Mani O'Brien, Storyteller

Musings from a 30-something Angeleno transplant about marketing, motherhood and other rants.
A Grey Day and Joni Mitchell

A Grey Day and Joni Mitchell

Joni Mitchell

A grey day and Joni Mitchell morning
Ladies of the Canyon
And you always come to mind
With your tresses in the wind
And your hash pipes puffing
How long ago it all seems
But like yesterday too,
Me and you
Down by the creekbed
Under the full moon
Before you left for Boulder
And I went on to other gardens

I’d like to bring it all back
Fool that I am
Rearrange karma and the sunlight
Wipe up the tears and rewind the years
And it would only be you and I
Heads together, on our backs in Autumn
Our long hair tangled together
Stoned, dreamily staring at the sky

Written January 22, 1996
For Sue

About Desmond and Poems Unrequited.
Image source

Copyright © 2013 Mani O'Brien. All rights reserved.
The Valentine

The Valentine

Aleksandra Zaborowska

The Valentine silent and unseen
The one long-lived with me
I take it now out of its gilded box
Built by time with tears for locks
Handmade with skill and polished by heart
Seamless and sturdy my craftsman’s art
Fashioned by love to hold a spark
Of the blaze of her I keep apart
Treasure that is mine alone
Carried deep where I have roamed
A gift she gave long ago
Her love in my blood aglow
Kept in my simple chest of bark
Her light to light my life made dark

Written February 14, 1997

A beautiful piece by my Dad. Not sure who the subject of this poem was. I can usually recognize the tones he used when he was writing about my Mom, either honeyed or hostile. Sometimes he would say that the voices of his writing moved through him, translating the story of another. I just love images this poem conjures up – a treasured love buried deep in a gilded box. So touching.

Image: Aleksandra Zaborowska
About Desmond and Poems Unrequited.

Copyright © 2013 Mani O'Brien. All rights reserved.
I Wrote a Poem

I Wrote a Poem

Stefan Giftthaler Photography

I wrote a poem
And then
I don’t believe
I cried

O this is not a good way
To begin a cloudy day

I will look for distraction
Some hard labor to do
To get my goddamned, silly mind
Off of you

Written January 22, 1996

Images: Stefan Gifthhaler Photography
About Desmond and Poems Unrequited.

Copyright © 2013 Mani O'Brien. All rights reserved.


Dying flame in the dark

All useless
Puffs of dust thrown
From a flick of the hand
The straying of wild wind
A crush of smothering flowers
Every effort
Drowned at the start
A matchtip flare in the dark
All the dreaming and the toil
A spattering of rain on dried soil
All the words worth a dog’s bark
Plundered now the richest part
Left but the splinters
Carved in the rotten bark

Written January 20, 1996

Unfortunately a lot of the poems I’ve been posting written by my late father are a bit… er, depressing. This one I think is pretty relatable. A nice one for expressing those moments when your’re feeling especially discouraged. I feel like this sometimes with my career. Like all of these teeny, tiny steps don’t get me much closer to where I’d like to be. But, unlike Dad, I feel pretty confident that I’m meant to be right where I am in this moment. Gotta just keep on keepin’ on, as they say.


Copyright © 2013 Mani O'Brien. All rights reserved.


Starry night and Albert Einstein

Let’s go drink some cloud wine
Stirred by sunset, ripe by time
Take this eager hand of mine
And we’ll get high on juice of life
Elixers made of dark and shine
Lets go
Into riptides of the moon
Swallowing until we swoon
Each to each in each own’s heart
Pretending death not us will part
Let’s get loaded with the drug
The Wizard made from secret stuff
Let’s get drunk on love sweet love

Written on Ides of March, 1997

Images: 1, 2

About Desmond and Poems Unrequited.

Copyright © 2013-2023 Mani O'Brien. All rights reserved.
The Children

The Children

Balloon 10

Bless the children
My fruits of life
The darling ones
Made in my image
And of her love
They are the treasures
Held palm to palm
The delight I take
From bounty spread
My flesh, my soul
These have grown
In the circling
The years flown
They the sparks
To light the vastness
Of my dark

Written January 27, 1996

Image Source.

About Desmond and Poems Unrequited.

Copyright © 2013 Mani O'Brien. All rights reserved.
Now, Love

Now, Love

Empty rooms

To the empty bed go now, love,
To the shadow left
Where the crushed scent fled
The broken stalks were strewn
The torn deaf petals flew
Hearing not the singing from the moon,
Take your place now, love,
In the dust the minutes grow
For the ivory of the bones
The rust is shown, the stains
Where the wines were spilled
In the candlelights of dusk glow
To the lone dream bend low, love,
To the pillow lush in murmering spent
Entangling sleep where joys went
Lay your heart down now, love,
Where sighs alone go

Written January 19, 1996

Images:  1 Gary Tonge, 2 David Pinzer, 3 Gary Tonge

About Desmond and Poems Unrequited.

Copyright © 2013 Mani O'Brien. All rights reserved.


Poems Unrequited is a compilation of love poems written by my father, a brilliant but tortured man whose wife’s (my mother’s) schizophrenia drove him into the darkest depths of drug addiction. In turn, his substance abuse would prompt my mother to intentionally stop taking her anti-psychotic medication, thus sparking a never-ending cycle of pain, betrayal and vengeance.

I try to pair each poem with imagery that gives me the same feeling as the poem. I may at times include my own commentary with my personal interpretation of the poems, or to provide reference for the subject matter. I began posting this series on the one year anniversary of my dad’s death and hope to continue to honor his work. Beyond Poems Unrequited are several hundred additional poems on various subjects. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I do.

Below is his author’s note:

The poems in this collection
have been culled from an ongoing
larger collection of the same name.

Poems Unrequited are poems
of love dedicated to the ones
beloved that have filled my life.

No other theme is as interesting to me. Om Shanti.
All you need is love.

About Me

Mani O'Brien

Mani O'Brien

Storyteller and Virgo

LA-based social media marketer and brand journalist Mani O’Brien spends her downtime raising a small human and ranting on this blog. Here you’ll find frequent cursing, a self-indulgent analysis of her 30-something existence as a mother, Millennial, digital marketer, almost-wife and astrology-obsessed feminist.

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