Friday, June 22, 2018

I Wish I'd Written This

Some of the Many Things You Missed

It’s the springtide of the moon
full and heavy float the moon jellies
to hands’ reach, the glass lace
of their tentacles scarcely moving…
Pat Lowther

the bay is full of jellyfish that don’t sting
pulsating full-bellied yet diaphanous moon jellies
blue-tinged with four pink gonads
their only colour not brains but genitals

why moon  were they named just for being pale
did they remind someone of that pockmarked face
did they appear to the namer as small craters convulsing

they look more like petticoats ballooning down a staircase
or shower caps or miniature parachutes
the size of a thimble or a dinner plate
always only a few until one year there comes a bloom

a moon jelly bloom when they’re everywhere impossible to avoid
shredding them with the boat’s propeller
not looking back picturing them torn into fragments
like so many pieces of floating toilet paper

every day i return home to hundreds of jellies
dimpling the water’s surface like rain
were i to brave the cold water, dive among them
they’d slide away, oblivious
slooping around my limbs pulsations barely pausing
my kicks and strokes tumbling them about
in their birthright of slow chaos

i wish they’d crowd their cool soft bodies up to mine
wish i could say i’ve been swarmed by moon jellies
wish I could say i’ve been to a moon jelly love-in
ecstatic in the slippery translucent animals

last night i saw them gathered under their fully waxed namesake
embers of moonlight-on-jelly breaking black water
lighting up the bay
their surface-bobbing like visual morse code

the same pattern i’d seen when raindrops
fell onto a dark ocean
their tiny splashes sparking to life

the pulsing creatures ascended
to a meeting of worlds:
water   salt   jelly   air
darkness    moonlight    outer space
all these years & finally i can say
i have seen the moon jelly ritual
jellies gathering to kiss air
kiss the moon
become moonlight

Christine Lowther

Marlene Cummings photo

We have another Tofino poet for you this month, my friends. Christine Lowther is a noted Canadian writer of poetry and prose,  and is a fellow member of the Clayoquot Writers Group.  I would love to be able to put my love of and reverence for nature into words as eloquently as Christine does. Her poetry is imbued with her deep love of the natural world. She lives in close connection with the wild, on her floathouse a short boat ride away from Tofino. This is the setting of her poem, as she dives off her dock to swim among the jellyfish.

Linda Baril photo

Chris has lived in Clayoquot Sound since 1992. Her mother is the noted poet, Pat Lowther, whom Chris lost as a result of spousal homicide when she was seven years old. This traumatic event lies at the heart of some of her deepest work, notably her first poetry collection: New Power. Her most recent nonfiction book, Born Out of This, charts her journey from this terrible loss, through foster homes, punk rock, and lifelong activism, to the life she has created in the heart of nature on her floathouse in the Sound.

I find similarities in  the writings of mother and daughter. Each has a distinct and unique voice. Both love the wild; this love  illuminates  their writing. Pat Lowther's work still lives, and is quoted and respected  many years after her death. I believe her daughter's work will also stand the test of time.

Chris's writing sings through the soul. She truly "sees" the small and large beauties of the natural world and, when she writes about them, we see them, too, with appreciative and awakened eyes. Chris was arrested at the blockades in 1992, standing for the trees. She still advocates on their behalf as Tofino struggles with the thorny conflicting issues of development and preservation. Her activism and the conscientious, respectful way she lives on Mother Earth inspires me. She is one of my heroes.

Chris was co-editor of two anthologies, Writing the West Coast: In Love With Place, and Living Artfully: Reflections on the Far West Coast, and has three poetry collections New Power, Half-Blood Poems and My Nature. Her most recent book is the memoir, Born Out of  This.

Christine's website can be found here, and more information about her books can be found  on the site. Her author page is at

Material shared in 'I Wish I'd Written This' is presented for study and review. Poems, photos and other writings remain the property of the copyright owners, usually their authors.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Human

Image result for human beings quote

"Listen and tell, thrums the grave heart of humans.
Listen well love, for it’s pitch dark down here."
― Hailey Leithauser (See full poem below)

“I feel no need for any other faith than my faith in the kindness of human beings. I am so absorbed in the wonder of earth and the life upon it that I cannot think of heaven and angels.” 
 Midweek Motif ~ Human

I am human. I am only human.  
 I am sadly human.  Happily, I am human.

