Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Gardens

“A visitor to a garden sees the successes, usually. The gardener remembers mistakes and losses, some for a long time, and imagines the garden in a year, and in an unimaginable future.”
W.S. Merwin

Matilda Browne Peonies 1907.jpg
Peonies by Matilda Browne (1907)

“The greatest fine art of the future will be the making of a comfortable living from a small piece of land.”
Abraham Lincoln 
“We are exploring together. We are cultivating a garden together, backs to the sun. The question is a hoe in our hands and we are digging beneath the hard and crusty surface to the rich humus of our lives.”
Parker J. Palmer


Midweek Motif ~ Gardens

 "How does your garden grow?"  ~  is a line from a nursery rhyme, and it is today's challenge.  Your garden can be vegetables or flowers or herbs or mythic or futuristic or a memory.  It can be quite famous or one only you know.  Let us experience it in your new poem.

I went to the Garden of Love,
And saw what I never had seen:
A Chapel was built in the midst,
Where I used to play on the green.

And the gates of this Chapel were shut,
And Thou shalt not. writ over the door;
So I turn'd to the Garden of Love,
That so many sweet flowers bore. 

And I saw it was filled with graves,
And tomb-stones where flowers should be:
And Priests in black gowns, were walking their rounds,
And binding with briars, my joys & desires.

A black cat among roses,
Phlox, lilac-misted under a first-quarter moon,
The sweet smells of heliotrope and night-scented stock.
The garden is very still,   
It is dazed with moonlight,
Contented with perfume,
Dreaming the opium dreams of its folded poppies.
Firefly lights open and vanish   
High as the tip buds of the golden glow
Low as the sweet alyssum flowers at my feet.
Moon-shimmer on leaves and trellises,
Moon-spikes shafting through the snow ball bush.   
Only the little faces of the ladies’ delight are alert and staring,
Only the cat, padding between the roses,
Shakes a branch and breaks the chequered pattern
As water is broken by the falling of a leaf.
Then you come,
And you are quiet like the garden,
And white like the alyssum flowers,   
And beautiful as the silent sparks of the fireflies.
Ah, Beloved, do you see those orange lilies?
They knew my mother,
But who belonging to me will they know
When I am gone.
By H. D.

I have had enough.
I gasp for breath.

Every way ends, every road,
every foot-path leads at last
to the hill-crest—
then you retrace your steps,
or find the same slope on the other side,

I have had enough—
border-pinks, clove-pinks, wax-lilies,
herbs, sweet-cress.

O for some sharp swish of a branch—
there is no scent of resin
in this place,
no taste of bark, of coarse weeds,
aromatic, astringent—
only border on border of scented pinks.

Have you seen fruit under cover
that wanted light—
pears wadded in cloth,
protected from the frost,
melons, almost ripe,
smothered in straw?

Why not let the pears cling
to the empty branch?
All your coaxing will only make
a bitter fruit—
let them cling, ripen of themselves,
test their own worth,
nipped, shriveled by the frost,
to fall at last but fair
with a russet coat.

Or the melon—
let it bleach yellow
in the winter light,
even tart to the taste—
it is better to taste of frost—
the exquisite frost—
than of wadding and of dead grass.

For this beauty,
beauty without strength,
chokes out life.
I want wind to break,
scatter these pink-stalks,
snap off their spiced heads,
fling them about with dead leaves—
spread the paths with twigs,
limbs broken off,
trail great pine branches,
hurled from some far wood
right across the melon-patch,
break pear and quince—
leave half-trees, torn, twisted
but showing the fight was valiant.

O to blot out this garden
to forget, to find a new beauty
in some terrible
wind-tortured place.

Thomas Cole The Garden of Eden detail Amon Carter Museum.jpg
The Garden of Eden by Thomas Cole 1828


Please share your new poem using Mr. Linky below and visit others in the spirit of the community—
(Next week Sumana’s Midweek Motif will be ~ Walk.)

Monday, June 17, 2019


Today we are featuring poems by Myrna Rosa, Vivian Zems and Grace Guevera that we think you will enjoy. Each one gives us such a lovely portrait of the poet who penned it. Let's top up our coffee and immerse ourselves in the beauty of their reflections.

In my room, 
Messy like the world,
My dogs sleep peacefully.
Their snores are music from their dreams.
I join my mountains in their devotions
To the sky, insects, coyotes, deer, all animals,
all people trampling on trails.

Awed, I stare at this rocky mass 
Jutting into air, so serene
It slows the rhythm of my worries.
But I cannot be still for long.
Blood rushes through soft flesh,
Limbs swerve, shift, shake.

My mountains shine green with tint of envy,
But speak what any good friend would,
"You can move, I cannot.
Become your own prayer."
Then, through the window in my messy room,
My mountains watch 
As I dance.

Myrna's mountains

Sherry: I love the idea of being the prayer. And the mountains watching you as you dance. Sunday mornings have a special feeling to me, too, because of my childhood. Thanks so much for this.

