forward, there must be some reason that 1.) Darcy gives his sister a pianoforte, and 2.) Elizabeth is asked to play it at Rosings. Both women in this man’s life have something to do with a pianoforte, but why that particular gift? A pianoforte is more elaborate and harder to build than its predecessors, the harpsichord or spinet. It was also the most state of the art instrument of its kind during that time period, and hence, very expensive. It was the instrument of royalty, so it is fitting that Elizabeth Bennet is awkward playing it, because it serves to solidify the fact that she is not a royal, or a member of the aristocracy, and hence, she is out of her league on some level in these circles. After much contemplation, it occurred to me, the pianoforte is the symbol of the spinet from the opening of the film returning! But this time in a different, modern, progressive, more elaborate form. I realized the pianoforte’s arrival here in lieu of its predecessor, the spinet is a symbol that outdated traditions have changed.

Throughout the story, Elizabeth Bennet’s quite a modern feminist for her time period. Because of her gentle, almost imperceptible encouragement toward Mr. Darcy, he is able to blossom, but not out of any obligation toward societal norms or outmoded traditions, nor at the compromise or expense of being trod upon in regard to her own position, but for who he is as a being, and what he wants from life.  It’s different, and far more elaborate than we thought. Because the mystery man’s identity is no longer obscured by a white sheet – the symbol of surrendering to a loveless arranged marriage forced upon him by antiquated societal thinking. It is revealed at this moment that it was not Mr. Bingley in the script’s opening who is the gentleman “in want of a wife,” it is Mr. Darcy. It is Darcy who has made the pianoforte purchase for his young sister, Georgiana. It is fitting he provides his sister, who embodies the next generation, with a symbol that represents a change in mindset to that generation. It is Mr. Darcy who stands beside his chosen bride, Miss Bennet, as she charmingly stumbles through her humble song. This time it is not society’s archaic traditions, or a wealthy, forceful Aunt, but it is Mr. Darcy & Miss Bennet who are calling all the shots. When I realized this, it was as if the entire plot was suddenly embossed! Ms. Austen knew exactly what she was doing.  Her delicate quill upon her pages was a hardcore act of Civil Disobedience. She is adamant this change would begin right here! Through her heroes’ & secondary characters’ being confronted with and defeating their own pride & prejudices, Mr. Darcy & Miss Bennet would now be heard. And their freedom of choice for people to love whoever they choose to love would now be made known. That’s why Jane Austen changed the name of the instrument forever. It’s a new world, hence a new instrument is needed to reflect that transformation. This time there won’t be any antiquated spinet resurrected. The name could no longer be called “fortepiano” (loud to soft) to shut the girls up. Ms. Austen knew the instrument “fortepiano” (loud to soft) had to be transformed to “pianoforte” (soft to loud) to create a voluminous crescendo that still resounds, in order to reflect Miss Bennet & Mr. Darcy’s love that transcends all material, worldly elements and social class, the purest love that addresses the spirit & the soul.

Genevieve Jeanine Therese Hersek, February 2014


“There” (aka “The Heavens are Aflame”) by Genevieve Jeanine Hersek

Flaming June by Sir Frederic Leighton, 1895
“There” (aka “The Heavens are Aflame”)

The forest is burning and the Heavens are aflame
The musician became the music; and autumn day

Was like the essence of the music unrestrained & restrained
The forest is burning and the Heavens are aflame

Was like the essence of the music contained & uncontained
The forest is burning and the Heavens are aflame.

The notes played as though no instrument existed,
Whilst the hearer hovered upon each measure

Desiring to hover, desiring utmost to exist within
The subject about whom the music is true, about whom

The autumn day is like the apposite completion, the apt
Significance of Consciousness
The forest is burning because it is compelled to burn

The burning is a portion of the significance,
a portion of
The Consciousness,
The very Door, the Point of reference to the Music.

And the Heavens are aflame.

The Veracity in a flaming Heaven,
Within which
exists no need
of any other

Point of reference,
This one
is aflame,

This one
is Autumn and Day,

This one
is the hearer hovering
and hearing in a suspended




“Reflections on the Urge to Share” by Genevieve Jeanine Hersek

boat with reflectionReflections on the Urge to Share

I felt to share some thoughts today.

Yesterday morning I was discussing with friends, Victor & Lea why it is we write. Since we’ve all been writing our entire lives & they have excellent taste in poetry, it was a great discussion. My friend, Victor made the astute distinction between the urge to write and the urge to communicate that writing to others. I confessed there’s catharsis & a sense of deep satisfaction in other people sharing their feelings with me, having my own feelings expressed, and of course (as Sondheim says) making something where there was previously nothing.

I also thought about how I occasionally write self-deprecating lines. Clueless why I feel the need to do that. Perhaps it’s a nuance of confession. Maybe. Could it be a sense of needing to be low at times? Or even more odd, perhaps it is a type of defense mechanism. Perhaps it’s a way of culling people from my life who wouldn’t simply accept me just as I am. That feels most truthful. Admittedly, there’s also an urge to better understand and properly respond to the dynamics around me. Whatever the case, writing is a healthful way to take inventory without going into too much self-absorption. On the other hand, writing can be a road into the interior, a road into full absorption. There is also a sense I have of continually being misunderstood and having to fight against the tendency I have to explaining myself in an effort for full transparency & mutual understanding. That inclination’s a tough one for me.  I am to the point now of refusing to explain myself & my art. Yet, for the sake of this thread, I’ll carry on through this thought stream a bit further.

If I felt I had a choice in the matter (which I clearly do not) of being someone who has a strong urge to share myself through art or a person who doesn’t have such an urge, I’m exceedingly glad to be a person with a propensity to do the former. Because it is in part this propensity and the capacity to explore these inner and outer realms which allows me to feel fully alive. To feel full. To feel.

My friends & I came to the question of why we feel the need to share our art with others outside of our circle? We were thinking of various personality traits, ego, narcissism, & all the factors which might be involved. Might it even be genetic?

Sometimes I write about everyday things, but lately I’m trying to do something different. It is an odd technique I refer to as “Linguistic Collective Impressionism” where I use the words on each line to be digested & discerned themselves. Then one may stand back & allow one’s mind to connect it all. As in impressionism where one gets a glimpse of a larger picture. It may not be as precise as a portrait or landscape – its “goal” is not necessarily to do anything more than lightly touch on something, or hint or suggest a feeling. It’s simply meant to convey an impression – something palpable. And this has been very challenging and satisfying for me as a writer. Though I should add that in the world of Art itself, while I enjoy Impressionist paintings, I don’t prefer that particular movement to others. Which leads me to wonder if the Impressionists themselves could do portraiture, but carried on doing Impressionist work in order to challenge themselves in the same way. But that is another discussion for another day.

For me, the reasons we share go deeper. I actually delight in all subjects, especially literature, design, science, nature, history, symbolism, etc. – so much that I feel a very strong urge to do the extra work to place them in my poems to give one a sense of context, texture and depth. Sometimes even using Personification, referring to myself as the thing. Why do I feel a need to do that, in lieu of only stating the thing as itself? We discussed the possibility that it’s for escape, or purely ego &/or narcissism. For me, I can say I’m pretty certain it is none of those things. And in the moment of typing this, I can fully relate to Prufrock’s “That is not what I meant at all.”

I know this because I’m not escaping anything, but rather fully diving into it.  An  ego-driven person/a narcissist generally doesn’t care about the feelings of others, and this pervades all their behavior. Generally they’re not inclined to listen to others for the sake of sharing and relating to them. It is solely about what’s in it for them. Their goal is how can I get what I need, not how may I serve others, hear others, relate this idea to others, or share & delight in a cool flower or design with others. At least I can say without a doubt, while I do enjoy sharing with others, I absolutely love hearing of others’ process, work, stories, and thoughts just as much if not more than my own. While I totally understand how this urge to share could be perceived to be rooted in ego or narcissism, for me I feel that is just not the case. In fact, I couldn’t feel farther from the ego while I’m writing –  it’s like I’m an observer, yet totally emotionally involved. To me the process is so difficult and laborious, or so joyous it feels like I’m participating in the divine.

So, if not ego, narcissism, or escape why is it we feel we must do this & go the extra step to share? After thinking about it today, I kept going back to context. I am from a big family – both parents constantly present, tons of friends & visitors always around. In order to be heard, you had to speak up. You had to assert yourself. In my family’s culture if you didn’t share or participate it was kind of considered rude. If someone didn’t eat my mother’s food, she would say half in jest, “You’re not eating, what’s the matter with you?” So in my family, not participating and not being transparent were actually considered suspicious and rude. My mother would also say, “Why doesn’t he talk? Still waters run deep.” Or “I don’t trust that guy; he doesn’t look me in the eyes.” And she was right. But in the context of our family, there could be five conversations going on in the room at once & we could follow them all. When you jumped in the conversation, you had to be fast & accurate, otherwise people would call you on it. But we were encouraged to participate and just expected to contribute and fully pay attention. Since the atmosphere continually called for full participation and transparency, these memories got me thinking about whether or not the urge to share poetry could be solely a function of a learned behavior. And if it also may have something to do with desiring, or I’d have to say it’s closer to “needing” to be heard. Though instinctively I believe while those things may be true, the answer is something deeper, more “primal” than that.

Since both my parents were teachers, we were taught to notice everything. So I’d have to say the reason I enjoy bringing the flora, fauna and symbols into my writing has, in greater depth, to do with a type of lifestyle. When placing myself into the poem as a piece of architecture for example I’m saying, “Hey, notice this! Look at the workmanship of this! Somebody spent a lot of time and learned this beautiful trade so we could appreciate this door, this bowl, this stained glass window, this staircase. Not so we would look down or walk past without seeing it.” In this way it is totally obtrusive. It’s about fully immersing the reader into the present moment – similar to screenwriting. I’m also creating what I want to see. Sometimes I want to create an elaborate setting with intricate complexities. Sometimes the feeling I want to see calls for gorgeous, sweeping vistas. Sometimes I’m looking for a simple shot of a solitary chair. I enjoy the passion of Van Gough, the quietness of Vermeer, the grandeur of directors like Mallick, Redford, & Spielberg, the intimacy and subtly of Efron & James Brooks, & the incandescence of Merchant Ivory – And am pretty fascinated by most foreign films. So I guess what I’m saying is you never know what you’re gonna get in any of my work, because my tastes are all over the map. But it’s ultimately up to the writer or artist to decide what their work needs. Being true to ourselves and our vision, we simply cannot serve our critics who believe their tastes are universal principles. But at the same time it is crucial to retain a teachable spirit and listen to & apply the wisdom of others – assimilating into our work anything of value as we see fit.

