Wittier Word Weavers

Writers' Club of Whittier


Flowers Full of Prayers


Flowers are full of prayers in the month of August. On a half-mile walk in an area overgrown with pink silk floss blossoms, wild phlox and butterfly plant, I spied thirty-three mantises praying for prey today. Brown like a twig or green like a leaf, Stagmomantis californica waits upside down, underneath or smack in the center of the flower. At the moment, butterflies frequent the yellow blossoms in this area the most, so that’s where the majority of mantises lurk. I’ve seen them eating fritillaries, bees, skippers and, yes, their own mates. No one seems to be able to explain that seemingly deviant behavior of species survival.

A photographer friend of mine used to find these camouflaged little creatures everywhere and post them to Flickr. There had to be hundreds even thousands of them out there but I never saw any. I had mantis envy. I was determined to learn how to see them.

I figured it was like finding mushrooms. In Iowa, where I was raised, folks enjoy picking and eating wild morels. (You best know exactly what you’re looking for because there are deadly poisonous mushrooms.) The light brown, spongelike fungus blends well with the leaves and earth. Whenever I went mushroom hunting with my parents they’d have bags full while I’d come up empty handed.

In art classes you’re taught to look at the positive and negative space. It’s kind of like that with hunting mantises. Hmm — I wonder if that technique will work for mushrooms?

~Sherry Novak, author of the soon to be released novel The Chick Sexer.



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I struggle, how I struggle

against my droopy eyes full of sweet sleep
in the mid of day
My lazy bone all mellow longing for something soft, something warm
to sink in and under
drape my arm over
something furry
a wet nose
breathes softly in dreams of snorts

I struggle, how I struggle
days like these
Damp like a shower stall
Gray and dark,
pepper and salt striving to be hairs
magnolia leaves turned turmeric shade, crunchy curls
buffeted like odd popcorns in Santa Ana’s hot breast
seashells on empty sea beds of urban concrete
Two leaves
hung like ornaments in webs
until the autumn lends decorative color

It struggles, how it struggle
This fall season
not to let down expectation
to paint undulating hips of smoke into morning’s crisp air
and dark evening’s ears pierced with headlight rings

confused as much as I
by the lingering warmth
the awful, dry earth
Pregnant clouds aborted of rain
A mild fall that rips not
whips not
stirs not
smokes not
unless someone turns on a screen
Somewhere. Anywhere. In the palms of babies
on walls
Inside a chimney an illusion of fire and cold and center.
When it stands useless, painting no smokes

California has lost her seasons
and reasons.

I struggle. How I struggle
to let him go
Untwine my limbs, lift away my head
our cover
One eyelid, just a peep
Sigh at the staring sun in my palm
Yes. It’s indeed time
to let him rise
I sink low, struggle.

How I struggle!