When you describe something as "human," 
what do you mean?  

(Click "What is a Human Being?" for a slideshow.)

Your Challenge: Write a new poem giving what is human its place in the natural world, the solar system, galaxy, and/or universe.

Cruelty has a Human Heart 
And Jealousy a Human Face 
Terror the Human Form Divine 
And Secrecy, the Human Dress 

The Human Dress, is forged Iron 
The Human Form, a fiery Forge. 
The Human Face, a Furnace seal'd 
The Human Heart, its hungry Gorge.


This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.


The heart of a bear is a cloud-shuttered
mountain. The heart of a mountain’s a kiln.
The white heart of a moth has nineteen white
chambers. The heart of a swan is a swan.

The heart of a wasp is a prick of plush.
The heart of a skunk is a mink. The heart
of an owl is part blood and part chalice.
The fey mouse heart rides a dawdy dust-cart.

The heart of a kestrel hides a house wren
at nest. The heart of lark is a czar.
The heart of a scorpion is swidden

and spark. The heart of a shark is a gear.
Listen and tell, thrums the grave heart of humans.
Listen well love, for it’s pitch dark down here.

(Used with the poet's permission. First published in PoetryOctober 2015)

Please share your new poem using Mr. Linky below and visit others in the spirit of the community— 

(Next week Sumana’s Motif will be ~ "When I think about myself.")

Monday, June 18, 2018

Poems of the Week by Robin, Julian and Frank

It is time to listen to the men again, my friends. Today we have poems written by Robin Kimber, our Old Egg, who blogs at Robin's Nest,  Julian  Clarke, of Pen to Poetry, Guernsey, and Frank Tassone, of  American Haijin.   I was so happy to gather them together and offer them to you today to celebrate our love of poetry. Enjoy!                      

A Long Summer

It was a long summer
While sun smirked down on us
Like an errant uncle
Outstaying his welcome

We needed a shaman
To sing a song for us
We needed the dark clouds
To pour rain down on us

Oh sincere singer sing
Spirit the days to change
Muddy our paths for us
Flood the roads, we don't care

We've lost our dignity
We've forgotten our pride
We lose much more each day
The raven shakes his head

It was a long summer
Clouds darken the night skies
We listen to the rain
Watching from the window

Now just who do we praise?
We had cursed and ranted
Thunder booms, lightning strikes
Someone is not happy

Sherry: I love the shaman, singing his song. As our summers grow hotter, year after year, we are all feeling this kind of heat and thirst, Robin. You have described it well.

Robin: The poem “A long summer” is quite typical of my poems about Australia, where the seasons are not always kind. When first settled, South Australia (the Australian state where I live) was the only British colony in the continent of Australia that was not settled with convicts from England being the main occupants. The colonists here decided to settle by a river, which is now the state capital of Adelaide, and spread out from there, farming first the plains to the north and hilly areas to the east and south.

At first farming was very successful, which encouraged more to come to the state and spread out much further north, and at first the harvests were fine. Then a few years of drought, and the soil now drained of nutrients, crops failed and settlers found they could not make a living anymore, went broke and abandoned the settlements. A government surveyor named Goyder visited the areas and worked out that many farms were too far north or in fact outside the 10 inch average rainfall line, which was the minimum agreed standard for cropping.

Abandoned farmhouse

As farmers went broke and left their farms, they left the stone houses they had lived in, which now dot the countryside and are a photographer’s delight!  The former settlements were, however, suitable for rearing stock. So grazing was adopted instead but not before many farmers went bankrupt and left the land, leaving evidence of this in the empty abandoned stone houses that still dot the scenery far north of Adelaide. 

Old Silverton farmhouse

Goyder’s line however, was not a straight line across the state but rose and dipped in latitude according to the 10 inch average rainfall that was the accepted standard. Now having bored everyone with that, I have often written poems about farming illustrating the difficulties faced and feelings it brought to settlers in those early days. In fact a few days before you asked me about this post I wrote “Swarms of flies” published on 13 May, then there is “Goyder’s Line” published 16 Sep 2015, “Across the gibber plains” 28 Nov 2015, “The country wife” 12 June 2016, and “My vision splendid” 4 Jan 2017. 

I was lucky enough to work 150 miles north of Adelaide many years ago, so had to drive through the area I have written about countless times, as well as exploring even more desolated settlements which are so poignant to see.