If I place myself as a flower, it’s almost as if I’m picking a wild Iris and showing it to people saying: “Don’t just walk or hike past everything looking at the trail & where you will place your next step. Look at all the miracles around you. Look at me! I’m an iris! Right now I’m unfurling! You won’t see anything like me again for another year – and only after I’ve been buried & have gone through a hellish winter. Be present with me now while I am with you.” These are the feelings I have a deep urge to communicate. Even though I’m often criticized and even mocked for doing so. I will not change my style to suit the dictates of others, because right now it’s the most effective way for me to write. Especially when people tell me they will never look at a flower the same way again. Such comments encourage me. For some reason, when you personify something, it takes on a unique “personality” of its own that wouldn’t otherwise be associated with it. It’s my way of celebrating everything.

Ironically, even though it may appear as though I’m putting myself in the center of the subject by using such techniques as personification, it is completely different than how it appears. To really understand something, it’s crucial that we place ourselves in the center of it – being fully empathic or “one with it”. This is where it gets “primal.” But in order to comprehend it, one must first rid themselves of all their preconceived ideas of writer & subject, and if possible, the illusions of themselves. One might place as the superordinate goal, above all else, the concept: Let nothing divide us. In so doing, one is better able to discern the intention of the artist. After doing so, they may accurately see that by my placing myself within the subject in this way, I am actually being immersed and absorbed into it so fully that I disappear into it. In this way it is the exact opposite of what was previously assumed – given the preconceived ideas of the intention of the artist being ego-driven; which is kind of actually laughable. Of course this process also requires the assumption that a person will/can disassociate themselves from the idea of my being the writer & view only the flower or object – not as me, but as itself – with a voice all its own – as though it is speaking to them. This is my hope anyway.

Anyone who has ever hiked would understand this process. As it stems from the little presents in the tiny pink, blue, violet and white wildflowers one finds along the path – and how that feels like a sweet reward to one’s soul. It’s an attempt at preservation, similar to pressing flowers, but not dried and crumbled between the pages of some shelved book. Rather, it is the contrary – fully alive and saying: “this little flower’s life is here, right now and it’s present everywhere we are.” It is my way of having a sacred reverence for everything.

There is still so much to say.

calochartus-albus_fairy-lantern07 wildflower yosemite

“What We Hunger For” by Genevieve Jeanine Hersek

Yellow street scene snowingWhat We Hunger For

Usually I blog about poems. This morning I was awakened with so many thoughts. I felt I had to write them down in order to properly proceed through them.

This week I went to a dinner & graduation at the OC Rescue Mission. People were leaving the Mission to begin their lives afresh. There were only about a dozen graduates, but the building was filled to capacity. As the single mothers graduated, they and their toddlers went to the stage to accept the awards. Both, mothers & their children received awards. The toddlers grasped their plaques tightly with little, dimpled fingers & toddled off to their new lives.

I was moved this morning thinking of one young man in particular. He had come to California from Boston looking for his dream life. He got into a troubling situation and could no longer afford his home in Boston. The Mission took him in for several years.   Now he was graduating and returning to Boston. When he went to the stage to accept his award, the audience went wild! They cheered as if he were a superhero who had just saved the planet. Afterward I asked a man who had been hugging him what this young man did. He said, “Nothing. It’s how he is! Sometimes he cooks here. Sometimes he cleans. He does whatever anyone needs. He’s a servant, you know? Everyone loves him because he’s humble, man. He’s like Jesus. No one’s like that anymore.”

I woke up with so many thoughts about what that meant to me personally. I instantly thought of my parents. They were both high school teachers & very active in the community. Both had their Masters in Education. Whatever they had they tirelessly shared with everyone.

With five kids, we seven lived in a tiny three-bedroom home until I was eight. I shared the room with my two brothers, sleeping on a trundle bed that collapsed each day & slid under my older brother’s bed. I remember sometimes that made me feel somewhat “temporary.” My younger brother slept in a crib. With my two sisters in their own room, sometimes I would resent the arrangement when I stepped on the green army men figures’s bayonets beneath my bare feet. But my brothers were a blast and we had a loop-to-loop matchbox racetrack that supplemented my dolls nicely. We also had a huge, full bookcase in our room, which I loved. Even though it fell one time & it might’ve killed me in the big ’73 earthquake if my trundle hadn’t flown across the hardwood floor with me in it.

Objectively I can say our house was the ugliest little house on the block, but we had a big back yard & an above ground pool with a slide. Our house was so fun though, it was always filled with people. Even the baseball teams wanted to come there instead of places with in ground pools and fidgety mothers.

Eventually we moved into a large, tri-level home in Lakewood. My parents’s tastes were modern and eclectic. Our home was always filled with people, visitors, foreign exchange students, & great home-cooked food. Always wafting through the air was garlic, coffee & music (usually Sinatra, Tony Bennett or standards on the stereo), lively discussions, tons of laughter and love. We never had any real money, but they made sure we all had college educations. And growing up they bought us books, all kinds of musical instruments, gave us various dance & music lessons, and brought us up celebrating the arts, going to theatre, symphony, concerts, ballet, jazz clubs, museums, galleries, & backpacking trips.

Nearly every spring & summer was spent traveling. We’d often go to Yosemite, The Sierras & San Francisco, where my mother grew up. Several summers we loaded up our wood-sided station wagon and traveled across the country each time taking different routes. From the ice chest in the trunk, my mother would create the world’s best, exotic submarine sandwiches. We stopped at every historical place, landmark & national treasure we could. My mother, the scientist would teach us continually about the flora & fauna along the way. My father, a history/ government teacher would teach us about the history of every place we explored. My parents believed that every moment is a teachable moment.

Yet out of all the lessons I learned from them, the most poignant was about how to treat others. My parents shared everything they could with others. They were hospitable & generous with everything they had: their resources, time, energy, and affection. They were totally strong and gentle at the same time. They were servants everywhere they went. They too were beloved like the young man I saw at the Rescue Mission. And what is really amazing to think about is the way they never lost their wild enthusiasm for life and for serving people. Even though sometimes life was hard or they were tired, even when we had our house vandalized, egged, cars stolen, even when they went alone to a play and returned to find out that arsons set our house on fire with all of us kids, our cat and dog inside. But we survived all of it. And as the area got rougher, gang bangers accosted my mother several times & even shot bullets through our windows, my parents still refused to leave their community. And they never grew bitter or slack in serving. They were wildly tuned in and turned on to life until their dying days.

I grew up in this way serving others with joy in every capacity possible. Yet, if serving others is the key, why do I still feel unfulfilled?

I thought back about times I’ve felt truly happy. What were the secrets of those times? Then I thought of our family’s trips across the country. They allowed me to see my parents treat waitresses, janitors, and room attendants with the same regard, grace and enthusiasm in conversation as I witnessed them have while meeting celebrities and even former Presidents of the United States. Then I thought of the old saying: “We all put on our pants the same way.” But how is all this linked to feeling happy and fulfilled?

I remembered that I have been to shanties which were more like lean-tos and have been treated with more grace and class than some of the owners I’ve met in 10 million dollar mansions. Those owners knew “the cost of everything but the value of nothing.” I have been to parties where the hosts are quite poor, but feed and treat their guests like kings, so much so that I could split in two upon leaving. Conversely, I’ve experienced bitter secretaries & office workers who are on sexualized, Stalin-esque power trips & people who treat their dogs & dog food with more regard and kindness than me. This has nothing to do with socio-economics or gender. It pervades all levels. It is the spirit I’m addressing. I’ve also been to parties in multi-million dollar homes and on yachts where we guests were eating lukewarm shrimp out of the ass-end of puff pastry swans, and where everyone was highly educated, yet instead of sharing, enjoying, and celebrating each other – building upon knowledge together. I’ve noticed a growing tendency to be terribly competitive with each other, to be wise in one’s own estimation. So much so that I felt bored out of my mind and hungry when I left.

What is it that leaves us so hungry? Why do I sometimes escape the gilded guests and slip off into the kitchen preferring to have real conversation with the food-splattered chefs and servants of this world? Why do I take moments to stroll in the moonlit garden alone when there’s a party inside bustling with fabulous people? One more fabulous than the next. I think it may have something to do with feeling safe and peaceful in the presence of real people – people who understand how to simply “be” in the moment and fully present with me.

Being continually pursued by hateful King Saul, the future King David wrote of his time in the wilderness. In Psalm 42:09 David speaks of God as “El-Sela” which means his “hiding place.” El-Sela is a large, split rock that has crevices for hiding. I understand how God may be our hiding place. But there’s something more. What does this mean between us? How can we be an El-Sela for each other?

I realized the Rescue Mission is a hiding place, a place of encouragement and hope which allows people to rest and have their basic needs met, while they gather themselves up to be their best, highest-selves, and then move on to their new lives. My parents’s house provided that same vibe. They understood how to love. Looking back at my life, this is sincerely what I have always tried to be for others as well. Yet why do I still feel unfulfilled? And why have I always felt like I’m from another place and I don’t really belong in this world? Does anyone else feel like this?

My dad used to say, “This is it! Life is not a dress rehearsal.” My mom used to quote Auntie Mame, “Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death!” Since they’ve gone to Heaven, all I have left are memories and these beautiful remnants to piece together. This morning I’m asking myself, what were they trying to say?

I have been noticing a deep need for something on this earth, some element of truth that I can espouse as a goal for my life. I think keeping my focus on having a servant’s heart is a key part of that goal. After all, those are the times I feel most fulfilled. But it never lasts. The hunger always returns. For me, continual learning and growth is another key part of the goal. Is it this hunger for fulfillment the very thing which keeps us moving forward, or is there something else?