Myrna: Perhaps because of my early years of structured religion, Sunday mornings still seem special to me.  I hear the silence louder, I breathe the air more deeply, as if I am called to acknowledge something sacred.  Most Sunday mornings I sit in my quiet, messy room for a while waiting for thoughts to transform into poems.  Too often this doesn't happen.  Instead, I stare at my mountains.  While they stand still, I become aware there is commotion within them - much like in me and the world.

The morning I wrote this poem, no poetic thoughts arose.  I decided to give up trying.  "Alexa, play Beethoven", I ordered, as I prepared to doodle in a sketch pad.  Suddenly, I remembered an article by a spiritual writer who advised that we need not kneel or be in any particular place or pose in order to emit positive energy or, in effect, pray.  All we do can be prayer, we can be the prayer.  I paraphrase and I don't recall his name, but I believe his advice.  

I then wrote this poem inspired by the mountains I love and the fact that often, as I cook, do dishes or paint, I play loud, rhythmic, salsa music and take time out to dance. I pretend I move the way I did when young, as I shuffle to the music of my heritage (I'm Puerto Rican), expressing my joy, honoring my ancestors, emitting positive energy and, in effect, praying.  

Sherry: I can see you, dancing in your kitchen! Now and then, I do a lick or two across the room to John Lennon. Smiles. Thank you for this lovely glimpse of your Sunday morning, Myrna.

Vivian's poem  "Emergence" speaks beautifully about our passage through life, how we are honed by the difficult passages. Let's read, and be encouraged. 

If I had known
that a nest so beautiful
needed to be built
with broken branches
I would not have
……cried at the tearing
                     ……nor sobbed at the ripping
               ……or despaired at
                    the breaking
                                       of the branches
                                 of me
Sherry: Yes, had we known that pain was growing and stretching us, it might have been easier to bear. I love the nest imagery in this poem so much!

Vivian:  The poem was born out of the realisation that hard times can give birth to new and beautiful beginnings or realisations. Tough times may seek to break you, but perseverance sees you emerging from the tunnel stronger, wiser and full of gratitude - hence the title, ‘Emergence’.

Sherry: I love it, Vivian. Thank you for sharing it. 

Let's take a look at Grace's affirmative poem, "I Am, My Story", a beautiful story indeed.


I am, my story
i was at war with 
myself & the world

i am here,
not to provoke you
that i am not you
that my skin is dark rose
that my hair is thick as forest
that my tongue is quick as snake

i am here, because you have given
me compassion
       & priceless gifts
that i can speak freely
that i can act and believe in my
       faith and decisions
that i don't need to cover my face
       nor hair if I choose not to
that i don't need to step back
       for someone else to go in

i am here, because you made me
see that sky is blue
       not charcoal in dust or gunpowder
see that streets are clean
       not mired in holes or littered by dead
       bodies, whose faces i knew
       whose lives i knew
       whose nightmares I heard
see my reflection upon the emerald lake
       underneath this scarred face & body
       ...a fire in my eyes
       ...a sword my hands move
                                                 to grasp

i am here.
thank you for a new 

Sherry: We are so glad you were granted that new beginning, Grace. So many are denied it. I love that now the sky above you is blue, no longer grey.

Grace: We are lucky to live in a country, Canada, where we respect and afford human rights and freedom to all people. Sadly that is not the case in other countries - where women specially are not allowed to travel or move around without the consent of male guardianship, like in Saudi Arabia, or where women are not allowed to write, speak, dress without the conventional garb, and fight for their beliefs, like in Iran.   

I admire my country for taking in the victims of the ISIS war, specially the children and the women brutally raped, sold and victimized during the war in Syria.  There was also this case of the Saudi teen escaping Saudi Arabia because her family did not afford her the freedom she wanted.  With these events as a background, I wanted to feature my country as a place where you have the privileges of a free individual, who can determine their own future.

Sherry: We are very fortunate to live in this country. We have to be careful that these freedoms are safeguarded, against the rise of those who would curtail them. 

Thank you, Myrna, Vivian and Grace, for your insightful poems. Each one carries a wonderful message.

Poet friends, do come back and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Poetry Pantry #483

Happy Sunday, poets! Sending a sweet smile your way, courtesy of this adorable alpaca. We hope your week was everything you needed and wanted it to be. On Friday our newest staff member, Sanaa Rizvi, featured a Moonlight Musings column which was very interesting. Do scroll back if you haven't seen it. On Monday, we are sharing poems by Myrna, Vivian and Grace, which we are sure you will enjoy. And on Wednesday  Susan's Midweek Motif will be Gardens. It looks like a good week!

For now, let's read some poetry! Link your one poem, leave us a few words in comments, and do visit the offerings of other poets, in the spirit of community. I am looking forward to reading what you have to share. Thanks for being here. The Pantry wouldn't be the same without you.