Sherry: It must be poignant indeed, seeing those abandoned homes - and dreams. This is such interesting history, Robin. Thank you for giving us the back story of this poem. Those must have been hard days for the settlers, in an unforgiving climate. I checked out the poems you mentioned, and they tell the story so well.

Julian recently posted a beautiful poem about a song carried on the wind. Let's take a look.

I hear your song

Gone, gone: on the west wind I hear your song,
The breath of your soul sweeps through to my heart
As winter leaves danced and scattered, then settled,
Lay frozen, crystallised in pure white snow.

Your life had reasons laid out in a line
Many of them good ones bearing no lies.

Spring exudes beauty, only you compare
Like nature nurtures new life to the world,
And smiles, with sun flowers of summer;
Gone, gone: on the west wind I hear your song.

Sherry: So beautiful, "On the west wind, I hear your song."

Julian: However you decide to interpret my poem, it is not one of sadness, but full of wonderful memories of an exceptional person. that person being my father who passed ten years ago. It amazes me how poetry can take you from feeling quite melancholy, which is how I felt before writing this poem, of which was not planned, and flowed easily from my pen, (that's a rarity in itself). The end result left me feeling warm and in a far better place at the wonderful memories I hold dear.

Sherry: Golden memories indeed. It sounds like you had a remarkable father. Thank you for sharing this poem, Julian. I love it, especially the beauty of your closing line. Sigh.

Let's take a look at Frank's contribution, shall we?

“In the beginning was the word…”

Logos. The essence of consciousness, the embodied will of creative Love, from which the universe began with a Big Bang. An utterance of voice so tender and loving that potential gave birth to actual. A voice so awesomely heartbreaking, and heard now only in the heart of silence.

and the rain’s rattle …
frog croaks

Who would the Logos call to share the presence? Who would point the finger at the moon, steal the fire that would light the way of humanity, salve the wound festering from ancestors’ egoistic mistakes? 

Who else? Call us Bards, for the verses we craft bare true stories. Call us Troubadours, for our songs shatter hearts. Call us Warrior-poets, for through our art we eviscerate the lies that ensnarl all. Call us Pathfinders, for we show the way. What else would you call teachers?

“Taoing …
the way you can go
isn’t the real way”

Sherry: I love the whole idea of Warrior-poets and Pathfinders. Indeed, I believe we are! A wonderful write, Frank!

Frank: I am honored to offer you my permission to republish "Essential".

This haibun evolved out of two prompts: a bridge prompt from  dVerse Poets’ MTB–Bridging the Gap and Real Toads’ Job Title. I felt inspired by the opening verse of both John's Gospel and Ursula K. Le Guin's rendition of Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching, so I used them. Logos, the Greek word for word, and Tao, the chinese word for Way, share a similar connotation. I have always been fascinated by the symmetry, so that informed the poetic prose of the first stanza. 

I wanted to complement that with an ordinary haiku grounded in my experience at the moment of writing. Next, I wanted to do justice to my own profession. I have used the titles in a previous haibun, and they resonate as a part of my own vision statement. I rewrote them in this stanza, adding new contextual descriptors that tied in with the heights I introduced in the first prose stanza. I then ground the haibun again in that final haiku.

Sherry: This poem is wonderful on so many levels. I have been enjoying the format of your poems lately, Frank.

Frank: I'm not sure what you mean by a new format. I've written haibun in single prose-haiku or multiple prose-haiku "Stanzas" before. I've also written tanka-prose, often sandwiching a prose portion between two tanka. As for voice, I let the subject inspire me, and I write in response to that inspiration. I chose to personify water in Aqua, for example, because that's what felt right when I reflected on water. I thought of its importance in our lives, and how every culture has Gods of different aspects of water, and the poem called for water as the narrator.

Sherry: I loved "Aqua". It was a tossup which poem I wanted to feature. But the warrior-poets won out! Smiles.

Frank: Thank you for your invitation to feature "Essential". I've enjoyed discussing it with you.

Sherry: And we are enjoying the conversation, Frank. Thank you.

Well, my friends, wasn't this delightful? Thank you, gentlemen, for sharing your thoughts about your very wonderful poems with us. 

Do come back and see who we talk to next, fellow poets. Who knows? It might be you!