I’m reminded of two equally haunting moments in film. 1) In “As Good As It Gets” – when Jack Nicholson’s character asks: “What if this is as good as it gets?” 2) In “Schindler’s List” when Oscar Schindler panics at the realization he could’ve done more, saved more people by having fewer material possessions. Both of those moments are chilling to me. Both indicate the same type of hunger I’m trying so desperately to understand. Wanting to do more, be more, but the frustration of being somewhat blocked in doing so.

But lately I’m being most drawn to the idea that real fulfillment also, and maybe even more keenly, has something to do with being in the presence of real people who understand how to love. The type of love I witnessed at the Rescue Mission. The type of love my parents shared. My parents & I could talk about any subject under the sun. No topic was tabu. We could also look at each other and speak volumes with only our eyes – without words. I’m talking about having such a spiritual connection with one who anticipates you with honor, attempts to fully understand you, delights in your complexities and knows how to love. After experiencing that kind of intimacy, with someone who is truly a hiding place for our soul, perhaps that is what drives this hunger. Could it be the very thing we hunger after is itself found within these sacred places, our El-Sela, and among them, accessing this deep well of love we already hold after all?


“A Thought About Jane” by Genevieve Jeanine Hersek

bleeding hearts
A Thought About Jane

I recently read an article about Jane Austen, who I consider highly influential to me as a writer. The article was analyzing Jane’s use of such things as animals as symbolism to represent peoples’s behavior. It stated that for her to use such mechanisms was “strategic”, but it went on about the negative psychological aspects of her doing so – as if she were cunning, rather hateful, calculating & manipulative. Such criticism of Jane Austen’s work made instant sense to me because in her work, she exposes the underlying Jezebel spirit, queen bees of the world. And once you expose a queen bee, they are gonna come after you – trying to accuse & discredit you at all cost – even with boldface lies – there’s really no getting around it.

So, after I stopped mentally defending “poor little, muckraking, Machiavellian Jane” as one of my favorite writers, & because I’ve been so highly influenced by her, I had to do some serious soul searching & ask myself, “Have I been manipulated by writers like her or am I being manipulative to use such mechanisms/symbolism in my writing as well?” Would Edgar Allan Poe’s use of a raven in his poem “The Raven” be better served as “his neighbor Stan” tapping & rapping at his chamber door? I think not! That poem makes my skin crawl because it is a raven. And for that matter haven’t we all met our share of ravens in life?

Then I realized, all the writers I’ve been influenced by who have used similar symbolism – to name a few: Shakespeare, the Brontes, & throughout the Bible people are viewed as trees; John the Baptist calls hateful religious leaders “a brood of vipers;” & even beloved King David, “a man after God’s own heart”, in his Psalm 22:12 prophesied “The vicious bullocks of Bashan” surrounding Jesus at the cross. So I came to realize that if a person acts with the characteristics of animals – be it good or bad, vicious or gentle – sometimes such symbols /metaphors are the BEST, most appropriate, even highest use of our limited language.

Later, if someone chooses to refer to my work, thusly influenced as “strategic” or “manipulated” in such a way – I will have to say, “Yes. By all means, guilty as charged, of course it is!” Not that I can say I tried to do so; but rather, being so deeply influenced by others I naturally view things as such.

In my poems, I often refer to myself & others as all kinds of things – animals, flora, inanimate objects – you name it. In fact, in several of my poems I write of myself in very unbecoming terms when I feel the language calls for it. I also have been ridiculously criticized for using personification in my poetry.

Let us not forget we are, after all, writers of fiction! So, in my opinion: if the shoe fits, write it. I will continue to delight in filling my poetry with metaphor & symbolism whenever possible in order so that it may be several layers deep. And to those who spend even a moment criticizing Jane Austen’s gorgeous, fictional work as though she is acting in a nefarious way that is somehow damaging to society & bringing it up post-mortem in an attempt to shut the rest of us up, I’d have to ask: what is the real issue here? Because, to borrow from Shakespeare: “Me thinks thou dost protesteth too much.”

Thanks for stopping by!


“My Port of Ships” by Genevieve Jeanine Hersek

sunset with cloudsMy Port of Ships

A subject might be best
understood by its root.

That day the sky resembled a scaffold
Framed, under construction
People scurried below
Attempting to build stairways
To comprehend it.

We laughed at the thunder and
Night rain.

From our tears
Flowed sheets of verse & music
We rolled the pages, tied and
Sealed them in bottles
You threw them into
All seven seas just to be safe
We walked quickly past the hall
Of the saddler’s son
To a louvered, ephemeral dovecote
Of our choosing.

Then I spoke of percepts of consciousness:
You cannot let it happen.
The same ill-fated events that befell my native City
Which doesn’t fully understand itself
Because it is too inclusive,
So much so, that it has lost
Its identity
Like Rodin’s contemptible “others”
False in attribute & form
Who portray themselves as such
And are not,
Marred by transients
Who take everything from it
And leave it in the end
Littered, defaced, tarnished,
Less than it would become.
Shirk them now while there’s still time.
Free yourself from this darkness,
As did I.

There is rioting
The earth quakes
The envious take aim, perhaps unconsciously,
In an effort to divide you from
Who you are
Using you as scaffold
They will eventually abandon you
Leaving you disconnected,
Bubbling in some tar pit
Or looking back disillusioned
Frozen in a broken pillar
Of disobedient tufa rock.

Even now,
People rarely listen to me,
But oh, this one time, if only you would.
Return to your exquisite wisps and lullabies.
Be patient. Endure. Be strong. Be hopeful.
Let destiny unfold
Via the million little kindnesses
We will perform with full hearts.

You see,
I dreamed of you last night.
It started out in the fruits & vegetables section
Just as when the children were small,
I shared with them –
And so I share with you now
In every possible way
And everywhere we are
We are together
Living within the
Colors, textures, & patterns
Of paper, fabric, wood & stone
Forever laughing and loving
We smell, taste & touch everything
So that our fingertips will know
How it feels to be fully present.

Now then, you must know,
I’ve always sought to take our senses
To some edge in us,
Questing after a place
Where not even the most profound book,
Picturesque location,
Or brilliant person
Could ever reach
In such surrender
A type of willful evolution
Perhaps instinctively I know
You need those pathways to reach
Your greatest potential.
I need them
To not die.

Is there no special dispensation for this?

And in the dreamscape
You and I
Walk to a place
Beneath cedars
And stillness
Where two crystalline creeks meet
In a happy meadow
Of Grass Lily & Woodland Star
A child’s swing appears
You are seated
I am on your lap
Facing you this time
Holding tightly around you.
Suddenly we are surrounded by children
Painting canvases
When we run out of canvas,
We paint ourselves and laugh
We are beautiful and full of the lightnesses.
We climb the Bluebird Canyon playground
Rocket ship and choose our Nebulae
From which we came
You are Cat’s Eye, & I, Carina
I joke how I am probably only wishing
To be Carina,
But in actuality I am The Little Dumbbell.

Afterward, I drive,
Pull into a safe place
And tell you: “hold onto your underpants!”
I do two donuts
So that you will always understand
That, while I am the cautious-type
I have a wild side that refuses to be tamed.
That night we chase
Sandpiper footprints along the edge
Of sea
Write our linked names
In the sand
We look intensely at each other
And smile
With a final “Yes”
As they wash away
Not wishing for them to remain,
But rather, pleased as they sink into the shoreline
Buried together for eternity.
Later we go to the place I first believed. We wrap ourselves
Snuggled in our grandmother’s handmade quilts
You are The Wagon Wheel & I,
The Little Dutch Girl.
I whisper curious words: “These are they.”

I awakened asking:
Where are you?

There is an inclination
An affinity,
A tendency of binding
There is no space
Of Heaven that can be restrained
It is always widening, yet
We find each other within a narrow seam.
We enter by way of adhesion
We are covered head to toe in stars
The strength of our souls
Connected by a golden chamber
Of precious, silvered collars
We are taken up
By the volume,
Pressed in,
Absorbed into the sponge
Of resplendent sky

Once again
I am reminded
Who wears the pants in the Cosmos
And happily I concede,
It is not i.

I am stillness.
An unwavering figure
The befitting
As the hand carved, ash
Dough bowl beside me
Marked by its history.

Yet I am blessed to know secret things
And there is a fragrance in silence.

Now encapsulated temporarily
Within a lofty, mountain arrangement
Surrounded by brash,
I sleep in my
Humble hollow
As the winter rakes
Slowly, the wind
Pushes the lake away from me.

I am superfluous
An arbitrary ligand
A Sparrow d’jour.
I am Bloodroot & unexpected Eglantine.
I am out of place Tourmaline
Clinging to a promise:
The Vine
Which grows in free soil
And lays itself down
Suffused & pierced by
Perfect love
And the power of man.

Just the other day
You were on the stair
Then ascended to check on the kids
Last night
I held you to my mouth
As writing implements
Beside my cheek.

This sustained.

And one day
When I am
Absorbed into the Immensity,
I just wanted you to know
My love,
It was all for you.
It was all for you.


“Birds” by Genevieve Jeanine Hersek

sunroom with treeBirds

Years ago
I went to the Los Angeles Museum of Modern Art
And found a strange exhibit
By artist Annette Messager:
Dead birds
Laying on a board
There must’ve been a hundred there
Each wrapped in its own unique,
Hand-knitted sweater
The artist chose
Mostly blues, pinks, yellows, corals & crèmes
Some had stripes,
Others were sleeved
For those with outstretched wings.

My first instinct was to turn
And look away
I’m not sure why.
I think I felt that the birds’ lifeless bodies,
No matter how small
Or seemingly insignificant,
Deserved more
Some sort of right to privacy
In their death.
I felt by being on display in such a way
They were not being properly respected.
It felt gratuitous.

But then something gripped me,
In a shining moment of clarity
I felt the artist’s pure intentions
Noble and replete
As if I had knitted the tiny sweaters myself
And lovingly wrapped each,
As tucking in my own children
For a cozy, long sleep.

Turning back,
I made a point
To view every single bird.

And in agreement with Annette,
With a message sent in wingless flight
And a heart full of love
In silence, but with profound volume
I said:
You are
Beautiful and unique.
And I will remember you.

Birds landing and lifting off a snowy fence in New York City, New York 20130115

“Kost Castle” by Genevieve Jeanine Hersek


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Hrad Kost (Castle Bone), Jicin district, Czech RepublicKost Castle (Bone Castle)

On a little Saturday we drive
Through white opium, poppy fields
And sideways rain
Beyond the Wolf’s Field
To Castle Kost
Where Lords & Maltese Knights
Grace The Valley of Tears
Through pastures of golden wheat & sweet clover
Hilly with a thousand years of buried bones.

We pass cyan chicken coops, an occasional red barn,
Bundles of hay collected in neat rows,
And Old Hag Angry Thistle painting amethyst
Along the crackling road.

Upon the castle fortifications
Even the stones are pinched in place
Sweet alyssum defy all common sense.
On the parapet doves nest
In crevices of rampart stone.
The falcon feeding her young
Is the battlement crest.

Taken first to the dungeon’s
Iron cages,
Dank cellars are our introduction
To the branding iron & metal cuffs
For sheathing hands and flaying skin alive,
Hot wax was applied for scorching out the truth,
The gauntlet designed for crushing,
And the Spanish Boot,
The stretching ladder, rack,
And bone braiding wheel,
Then at last,
A leather strapped guillotine and sword.
Whips & crosses share the torture walls
All done in the name of
A holy God.

If I were the Lady of this place
With its mahogany trunks of inlaid cardinals, stags
And compass rose,
I’d save the vanilla silk
Altar veils adorned with hand-tied pearls.
I’d keep the cellars for our Amarone wine
And gather lavender & foxglove from the nearby field,
Bake rosemary bread in copper pots
And cook spiced meats upon the iron griddle.
I’d braid violets into my hair
In lieu of braided bones.
For traveling ‘round the grounds
I’d use the wheel.
The pewter plates & goblets used to feed
The fattened queen would be refused,
For I would never want to share that cup.
Bohemian china instead for all my guests,
The table would be an artist’s speckled atelier,
And poetry would be read
After every single sup.
I’d light the hand dipped candles
So that you & I
Could record the glorious happenings of the day.
I’d bellow the fire to warm the castle stone,
Rub lemon balm upon your labored hand,
And on your palm
My kiss
Would be your loving brand.

If I were the Lady of Castle Kost,
Within my sphere of influence
Derived from birth
I’d blot out the Common Era
Returning Ano Domini to the earth.


“Mozart” by Genevieve Jeanine Hersek

Mozart's Double Harpsichord, PragueMozart

Below the Black Hill
Slope, Bertramka Farmstead was his
Summer residence
Where vineyards genuflect
And terraced palaces of lawn
String outward
To piano-fountained Chestnut trees.
Above arpeggios of winged stairs,
Where ceiling beams are ablaze
With ivy, grape & pear
There is held
A golden lock of Mozart’s hair
Along with violin, viola, harp,
Hushed oboe & bassoon,
The double-manual harpsichord,
His living flame,
With its inverted keys:
Black where white
And white where black should be.
Under glass there lies an automaton Music box,
And opera glasses with a secret,
Candy spot
A white, pillared stove towers
In a corner
Opposite the door
To warm his fingers
As he wrote his last
Unfinished score.


“Awakening” by Genevieve Jeanine Hersek

blue night treeAwakening

In the sameness
I forgot who I was
Counting the hours
Learning a new language

It is like the obeisance of me
To hold a fallen sparrow
To touch the coral ocean bloom
To gather roses
With exuberance
To carry each
Over the transom
Desiring in some unrealistic way
To preserve each
Realizing later
It is perhaps in greater depth
A type of self-preservation.

Bless the soul
Along the way
Who pulls me back
By the collar,
By the ear
Who culls me
Back to the scoured fair
Who reclaims me
To my truest self
In gentility and compassion
I have needed you
For my awakening.


“Radial” by Genevieve Jeanine Hersek


Raw. A faraway mesh
Of whisper:

There is still unripe fruit

Looking through a window
Part of you vanishes
One part’s preserved

The device of memory is
Wildly scented

There is an imperative
To fight against transcription
Etched upon an institute of wind

But rather,
Let us stretch forth our arms
Yonder spanned
And bind ourselves
As to a bridge,
As to a table
Held within
The intensity
As doves


Are chronicled

I am


“Borrowed Things” by Genevieve Jeanine Hersek

stone doorway with lightBorrowed Things

Sometimes you have to get mad
In order to find
You have to come to
The end of yourself,
Try to focus on only the good.

My son says,
“I love you, mama.”
In whispers and many kisses.

In my absent sister’s eyes
There are sunflowers
And faint chive rings
Deposited by mother.

Once I knew my friend
Very well.

Still then,
Sometimes you have to get mad
In order to find
You have to go
All the way down
The garden path
Where Lightning meets
‘Till nothing is left
Of the illusion you fancy as “you”
When the one image you are made in is gone
When the one likeness
Cannot be found
When the teacher you depend on
Is missing
And you are left fully alone
‘Till nothing is left
But borrowed pieces of you
A remnant
Of what you believed your hopes could be
And then
You have to go
Even deeper still.
You have to unearth Mama’s Monarch
You have to access the Irises of daddy
You have to trace the lines of both dates
With your bare hands
To believe it.
You have to let these moments cut you.
Again and again
And again.
I got mad at
Him today
I needed to be
I needed sound advice
I needed a good, strong rebuke
I tried everything to reach
Asking in prayer, pleading,
Meditating on “happy things”
Saccharinely sweet, happy things,
Went through the gamut
Of every kind of suggesting, cajoling,
Blaming Him for not protecting me better
Even tried using
His words back at him.
It is written:
“Fathers do not provoke your children…”
I think sometimes
He waits to see
Just how far we’ll go
Out to pasture
Before carrying us back into the fold.
Beyond provocation,
I finally gave up.
Took a hot shower
Had a long soak
Then I started singing myself
Literally, out of the
Sadness lifted like an overcoat
That had been weighing me down.
I found Him
There, within the borrowed music
A sliced flame
Of current.
Music is the highway
Ushering in the Magnificent
In music
There are two fountainheads
So one must discern wisely which to choose
In order to remain & soar
Within the beneficial.
In music
There is a premise
Of inclusion
Two shoulders
Two trees
Two wells
A double feast
Ah, but only one
Scroll of Remembrance.
Sometimes when you’re in the midst of storms
It’s hard to remember
Where to start
It’s hard to remember to sing
Or sleep
That’s why
Sometimes you have to get mad
In order to find Him.
Today I would’ve clipped off my consciousness
Had it not been tethered, allocated
Between this spirit and soul.
Today my spirit was like the head of an axe
That had slipped off into deep waters
While building others’
But He found me
Drowning beneath the weight of it all
And forced me to swim
Lassoed me to the surface
By Mercy’s loving hand.

Who are we
That He regards
Even the borrowed things?


“Samara” by Genevieve Jeanine Hersek

maple tree samaraSamara

To search for
The poem is
To wander in open-faced fields
A parasol
Of prismatic expanse
Finding the
Unshakable spring
A sacred,
Sleepy sanctuary
As white swans at day break
As black swans at twilight
Clouds looming
Beyond Dream Mountain
His sleeves contain
An unfathomable apron of
As wind carries maple keys,
Shafts of light
Idea threads
A release
Of stars
As grain
Even the summers
Spent riding horses
Ambling all day
In waving Milo fields.


“Folie à Plusieurs” by Genevieve Jeanine Hersek

forest gateway

Folie à Plusieurs

Where did you go, little one?
Where did you go?

You are
Just as you are
As echoes
In winter
As wind
Crimps the river
A faded map
A scar
Of childhood
A faint memory
A song
Of laughter
Through heartache

Though questions
And hordes
Of dissemblers
Re-write histories
They do not see
They have no ears
Neither do they understand

You must not defend
Who you are.
You do not serve them.

He is with you
Walking in the garden
His face is in the fire
His joy
Enwraps a mantle ‘round your
Weary shoulders
He meets you
Wherever you are
He blesses you in the Valley.

Though a Sea of Sorrows
Rise against you
It cannot touch you.

You are His
In the Land of Gentlemen
Where the Dansim blooms
You are There
At the center
You are
You are


“The Secret Place” by Genevieve Jeanine Hersek

ceiling of temple with light openingThe Secret Place

Along the journey to the secret place
Torment may be permitted for a season
In order to strengthen us and keep us low,
But eventually everything falls away.

There is relief

When true sustenance appears.

In the secret place
A water stamp remains.
We are safe here
Stargazing amongst lilies.

A lustrous dolomite floats
Beyond the planked moonscape
Of bread and inked Kalina
Covering a toile of valley.

A silvered horizon is
Dovetailed together
Cypresses roll beneath
Immersed in liquid sky as spoons.

Enter into the secret place
Where Faith has tiny hands
A heart-shaped mouth
A bloodied cap.



“So That We Wouldn’t Fall Away” by Genevieve Jeanine Hersek

So That We Wouldn’t Fall Away

The poet delivers to us our kindred
From today,
From yesterday,
And those who’ve been washed upon the shore
As memory has been held captive in our every cell
Who would otherwise resemble
The perfection of a diamond
But for a fall,
For a price,
For a lie told and
Another believed
Instead, kills its benefactor
At a predetermined age
When all is silenced
That is no longer tolerable
In the Campo Dei Fiori
Where petals fall on forgotten ashes
In the temple made marketplace
Where stripes tear and bear down
Onto Truth’s indestructible armor
And though flowers, and fashion
And dainty pastries may fill
The mopped up streets
And sterilized chambers
There are rooms within our minds
Chaulk full
Of shoes and luggage
Left waiting for their kin
To be claimed and set sail for
Kindlier shores.
And if the absent kin could speak to us
A final protest they might say:
“Please remove my shoes and hints of me
That linger in this place,
And when you do, you’ll hear my voice
You’ll see my numbered face
Have left an immovable vestige
Upon your soul
That lie, nor human tongue
Nor hand, for fear remove,
Nor ever can be erased.”



“Mirror Test” (a tribute to the Libertine) by Genevieve Jeanine Hersek

Mirror Test (a tribute to The Libertine)

I am
A green room suspended
At its corners by gilded
Magpies in flight.
I am the tufted, red booth,
The Parisian clock,
The juggling, iced bear,
The dissolving lamp,
& the melting, Nouveau stair.
I am the opalescent bowl & its portioning spoons.
Music streams through my hair
A Lovebird encircles me,
A knife waits
To cut my will into paper snowflakes.
I am the red balloon escaping the jagged edge
Only to discover a sky that cannot hold me.
I am the pizzeria lady who carries the steaming dish
& a secret that only we share.
I am layered with unpatriotic patriotism
Transcending iconic lands filled with rejected gifts
& smug givers
Whose reputation precedes them
& runs through my veins.
I am ancient patterns on fragile cotton paper,
I am carved zebra wood,
Forced shadow on walls,
A rescued puppy,
The dancing daughter whose
Shattered heart is so full
The ache leaks out its piercings
& floods the floor with bloodied cries.
Wrought iron monarchs might answer,
But they are motionless,
Soldered into orbicular flight.
I am full of contradiction,
& peppered with hypocrisy,
I am the country bride, whose veil is torn with lilacs & lies.

Do you like me now?
Do you like me now?
How do you like me now?
I am the picnic in our enclosed garden,
The stained glass ceiling you cannot touch,
The beribboned maiden whose eyes are downcast
Cautious with her next step
Before the worldly woman with outstretched arms has entered
To reveal the lotus
And give away her hand.
Like an inhabited conch,
I will not give up my sound.
As the barmaid muses,
I am the protected sister on the wall
Held as an object d’art.
With spines of glass protruding from my blue core,
My arms may break if you neglect to hold one over the other.
I am the woman at the window
Who has witnessed her love steal away
With another
& now
Has one eye on the clock tower & the other on Sky
Peering into the Valley of Decision.

A Victrola creaks out of my lips.

I am the welcoming storefront,
The coveted family silver,
The hummingbird’s silhouette at twilight,
The enchanted forest cathedral of towering conifers,
The silent Lorelei riding upon the turtle’s carapace
Refusing to be your downfall.
I am winter wheat,
The lanterned tree of copper boughs,
Beams of light cover my face when I raise it to the rock.
There are unknown constellations in my head
Each holds its own unique tune.
Like a chest opened for the first time,
You may find me curled up in your lap.
I am a symbol that needs no words to announce its origin.

Before music there was Love
Between the lamp stands
Encased in the heart of the King
Who rests upon his couch
The Winter Queen’s pearls are a collar that brings on sleep
A winter sleep
So long that when one awakens
They find themselves a child again

A child whose heart has made a prison break
& has ascended
In search of the favored kiss,
To glistening rooms
With scrumptious treats,
And look alikes
To paint the twilight
Back again.
I am the crushed oblation.


“Renewal” by Genevieve Jeanine Hersek


There is music
The walking city
A river front niche
A palette
Of flint
A cable of rugged country road
A spring of vitality
Below the carapace
Of cobblestone
And Earth’s suede bed.

Far from the renewal of the
Birch forest
In the seat of the Valley,
There is a glint of
A pocket
Taking form.

Bringing low the soaring cedar
Giving rise to Mallow
On the restful range
There is a tamed tableau:
Purple, glazed calla lillies
Turned out in heather.

There is a furlough
And awaiting one’s arrival
In fields of the mind.


“A Glimpse Into The Immensity” by Genevieve Jeanine Hersek

A Glimpse Into The Immensity

A fibrous promise is conveyed
Amid the impulse of Hyacinths &
Whiskered Pansies
Shining vestibules
To the levity of youth
Segmented days
When the heart was framed in vow.

In the hall of mirrors,
The lozenge parquetry
Provides a broad current
Beveled, concealed seams
Rife with networks
A spray of segues
A spiral itself within the grid
Enabling passage back & forth
This is how the woman & man go on,
Busy about their 1840’s lives
While walking partly through 2012 floorboards.
This is how one is able to observe
The 1920’s French cathedral has only a handful
To witness The Asking
During wartime.

There are belts seen & unseen
Encircling the Beloved
Throughout the Immensity
As a zebra’s stripes
White laid
Over a black base.

Delve deep
Into the source
Imprinted, grooved
Within the urn of sky
Threads drawn from sheer light
As a finial,
One arch of sky beckons another.
Firmly fitted together
Each is free standing
Their pace appears the same.

In my experience:
Everything is light
Words are light filled with frequency
And able to alter frequency.
Some words are filled with
A greater light.
Prayer is thought.
Thought is light.
Prayer is light
Prayer & thought are movement of light
Positive & negative
Moving like an ocean wave,
Upon, through, & over the being
The tide is wide
Coming from within & moving outward
And magnetic,
Entering from other, far away places
Through portals, envelopes
Which open in the Ether.
This is why we are never to judge or hate.
This is why we are to hold each other in prayer.

The Ether stretches throughout the Immensity
In all directions.
The Ether is
An efficient, honey-comb patterned net
With hexagonal sides which allow
All fields to share space concurrently,
Yet beyond time.
This is how
There are uncountable dimensions
Through the concealed seams
This is also how gravity is made possible.
There are fields & sub-fields
Within the Ether itself
And points of connection between each cell.

Light travels through the Ether’s net
In pulsating frequencies
Providing diverse densities.
This is valence.
Tendrils, fronds of valence
Valence is provided
Via the contemplation of the Father.

As water falls through
The honey-comb patterned Ether
And freezes,
Snowflakes are formed,
Unique patterns are born
This is why all snowflakes are six-sided
And no two are alike,
As no place in the Ether shares the same frequency
Except where God’s essence abides
His frequency is constant.

God’s essence is Love.
His Love has its own frequency
It is holding everything together.
Within the Frequency of Love,
All matter is fully alive.
All matter hums with the Light of Love.
The Hum is all encompassing.
It sounds like “Ommm”
Similar to the sound people make when they meditate
Only inexplicably deeper, far richer,
Filled with intention & pure Love.
Everything hums with that same sound,
People, animals, plants,
A rock, a table, even, surprisingly, plastic.
Within the Hum we are all connected.
Within the Hum there is complete ecstasy.

Within the Hum,
All matter is one in the Immensity
Only our densities are different
As they must be for a time,
So that we do not liquefy
And so we may fulfill our unique path.
We would get nothing done without valence
Providing us with our distinct densities.
Yet, the Hum from the Light of Love
Which holds everything together
Must reside beneath our normal hearing
Because the Hum is far too loud,
In the natural it would drive us mad –
& so filled with joy
That we would desire to simply lay down
And be forever en-wrapped in it.

In the retrospective
There are no blind spots
Only the mirror image
Is degraded,
It cannot be fully sustained
From a nick in the winding sequence.

Everything genuflects
To the right hand of the Father.
Everything grows toward Him,
In right angles
Toward His light.
His Light permeates everything.

Just as chlorophyll
Allows plants to absorb energy from sunlight,
We get our life energy from His Majesty’s presence
Carried upon our blood,
Atop a four poled litter
As that of Carbon,
Yet more perfect, pure,
Still undiscovered
His diamond presence within our blood
Absorbs the light of the Spirit
And gives us life & breath.

Each Spirit is encased within
The cavity of the Soul
Similar to a manifold.
His Spirit fills the centermost column.
Or not.
When one fully receives His Spirit,
The Word, which is His seed,
As a sperm,
Is received by the Soul,
Like an egg being fertilized.
The Soul then seals closed
And nothing else may enter.

It is important one seek to know God
And discern in Spirit.
There are also elements
Such as Iron & Magnesium
Which enable the interior Spirit to discern
With greater clarity.
In the Spirit realm
There are devices –
The spirits work as filters
Each with its own garment of color
Similar to a gel on a photographer’s lamp.
Enhancing, amplifying, or restricting the passage of frequency.
For this reason, those who are seeking to
Operate at their optimum level
Or discover anything
Might do well to heed this advice.

Troublesome frequencies
May be cut away
By a proper slashing from the Word
Intentionally applied
In conjunction with
An earnest surrendering of the will.

Grace is an amalgamation, a hybrid
It is necessitated
To offset the gradient.

Some spirit is transferred via touch
If it is in the will of the Father.
(We cannot will such a transfer,
Unless it is granted through earnest supplication
To serve His purposes.)
He decides if & when we receive;
He knows how to fully equip us.
When spirit is transferred,
Sometimes it feels like sparkles or bubbles
Within or upon the being,
Sometimes it feels like a spiritual branding
As that of cattle,
Or being struck by a bolt of lightning,
Sometimes it feels like darkness or heaviness.
This is one reason I suggest one seek to know God
And discern in Spirit,
Because in the natural, too much credence is given
To what a being says and external attributes.
Rather, if one is able to discern spirits,
One knows instinctively when to welcome touch,
Or when to avoid touch & pray for others,
And when to wash.

Within each Spirit
There is a likeness of the natural,
Yet in a higher state.
The Spirit needn’t look up or down to see
It knows, thinks, & can communicate through light,
Without using words.

There is more than merely a residual left behind
Reaching beyond
Scales of a butterfly’s wing.
Everywhere we go
We leave a trace.

Nothing ever truly dies.


“Departures” by Genevieve Jeanine Hersek


She carries the tufted sky
In her hand
The relic chord
Fiercely torn
An island in her chest
A stow of storm
A stand
A Cloche
Of translucent alabaster
A doe lost
A polished medallion
Etched in haunting stillness
A wish of wrapped violets.
Her gown is a swagged bolt
Of crackled sea
A scaled column
By hickory ribbons
Like Venice shades
Of hinged

He outshines
The pensive, pewter sea
Mirrored by a Moorish moon
A haven
From the proud throws
With a fervent shield
Evokes a stark mirage
From the
Sleepless journey.

Together they create
The renewed palette
Somehow they understand
The stunning intricacies
Streaming immortal.
Less concerned with
Austere perception
Than authenticity,
They immerse themselves in
Blissful streets
And everlasting patterns
In the interior sling.

They are taught
To imagine
The glorious assignment
Visceral &
Measured out
In heights & crevices
As a chestnut stretches out like
A cloth of delivered fluidity
Or the labor of each droplet at high tide
To the rustic passage
Of stone
Into a temple
Hanging the hour modestly
A furrow laden
With fronds of fire
Scuffed in air
A revel
As to the burning
Into the vision
Accessing the river
As a mantle forged from
A pedestal of stars.


“In Splendor & Ash” by Genevieve Jeanine Hersek

In Splendor & Ash

A woman of our time
Storms the statehouse
The balance of power
Is lopsided
And far flung.

When one has a
Plundered past,
The hangman’s daughter
Is dangerous to know.

In a split second,
A myrtle
From the low country
Can be transformed into
An evening star.

As a gibing king
Of pallid strength
Rests on his couch,
There is much revelry
Within the House of Wrens;
Even the toppled clutch
Is upon the bargaining table.
The girls on the row
Claim a promise of earth,
A legacy of Science
Short circuited by
The boys of winter.

As the womb of Love
Remains a refugee,
A distant echo
Troubles the sleep
And reads their histories.

I am thirsty
In this distillation
A blanched silhouette:
Part sailor
Part anchor
Part gumshoe
Part Troubadour.

Each day
I seek the water’s
For a touch
Of buoyancy.
My spine
Is a mast of wheat.
My sail is plump.
The scope
Is open wide.

I only ever wanted to be
What I am:
A California girl
With purpose,
Surrounded by children
With flowers woven into my hair,
A maker of art.

At the climbing hour,
Along the golden, faultless shore
Find me
By the light of home
Cradled by a dove blue,
Cupped sea
Brushed by
His fringe,
And grounded to receive
A screen of rain
The burgeoning cloud
In lanterned light of
Chambers held within.
In awe & emptiness
I am waiting there
In splendor & ash.


“The Monarch” by Genevieve Jeanine Hersek

The Monarch

Into the Monarch’s
And you may find
A Vermillion firmament
A cask
And dipper
To drink of dusk
A mingled mist
Of arabesques
With flecks of Cardamine

Jump freely toward
The gyred grip of
A fanned, minuscule Alhambra
From tubed pearls
Set in emeralds.

There is a tear
In each of us
Where the limitedness
Is faced.
And we must decide
Where, & when,
And whether or not
To proceed without constraint.
If we are to be
Within the essence
Of Hope.


“Lukewarm” by Genevieve Jeanine Hersek


There was strange geometry
In the dream:

Lines blurred
Serrated metal
Hanging from his rough mouth.

After years of abuse
And the rivet was forced,
It continued
Even in her absence,
She was remotely
It was ordered
And skillfully applied
Until the contrast
Between who she was
And the distant, irrelevant person
They sought to make her
Was buried
In obscurity.
They who claimed to know
Thus, forgetting the least of these.

And He saw it all.

So the displeasure of her
Through the crust of the
Like a torch.
Everywhere they ran
It rained bubbling
Puddles onto Lukewarm.
And upon the
There a fire ignited
Upon streets, rooftops,
People alike.

At the uppermost intersection
Just below the high hedge,
A river of wind, a vortex of filth appeared
Filled with dark, darting, jagged flocks.
He was swept up & carried in that river.
She remained beside him,
But grounded & in clear air
Yet unsure of what to do for him.
He grasped her hand
Pleading for her to help him,
But it was far too strong
And he entered
A bad seam.
Still he called for her love to help him,
But she could not,
Because it was he who had
Made the decision long ago
To suffer himself to that seam;
In that he never understood
What it meant to

Their hands were separated by a mighty,
Flaming sword
The river of wind was drawn in fully
The seam sealed shut.

And there was peace.


“June” by Genevieve Jeanine Hersek

Artist, Gustav Klimt – Lakeshore & birches


Delicate repose
In the well-appointed
House of Mirth.
There is an order
In the tumult of birdsong.
Alongside the eagle protégé
A thread of ospreys
Encircle the windswept lake
For sea glassed trout
A blue jay pigments
Pinyon Pines
Chipmunks dart
The clever beaver architect’s lodge is sturdy
Seagulls feast
In reeds.
Chiaroscuro loons
Join dipping mallards
The wind’s swathed
Is an open door
To corridors
A curtain is held in place
Letting in the sun and
The ruched satin sky.
Rambling through periwinkle,
Donkey ear is just beginning to raise its head
Beside the re-discovered
Mountain lady’s slipper
And slender monkey flower
Spindled &
We tug at wild blackberries
Find midnight lace obsidian
Manzanita & Blackbrush.
Draped in Junipers
The beloved dreamers
With a carole of gravity
Balmy, brewed notes
Bound through
Quaking aspens
We walk over remnant snow patches
Upon ancient roots
Of vanillad Jeffrey Pines
To a silvered lake
Below avalanches.
Enlivened smiles
Are cornered,
From the iced path.
His spherical
In the rain shadow of the crest.
Our only threats:
The storied
Turkish yellow star thistle
And sweet clover.

His Majesty
Where light exists
There we focus,

I do not comprehend how or why
Everything is given to us.

There is understanding
Within the perfumed meadow
Of irrepressible
Indian paintbrush
And weathered,
Fair figments
Of Irises
And intertwined
Into the enchanted broth
Of days.


“Seasons” by Genevieve Jeanine Hersek



Seasons are
In the land of reverie
A circlet
Of laurel
And pheasants
Yet flightless
Are a font
Of reflection.
After mood
Then eventually yields
To Thanksgiving
And arrangements
Have been poured out,
The Majesty of peace
Enters in & fills
To satiety.
There is comfort in expansion

Beneath the lamp
Of Winter
Colors are easily distinguishable.
There is a
Of violet
Our tabernacle of skin
Stretched across
The pale page
By a vav
As drifts,
Of origin
Knitted in
Vested code
Of fragrant, heirloom fabric
A brand
Of response
In Time’s
As cycles
In grains of wood
The package outweighs
The interior
Which remains
Housed within
The outer mould
Of Soul.

Stop the world.
To the churning
Of children
In meadows of resplendence
An array of family
To propagate –
And the covering
Through the prism proceeds.
By way of
At the foot.

There are sleeves
In shades of grey
Dulling the valley
Of the chromed moon tureen
To its corner
Along the river banks
There are misplaced kindred
Spoken of
In cheerful exposition:

He found her
On a silver September
From Essenheim to Alsace
Past Heidelberg &
The Lorelei.

His face
Was a cottage
His hair
The thatched roof
His mouth
The door
His Love
The reclaimed floor.

Surrounded by maidens
Of every sort
He told her,
“There is an ‘if’ in cliff.
There is a cliff in

He was forever smitten
When she countered,
“Not everyone can be the Orchid, the Star Gazer,
The Iris
Someone has to be the Gladiola,
The Baby’s-breath,
& yet others,
The stems
Of each.”

Is an elixir.


“Sound Garden” by Genevieve Jeanine Hersek

Sound Garden

I wandered tonight amidst the ribbons of color in my garden
Do roses ache as they age?
Is it painful for them?
If we could hear them
What sound would they make as they gradually opened?
A glorious symphony?
The blues?
The nervous giggle of a virgin unveiling?
A sigh?
Could we ever be silent long enough to hear?
Would their wilting come to them as a surprise?
If given the option, would they have the wilting petals removed?
Would the older roses welcome the tightly shaped, younger buds?
Or would they resent and hate them
Tearing each other down?
Would they greet one another with a Holy kiss?
Would the sound of emerging thorns
Resemble the wail of a baby teething?
Labor groans?
Torturous moans?
Would they opt to medicate?
Do the thorns merely provide protection against outside predators,
Or against domestic beauties who share the very same bush?
I noticed a rose drooping, face down
Half of its petals were already scattered on the ground below.
I’ve heard the droopy ones strain the rest of the bush.
So I snapped the bloom off at the nape of its neck
And put it out of its misery.
But afterward, I decided to leave the rest of the dying blooms
To fall naturally.
Because I have a suspicion that the strain caused by the older blooms
Is somehow beneficial to the rest
If only to provide a noble example
Of the dignity in dying.




“At Twilight” by Genevieve Jeanine Hersek

At Twilight

At twilight
When others leave the boulder coves
Dangling their catch
Beside the easy wake
I make my way
Down the rough path
The softest wind
Brushes through the valley
Pleating the glass lake
Around me.

This time
I am content in silence.

It is essential
To close
The skirted history
Of the leveled pair.
A Maiden knot
Creped into
Bosom friends
Is a sad breakfast topping.

Musty depths
Dare the Cousin Wind
Stacked and rigid
To carry
The magnification.

I know what it is
To be
Stretched in faith
To balance oneself
While standing in pools
Of Mother’s blood
Followed by
The sudden sleeping suit of Daddy
The inimitable
Of the cross
With nowhere left to go
The little rose
Is a scarf of fragility
A mosaic
Of frequency
The channel
The platform
Of splendor
Wonder ruled
And app-

I know what it is
To be
Stressed about provision
To be
Without an answer
Of how
Best to reconcile within
The double-faced
Talk of harpies
While standing daintily
In frilly socks
Upon a man hole to the underworld
Tap dancing
Spotted & striped,
Grain & tea,
Love & gemstone
Beaming to have arrived
While internally
Enfolded in a shrug
With one part present
The other
Left standing in rain
Infinitely landing
Possible as pigeons
Close enough to touch
The monogram
Before it turns
To blue.

Stunned on the shore
With a stone prepared necklace
With hands in their pockets
Backed against the tomb
Safe as an ostrich nest
In a supple blood money field
Filled with jackals.
The dunes
Are sleeves that cover my hands
With rust
No more.

There is an awakening.
I have nothing
But a calm
Breath of imprint
I am
Ready to receive
My portion
Of scent
And join
The seamed
Of petite movement
With radiant,
Scalloped hills
A blanket of indigenous
To common ground
Guides present
Intricate and
The Comforters
Are frothy winged
Their wrap,
Extending from the contemplation
Of the beloved King,
Is cognac
To a faithful heart.
I am reminded
Matthew’s edict
Buckled the bold
A bomb
In the trenches
Looking for a coyote
And finding none
Instead, only a
Ferocious angel
Strapped with a mantle
To bring the church within
And toggle fiery antheriums
Into the black cloud.

There is a notion
Immersed with flourishes
Of risk:
The Passion
In the basin of the senses.


“Unlikely Apostle” by Genevieve Jeanine Hersek

Unlikely Apostle

On Jerusalemska Street
I happened upon a church
Surrounded by a chain-linked fence
Entering, I found the holy water curdled.
I said a private prayer
For those I love & for those
Hard to bear.
The Masonic All Seeing Eye
Peered above the gilded altar
With an eerie cycloptic stare.
I grabbed my camera
And when I did,

A young priest
With labored breath & tightened jowls
Angrily grabbed my arm,
Directing me to a small “No Photos” sign.
He wagged his head at me,
Holding the opened Word of God
But in my eyes, he never looked.
Over his shoulder I saw the Sacred Heart ablaze
By the scolding priest.
Beside us stood “The Pieta” replica in stone,
One lifeless
One grasping
The Pity
Doubled there:
Once in the Lord
And once in me.

Afterward I stepped into
The Globe Bookstore
Of blood red walls &
Lemon yellow paintings of Modigliani gangly-necked girls
And fat-bottomed nudes.
When I entered the owner’s dog, Bella
Came wagging warmly over to me
As if to say:
“I’m glad you came; I’ve been expecting you!”
A diminutive Parson Russell terrier
And on both sides of her white coat she wore
A heart-shaped spot in sable.

Then, with perfect eye contact &
Never asking for a treat
Bella curled down beside my aching
Feet greeting me with
A holy, ankle kiss below the table.

The Globe Bookstore
Will be my church while I’m in town
With its gangly-necked girls & fat-bottomed nudes
Lining the walls,
Russian poetry & Czech
Coffee will serve as my Communion Feast
And while I’m here
Bella, the dog
For Love
Will be my earthly,
Holy priest.


“The bohemian Life” by Genevieve Jeanine Hersek

The bohemian Life

The Notes
Of the bohemian life
Are invented
Rather than manipulated, maneuvered,
Or chronologically ordered
As a subway car
Or the forced seat
Of a lobby guest
But free as a boat
And led by Paradise
With confidence,
Only of its wondering
A revival
Committed into His hands
Instinctively into internal naves
Popped into the unchanging
Surefooted as a flamingo
On the banks of a pond
With a mystique
A life below
A sea aflame
A coppered wood
A welcome, woven signature
In an enclave
Of strange stars
Depicting a polarity
Of one who cannot face the harbor
Of another who will not return to themselves
The same.
A barbed basket
Dealt to sustain
The impact
Of Love.
The Soul’s scarring
Bumps, bangs
Like an old saxophone
With keloid formations conceived
In notes
Present & missing,
Going over the bar line
With the blurred vision
After effects
Of the first smile
And to manage the charms of
The touted
The escape:
Scrub-faced, pink & at peace
Into the solitary featherbed
With a book & tea.
To restore the shofar within
Circuits of moonstones
My head & chest
A mist to storm
Dream woven.

I remain an elevated observer
To the thin match
A sabre of fire
That divides our hands.

There is within an uncommon cantor
The child found
Swinging head back
In the floral stitch.
A cliffside wishing well
A festival
Of golden laughter
Are effective
Shock absorbers.

To a planked stable
Built from scratch
And light bathed
As the rubies of the
Are kept small
So a comfortable kneeling bench
Is made an altar,
As the floor serves
The face far better.
To the imperceptible
The sons & daughters are triumphant
In the Fall
In the pageant
Of constraint
Dividing thoughts
And peaches
Welted visions
Twisted at the centerpiece
Into His hands
And committed
As a ship
Without a wheel
Amber concedes loss
In the grip
Of confidence
Into the cluster
Of decision:
She chose
A cocoon
At dusk
And stirred.


“The Corridor” by Genevieve Jeanine Hersek

The Corridor

Beneath the swag
Into the singular place
There are strands
Of holders
A complex system
A spool
Of senses
Steering lines of light
There is verse
Within the bonnet
Streaming through,
Each word
The guardian & bride.
The Immensity
Is a friendly petaled bin
With room to grow.
As surely there is
Stanch verbena,
The earth is pillowed
With lichen & passion flower.
Even unto moment
By moment
The point of decision
Is a place
Not only in the mind,
But a spiritual abode
Where glory rests
As the opening of a rose
Or womb
A wild & splendorous nest
Of humming light.
This place I have been
Oh, but I yearn
To go again!

There is effortless notation
Declared in everything.


“A Brand of Blue” by Genevieve Jeanine Hersek

A Brand of Blue

It is difficult, but necessary
To savor
Life’s accordion shifts,
As the corrugation strengthens
In ways we cannot comprehend.

There is a lapping
Within the soul
To hear
Through Heaven & Earth’s
Panes of memory.

The point of decision into the Immensity
Must surely be a beveled edge.

There is a course
There is a fork in the road
Before the cross
A melody of exchange
That nourishes
A ribbon of drum
Beating through
A bittersweet lens
Into the gentle emergence
Of dawn
Granted just before
The dusting
Of starlight.

There is a seed in everything.




“Home” by Genevieve Jeanine Hersek


To forestland
A healing balm
Of sage & bay
A Stenciled
The untouched
A reprieve
Into the good stone
The great hall
Is empty
Ships are
The nudes’
Patina have grayed
The wanderings
Of children
Are a seaside
Leading to
The craggy edge
If not
For the London phone booth &
His presence
Like homemade jam.
From the language of Earth
Creates a
A fresh-water
Honor &
Upon the resident
As a carriage
Of tales
And light
In & out
Of season
The sand dollar flock is
A new sapling
Like a soft tartan
Sweeps rhododendron.
I have been
From the
With boldness
To the earnest
Sloping the water’s edge
In birdsong
And winding roads
Curling dreams
Into fresh air
Rocking horse fields
And butterscotch trees.

Light brushes through
The window
In patterns
Here an arc
A wheel
And in the center
By portals
Where Love
The cutting
To the becoming
About the process
A pond of past
A future
Carrying wish lists
And Communion
Like mortar & pestel
Is fruit
In the balance
Heritage hangs
From the rafters
A mountain
Of relics
And empty
In September
The succulent feast
Brings a garden
Of tastes
Pineappled lamps,
And hedgehog potatoes,
Maidens in nightdresses
Past pears
And Picnic
Through forests
Of rooted
& moths.
A lark
Makes its way
Down Canterbury Road
To nourish the nest
The point was
The point being
Simply this:
Home is
I am.



“My Writing Process” by Genevieve Jeanine Hersek


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Je ne sais quoi is “an indefinable, elusive quality, especially a pleasing one.”

I decided to write this blog “The House of Je ne sais quoi” because I strongly believe in sharing information & equipping people with knowledge. I got the title for this blog because my inspiring high school English teacher, Mr. Ries often called me “Je ne sais quoi” in lieu of my name. I also wanted to be free to blog about things I’m passionate about which encompass various subjects – including poetry. I wanted my readers to feel it is their home they are entering when they come to this site. So, welcome home!

I am a writer. I have always loved words and reading. I learned phonics from Dr. Seuss books. After that my mother gave me her childhood, high school and college books – including Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience”, Emily Bronte’s “Wuthering Heights”, various poetry books & Shakespeare’s “Sonnets”. I remember spending hours deciphering the meaning of each.
In my 7th grade English class we were asked to write two poems. Our teacher, Mr. Bill Brewer read a poem to us. He then gave us no instructions on what poetry is or how to write a poem. He simply told us to write two poems describing: 1) “Something about a tree.” 2) “A relaxing place we go to in our mind.” I found out later he did this to assess where we were in our writing abilities. In my first poem I described the logs in a fireplace and my reaction to watching & feeling them burn. For my second poem I described a place in a forest beneath ancient trees where I sit on a rock covered with cool, soft moss. It is beside a gentle brook and that is where I find peace. The following day, he had us read aloud one poem each. He came by my desk and asked to speak to me after class. I was really freaked out by this. I couldn’t imagine what I did wrong. I thought perhaps he didn’t like it that I’d cut down my tree & was burning it in a fireplace, but it was the first thing that came to mind, so I wrote about it. When everyone left the room, Mr. Brewer came over to me and said, “Jeanine, you are a Poet.” Shocked, I said, “I am?” He answered, “Yes. It is a very special gift you’ve been given. And you must never stop writing. OK?” And I said, “OK. So, I’m not in trouble?” And I started crying. He hugged me and said, “No honey, you’re not in trouble. You did very well. Never ever stop writing.” To me, that experience was itself “poetry”. It is an example of the profound impact words have on others. It also exemplifies the power teachers hold.

From that moment on I believed I was, as Mr. Brewer said, a Writer. And no matter what I’ve done for work in my life, I have always believed writing is my vocation, not my job. This is the reason I have taught gratis poetry workshops my whole life. To help unlock and draw out the Poets/Writers that are within others and to also help those who simply desire to write purely for enjoyment.

Today a high school senior from the Netherlands wrote to me asking: “Where do you get your inspiration from to write?” I was so tickled to answer him because I love talking about the process of writing. I replied to him, “You are so smart to ask such a thing! You are going to be very successful. Most people never learn because they never ask!” I told him about my process. I will share some of it with you.

I get inspired from everything around me. I believe writers are a very different bunch. We have highly associative minds & we see/feel in a different way. I call this approach having an “Indian in the forest” view of things. It’s like a city person may walk into a forest & see trees, a brook, a couple of squirrels maybe. But an indigenous person who lives closer to nature might see the hidden world – food, clothing, & trading sources, animals that are camouflaged & hidden to the city person. I believe writers see differently like this. We notice things in a different way & associate those things into a nugget to reveal truth that is not ordinarily noticed. Everyone is different, but my brain works like a synthesizer taking in massive amounts of information & condenses them into a nugget. I’m very visual, & quite empathic. I feel things deeply and remember things vividly. So, I get inspired from traveling or wherever I am. It’s as if I feel a connection to or residual of inspiration from everything around me. When I can’t travel, I can just look at a picture to be inspired. I can find a picture of a place like a garden, the sea, or just think of Yosemite or Muir Woods, & I can actually smell the fragrances & it’s as if I’m there. Sometimes I see something or I have a thought & it gives me an association that brings me to another subject or “place” in whatever I’m writing. It depends on the project really – there are generally 5 types of ways it happens for me:

1) Triggers: With poetry sometimes I can see or hear something & it triggers the words to come. It’s funny, it can be something totally unrelated to what I’m looking at or writing, but for some reason it triggers the flow of words.

2) Mechanical: I can sit down & “try” to write – that’s a more mechanical process. That’s how I start to write a novel or screenplay. I ask myself questions about the subject & form a little world around what’s going to happen. This is referred to as a plot. I use a combination of things from my own ethnic center of experience & also fictional ideas. It can be the standard “Who, What, Where, When, Why & How” questions. Sometimes the microcosm I’m creating takes on a shape like a wheel of emotion. I want to start off on a low, then go higher, then I want the story to go to this emotion or that emotion. Sometimes it’s in a series of spikes or a spiral shape. Sometimes it ends up back at the beginning again. I usually write it down on paper this way. That makes it easier for me to visualize. The story then takes on a shape of its own.

When writing dialogue it’s helpful to imagine someone I know or a celebrity saying the lines. It’s also important to remember how real conversation sounds. People don’t always finish their sentences. People interrupt each other, & people don’t use the same words to describe or exclaim things. The characters should not all use the same word choices. So, be sure to use the “Find & Replace” key to check your characters’ word choices. By choosing words that are exclusive to each character, it gives each a distinct voice & differentiates them in the reader’s/viewer’s mind. It is also helpful to write a description/background sheet for each character. After you understand all the details about your characters’s lives, they take on a personality of their own & it is much easier to know what they will say & how they will react to situations. Also helpful is asking yourself “where would my character most likely be?” and especially “where would my character least likely be?” Exploring these areas often triggers interesting plots, twists & conflicts.

If I want to write poetry I will begin with a word or phrase. Sometimes I use tools like a thesaurus or dictionary to get a “better word.” When I do that, oftentimes I will use the 4th or 5th definition for the word because it is more interesting. In poetry it is often forgotten, but I believe of utmost importance to remember to avoid spoon feeding the reader. Just as in real estate the rule is “location, location, location,” to me in poetry the rule is “describe, describe, describe.” The reason you do this is so that you allow the reader’s own mind to connect what you have described with the poem’s deeper meaning. So when I write poetry, I’ve learned not to write “fruit” or “blue” or “flower” – it’s better to say what kind it is – like “plum”, or “sapphire” or “iris”. Do you see? You want to place the person looking at the object, so be specific. There are many tools. If I’m writing a character, I will use a name that means something symbolic. Places are symbolic. Colors, shapes are symbolic, etc. I also far prefer using metaphor than simile. Metaphor is a figure of speech that uses an image or a tangible thing to represent a less tangible thing or quality or idea. e.g. “her eyes are pools” or “a ship cuts the sea”. The easiest way to think about metaphor is that it’s a metaphor when you say the thing is actually the thing. Simile is saying the thing is similar to/like the thing. e.g. “her eyes are like pools”. I don’t know why, but sometimes I am annoyed by simile usage, especially when they’re overused. It clogs my brain & pretty soon I’ve forgotten what the original point was. If one is trapped in simile usage, they can achieve metaphor by simply removing all those silly “as” & “like” words & voila! You have a metaphor. Perhaps it’s annoying because it’s similar to listening to a person who says “like” every other word in a conversation. Although, there are occasions when a simile is most appropriate, but one must feel instinctively when to use them & use them sparingly. To me, if someone uses metaphor, it’s much more sophisticated & powerful, because it prompts the experience of the reader’s mind to make it’s own connection to the thing the writer is describing. Metaphor can be extremely powerful in business writing, but people rarely understand how to use it well in that realm. Enjambment is the technique used to break the end of the line down to the following line or between two verses – it can surprise the reader & often it serves to give the verse double meaning. It’s nice to understand these processes while you are reading, so you get the full depth of the meaning intended. Even though writing may appear easy, there are many valuable & complex tools writers employ.

The especially beautiful thing about poetry is when the reader’s mind connects the thing you have described & the meaning or truth you are revealing through the lens of their own experience. It is possible for the reader to get a “brain aha” every time. In this way it is similar to impressionism, how the eye mixes the color within the brain of the viewer. Same principle. This process makes poetry especially beautiful & powerful because it is interactive in that it’s a shared experience, with the poet communicating to the reader, whose mind has formulated their own images in order to discover the meaning & come to their own conclusions. Thus the poem becomes multidimensional because the writer has written it via their own ethnic center. The reader has also brought themselves to it via their own ethnic center of experience & their own lens. For example, I was born and raised in Los Angeles in a big family, so my ethnic center – the environment where I learned language during my formative years is like a fingerprint on everything I write. The cadence of Los Angeles is like a second heart beat to me. Just as every place has its own vibration. Similar to how Maxfield Parrish layered glazes over each piece of artwork, one’s ethnic center and cumulative life experiences influence what one imagines when they read & write. For example, if I say “tree”, there are many types of trees – readers may envision the tree they used to climb in childhood, a giant redwood, a palm from a vacation. Generally, if I’m teaching a poetry exercise I leave it open & ask them to write about any tree. But when I’m writing I prefer to state the species of tree. However, one may still leave it open if they wish. In this way, readers bring their own nuance to the poem. Lately I’m trying to do something different. It is an odd technique I refer to as “Linguistic Impressionism” where I use the words on each line to be digested & discerned themselves. Then one may stand back & allow their mind to connect it all, as in impressionism where one gets a glimpse of a larger picture. It may not be as precise as a portrait or landscape – its “goal” is not necessarily to do anything more than lightly touch on something, or hint or suggest a feeling. It’s simply meant to convey an impression – something palpable. But still, this process though wonderfully shared is very intentional & thus, mechanical.

3) Spontaneously: I can have a memory, a dream, or a thought that can be fodder for writing. Lots of times when it comes spontaneously, I never know when it’s coming, so I always have to have pen & paper ready. I have pens & paper always with me. I’ve been awakened with the words coming to me. I’ve had to pull my car over on a road, or jump out of the shower to write. It’s like being on call.

4) Birthing: Sometimes I feel a poem or a thought germinating within me, it’s kind of like being pregnant. I will feel “fullness” in my spirit. Sometimes it lasts a while, other times it comes right out. But when it’s “germinating” sometimes it hurts a bit or bothers me. It’s difficult to describe, but it’s true. It feels like there’s something coming, but you can’t get it out until it’s ready. But those are the times it’s coming out of me from an internal place, like a seed growing within. I believe it’s miraculous.

I’ve generally found writers to be very sensitive people. Many times I’ve needed a word & I will close my computer & go somewhere & I get the exact word I need. It’s amazing. One time I needed a male character’s name from a certain African city. My daughter had a friend over, they jumped on her bed & broke her bed’s support boards & we needed wood to fix it. So I closed my computer (still needing that African guy’s name) & I took her to the hardware store right then. A store worker walked up to me & asked to help me (now, in South Orange County, we don’t have that many Africans). Anyway, he had an accent & was from the exact city I needed a name & information from! It was absolutely wild. That happens all the time for me. I can tell you tons of those occurrences. I look at it as a divine process. It’s important to remain aware of what is going on around you. Remember obstacles can lead to opportunities. So, when something happens, I try not to discount it as a horrible thing. Instead, I generally try to go with it and deal with it positively & often times there is a higher reason for everything. I don’t believe there are many coincidences in life. In this case, I could’ve blown off my daughter’s needs for later because I was busy. She could’ve slept in her sister’s room & I would’ve remained stumped at my computer. But by stopping what I was doing to serve her needs, I was perfectly supplied with what I needed. So, I try to be obedient to going where & when the Spirit prompts me to go & I always get exactly what I need for my writing. Being sensitive is the key.

5) Eternal Column: But my absolute favorite way that inspiration comes – now, I know this may sound odd, but sometimes poetry comes down as if it’s right out of the sky like music coming down from Heaven. It comes to me in a swirling tube shape in what I call the “Eternal Column.” I have also written piano music this way & I can hear all the parts of the orchestra – same process. I’ve always figured it’s similar to how people with Synesthesia process information. Perhaps it is related. I don’t know, but usually it comes to me as if I’m getting a download from outside my body into my head. It streams down & I get the words or impressions and use them. Sometimes it’s so easy I use exactly what I hear. It’s like taking dictation. Other times it’s just a word or an impression. Sometimes it actually surprises me; so I know it’s being dispensed to me, because it’s giving me new information I didn’t know before. Sometimes I have to look up the word because I don’t even know what the word means! So I believe it’s a divine process. Though this is my favorite method of writing by far. It’s really wild. There are lots of ways writers write & get inspiration, but these are some of the ways I write.

There are many professions where people are required to write as part of their job, and they may have even published many different articles. But this is very different from being a Writer. You don’t really choose to be a Writer. It’s a deep compulsion to write – a calling. It chooses you. I’ve seen some people who don’t even know they are writers because no one has ever said it to them or they don’t believe it or understand it yet.

No matter who you are or what you do for a living, even in business, it is helpful to know how to write well. If for no other reason, but to give you a deeper appreciation for everything you read and films you view.

That’s a little bit about my process. I hope this is helpful.

Next time I hope to tell you more about some of the other methods I use to trigger the creative process, & methods to organize my writing. I may covering different subjects from money saving tips, travel, parenting, cooking, health & fitness, art, business, etc. You name it! Feel free to comment & share this blog. And come back soon.

Happy writing!